Thursday, March 06, 2008

Day 65/90: 1 Kgs 11-15, Ez 7-12, 1 Thess 1-3

Highlights from today's reading:
  • Chapter 11 marks the turning point of the books of 1 Kings and begins the downward descent for the nation of Israel (and later Judah) into captivity. Solomon got in trouble with the ladies (like his dad) and his heart was turned away from God by his many wives...another good reminder that our desires can lead us to idolatry - his desire for sexual pleasure and political alliances led his heart away from commitment to God. And the results of that are plain to read - the kings who followed split the kingdom into two, and they continued the practice of doing what was "evil in the sight of the Lord." Interestingly enough, King Asa stands out in chapter 15 as one of the kings who did what was right in the sight of the Lord. As today, those whose hearts are fully committed to the Lord are the exception, not the rule. There is also more to be said here about how the heart and commitment of the king directs the path of the whole nation - more tomorrow on this important theme of 1 & 2 Kings.
  • Ezekiel is full of God's judgment on the people of Israel for their idolatry. They have built altars to foreign gods and their hearts have gone astray. Sounds very similar to what is happening in 1 Kings. I think the point is the same - we have to guard our hearts from wandering into idolatry. Idolatry is our main problem. This reinforces the idea that everyone worships - the question is not if we will worship, but what or who we will worship. There are two interesting parts to this passage in Ezekiel for me: one, they think that they can hide their idolatry from God, but He knows what is going on - a reminder for us to be honest and confess and repent; two, God makes a promise in 11: 18-21 that has to do with His restoration through the Messiah - God will give his people an "undivided heart" and a heart of "flesh" that is soft toward His ways. I love the vividness of the imagery here.
  • 1 Thessalonians 1-3 really shows the heart of Paul for the people that he had discipled and was now instructing from afar. He has a genuine passion for them to walk strongly in the grace of Jesus Christ, to stay faithful to the gospel they received, and to live a life that is worthy of the calling that Christ had put on their lives. His heart is best expresses in 2:7-8; "we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well."

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