Thursday, 5 June 2014

(157) June 6: 2 Chronicles 20-22 & John 15

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note the differing responses to the LORD.

To ponder:
The traits of the ideal king continue to be noted, whilst the imperfections of those who display them look us longingly for the one who will establish the enduring kingdom and reign in untainted righteousness.           So faced with a “vast army” Jehoshaphat “resolved to enquire of the LORD” and “proclaimed a fast.” And the people followed their ruler as those from “every town” came to seek God. This is the nature of kingship. A faithful king leads the people into faithfulness, and vice versa.
            Jehoshaphat’s prayer displays where Judah’s hope is grounded. As her God is the God “of heaven” he rules the nations and cannot be withstood, as was proved by driving out the Canaanites so his “friend” Abraham’s descendents could populate the land. Again, the stress is on the blessings of knowing God and so being his friend. Judah can therefore be confident having “built a sanctuary” for God and committed themselves to crying out to him when in need, that he will come to their aid. Acknowledging their powerlessness against their oppressors and uncertainty as to what to do, they therefore look to the LORD. What encouragement that as God’s friends, even if we don’t know how to act in the face of need, we can know a peace that “transcends” our understanding in committing the matter to him in prayer (Phil 4v6-7).
            In response, God spoke through his prophet Jahaziel urging the king and his people not to be afraid or discouraged as the battle is not theirs, but his. He therefore commanded them to take up positions, but only so they see his deliverance. The king and people therefore worshipped, the Levites praised, and immediately – “early in the morning” – they obeyed, with Jehoshaphat urging them to have faith in God and his word through the prophets. As we feel the forces of secularism gaining ground, we need to hear this. We may be powerless and uncertain about how to respond, but we need do nothing more than cry out to God and trust and so obey his word.
It’s not clear whether the “ambushes” the LORD set refer to the action of his heavenly army in the spiritual realm or the infighting of the enemy. Either way, the enemy groups destroy one-another so that Judah find only dead bodies, remove much plunder, and therefore praise God at the temple. Moreover, they enjoy a lasting peace as other countries then fear God. Likewise, we rejoice having witnessed the death of death in the resurrection of Christ. But we must remain faithful. Later Jehoshaphat compromised by allying himself with the wicked northern king in order to gain more prosperity for his kingdom. We can ally ourselves with the unfaithful amongst God’s people thinking this will help us build his kingdom too. But we should simply trust him to do that, else we also find our efforts destroyed.
            For 2 Chronicles 21v4-10 see notes on 2 Kings 8v16-24. Despite doing evil like Ahab and the other kings of Israel, Jehoram enjoyed an established rule over Judah because of God’s promise to David. Nevertheless, because he forsook God Libnah rose up against Judah. Jehoram’s sin must have been great as he received a personal letter from Elijah who was a prophet to the northern kingdom not southern one. Jehoram had not only committed idolatry but led Judah too also, as well as murdering his brothers. And so God punished him by having the Philistines carry off everything from his palace together with his sons and wives (except Ahaziah, so David’s line could continue). He also afflicted him with a disease that eventually killed him. It’s a tragic warning against provoking God by turning to sin, and against a legacy in which no one-regrets our death or can speak well of anything we’ve done (21v19-20).
            Ahaziah also did evil as Ahab’s house had in Israel, because they became his advisors. Indeed, their advice led him into a series of events that resulted in him and his relatives being murdered (22v5-9), threatening the kingdom itself (22v9). One thinks of how Psalm 1 promises blessing on those who “do not walk in the counsel of the wicked” and judgement on those who do. We need discernment on who to listen to.

Praying it home:
Praise God that because he has appointed Christ, his kingdom can never be threatened or lost. Pray that Christians would not be discouraged in the face of secularism but recommit themselves to prayer and obedience, trusting God and his word.

Thinking further:
None today.
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