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.

July 13

July 13

Hoshea (Northern King 9 years) — The northern kingdom’s captivity & history of the Samaritans.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 17

Reading 2: John 8:45-49

Reading 3: John 4:1-9

What a sorry story today as we review all that has happened with the Kingdom of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) up to their destruction and captivity. This history is the ancestry of the Samaritans who were hated and rejected by the Jews in the time of Jesus.

Notice how God rules the land, and all who will follow Him, and that time and again the judgment comes on those who follow their own way, make their own choices, and disobey God. It is a solemn charge to us today – we rightly value liberty and the God given freedom to make our own choices, but that liberty is for the purpose of freely following God. Any twisting of that into our own way leads to doom.

That is the core message of Jesus’ challenge to the people in John 8, and the reason why his conversation with the woman at the well was so significant.

Will you freely follow today?

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 12

July 12

Uzziah’s Death (Southern King 52 years) — Uzziah dies, God calls Isaiah, & seeing heaven.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Chronicles 26:22-23

Reading 2: Isaiah 6

Reading 3: Revelation 4

Today we pick up the last two verses of yesterday’s reading and see what is going on outside the royal palace at the same time.

Often God is working outside the corridors of power, and that is certainly true here. Isaiah is called to be a prophet who will speak judgment to Judah, and his calling is accompanied by a vision of heaven.

What Isaiah sees of God’s presence inspires and strengthens Isaiah to speak what he is told, even though much of his message is hard to say to a nation that is turning away from God. Yet even in the judgment there is hope – Isaiah reminds his hearers that there will be a stump left when the tree is felled, and the stump will shoot again.

The shooting again is first the return of God’s people to their promised land after the exile, and then the birth and growth of the church after the resurrection of Jesus. What a great tree has come from the stump of the failed tree!

Let’s rejoice to day that Jesus is sustaining us and causes us to grow in God.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 11

July 11

Uzziah’s Life (Southern King 52 years) — Uzziah grows arrogant when he is strong.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Chronicles 26

Reading 2: Proverbs 29:22-23

Reading 3: Leviticus 13:45

Finishing well is not guaranteed to any of us. These stories of the rise and fall of righteousness in Israel and Judah show us that each generation, indeed each person, must choose for themselves to follow God. And to turn away from God (as Uzziah did in today’s reading) is disastrous.

Notice how pride and anger go together, and that the consequence is often the loss of the very thing we have wrongly sought to gain for ourselves (in Uzziah’s case, the right to burn incense to God representing prayer and also spiritual authority).

Spiritual authority is given, not earned. God loves to give it to those who are humble and who trust Him, but seeking to grasp spiritual authority for ourselves will not end well!

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 10

July 10

Jonah Preaches & Pouts — Jonah’s hardness toward the Assyrians of Nineveh & God’s mercy.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Jonah 3

Reading 2: Jonah 4

Reading 3: Matthew 12:38-41

Today we read of Jonah’s obedience and his anger at God. His obedience seems to have flowed from the amazing experience he went through as he ran away from God’s plan. It is not surprising that his fleeing was unsuccessful, but it does not seem to have turned his heart toward God for long!

He goes to the city of Ninevah, the capital of the nation that will soon take Israel into captivity, and boldly proclaims their doom. That part is easy to understand – most of us are comfortable declaring God’s judgment on our enemies!

What is harder to comprehend from our viewpoint, is Jonah’s anger when God sees the repentance of the Assyrians and forgives them! Jonah has no paradigm for forgiveness – in his world there are only those who do what God says (and live) or those who do not do what God says (and are wiped out).

That binary view misses God’s heart, which is for restoration if possible and judgment only when restoration has proved unattainable. Judgment as last resort is not a good fit with Jonah; he wants justice not mercy. When he says “I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” he is declaring the truth that he himself would do well to embrace!  He goes on to say “You are eager to turn back from destroying people” but then he adds: “Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

The lesson for us is to beware of the trap of being so right that we are wrong! God is primarily a God of mercy – which is good for us because we need mercy! He is only a God of judgment when mercy is fully rejected. Don’t reject His mercy today – you need it yourself, and He called you to share it with others.

Have a great day!

Mark.