WEEK 48, Day 1, Monday, 28 November 2022

https://esv.literalword.com/?q=2+kings+17%3B+John+19

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 28 November 2022:

2 Kings 17:41 – So these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.

2 Kings 17 recounts the fall of Israel, explaining why Israel fell – “this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God… and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced.” (2 Kings 17:7, 8) “Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced.” (2 Kings 17:19)

For political and civic reasons, the kings of Assyria attempted to sponsor renewed worship of God, redeploying priests to teach the law of God in the land. However, what resulted was the same polluted religion and idolatry that God rejected in the first place – the blending of beliefs or syncretism. Essentially, the people sought to worship God and also the idols of their society. “To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the Lord….” (2 Kings 17:34)

  • Romans 15:4 — For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction….

Unfortunately, the compromise of syncretism (the blending of different religions and cultures) impacts the church today too, rendering our Old Testament readings very relevant to today:

When the church or God’s people adopt the beliefs, ways, practices, customs, and rules of the world, the salt loses is saltiness and the light is dimmed, allowing darkness to grow. A compromised church destroys nations more than corrupt political leaders. Compromise starts when God’s people place self before God and seek to build for themselves little kingdoms rather than seeking the Kingdom of God, living by the motto “My will be done..,” rather than, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Then, they partner with other would-be kings around them in order to get along. They build metaphorical towers of Babel and celebrate their unity in self-fulfillment and self-made prosperity. Before long, agreeing with man becomes more important than agreeing with God, and further compromise ensues. When the fear of man replaces the fear of God individually and corporately, destruction is inevitable.

If the world is growing darker, it is because the light is growing dimmer. The problem is not “them,” it is “us.” As the church goes, so goes the nation. Rather than cursing the darkness, turn up the light. Pray for corporate repentance and revival within the church. Corporate repentance starts with individual repentance. Where might you have compromised your faith? Have you dimmed your light in order to get along with those who prefer the darkness?

  • Matthew 6:24 — “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
  • Luke 11:23 — “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
  • Revelation 3:16 — “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

“…and they served idols….” (2 Kings 17:12) Idols are not just little statues representing fake gods. An idol is anything that takes priority in a person’s life over God. Few people in America today worship statues, but nonetheless this generation is just as idolatrous as previous generations. 1 Samuel 15:23 and Colossians 3:5 add to our understanding of idolatry – “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:23) “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) Many Christians are blind to their idolatry which is primarily a worship of self — putting self ahead of God and above others, rejecting the Great Commandment of love. Jesus said that the first step to truly following Him is denying self, putting God and others above self, regardless the personal cost (taking up the Cross), and following Him. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

John 19:1-5 – “Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the man!’”

The world will mock and hate the truth. Jesus warns you to be prepared for that but to continue your mission as His ambassador – “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

John 19:9 – “But Jesus gave him no answer.”

Again, notice like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Jesus also felt no requirement to justify Himself before men, nor did He place any hope in the world, “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God.” (John 13:3) You have no need to defend yourself before scoffers. Simply proclaim the truth, let the scoffers scoff, and take up your cross as you follow Jesus, fellowshipping with Him in persecution – “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

John 19:11 – Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

Our fate is never really in the hands of men. God controls every situation.

John 19:15 – The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

What a shocking statement coming from the chief priests. However, a church that remains silent before legalized abortion and other state endorsed abominations has essentially proclaimed the same thing.

John 19:19-20 – Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.

Pilate was making a statement he wanted to make clear to everyone, regardless their language: ‘Jesus has no power or authority over this government – God is dead. The government (Caesar) has all power and authority and decides what is true, what is right, what is wrong, how you should live, who lives, and who dies.’ This spirit of antichrist is alive and well today. Many have sought to put God to death in government and in their personal lives, and such people will not tolerate those who might challenge their sovereignty claims, but one day everyone will stand in judgment before the KING —

  • Psalm 10:3, 4, 16 — For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” [However] the LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.
  • Revelation 11:18 — The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.
  • Hebrews 9:27 — And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment….
  • Romans 14:12 — So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
  • Revelation 15:3 — And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!”
  • 1 Timothy 6:13-16 — I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
  • 1 Timothy 1:17 — To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
  • Hebrews 1:8 — But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
  • Revelation 19:15-16 — From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Every day, you are given an opportunity to proclaim to the world, through your words and deeds, who is really King. In fact, you have been appointed as an ambassador to the KING of kings – “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) Ambassadors represent their governments before foreign governments and often have to deliver confrontational messages. Are you prepared to confront your culture with the word of God for their sake and for God’s glory even if it means entering into a fiery furnace?

John 19:25 – … but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

“There is no Christianity without a cross, for you cannot be a disciple of Jesus without taking up your cross. Crosses are painful, they forever change your life, but sometimes the greatest cost will not be to you but to those you love. You may be prepared to obey the Lord’s commands, whatever they are, because you’ve walked with Him and know that His way is best. Yet there will be those close to you who have not related to Jesus in the same way and have not heard His voice as clearly.

Jesus understood that His Father’s will for Him led to a cross. The cross would mean a painful death for Jesus, and it would also bring suffering to those closest to Him. Because of the cross, Jesus’ mother would watch in agony as her son was publicly humiliated, tortured, and murdered. Jesus’ aunt and close friends would witness His excruciating death. His disciples would be scattered in terror and confusion in what would be the longest, darkest night of their lives. Because of Jesus’ obedience, there would also be a cross for each of His disciples.

Obedience to your Lord’s commands will affect others (Luke 14:26). Don’t refuse to obey what you know God is asking because you fear the cost to your family will be too great. Beware lest you seek to prevent those you love from taking up the cross God has for them. Don’t ever try to protect those you love by disobeying God. The cost of disobedience is always far greater. Rather, look to Jesus, your model, and see what it cost those around Him for Him to be obedient to His Father.” (Henry T. Blackaby)

John 19:30 – When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“God always finishes what He begins (Phil. 1:6). God never speaks a word without ensuring that it comes to pass (Isa. 55:11). Christ is both the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 1:8, 17). Christ is as much at the end of His work as He is at its beginning.

Jesus was given an enormous mandate. He was to live a sinless life, remaining absolutely obedient to His Father. Even the manner of His death was to fulfill numerous prophecies that had been foretold in Scripture (Matt. 26:24, 31, 54, 56; 27:9, 35; 46; John 19:28, 36-37). Yet, despite the extremely complex assignment Jesus received from His Father, He could shout triumphantly from the cross, “It is finished!”

Christ now resides within each believer. His assignment today is to complete God’s will in each Christian. He is just as determined to do this in us as He was to complete God’s will for Himself. You will have to resist Christ in order to remain out of the will of God. What is it God wants to do in you? Have you allowed Him to complete what He has begun? He will not force you to receive all that He has for your life. If God’s work has not been brought to fruition in you, it is not that Christ has not been diligently working toward that end. Rather, you may need to release areas of your life to Him and be as determined to see God’s work in you completed as Christ is. Review the things God has said to you over this last year. Are there promises God has made to you that you have refused to allow Him to complete? If so, commit to yield your will to God today.” (Henry T. Blackaby)

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 November 2022: Today, pray for God to reveal areas of compromise in your life, and pray for the Lord’s help in removing them.

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