II Chronicles 23

Vs. 1, “In the seventh year Jehoiada showed his strength. He made a covenant with the commanders of units of a hundred: Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zicri.”  What an intense narrative as David’s lone offspring Joash was the center of the messianic promise!  In our previous chapter, we were told that Jehosheba rescued young Joash from the wrath of Athaliah.  Jehosheba’s husband was a priest named Jehoiada.  He would lead an open revolt against Athaliah who had now assumed full power of Judah.  Jehoiada meticulously concocts his plan perfectly (vs. 1-11).  Athaliah comes to investigate the cheering only to find out that she has been usurped and she would be executed (vs. 12-15).  The people of Judah would unite in covenant renewals as they would enthrone their new king (vs. 16-21).

Regarding application…Stepping Up.  I love how we are told Jehoiada the priest would show his strength!  What impresses me most is the calculated patience of Jehoiada to wait for the right moment to show his hand.  It reminds me of a master chess player waiting to bring out his queen or a great poker player with a poker face finally showing his winning hand.  Jehoiada makes his move.  Question: What areas of life do you need to get stronger so you can show your strength?  We must pray for wisdom and patience when it comes to trusting in the Lord.  Jehoiada knew that this move against Athaliah was in the context of God’s will.  The more we grow in our relationship with the Lord, the more we will be able to step up!

II Chronicles 22

Vs. 3, “He (Ahaziah) too walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong.”  The chronicler gives us a shortened version of King Ahaziah’s rule of  Judah (II Kings 8-10).  Young King Ahaziah (22 years old) unfortunately had an ungodly mother in Athaliah.  This influence along with his former father’s advisors (vs. 4) would lead him to align with the northern tribe Israel.  However, that is not an excuse in the eyes of the LORD for his unwise decisions.   He would suffer at the hands of Jehu whom God had called to be the new king of Israel.  The latter half of our chapter (vs. 10-12) involves Athaliah seizing the power of the Davidic throne as she plays her own version of Game of Thrones.  However, Athaliah’s power move is not considered a legitimate claim on the throne.

Regarding application…Courageous Action.  Vs. 11, “But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered…”  While there is corruption in one (Athaliah), Jehosheba courageously preserves David’s line as she protects young Joash from Athaliah’s murderous plot.  The HBO series Game of Thrones is at the zenith of their popularity.  Certainly, the storyline of the Northern and Southern tribes is filled with real life drama that eclipses any fictional story.  While we may not have such a task of saving the very lineage of David’s line, we face our own moments of courage.  The task of taking up the cross daily takes courage beyond human measure.  It is not easy to make a choice to die to your own desires and walk with the Lord.  Consider what courageous actions you can take this week that will bring honor to the Lord and take action!

II Chronicles 21

Vs. 20, “Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.”  King Jehoram was the first of the Judah kings to receive an entirely negative report.  The chronicler expands upon Jehoram’s original account (II Kings 8:16-24).  Jehoram’s action of killing his own family members was not an uncommon practice in antiquity.  Jehoram’s wife (Athaliah) was the daughter of Jezebel who was a Phoenician princess who worshipped the god Baal.  The influence of an evil spouse can be quite powerful!  Judah would take a step back into idolatry and lose some of their foreign allegiances (vs. 8-11).  Elijah would send Jehoram a letter of doom and consequences for his evil ways (vs. 12-20).  The chronicler realizes the invading nations were God’s ways of disciplining Judah.   Yet God would not allow Judah to be destroyed because of His covenant with David (vs. 7).

Regarding application…Justice Delivered.  Vs. 12, “Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, which said: “This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: ‘You have not walked in the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah.”  If this were a movie, the audience is probably cheering that this evil king would get his due punishment.  Jehoram was a murderer and a man with no fear of God.  The old adage, “What goes around, comes around” comes to mind.  The people of Judah suffered under such injustices, but God did not forsake them.  Question: What injustices are you experiencing in life these days?  Take time to dialogue with the Lord and remember He hears our cries out to Him.

II Chronicles 20

Vs. 1, “After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat.”  This event in Jehoshaphat’s reign was not recorded previously in I Kings.  It is truly one of the great stories in the Bible!  It was important for the chronicler to help God’s people see what transpires when the LORD is sought.  The preparation and God’s war against Judah’s enemies is an overarching theme in all of our lives.  What a powerful scene as King Jehoshaphat leads all of Judah into seeking and trusting in the Lord (vs. 3-13).  Jehoshaphat’s prayer is rich in covenant understanding of God’s faithfulness.  Jahaziel the Levite and son of Asaph delivered a prophetic response of hope and victory (vs. 14-17).  It’s important to be reminded how worship is an active response to God (vs. 18-19).  God fights the battle and Judah is victorious over the vast army (vs. 20-26)!  The ending of our chapter (vs. 31-37) is a realistic reminder that God’s people are not perfect.  It is not the people that are amazing, it is God’s hand of providence and grace.

Regarding application…Fix Our Eyes on the LORD!  Vs. 12, “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”  The odds were against them.  The opposition was vast and powerful.  There seemed to be no way out.  Question: Haven’t we felt like this?  It pains us to see loved ones going through trials and pain.  Yet, it is the trials and pain that challenge us to fix our eyes upon the Lord.  Notice in the following verse (vs. 13) that everyone; men, women, and children stood humbly before the Lord.  What a powerful picture of humility!  Brothers and sisters, this is the type of humble response that God is seeking.  As we start another new week, may our eyes be fixed very so faithfully on the Lord!

II Chronicles 19

Vs. 2, “Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is upon you.”  Jehu the seer, son of Hanani, comes to condemn Jehoshaphat for his alliance with the wicked King Ahab upon returning from battle (vs. 1-3).  It’s important to remember the original audience of the chronicler: the Babylonian exiles centuries after the actual events transpired.  The exiles now returning to their land would recall the importance of being wholly devoted to the LORD.  The appointed judges would help ensure God’s justice among His people (vs. 4-7) and keep the system uncorrupted.  It’s also interesting to see Jehoshaphat appointed dual leaders “attorney generals” in Amariah (church) and Zebadiah (state).

Regarding application…Wakeup Call.   Vs. 3, “There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.”  Jehu’s message would be a “wakeup” call for Jehoshaphat as he would renew the spiritual fervor that had been lacking when he allied himself with Israel.  Certainly, it was God’s generosity and grace that would prevent any further consequences.  Question: How has God given you a spiritual wakeup call?  The one that stands out the most for me was my car accident on a highway.  I had been attending church faithfully for two years, but I was growing complacent in obeying God wholeheartedly.  That incident was the catalyst to get me to finally attend Bible College and start an adventure of faith!

II Chronicles 18

Vs. 1, “Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage.”  This was a big mistake for Jehoshaphat to align himself with the northern tribe Israel.  The chronicler gives us insight to the original passage (I Kings 22).  King Ahab used flattery and appealed to Jehoshaphat’s pride as he came to visit in Samaria (vs. 2).  King Ahab breaks his own treaty with the Arameans by his desire to take back Ramoth Gilead.  Ramoth Gilead was an important city of refuge in Moses’ time as well as a strategic city for Solomon.  It was overtaken by the Syrians (Arameans) when there was strife in the divided kingdom.  Jehoshaphat advises restraint and seeking the Lord before Ahab would go and try to retake the city (vs. 4).  Unfortunately, King Ahab consults about four hundred prophets who do not truly seek the Lord (vs. 5-6).  This is when the prophet Micaiah comes into the scene(vs. 12-27).  After some sarcasm, Micaiah unleashes the truth by sharing a vision from the LORD.  Though Ahab didn’t trust Micaiah’s prophesy, he took some precautionary steps by disguising himself in battle (vs. 28-34).  But the random arrow that struck Ahab in battle was the hand of God.

Regarding application…Declaring the Truth.  Vs. 27, “Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”  Declaring the truth would land the prophet Micaiah in confinement with only bread and water (vs. 26).  Micaiah had a bit of feistiness in him as he originally responded with sarcasm (vs. 14).  But the vision the LORD to Micaiah gave him the confidence to stand up to the evil king and even be slapped and humiliated by the false prophet Zedekiah (vs. 23).  We live in a time where it is not easy to stand up for the truth.  As Christians we are put in precarious positions when it comes to voicing our response to truth.  Many new ways of thinking have permeated our culture.  The Bible has become a laughing stock to the savvy intellectuals of our time.  Brothers and sisters, let us be like Micaiah who stood up for the truth despite consequences that would come his way!

II Chronicles 17

Vs. 1, “ Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king and strengthened himself against Israel.”  King Jehoshaphat son of Asa, would now come to rule the throne for 25 years when he was at the tender age of thirty-five.  Jehoshaphat would carry the baton of kingship in Judah as one of the good kings.  He followed in the steps of his father as he walked in the ways of the LORD (vs. 1-6).  Bear in mind, we will be reminded that Jehoshaphat did make a monumental mistake later that we will soon read.  Jehoshaphat took the opportunity to send teachers all over Judah to instruct God’s people of the Boo of the Law (vs. 7-9).  What a wonderful way of providing religious education for all!  Because of the LORD’s blessings, Judah would receive peace and prosperity in their relations with other nations (vs. 10-19).  Jehoshaphat assembled an impressive military that would have kept many at bay.

Regarding application…Value of Learning.  Vs. 9, “They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.”  It wasn’t enough for just the King, his council, and Levites to know God’s word.  King Jehoshaphat understood the value of learning and ensured that all His people would know the LORD’s ways.  We have education programs in the public sector that are required of all students to learn and master.  Yet, many value the world’s education over Sunday school and bible study programs.  Question: Why is this?  Because we have forgotten the value of God’s word in our lives.  Your knowledge of the bible doesn’t get much respect to a person who attained their medical degree, engineering degree, or law degree.  I swing to this side of the pendulum because we are putting too much of an emphasis on the latter.  Like Jehoshaphat, let us value His word and make it important in our lives!

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 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!