Today’s Bible reading: 2 Kings 10:32-12:21; Acts 18:1-22; Psalm 145:1-21; Proverbs 18:1
When Israel entered the Promised Land 600 year earlier, they also had some land east of the Jordan River. In 2 Kings 10:32-33 God takes that land away from Israel due to their sin. I wonder if God will allow the same thing to happen to the United States.
God can, and often does, use the evil of men (and women) to further His goals. When Athaliah attempts to wipe out the line of David, God uses this evil to hide and protect Joash (2 Kings 11:2) who will go on to be king.
Jehoiada plans to reveal Joash on a Sabbath. On this day the guards were changed so he could have two groups of guards on duty at the same time without arousing suspicion (2 Kings 11:5-9). Very smart.
Athaliah was a tyrannical ruler as evidenced by the people’s exuberant response to the presenting of Joash (2 Kings 11:14). So often we live under sin for so long without realizing that a legitimate alternative exists. Once we are free from that sin we can do nothing but rejoice. This is exactly what Jesus wants to do to us. He is the Truth. And the Truth will set us free.
The people are so pumped about having an heir of David on the throne that they tear down another temple of Baal (2 Kings 11:18). After a victory over sin aren’t we always on fire for God? The real test comes after our emotions settle down. Keeping ourselves from sin and committed to God for the long term is the hard part.
Joash becomes king of Judah in 2 Kings 12:2 and did a pretty good job because Jehoiada, the priest, instructed him. This indicates that Joash was open to learning, something we have been encouraged to be this year in Proverbs. Even so, Joash didn’t do all that he could have (2 Kings 12:3).
Joash starts a project to rebuild the Temple (2 Kings 12:4). But sadly the money that was collected was not put to proper use, apparently because the priests, who already had enough to do, were put in charge of the reparations (2 Kings 12:7-8). Here we see that all of us need to get involved. Our pastors cannot do everything. Their role is to teach us. The congregation needs to be responsible for other areas.
I have been in several churches where major expansions were taking place (including my current church). Each time the congregation is asked to donate above and beyond their regular giving to support the effort so nothing is taken away from the current programs. This is exactly what God is teaching us in 2 Kings 12:16.
Unfortunately, Joash does not end his reign on a positive note. When confronted by the enemy he gives in much too easily and gives up all he and previous kings had worked so hard for (2 Kings 12:18). We do the same thing when confronted by Satan. We give in to sin and suffer defeat easily and quickly. But God is always on our side, ready to help us fight if we just give Him the opportunity to do so.
In Acts 18 we read about Paul’s time in Corinth. It was to the church he planted here that he wrote the two letters we will read in a few weeks. Corinth was a major city in southern Greece known for its sexual immorality. It was a major trading cross-roads through which many people traveled and so it was a perfect place to start a church from which the message of Jesus Christ could be spread all over the earth.
In Acts 18:3 we learn that Paul was a tentmaker. Paul supported himself with an avocation and did not rely on anyone else to fund his personal expenses. Any money he collected went towards his missionary work. That is a great model for us to follow.
Paul has some success in Corinth (Acts 18:8) despite some opposition (Acts 18:6). Jesus speaks to him and tells him “Don’t be afraid!” (Acts 18:9). Jesus would not have said this if Paul was not afraid. Jesus always knows exactly what we are feeling. Jesus also encourages Paul to “speak out” and not to be silent. This is the exact same encouragement Jesus is giving every one of His followers today. We need to tell others about Jesus. We should not keep quiet. Paul is so encouraged that he stays in Corinth for a year and a half (Acts 18:11).
On the way home, Paul stops in Ephesus, to whom he wrote the letter to the Ephesians (Acts 18:19) leaving behind his good friends Priscilla and Aquila who were apparent converts in Corinth. Its very unusual for a wife’s name to mentioned before her husband’s in ancient writings. We can conclude that Priscilla was a very well respected woman – more evidence that the Bible does not look down upon women.
Psalm 145 reminds us of the many great qualities of God. He is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, and filled with love (Psalm 145:8). He always keeps His promises (something we have seen in our Old Testament readings all year), gracious, and willing to lift up those who have fallen (Psalms 145:13-14). This is exactly how we should think of God. We should not think of Him as being against us or looking for a reason to hurt us.
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