As of yesterday, we are officially halfway through the Bible! Woohoo!! Give yourself a pat on the back! Bake yourself a cake! This is a great accomplishment, so take a deep breath and enjoy it. You’ve done a great job!
2 Kings 20:1-22:2:
- 3-7 – The Lord hears Hezekiah’s prayer and answers it. God heals Hezekiah from a life threatening illness using a fig cake, or what is described in other translations as a fig poultice.
- 12-19 – Hezekiah is overly hospitable to the king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan. It’s possible he’s trying to impress him with his riches so they won’t want to attack. Though it won’t happen for a while, Babylon will eventually take his people into exile.
- 19 – Though Hezekiah’s response seems a little arrogant or lackadaisical, commentaries tell us, because he was a faithful king, his response is more likely one of thanks for the peace they have at the moment.
- 7 – This was the tribe of Judah. God claims this tribe forever and it is the tribe that Jesus belonged to.
- 1-9 – Manasseh was pretty much the worst of the worst. He should not be confused with Joseph’s son Manasseh who was the patriarch of one of the 12 tribes.
- 12-15 – Israel had already been conquered and exiled, but Judah remained where they belonged. Manasseh’s leadership puts it over the edge though, and God explains that he’s opening them up for attack too.
- 23-24 – These four men had taken the Nazirite vow. At some time before the vow they must have done something against the vow they were taking, which caused them to need to shave their heads and be purified for 7 days. Paul sponsors them financially.
- 28-29 – It was illegal to bring a non-Jew into the temple and Trophimus was Greek. It seems that Paul did not actually do this and even if he had, according to the law, the people should have attacked Trophimus, not Paul.
- 6 – No excuses. That means you too.
- 9 – Verses in Colossians and Ephesians also encourage us to work to the best of our ability. We are to work like we’re working for God, not man.
Are you a terrible singer? Can’t carry a tune in a bucket? That’s ok! You can’t tell me you don’t belt it out in the shower or when alone in your car. Praising God is the perfect time to stretch out those vocal chords. Today’s psalm reminds us that we’re all called to give God praise through song. He deserves it and loves it…even if you sound awful.
2 Kings 18:13-19:37:
- 16 – Gold that was, at one time, given as an offering to the Lord to build his home amongst the Israelites, was now stripped off and given to a foreign king. The change in the state of affairs is drastic.
- 19-25 – A message is sent from the king of Assyria to Hezekiah, the king of Judah, taunting him and saying that God will not be able to save Judah.
- 28-35 – Hezekiah was a king faithful to the Lord. Clearly the king of Assyria is trying to do everything he can to get the people of Judah to turn against Hezekiah and God.
- 36-1 – Hezekiah’s men all tore their clothes as a sign of deep sorrow and disgrace. They were afraid that the king of Assyria might be right.
- 6-7 – Isaiah, the next great prophet, assures Hezekiah and his men that God will rescue them and the king of Assyria will actually die in his own land.
- 10-13 – The king of Assyria’s bullying tactics are convincing. All the other kings Assyria had gone up against had fallen. Granted, their gods weren’t God.
- 29-31 – God gives Judah a sign that he actually is speaking and they can trust him.
- 10-14 – Though Christian persecution was rampant in Jerusalem, Paul knew he had to go there. All his companions tried to convince him not to, but he was well prepared to face persecution for the sake of the gospel.
- 3 – We are to praise the Lord with song…even if we’re not that talented. Just make a joyful noise.
Have your sins ever impacted someone else? (The answer here is “yes”.) You cheated on a test and it messed up the curve for others. You stole from a store and the cashier got in trouble. You cheated on your spouse and it broke up your family. Our sins are not simply our own problem. As Israel and Judah are being rejected by God and destroyed by other nations, it’s hard not to remember Jeroboam’s selfish acts as he was taking over his portion of the kingdom. He chose to listen to bad advice and it hurt the Israelites for generations to come.
2 Kings 17:1-18:12:
- 6-18 – After a steady series of sinful kings and repetitive sinning by the nation, God allows the Assyrians to capture all the Israelites and take them to their country. This makes it clear that they are now separated from God because they no longer have their promised land or any of their identifying marks that were to set them apart for God.
- 21 – The split of the two kingdoms of Israel, the sinfulness of the country, and the eventual exile of both kingdoms (only one has happened so far) all trace back to Jeroboam’s sinfulness.
- 34-40 – The Israelites had been given every opportunity to choose to live faithfully. They continued to choose not to and broke every part of their covenant with God. Because of this, God allowed them to face the consequences of all their unfaithfulness.
- 1-4 – Hezekiah is king of Judah and chooses to live faithfully.
- In case you’re getting confused about Paul’s journeys – where he’s been and where he’s headed, here is a map of all his travels Oh, and who knew, but there’s a board game of Paul’s journeys as well, for some good old fashioned holy family fun.
- 7-12 – Peter was able to raise Tabitha from the dead and Paul raises this young man. It seems like it was the right thing to do considering Paul had literally bored him to death.
- 18-35 – Paul, on this his third of four journeys, knows his ministry on earth is coming to an end, but he is satisfied with his work and is willing to suffer persecution in order to share the gospel.
- In Romans 1:20, Paul explains that every part of creation testifies to God’s greatness somehow. This psalm seems to confirm that.
- A creative way of saying our mouths write checks our rears can’t cash.
Oh dear sweet Azariah, you almost had it! In today’s 2 Kings reading Azariah realizes, as should have been very clear by now, that partial faithfulness is actually not faithfulness at all. Azariah seems like a good king and does a lot of faithful things, but he draws the line at destroying worship implements of other gods, which would have helped protect his people from worshipping other gods. Partial faithfulness is also partially unfaithful.
2 Kings 15:1-16:20:
- 1 – Azariah was also known as Uzziah, who we’ll hear about in the book of Isaiah.
- 4-5 – Though Azariah was faithful in a lot of ways, he did not destroy the opportunities for the Israelites to worship other gods. His punishment was leprosy.
- 12-13 – Shallum was no longer in the same family as the previous kings.
- 16 – This kind of terror and violence was foretold by Elisha. Because Israel had strayed so far from God, Hazael of Syria and others were able to get in and cause total chaos and destruction. Elisha and God were not pleased by these consequences, but they knew and warned that Israel’s sins would lead them to this type of harm.
- 37 – Not only had Israel split in two (Israel and Judah) politically, but now Israel has joined forces with Syria to attack Judah. Remember, that Israel and Judah are all descendants of one family.
- 10-16 – King Ahaz, the new king of Judah, builds an alter replicating the one in Assyria. This is not an altar to God, but to one of the Assyrian gods. The king of Assyria then dictates what types of offerings the people of Judah should offer.
- 19 – After each king’s profile it says that the rest of what that king did is written in a different book. The writers of 1 and 2 Kings only included what the king did in relation to God and the covenant the Israelites had with God.
- 13-20 – The Ephesians had seen Paul cast out evil spirits and some people wanted to do the same by using magic. It backfired and caused a lot more people to follow Jesus.
- 23-27 – It is no new thing that people are persuaded to be unfaithful in order to secure or grow their finances.
- 32-34 – A case of mob mentality.
- 35-41 – The mob is disassembled, but the issue is not resolved.
- This psalm is a series of urges to praise God followed by reasons why he is worthy of praise.
Good listening is a rare skill these days. We mostly listen just enough to jump in with our next point. Like today’s proverb says, real skill in listening comes when we listen to what the other person is saying simply to hear and understand them, not to then quickly offer our own opinion.
2 Kings 13:1-14:29:
- 4 – Jehoahaz repents in order to have relief from the constant attack of the Syrians.
- 5 – This “savior” was not the Messiah. This was someone who saved them from military attacks. It is uncertain who this was.
- 14-19 – Elisha gives Joash the opportunity to end their thumpings by Syria, but he does not complete the job and is limited to a temporary break in defeats.
- 21 – This is told simply to display the amount of God’s power Elisha possessed.
- 22-23 – Though Syria heavily oppressed Israel, the Israelites were not completely banished by God. The writer is telling us that at this point in history, the full covenantal curse (all the consequences of breaking their covenant with God) would come to fruition.
- 3-6 – Amaziah was a faithful king, but not quite as faithful as David. He avenges his father’s death according to Moses’ Law.
- 9-10 – In his reply, Jehoash refers to himself as a cedar – a revered, strong, established tree, and to Amaziah as a wimpy thistle.
- 24-28 – Apollos had not yet been baptized in the Spirit, and still needed a little refinement in his teaching. The believers took him under their wing to help him grow in his faith.
- 3-6 – We tend to place our trust in everything but God because we can see and touch them, but there is no salvation apart from the Lord.
- 7-9 – Very reminiscent of Isaiah 61, which Jesus quotes in his first sermon in the temple found in Luke 4.
- 2 – This is one of the key skills in listening. Listen to understand the other person, not to make your next point.
Today in both 2 Kings and Proverbs we learn to follow good advice. We are bombarded with all kinds of messages every day of what we simply must do and what is totally absurd to do. Most of these are simply trying to get us to buy something. It is important that we discern those who have our best interest in mind and are steering us in the right direction. Then, like Joash, we need to follow it.
2 Kings 10:32-12:21:
- 12 – Though Athaliah was ruling in Judah, Joash was the rightful king. When he was 7, he was crowned king by Jehoiada the priest.
- 2-3 – Joash is considered a faithful king. Thankfully he had a great advisor, Jehoiada, the priest. The “high places” listed here were places of worship to God, not other gods, that is why it was good that they were kept.
- 4-8 – Joash institutes a plan to repair the temple. The priests don’t comply and then somehow reach a compromise to no longer take people’s money and also not to repair the temple.
- 21 – Now Joash is killed and his son Amaziah takes over.
- 5-6 – It is common throughout Jesus’ and Paul’s ministries that they try to share the gospel with the Jews but when rejected they offer the same message to the gentiles.
- 7-11 – The faithfulness and hospitality of Titius and Crispus allow Paul to stay and minister in Corinth for a year and a half.
- 12 – Macedonia was the northern part of Greece. Achaia was the southern part. Corinth was located in Achaia.
- 14-15 – Like with Jesus, the Jews bring their complaints to the state official.
- 17 – Sosthenes was the chief ruler of the Corinthian synagogue.
- 8 – God’s steadfast, or unchanging, love is a theme throughout the psalms.
- 9-10 – There is no need to doubt that God wants to and plans to be merciful to all of us. We know this full well because of our salvation. Because of that abundant mercy, we should give continual thanks to God.
- Considering what we just read about Joash’s success as a faithful king because he listened to the wise counsel of Jehoiada, this seems pretty accurate.
Have you noticed yet, in 1 & 2 Kings, what the biggest factor in a king being a good or bad one is? In general, if they follow and worship God, they’re a good king. If they do not, they’re a bad king. Do you think that translates into our culture in any way?
2 Kings 9:14-10:31:
- 14-22 – Joram was king of Israel. Jehu wanted to be. Ahaziah was the short-lived king of Judah. Jehu confirms that he’s not coming in peace because peace is impossible while Joram still allows his mother, Jezebel’s evil ways to remain in the land.
- 25-26 – King Ahab wanted to buy Naboth’s plot of land, but Naboth wouldn’t sell. Jezebel told Ahab to have Naboth killed, so he did.
- 29 – This is the same Ahaziah that just died. There was also a king of Israel named Ahaziah, but he’s already come and gone.
- 1-8 – Naturally, one of Ahab’s sons should have become king after Ahaziah’s death, but Jehu assures that doesn’t happen by killing them all.
- 18-31 – Jehu seems to have such potential to be faithful to God by wiping out Baal from Israel, but he remains sinful in other ways.
- 1- Thessalonica is where Paul sent the Letter to the Thessalonians. He did not visit all the churches he wrote to, but this is one he did.
- 2-9 – Jason was a local believer who allowed Paul and Silas to stay with him. He was punished with a fine for hosting the apostles.
- 11-12 – People weren’t simply believing blindly, but were studying the Scriptures to discern and it led them to the truth.
- 22-34 – Paul’s address to the people of Athens is powerful and convincing, even quoting some of their culture’s writings. As was always the case, some were convinced and some were not.
- 1-2 – War was a way of life for David. While some he talks about are internal, he often is talking about real wars.
- It is clear, due to the frequency with which David addresses God in these ways, that he views God as his provider and protector.
- 28 – This is the origin of the well-known adage, “Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”
Have you ever felt unworthy to ask God for something? Maybe you thought it wasn’t important enough or that you didn’t deserve it. In today’s psalm, David admits that he has sinned but he asks for God’s protection and blessing anyway. God wants to know our hearts and wants us to ask for what we need. A good rule of thumb is to repent (this assumes true repentance) and then ask God for what you need.
2 Kings 8:1-9:13:
- 10 – God made it clear that the king would not die from the illness, but he would die soon.
- 15 – Hazael kills the king by putting a wet, heavy blanket on his face and suffocating him.
- 4-6 – Jehu is made king over Israel after quite a line of evil kings.
- 16-24 – Paul drives the evil spirit out of the young women, but her owners, who profited off that spirit are not pleased. They get others on board and beat and imprison the apostles.
- 25-34 – Paul and Silas are miraculously released from prison, but they stay and end up converting the jailer.
- 1-2 – David asks that the Lord would grant his prayers while admitting his own sinfulness and inability to deserve God’s blessings.
- The entire psalm is an earnest prayer asking God to hear him and protect him.
- Presumably the fine would be unwarranted if it was placed on a righteous man.
It’s hard to be a faithful Christian in our society. We are bombarded by temptations and our culture does not lend itself to faithfulness. We are often teased for being prudes or are simply excluded because we might judge others.
Undoubtedly, this is difficult. However, this week, we will read about Paul and several of his companions who had a truly difficult road. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, and more. He frequently faced outright opposition. And yet, he was determined to spread the gospel to anyone who would listen. He would even say what an honor it was to face persecution for the sake of Christ.
This week, as you read Acts, thank God for the challenges you face in being faithful. If you continually pursue Christ these will eventually prove to be strengthening.
In today’s Acts reading we meet Timothy, Paul’s protégé. Paul mentors and trains Timothy to also be able to minister to early churches and spread the gospel. Paul prepares Timothy for pitfalls, allows him to watch his ministry and travel with him, and encourages him in his gifts. What if we each had a faith protégé?
2 Kings 6:1-7:20:
- Here’s that chart of the kings again, just in case:
- 1-7 – This was not just a party trick or Elisha showing off. The man’s accident with the axe head was done while attempting to be more faithful. Elisha used God’s power to bless his faith.
- 15-19 – Elisha’s servant is given special sight to see what’s going on. The Syrian army is not struck completely blind, but just blind to Elisha’s true identity.
- 20-23 – Though a rare occasion in the Old Testament, the Syrians and Israelites are able to resolve the situation peacefully.
- 25 – People are buying donkey heads and dove poop. Clearly the famine was really bad. They were so desperate they were eating the least desirable part of an unclean animal and paying high dollar for dove poop – which they were probably burning or using for other household tasks – not eating it.
- 26-31 – While this story is absolutely horrifying – here is some background: Joram was the king of Israel. His sins as well as the sins of the people had gotten so out of control that some of the curses associated with breaking their covenant with God had started to occur. Though Joram’s response in verse 31 suggests that the famine and reactions by the people are God or Elisha’s fault, it was actually caused by the ongoing sin of the people.
- 3-20 – The four lepers were Israelites, this is why they tell the king when the Syrians’ camp is empty. The Israelites, like Elisha prophesied, had abundant, affordable food.
- 39-40 – Church disputes happen because we’re human. Like this one, God works good through our failures. Now there are two teams ministering instead of the one they had before.
- 1-5 – Timothy became Paul’s protégé. Paul circumcised Timothy, even though it was no longer truly necessary, to give him credibility with those he would minister to.
- 10 – Note that the narrator goes from being simply a narrator to a participant by starting to use “we”. This is to indicate that Luke, the writer of Acts, has joined the mission team.
- This psalm said it was written when David is in the cave. This is most likely talking about when he was hiding in the cave with some of his men and Saul came in to use the restroom. David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but only cut off a piece of his robe instead.
- At this time David has been anointed as king but is on the run because Saul is still in power and is pursuing him to kill him.
- 24 – We often look to everything else to satisfy us, but wisdom will guide us faithfully where we are supposed to go.