Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 71&72/90: 2 Kings 16-25, Ez 43-48, Dan 1-6, 2 Tim 3-4, Titus

Today's reading highlights:
  • The end of 2 Kings is gut-wrenching because you have been with the nations of Israel and Judah for so long and you see God bring judgment on both as they go into exile. After God had repeated warned them about the consequences of their idolatry and sinful behavior, the kings still choose to ignore Him and go their own way. And they reap the fruit of the seed they had sown.
  • In the midst of this narrative, two wonderful kings come on the seen - Hezekiah (who walked with God wholeheartedly and trusted Him in the midst of overwhelming odds) and Josiah (who responded admirably when the book of the Law was discovered in the temple and choose to obey the commands of God). The sad part, however, is that Hezekiah and Josiah are the exception to the rule, not the rule. So many kings before and after them ignored the ways of God and went their own way. Even the fact that 2 Kings records that Josiah was the first leader to host a Passover celebration since the time of the judges reminds you how far the nation of Judah had drifted away from the Lord. They no longer worshiped Him as the One true God and they no longer remembered the wonderful things He had done in their past. The great sin of this time (which always threatens us who follow the Lord): syncretism - adding cultural idolatry to their worship of Yahweh - covering all their basis spiritually and ending up with something that doesn't honor God for what He is worth.
  • Random question when thinking about Hezekiah and Josiah; both great kings that followed after God, but why did their sons not follow their example?
  • The end of Ezekiel gives explicit directions on how the new temple will look and feel and be designed. The main point, however, is captured in chapter 43 - the glory of the Lord will return to His people. This is a major promise of hope for God's people since they had seen the temple destroyed back at the end of 2 Kings (which we just read today) and were waiting for God's presence to return to His people. He will be their God and they will be His people. Hope is a powerful thing --
  • There is so much that could be said about the first 6 chapters of Daniel because it includes so many wonderful stories, but the main thing that stands out to me today is that Daniel and his friends are the perfect examples of godly missionaries - living in a culture and working in that culture but standing apart from the culture while in it. I love their integrity, their courage, their passion for Yahweh, and their commitment to serve where they are planted. We could learn a lot about being missionaries in our culture by studying their lives. I also love the fact that God turns the heart of kinds like the waters in the river - any direction he likes. He is also able to bring Himself glory from all nations, tongues, and leaders.
  • Personal challenge from Paul to Timothy - "I have finished the race." So many do not make it to the end of their ministry, either because of their own depravity or because of the attacks of the enemy. But either way, I am challenged by Paul to endure in ministry and to keep a pace that is sustainable.
  • I love the book of Titus just as I do 1 & 2 Timothy - very pastoral and helpful in its instructions. Struck tonight by Paul's detailed instructions on how to teach older men and women and younger men and women. Need to think more about how that impacts my ministry as a young man.

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