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.
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.
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.
This week we finish 2 Kings and begin 1 Chronicles. The end of 2 Kings is the beginning of Judah’s exile. At this point, we’ve already seen Israel enter exile, but Judah held out a little longer.
Quickly, before we jump into the historical accounts of the Chronicles, let’s recap the highlights of what got us to the point of both the northern and southern kingdoms being in exile:
- The Israelites demand a human king and reject God as their king.
- Rehoboam, the 4th king of united Israel is unfair and unkind to his people so they refuse to follow him. The majority of the Israelites follow Jeroboam and form the kingdom of Israel.
- Israel as much weaker as two kingdoms.
- Twenty kings in a row of the northern kingdom of Israel are evil.
- Twelve of the twenty kings of the southern kingdom of Judah are evil.
- The Israelites of both kingdoms worship other gods and forsake their part of the covenant.
So as we read, this week, about God turning away from the Israelites, remember that he is not unkind and hateful. The Israelites turn their back on God over and over until he has no choice but to allow them to face their consequences.
Reading these consequences sure makes you think about your daily decisions, doesn’t it?
Did your parents ever forget your birthday? Spouse ever forget your anniversary? It’s both embarrassing and hurtful to be forgotten. When the Israelites lost their home and identity to Babylonian exile, they thought it was because God had forgotten them. God had not forgotten them but simply allowed them to face their consequences he had so long protected them from.
1 Kings 20:1-21:29:
- 1-12 – Ahab realizes that there is little chance they can beat the Arameans. He is willing to concede the best of the Israelites’ possessions, but is not willing to concede the entire city. Even by the way he addresses Ben-Hadad as “my lord and king” it shows that Ahab knows he has lost.
- 22 – God gave the Israelites victory in this battle, but war always returned in the spring. The prophet urges Ahab to strengthen his army in the meantime.
- 27 – Paints a very intimidating picture for the Israelites.
- 31-43 – Once again, Ahab does not follow the instructions of the Lord. God gave Ben-hadad into Ahab’s hands, but Ahab makes a covenant with Ben-hadad in order to gain more land and wealth. The prophet makes it clear that this will result in Ahab’s demise.
- 15 – Doing the right thing doesn’t always protect you from evil.
- 27-29 – After all his wrongdoing, Ahab repents and God has mercy on him and saves his punishment for his son. This seems unfair, but presumably, if the son follows the Lord, the punishment might be postponed again.
- 1 – They mention Manaen’s friendship with Herod because of how shocking it would have been that a friend of a Herod, would have become a believer. One of the Herod’s tried to have Jesus killed as a baby and another could have stopped his crucifixion but didn’t.
- 15 – It is unclear if the rulers of the synagogue are also believers and actually wanted to hear what Paul had to say or if they had some sort of obligation to have him speak.
- 1 – The Israelites were in exile in Babylon for around 70 years. During this time they longed for their culture, home, and identity.
- 6 – Jerusalem and Zion are often hailed because they were where the temple was and the temple represented the Israelites’ connection with God. When the temple was destroyed and the Israelites were driven out of Jerusalem, they wondered if God had forgotten them.
Do you ever wonder if God answers prayers? In today’s Luke reading there is a parable that reminds us that God does hear us. Don’t make the make mistake of equating God with the judge. But if even the unrighteous judge hears persistent requests, how much more will God?
- 13 – It is unclear why the Geshurites and Maacathites were allowed to stay on Israel’s land while all others are driven out. It could be that they didn’t pose a threat of causing the Israelites to be unfaithful to God.
- 8-12 – Caleb and Joshua were the only two who trusted the Lord to give them the land like he promised even though it looked impossible. Because Caleb “wholly followed the Lord” he was blessed with an inheritance and good health.
- 12 – The Anakim were legendary people and are believed to have been giants.
- 1-8 – As is explained in verse 1, this parable encourages the hearers to pray and not lose heart, but it should not be mistaken that the judge represents God. The judge is meant to be an unrighteous man, but the comparison is made that if even he can be persuaded to do the right thing with persistence, how much more will God hear our prayers?
- 9-14 – This is a warning against self-righteousness, which is an easy trap for those of us who do our best to faithfully follow Christ. It is far easier to see ourselves as the justified tax collector than the Pharisee.
- Based on the first 3 verses, this is most likely written about the beginning of the Israelites’ return from exile. They can begin to see God’s goodness being restored to them, but they have still have not fully returned to the prosperity they once knew. They’re still asking if God is angry, but they’re aware of his faithfulness.
- This is similar to a comparison made in Proverbs 12:9. Because of the honor/shame society the Israelites lived in, they would much rather be seen as honorable or as having wealth, whether it was true or not, so they would not receive shame.
In today’s Joshua reading, the Israelites probably thought they were having deja vu when God allowed Joshua to part the Jordan River so the people could cross into the Promised Land. Of course, God was showing that he was leading Joshua just like he led Moses and showing the Israelites that he would go with them into this new land just like he did into the desert.
- 3 – The Ark of the Covenant contained the 10 Commandments and represented the presence of the Lord. It is appropriate that it would enter the land before the Israelites representing God going before them.
- 7-13 – God established Joshua as the new leader so he could be exalted and respected like Moses. It is not insignificant that God proved himself and Joshua as leaders in the same way he did for Moses when they were fleeing from the Egyptians.
- 1-7 – God made it impossible for them to forget what he had done for them and the sign he had given to them that he would take care of them. He had them build a memorial so that even those, in future generations, who hadn’t seen the miracle, would ask and be told of God stopping the Jordan River and bringing the Israelites to the Promised Land.
- 7-11 – The ancient Israelites were a part of a “honor/shame” society. Every action and scenario as well as possessions contributed to your honor or shame. This instruction from Jesus asks his hearers to forego that norm and to purposefully put yourself in what would be considered a shameful position instead of trying to claim a position of honor.
- 12-14 – In order to receive honor, you needed to be associated with other honorable people. The poor, crippled, and lame were not people of honor. Again, Jesus calls us to forego the things that are elevated in our society.
- 15-24 – This parable describes how Jesus originally came to save the Jews but was rejected so his message and salvation was opened for all who would accept.
- 26-27 – Jesus uses strong language to help his hearers understand that they must offer full devotion to him. There devotion cannot be split.
- 33 – This is hard to hear, but often we try to be partially or minimally devoted to Jesus. We’d like to hang on to everything else that is fun or seemingly beneficial to us. Jesus reminds us that it’s not possible to do both.
- 4 – Because exile continued for generations, though they begged God to save them, the Israelites felt that their prayers went unheard.
- 8-13 – The Psalmist asks why God would bother saving the Israelites from Egypt and allowing them to flourish only to later allow them to be devastated by other nations.
The Israelites were the chosen people of God. They were protected by him in war and provided for by him for all their needs. But then their sins led them to exile where they were rejected and alone. Today’s psalm recounts the Israelites’ experience in exile.
Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24:
- 8-12 – As easily spooked as the Israelites were, you can imagine that Moses’ death would have had the potential to send them into hysterics wondering if God would still show up for them. In God’s great wisdom, he had already begun to raise a new leader, Joshua, into power so the Israelites could have someone to follow.
- After four books worth of wandering in the desert, the Israelites are finally about to enter the Promised Land.
- 5-9 – God’s initial instructions to Joshua tell him how to lead the people of Israel. He must follow all the commands Moses relayed to him from God. He must also be strong and courageous. This command is repeated 3 times in rapid succession. Any time something is repeated 3 times, it means it’s something you need to pay particular attention to.
- 1-24 – Rahab is unlikely heroine in the Bible. She is a prostitute and is not an Israelite. However, she cares for the Israelite and asks only for safety in return. Because of her kindness and protection of the Israelite spies, she is rewarded. She is even mentioned in Matthew’s lineage of Jesus. She is the mother of Boaz who marries Ruth, who has a book of the Bible written about her.
- 22 – As early as chapter 9, the gospel writer describes Jesus as heading towards Jerusalem. Here we see it again. This does not mean it is a ridiculously long journey that takes all this time. It is simply that Jesus, starting then, was on his mission towards the cross.
- 24-30 – Many religious folks wanted to rely on their devotion to the rules to buy their ticket to God’s kingdom. Jesus is letting them know that following the rules would not be enough and soon he would be gone and they would have missed their chance to have a place in the kingdom.
- 34 – Jesus was sent first to the Jews and Jerusalem was their hub. Unfortunately the Jews rejected Jesus over and over again and would not allow him to protect them.
- This Psalm refers to the Israelites’ experiences during exile. The Babylonians conquered them and all the nations assumed the Israelites’ God who normally protected them had disappeared.
- 13 – So often throughout the Bible the Israelites are referred to as the sheep of God’s pasture. They were God’s original chosen people and the original ones that Jesus came to save. Thankfully Jesus expanded his ministry to gentiles as well.
- Humans are, by nature, selfish beings. We often fail to think about how our actions will effect others. This Proverb reminds us that our actions can lead people into righteousness or lead them astray.