Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 12 July 21:
2 Chronicles 27:2 — But the people still followed corrupt practices.
2 Chronicles 27 is about the life of Jotham, and it is noticeably a very short chapter, which is particularly conspicuous considering Jotham is one of the few kings who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” He is even found in the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:9) Why so short? After all, not only did Jotham live an obedient life, “order[ing] his ways before the Lord his God,” he also completed some important construction projects and prevailed in battle against the mighty Ammonites and other kings (2 Kings 15:37) through God’s grace. Perhaps the key point concerning the lack of commentary on Jotham is found in 2 Kings 15:35 – “Nevertheless, the high places were not removed. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.”
Jotham lived well personally and did some big things to support the comfort and security of his people (professional success and relevance); but under his reign, idolatry, corruption, and immorality continued to permeate the kingdom. He didn’t use his power and authority to remove the high places. He did not have the influence he should have had on the kingdom as a messenger and instrument of reconciliation with God. (see 2 Corinthians 5:11-21)
God calls us to holiness – “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8) God also calls us to professional excellence – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) But most importantly, God calls us to influence — to be ambassadors for Christ, entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, and he has given us the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. (Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 28:19-20) How we fulfill our calling is crucial.
- Matthew 5:13-16 — “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
- Micah 5:7, 8 — Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver.
- Isaiah 58:5-14 — Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Jotham was a good man who neglected to influence his society for God’s glory as he should have. Another person who failed in this respect was Lot, remember? The New Testament tells us Lot was a righteous man who was greatly distressed and tormented in his soul by the sexual perversion and lawlessness he saw in Sodom. (2 Peter 2:8) Genesis 19:1 says Lot “was sitting in the gate of Sodom,” which means he was a town leader. However, despite his anguished heart and status within the community, he had no significant impact on Sodom’s morality. On the contrary, he and his family were corrupted by and complicit with Sodom’s depravity.
Warned by the angels of the God’s imminent judgment and destruction of the cities, Lot tried to subsequently warn his son’s-in-law (presumably Sodomites), but they thought he was only joking (Genesis 19:14), which says something about Lot’s daily convictions and about what he had communicated to his family and community concerning sin on a regular basis. Furthermore, Lot had become so attached to Sodom that the angels had to physically kick him out of town (for sake of Abraham not Lot – Genesis 19:29). During the destruction, his wife disobeyed the angels, looked back and died. Finally, although Lot’s two daughters survived, they had been so corrupted by Sodom they subsequently got their father drunk and slept with him in order to get pregnant by him! How could a “righteous” man allow such things to happen? Lot was vexed but not valiant and consequently more influenced by Sodom than an influence on Sodom. “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12; Romans 15:4)
But today’s New Testament readings also say, “…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11) Isn’t this telling you to keep quiet, mind your own business, and leave others to live as they desire? Of course not. Remember, this is written by Paul who took many beatings and lost his life for boldly proclaiming the Gospel to as many as he could (whether they wanted to hear it or not), including important political leaders. This is a call for brotherly love, personal responsibility, and good stewardship of time, energy, effort, resources and opportunities to serve as an instrument of God’s common grace and as a messenger of God’s special grace of salvation. This verse is about being busy rather than a busy body, about lighting candles rather than merely cursing the darkness. This is about setting the example and leading positive change for God’s glory rather than playing the helpless, hapless victim, constantly pointing a finger at others while never lifting a finger to make a difference.
Rather than being a vexed victim, be a valiant victor wherever God has placed you. But be the salt and light God called you to be. If you become a ‘king (speaking metaphorically about being a person of authority and influence over a certain domain),’ spread the gospel throughout your ‘kingdom’ and seek “Thy will be done (the Lord’s will)” as much as you can with whatever God has placed under your control. If you are a stay at home parent, spread the gospel to your children and with those with whom you come in contact. Never accept “corrupt practices.” Make the most of every opportunity. Don’t keep your light under a basket or hide your talent (see Matthew 25:14-20).
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 12 July 21: Be the influence God prepared you and empowered you to be.