TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 1 CHRONICLES 11:1-13:22;
We have learned from the Book of I and II Kings that Jeroboam set up his own self-appointed priesthood and worship places (at Bethel and Dan), but in today’s reading we learn how this decision impacted the God-appointed Levites who were serving in the northern areas. Jeroboam banned the Levites from their sacred duties of holding local worship services and providing instruction intended to prevent the people from turning to idols. Jeroboam’s institutionalizing pagan worship forced the Levites to move to the southern kingdom.
2 Chronicles 11:14 14 For the Levites left their pasture lands and their property and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had excluded them from serving as priests to the LORD.
This cleared the way for Jeroboam’s self-styled priesthood to encourage the worship of the pagan goat and calf idols in the northern kingdom of Israel.
For a brief three years under Rehoboam’s reign, the people of the southern kingdom of Judah continued to seek after the Lord. But when Rehoboam became strong in his self-confidence, he abandoned the Law of the Lord. All Israel followed suit. Speed of the leader, speed of the team. Direction of the leader, direction of the team. And it was the direction of disaster.
Because of their covenant relationship with the Lord, God chastens His people for their disobedience. He allows Shishak of Egypt to capture the fortified cities of Judah, encroaching upon their territory to the extent of threatening to destroy Jerusalem.
The prophet Shemaiah makes it clear to Rehoboam and the princes of Judah, that the conquest of the Judean cities was the direct result of their disobedience to God.
When Rehoboam and the princes humble themselves according to 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Lord promises a measure of deliverance- He will spare Jerusalem from full destruction by the hand of Shishak of Egypt (2 Chronicles 12:7-12). Sadly, Shishak took away the treasures of the temple and the king’s house, including the shields of gold that Solomon had made.
The strength of Solomon and Rehoboam became liabilities as they leaned on their own wisdom and strength. God had abundantly blessed them with resources. Their failures demonstrate the inability of external and material resources to do the important work of changing the heart.
The Gospel Transformation Bible Commentary notes the contrast between the rule of these kings and the rule of the Lord Jesus:
“When King Jesus arrived, he did not come with political power, wealth, wives, or heirs. Rather He came as the impoverished king, but the king who could actually- through his scandalous grace- change our hearts. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36)? The wealth of human kings impoverishes the people, but the poverty of our heavenly King has made us rich beyond calculation (2 Corinthians 8:9).”
2 Chronicles 13 focuses on the reign of Abijah, continuing the focus of the Book on the southern kingdom and the spiritual life of God’s covenant people.
Abijah is at war with Jeroboam. He makes a fiery speech rebuking Jeroboam for leading Israel astray. The Lord gives him victory over Jeroboam and the armies of Israel. According to 2 Chronicles, Abijah pledges fidelity to the Lord (although 1 Kings 15:3 tells us another side of the story).
1 Kings 15:3 3 He (Abijah) walked in all the sins of his father which he had committed before him; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, like the heart of his father David.
You might ask, ‘Why does the Book of Chronicles only record the positive aspects of Ahijah’s reign when 1 Kings speak of his reign as basically evil?’ The writer of Chronicles was focusing on God’s covenant promise to David and the pattern of worship that would anticipate the King to come- the Christ of God, the Messiah. Abijah was a defender of that promise (2 Chronicles 13:4-12) and because of this, his reign is more positively recorded in Chronicles and he was spared the immediate consequence of his sin.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – ROMANS 8:22-39
There is a past, present and future aspect to our salvation. Through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, we are delivered from the penalty of sin (justification).
Through our reckoning ourselves crucified with Christ and through our relying on the power of the indwelling Spirit, we are delivered from the power of sin (sanctification).
One day when Christ returns, we will be raised in a body conformed to His glorious body and will reign with Him throughout the ages, delivered from the presence of sin (glorification).
This is why Romans 8:24-25 speaks of our being saved ‘in hope’. The future aspect of our salvation is that ‘we shall be like Him’.
Romans 8:24-25 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
The gospel anticipates that which is pictured in the Book of Revelation- the very real, physical and eternal ‘kingdom of God’.
Romans 8 tells us that there is no person (v.31-34), or circumstance (v.35-37), that can separate the believer from the love of God in Christ.
Who can be against us? Who can bring any charge against us if God justifies us? Who is to condemn us if God has taken our condemnation in the person of our wrath-bearing substitute? Who shall separate us from the love of God? No person.
What can separate us? Shall the circumstance of tribulation, distress, persecution, nakedness, danger or sword? No, in all of these circumstances we are more than conquerors.
Paul teaches that God extracts from defeat values that could never be gained through conquest.
- Campbell Morgan writes: “Enduring tribulation, we are thereby brought, through patience and proving, to the hope that is not put to shame. Experiencing anguish, we are having fellowship with the suffering which saves. Bearing persecution, we are demonstrating the meaning of true godliness. Suffering hunger, we are proving that man does not live by bread alone. In nakedness, we reveal the beauty of spiritual adorning. Living amid perils, we are revealing the power of our Lord. Dying by the sword, we are demonstrating the weakness of the sword. This is more than conquering, and it is only possible ‘through him that loved us’” (Searchlights from the Word, p.335).
Here is a link to some songs based on the Book of Romans:
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 18:37-50
Psalm 18:39 39 For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.
Do you experience the Lord teaching you, correcting you, strengthening you, and equipping you?
David sings of God’s faithfulness to deliver him and bring him salvation. How about you?
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 19:27-28
Are you still listening?
Proverbs 19:27-28 27 Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. 28 A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice, And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – JAMAICA
Area: 10,991 sq. km
The 3rd largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba and Hispaniola. Mostly mountainous with only 17% arable land.
Population: 2,729,909 Annual Growth: 0.46%
Official language: English; 97% of the population speak Jamaican Creole Languages: 7 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Answer to Prayer
This nation has a rich but little-known mission sending history. Praise God for those rediscovering this spiritual legacy and remobilizing Jamaica to once again become a sending powerhouse. Increasing numbers of mission agencies are operating branches out of Jamaica.
Challenge for Prayer
The country finds itself in the midst of moral and social collapse. Powerful South American drug cartels, using Jamaica as a transshipment point for cocaine destined for the USA, wield great influence. This fuels violence, putting Jamaica fourth globally for murders per capita. Rape and domestic abuse are widespread. As part of an anti-corruption drive, the government has invited greater participation from churches. Pray that government and church leaders may reject compromise. Pray for courage, moral integrity and determination to turn the country back to God. The National Leadership Prayer Breakfast brings church leaders together with leaders in politics, business and the security forces to address and pray for these issues.
PRAYER: Blessed be Your Name forever, O Lord. Yours is the greatness and power and the glory and the victory and the majesty. All that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. We praise You for Your Sovereign wisdom and Your rule over all. May Your Name be revered throughout the earth. Thank You for the hope of the gospel, the certain promise of our glorification and our participation in Your kingdom reign. We rejoice knowing that nothing can separate us from Your love. Continue to strengthen us for the battle, equip us to fight the good fight of faith as we trust You to give us the victory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.