2 Kings 19-20 B

“I know when you sit down, when you come and when you go; And, yes, I’ve marked every one of your temper tantrums against me.” 19:20

I’m always quick to assume that God isn’t noticing when people blatantly disobey him. Just because he doesn’t respond in the (quick-tempered and angry) way or timeline I would, doesn’t mean he’s missing it. He knows when we plop down on the couch, walk out the door and when we come home. Think about all the other things he knows…

But also, be careful not to fall into legalism when you read something like this. God isn’t Santa Claus, keeping score of our good and bad behavior and rewarding us based on performance (thankfully).

Here, he’s emphasizing to the king of Assyria that his disobedience isn’t going unnoticed; he’s not getting away with anything, his punishment is coming. But it’s a good reminder to me of God’s justice and his sovereignty. 

Take heart, he will one day right every wrong (1 Peter 2:18).

 

-Carly

 

2 Kings 17-18 B

“So these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.” (17:41)

“But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?” (18:22)

I think it’s safe to say, Israel’s neighbors are pretty confused about the LORD right about now. Is He just another god to add to a growing polytheistic collection? Is He the one they’ve been worshipping on the hills through child sacrifices and sex acts? This chaotic understanding was most likely an extension of Israel’s climaxed rebellion, and Judah’s occasional worship whiplash.

With Samaria successfully conquered, Assyria probably felt Jerusalem would be the same easy target. They were, after all, two branches of the same tree.

So while the Northern Kingdom of Israel defamed the LORD who brought them out of Egypt; Hezekiah was poised to reintroduce the power of YHWH to the ancient near east (he just didn’t know that yet).

What confusion do we cause in the lives of those around us that don’t know the LORD? Is He buried under our other interests? How do they think we worship Him? Maybe we should ask! Ask them or the LORD, or both. It could be an interesting exercise. I might try it out!

-Bethany

2 Kings 15-16 B

Then Ahaz took the silver and gold from the Temple of the Lord and the palace treasury and sent it as a payment to the Assyrian king. So the king of Assyria attacked the Aramean capital of Damascus and led its population away as captives, resettling them in Kir. He also killed King Rezin. King Ahaz then went to Damascus to meet with King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. While he was there, he took special note of the altar. Then he sent a model of the altar to Uriah the priest, along with its design in full detail. Uriah followed the king’s instructions and built an altar just like it, and it was ready before the king returned from Damascus.” 16:8-11

Oy vey. I can’t help think of the American church and most American Christians when I read this. We love imitating secular culture. It’s why popular Christian music sounds so bad. It’s why next to Guitar Hero in the store sits “Guitar Worship”, a similar game replacing hit music with worship songs. You name it and Christian culture has made something identical. Like Ahaz, we mimic what we like, even when we like stupid things. Here’s what the Bible says:

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36

“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:21-24

We are not suppose to take note of what people outside the church are doing; we’re suppose to offer them something different.

Take a minute and reflect on your approach to Christian culture. Are you expecting it to be identical to the rest of cultural? This is usually a symptom of not being willing to fully step away from your false self, and step into your new life with Christ.

 

-Carly

 

 

2 Kings 13-14 B

I really liked Carly’s take on these chapters last time (is there a limit on how often we can do this? No? We’re in charge or our own blog? Perfect!)

I’m sad to say goodbye to Elisha. Who will be the voice of reason now?? Somehow, God always has someone, somewhere.

The back and forth on these kings of Judah and Israel, and their similar names (plus the overpowering fragrance of my new laundry detergent) are confusing. Why, O why, do they both have a King Joash at the same time?!

Let’s circle back to tough times with Elisha gone. Yesterday I was feeling a tad perplexed about how few Christians there are in Italy. But even saying that means I have made some major judgements about the legitimacy of Catholics and other denominations that seem distant to mine. When did I become judge over who knows God and who doesn’t? He can bless or use who ever He wants.

For example:

“Then Jehoahaz sought the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened to him, for He saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them. (Therefore the LORD gave Israel a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians, and the people of Israel lived in their homes as formerly. Nevertheless, they did not depart from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin, but walked in them; and the Asherah also remained in Samaria.)” (13:4-6‬)

As much as I’m always going to fight to know God as accurately as possible, and encourage the same for others, it is really not my job to worry about everyone else’s theology. The LORD is powerful enough to do what He’s going to do, with or without our help.

For another example: He has managed to use me and bring beautiful things out of my life, even though my theology isn’t perfect and constantly evolves.

In the meantime, let’s learn from the mistakes of these kings who led people the wrong way, didn’t take idolatry seriously, and ended up experiencing the wrath of Hazael (whose glossy summery in 13:3 maybe calls for a reminder from 8:12).

Sin is never getting away with a good time, it is a fast track to suffering. This is why a loving Creator God gave us thorough directions for life abundance.

So instead of worrying about how many legit Christ followers are around, I will keep seeking after the LORD, and His righteousness, and looking for His Kingdom. I’m sure it’s here somewhere.

-Bethany

2 Kings 11-12 B

 “So King Joash called for Jehoiada and the other priests and asked them, ‘Why haven’t you repaired the Temple? Don’t use any more money for your own needs. From now on, it must all be spent on Temple repairs.’ So the priests agreed not to accept any more money from the people, and they also agreed to let others take responsibility for repairing the Temple.” 12:7-8

This resonated with me for some reason. Maybe because I often agree to do things I’m not entirely capable of doing or will most likely not follow-through with. It’s possible I get this – my addiction to saying yes- from my dad. Unfortunately, I do not model his relentless willingness to complete anything he starts with perfection.

Which end of the spectrum are you on? Do you agree to things, knowing it will slip through the cracks or that you might not give it the attention it deserves? This drives my husband (and my sister, and most type A people in my life subjected to my flightiness) absolutely nuts.

The priests let 23 years go by without repairing the Temple. My commentary notes that care for God’s house was often seen as a significant sign of recommitment to the Lord. The author doesn’t get specific about why the priests never tended to the repairs, but it does say that they delegated the task to someone who will. It gets done, and it gets done by good and honest men who work hard.

How do you respond to responsibility appointed to you? I can’t get away from the constant reminder in the Bible that hard work is holy and can be a way to worship God. 

 

-Carly

2 Kings 9-10 B

“And the LORD said to Jehu, ‘Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in My eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.’” (10:30‬)

This is an extensive and gnarly house cleaning. So much gruesome murder. Kings, queens, sons, friends, servants, acquaintances, priests, worshipers, everyone.

All this gets classified under zeal for the LORD (10:16). It feels like a throw back to the times of the judges.

The LORD is pretty serious about being misrepresented. If Israel was supposed to be His ambassadors, what does it communicate to the nations when they toss Him aside for a lessor deity who is basically Satan? (Baal is also short for Beelzebub. Read more about Ba’al here, and for further ponderings, here).

For those who are alarmed by the violence, just remember. This ain’t no joke. The LORD is patient, but there always comes a time when He’s had enough. He is the supreme authority on right and wrong, not us.

It’s also clear, from these chapters, that no man can properly execute His righteous anger 100% correctly. Jehu did well enough to be promised four generations of heirs, but he ain’t no David. We will see how rough those upcoming reigns will be and, good for the LORD, for not making it five.

So how do we represent the LORD to our neighbors? This is a very important question to check ourselves on, regularly. What would someone deduce about God if your life and worship was their case study about Him?

We are His Ambassadors now.

-Bethany

2 Kings 7-8 B

 “When the men with leprosy arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. Finally, they said to each other, ‘This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.’ ” 7:8-9

This is not the first or last time we’ll read about God displaying his power through lepers.  Social outcasts, perpetually unclean. 

Yet here they are used to save the day and share the spoils of food, wine, fine clothing, God’s mercy made tangible to his people.

When the Lord heaps undeserved riches onto you, do you share them with others? 

If you get an unexpected financial gift, do you tithe?

If you have more food than you need, to you feed someone needing a meal?

If you are gifted in an area, do you use it to serve God’s people (Romans 12:6-10)?

The men with leprosy were starving to death and pushed to the outside of society. Yet still, they share their good news with everyone else, passing out plates and filling up wine glasses.

Do you have good news to share? Has God radically changed your circumstances?

 

-Carly