Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Mt 11:28

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 27, 2 Kgs 18-19

Today's readings are 2 Kgs 18-19.

What we've seen through the two books of Kings is the gradual but steady decline of Israel. First, due to infighting, she divides into two kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). God never told them to split. As a matter of fact, they were supposed to be united as His people. Yet, they separate, due to some questionable decisions by the kings and leaders. Then we see the gradual slide away from God of both kingdoms. Israel is sliding at a more rapid rate, but both are sliding away.

God sends prophets to both kingdoms warning them to return to Him or be taken captive. As the prophecies unfold, it becomes evident that Assyria will be used by God to invade both kingdoms and carry the Jews away.

But, when Assyria finally invades, Judah is spared. Why? We find out in these two chapters.

Judah has a new king, Hezekiah, a godly man. He has his faults, but he does much to turn Judah back toward God. Idols are removed from the country, pagan altars are torn down, the Temple restored and the priesthood re-established. Sacrifices are offered up again, and the people fear God (2 Kgs 18:1-7).

As a result of Hezekiah's godly leadership, Jerusalem is spared when the Assyrians attack. Instead of calling on pagan nations for help like his predecessors did, Hezekiah calls upon Isaiah and the Lord (2 Kgs 19:1-7). Judah is delivered miraculously (2 Kgs 19:35) while their attacker, Sennacherib, the one who mocked God dies at the hands of his sons (2 Kgs 19:37).

This is what distinguishes Hezekiah from many of the kings of Israel and Judah who have gone before. This is what makes him a good and godly king. When in trouble, rather than seeking the wisdom of friends and forming earthly alliances, he turns toward God's messenger, throws himself upon the mercy of God and trusts God to deliver His people and be faithful to His promises.

Hezekiah provides us with an admirable template for war. But, he also shows us a great strategy for confronting hard times in our personal lives as well. While many are tempted to gain the advice of friends and align themselves with worldly methods of dealing with trouble, God's people should rely solely upon Him.

The true victory comes in trusting Him, not in gaining the upper hand in a tough situation. Worldly wisdom and ways will show us how to gain victory for today, how to become the "winner." That kind of victory can be breathtakingly short lived and unsatisfying. God's wisdom and His ways will show us how to gain victory for all eternity.

Judah’s deliverance is another exhibition of God's matchless grace and mercy. He gave His precious children every chance to repent. Judah did, Israel did not. Judah received grace, Israel received chastisement. Only when God’s children stubbornly refuse to obey Him do they suffer worldly consequences.

This should be a warning and encouragement to us. God has not only graciously given us His word to guide us in living for Him, but He has also sent His Spirit to dwell within us to help us in that effort. If we become conversant in His word, the Spirit will help us keep it. God is not out to exact vengeance for every stumble we make. His grace will cover them all, but repentant hearts and true sorrow over our stumbles are necessary to avoid His chastisement. Blatant rebellion and disregard for His word and the leading of His Spirit will not rob us of our salvation. But, it will make our walk on earth more difficult.  

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