WEEK 48, Day 4, Thursday, 1 December 2022

https://esv.literalword.com/?q=2+kings+20%3B+Rev+1

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 1 December 2022:

2 Kings 20:1 — “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’”

The story of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18-19 is one of the most powerful testimonies of faith in the Bible. The reader can’t help but be humbled by Hezekiah’s example — “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.” (2 Kings 18:5) Unfortunately Hezekiah’s story doesn’t end there and doesn’t end well.

The turning point in Hezekiah’s life appears to have been when God told him it was time for him to die. “Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” At first glance, Hezekiah’s response not only seems natural but also seems to mirror Jesus’ appeal to the Father on the Mount of Olives before the Cross — “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me…. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:42-44) However, Hezekiah’s prayer lacked Jesus’ heart and motivation – “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) At some point, Hezekiah became more concerned about himself than about fulfilling God’s will for his life and glorifying Him. At some point, Hezekiah lost the heart of Psalmist – “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” (Psalm 63:3)

Hezekiah simply didn’t want to die, whether it was God’s perfect timing or not. In this case, I believe God allowed Hezekiah to live another 15 years to expose the condition of Hezekiah’s heart and to bring glory to Himself. Instead of dying at a highpoint of honorable and faithful service to the Lord, Hezekiah lived on, dooming Judah to captivity and producing Manasseh, one of Judah’s worst kings. Manasseh subsequently reversed all the good Hezekiah had done in his lifetime. Facing death, Hezekiah took a turn away from the Lord’s will which led him down a path of ever-increasing self-centeredness and selfishness, shockingly summarized in his last recorded words when Isaiah prophesied of the doom which would befall his family and nation as a result of his actions — “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?” (2 Kings 20:19) Wow!

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

Hezekiah’s story is intended to teach us and warn us: It is not how you start; it is how you finish. Will you end your life on a pinnacle of faithfulness? Strive (and prepare) for your last day on earth to be your best day for God’s glory.

  • 1 Peter 5:8-10 — Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
  • Proverbs 4:23 — Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
  • Colossians 4:2 — Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving….
  • Matthew 26:41 — “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
  • 1 Corinthians 10:12 — Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
  • 1 Corinthians 16:13 — Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
  • Revelation 3:2 — ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

Like Hezekiah, we will all face the test of death. How we face the test will depend on the relationship we have established with the Lord in life and in our faith and hope in the ultimate victory we have over death in Christ. Like Hezekiah, we must trust God through life, but unlike Hezekiah, we must also trust God through death.

“To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to trust Him. To trust Him is to obey Him…. You can’t know anybody that you don’t spend time with.” (Adrian Rogers) It all depends on knowing God and spending time with Him today and every day. When we follow the Good Shephard in life we will learn to trust Him enough to say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me…. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:4, 6)

  • Romans 14:8 — For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 — So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 — I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Someone once said, “Live as if you will die tomorrow.” However, the Bible says we are to live today dead to the old self and alive anew and eternally in Christ. So, we are live one each day dead to self and alive in Christ with the understanding that everything we do has an eternal impact.

  • Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
  • Galatians 5:22-26 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
  • Mark 8:35 — For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
  • Romans 12:1 — I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:31 — I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!
  • Colossians 3:3 — For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
  • Romans 6:3-14 — Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Ultimately, Hezekiah lacked the faith and courage to surrender His life to the Lord in death. Do you have the faith and courage to die to self and live for Christ today? Will you aspire to live out Galatians 2:20 today and everyday? “… I die every day!” (1 Corinthians 15:31)

Note: Here is a video overview of Revelation 1-11: https://youtu.be/5nvVVcYD-0w

Revelation 1:1 – The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.

This is not a revelation of John. This is a “revelation of Jesus Christ” – The Father first revealed it to the Son, and then the Son revealed it to John by sending His angel. John’s very first point is that he is only transmitting Jesus’s message, not something inspired by his Christian thinking. He is just a messenger, not a philosopher. Too many Christians are trying to be “teachers” rather than transmitters. The Holy Spirit is the teacher.

Revelation 1:3 – Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

We are blessed when we read Revelation and share it with others who in turn are also blessed.

Revelation 1:5, 6 – To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

In our salvation, we are not only freed from our sins, be we have also become subjects in the Kingdom, citizens with all other believers under the rule of Jesus. We have become priests to God with the sole duty of glorifying Him forever. John, though exiled on the island of Patmos, did not see himself as any less of a priest or as having any less of a part in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God does not manifest itself in the way the kingdoms of the world do. John, who identifies himself to the reader as a ‘partner in the kingdom’, also identifies himself as a ‘partner in tribulation.’ John points out that Kingdom people must unite through tribulation. Daniel was a great example of a ‘priest’ of the Kingdom who was being subjugated by earthly rulers. Through intense study of the Scriptures, he understood the ‘signs of the times’ which drove him to relentless intercessory prayer and fasting for his people and for himself. Yes, Lions’ Den Daniel understood, “we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules…. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame…. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you…. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth.” (Daniel 9:2-13) Daniel felt compelled to fast and mourn for three weeks because of the transgression of God’s people and his understanding of the Holiness of God. (Daniel 10:2, 3) Daniel understood from his study of Scripture (Jeremiah) that 70 years of captivity were drawing to an end, but he could not understand how God would fulfill this prophesy based on the current situation. So he went to God in prayer for answers rather than just speculating. This is a good example for us as we begin a quick study of Revelation and the remaining books of prophesy in the Old Testament. Hang on to what you know and pray earnestly about what you don’t know with expectation that God will reveal truth to you when you are ready for it. In the meantime, be a faithful ‘priest’ one day at a time, remaining in intercessory prayer for those around you. Also, remember that you were saved into a Kingdom, to be united with fellow believers. Be a good citizen of the Kingdom of God and join your people. Give your full allegiance to the KING.

Revelation is a confusing book though it comes with a blessing to those who read it and take it to heart (Revelation 1:3). Since there is so much that I don’t understand in Revelation, I try hard to hang on to what I can understand, hoping to comprehend a little more each year. Today, some important points jump out at me: First, This is “Revelation,” not “Revelations” as some say. It is a single revelation “of Jesus Christ” intended for “His servants.” It is a “testimony of Jesus Christ.” So, the first big takeaway: This book further reveals Jesus – an important reason to read it and seek to understand it. The first testimony of Jesus: He is the faithful witness; He is alive, and He IS the ruler of the kings of the earth (your King is King); every eye shall see him in his glory – The Almighty was and is, but He is also “yet to come” (Revelation 1:8). The first big revelation about you: Jesus loves you and has freed you from your sins through His blood. He has made you to be part of His Kingdom, serving God the Father as a priest, yes, a priest (Revelation 1:6). Take this revelation “to heart” as stated in Revelation 1:3 because “the time is near.” Consider these words in comparison to the “Lord’s Prayer”: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.” Honor your King as King and give Him all glory. As a priest in the Kingdom, bring glory to God by doing His will on earth, trusting Him and faithfully serving Him, one day at a time without worrying about tomorrow. Seek to be a good steward of today.

Revelation 1:7: — Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

As Ambassadors and Priests, our bold message is that God is Almighty and will come again to hold all accountable. That is not a popular message. How well are you communicating it?

Revelation 1:9 – I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus.

Christians are united in Jesus but also united in tribulation, citizenship, and patient endurance. Adversity strengthens unity.

Revelation 1:10 – I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.

In the Spirit, John was no longer limited in the physical sense and could now transcend the physical aspects of time and space. He could also see what is not physically visible but real nonetheless. When we are guided by the Spirit, we move far beyond mere intellect. Many debate about what the “Lord’s day” means. Perhaps John was referring to the day Jesus was crucified and that he was taken by the Spirit to that day to see it from a heavenly or spiritual perspective.

Revelation 1:14-15 – His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters.

From Henry T. Blackaby — At times it is tempting to conclude: “If only I could have walked with Jesus, as the twelve disciples did, it would be so much easier to live the Christian life!” This thought reveals that we do not comprehend the greatness of the risen Christ we serve today. The Jesus of the Gospels is often portrayed as One who merely walked along the seashore, loving children and gently forgiving sinners. Yet the image of Jesus that we see at the close of the New Testament is far more dramatic! He stands in awesome power as He rules all creation. His appearance is so magnificent that when John, His beloved disciple, sees Him, he falls to the ground as though he were dead (Rev. 1:17). We grossly underestimate the God we serve! To ignore God’s word or to disobey a direct command from Him is to ignore the magnificent nature of Christ. Our fear of other people proves that we do not understand the awesome Lord who walks with us. The Christ we serve today is the Lord of all creation. He is vastly more awesome and powerful than the gentle rabbi we often imagine. If you struggle with your obedience to Christ, take a closer look at how He is portrayed in the Book of Revelation. If you are succumbing to temptation, call upon the powerful One who dwells in you. If you have forgotten how great and mighty the Lord is, meet Him through the vision of the beloved disciple. The encounter will dramatically affect the way you live!

Revelation 1:17 – When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

Our problems always relate to a limited or superficial perception of Jesus Christ. The reality of Jesus Christ should completely overwhelm us and transform us.

Jesus’ most repeated prohibition is “Fear not.” We can rest assured because or confidence is in Jesus, the First and the Last. As Christians, God’s beloved children, we must never walk in fear (which would be a terrible testimony to the Almighty Sovereign Lord we serve) but in complete reverence (humble respect) to Him. How we live reveals what we really think and believe about God.

Revelation 1:19 – Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.

Revelation is not just about the future. It is also an explanation of past and current events.

Revelation 1:20 – As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Jesus is the Head of the churches, and He is in the midst of the churches. Note that there are seven churches, all different, all with different strengths and weaknesses. When Jesus speaks to the seven churches, He will speak to them all individually.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 December 2022: Strive to make every day with the Lord your best day with the Lord until your last day on this earth with the Lord, into eternity with the Lord. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Present your body as a living sacrifice and experience and proclaim eternal life today.

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