II Chronicles 16

Vs. 3, “Let there be a treaty between me and you,” he said, “as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.”  As the years progressed, King Asa could not ignore the civil war and hostility with the northern kingdom Israel.  King Baasha of Israel aggressively fortifies Ramah, a location about five miles north of Jerusalem.  Ramah was important for trade routes and travelers.  Rather than Asa trusting in the LORD for help in this matter, he turns to the Arameans and their king Ben Hadad (vs. 2-6).  The cost was astronomical, as he took from the temple and the palace to pay for the Arameans to turn on the Israelites.  God would send another prophet Hanani who would come bearing a message of rebuke (vs. 7-9).  But Asa takes an unfortunate situation and makes it worse (vs. 10) as he imprisons God’s prophet for the message he bore.  King Asa started out so well and it is sad to see his spiritual decline.  The LORD would allow a disease to infect King Asa, and he still would not turn to Him.

Regarding application…God is Looking.  Vs. 9, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”  Nothing can be done without God knowing.  Question: What does God do when he finds hearts committed to Him?  He strengthens them.  Isn’t that amazing?  God was not able to do His thing because Asa had allowed human wisdom to take over.  Question: Do you need to be stronger in the LORD?  When I go to the gym and commit myself to working out, I do much better when I have a workout partner encouraging me on each rep and set.  God is like our perfect and faithful workout partner who strengthens us when we are committed to getting spiritually stronger.

II Chronicles 15

Vs. 1, “ The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded.”  Only in Chronicles is the prophet Azariah mentioned.  Despite a victory against the Cushites, Asa returns only to get a firm warning from the LORD (vs. 2-7).  Seek the Lord and you will be blessed, turn from Him and it is game over.  This is what King Asa needed to spur him towards continuing reform in the southern kingdom of Judah (vs. 8-15).  The covenant ceremony was likely either the feast of Weeks or Pentecost since it fell in the spring time (vs. 10).  For those who might have questioned Asa’s reform intentions, the removal of his own grandmother Maacah from her queen mother position said otherwise (vs. 16-18).

Regarding application…Being Encouraged.  Vs. 8, “When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage.”  Question: How did King Asa get encouraged?  By the straight-forward message of truth delivered by the prophet Azariah.  Azariah was not a “yes” man to the king; only telling him what would be nice to hear.  Being encouraged is more than affirmation; it is speaking with truth in love.  I’m impressed by both Azariah’s boldness and Asa’s willing heart.  In a world of cynicism, it is a breath of fresh air to remember that being an encourager is something that is of monumental importance.  Take time this week to pray for and encourage another!

II Chronicles 14

Vs. 2, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.”  Upon Abijah’s death (vs. 1), his son Asa would now take the throne of Judah.  Asa began his reign by reforming Judah by getting rid of the pagan idols in the land.  He certainly was a recipient of his father’s victory over the northern tribes (II Chronicles 13) and Judah lived in peace for a decade.  However, the peace is broken as the Cushites (Ethiopia) came up to attack Judah led by Zerah (vs. 9).  The Cushites were probably aligned with Egypt.  Zerah’s army is vast and seems to outnumber Asa’s.  But Asa calls upon the Lord in a beautiful prayer.  Don’t forget about the original audience in Chonicles; it was important that the chronicler remind the Babylonian exiles that they too can upon the Lord.  God would give them a decisive victory!

Regarding application…Praying for Help.  Vs. 11, “Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”  Asa called upon the Lord because he realized he and Judah were in dire circumstances.  He could have tried to battle on his own strength, but realized that only God could deliver them.  I want to encourage you to consider how God has delivered you recently.  There are times when God allows circumstances to come in our lives to “test” our fortitude and faith.  The recent earthquakes this past weekend near my home reminded me how I should not take for granted the life He has given me.  In many ways, it was a wakeup call for me as I considered how fragile our lives really are.  Let us call upon the Lord in good times and bad!

Attacks on Judah

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II Chronicles 13

Vs. 3, “Abijah went into battle with a force of four hundred thousand able fighting men, and Jeroboam drew up a battle line against him with eight hundred thousand able troops.”  The chronicler gives us a moment in time when Abijah led Judah to victory over Jeroboam and Israel.  We are told earlier (I Kings 15:1-8), Abijah had not fully devoted his heart to the LORD.  The battle between the two kings is more about who the LORD would put His stamp of approval.  The Davidic covenant needed to continue through David’s line and prove to God’s people where the true kingship belonged.  Israel’s double sized army and the fact that they flanked Judah’s troops helps to convey that it was the LORD who brought them victory.

Regarding application…Key To Victory.  Vs. 10, “As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the Lord are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them.”  Not only did the LORD make His covenant with David, but one of the major keys for Judah was that they continued to worship Him.  Jeroboam and Israel had reverted to idol (calf) worship.  They had already lost the battle before it started.  Question: I wonder how many of our failed endeavors were doomed from the beginning because we did not seek God first?  As we begin a new week, one of the major keys to victory is walking daily with the Lord in prayer and reading His word.  Rather than make grandiose statements of faith, make it a goal today and tomorrow to spend time with Jesus.  Have a blessed start of your week!

II Chronicles 12

Vs. 1, “After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord.”  Question: What would cause Judah to abandon the law of the Lord?  In the last chapter, we were reminded of Rehoboam’s emphasis on fortifying Judah.  Perhaps they become comfortable during the five year period before Shishak king of Egypt attacked (vs. 1-4).  They were trusting in what they saw rather than having faith in what they did not see.  After Shemaiah’s message to Rehoboam (vs. 5-7), this was the wakeup call they needed.  However, God’s mercy had a caveat; they would be subjects and pay tribute to Egypt (vs. 8-12).  The latter part of our chapter ends with a summary of Rehoboam’s reign and death (vs. 13-16).

Regarding application…Tough Lessons.  Vs. 8, “They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.”  Though God would extend His mercy, it would not be without consequences.  Sometimes we have to learn the hard way in life.  How sad to think that God’s people were once again under the yoke of Egypt.  Many Christians lament about how hard this Christian life is.  They struggle with their devotions and living out truth.  Yet, remember Jesus’ words, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30).  While taking up the cross is difficult at times, it is nothing compared to the burden of a living under the world’s way of life.  How has God disciplined you or how is He disciplining you now?  Take time to humble yourself and He will lift you up in His time!

II Chronicles 11

Vs. 4, “This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.”  The chronicler has chosen to focus on the southern kingdom in reminding the exiles of their history.  Rehoboam’s lack of wisdom comes out again as he readies his troops to attack the tribes that defected.  However, the LORD sends the prophet Shemaiah to deter him from such unwise action (vs. 1-4).  The Levites from Israel and others who did not want to follow the ways of Jeroboam went south to join those in Judah and Benjamin (vs. 5-17).  We also are reminded of the apostasy (rejecting the LORD) of the northern tribe Israel.  The latter part of our chapter gives us a summary of Rehoboam’s family (vs. 18-23).

Regarding application…Living the Truth.  Vs. 16, “Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the Lord, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the Lord, the God of their fathers.”  What an incredibly encouraging reminder of people who were willing to leave all behind for the sake of living out the truth.  The Levites and others knew Jeroboam was leading them into false worship of other god’s.  They would not sit idle and make compromises.  We live in a volatile time where living out the truth will get much grief.  I pray the more we know God’s word, the more wisdom we will have to living a life worthy of the truth!

II Chronicles 10

Vs. 1, “Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king.”  The chronicler pulls most of the information from the original passage (I Kings 12).  Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) traveled to north to Shechem in attempts to win the hearts of the other tribes.  Shechem was a logical place, for it was that very location that the tribes made their original commitments (Deuteronomy 11:29-32).  Rehoboam discovers the people’s animosity towards the high taxation that King Solomon had enforced during his reign.  After consulting both the elders and the younger men his age (vs. 6-11), Rehoboam foolishly chooses to adhere to the younger men’s advice.  Rehoboam’s imprudence would cost Adoniram his life and nearly his own as he assumed the tribes of Israel would succumb (vs. 18-19).  This would begin the era of the divided kingdom.  Jeroboam would become king of Israel in the north, while Rehoboam would retain kingship of Judah in the south (vs. 20).

Regarding application…Lack of Listening.  Vs. 15, “So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from God, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.”  Rehoboam’s downfall was his lack of listening skills and heeding the wisdom of the elders.  He also did not have an ear for the people who hoped for more justice (vs. 4).  Question: What would cause this attitude?  Pride.  Rehoboam’s ear was already closed because he allowed his peers to feed his own prideful attitude.  “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15).  Question: Who do you need to seek out wise council?  Let us be people who listen to the wise council of others!

Shechem

II Chronicles 9

Vs. 1, “When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Arriving with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind.”  The chronicler is referencing this information from the original (I kings 10).  It was important to remind the exiles how God indeed honored Solomon’s obedience from the opening chapter in II Chronicles.  Solomon’s fame and wisdom spread throughout the world and caught the attention of the queen of Sheba (vs. 1-12).  The queen of Sheba most likely lived in the southern part of ancient Arabia nearly 1500 miles south.  It was both out of curiosity and setting up trade agreements that Sheba would visit Solomon (vs. 1-13).  She was most impressed for the rumors of Solomon’s wisdom didn’t do justice to having experienced it in person.  It’s interesting to note that even Jesus mentions the queen of Sheba (Matthew 12:42).  The next section of our chapter deals with the extravagant riches Solomon would possess (vs. 13-28).  The 666 talents of gold, which were the equivalent of 25 tons of Gold (over 15 billion dollars equivalent), is perhaps not a coincidence (Revelation 13:18).  Though God would bless Solomon with wealth, Solomon took it a step further and this would cause many problems as the future unfolds.  Our chapter ends with the Solomon’s death (vs. 29-31).

Regarding application…Emptiness of Wealth.  Vs. 22, “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.”  Gold is mentioned sixteen times in our chapter.  Though Solomon had incredible wisdom, his wealth seemed to impress even more.  The queen of Sheba was astounded by Solomon’s greatness; did it change anything in her life?  Though she praises the LORD (vs. 8), we are not told she put her faith in the LORD.  Another important aspect is that Jesus would refer to Solomon’s splendor as nothing compared to simple lilies in a field (Matthew 6:29).  As great as Solomon was, someone greater than Solomon will come in Jesus (Matthew 12:42).  Question: What are you seeking?   Like the rich young man, we must be careful that wealth does not get a foothold in our life.  Greatness is found in the simplicities of life, not the grandeur of our worldly perspective.

II Chronicles 8

Vs. 16, “All Solomon’s work was carried out, from the day the foundation of the temple of the LORD was laid until its completion. So the temple of the LORD was finished.”  It would take twenty years it took to complete the temple and Solomon’s own place (vs. 1-2).  Now that the capital was in order, Solomon proceeded conquer some of the foreign nation states surrounding Israel (vs. 3-6).  The workforce were those non-Israelite groups still living in the land (vs. 7-10).  Only the chronicler mentions the reason why Solomon moved his Egyptian wife to ensure she not live in the palace (vs. 11).  We are reminded that Solomon kept the observances of the pilgrim festivals and the sacrifices (vs. 12-15), which would have been important as the new exiles would be encouraged to do likewise.  Lastly, we are reminded of King Solomon’s prosperity as he aligned himself with the trade/maritime industry (vs. 17-18).

Regarding application…Stumbling Block.  Vs. 11, “Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the City of David to the palace he had built for her, for he said, “My wife must not live in the palace of David king of Israel, because the places the ark of the LORD has entered are holy.” Solomon’s love for women would be his downfall (I Kings 11).  His Egyptian wife helped him keep his alliance with Egypt, but had no desire to worship the LORD.  If Jesus had approached Solomon like the rich young man (Matthew 19), He probably would have challenged him to stop loving his wives and concubines more than the LORD.  Though things looked great for Solomon and Israel, there were stumbling blocks in the way.  Question: What are your stumbling blocks?  We were challenged on Sunday at Roots Ministry to “Drop It” and let go of anything that we are putting first before the LORD in our lives.  Let it go and put your trust in Him!

Hamath

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II Chronicles 7

Vs. 1, “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.”  The fire that came down was a seal of God’s approval (vs. 1-3).  This would give assurances to the people present to testify that God was there with them.  They could confidently worship at the new temple knowing this was the proper place.  It is reminiscent of God’s audible approval when Jesus was baptized and then revealed His glory on the mountain of Transfiguration.  The sheer volume of sacrifices and the unification of God’s people would have been an encouragement to the exiles now returning to the land (vs. 4-10).  In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 11-22), we have the LORD’s affirming respond to Solomon’s prayer from our previous chapter.

Regarding application…Warning!  Vs. 19, “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them.”  God hears our prayers and desires to bless us, but there are consequences if we fail to seek Him.  Just our roads have warning signs to protect; God brings warning signs in our own lives.  Disobedience will undoubtedly bring discipline in our lives.  But don’t be too discouraged, for this came with incredible blessings!  In our Sunday message yesterday, Jesus warned the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-22) to check his life and let go of the possessions he so loved.  Unfortunately, he did not heed Jesus’ warning and request to follow Him.  Take time today to consider how you can heed God’s warning with a soft heart!