Friday, March 07, 2008

Day 66&67/90: 1 Kings 15-22, Ez 13-24, 1 Thess 4 - 2 Thess 3

Two days' reading - busy day yesterday with finishing sermon prep for this Sunday on the beatitudes and doing a wedding last night. Here's the highlights:
  • This last section of 1 Kings tells the stories of several kings of Israel and Judah (now divided countries) and how they related to the prophets of God and how they responded to the commands of God. The most common phrase that is repeated in each section is "in the eyes of the Lord" - in other words, the historical narrative of 1 Kings is unlike any other historical writings in how they evaluate kings. The kings are not evaluated on their military prowess or their economic development. They are evaluated on whether or not they did what was right in the eyes of God. Did they fear the Lord above all and follow His ways or did they reject His ways, go their own way, and serve the gods of the surrounding nations? This is the determining question related to their success. And the sobering conclusion of the writer of 1 Kings is that most of the kings of Israel and Judah did not follow God - those who did were the exception, not the rule. This is a reminder to us - are we willing to follow God and His lead (made explicitly clear to these kings through the prophets and explicitly clear to us through His word) or will we decide to go our own way? The passionate cry of Scripture - follow God and He will be with you on your way. Do your own thing, follow others gods, and your path will most certainly involve potholes and detours.
  • Money quote from Ezekiel tonight: 18:32 - "For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!"
  • Through the prophet Ezekiel, God addresses so many issues that are going on among his people - there are false prophets who confuse the people with messages that are not from God, there are idolaters who worship gods other than Yahweh, and there are those who simply put their trust in the privileged status they have enjoyed as a nation. In all these, God's heart is for his people to repent. In that, I take this section to be one of great hope. In all the terrible things that the nation of Israel has done in disobedience to God - from idolatry to temple prostitution to child-sacrifices, God is still patient with them, wanting them to return to Him, to repent from their ways. God is the loving husband who is waiting for his wayward wife to return home, whose love is deep and wide and patient. We serve an awesome God, don't we?
  • I am challenged by how God calls Ezekiel to confront the people of Israel with their sin - he has a massive undertaking as God's prophet - to share God's heart with the people while also reminding them of the awesome wrath of their holy, just God. He also is called by God to remind the people that God acts on behalf of His name (Ezekiel 20), to build up His glory among the nations of the earth - good reminder.
  • I love the end of 1 Thessalonians - it's passionate call to live a holy, pure life in the light of Jesus' immanent return. But most of all I love the command to not put out the Spirit's fire. Oh God, I hope that I don't do this - that the fire in my bones would never die.
  • I'm preaching through 2 Thessalonians in the fall and have been doing some initial work in it this spring - captivated by Paul's laser-focus on the second coming. I'm thinking of calling the series, "Living with the end in mind."

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