TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 2 CHRONICLES 26:1-28:27
We read about three kings in today’s chapters in 2 Chronicles- Uzziah, Jotham and Ahaz.
Uzziah, the son of the evil king Amaziah, had a remarkable reign, only to have it end with God bringing judgment on his presumption and pride.
Overall, he was a very successful king. He was instructed by the prophet Zechariah in the fear of the Lord and sought the Lord during the early days of his reign.
2 Chronicles 26:5 5 He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper.
This disposition of faith, (earnest inquiry as to what is the mind of the Lord, trust in His promises, and full reliance upon Him), is essential for success.
Hebrews 11:6 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
There is a long list of accomplishments- military victory over the Philistines, Arabs and Meunites; construction projects (including towers in Jerusalem and in the desert), water cisterns, and rebuilt towns. ‘He loved the soil’ and herding livestock.
2 Chronicles 26:16 16 But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
Pride and presumption led to his downfall. He assumed that because he was successful and because he was king, he could do whatever he wanted, even entering the temple and performing the sacred duties that were strictly limited by the law of God to priests.
The subtle danger of success and prosperity is a sense of entitlement. You begin to feel you have executive privilege. Your personal strength becomes a character weakness as you no longer put your full trust in the Lord. The result of Uzziah’s act of sacrilege is that he is struck with leprosy and must spend the rest of his days in quarantine. Rather than being buried in a tomb with the kings, he is buried in a field belonging to the kings.
Jotham succeeds him as king. In this account we only read of positive elements: He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, he stayed within the domain of his office, not committing the presumptuous sin of his father, Uzziah. He was effective in leading construction projects- rebuilding the Upper Gate of the temple, the wall at the hill of Ophel and built towns, forts and towers. He was successful in his war against the Ammonites, who brought him regular tribute.
2 Chronicles 27:6 6 So Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God.
The people continued with their corrupt practices, but Jotham moved quietly forward pursuing the will of God.
He had godly influences in his life- the prophet Isaiah was exercising his ministry during Jotham’s early years; It is believed that his mother was the daughter of Zadok the priest, and he profited from the example of his father, Uzziah, both good and bad. He remained humble and persistent in his devotion.
In 2 Chronicles 28 we read about the horrors of King Ahaz, who not only turned the country back to idolatry, but also to the evil practice of child sacrifice. It is likely that he sacrificed his own sons in his demonically-inspired worship of false gods.
2 Chronicles 28:3 3 Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom and burned his sons in fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel.
He even uses the sacred treasures of the temple to barter with the king of Syria to procure his aid (28:21). He persisted in evil despite God’s chastisement of handing him over to the King of Israel even when 120,000 of his men were slaughtered by Pekah, son of Remaliah. He was further chastised when his son Maaseiah, his chief palace officer, Arikam, and his prime minister, Elkanah, were killed by Zicri, an Ephraimite warrior.
The Israelites took 200,000 captives from Judah plus plunder.
Oded, the prophet of the Lord orders the Israelite army to send back these prisoners to Judah because they themselves were guilty of the same sins.
These severe punishments did little to produce repentance in King Ahaz.
2 Chronicles 28:22 22 Now in the time of his distress this same King Ahaz became yet more unfaithful to the LORD.
He begins to offer sacrifices to the Assyrian gods in Damascus. He shuts down the worship of the true God in the temple of Jerusalem and sets up altars and high places for the worship of other gods. He was not buried in the tomb of kings, but was buried with his fathers in Jerusalem. His son, Hezekiah, succeeds him as king.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – ROMANS 13:1-14.
We read in Romans 13 about authority. God is the author of authority, and we are all called to submit ourselves to God-ordained authorities. The Christian is not to have a rebellious spirit, even when our conscience does not permit us to obey a command that would contradict God’s law. God-ordained authorities are needed to uphold the law and protect the well-being of citizens. We respect the God-given offices of authority, even if obedience to God does not permit us to obey their commands.
We are called to do our part in relationship to those God has allowed to be put into authority- putting ourselves in submission, obeying civil ordinances and performing expected duties such as paying taxes, unless they violate God’s commands (Acts 5:29).
Romans 13:7 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
We are to work to be free of debt (13:8). Paul emphasizes the supremacy of the law of love because by loving God we will love what He loves and desire what pleases Him and what is good for others.
God is concerned with order, not only in the church (1 Cor. 11:34; 14:40; 16:1; Col 2:5) but also in society (Titus 3:1. 1 Peter 2:13-17). The Christian has responsibilities in both spheres.
In his book, “Confessions”, Augustine speaks of his conversion. “I was in a garden and heard a voice as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft repeating, “Take up and read; Take up and read.” He opened the book on a bench. It was this passage in Romans 13:
Romans 13:11-14 11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
Augustine wrote: No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 23:1-6.
This is the great Shepherd’s Psalm. This is our second trip through the Book of Psalms this year and this Psalm is an unforgettable milestone. It describes so many of the benefits that we have in a personal relationship with the Lord.
Do you know God personally? Do you know Him as the Shepherd and overseer of your soul? the one who provides for you in such a way that you shall not want? Have you experienced the promised rest that He has won for you? Are you refreshed and restored by resting (abiding) in His presence? Do you know His leading you in paths of righteousness that enable you to bear His testimony in this world? What about those days when you are facing your mortality- do you have peace with God? When you walk through the valley of death do you fear no evil? Do you know His abounding grace that prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies?
The song of this sheep overflows with a sense of God’s bountiful provisions for EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE and the sure promise of an ETERNAL HOME!
Psalm 23:6 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 20:11
Proverbs 20:11 11 It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself If his conduct is pure and right.
A child is known by his actions. What do your actions say about you, child of God?
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- KAZAKHSTAN
Republic of Kazakhstan
Area: 2,717,300 sq. km
World’s ninth-largest country. Dominating Central Asia and trade routes between east and west. Much of the country is semi-desert.
Population: 15,753,460 Annual Growth: 0.73%
Official language: Kazakh Languages: 43 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
Challenges for Prayer
The expatriate Christian community is very diverse. Many speak Kazakh and are committed to long-term work in Kazakhstan. Russians, Americans, Koreans, Germans and many other nationalities all enrich the ministry in their own way. Pray for humility as they serve the indigenous Church. Thank God for the coordinating work of the Kazakh Partnership. There are many needs – reaching the unreached, training, discipling, tentmaking as well as business-as-mission and work focused on material needs. The government can be suspicious of and hostile to the presence of missionaries – pray for the doors to remain open to minister. The threat of intimidation, expulsion and even violence exists, even if it is not common.
Christian mercy ministries. There is widespread dysfunction and brokenness in many Kazakh families. Alcoholism and drug addiction are widespread; heroin is as easy to obtain as alcohol. Family breakdown and widespread corruption exacerbate the suffering of many. Pray for Christians to have a powerful transforming effect on society as they demonstrate Christ’s love. There are increasing numbers of ministries focusing on these needs. One of the most remarkable is Mission Agape, a live-in program where addicts are discipled and trained – over 100 have become missionaries and church planters.
PRAYER: Lord, You are Our Shepherd; You are My Shepherd; You are THE Shepherd King. You are our Highest Authority and we seek to do that which honors You and brings You pleasure. We pray Your kingdom come and Your will be done. In Your presence is fullness of joy. I shall not want. You give us each day our daily bread. You feed, tend, lead, restore, comfort, protect and rescue Your flock. Keep us from foolish idolatries. Thank You for those in the body of Christ whose ministry and fellowship through the Word keeps us on track. Lead us not into temptation but into constant communion with You and Your Truth by Your Holy Spirit. For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Reign in us, in Jesus’ Name. Amen