June 29, 2021

2 Kings 15:1–16:20

Azariah, also known as Uzziah, reigned in Judah for fifty-two years. We only have five verses covering his life here in 2 Kings, but 2 Chronicles devotes the entire 26th chapter to his reign. Tragically, he was struck with leprosy because of his pride. It’s a lesson for us all, not to go beyond our God-given boundaries, and to remember that if there’s anything good going on in me or through me – it not me…it’s the Lord. We read about Azariah’s sin in:

2 Chronicles 26:16 (NKJV) “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.”

2 Kings 15:5a (NKJV) “Then the LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death; so he dwelt in an isolated house.”

In the 38th year of Azariah’s reign, Zechariah reigned in Israel for only six months. He did evil in the sight of the LORD and did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam (idolatry). Zechariah was killed by Shallum who reigned in Israel for even less time – one month! But Shallum was used to fulfill the prophecy to Jehu, that his sons would sit on the throne for four generations (2 Kings 10:30). Next, a man named Menahem, came from Tirzah, killed Shallum and reigned in his place – he reigned ten years in Israel. It’s heartbreaking to read that this king ripped open the pregnant women in the city of Tiphsah, because they did not surrender to him. During his reign Assyria came against the land. Menahem was able to pay him off (for now) but the day wasn’t far away, when Israel would be carried away by the Assyrians. After Mehahem, Pekahiah became king over Israel – he reigned two years and (as all the kings of Israel) did evil in the sight of the LORD. Pekahiah was assassinated by Pekah, who had fifty men with him. Pekah would go on to reign for twenty years, which is a significant amount of time in Israel at this time, a nation that was extremely unstable. During Pekah’s reign, the Assyrians continued to ebb away at Israel, a sign of what would be coming eleven years after his reign. Pekah was killed by Hoshea.

In the second year of Pekah, Jotham reigned in Judah. He went on to reign sixteen years, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD. At this time Syria and Israel began to come against him. We even read that the LORD began to send them against Judah (1 Kings 15:37). When Ahaz (Jotham’s son) became king he did not follow in the footsteps of his father. He aligned himself with the Assyrians, hiring them to help. He even replicated their altar in Jerusalem (next to the bronze altar). 

When I read these accounts of all that happened to God’s people Israel/Judah, the nation He personally raised up and redeemed, it’s very grieving. I’m realizing more and more that the only safeguard we have against all the temptations and pressures of the world is the Word of God. May we take it to heart personally and do our best to keep it nationally. We must not lose heart – there is hope! As a matter of fact, the next king of Judah, Hezekiah, will be used by God to bring about a revival!

Acts 19:13-41

Some itinerant Jewish exorcists were taking on demons, attempting to exercise them, “by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” We’re not told of their results, but we are told of an incident with the seven sons of Sceva doing the same thing. One demon’s reply to them is very revealing:

Acts 19:15 (NKJV) “And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’

The man in whom was the evil spirit, was then empowered by that demon to send them all running out of that house naked and wounded.

The demons know Jesus (of course) and they even knew Paul, for he was an Apostle empowered by God. But these other guys weren’t true Christians, and the demons knew it. Without a true relationship with Christ, there is no power over and against demons.

The Lord did such a great work in the city of Ephesus that there was a riot of over 20,000 men opposing Paul due to the economic and spiritual impact of the Gospel. We’ve read it and said it many times, “Wherever Paul went there was either a riot, a revival, or both.” Such is the case in Ephesus. People turned from demons, turned from their magic books of sorcery – as a matter of fact they burned them. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was economically impacting this significant city so that the idols of Diana (Artemis) were not selling like they used to.

(For more on the goddess Diana and this temple, check out this article at Got Questions)

“Paul did not openly attack their idolatry by picketing the temple of Diana or petitioning the city government. He simply shared the Word, and lives were changed.” – Warren Wiersbe

The riot could have easily gotten out of hand (imagine 20,000 men crying out for two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”). It was defused, but used by God to send Paul on his next step in this amazing mission.

Psalm 147:1-20

As Christians we know – there are innumerable/infinite reasons to praise the LORD. We also know – how good, pleasant, and beautiful it is to praise the LORD.

Consider how God has regathered Israel to her land, numerous times! (outcasts – Psalm 147:2)

Consider how God is so personal and powerful – that He’s able to heal the broken hearts of any person individually, but He also knows every star by name and makes sure that not one is missing (Psalm 147:4; Isaiah 40:26).

He lifts up the humble; He casts down the proud.

He gives rain for food; He’s even responsible for feeding the young raven. He’s not impressed with the strength of man, but He is impressed when men and women fear Him.

Throughout the ages God has protected His people. Some may question this, but we need to know, that if it weren’t for God’s gates (Psalm 147:13) all of God’s people would have been wiped out – instantly.

God blesses us with a wide range of blessings from peace, to the finest wheat; by His word we get snow and then water, as He melts the snow, by His Word (direction)

And then there’s His Word of Word’s, so to speak – the Bible!

Psalm 147:19–20 (NKJV) “He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. 20 He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise the LORD!”

We have His Word, where would we be without it? Left to ourselves, lost, and without a clue.

I’m so blessed to think that those who are reading this blog are first reading His Word. God will bless you my friend!

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” – President Theodore Roosevelt

Proverbs 18:4-5

V. 4 – The words of a wise man are not shallow, they’re deep; they’re not superficial, they’re deep and beneficial

“A single conversation across the table with a wise man has the potential to change our lives for good.”

We have two types of water sources mentioned in this verse, the first is a deep well, which was valuable in those days; the second is a flowing or bubbling brook, even a rushing stream…clean and fresh.

When you share the right word, at the right time, in the right way, when there’s divine inspiration in our conversation – what an absolute blessing you are/they are…valuable, clean, and fresh, so drink deeply!

John 7:38 (NKJV) “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

V. 5 – Justice is a repeated theme, not only in the Proverbs, but something saturated throughout the Scriptures.

Just be just! Do dare to always be fair.

Don’t take a bribe; don’t favor a friend, even if it’s a family member.

Proverbs 18:5 (NLT) “It is not right to acquit the guilty or deny justice to the innocent.”

(Psalms 82:2-4; Micah 6:8)

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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