Category Archives: 2019 History

Humility rather than Arrogance

2 Chronicles 33-36; The same story is told over and over again in the Book of the Kings and the Chronicles of how a King rises to prominence and then falters later on it his reign. We left Hezekiah at the height of his reign; he became arrogant and prideful and God humbled him. The repentance by Hezekiah restored the blessings of God toward his rule. Hezekiah does get mortally sick and prays to the LORD for more time; God answers the prayer and extends Hezekiah’s life 15 years. Now you wouldn’t think that 15 years would make all that much difference; but Hezekiah has a son named Manasseh who winds up being probably the most evil king in all of Judah’s existence. We know from previous accounts that Manasseh worshipped the fire god Molech; and he made his sons be sacrificed to the idol god. In 2 Chrono 33:6 we read that he [Manasseh] did worse than the gentile tribes and clans that God removed from the Promised land. He practiced divination, sorcery, dealt with spirits and mediums which angered God vehemently! He installed idols in the House of God; erected idol altars and made Judah  and Jerusalem more evil than the surrounding nations. BUT – when God rebuked and disciplined Manasseh, Manasseh humbled himself before God and God forgave him. In that repentance Manasseh began to reform Judah by tearing down all the previous idols and altars he erected. I am so amazed at the great forgiveness and mercy of God! The mere act of humbling ourselves, regardless of the sin and evil we have done – God responds with lovingkindness and mercy. Folks that’s mind blowing!

Amon, Manasseh’s son takes over, but only last for two years – why so short, because he did evil in the sight of the LORD and would not HUMBLE himself before God. God had no option but to pour out His wrath. In fact, Amon’s own people kill him. I wonder will America ever come to the point of refusal to be humble before God that He has to pour out His wrath on us? Remember the slightest indication of humility before God enacts His love and mercy!

Enter into the history story one child King called Josiah. Now you would think that a young boy, or anyone for that matter with the family heritage as he had would do evil like those before him; nope- He did that which was pleasing to God as “his father David did.” Hear of some of the reforms Josiah did – purged the high places of idols, tore down the altars, burned the bones of the false priests, chopped down the Asherim poles and led Jerusalem to restore the Temple. It took him 10 years to do all the work of reform. The struggle about the reforms was they were from the King Josiah; but hadn’t been bought into by the people. This tells me that people don’t want gross evil; but they do want to dabble in sin. During the restoration of the Temple the book of Deuteronomy is found. Josiah rips his clothes, understanding the horror of wrath from God because of the rebellious fathers of Judah. A revival breaks out, the Word of God is read and great conviction comes over the people. The Passover is reinstituted – 2 Chron. 3517-19 tells us that the Passover was not observed like this was since the days of Samuel – that mean Saul, David and Solomon never observed the Passover like King Josiah brought back!

Josiah dies as a result of not listening to the King Neco from Egypt. Neco tried to warn him not to fight at Carchemish [the LORD was speaking to Neco] and Josiah dies. After this we have a “king, king, who is the King, merry go round. The fall of Judah is eminent; Jeremiah the prophet has been preaching the warnings from God, but no one pays attention. King Nebuchadnezzar ultimately takes Judah captive through three deportations. Israel, Judah and Samaria are all besieged by gentile nations for their rebellious evil acts against God.

We have the return of the deportees and the restoration 70 years later as it is written in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah – but then that is another story.

In conclusion; I have spent 4 and half years blogging the entire Bible. I will continue from time to time adding other blogs. But the Bible Blog ends today. Thank you for all who have followed through the years. It has always been my prayer that God would use this technology for His Glory – Through the years I have had people from some 35 different countries join in the reading of this blog. I will keep all the posts for others to access.

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Hezekeiah:Reforms, Reinstituted, and Restoration

2 Chronicles 29-34; I have waited for two weeks before writing the blog on this portion of scripture. I have been enthralled with the passage! We use to play games with the name of Hezekiah, asking people to turn to the book; of course it sounds like a book in the Bible but is not. Hezekiah the King of Judah is a remarkable person. Beginning in chapter 29, we find this 25 year old King sitting on the throne of God’s people – Judah. As a pastor I have always been told “don’t do anything for the first couple of years when taking over a new church;” sounds like great advice. But this is not what King Hezekiah did – it says ” in the 1st year and the 1st month, he opened the door to the house of the Lord; then called the Levities and Priests on the carpet – saying “CONCECRATE YOURSELVES AND THE HOUSE OF THE LORD.” Talk about having some brass! Now in our current climate of Christianity, we have a lot of resistance to the younger generation of pastors and ministers. I found it ironic that the people God uses to bring revival and restoration to Judah and Israel is the kings, not the religious leaders. God used Kings like Asa, Jehoshaphat, Josiah and Hezekiah.

I pray for revival everyday for the church. I keep praying that God will somehow open the eyes and hearts of believers to the urgency of the Gospel in our world. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a oft quoted formula prayer for revival. As I have mentioned before, I see that passage not as prescriptive but descriptive about revival. King Hezekiah didn’t wait around to be given permission to act as king; he jumped in and took command of the situation. What is interesting also is Hezekiah follows a corrupt king in Ahaz. I got to thinking about the revolving door of kings and couldn’t help but draw the analogy of revolving doors of pastors in churches. It seems that whoever follows; begins to deconstruct what was done, and then establish their own leadership system. This makes sense if and only if the previous leadership was in fact corrupt and needed changing. But many times what happen, is pastors and those in leadership scrap the organizational structure for a new one. If this is done enough times, the people grow weary of the constant change and bow out of listening to leadership as a whole.

Anyway, Hezekiah spends no time in restoring the LORD’s house, and tells the religious leaders to “clean up their act.” We have been taught that the Church or Christianity is the secret to restoring a nation, country, community or church back to God. Hummm? Really, then why is it that God had to use those outside the Church to fix the church? Revival is for the people who know God but have become disobedient and apathetic towards God and His requirement of obedience.

The condition of the religious leaders is disheartening; they were unclean – filthy, yet they stood in the honorable place of intercession for the people. The Church/Lord’s house had been neglected and was in ruins. The religious leaders cowered down and gave into Ahaz and Baal worship. Today as then we must have men of God who will stand in the Gap and stand up against the garbage of culture and Satan! Where are all the men of God today that will speak against the sins of the world and the sins of the congregation?

Hezekiah brought a wonderful revival to the land. He got the religious leaders right, cleansed the Lord’s House, then called people to come worship. There was something to come worship about now. Restoration of the Passover, a feast that was to be perpetually observed, hadn’t been for years. Hezekiah did what Revitalization Leadership does – make pastors and churches do what they already know to do, but aren’t!

A single word is repeated over and over in these chapters – CONSECRATION, CONSECRATE, CONSECRATED. The word means is more than -separated or sanctified. It carries the concept of cleansing that which is filthy, to purify, to make holy for the use of the Lord. Hezekiah wouldn’t let the religious leaders conduct services until they personally were consecrated. Here is this 25 year old King standing up to the vile filth of Baal worship and apostasy of the religious leaders and orchestrating an awesome revival, that the people wanted to extend another week. Oh, that we would hear a prophetic voice of God today for consecration before God. DO we really want revival? It starts with us!!

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Failed Leadership

2 Chronicles 24-28; we are about to finish the history books of the Bible. In this second book of Chronicles, we are reliving the reign of the 19 kings in Judah and Israel. As I have stated before, Israel, the northern kingdom who withdrew from the united Israel kingdom, had 19 kings, all of which established their own kingdom which lasted only as long as the reigned. Israel had 19 kings with 19 different dynasties. The kings repeated have the familiar commentary – “and he did that which was not right in the eyes of the LORD, as Jeroboam, who lead Israel to reject God and embrace Baal.” When we come to Judah, the kings who reign are all from the line of David – affirming the promise Jehovah gave to King David – saying “your throne will not cease to have one from your line upon it. This was an eternal promise – David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD. This statement would mark many of the Kings that followed after the Israelite kingdom was divided. Judah also had 19 kings – but only had one dynasty. In other words no other families in Judah reigned on the throne except those in direct line of David. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this eternal promise. Jesus will reign on the throne of David. Even this is interesting because normally the first born of a family would inherit the place of leadership. Judah [the  son of Jacob] was not the first, that fell to Reuben, and even Simeon, the second born should have been the heir of the Patriarchal clan. Even Levi should have gotten the scepter, but God separated Levi out for service to the Sanctuary.  The scepter fell to Judah – now Judah is not without reproach, but it was Judah who came to the place of reigning lineage. Reuben eliminated because he took one of Jacob’s concubines sexually. Simeon excused because of the revenge he inflicted after Dinah had been raped. Levi, as I have said already had a special service dedicated to the LORD and the Temple/Ark of the Covenant.  Judah was the one who protected Joseph from death by promoting the idea of selling Joseph instead of killing him; he was also in the lead position to seek and find Joseph. Judah was not a perfect leader. His dealing with Tamar, his daughter-in-law and “prostitution” does not view him favorably. However, God saw to had the scepter to his – Genesis 49:8-12.

Leadership for Israel and Judah are marked with leadership failures. We are no less than and no more than they. God knows that we are but dust.

Rather than chronicle the individual lives of each king, I found a more significant issue that needs to be addressed. I have mentioned this once before, but it became more glaring in our reading this week. The youthful leaders/kings many times in Judah were under the tutoring of a man of God or priest that taught them the ways of God. Judah more than Israel [northern tribes] had the prophets of God that would advise and direct the King in the ways of God. An easy example is Josiah; but there are many others. In their youth they listened to the prophets of old and did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD. Joash, Uzziah and Jehoshaphat and Amaziah are all examples of how youthful kings began so strong for the LORD, but because of success, pride and arrogance, they drifted away from God in their latter years. This happened not without repercussions.  We will see this fulfilled in Hezekiah’s life next week.

Failed leadership because they didn’t stay true to the LORD God. Opulence with Solomon was a downfall to succeeding kings. In our country today, America, the thought has to be investigated, has the success economically and militarily caused the decline of our nation? I read much about the original signers of our national sacred documents, and how those men were central in establishing a country and nation founded on the premise of “doing that which is right in the eyes of the LORD.” Much is being done today to try and undermine the foundation of those men, and rewrite history from their personal failures, not from the core and heart of each man. Ultimately, Israel fell along with Samaria in 722 BC; Judah would fall to the Babylonians in 587 BC; again Israel in the Second Temple era fell at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD. When a nation departs from God; failure and demise is surely bound to happen. But in each case of destruction and fall; the nation had already crumbled from inside; Rome included. When looking at our own country – Have we gone the way of Israel by departing from God? I deal everyday with dying churches that are more concerned with their own “comfort and preferences” rather than serving God and winning the Lost with the Gospel.

The people quit listening to the prophets and the Word of God – people in America have come to a place where they don’t even discuss God. God is not even on their radar of topics to discuss. Kingdoms come and kingdoms go? Where are we in that continuum?

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Jumping Jehoshaphat

2 Chronicles 18-23 continues the revolving door of kings and leaders in both Israel and Judah. As we found out last week with Asa, Judah primarily had good and faithful kings – yet towards the end of their lives, they revealed their human depravity and left the LORD. However, we find that God is always faithful. He continues to keep His covenant what he made with David. Judah is the benefactor of that covenant; for at times Judah was no better and no worse than Israel who had been led astray into Baalism by Jeroboam. Sometimes I think through the lives of these Old Testament kings and leaders and reflect on their testimony. History and the Bible have captured the good, the bad and the ugly of their lives. It would be easy for us to throw stones and insults their way saying that “we would never have done such evil.” Hum, I think we boast too pridefully about our own thoughts of ourselves. The bible tells us that none seek after God, no not one [Romans 3:10-18]

Jehoshaphat comes on the historical scene for Judah – 2 Chron. 17, the LORD was with him, for he followed after the Lord like David did; and did not follow after Baals like Israel did. Whew! Finally we have someone in leadership that has gotten it right. Great testimony of how God blessed King Jehoshaphat and how God established his kingdom. God blesses faithfulness; but he also abhors disobedience and idolatry. God is both merciful and gracious; but He also is just. We read how God established Jehoshaphat’s kingdom and bestowed on his riches and honor.

We also read how Jehoshaphat led a “discipleship” thrust where the priests and Levites went around teaching the ways of the Lord. He tore down the idols and established the Law as the Law of the Land. We find that the neighboring lands were in dread -fear because it was obvious that the Lord God Jehovah was with Judah and to fight against them would be to fight against God. How many times have we read about how the enemies of Israel and Judah were in fear because of what they witnessed God doing in His people. Victory after victory was given by God over the enemies such as Assyria, Egypt and Philistines. The dread of the nations was so real that God gave peace to Judah, and the nations did not fight against God’s people. Awesome  and great is this story. BUT . . .

2 Chronicles 18:1 -“Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he allied himself by marriage with Ahab.” What in the world is wrong with Him? Why in the world after tasting of the riches of God would he turn and inter-marry with the devil himself? Ahab was king of Israel; we know him better as the wimpy husband of Jezebel, who caused Israel to sin greatly against God and sought to kill Yahweh’s prophets [Elijah] There was no need for Jehoshaphat to enter into any marriage alliance with Ahab. As we read through the rest of Jehoshaphat’s story, noting good came from his reign.

Ahab paid great honor and reverence to Jehoshaphat, but what is that to the honor and riches that God had already showered? I find in most concerting that we believers are to soon to forget the blessings of God and pursue the praise of the world. Scripture tells us Not to love the world, nor the things in the world – 1 John 2:15-17. This would be a sad story if it ended here.

God has his spokesman in Jehu, just like he did with Nathan and David. It is good to read the whole story and find that Jehoshaphat returned to God and led the people back to God. I am sure that every single one of us have had periods of “prodigalness” in us. The great story of when the prodigal son came to his senses, he knew where to go. Oh, that we too would come to our senses as a people and a nation to return to God of our salvation and have a great revival of serving the LORD!

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ASA a King and man of God

2 Chronicles 14-18 is our reading passage, but I want to focus on Asa the king who followed Abijah in Judah. I t says that he did right in the eyes of the LORD. He attempted to rid Judah of the cultic idols that had been worshiped. Asa challenged the people to worship God and to obey the commandments and Law of God.

Just as a point of commentary, Judah by and large had good kings in the aspect that they did the work of the LORD. Israel in the Northern kingdom had many bad kings who followed in the steps of King Jeroboam, and led the people to worship Baal and Asherah. in 2 Chron 14:9 we find that many of the people from the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon defected back to Judah because of the gross idolatry and immorality in Israel.

Back to our passage and Asa, early on we find that Zerah the Ethiopian comes to do battle against Asa with 1 million men and 300 chariots.  Asa didn’t back down, he led his army out in battle formation; then he called on the LORD. His prayer is amazing and wonderful; found in 2 Chronicles 14:11; “Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”

The prayer that avails much – a prayer said with complete dependency on God for deliverance; a prayer worthy of God’s authority and power to answer! The answer – ” So God routed the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah and the Ethiopians fled.” What a victory won that day. I couldn’t help but think of the song “Some trust in chariots, but we trust in the Name of the LORD our God” when I read the prayer.

In chapter 15, we read of the priest Azariah and his words to Asa. Essentially, he says the LORD is with you Asa, and if you obey Him, He [God] will let you find Him; if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. This is very interesting to me – if I seek God He will let me find Him. I understand that no one can call Jesus Lord except the Holy Spirit give him the ability. My understanding is that if we respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then God will continue to “draw” us to Himself. God is not lost that He has to be found, we are lost and are being drawn to the Light – being found. I have often wondered how some people can hear the gospel and not respond, yet others sitting in the same place will hear and respond positively  to the Gospel. Knowing that no one seeks after God, but that God seeks after us makes the difference in who is finding who.

Asa goes on to have a great reign as King of Judah; but – ugh that word But. Asa like so many others in their later years forget to remember God. In chapter 16, Asa is confronted with another enemy, except this time he takes the treasure out of the Temple in an attempt to “buy off” his enemy through King of Aram. This doesn’t miss God’s notice and Hanani calls Asa’s hand on the deal. Asa basically shoots the messenger by throwing Hanani in prison. Later on Asa gets diseased feet, he oppresses the people and even in his pain of diseased feet refuses to seek medical attention. We can ask the question – What Happened? It is hard to say, but there are countless examples where a man of God drifted away from God in their latter years [Solomon and Hezekiah]. I have had friends do the same thing. How is it that they lived out a great testimony before God, family and communities, yet falter and live contrary to everything they previously held to? Weak in the flesh? Carnal? I don’t know, but they ended up ruining their personal testimony. Seek to live for the Lord Jesus and not have a BUT . . .  in you life.

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Conflict in the Family

Our passage is from 2 Chronicles 8-13; while it would be easy to get engrossed in the details and extravagance of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, that story is a fleeting one. The Queen was impressed with all the earthly treasures of Solomon and the stories of his wisdom. Her trip to see him seems to be two-fold. First to impress him with her own entourage and wealth and too see if the rumors of his wisdom were true. I guess Solomon passed the test, for she was blown away beyond what she had heard. Sort of reminds me of the people who thronged to Jesus. I am sure that the news of His works and wisdom were echoed across the land. Many followed because of what He could do for them, others came to see for themselves if the stories were true. Sadly, enough there are others that came to Jesus to “prove their worth” to Him. Why is it that man has this insistent desire to prove or out do someone else? Well, we all know that Jesus doesn’t disappoint for He is able to do abundantly and exceedingly more than we ask or think!
The story shifts from Solomon, the son of the famous King David to his successor, Rehoboam. We have read that God was gracious and merciful to Solomon, even in his disobedience because of God’s promise to David. Solomon the wisest man dies, time for the changing of power. Rehoboam was 41 and reigned for 17 years. Rehoboam went to get anointed as the next king over the united 12 tribes of Israel. However, a man or better yet a nemesis named Jeroboam challenges Rehoboam. Rehoboam asks the elders how he should reign, them tell him to back off the harsh rule that was prominent during Solomon’s reign. Rehoboam then asks his own peers what to do – yeah not a good move it turns out. They tell him to increase the burdens. I guess if you are going to lead my “poll results” you will need to be prepared for push back. Leadership is not about popular opinion, but the will of God.
Now this Jeroboam guy didn’t just show up but was in exile because he tried to start a coup during Solomon’s reign. Solomon is dead and Jeroboam rears his rebellious head. Note to us, Satan always plays for another day. We may be successful today, but tomorrow is another day to fight against the wiles of the Adversary! When Israel balks at the Rehoboam national strategy, ten tribes embrace Jeroboam as King and withdraw from Judah and Benjamin, leaving behind a divided nation. Something we must remember Israel [ten northern tribes] have always been rebellious and fighting with Judah., even during the days of David.
Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who is an Ephriamite [Ruth and Naomi]. We find from our reading in Kings, that the sin of Jeroboam was great in that it caused Israel to depart from God and create and embrace the gods of the Canaanites. Rehoboam made a fatal mistake in this case; he didn’t listen to the wise counsel of the people. Rehoboam does go on to reign from 17 years and had some measure of success. There is a verse we need to look at 2 Chronicles 10:13, what happened was the “turn of events from God that He might establish His word. I can’t help but think of how Matthew 21:43 rings loud here. The Jews lost the kingdom of God because of their disobedience; the kingdom was given to another people [Gentiles] who received the Gospel and were redeemed. God is amazing in His plans; He uses the disobedience of one people [His people] to win a people who are on the outside of the commonwealth of God. That work meant salvation to me and everyone else who believes that is not a JEW.
What will be evident from now on in Chronicles will be the somewhat faithfulness of Judah and the idolatry of Israel. Good kings and bad kings; but they were brothers, all from Jacob. Rehoboam and Jeroboam will fight against each other. I am heart broken about the condition in some churches in America – they are fighting against each other – family conflict.

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Hear and Forgive

2 Chronicles chapters 4-8; parallel passage 1 Kings 8-9. The recounting of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple to the LORD. Many times when we read this passage we get fixiated on 2 Chronicles 7:14, the renown verse used for Revival preparation. However, the verse “If my people which are called by My name will humble themselves, seek My face, turn from their wicked ways and pray; then I will hear their prayers, forgive their sins and heal their land” has become more of a carte blanche prayer than an actual living out of the “conditions” Solomon referenced earlier before the people in 2 Chronicles 6. The verse is not a PRESCRIPTION for Revival, but a DESCRIPTION  of what happens when revival occurs. There are other passages that are treated the same way; for example Acts 2:41-45 has been a prescription for church growth and out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. Rick Warren’s book Purpose Driven Church [copyrighted] was used to identify the five functions of the church- worship, fellowship, service, discipleship and evangelism. During the 1980’s and 90’s pastors all over used the “Warren Formula” to try and grow churches  – specifically following Warren’s book verbatim. Even though Warren tells the reader/pastor not to do it, so many attempted the formula for church growth expecting the same results that Saddleback church experienced and were greatly disappointed when it didn’t happen. The same phenomena happened when preachers tried to replicate Charles Finney’s revival techniques in the 19th century.   Solomon was dedicating the Temple to the LORD, a place where God said He would put His name. Solomon’s prayer is a great prayer! He uses the “If . . . Then” statements to issue his request from God. Solomon wise as he was, knew that no matter what the people of Israel said, they would succumb to temptation to be like the world around them and go on sinning. The IF is not to say the condition Solomon expresses Could happen, but more realistically WHEN the condition happened. Solomon’s prayer is one of prophetic utterances. He knew the people and it would be just a matter of time before they fell back into apostasy.

“Your people Israel” is used over and over to describe the audience. IF your People do . . . ; when they PRAY to You in this place, will You hear and forgive? While these are question statements, I think Solomon was more outlining conditions that denotes a disciplined people crying out in humility and sorrow for their sins and wanting forgiveness. Today, and in the past, believers have used 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a pattern for revival, I believe the verse should be seen as a description of what happens when revival occurs. Solomon describes a wayward condition of the people that invoked a discipline from God; in the disciplined posture Israel was to be “driven” back to the LORD. The whole prayer of Solomon is about relationship reconciliation with Yahweh. Revival is for those of us that have been redeemed and saved through faith in Jesus Christ. Lost people cannot experience revival; they must experience Salvation.

I hear churches talk about having revival services; I find this very interesting because they see it as an opportunity for the LOST to get saved. But the opposite should be understood. It is a time where the church/believers can be reconciled back to God their Heavenly Father! If the Church will be humble and broken over their sin, the restoration of fellowship with God will result in the Church being on mission to evangelize the LOST. Years ago, REVIVAL meetings would last two weeks. Many people never understood why. The first week was to get the CHURCH right, the second week was to bring the LOST to faith and salvation. Today, we have minimized “revival” to a three or four day event; then we wonder how come God hasn’t moved!

Revival is a work of God on the people of God! Revival rarely happens with the masses; it usually starts with the few and spreads to the masses. The only other word that is used over and over again in this passage is the word PRAY. When people pray. . . . but that is the problem; people don’t pray. Churches don’t pray and pastors don’t pray. Yet they expect God to do something because they applied a “formula” that is descriptive of God moving; but have applied it in a prescriptive way. Revival is a movement of God, period. The best we can do is raise our “sails” and pray for the winds of the Holy Spirit to blow. When we pray could be viewed as “WHILE WE ARE PRAYING” God will hear and forgive. We must quit talking about prayer and revival and get after repentance and confession to the Lord; then He will hear and forgive.

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