Grace Words

A Daily Bible Reader's Blog

Presented by Mike Tune, Pulpit Minister for the Church of Christ in Falls Church and Amazing Grace International

Grace Words: A Daily Bible Reader’s Blog

Wednesday, April 30. 2 Chronicles 26 – 28

Uzziah was the second longest reigning king of Israel, surpassed only by Manasseh. The Chronicler says he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and “sought the Lord” and the result of his faithfulness was that God gave him success. A good portion of chapter 26 is devoted to his success. He was successful militarily and politically – his fame (mentioned twice) spread as far as Egypt. Unlike his father, he was respected by the people he governed. He was a builder and successful in business.

All of this came about by God’s blessing (“he was greatly helped” – vs. 15).

Reading chapter 26, you have to wonder what else Uzziah could have possible wanted after so much success. But it becomes evident beginning in verse 16 that he coveted the one thing he could never have: the priesthood. Entering in to the temple, he proceeded to offer incense to the Lord, a daily offering permitted only to the priests, descendants of Aaron. When rebuked for his effrontery, he went into a rage and was struck with leprosy.

Two sins characterized Uzziah: “pride” and he was “unfaithful” to the Lord.

Martin Selman observes that leadership is not a right, but a gift. Uzziah failed to understand that. To be given the opportunity to lead is an unmerited favor of God. Anyone who leads in God’s service must keep that in mind.

Tuesday, April 29. 2 Chronicles 23 – 25

Can you remember the kings?

Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat.

Next came Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah, Joash, Amaziah and Uzziah.

For all the good he did, Jehoshaphat made a major error: he arranged and approved the marriage of his son Jehoram to the daughter of Israel’s king Ahab – one of the wickedest of the northern kings. She influenced her husband, Jehoram, and her son, Ahaziah, for evil and when both were killed, she determined to totally destroy the house of David – killing even her own grand-children.

She was, however, unsuccessful. Ahaziah’s son Joash was rescued by his aunt and kept safe within the temple precincts for six years. When he ascended to the throne at age seven. Joash’s aunt was married to a priest, and here we see the close connection between the monarchy and the priesthood again. In fact, it is this close association that brought about the ultimate coronation of Joash and a spiritual renewal in Judah. It is also that holy influence which guided seven year king Joash to become, for a time, one of Judah’s better kings. “Influence” is a key theme in this section. The influence of the priests kept Joash headed in the right direction. But when his mentor, Jehoiada, died, the king came under the influence of evil men who ultimately destroyed his monarchy.

Two points are important just here. First, everyone has influences. Be sure you know what they are, and be sure they are holy. Second, all of God’s people should mature to the point they are not so susceptible to bad influence. It was this second, a lack of maturity, that was really Joash’s downfall.

Monday, April 28. 2 Chronicles 20 – 22

It’s easy to say: “I just need to turn all my worries over to the Lord.” It’s harder to do.

And sometimes . . . it’s difficult to hear. Sometimes it just sounds like one is abdicating responsibility to deal with a situation.

The final story of Jehoshaphat however has the king saying and doing just that: giving it up to God. Judah, oppressed by the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites, believes the situation is hopeless. In fact, Jehoshaphat says as much when, before the Lord, he prays: “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 momentary silence, coupled with the desperate hearts of a helpless, must have been deafening as “all the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.”

Jehoshaphat’s father before him, faced with a similar situation, turned his hope toward his own plans without consulting the Lord, and endured failure. Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, helpless as he was, witnessed a miraculous victory that left him and the armies of Judah mere spectators of the power of the Lord.

As hard as it is to “give it up to God,” the most spectacular triumphs await those with the faith to do so.

Sunday, April 27. 2 Chronicles 16 – 19

Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat.

Four kings of Judah following Solomon whose combined reigns total eighty-six years. Asa reigned the longest. Abijah the shortest. But Jehoshaphat gets more space – almost as much as the other three put together.

Jehoshaphat was an ideal king. Many years later, Josiah will attempt a tremendous spiritual revival among God’s people, but Jehoshaphat’s is more significant.

Jehoshaphat is more significant because of his character. He “walked in the ways of his father David,” and he “did not consult” idols. Jehoshaphat “sought the God of his father and followed His commands” and his “heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord.”

But Jehoshaphat is also significant because of the way in which he tried to effect spiritual renewal in Judah. Rather than just oppose idolatry or issue calls to faithfulness and gathering at the temple, Jehoshaphat sent missionaries through the land. These were not just prophets, but “officials” (princes) accompanied by Levites. Thus spiritual development was not just taught, but modeled by leadership.

Spiritual development takes place best when respected members of the community not only model that development, but also teach it to people in the pew, showing by their lives and their words that the way of the Lord is important.

Saturday, April 26. 2 Chronicles 12 – 15

Asa, great-grandson of Solomon, ruled Judah for forty one years. His grand-father, Rehoboam, had abandoned the Lord and led in the worship of idols. Asa’s father, Abijah, had done nothing to stop that apostasy, though he had exhibited uncommon trust in God, enabling him to totally defeat the Northern Kingdom in battle. Because of his trust in God, the Lord gave him victory despite the fact that he was surrounded by an army twice the size of his own.

Asa, however, acted positively to contain and eliminate idolatry in Judah and he exhibited the faith of his father when it came to battle. God gave Asa a similar victory.

Asa’s later life would not be so faithful. Even though he would go so far as to punish his own mother because of her idolatry, Asa in his later years will trust more in himself and less in God. In time of political crisis, he will seek rescue by making an alliance with a pagan king, paying for protection with gold from the Lord’s temple. He will go through personal crisis, but will not turn to God for help.

It’s a fact: often those most devoted to orthodoxy trust the Lord the least. There’s nothing wrong with orthodoxy – adhering to the rules. But nothing will replace a whole-hearted trust in God. This is what He wants most of all.

Friday, April 25. 2 Chronicles 9 – 11

The account of Rehoboam’s reign takes 58 verses in Chronicles. In comparison, Kings gives him 34 verses. Not only is the account longer, the writer’s interest is different. The Chronicler begins with Rehoboam’s attempt to unite Israel. God informs him that he should not fight with his brothers, and Rehoboam is obedient to God. In addition, the priests and Levites and all the people are obedient to God (note the three references to obey the Lord, seek the Lord, and walked in the ways of David and Solomon) and the nation prospers (note the use of the word “strength” three times in chapter 11). The business of walking in the ways of Solomon (and David) is emphasized by the selection of numerous wives (for himself and his sons) and by the advance appointment of a crown prince who is not his eldest male child.

While chapter twelve informs us that Rehoboam’s dedication lasted only three years, both chapters emphasize God’s willingness to bless when there is even a modicum of faithfulness. We don’t get from either chapter that Rehoboam was a paragon of spirituality, but he appears teachable and repentant when disciplined. This is the heart of the message regarding Rehoboam. It would be an important message for the Israel of the Exile. However rebellious they had been, repentance could bring the blessing of God. I think that’s an eternal message, surely one for our own time.

Thursday, April 24. 2 Chronicles 6 – 8

A comparison of Chronicles and Kings reveals that the Chronicler has shortened the account of the building of the temple by about 50%. On the other hand, the Chronicler now begins to expand slightly the account of Kings here, focusing more on what the temple means than on the building itself.

Solomon begins with what looks like a contrast: God said he would dwell in a dark place, but (on the other hand) I have built a magnificent temple for him. Yet what Solomon is really doing is explaining the dark cloud that now fills the temple and has driven everyone else out. God has truly taken up residence, as can be seen by the dark cloud.

In Kings Solomon requests that his sons be as blessed by God as he has been, but only if they live like David. In Chronicles, the emphasis is not on living like David, but on keeping the law (of course, like David did, but note the mention of “the law”). Note also the references to the promises made to David. The first readers, returning from exile, would need to know God had not abandoned them nor his promise to them regarding the enduring kingdom of David.

As Solomon’s prayer comes to an end we find the most divergence from the account of Kings. The prayer ends in behalf of God’s priests, His people and the king (the anointed one) and urges God not to forget the love of David. It is this last line that is so instructive. The entire basis for the entire prayer is the love God promised to David. It has nothing to do with anything David did, only with what God has done. The entirety of the future of Israel hangs on a promise God made to one of their forefathers.

This should begin to remove us from the persistent anchor that our security with God depends on some sentimental attachment God has for us individually. God has acted out of love for all mankind, and in Jesus, God has made certain promises to those who entrust their lives to Him and live accordingly. Our hope and trust is in that love expressed so very long ago. God’s word is so secure that it does not hve to be renewed with each generation.

Wednesday, April 23. 2 Chronicles 3 – 5

You will find a more complete accounting of Solomon’s temple in Kings, but there are some features you will only find here:

*The porch (portico) is overlaid with gold. Add to that the inside, and you have one more expensive building.

* The amount of gold used for the Most Holy Place was six hundred talents (about 23 tons) – the same price paid by David to Arunah for the whole temple site (1 Chronicles 21:25).

*There is a curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. This is in addition to the doors (2 Chronicles 4:22) serving the same purpose and corresponding to the veil in the tabernacle.

While the description is shorter, the short version makes for a more pointed observation as to the grandeur of the temple itself. This is to be a magnificent structure. The first readers can consider all this as they plan to rebuild the structure, but everyone knows it will not be as grand as Solomon’s. Some of the glory has gone, and it is all their own fault. As the first temple was a reminder of God’s presence, the second temple will be a reminder of Israel’s sin.

Perhaps Herod got that point as he laid the plans for a new temple being built during Jesus’ time. Perhaps he sought to overcome that lesson by over building. All perhaps. But like the temple of Solomon, Herod’s structure met an ignominious end not long after its building – a lasting rebuke to all those who would enshrine God’s presence in a physical structure rather than a human life.

Tuesday, April 22. 1 Chronicles 29 – 2 Chronicles 2

Chronicles presents a much more orderly transfer of power from David to Solomon than does Kings, but that is to highlight the grandeur of David’s leadership. The temple is not Solomon’s temple, for he is too young and inexperienced to do it on his own. He will need help. And David calls on all of Israel to be that help.

David sets the example in helping Solomon by giving not just huge gifts, but all his resources – including his personal treasures. This emboldened the other leaders in Israel to be likewise generous, and their generosity caused the rest of Israel to give.

The work of the Kingdom of God takes the efforts and sacrifices of everyone – not just a handful, or the leaders, or the most faithful. Everyone is called to participate and serve. One writer has observed that people are closest to being like God when they are willing to give of themselves to Him. And the more like Him they become, the more capable they are of rejoicing.

The passage before us teaches that a man’s relationship with God is, above all, seen in joy and wholehearted devotion that rejects selfishness and generously gives. You will see this repeatedly as the temple is built and dedicated. We should see it in our own lives today.

Monday, April 21. 1 Chronicles 26 – 28

Remember that Levi, son of Jacob, himself had three sons: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. As Israel moves from a tabernacle system of worship to a temple system, the work of each of these Levite families will change. The descendants of Kohath and Merari will be to assist the priests in their duties, and to act as gatekeepers for the temple. Gatekeepers served as a temple security force, maintaining the temple’s holiness, and protecting it from thieft and illegal entry into sacred areas.

The descendants of Kohath and Gershon served as keepers of the treasury. The Gershonites kept the temple treasury. The Kohathites kept David’s treasury. A first-rate kingdom would require a first-rate organization. As you read this, the impression you are supposed to get is that’s precisely what David is creating.

Israel was the Kingdom of God on earth then, and to achieve the glory God had planned for her, she needed purposeful organization and leadership. The same is true of the Kingdom of God today, the Church. It will never be what God has called it to be, nor achieve what God has demanded she achieve, without leaders who give it their attention.

One final note on this section: notice how closely David (the king) works with the priests, paving the way for the day when the monarchy and the priesthood would be one. Jesus is now both High Priest and King, and we as Christians serve as priests, and the royal family.