Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 119: 1 Chronicles 26 - 29

We have given you only what comes from your hand. (1 Chronicles 29:14b)

Listen to David's heart as he splendors in God's blessing: Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? (29:14a)

Most people try not to give at all, or find loopholes to give as little as possible. Not so with David and the people of Israel. They were truly grateful for all that God had done for them, and they gave with joyful, cheerful hearts.

May we be as eager to give.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day 118: 1 Chronicles 22 - 25

They numbered 288. (1 Chronicles 25:7)

David set aside 288 men to serve as singers in the new temple. 288 vocalists divided into 24 groups of 12.

What else can be evenly divided into 24 units? Hmmm... a day? Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Congratulations. Johnny, tell him what he's won. You bet, Bob. You've won a BRAND NEW CAR!!! [1]

Many biblical scholars, as well as experts who teach about worship have conjectured that these 24 12-member worship teams each served 1-hour shifts every day lifting up their voices in praise to God, so that worship was offered up continuously in Solomon's temple.

Wouldn't it be awesome to have 24-hour worship going on in our church building?
[1] Just to be clear – no one is getting a new car.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 117: 1 Chronicles 19 - 21

Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. (1 Chronicles 21:2)

This is one of those times when the writer neglects to share with us the details that must have been obvious to him. Why was it a problem for David to count his fighting men?

When we read the account of David, we can only be amazed at his win-loss record. I haven't counted up his wins, but I can tell you how many fights he lost. None.

Why did he always win? Was it because his vast army outnumbered his foes? No. There are plenty of occasions when David led the smaller fighting force, but he still managed to pull out a victory every time. Was it because he was better equipped? No. Many of his enemies had chariots. David didn't see their value. For the most part, his men were foot soldiers.

David always won. Why? It wasn't because of numbers; it wasn't because of weaponry; it was because God was on his side.

So what was the problem?

David counted his fighting men because he wanted to know if he had enough men to defeat any enemy that might rear its head. For the first time in his life, David was putting his faith in his own strength, and his own resources, rather than in the presence of God.

Think about David the next time you pay your bills before seeing if there's enough left over to tithe.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 116: 1 Chronicles 16 - 18

The Lord will build a house for you. (1 Chronicles 17:10)

Chapter 17 tells the tale of David's desire to build a temple for the Lord. He couldn't understand why it was okay for him to live in a palace, when God was still living in a tent.

God had a different idea. David wanted to build a house for God, but God purposed to build a house for David. David already had a palace, so what was God talking about? Didn't God know David had some nice digs?

The house God had in mind had nothing to do with beams of cedar or blocks of cut stone. The house God referred to was a dynasty.

What a God! David's heart was to honor God, and God's heart was to honor David.

Day 115: 1 Chronicles 13 - 15

Comment on 1 Chronicles 13-15 here.

Day 114: 1 Chronicles 10 - 12

Comment on 1 Chronicles 10-12 here.

Day 113: 1 Chronicles 7 - 9

Comment on 1 Chronicles 7-9 here.

Day 112: 1 Chronicles 4 - 6

Comment on 1 Chronicles 4-6 here.

Day 111: 1 Chronicles 1 - 3

Comment on 1 Chronicles 1 - 3 here.

Day 110: 2 Kings 22 - 25

Comment on 2 Kings 22-25 here.

Day 109: 2 Kings 19 - 21

Comment on 2 Kings 19-21 here.

Day 108: 2 Kings 16 - 18

Comment on 2 Kings 16-18 here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day 107: 2 Kings 13 - 15

Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria. (2 Kings 14:23)

Jeroboam II was named for the first sovereign of the Northern Kingdom Jeroboam son of Nebat. This was a last hurrah for Israel, but it was a pretty good hurrah.

Israel had been beat up by its enemies and was suffering an economic slump. Politically, militarily and economically Jeroboam proved to be a good king, and under his leadership Israel experienced a renaissance of sorts and a time of prosperity. But Jeroboam was no prize spiritually, and upon his death, Israel started a downhill spiral that would lead to its demise at the hands of Assyria.

Day 106: 2 Kings 10 - 12

This is the place for your comments and questions about 2 Kings 10-12.

Day 105: 2 Kings 7 - 9

Use the Comments link below to post your questions and comments about 2 Kings 7-9.

Day 104: 2 Kings 4 - 6

I didn't realize how far behind I was with posting. Sorry about that. This is the place for your questions and comments regarding 2 Kings 4-6.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 103: 2 Kings 1 - 3

Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? (2 Kings 1:3)

There was a history of antagonism between Elijah and Ahab, and that history continued with Ahab's son Ahaziah. When Ahaziah was injured, he probably expected a less than favorable answer from Elijah, so he preempted that diagnosis and went straight for a second opinion. He sent his envoys to the Philistine city of Ekron, to inquire of the god Baal – not the best way to get on God's good side.

How often do we sidestep God for an answer more to our liking?

Day 102: 1 Kings 19 - 22

One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off. (1 Kings 20:11)

Yesterday I told you what a despicable person King Ahab was. Today I confess that one of my favorite quotes in the Bible must be attributed to Ahab himself.

In this passage, the King of Aram, along with 32 of his vassal kings and their forces, came out to attack Ahab's Israel. It wasn't looking good for Ahab, and Ben-Hadad of Aram was boasting of how he was about to destroy Samaria (the capital city of Israel). When I get done with you there won't even be enough dust remaining in Israel to give each of my men a handful! (20:10) And then Ahab's priceless response: One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.

Henry Ford said, You can't build a reputation on what you intend to do. Ben-Hadad's taunts were brave talk for a man who hadn't yet drawn the first blood from his enemy. Somehow, Ahab's axiom sounds tougher than Ben Franklin's Don't count your chickens before they're hatched, but it's the same sentiment.

Are you putting your armor on? ...or taking it off?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 101: 1 Kings 16 - 18

Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. (1 Kings 16:30)

The Omrides (Omri and his descendants) were the most evil royal family in the history of Israel. They put the nasty in dynasty. Omri had been the commander of Israel's army, when the previous king was assassinated by Zimri. A week later Omri and his army attacked Zimri's stronghold. When Zimri saw he was surrounded, he set his palace on fire forfeiting his own life.

The changing of the guard was not uncontested, but Omri's supporters were stronger than those of his opponent. His opponent was executed and Omri was crowned king. Thus begins the dynasty.

After Omri's death, his son Ahab became king in his place. Ahab's wife Jezebel was the Baal-worshiping princess of Sidon. The couple set out on a literal reign of terror, during which time prophets of the Lord feared for their lives. There were no more feared Old Testament names than Ahab and Jezebel. Even after their deaths, their evil would infect Israel's sister nation of Judah for generations to come, but that's a story for another time.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 100: 1 Kings 13 - 15

King Rehoboam made bronze shields. (1 Kings 14:27)

Shishak of Egypt invaded Judah and carried off the treasures of the palace and temple. This was most likely when the Ark of the Covenant was lost, yet the writer of 1 Kings doesn't even mention it – instead the account focuses on the loss of Solomon's gold shields. It would seem, then, that the shields are a very important part of this story.

We just read (1 Kings 10:16,17) about Solomon having the shields made from hammered gold. Once they were stolen by Egypt, the once wealthy nation of Judah couldn't afford the gold to replace them, so Rehoboam had copies made from bronze.

Every Sabbath, as Rehoboam made his way to the Temple, he would be surrounded with Secret Service agents equipped with those bronze shields. I imagine as the sun shone down on that bronze it must have dazzled the eyes of anyone looking, maybe even giving the appearance of real gold – but it was not.

After church the guards would put the shields away, locked in a cabinet where they would stay until the next Sabbath for their weekly parade to Temple.

You probably know where I'm going with this. It's easy to play dress up on the weekend. Some people head for church wearing their shiny best. They look the part, but there's no authentic relationship with God. Others fear what might happen if they were to be transparent.

Are you authentic gold? …or wannabe bronze?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day 99: 1 Kings 10 - 12

King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women. (1 Kings 11:1)

The smartest man in the world lost his head over foreign women. Oftentimes a king would give his daughter in marriage to another king to seal an alliance. That's probably where a lot of Solomon's wives came from. But no matter where they came from, the result was that these foreign wives enticed Solomon to worship their gods.

These dalliances affected not only Solomon, but brought great hardship on the kingdom. 1 Kings 1:11 cites Solomon's disobedience as the root cause of Israel's dissolution, which would be realized during the reign of his son Rehoboam.

One can choose obedience or disobedience, but not the consequences.

Day 98: 1 Kings 7 - 9

This is the place for your comments and questions about 1 Kings 7-9.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day 97: 1 Kings 4 - 6

Solomon also had twelve district governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and the royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year. (1 Kings 4:7)

The nation of Israel was growing up. During the reign of Saul, Israel was at war, subject to, or at the very least tormented by the Philistines. During the reign of David, Israel conquered its enemies and its borders were expanded. During the reign of Solomon, Israel enjoyed a season of peace and prosperity - temporary prosperity.

As enemies were conquered, they were required to pay tribute to Israel. That partially accounted for its prosperity. Under Solomon, however, the kingdom quit expanding even though its bureaucracies did not. In today's reading, we get the first glimpse of Solomon organizing Israel into 12 administrative districts (read: tax districts), organized roughly along tribal lines. Each district was responsible to provide the funding for one month's national budget.

No longer were the costs of doing business garnered through tribute from other nations (there was still tribute, but it was not enough), but the nation itself was being taxed to help pay for the many levels of bureaucracy.

This was the golden age of Israel.

And you thought fiscal mismanagement was a new thing?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 96: 1 Kings 1 - 3

Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. (1 Kings 3:4)

At some point, probably soon after the Battlew of Shiloh, Moses' tabernacle was moved to Gibeon. But what's a tabernacle without the Ark of the Covenant? After the ark was captured by the Philistines, and then returned, it was never again installed in the tabernacle. For many years (throughout the reign of Saul and beyond) it was sheltered at the house of Abinadab. When David conquered Jerusalem, he set up a new tent for the ark called Zion, but Moses' tabernacle remained at Gibeon.

There was no altar for burnt sacrifices at Zion, so Solomon went to Gibeon, where he offered up a thousand sacrifices. In return for this act of worship, God offered Solomon anything he asked for and Solomon asked for wisdom. In addition to wisdom, God promised Solomon all the wealth and power he could have asked for.

Extravagant worship. Extravagant blessing.

Could there be a connection?

Day 95: 2 Samuel 22 - 24

Put your comments and questions about 2 Samuel 22-24 here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day 94: 2 Samuel 19 - 21

Post your comments and questions about 2 Samuel 19-21 here.

Day 93: 2 Samuel 16 - 18

Post your comments and questions about 2 Samuel 16-18 here.

Day 92: 2 Samuel 13 - 15

Post your comments and questions about 2 Samuel 13-15 here.

Day 91: 2 Samuel 10 - 12

Share your comments and questions about your Bibl reading here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Reading Links

I was a little slow in getting the April reading links uploaded, but they're here now. In a few days I'll remove the March links.

Day 90: 2 Samuel 7 - 9

This is the place for your comments and questions about 2 Samuel:7-9.