For us, forgiveness often feels like a given. We have Jesus and our forgiveness is free and something we could never earn. But forgiveness should never feel simple or easy. In today’s 2 Chronicles reading we see God forgive Manasseh, who had led everyone away from him. This helps us see the weight of forgiveness as well as the outcome – Manasseh returning to God. Forgiveness is powerful and something that can bring people back to God.
2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13:
- 6-8 – “Be strong and courageous” is the same encouragement Moses gave Joshua as Joshua took over leadership of the Israelites.
- 9-15 – King Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, is trying to negate Hezekiah’s encouragement to be strong and courageous by attacking God’s ability to protect them.
- 24-26 – Hezekiah has a hiccup in faithfulness, but returns to the Lord quickly avoiding any damage to his people.
- 1-2 – This is not the same Manasseh that the tribe is named for.
- 10-13 – This is an incredible show of forgiveness. Manasseh had made even Judah, the one tribe who tended to remain faithful, turn against God. When in trouble, though, he turned to God for rescue and God answered.
- 23 – Though it was such a cultural hub and despite Paul’s great fondness for Rome, it is only recorded that he went there once.
- 3 – This is the same Priscilla and Aquila from the book of Acts.
- 20-21 – Based on past reading in the Old Testament, it seems the Lord would fulfill the psalmist’s request for protection because the psalmist was upright and relying on God.
- 17 – This is so true of sin in general. The rewards of our sin are often so glamorous and exciting, but only for a short time. Ultimately they are destructive and painful.
We’ve talked about this before. I hate negative consequences!! Don’t you? If I have the opportunity, I like to shift the blame anywhere other myself. It’s easier that way. Unfortunately, we often blame God for the negative consequences of our sins. “Why would God let me lose my job!?!” we cry. When really the question should be, “Why did I break company policy hoping to get ahead?”
1 Chronicles 11:1-12:18:
- 4-9 – Jerusalem became the central city for the Israelites and remains so to this day, but it was not so until this conquest of David.
- 15-19 – Though David’s actions seem a bit ungrateful, he pours the water out as a drink offering because he considers himself not worthy of their extreme devotion. The reason David wanted the water in the first place is because he was originally from Bethlehem.
- Though you may not recognize or remember many of the names in the lists from today’s reading, recognize that the chronicler is reminding us that there were a great deal of capable, dedicated fighting men, particularly those dedicated to David’s service.
- 8 – Because of the snake incident, the people already thought Paul was a god. His ability to heal Publius’ father as well as the other ill people probably only solidified this thought.
- 16 – Remember that Paul is still technically imprisoned and awaiting trial in front of Caesar by his own request.
- 20 – He’s referring to Jesus as “the hope of Israel.”
- 25-28 – It would make sense that the Jews should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah since he fulfilled so many of the prophecies they knew. Many, however, were unable to see it. The gentiles didn’t have as many preconceived notions of who the Messiah should be, so they were more open to Jesus being it.
- 29 – Did anyone else notice that there’s no Acts 28:29? One does exist, and it’s pretty inconsequential, but many translations leave it out.
- 9-10 – Confirmation that when we seek God, he will be faithful to meet us. He does not hide from or forsake us.
- 1 – This is in exact contrast to how our society lives and thinks.
- 3 – So true!! How often do we blame God for the consequences we receive for our own poor choices?
I hate negative consequences, don’t you? I like to try to skirt around them as much as possible even though I totally deserve them. The sailors in today’s Acts reading are like that. They sailed far later in the season than they should have and have now put themselves and others at risk. They’re trying to figure out any way to not face the music. I can relate.
1 Chronicles 9:1-10:14:
- 2 – After a long time in exile in Babylon, the Israelites were allowed to slowly return to their land.
- 17-27 – The position of gatekeeper was one of honor. It was passed down through generations. This position guarded the gates of the temple and the chief gatekeeper manned the gate the king would enter through.
- 39 – This is Saul, the first king of Israel. We know he was from the tribe of Benjamin so that’s the tribe we’re talking about now.
- 1-7 – This is the event that finally allows David to become king. We read about this previously in 1 Samuel.
- 30-32 – The sailors were desperate and wanted to save themselves thinking they would be better off without all the other ship passengers. Paul recognizes their attempt and explains that if they leave the rest of the passengers are doomed.
- 33-36 – Whether because they were too busy with managing the storm or because they wanted to conservatively ration in case they had to be on the boat a lot longer, the people hadn’t been given food for a while even though they had it.
- 38 – With a lighter load, the ship could sail closer to shore because it would float higher.
- David writes this Psalm seemingly overwhelmed and in awe of the majesty of God’s creation and the goodness he shows to us through it.
- This is encouragement to choose friends carefully. You can’t be best friends with everyone and it’s not wise to try.
I have posted today’s proverb on my husband’s mirror. I feel it’s just a good reminder.
1 Chronicles 7:1-8:40:
- Many of the tribes, after naming their genealogies, describe their men as “mighty warriors”. Israelite men over the age of 20 were expected to fight in wars. Still to this day, all Israeli men, now at the age of 18, are required to spend 4 years in the army. Women are now required to serve 2 years.
- 27 – This is the Joshua who was mentored by Moses.
- 9 – Ancient Jews timed their sailing seasons around the various festivals because of the weather that accompanied those times of years. Sailing after the Fast, which was the Day of Atonement, which was around September, was treacherous.
- 3-9 – Clearly David is confident that he is on God’s side and obeying God’s will in the situation he’s referring to. He even asks God to judge him according to his own righteousness, which I don’t feel like any of us would be willing to do.
We’ve talked about the Levites quite a bit previously, but today’s 1 Chronicles reading focuses on them pretty heavily. This passage, in particular, is just another reminder to us that God is faithful in caring for each of us individually. Way back in Joshua when Moses passed out land to each tribe? Remember that the Levites got no land? But, they got special offerings and each tribe was to distribute land from their own inheritance to the Levites. God doesn’t forget us or leave us to fend for ourselves. Everybody gets a piece.
1 Chronicles 5:8-6:81:
- 18-26 – These are two examples of immediate action in opposite directions based on the tribe’s faithfulness or lack there of. When the 3 tribes were seeking God, they were rewarded with victory. When they were unfaithful, they were punished with exile.
- Chapter 6 is a series of lists of the Levitical priests. The tribe of Levi is set apart as sacramental priests and we often hear of them in conjunction with particular kings.
- 31-32 – You can imagine that these men sang some of David’s psalms.
- 54-81 – Remember that when Moses was handing out inheritances of land parcels to each tribe, the Levites did not get one because they received the tithes of the people. Instead, each tribe was to give the Levites portions of their land to live on. This is the explanation of what land the Levites got.
- 4-8 – The Jews longed for a Messiah. This is what Paul is referring to in verse 6 when he talks about a promise they hoped in. Most Jews simply did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
- 19-23 – Paul, having been a very devout Jew his whole life, knew all the prophecies and what faithful Jews believed. He is able to appeal to them using the testimonies of Moses and the prophets, whom the Jews greatly revered, to confirm what he was preaching.
- 28-29 – Paul basically drops the mic here. He wants King Agrippa to become a Christian as well as everyone else within earshot.
- 32 – It is not absurd to think that Paul knew he could have gotten out of prison quicker if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar, but did it anyway because his ultimate goal was to evangelize in front of more people, particularly those at the top.
- 5 -–Sheol was where ancient Jews believed all people went after death. It was not a pleasant place. David is asking for his life to be spared because he would not be able to praise God from Sheol.
- While it is many of our tendencies to blame God when we face difficult times, David sought God’s help in difficult times.
- This is very similar to Proverbs 12:14 where it explains that kind, honest words reap a good harvest like a farmer who plants good seed.
True confessions: I kind of picture everyone in the Bible as being basically the same person. When I picture biblical scenes in my head the people look like the oil painting of Abraham and Sarah from my childhood Sunday School classroom. But the truth is, not only were there all types of people, there were complex structures and deep dividing lines between various people groups. For instance, in our story in Acts, the Romans didn’t have to obey the Jewish authorities and weren’t technically under their law. There was quite a power struggle between the two parties. Knowing the complexities behind the story make the stories themselves so much more powerful.
1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17:
- 9-10 – This story seems out of place in a long list of genealogy, but it was common to place some small, historical story in these lists. It may have been to add legitimacy and context to the list.
- 39-43 – This is one of the many examples of the hostility between the Israelites and Amalekites.
- 1 – Reuben slept with his father Jacob’s concubine.
- 7-12 – Like with Jesus, the Romans technically did not have to answer to Jewish law, but the Jewish leaders put a great deal of pressure on them to convict people for breaking their laws.
- 22 – Agrippa was actually King Herod Agrippa, the last of the Herods.
- David asks God to hear his prayers and then becomes extremely raw about how he wants the Lord to punish a variety of his enemies. We truly can take anything to the Lord in prayer.
There are silly things we are tempted by like donuts and paying too much for a pair of jeans we don’t need. But today’s psalm deals with more serious temptations and, unfortunately, they’re ones we face just as often. These temptations entice us to trust them more than we trust God. These are things like, our own strength, money, success, etc. Though they’re sometimes hard to recognize, what tempts you to trust it in stead of God?
1 Chronicles 2:18-4:4:
- 18-20 – Though this just feels like a big list of names, it’s interesting to see names you recognize from stories. Bezalel, for instance, was one of the skilled workers who helped create the tabernacle.
- 1-9 – Yes, David had a lot of sons and a lot of wives. Notice that Solomon, who became the next king after David is way down on the list of sons.
- 22-27 – It seems as if Felix might come to faith based on Paul’s teachings, but it doesn’t seem that he does. Instead he leaves Paul in prison, which means he has now been in prison for 2 years.
- 5-8 – These verses hit hard the idea that we are tempted to trust in many other things but our true rest and comfort come only from God.
- 17 – This verse backs up the adage that there are always two sides to every story. Withhold judgment of decisions until you have heard from both parties.
There is a contest in today’s notes. And that’s all I have to say about that.
1 Chronicles 1:1-2:17:
- The Ancient Israelites kept incredible records and this is one of many examples of them. They start at Adam and make their way all the way to David including rulers of other nations to ensure their relevance in the overall world.
- There’s a special prize for the first person to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the name of the 80’s cartoon included in the lineage.
- 10 – This starts a very recognizable lineage of Jesus.
- 11 – God gives Paul a clear charge. He was faithful in sharing the gospel in Jerusalem even though it wasn’t well received and he should now do the same in Rome.
- 16-35 – The Romans do not allow the Jews to kill Paul, but they also do not release him.
- Though David continually faced formidable foes, he is just as frequently confessing his faith in God’s ability to protect him.
- 15 – Often when we welcome some piece of knowledge and wisdom, we acquire even more than we sought in the first place.
Did you catch the glimmer of hope? At the end of 2 Kings, it seems like all hope is lost until the last four verses. The king of Babylon, in a shocking move, releases Jehoiachin, a member of David’s line, from prison. It seems that even in exile all hope may not be lost.
2 Kings 23:31-25:30:
- 31 – This is not Jeremiah the prophet.
- 32 – Interesting that Josiah was more faithful than any of the kings before him and yet his son, Jehoahaz, did evil.
- 33-35 – Pharaoh Neco removes Jehoahaz from the throne after only 3 months and puts Eliakim/Jehoiakim in power. Pharaoh’s appointment and name change makes it clear that the king of Judah is now subject to him.
- 3 – This is Manasseh the king, not the tribe.
- 1-9 – Jehoiakim followed the Pharaoh and Jehoiakin did what was evil.
- 20 – God finally allows the remainder of the Israelites (Judah) to get what they keep, through their sin, asking for – to no longer be in God’s presence or under his rule.
- 9 – The Babylonians burn down the temple in Jerusalem – this was the most significant sign of God’s presence the Israelites had. This symbolically shows God and the Israelites officially separating.
- 12 – A few people are left in Judah, but they leave the lowest of the low.
- 27-30 – Evil-merodach (an unfortunate name), king of Babylon, shows kindness to Jehoiachin, which shows a slight bit of hope that exile might not be forever and Israel and the line of David may have some hope.
- 17-21 – The Jews in the synagogues knew Paul’s past and it seemed to be a barrier for some of them to believe what he now believed – that Jesus was the Messiah. Thus, God sent him to the Gentiles.
- 25 – It was illegal to use whips to gain a confession from a Roman citizen. Clearly the powers that be were unaware of his citizenship.
- 3 – “Whitewashed wall” is a metaphor for a hypocrite. Looks good on the outside, but who knows what it’s hiding.
In today’s Acts reading, Paul has been imprisoned, which obviously sounds terrible. How would you handle it? I know I’d probably whine and get down and defeated. Paul acts differently. He takes the time to explain why he does what he does. He had been a faithful Jew who strictly obeyed the law, but Christ’s love and grace were powerful enough to convert him and then to cause him to share that good news with others. What opportunities do you have to share your faith story?
2 Kings 22:3-23:30:
- 3-7 – The temple, due to sinful leadership and neglect, had fallen into disrepair so Josiah used his position as king to restore it.
- 14-17 – The prophetess Huldah lets Judah know it too will be destroyed because of its sin.
- 18-20 – Because King Josiah had been faithful and repentant, he would die before the destruction occurred.
- 1-24 – Josiah took the law he found in the temple very seriously and methodically destroyed any remnants of anything dedicated to any other God.
- 4-16 – Paul addresses his captors by sharing his conversion experience and why he switched from devout Jew who persecuted Christians to tireless Christian from a Jewish background.
- This Psalm contrasts a person who’s delight is in the law of the Lord versus someone who is wicked.
- 11 – Solomon makes it clear that wealth is a false sense of security.