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Jeremiah continues his pronouncement against the persistent sin of Judah as our text begins today, saying that those who trust in men are cursed and those who trusts in the Lord will be blessed. Not long after this, Jeremiah must put this teaching to use, for in gathering the priests, prophets, and leaders of Judah to declare the judgment of the Lord, he is beaten, put in the stocks, and humiliated by one of the priests. Both before and after this event, Jeremiah pleads with the Lord to do something about the humiliation he endures, lamenting in sorrow over the day he was born.
Jeremiah was a young man serving as a priest when the Lord called him and set him aside as his chosen instrument to prophesy against the nation of Judah. Even though they had seen the fall of Israel after centuries of wickedness and idolatry, they followed the same. They worshipped false gods on hilltops and under trees, as was the custom in the surrounding nations, and rejected the God who had promised to love them, provide for them, and protect them. Like a man who goes to a broken cistern to collect water, the people of Judah sought after other gods for life, but would find only devastation.
The false gods that Israel has served are worthless and lifeless, and God warns that those gods will not save them from His wrath. The nation that the Lord loved and cherished has continuously rejected Him and mocked His authority, so the Lord will finally bring them to the ruin He promised would come. Later, at the Lord’s command, Jeremiah performs a prophetic act, one of several over the course of his life, and we’ll all have to suppress our inner six year old as we read about Jeremiah’s dirty underwear.
The people of Judah and Jerusalem have developed a false sense of security, for they suppose that fulfilling the rituals of worship will please God. Assuming they have God’s favor because of their sacrifices, they pursue unrighteousness and selfish gain, worshipping idols and even sacrificing their children to false gods. God’s holy wrath burns against their injustice, for He is not satisfied with meaningless sacrifices, but in obedience. Jeremiah weeps for his brothers, broken by the brokenness of his people. Death and destruction are imminent, and the time for lament is at hand.
The Lord’s love remains on Judah but he cannot allow her rampant evil and adulterous idol worship to continue to go on. Time and again He has called them to repent, but they continue to love their wealth, their sin, and their idols more than the Lord their God. The Lord will send Assyria from the north to conquer Jerusalem and Judah, making it a desolate wasteland. He sends Jeremiah to ensure that everyone has heard, going throughout Israel with this message like a grape gatherer whose hand passes over the branches to make sure he has been thorough. Then later in our reading from Isaiah, we’ll get a chance to rejoice in the promised Messiah.
Jeremiah was a young man serving as a priest when the Lord called him and set him aside as his chosen instrument to prophesy against the nation of Judah. Even though they had seen the fall of Israel after centuries of wickedness and idolatry, they followed the same. They worshipped false gods on hilltops and under trees, as was the custom in the surrounding nations, and rejected the God who had promised to love them, provide for them, and protect them. Like a man who goes to a broken cistern to collect water, the people of Judah sought after other gods for life, but would find only devastation.
John, the apostle whom Jesus loved and the author of the fourth gospel writes today’s letter to the church with encouragement to flee from sin, to trust in Jesus, to love one another, and to assure them of eternal life. This letter doesn’t have a typical structure, as it doesn’t address a particular church or mention individual people. An overarching theme seems to be the nature of fellowship with one another, particularly that true believers might be strengthened and that false converts might be convicted.
Job has justified himself in his own sight, repeating again and again that God has been unjust, bemoaning his fate and complaining that a man should be able to take God to court. In today’s episode, God puts Job in his place by asking him a series of questions. This inquisition is designed to help Job see how finite, weak, and limited he is, while painting a picture of God’s power and authority. Job can’t even direct a wild animal to work for him, let alone oversee the entirety of creation. In the end, Job relents and his relationship with God is restored.
As the young man named Elihu continues to present a case against Job and his friends, he confronts the audacious claim that a man gains nothing from friendship with God. Moreover, the God who created all things is accountable to no one; in other words, He doesn’t owe anything to anyone, therefore no can present Him as unfair or unjust. The God who made all things also sees all things, knows all things, and will rightly judge all things. Man, with his limitations, cannot know or understand these things and therefore cannot claim to be a better authority than a sovereign God.
In today’s episode, Job starts his “I get no respect” routine and tells his friends of the dishonor he now endures from fellow citizens and from the riff-raff that live in the desert around him. He remarks that he has been faithful to the Lord, caring for those in need, and keeping himself from the worship of false gods, or the worship of sun and moon. When Job concludes his words, a young man named Elihu, who has yet to speak, begins to voice his anger against Job since Job’s friends have done a poor job thus far.
It won’t be long before Job receives a proper rebuke from Elihu and then from God Himself, but until that time Job continues to vent and express frustration with the situation he finds himself in. His friends keep telling him to repent of his evil, assuming that his sin is the cause of his state. Meanwhile, Job continues to declare himself as pure, which also a falsehood. Job thinks so highly of himself that he unabashedly accuses God of not executing justice properly, and in so doing, exalts himself above His Maker. At times he gives God his due with words, but in his heart, Job is sure that God has been unfair.
Job’s friends are insulted that he would reject their wisdom, especially because they are drawing their conclusions from that which was commonly assumed by the culture and by their ancestors. Job wants to find comfort and consolation from his friends, but they continue to make a case against him. In an earlier speech, Job spoke of God’s justice, but as he responds to his friend Zophar, we can see that he struggles, like many of us, to understand why the wicked are allowed to flourish while the righteous perish. Even if Job goes to the grave, he remembers that his Redeemer lives, and will testify over his grave on his behalf.
The book of Job is a messy book because it deals with messy realities and messy relationships. In one sense, Job’s friends are right in that God is just and that sinful people do not flourish in the long run. They are wrong, however, to say that the reverse is necessarily true, for disheartening circumstances aren’t always caused by sin; sometimes they are simply the designs of God, for He is our sovereign Maker and Sustainer, and He may do as He pleases. Job is an emotional wreck, and says some things he probably wouldn’t say if were at peace, but he still holds onto what he knows about the Lord and clings to that truth as he navigates hardship.
Job has lost everything but his wife, his life, and a handful of friends who have gathered around. After sitting together in silence for seven days, Job opens up about the sorrow and agony he feels. His friends, however, greet him calls to repent, suggesting that God would not punish someone like this if he were indeed righteous. Bildad rebukes Job, pointing to God’s justice and argues that God does not reject a person of integrity. Job, in turn, considers God’s power and sovereignty and declares that is futile to try to bring any case against God Almighty.
The book of Job is thought to be one of the earliest writings of Scripture, given that is likely that wrote down the books of Genesis-Deuteronomy. Set in the period of the patriarchs perhaps even before the time of Abraham, this book gives us the account of a rich man who loses it all. While his suffering was not brought about by sin, Job’s friends try to convince that such desolation only comes upon those who are sinful. Job also gives us a rare glimpse into the spiritual realm, describing scenes before the throne of God Almighty, who reigns so supremely that even His enemies must be granted permission to act.
In this letter to Timothy, Paul encourages the young man whom he calls a son in the faith to preach the gospel boldly, clearly, unabashedly, and without fear. Paul encourages Timothy to know the Scriptures well so that he can preach the Scriptues well. The apostle has entrusted the work of gospel ministry to Timothy and he wants to make sure that Timothy is capable of training other men to do the same. To do the work faithfully, followers of Christ must expect to endure suffering. Paul warns that hard times will come in the last days, for there will be many who claim the faith with their mouths yet deny it with their actions, “holding to the form of godliness but denying its power.”
Haman’s wrath against Mordecai and the Jewish people has returned on his own head. Though he sought to hang Mordecai from the gallows he had constructed, he was, instead, forced to honor Mordecai publicly. Then, when his plans to execute Mordecai were discovered, Haman was hanged on his own gallows. On today’s episode, Esther continues to represent her people before the king, turning a day of mourning into a day of rejoicing. Today’s reading from Esther is rather short so we’ll be spending a little more time in Psalm 119.
Haman, the royal official who hates Mordecai for being disrespectful and insubordinate, has tricked King Ahaseurus into giving him even more power and authority. With the king’s signet ring in hand, he devises a scheme to wipe out the Jewish people, whom he hates because of his hatred for Mordecai. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall,” and that proverb is on full display here in the life of Haman. A God orchestrates divine justice over Persia without speaking a word, while Esther and her people are blessed in their humility before a holy and sovereign God who provides for those who fear Him.
The account of Esther, the Jewish orphan who becomes the queen of Persia, is neither a Cinderella story, nor a how-to guide for righteousness. It does, however, give us a picture of the God who graciously uses broken people to achieve His glorious and fulfill His covenant promises. The names that the two Jewish characters operate under, Esther and Mordecai, are names that give honor to Persian gods. The book reflects how they operate under this saturation of Persian culture by mentioning the Persian king 190 times while God is never mentioned. On today’s episode we meet Esther, Mordecai, King and Ahaseurus, and the self-righteous enemy of God’s people: Haman.
Today we’re going to read the entire letter of 1 Timothy together, and as we do I think you see some themes emerge. First, Paul writes to Timothy from a place of humility in order to encourage humility within Timothy and within the church. From that humility comes order within the church, including rightly viewed structures of authority and submission. Paul wants Timothy to be bold in faith and in the work of ministry, but humble in spirit, relying on the Lord in all circumstances. Self-righteous gain, however, results in quarreling, craving for controversy, and a love of money.
The temple is finished. The wall is finished. The people have rededicated themselves to the Lord’s house, and on today’s episode, the remnant of Israel rejoices. With the work completed, Nehemiah returns to Persia to serve under King Artaxerxes once again, just as he promised. All is right with the world, and God’s people serve Him faithfully from then on, right? Wrong! In fact, not long after Nehemiah leaves, the work of the temple is all but abandoned and Eliashib, who is in charge of the temple storehouses, clears out a room for Tobiah the Ammonite official, who happens to be a relative. Nehemiah returns once more to set things straight.
Now that the work of rebuilding the temple and rebuilding the walls surrounding Jerusalem is complete, the exiles from Israel gather together to hear Ezra read from the book of the Law. The Levites explain the law to the people as it is being read, and when the congregation understands the extent to which they have broken the Law, they mourn over their actions. Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites encourage them to rejoice, for the people have not only returned to their land, but they have returned to their God. The Levites recite a confession they had written based on Israel’s rebellious history, after which, God’s people make a vow to the Lord.
The governors who oversee region west of the Euphrates, which includes Judah and Jerusalem, are unhappy that Nehemiah has been sent to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Feeling threatened, Sanballat and other officials create false rumors and even bribe others to attempt to deceive Nehemiah. They make every attempt to stop or delay the work, but in just 52 days’ time, Nehemiah and the diligent remnant Israel rebuild the wall and restore the gates.
Nehemiah, an exile who lived in Persia’s capital and served King Artaxerxes as his royal cupbearer, hears news that Jerusalem has been laid waste. The wall surrounding the city had been greatly compromised and the gates that would have maintained a secure entrance had been burned down. In great dismay, Nehemiah ask the king if he can return to help restore the city. With the king’s approval and with papers in hand, Nehemiah goes back to Jerusalem, but the local governors are not happy that he has come. Nehemiah surveys the damage under cover of night, then urges Israel to join him in the work of rebuilding the wall and gates.
In our last episode, we were introduced to Ezra, a scribe in exile who had been trained in the law of Moses and who had “determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach it’s statutes and ordinances in Israel.” King Artaxerxes expressly commands Ezra to do just that. After we review some of the family heads who accompanied Ezra for the journey back to Jerusalem, we discover that even the leaders of those who had returned from exile had disobeyed the commands of the Lord by marrying foreign women. This was forbidden under the law of Moses, and can be cited as one of the reasons Israel abandoned the Lord and pursued other gods.
If you have siblings, then there was likely a time when you tried to get them in trouble for doing something you didn’t like only to find out they were told to do it by your parents. In similar fashion, the governor and rulers that oversee the region west of the Euphrates alert King Darius that the Jews are rebuilding the temple. The king’s reply? Leave them alone! If anyone tries to stop them, they will be impaled on a beam from their own house! The temple is completed with great joy and after about 60 years of silence, we are introduced to Ezra, a man with unique skills and special instructions from the king.
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were original part of one book but they got separated along the way as the book was translated. The author of this book and the author of 1 & 2 Chronicles are one and the same, and Ezra continues where 2 Chronicles left off. Once we make it through some of the population tallies at the beginning, we get to see what happens when God’s people are allowed to return the land of Judah. Before they even begin to rebuild the walls of the city, they prioritize rebuilding the temple, but even before that, they begin to worship God according to the Scriptures.
Paul begins today’s passage by clarifying the reasons why he has sent an advance party to secure the offering the Corinthians had promised to give. After this, he begins to defend the authority he has over the Corinthian church as a true apostle. Other men, whom Paul calls “Super-apostles”, had come into town, and it seems that the church was supporting them and listening to their teaching. These men were boastful and requested payment for their teaching, whereas Paul was humble, loyal, and worked without burdening the church financially. As he concludes, Paul assures them that he will not be lenient on those who have persisted in sin.
Having encouraged the Corinthian church to pursue godliness in the midst of difficulty and hardship, Paul continues in today’s passage to remind them that this life and this body are temporary like a tent, but our established home is in heaven with Christ. As those who represent our heavenly home, we should be ambassadors, or representatives of the kingdom we call home. Our earthly travels and our tasks may be full of dichotomies, for in this life we can afford little, but in the next life we have a rich inheritance. Finally, Paul makes an appeal to the church to be diligent and intentional with the task of setting aside money to give to the work of ministry and missions.
Paul loves the church in Corinth, but at the writing of this letter, the feeling wasn’t entirely mutual. The Corinthian church had received a severe letter from Paul that contained instructions about disciplining a church member. This could be the man mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5 or it could be some other person within the church. In either case, it pained the church. Paul writes this opening section to bring comfort to the church, to reaffirm his love for them, and to encourage the Corinthians to continue to love him, too. His confidence comes, not from letters of recommendation written by men, but from the Spirit who gives life and opens the eyes of men to see the light of the gospel.
Obadiah is the shortest book in Old Testament, and it’s a prophecy directed against one nation: the nation of Edom. Though the time or century of this proclamation is not fully known, it is clear from the text that Edom is guilty of mocking Judah in their distress and taking advantage of their dire situation. In the end, however, the Lord will bring His people back and Edom will be devastated. Titus is a short epistle from Paul that includes qualifications for elders and a call to live together in unity and stop fighting about trivial matters. There are so many great truths in this one small letter. Alright, let’s dive in.
King Josiah takes the throne at age 8, begins to seek the Lord at age 16, and begins to cleanse the land of idols and high places at age 20. At 24, he commands his servants to clean and repair the temple of God, and when they do so, they discover the book of the law of God taken down by the hand of Moses. After consulting a prophet, he learns that God’s wrath will soon be poured out on Israel. He calls the people to carry out the covenant of God with him, and they observe the Passover. After Josiah’s death, four kings of Judah reign in just 22 years time, at which point the Lord sends his people into exile.
Now that Hezekiah has reestablished worship at the Lord’s temple, he wants to provide for the Levites who have gathered together to serve the Lord in the work of the temple. Thankfully, the people of Judah show kindness and faithfulness by giving a tenth of all that they harvested and produced. Later, King Sennacherib threatens Hezekiah and all Judah by laying siege to their fortified cities and then denounces the Lord God of Israel. Hezekiah maintains faithfulness, putting his trust in the Lord, and is delivered from the hands of his enemies. After Hezekiah’s death, two kings arise from his lineage named Manasseh and Amon, but sadly they excel in evil like King Ahaz before them.
King Ahaz is one of the most evil and unfaithful kings in Judah’s history. His unfaithfulness goes to extremes, for he not only worships other gods, but sacrifices his children to them in order to seek their favor. In a time of war and distress, Ahaz turns to Assyria for aid, rather than turning to the Lord, and loses vast quantities of wealth trying to buy their help. When his son Hezekiah comes to power, the new king removes the altars and the Asherah poles set up during his father’s reign, calling Judah and all of Israel to return to the Lord and worship him alone.
In our last episode, we considered the life of King Joash, the baby who was rescued from the wrath of a wicked queen and later brought to power by Jehoiada, one of the Lord’s faithful priests. After Jehoiada’s death, King Joash abandons the temple of the Lord, and is later assassinated. The next three kings come from his lineage. Amaziah begins well, but inexplicable turns to worship the idols of those he has defeated, and soon thereafter becomes overconfident. Amaziah’s son, Uzziah, also begins well, but he, too, becomes overconfident, and acts unfaithfully by offering incense in the Lord’s temple, a role that is reserved only for priests. Finally, Jotham’s reign is pretty quiet, as he did not waver in obeying the Lord.
In our last episode we covered the life of King Jehoshaphat who was faithful to the Lord, but in today’s episode we witness the beginning of the end for the kings of Judah. Jehoshaphat’s son, King Jehoram is straight-up Je-horrible and when he dies from a horrific intestinal disease, Scripture records that he “died to no one’s regret.” How would you like that on your tombstone? His son, Jehoahaz, whom we should note is mainly called Ahaziah, takes the throne after him for only one year before he is killed. After his death, his mother Athaliah goes on a killing spree in order to take the throne, but an heir to the throne in David’s lineage is waiting undercover to take back the kingdom.
King Asa has died, and his son Jehoshaphat takes the throne, continuing a legacy of faithfulness to the Lord. Uniquely, Jehoshaphat institutes a plan to educate Judah in the ways of the Lord, sending officials and priests out with the book of the Lord’s instruction. Where Asa failed to call upon the name of the Lord when there was threat of war, Jehoshaphat succeeds and calls upon the Lord several times throughout this narrative. Each time Jehoshaphat humbles himself and prays or calls a prophet to inquire of the Lord, the Lord is gracious and delivers him from trouble, blessing Israel with riches and peace.
Our reading today examines the lives of two descendants of David who each reigned as king over Israel. First: Abijah, who reigned for only 3 years, but who made an impassioned speech against Israel’s king Jeroboam, warning him to not wage war against the Lord and those who serve Him. Abijah’s son Asa takes the throne after him, and Asa devotes himself to the Lord for most of his life. The Lord rewards Asa’s faithfulness by blessing the nation of Judah with a long period of peace. When the threat of war finally becomes immanent, Asa fails to consult the Lord, and instead turns to consult another king for help.
Worship at the new temple has been established and the people of Israel begin to worship the Lord with renewed vigor and zeal. The Lord honors their worship and continues to love His people by providing for them and protecting them. King Solomon’s wisdom and wealth become known across the ancient world, and royalty from nearby nations come to seek his counsel and insight. Sadly, Solomon’s wisdom is not passed on to his son, Rehoboam, as one of his first decrees runs in direct contradiction to the advice that the elders give him. By trusting his friends more than the advice of wise men who had experience, Rehoboam serves as a catalyst for division.
Today, Solomon finishes the work of building the temple and brings the ark of the covenant into the newly constructed room known as the holy of holies. The priests consecrate themselves and worship the Lord through music. The temple fills with a cloud and with the Lord’s glory to such a degree that the priests are not able to continue ministering. Solomon prays to the Lord before the nation of Israel, asking God to hear their prayers, reminding the people through his prayer that God resides in heaven, and is not confined to the walls of the temple. The Lord responds by reaffirming his commitment to David’s lineage so long as they are faithful to His statutes.
We’re back in 2 Chronicles which is the second book of a four book series which includes 1 & 2 Chronicles along with Ezra and Nehemiah. Combined, they make up a historical account of God’s people from Adam to the return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon. It’s likely that Ezra is the author and the one responsible for compiling the material, but we don’t know for sure. Here in the second book of Chronicles we begin with the rule of Solomon, son of King David, who has been given authority as king by God’s special decree. In today’s passage. Solomon begins to build God’s holy temple.
In our last episode, Paul began to speak of the nature of the body of Christ and the diversity of spiritual gifts within it. Just as a physical body is made of many parts that are united together, Paul continues in today’s passage to teach that the church should be united in love and put away childish divisions, otherwise their flashy spiritual gifts are rubbish. He goes on to encourage the church to desire the gifts that build up the body over and above the gift of speaking in tongues. Before concluding with instructions for the church, Paul argues with those who say there is no resurrection, contending that without resurrection our faith in Christ is foolishness.
Paul covers a number of topics in today’s reading as he attempts to answer questions that the Corinthian church had asked him in previous communications and as he tries to correct some of the sinful and selfish patterns the church had developed. He begins by making the case that gospel workers should receive support from the church, even though Paul himself does not do so. He goes on to encourage the church to obey Christ faithfully and use their liberty in Christ for the good of other people. Finally, he encourages the church to embrace the diversity of gifts within the church body, giving honor to each believer for the role that they’ve been given.
Well, if you didn’t learn it from our time in Songs of Songs, let me make it clear: God is pro-sex. He created sex for the good of mankind and for His glory. God is so pro-sex that He wants to protect it from the many ways that mankind distorts it’s power for selfish gratification. The Corinthian church was recovering from a twisted, worldly sexual ethic, and didn’t know how to use their freedom in Christ rightly. They argued, “If the stomach was made to be satisfied with food, aren’t other parts of body made to be satisfied?” Paul instructs rightly that such satisfaction should be found only in marriage between a man and a woman.
Paul wants the Corinthian church to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Divisions had already begun among the church at Corinth, and as we’ll see in these first four chapters, some of the division came because believers began attributing themselves to mere men. Paul directs them to boast, not in the teachers they follow, but in Christ and Him crucified. In other words, “let one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” The cross is foolishness to the world, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of Almighty God. The apostles weren’t to be placed on pedestals, but they were to be looked to as examples of humility.
Israel has taken the lavish blessings of their God and given those gifts to the calf idols of Baal, turning away from the covenant love of the God who redeemed them and turning to love other gods. Therefore, the Lord will discipline his people for their rebellion. Through Hosea, God remarks that he raised Israel like a father raises children, lamenting the calamity that will come upon them, promising that He will not release His full wrath upon them. The book of Hosea ends with a call to repentance. If God’s people will turn back to Him, they will flourish once again.
Israel has turned away from loving the One, True and Living God, turning aside to foreign gods and foreign nations. Throughout today’s reading you’ll hear Israel referred to as Ephraim, which is the larger of the territories that demarks the division between the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel. During this time period, the kings of Israel didn’t last long on the throne, each one murdered through conspiracy, and Hosea prophecies that this will happen. Keep your ears open for the call to repentance, and you’ll notice an unmistakable foreshadow of Jesus, through whom we now repent and find peace with God.
Not much is known about the background of the prophet Hosea, save what is mentioned in this record of his prophecies. By referencing the kings under which he prophesied, we can see that his ministry of prophecy lasted around 40 years. Like Amos, Hosea spoke to the nation of Israel, often referenced as “Ephraim” in this book, under a time of lavish wealth and disparate poverty. Israel was being unfaithful to their God, and like the unfaithful nation the Lord has committed himself to love, Hosea is commanded to marry an unfaithful woman. Hosea’s pursuit of his unfaithful wife serves a parallel to God’s pursuit of unfaithful Israel.
David’s life is at an end, and as he prepares to pass the crown on to his son Solomon, his heart and mind continue to be fixed on God’s glory, particularly through the building of the temple. David has spent years of his life amassing materials for it’s construction, and not only that, he has also drawn up architectural plans, built instruments, and created systems for all who work in and around the temple. For someone who knew scarcity and insecurity for a good portion of his life while running from King Saul, it is notable that he gives so much away. David dedicates his life, his work, and his riches to the Lord, the ruler over everything, and praises God with his whole being.
In his latter days, David charges his son Solomon to build the temple for the worship of God, and we get a few new details. First, we learn that the Lord did not allow David to build the temple because his hands had shed so much blood and waged great wars. We also realize that David looked forward to the building of the temple even though he himself couldn’t build it, charging his son with the task and spending his own time and resources to create a stockpile for the project. David also assigns duties and tasks for the Levite priests before he dies, paving the way for transition from the tabernacle to the temple once Solomon becomes king.
After King David reestablishes the tabernacle, he returns to his own home, a palace made of cedar, and thinks “Why does God dwell in a tent, while I, a mere man, dwell in a palace?” As his wheels begin to spin, he tells Nathan the prophet. Nathan tells David to go for it, but later receives a vision from the Lord. The Lord has never asked a house, but God flips the script and says, “You know what? I’m going to build a house from your family tree. A Son of David will build a house for me that will last forever. Later we’ll begin The Song of Songs which is about two lovers and their love. It is a book of poetry and symbolism; if you hear something and think, “Does that mean what I think it means?” the answer is probably, “Yup!”
In our last episode, the author chronicled the inauguration of King David over Israel. Now that David is king, he intends to reinstitute the proper worship of God at his tabernacle. When the ark of the covenant almost falls in transit, one of the men carrying the ark reaches out to grab it, which is not permissible by God’s law. The Lord strikes him dead, which both angers and terrifies David. Scared to bring it to Jerusalem, he leaves it in Gath, bringing it to Jerusalem at a later date. Once it arrives, they appoint musicians and priests for service in the worship of God.
We’re still working through a list of names, but thankfully things get a little more interesting this week as the lists are broken up by historical accounts and records of what people did and when. As someone who once worked retail and food service, I like the behind-the-scenes look at how the Levites and gatekeepers operated the maintenance of the temple in today’s reading. We’ll also hear a few tales of brave men in battle and their legendary accounts of heroism and valor. These men fought alongside David and were there to help him claim kingship over Israel as the Lord had ordained.
We’re reading through the genealogies handed down that trace God’s people from Adam & Eve up through the exile to Babylon. Remember that each name represents a lifetime and a family, real people with real lives who either trusted in the Lord or who were stiff-necked and rebelled against the Lord. Reading these genealogies juxtaposed against chapters from Ecclesiastes reminds me that one day you and I will just be names on a list to those who come after us, but what the Lord accomplishes in us and through us will not be forgotten by the One who formed us, redeemed us, and called us His own. How sweet it is to know that the Lord remembers His people by name.
Alright, real talk: this episode probably isn’t going to change your life, but there are some interesting little nuggets to be found in between the names and genealogies. For instance, there’s, “The Prayer of Jabez,” right? which, if you didn’t live through 90’s Christendom, is the title of a book that says you can be blessed with prosperity if you pray prayers like Jabez. Although the author probably lined his pockets with that book, the section on Jabez simply describes something that happened; it isn’t prescribed for all believers. You might as well say, “Pray Solomon’s prayer and you’ll be blessed with wisdom, a kingdom, and a temple!” It doesn’t quite work like that. Alright, let’s read some names, shall we?
Recall from our last episode that Amos is a blue collar guy who was sent from Judah to prophesy against Israel. During a time of wealth, the rich had grown greedy, proud, and complacent, assuming that no harm could befall them. In their pride, they failed to consider the Lord, righteous conduct, or just dealings, opting instead to oppress those of lower status and lounge in luxury. Through Amos, the Lord calls Israel to live a life of justice and righteousness, but because they are hard of heart, the Lord’s justice will pour out from upon those who have profaned God’s holy name.
Amos was a prophet from Judah who travelled away from his homeland to prophesy against Israel. As his introduction states, Amos was a shepherd by trade, but he received instruction from the Lord to go north to Samaria around 760 BC. It was a time of great prosperity for Israel, but many farmers had been reduced to poverty. The wealthy gave them loans that they could not repay, forcing these debtors into slavery whereby the aristocrats seized their lands. They felt that their city walls and citadels would keep them safe and secure from danger, but the God of Israel sees all and will exact justice on those who have neglected his statutes.
Among the many things that Luke illustrates in his record of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, is that all of it was in fulfillment of Scripture, including a number of references to Psalm 22. While sinful men sought to snuff out this king and his message about a coming kingdom, they in fact helped usher in the new kingdom by crucifying the Son of God. Then, on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead as He had prophesied way back in Galilee. The disciples eyes were opened to many things they had not previously understood, and the kingdom of heaven begins to spread in the hearts and minds of Christ’s disciples.
Looking back from our position in history, we often think of the kingdom of God through the teachings of Jesus and the lens of Scripture as a whole, but at the time of Jesus, things weren’t so clear for His original audience. When most thought about the Son of David, they assumed that he would be a king in the traditional sense. The Jews were excited that this king had finally arrived, and upon entering Jerusalem they erupted with praise & excitement. Little did they know that Christ’s kingship would establish eternal authority over the souls of men or that victory would come by way of the cross.
Our passage today includes a number of notable parables, some of which concern the nature of death and the afterlife. Jesus tells His disciples to enter by the narrow way, because the door to God’s household will soon be shut and those outside will be turned away regardless of their proximity to Jesus. He compares God’s table to that of a man who throws a banquet, only to be turned down by those he had invited, and therefore he invites the weak, the poor, and those who are far off. Later, Jesus describes the joy in heaven over the lost who have been found, and the agony of those who enter the afterlife having neglected the teachings of God.
Jesus and His disciples are on their way to Jerusalem where He will face the agony of the cross, but He has much to say and to teach before that hour arrives. When asked to define what it means to love your neighbor, Jesus tells a parable that would have shocked his audience, making a Samaritan the hero of the story rather than a Jew. Later, he teaches His disciples to pray, rebukes those who claim He uses demonic powers, pronounces seven woes upon the Pharisees, and finally, Jesus encourages his disciples to store up treasures in heaven, and not worry about the future.
Jesus continues to exhibit his power over illness, demons, death, and over Creation, and people continue to be in awe over what they see. Make no mistake: the people in Jesus’ day were not simpletons who would simply believe anything. Like you and I, they knew that what Jesus was doing seemed impossible, and they all had trouble wrapping their minds around it. Later we’ll jump into Ecclesiastes and hear from a completely exasperated King Solomon who can’t find satisfaction in anything on earth.
After John baptizes Him, Jesus enters the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by Satan. Where Israel failed to follow the God in the wilderness and where Adam failed against the devil’s lies, Jesus succeeds. Christ begins His teaching ministry in the synagogues with a notably unpopular start in His hometown. Rather than playing to the crowd, he points out that the prophets Elijah and Elisha were not welcomes by Israel, but their miracles were performed on Gentiles. The townspeople bum-rush Jesus, but He slips through the crowd and continues to teach and heal elsewhere.
The gospel according to Luke is the longest book in the New Testament, and according to his own prelude, it’s an orderly collection of eye-witness accounts from the life and ministry of Jesus. He begins by recounting the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the coming Son of David. While John’s conception and birth are miraculous and recall the promises made to Abraham and Sarah, the birth of Jesus is greater still. His humble birth is cause for celebration and continued awe & wonder. Later, John baptizes Jesus as He begins His earthly ministry.
Our episode begins with the account of King Josiah, who took the throne at the mere age of eight. Almost by happenstance, the king’s servant stumbles across the book of the Law which had become so forgotten and neglected that they weren’t quite sure what they were looking at. When Josiah realizes that they have discovered the God’s Law, he cleans house both figuratively and literally. The Lord’s temple was full of idolatrous objects and practices, but while the Lord honors and acknowledges Josiah’s zeal and humility, it will not stop Him from sending Judah into exile in Babylon.
The kingdom of Israel is no longer; only Judah remains. In our last episode, after Israel had spiraled madly away from the Lord for decades, the Lord allowed the king of Assyria to conquer Israel and deport it’s people to foreign lands. In his quest to conquer nation after nation, Sennacherib sets his sights on Judah, and sends messengers to demand submission and announce their impending doom. King Hezekiah turns to the Lord in his time of trouble, and speaks through the prophet Isaiah to bring good news to the king.
The kings of Israel have fallen so far from the way of life that the Lord had called them to follow, that by this point they are completely unrecognizable from the nations around them. In fact, by the end of today’s reading, their resemblance to surrounding nations is one of the many indictments marked against them. As we read, notice that as the kings move further away from the Lord and his statutes, the more violent, unpredictable, and selfish they become. And if you’re curious about anything else they did, good luck finding the Historical Record of Israel’s Kings.
Jehu is now king in Israel and is on a mission to destroy everyone from Ahab’s lineage and company, according to the Lord’s decree. Moreover, Jehu gathers the priests and servants of Baal and tells them that he has a “special sacrifice” for the god they serve. Later, we’ll listen to the account of King Joash, the infant heir to the throne who was rescued from a royal slaughter and raised in the temple of God. With guidance from Jehoiada the priest, Joash is inaugurated as a child king over Israel, and works to rebuild the temple.
On today’s episode, things escalate quickly. First, the Arameans try to capture Elisha but he diffuses them with hospitality. Later, the Arameans lay siege to Israel, surrounding Samaria in order to cause a famine, and the people take desperate measures. Elisha prophesies that Hazael, a servant of the king of Aram, will rise to power. He also sends a prophet to anoint Jehu, one of Israel’s military commanders, to become king over Israel. Jehu quickly sets his hands to overturn the standing king and avenge the blood of Naboth the Jezreelite.
We continue in our timeline of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah today. Remember that King Ahab has died, but Elijah is still alive. Ahab’s son Ahaziah is now on the throne, but he won’t outlive the Lord’s prophecy against Ahab which says family line would come to an end in the next generation. Jehoshaphat continues to reign in Judah and partner with the kings of Israel, pointed each king to consult the Lord through his prophets. And speaking of prophets, in today’s episode Elijah passes his mantle to Elisha who the Lord uses mightily in Israel.
Today we’ll read the account of Jonah, the reluctant prophet. The Lord commands Jonah to go to Ninevah and warn them of their impending destruction. Jonah turns to go in the completely opposite direction, later saying that he didn’t want to go because Jonah knew the Lord would have compassion on those whom Israel saw as adversaries. As you hear this account, remember that Jonah is most likely the one recording what happened, revealing that he was eventually aware of his sinful heart toward those living in ignorance of the Lord’s ways.
Today’s episode is one of many prophets, some of whom remain unnamed. King Ahab of Israel goes to battle with Ben-Hadad of Aram. The Lord sends a prophet to alert Ahab that the Lord will win the battle for Israel so that Ahab will know that He alone is God over the earth. When Ahab spares Ben-Hadad instead of destroying him, the Lord sends a prophet to pronounce judgment. The prophet Elijah pronounces judgment upon Ahab after the king claim’s a murdered man’s vineyard, slaughtered by the schemes of Ahab’s wife Jezebel. Later, the prophet Micaiah shares a vision of the Lord’s throne room where God permits a lying spirit to bring about Ahab’s demise.
The string of men who reign as king over the ten tribes of Israel continue to get worse and worse, each king being more corrupt than the last. King Ahab should be worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who brought Israel out of Egypt, but instead he marries a Baal worshiper, turns to serve Ball himself, then builds a temple to Baal in Samaria. Elijah boldly confronts the king in the name of the Lord of Armies. God works wonders through Elijah, and by God’s strength, Elijah performs miraculous signs. In a moment of weakness, Elijah runs from trouble, but in His kindness, the Lord pursues Elijah and cares for him.
Now that King Solomon has died, the prophecies of God spoken through his prophet Ahijah begin to come to fruition. In our last episode, Ahijah tore a new robe into 12 pieces and gave 10 pieces to Jeroboam, symbolizing the number of tribes he would rule over. Today, Solomon’s son Rehoboam insults Jeroboam, who formerly worked under Solomon as a supervisor over forced labor. Jeroboam leads an insurrection, and Israel turns away from the house of David. Despite the Lord’s kindness to Jeroboam, he also turns away from God and towards false gods.
Alright friends, today’s episode is the longest episode yet clocking in at just under 40 minutes, but it’s mainly because King Solomon gets long-winded while conducting the first worship gathering at the Lord’s temple. In fact, 1 Kings 8 is the second longest chapter in Scripture, with Psalm 119 being the longest. Though the tabernacle existed before the temple, this is the first permanent structure built for the worship of God, and as you can imagine, it’s a pretty big deal. While Solomon offers heartfelt praise to the Lord, his wives eventually turn his heart away to pursue foreign gods.
As always, the Lord God makes good on His promises, and Solomon flourishes under the Lord’s lavish provision. Blessed with peace on every side and abundant wealth, Solomon does not kick back and take easy; instead, he sets His mind on things above and gets to work. Knowing that the Lord had promised David that a son would come from his family that would establish God’s house forever, Solomon designs a center of worship for God that reflects the plans for the original tabernacle. In work, wealth, and worship, Solomon is a foreshadow of the Son of David who would establish a greater kingdom where God is worshipped and the people dwell with Him in peace.
With King David on his death bed, the royal family knows that the time to transfer power is drawing near. David’s oldest son, Adonijah, gains support for himself from leaders like Joab and Abiathar, calling Judah together for a feast to celebrate his bid for kingship. Nathan the prophet catches word, and teams up with Bathsheba to alert the king. Later, the Lord appears to King Solomon in a dream, and instead of asking for wealth or long life, he asks the Lord for wisdom to lead God’s people. This pleases the Lord, who promises blessing upon Solomon’s reign.
While in prison, Paul catches word from fellow workers in the Gospel that the church at Colossae is wrestling with some false teaching that had entered their church. While the heresy is not fully identified, we gather that it had an inferior view of Christ, involved worship of angels and asceticism, and promoted man-made traditions. Paul directs their hearts and minds to give glory to Christ. He is Lord over all Creation, and therefore, no elemental, created thing could be as glorious or as powerful as Him.
Now that the account of King David has essentially come to a close, the author recording the account looks back on David’s life to record some of the events that happened during David’s lifetime that were not included in the chronological story line. These accounts include the execution of members of Saul’s family, battles against the giant descendants of Goliath, a song of David, the exploits of David’s best warriors, and the census that David ordered to survey his kingdom. While imperfect, David is sensitive to his sin to the end, seeking repentance when he realizes his error.
On our last episode we followed the trajectory of David’s son Absalom, a handsome young man who had won the hearts of Israel by deception, telling those who came to King David that the king had no time for them. Absalom devises a coup to overthrow David, but his father catches wind of his plot and flees before he arrives. Today, Absalom pursues his father as he flees, fighting David’s troops in the forest of Ephraim.
After David slept with Bathsheba and had Uriah, her husband, killed in order to cover up her pregnancy, Nathan came to David with a word from the Lord. Because of his sin, the Lord said that he would take David’s wives and give them to another before all of Israel, and by the end of today’s reading, that prophecy comes true. Moreover, his wickedness is perpetuated throughout his household, as Amnon, one of his sons lusts after Tamar, his own half-sister. Sadly, when David discovers what happened, he is furious, but does nothing.
Throughout the Old Testament, we meet men of varying backgrounds who set out to obey the Lord and deliver God’s people. Time and again, God’s people rejoice and exalt their hero, but inevitably, these men fall and are shown to be sinful. There is none righteous, no not one. David is no exception, and his lust for another man’s wife begets more sin, including second-hand murder. Though he tries to hide his sin by sinning further, the Lord will not allow the sin of Israel’s king to go unpunished.
Now that David has been recognized as king, it’s time for him to begin to establish his kingdom. David consults the Lord before he goes into battles, and prioritizes the worship of the Lord as a matter of great importance. With much fanfare, he moves the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, and worships in a very un-regal fashion. King David expresses his desire to make a house of worship for the Lord, rather than a tent. God, who has never needed a house, says that rather He will build a David’s house, establishing the kingdom of the Son of David forever.
After Saul’s death, an Ammonite man comes to David claiming that he is the one who killed Saul, thinking he will be rewarded for his deed since Saul pursued David for so long. David, however, is not pleased with this report. After a period of mourning for the house of Saul, David is anointed king in Judah, but Abner, the commander of Saul’s army, has other plans. He crowns Saul’s son Ish-bosheth as king, accumulates power for himself, and fights against David’s soldiers. Eventually, Abner concedes, but not without gaining a few enemies.
Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is full of love and instruction for the Lord’s church. He rejoices that the gospel is moving forward even while he is in prison, and he encourages the church to endure suffering, to be united in love, and to serve one another self-sacrificially, looking to the King of Kings who humbled Himself even to death on a cross. Our boast is no longer in the flesh, but in the cross of Christ. Knowing that the Lord is near, we shouldn't worry about anything, opting instead to pray and to consider the goodness of God.
David almost joins the Philistine forces in the impending war against Saul, but they don’t trust him. Returning to their settlement at Ziklag, they find their territory decimated and families taken captive. After consulting the Lord, they pursue the Amalekites. On the way, David and his men redeem the life of a servant who had been discarded by his Amalekite master, and he returns their kindness by directing them toward the Amalekites. Later, Saul goes to battle against the Philistines along with his sons, where they meet a devastating end.
When Saul pursued David in order to find him and kill him, David showed kindness to Saul and faithfulness to the Lord by sparing his life. Saul was broken and contrite, but in today’s episode, Saul set his sights on David once more, bringing three thousand men with him. Later, as Saul faces the Philistine armies, he becomes fearful and tries to consult the Lord, but God does not respond. Being more concerned for himself than for God’s glory, Saul consults a medium, and in a totally backwards way, attempts to consult the man of God who had anointed him as Israel’s king so many years ago.
In a paranoid rage, Saul has slaughtered Ahimelech and his entire family, priests to the Lord and their family. One man from that family whose name is Abiathar has escaped and joined David’s ranks. At every turn, Saul seems to be hot on David’s trail until at long last, Saul unwittingly happens upon the cave where David and his men are hiding. Not knowing they are there, Saul goes in to relieve himself, and David has the opportunity to sneak up from behind and kill Saul, who has made his life so volatile.
In our last episode, King Saul’s jealousy and hatred for David began to grow as David successfully conquered the Philistines in battle time after time. Saul began plotting David’s demise, but his plans to see him killed were all foiled. Today, Saul’s rage becomes clear to everyone, and David flees from the king’s presence. As he takes shelter in a distant cave, his family catches word and they join him, along with other men who seek escape from Saul’s reign.
When the subject of a historical account (like David, here) tells you the reason why he will be victorious before he achieves his victory, we should probably pay attention right? So often when someone references David & Goliath, they frame it as if it’s about a big guy versus small fry, and the underdog wins the day because of his ingenuity. Let’s just make this clear: you are not David and this account is not about facing your giants. If anything, we are the cowering Israelites who cannot face our foe; we need a champion, a savior, to step forward in the power of God and rescue us from sin and death.
At the end of our last episode, Saul had just been appointed as king in Gilgal. Samuel gave him instructions to wait for him there, but when he felt like he was pressed for time he assumed that it would be best to make the burnt offering himself. Saul, however, is not a part of the priesthood, and while he is king, it doesn’t mean that he can do whatever he wishes, especially if it means sinning against the Lord’s instructions. As we’ll find out today, Saul’s tendency to pay little attention to God’s instructions has huge ramifications on his life and his reign as king.
In our last episode, Israel asked an aging Samuel to appoint a king over them before his death. Samuel warned them about what a king would demand from them, but the people urged him all the more. Ultimately, the concern is not so much that they want a king, but that they were looking to the role of king as a source of strength, protection, and provision. All along, God had been their strength, their protection, and their provider, but they failed to trust in Him. As Samuel installs Saul as king in today’s reading, take note of Samuel’s heart for his people and for the glory of God.
When Israel went to battle against the Philistines they assumed that they could bring out the ark of the covenant to the battlefield, and that it’s presence would either oblige God to win the battle for them or that the object itself had some kind of mystical power. They were sorely mistaken, and the Philistines captured the ark. The Philistines assumed that their victory was a victory over Israel’s God, and so they place in Dagon’s temple. Time and again, however, the Lord silently causes anguish for the Philistines wherever the ark is taken, until finally, they become desperate to send it back.
The instructions that the Lord has given to Israel concerning justice, holiness, and priesthood have all been shattered in the time of the judges. It seems like all is lost for Israel, but even here we can see foreshadows of Christ who has yet to come. There is a woman incapable of having children who is faithful to the Lord. In His providence, kindness and mercy, the Lord raises a prophet and priest from the barren womb of this woman, who had promised the Lord that her son would serve God all the days of his life. This young boy is at home in the Lord’s service and eventually replaces sinful men and intercedes between God and His people. One day, Samuel will usher in a new kingdom, though he himself will not be king.
Consider for a moment that, in the extravagant grace of Christ, you have been raised to a status that you did not earn or deserve. You have gone from death to life, from poverty to riches, from orphan to adopted, from having nothing to inheriting a kingdom with Christ. Knowing this, Paul encourages the church to live worthy of this calling. Though we may often fail, we should make it our aim to grow into maturity. As you hear today’s reading, take note of the ways in which you might grow in maturity, humbling yourself before King Jesus and submitting to His kingdom order.
As we open Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus it becomes immediately clear that Paul is overflowing with joy in Christ. The source and origin of this joy is Christ Himself, whom Paul notes as the one who is responsible for our salvation. Take note of how often Paul uses the phrase “In Him” or “In Christ” and you might be surprised at what you find. He goes on to make clear that it is not our works that bring such blessing and righteousness, but free grace through faith. Let no man boast in Himself. Instead, may we find our boast in the Lord.
It seems like so much has been lost in the time of the judges, but the author of Ruth gives us a glimmer of hope. In a season of drought, a family leaves Israel and moves to Moab hoping to find relief, but instead they find sorrow. The wife, Naomi, becomes a widow without family to help her. Her daughter-in-law, a foreigner, commits to love her and care for her, returning with her to the people of Israel. There, she meets Boaz, a family redeemer who honors Ruth, cares for her, and in obedience to the Lord, redeems her into his own family. Ruth is part of a bigger story of redemption, as her lineage will include not only King David, but Jesus the Christ.
The call to love one another continues as Paul encourages church members not to quarrel over opinions. Different Christians have varying convictions about what is acceptable concerning dietary restrictions or celebration of particular days, and Paul says that’s OK. Let each one be convinced without quarreling with one another. Moreover, if your actions make another brother or sister stumble, you shouldn’t let your preferences take precedence over the good of your brother or sister. Paul ends by sending affectionate greetings to specific members he knows.
With all this talk about the Gentiles being accepted by Israel’s long-awaited Messiah, you might think that Paul was beginning to turn on the Jewish community, but that notion is far from the truth. On the contrary, he wants the Gentiles to realize that they have been grafted into Israel. Without Israel, they wouldn’t be sustained by the promises of God. Paul goes on to teach the Roman church how they should act and operate, serving one another with humility and grace.
When we hear words like “predestination” or when we consider that God “hardens hearts,” our minds may try to conceive of a defense for God or fight against the idea that the Lord would direct our steps in such a way. Even so, Pauls asks, “Is there injustice with God?” Absolutely not! For if there is anything we have earned, Scripture says that it is only the wages of sin and death. We praise God that He has mercy on anyone, for what we deserve is death and separation from a holy God for rebelling against Him. The free gift, that which is entirely undeserved, is to be made right before God the Father through Jesus Christ, our Lord.