Are you a leader in any arena? If so, you’ll notice that leadership comes with responsibility. If you’re a leader, that means you have followers and that ultimately means that you are, at least in part, responsible for those who follow you. In today’s Ezekiel reading we see examples of good and bad leadership. Ezekiel heeded the call of leadership and shared God’s message with the people. At the same time, many religious leaders led people away from God and towards other gods. Leadership should always be taken seriously.
- 1-9 – Ezekiel was tasked with sharing God’s messages of repentance to Israel. If he did so and the Israelites did not turn away from their sins, their destruction was on their own heads. If Ezekiel didn’t share the message, their destruction was on him.
- 10-20 – God does not and did not delight in destroying people. He gave them every opportunity to turn around, but they continued to choose not to.
- 2 – This is not referring to shepherds of white fluffy animals, but the leaders of the Israelites who were supposed to be leading them towards God.
- 7-10 – God was not pleased with the leaders’ negligence towards the people, so God committed to rescuing the people.
- 20-24 – God is referring to Jesus here when he talks about bringing all his people together under one. Jesus was in the line of David.
- 1-2 – This reminds us to be kind and caring to everyone in our midst.
- 4-5 – The things believers should and shouldn’t do stay pretty consistent throughout the New Testament.
- 15-16 – To be faithful we need to praise God and serve others.
- 1-8 – A great deal of the Bible is focused on who we should focus on and worship. Too often we get distracted and choose to offer our affections elsewhere.
- These tools and metals are referring to a purifying process. This is to suggest that a fool cannot be separated from his folly.
We often don’t like it when people talk about money in church. We often think they want our money or they’re going to tell us to give away our money. Too often, we hold onto our money so tightly that we can’t grab hold of anything else. But, money is not the root of the problem. The problem comes when we allow money to become more important to us than God. Today’s 1 Timothy reading touches on righteous living versus greed and the place in our lives that money should occupy.
- 11-21 – King Zedekiah didn’t like what Jeremiah said about being taken over so he imprisoned him.
- 1-6 – The officials wanted to kill Jeremiah so they put him in a cistern. This is normally a deep hole, which is used to hold water. This one was empty.
- 7-13 – Ebed-melech, who was a servant, rescued Jeremiah from the cistern so he wouldn’t starve to death in there.
- 14-28 – King Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to tell him the truth. Jeremiah tells Zedekiah he has to surrender to the Babylonians or all his wives and kids will be given over to the Babylonians for them to do what they like.
1 Timothy 6:1-21:
- 6-8 – Godliness and contentment together are a powerful combo. We don’t want anything but what we’ve been given and we act as righteously as possible.
- 9-10 – Greed and covetousness are dangerous because we begin to do things we know are wrong to achieve what we want.
- 17-19 – Being rich isn’t the problem. The problem comes when we rely on and hope in our riches.
- 38-45 – The portion of this psalm we read yesterday speaks of how God was planning to exalt David. This portion is explaining that David’s family has now been forgotten and rejected. We know through Isaiah and Jeremiah that David’s line was given over to exile in Babylon because of their lack of obedience.
- Self-control is what protects us from temptation and sin, just like walls protect a city from attack.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These words were some of Jesus’ last on the cross. But they were also spoken by David in today’s psalm many generations before. What kind of pain and struggle would it take for you to say words like this? How abandoned and rejected would you have to feel?
2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21:
- 6 – The “ways of the kings of Israel” were not good. There were next to no faithful kings of Israel after David.
- 15 – This sounds like an unpleasant punishment.
- 9 – Even though Ahaziah was unfaithful and was punished and killed because of it, he was given a proper burial to honor the faithfulness of his grandfather.
- 10-11 – It is extremely significant that Jehoshabeath hides and saves Joash. God had promised to sustain King David’s line. Athaliah nearly destroys this by killing off all of the royal family, but Joash is saved, which saves David’s line.
- 16 – Jehoiada became a mentor figure for Joash since Joash was just a child when he started his reign as king.
- 13-14 – This may seem like a strange technique, but if the Jews saw the new gentile Christian’s closeness to God, maybe they too would want to be saved.
- 17-20 – Olive trees are unique in that new ones grow up alongside old ones and share their roots. So an olive tree being “grafted in” actually meant that it connected itself to the nourishment and life that the established tree already had.
- 30-31 – Though it seemed unfair that the Israelites’ hearts had to be hardened for gentiles to have a chance at salvation, now it was coming full circle and gentiles were causing Jews to come to salvation.
- 33 – We should all memorize this verse for the times when we’re confused at how God is working and wondering why he does things the way he does.
- 1 – Jesus quotes this on the cross. We’re not certain which situation caused David to say it.
- 2-5 – David is able to lean on his experience with God’s faithfulness to sustain him even though he feels that he is currently crying out and getting no response.
- What an encouragement to live faithfully so our children can see it, learn from it, and be blessed.
This week we continue in 2 Chronicles and Romans, and as always, our good friends Psalms and Proverbs. In today’s 2 Chronicles reading we hear a story we learned once before in 2 Kings, but it’s worth, once again, exploring, thinking about, and weighing the consequences.
Rehoboam, King David’s grandson, had a guaranteed path to the throne, but he wanted power and control and listened to terrible advice in order to get it. He didn’t trust God’s promises to get him where he needed to be. He tried to flex his muscles to get there instead. And it failed.
Rehoboam didn’t just fail himself. His consequences are still felt today. He caused Israel to become a divided kingdom and weaken tremendously. This put them at risk of being conquered, which they were, and exiled, which they were.
Too often we fail to follow God in our decisions and weigh our consequences. This week, let’s learn from Rehoboam’s mistakes.
In today’s 1 Chronicles reading we read the way that we should approach all our offerings to God. Too often we hold tightly what we have thinking there is no way we could give up that much. We think we need what we have and fail to realize that we actually need to give back to God. We don’t give because God needs our time/money/resources. We give because it grows and benefits us to trust God enough to give him the time/money/resources we think we need so desperately. It was a gift from God in the first place. We are just entrusted with it for a time.
1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30:
- 2-8 – In David’s final year as king, he explains that he was chosen for a specific purpose. He was a king of war, but his family, from his line was chosen to be on the throne forever. This is culminated with Jesus coming from David’s line. Interestingly, there are things he wasn’t called to do. God has a specific purpose for each of us.
- 20 – These words David speaks to Solomon are familiar. We hear them in parts when Moses hands over leadership of Israel to Joshua and we hear them throughout the Psalms.
- 3-5 – Leaders have to put their money where their mouth is.
- 14 – This should be our attitude with our resources. We are simply giving from what God has given us.
- 6-11 – This confirms Paul’s explanation of why we can’t earn our way to salvation. Christ died for us when we were sinners, so none of us could say that we earned or deserved it. It also shows God’s incredible love for us.
- 12-17 – Paul juxtaposes Adam, who brought sin in the world, and Jesus, who brought the grace of salvation into the world.
- Remember that, in certain parts of the tabernacle/temple, sin could not be present, this is why there were cleansing rituals. This psalm spells out what kind of person could enter that space.
- Other translations say “while there is hope” instead of “for there is hope”. The writer urges the reader to discipline a child while they’re still moldable unless you want to contribute to their destruction.
What do you currently do for someone who can’t repay you? I normally invite friends over for dinner who will eventually invite me over in return. I hangout with people who bring me joy. But today’s Proverb reminds us that we are to care for and serve those who have no means by which to repay us. When we do this, we know a far greater reward awaits us in heaven.
1 Chronicles 26:12-27:34:
- 29-31 – Some of the Levites were given jobs outside of the temple.
- 31 – David’s 40th year of reigning was his last.
- 23-24 – David was not asked to run this census of the people and God was not pleased that he did. These verses seem to attempt to absolve him of his wrongdoing because the census was never completed.
- 33 – It is funny that right in the middle of all the official positions and responsibilities is listed Hushai, the king’s friend, as if that is an official position too.
- 18-22 – It must have been difficult for Abraham to have faith that God would provide a child for he and his wife so late in life. His faith that God would fulfill his promises was considered his righteousness. We too can have faith that God has and will do the impossible for us too.
- 3-5 – It is not easy to rejoice in our sufferings, but it becomes easier when we realize what it results in.
- 7 – The good news is salvation does end up coming out of Zion. Jesus’ death and resurrection occur in Jerusalem.
- This is reminiscent of the separation of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. Those who served the poor and needy actually served Jesus. Though the poor person is not able to repay the generous person, the Lord is able.
Who do you admire? Is there someone who can always sway you? Maybe a personal hero or someone you simply see as an authority figure? In today’s Romans reading, Paul is smart to call upon the experiences of Abraham and David, who his Jewish audience would have considered heroes, to convince them to live faithfully. Who would someone need to reference in order to convince you?
1 Chronicles 24:1-26:11:
- 1-19 – This is a way of organizing the priests so their duties can be split up. “Sons of Aaron” is always referring to priests.
- 1-31 – Like the priests, David divided the musicians to all have a certain role.
- 2-3 – Paul had to point out that Abraham, a Jewish hero, was not under the law and never earned righteousness. His belief in God was what was counted to him as righteousness.
- 4-8 – Paul tries to make the difference between what we’ve earned and what is freely given to us. Paul is smart to use heroes of the faith like Abraham and David to prove his points. They were held in very high esteem.
- 9-12 – Circumcision was not in and of itself capable of giving us salvation. It is faith that confirms salvation.
- This seems like a last ditch effort of David. He cries out hoping the Lord will hear before he is overtaken. He finishes up with praise and remembering God’s faithfulness.
Many people wonder if God’s law was a mistake since we don’t adhere to all of it anymore. Did God make a mistake? Are we still actually supposed to be following it? Are modern day Christians so much smarter than ancient Jews who followed the law? The answer to all these is a confident no. Romans reminds us that the law and prophets were extremely beneficial because they pointed us all to Christ. Christ is the fulfillment of the law and all the prophets’ words.
1 Chronicles 22:1-23:32:
- 1-5 – Though God did not want David to build the temple, he knew Solomon was supposed to so he helped make preparations for it.
- 6-10 – God had different purposes for David and Solomon. David was King of Israel during a time of war and he established Israel as a major power. God granted Solomon peace during his reign so he could build the temple.
- 11-13 – The Ancient Israelites were always sure to speak specific blessings over their children, particularly before they died. We would be wise to take on this practice.
- 5 – It’s pretty cool that a specific job was just to offer praise to the Lord all the time. Seems like a pretty sweet gig.
- 26-32 – The Levites’ job was to be the priests who fulfilled the rituals required by God.
- 19-20 – The law made it clear to those under it what was sinful. Those not under the law were not always aware of what they shouldn’t do leaving them innocent.
- 21-22 – Paul makes it clear that the Prophets and the law that the Jews held in such high esteem were by no means worthless. They all pointed to Jesus who can provide righteousness for all.
- 23-26 – We’re all sinners and require God’s mercy offered through the grace given to us through Jesus.
- 31 – As we read in the gospel, Jesus came to fulfill the law. He didn’t eliminate it, he fulfilled it for us.
- 5-8 – Because we have failed and have not taken care of the poor and needy, God needed to step in. We tend to celebrate wickedness, but God shows us what is good and right.
- 14 – Advice to choose your spouse wisely.
We often assume God is not answering our prayers when we don’t get what we ask for. Often, God has a different, better plan. Maybe you didn’t get the job you were hoping for. Maybe God has something better in store for you and someone else is a better fit for that job you wanted. In today’s 1 Chronicles reading we are reminded that it was not David’s job to build God’s temple even though he wanted to. God had that plan for someone else and a different plan for David.
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17:
- 1-15 – Like we learned in 2 Samuel, God did not intend for David to build the temple. That would be Solomon, his son’s, job. God made promises to David, however, about building him up and establishing his kingdom long term.
- 16-27 – David humbly accepts the blessings God offers he and his family.
- 1-5 – We often misinterpret “judgement”. We think we’re not allowed to determine if something is good or bad, when in fact, we must decide this to function. When we are told not to judge others it is telling us that we should not and cannot condemn others. We too are sinners and do not have the authority to condemn.
- 12 – Those without the law are non-Jews. “The law” refers to the laws Moses handed down. Whether we sin against the law or against God himself, we are all sinners and are deserving of death.
- 13-16 – This passage can be more easily understood if it’s read like: 13(14-15)16. In short, this tells us that those who don’t even know the Mosaic law were able to fulfill parts of it. Doing what the law says and/or intends, whether you know what it says or not, is far more important than simply knowing it.
- 17-24 – Some Jews held their heritage as a reason why they were closer to God or more holy than gentiles. Paul calls them out recognizing that all, no matter their heritage, are only saved by faith in Jesus.
- 17 – There are a number of times when Scripture mentions God hearing the cries of the afflicted. Most notably, God hears the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, which starts the process of a mass exodus.
- Verses 8 and 9 stand in contrast with one another giving options for success and failure.
Even for faithful folks, it’s easier to focus and spend our time on the things that are most imminent, those that we can see and touch. Even more than that, we tend to have things that scream for our attention. Those demand that we give them our time and attention. In today’s Romans reading, we are reminded of how easy it is to give ourselves over to whatever idol is placed before us. But we must remember that none of these things will satisfy like worshipping God.
1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36:
- 1-24 – David prepares a huge celebration for the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.
- 29 – This is the same story that’s found in 2 Samuel 6 when David dances undignified before the Lord as the Ark of the Covenant returns to its rightful place and people.
- 8-36 – Like Moses, Mary, Zechariah, and others, David has a song for the Lord to praise him for a specific situation but also uses that time to praise God for his overall goodness.
- 20 – This verse explains that God’s character and attributes are revealed through creation – aka we can know that he gives us new life when we see leaves reappear on trees in the spring, or we can see his power and majesty through the mountains, etc. This is an answer to many people who wonder about people who have never heard about God. They have seen him all around them.
- 22-23 – It is easier to worship the things we see, touch, and are familiar with. This is why the Israelites wanted some tangible thing, even just a golden calf, to convince themselves that there was a god to worship and take care of them.
- 24-27 – Four times in a row, Paul explains that people exchanged God’s perfect plan for something counterfeit. He explains that God gave the people over to the counterfeit thing they desired.
- 28-32 – Those who are not righteous not only practice these things that are listed, but they also encourage others to practice them as well.
- The psalmist seems to be describing someone who is wicked and sinning purposefully. And seemingly, it is someone who is sinning and wicked towards him. Though the judgment and request for punishment sounds harsh, we would probably feel the same way towards our true enemies.
- This is also the psalm of people who, in frustration, watch others get away with bad things.
- Once again we’re confronted with our bias towards wealth. Poor men tend to be left in a lurch by everyone where as people come out of the woodworks for someone with money or influence.