July 25

July 25

Jehoiachin (Southern King  3 months) & Zedekiah (Southern King 11 years) — Jeremiah jailed.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 24:8-20

Reading 2: Jeremiah 37

Reading 3: Jeremiah 38

The end of a decline is often the hardest part, and today’s readings are no exception. Jeremiah continues to live in fear of his life despite his obedience to God and his adherence to God’s Word. The evil kings he serves are determined to ignore his advice, or worse to kill him for what they see as treason.

Jeremiah has enemies among the people too, especially the grandson of false prophet Hananiah. But there are also those who look out for Jeremiah and rescue him. So he lives to prophesy another day!

Let’s thank God that out of all this death, rebellion, and destruction, comes restoration after the punishment for sin is completed.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 24

July 24

Jehoiakim (Southern King 11 years) — Jeremiah’s prophecy (70 years) to Jehoiakim destroyed.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 24:1-7

Reading 2: Jeremiah 25:1-14

Reading 3: Jeremiah 36

We have been reading that God is using the surrounding nations, especially Babylon, as His instruments of judgment on the sinful nation of Judah, just as He did with Assyria against the nation of Israel.

Jeremiah has been prophesying for 23 years about the consequences of Judah’s sin, and now God tells him to write out the prophecies in full. But wicked king Jehoiakim refuses to respond to the prophecies as they are read. Instead he cuts them off the scroll and burns them in the fire!

Such callous disregard for God’s words illustrates the hardness of heart that God was determined to erase from Judah. And don’t think that being a prophet (or the prophet’s scribe) were easy jobs! Both Jeremiah and Baruch have to hide to avoid execution, and then they rewrite the scrolls Jehoiakim had burned. All that work repeated in obedience to God!

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 22

July 22

Jehoiakim (Southern King 11 years) — Jeremiah’s vs. Hananiah’s message to Jehoiakim.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 23:31-37

Reading 2: Jeremiah 26

Reading 3: Jeremiah 28

We have often seen in our readings that obeying God in the Old Testament period was literally a matter of life and death. Sin is a powerful task master and God is as opposed to sin as an oncologist is to cancer. God’s purpose is to eradicate sin and stop its cancerous hold on his creation – mankind.

Today we read of the high stakes Jeremiah faced in his obedience to God. Prophesying disaster is never popular, but God told him to warn the nation. By contrast, Hananiah had a “feel good” message for the king and the people.

In these cases, the only way to know who was the true prophet was to wait and see whose words came true. In this case, the outcome for Hananiah was death, proving Jeremiah’s prophecy true.

We too are called to demonstrate God’s heart to the world around us, but now it is loving sacrifice that we can demonstrate, reflecting Jesus. What will you do today as you represent our loving Savior in the places to which He has called you?

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 21

July 21

Josiah (Southern King 31 years) — Josiah’s Passover, dying in the wrong battle, & Jehoahaz.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Chronicles 35

Reading 2: Proverbs 26:17

Reading 3: 2 Chronicles 36:1-4

Today we read the culmination of Josiah’s revival efforts. The Passover he led the nation to celebrate was unlike any Passover before or since. The peak of  his obedience to God was effective in bringing the whole nation back to a place of relationship with God for a short time.

However, in a salutary reminder that we are all fallible, Josiah led his army into a battle which was not his own, and he was killed!

His son Jehoahaz was only king for a short time because the Pharaoh returned and deposed him.

So we see the power and the immaturity of youth in today’s reading, and again the common thread is that God will have His way in the affairs of men, whether the leaders cooperate with Him or not. There are wide-ranging and eternal consequences to the choices we make.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 20

July 20

Josiah (Southern King 31 years) — Josiah discovers the Bible & humbles himself before God.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Chronicles 34:8-28

Reading 2: 2 Kings 23:1-27

Reading 3: Zephaniah 1:1-6

Josiah, the young king whose father was hated and did evil in the sight of God, is determined to follow God. He provides for money to be collected for the Temple and sets about repairing the building. During this repair, the Book of the Law is found (the Old Testament Pentateuch). As Josiah hears what is written in the scroll he realizes that his nation is under a curse because they have failed to obey the instructions given them by God. When he inquires further he learns that the destruction God has prepared will still come (sometimes rot is so far advanced that destruction is the only solution). But Josiah will die before it happens.

Some would be tempted to sit back and wait for this to happen, fatalistically accepting the promised judgment, but not Josiah. He restores the Passover and clears out all the ungodly alternatives to God in both Israel and Judah (there was no king over Israel at this time since Israel was in captivity in Assyria).

So the verdict on Josiah is: “Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.”(2 Kings 23:25).

So Josiah was part of God’s judgment, fulfilling some of what the Lord promised through Zephaniah.

For us, let’s not presume upon God’s mercy (even though grace has provided us with forgiveness through Jesus). Instead, let’s renounce all forms of ungodliness (including worship of money, sex, and power which are the modern forms of Baal and Asherah worship). Turning away from all occult practices such as horoscopes, freemasonry, ouija boards, and psychics will leave us free to hear directly from God’s Word through His Holy Spirit, as Josiah did.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 19

July 19

Josiah (Southern King 31 years) — God calls Josiah & Jeremiah to influence a sinful nation.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Chronicles 34:1-7

Reading 2: Jeremiah 1

Reading 3: Jeremiah 25:3-9

After the disastrous reign of Manasseh, bringing Judah to the brink of destruction, God sends one more opportunity for His people to turn to Him.

And he chooses a king and a prophet who are very young. In their earliest years God calls and appoints them, so that the defilement of sin will be minimized in their lives. And they faithfully act to restore and call the nation back to God.

Jeremiah 25 records that this final effort was rejected by the people of Judah, and they are taken into captivity as a result, but the act of calling these two young men to stand against evil shows us again how patient God is, waiting for us to return so that He can restore us.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 18

July 18

Manasseh (Southern King 55 years) — Manasseh’s sin, judgment, & repentance.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 21:1-16

Reading 2: 2 Chronicles 33

Reading 3: Ezekiel 18:21-32

Manasseh succeeds his father Hezekiah and immediately leads Judah on a slippery slope to destruction. Sin in every heart makes rebellion against God our default setting. We are all wicked.

But God is not an angry God, judging the wicked from a sense of impatience with their rebellion. Instead He longs to see us return to Him and live. That is His desire all along, recorded clearly by Ezekiel’s prophecy:

“But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.”

Of course, we know that none of us can effectively choose righteousness for ourselves. We simply don’t have the strength to reverse the ravages of sin alone. That is why God’s gift of Jesus to demonstrate true righteousness, and to die in our place, is such good news. Who do you know who needs to know that today?

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 17

July 17

Hezekiah (Southern King 29 years) — God extends Hezekiah’s life, Isaiah’s regret, & Babylon.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 20

Reading 2: Isaiah 57:1

Reading 3: 2 Chronicles 32:24-33

Even the best people can have flaws. And Hezekiah is no exception. He cries out to God when his death is foretold, and God mercifully grants him 15 more years of life. Yet in that promise there is trouble to come, and Hezekiah thinks more of himself than his descendants, leading to much pain and suffering for those who follow.

It is thought provoking to consider that a long life on earth may not be the greatest gift God can give us. Eternal relationship and fellowship with Him is a far greater joy, especially when there is suffering on earth as a result of sin!

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 15

July 15

Hezekiah (Southern King 29 years) — Hezekiah fights the Assyrians & copies the Proverbs.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 18:9-37

Reading 2: 2 Kings 19

Reading 3: Proverbs 25:1-7

King Hezekiah (the greatest king in Judah’s history) shows us today how to respond to great challenges. Faced with an attack on Judah alongside the destruction of Samaria, Hezekiah turns again to God. He leads the people to seek God and God answers through the prophet Isaiah, promising victory over the enemy attack.

Within Isaiah’s prophecy, he says “For a remnant of my people will spread out from Jerusalem, a group of survivors from Mount Zion. The passionate commitment of the lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”

This refers not only to the victory which is coming as God wipes out the majority of the Assyrian army the next day, but also to a future day, still hundreds of years ahead, when 120 believers on the Day of Pentecost would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread out all over the earth with the Good News of Jesus.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 14

July 14

Hezekiah (Southern King 29 years) — King Hezekiah’s spiritual reforms & his Passover.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 18:1-8

Reading 2: 2 Chronicles 29

Reading 3: 2 Chronicles 30

By way of contrast to yesterday’s chronicle of disobedience and disaster, today we read what was happening in Judah (the Southern Kingdom) at the same time.

Hezekiah was unique in all the kings of Judah, and the record of his reign makes heartening and challenging reading. See what one man can do in resisting evil, obeying God, and leading others to do the same!

God is undoubtedly raising up modern day Hezekiahs who will bring light where there is darkness, obedience in place of apathy or rebellion, and joy to God’s heart in a broken world.

Have a great day!

Mark.