Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 14 June 18:
1. 2 Kings 15:2, 3 — “His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.” Again, note that the Bible points to the parents when speaking of the character and competence of leaders. Note, that both the father and mother are mentioned. The foundation of a society is the home, and homes must be led by godly mothers and fathers, both are essential for the balanced character development of future leaders.
2. 2 Kings 15:4 — “Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.” Azariah was a godly king, yet he let sin to continue in the land unchecked. We cannot stare at sin around us and hope it will go away. If we don’t confront sin, it will continue to destroy and only grow.
3. 2 Kings 15:5 — “And the Lord touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house.” In the entire chapter of 2 Kings 15, Azariah was the only king who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD,” yet, God gave him leprosy with apparently no explanation. However, Azariah is also called Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26, and 2 Chronicles 26 explains that, “when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.” Azariah arrogantly defied God’s rules for worship and took on upon himself a priestly role. Therefore, God gave him leprosy, essentially a slow death sentence. God takes His holiness very seriously, and God has a much higher standard for those who assume positions of leadership.
4. 2 Kings 15:10, 13, 14 — “Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him and struck him down…. he reigned one month in Samaria…. Menahem… struck down Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria and put him to death and reigned in his place.” A theme throughout the Bible is that God treats people the way they treat others.
5. 2 Kings 15:12 — “This was the promise of the Lord that he gave to Jehu, ‘Your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.’ And so it came to pass.” God always keeps His promises. What promises can you find in the Bible that pertain to you?
6. 2 Kings 15:15 — “Now the rest of the deeds of Shallum, and the conspiracy that he made, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.” The Bible cannot be fully understood without a diligent study of the whole Bible. 2 Kings 15:15 says, “behold” the rest of the story revealed in the rest of the Bible. Many Bible truths are obvious and easily understood. Many other truths are reserved for those who would diligently study all of God’s word. Of course, diligent Bible study is only part of the equation – proper application is also required. Consider the birth of Jesus – very few people understood the significance of His birth at the time, but the wise men of the east and Herod’s chief priests and scribes were able to accurately discern from God’s word that the Christ was born in Bethlehem. However, the wisemen sought Him to worship him, while the chief priests and scribes sought to kill him – opposite responses to the same truth. Diligently study God’s word to know Jesus more and more each day, to love Him more dearly, and to worship Him more genuinely. Study God’s word to demonstrate your love for God by loving others more sincerely and effectively.
7. 2 Kings 15:20 — “Menahem exacted the money from Israel, that is, from all the wealthy men, fifty shekels of silver from every man, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back and did not stay there in the land.” Taxation is often used to subjugate certain groups of people in order to keep others in power.
8. 2 Kings 15 – God appreciates obedience to Him, not popularly acclaimed accomplishments or “good deeds” respected by people. A person can do many good things with the wrong motivation and wrong heart, receiving credit from people but not from God. Reputation is what others say about you. Character is what God says about you.
9. 2 Kings 16:2, 3 — “He did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.” This is a shocking display of double-mindedness and infidelity. Ahaz was a believer who, nonetheless, followed the practices of the world, and the Bible describes the height of his sin to be the equivalent of modern-day abortion.
10. 2 Kings 16:8 — “Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria.” Ahaz robbed the house of the Lord to pay for partnership with the ungodly. Do you give the whole tithe? How much do you give the government and bankers? Compare the average American Christian’s financial support to the church and ministry to the amount they pay in financial debt, though they are far from starving.
11. 2 Kings 16:10 — “When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. And King Ahaz sent to Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details.” Wow! Ahaz liked the Assyrian alter more than the one God prescribed so he removed God’s alter and replaced it with the Assyrian alter. Ahaz then commanded that the daily offerings of worship to the Lord take place on this new altar. 2 Chronicles 28 gives more details of Ahaz’s incredible offenses before God as well as the consequences. Ahaz worshipped in a way that was right in his own eyes but wholly offensive to God, and Ahaz dragged others with him down the path of destruction. If you had the opportunity to talk with Ahaz, he would have likely told you that he was a godly and very religious person, but he had made himself an enemy of God. How have we defiled holy things and robbed God of his due honor through compromise to the world?
12. 2 Kings 16:10 — “When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. And King Ahaz sent to Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details.” Ahaz partnered with the world and blended pagan worship practices with worship to God, which, of course, is wholly unacceptable to God. Unfortunately the priest went along with him, validating his horrific sins. How has the secular world influenced the church and its “worship” today? Syncretism is perhaps the greatest threat to the modern day church.
13. Proverbs 14:2 — “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the LORD, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.” Your actions reveal what you really think about God.
14. Proverbs 14:4 — “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” What is your ox? Have you invested in the capacity to produce, or have you only invested in products that do not add a capacity to produce more for you? Many people buy cars, but few people by the factories that make the cars. Many people play video games, but few people build and sell video games. What do you produce?
15. Proverbs 14:34 — “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Revival is the only hope for our nation. It must start with the church; it must start with you.
16. Galatians 2:2 — “I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.” Paul was led by the Holy Spirit but still sought counsel from other faithful followers of Christ to ensure he was on track.
17. Galatians 2:6 — “And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.” God does not care about social status or position. God is only interested in faithful servants, regardless their public acclaim.
18. Galatians 2:7-9 — “…they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised…. and when [they] perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” Paul was led to serve God in a completely different direction than the rest of the apostles, yet they fully supported him having recognized the Holy Spirit working through him. The church was not divided over Paul’s new and different approach? How do you respond to different forms of faithful ministry?
19. Galatians 2:11-14 — “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’” Paul stood publicly and boldly against hypocrisy, deeds that did not match words, deeds that were not in step with the Gospel. The word hypocrite is the Greek word for “stage actor,” playing a role. Don’t allow yourself or others to pretend to be Christian while in fact not following Jesus in both word and deed. Paul warns that the hypocrite stands condemned.
20. Galatians 2:16 — “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.” We are saved by faith alone, but not a faith that is alone. We don’t obey God to be saved; we obey God because we are saved. It is our hearts desire to honor Him in deed and to reveal Him in deed.
21. Galatians 2:16, 18 — “…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified…. For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.” One of the most misapplied principles in the Bible is grace. Too many use grace as a license to continue in sin. Grace does not abolish the Law, it fulfills the Law, not because of the Law but because of genuine love. If you continue in sin, you are not just disobeying the written Law, you are demonstrating a lack of genuine love. Paul said that the love of Christ compelled him in obedience, not the Law. If you are motivated by love, the Law will be fulfilled naturally.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 June: Resolve today not to be a hypocrite. If you call yourself a Christian, endeavor to truly live like Jesus as an act of love for Jesus.