My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Saturday, December 31, 2005

Ezra 7

Ezra

Summary:
A priest in Aaron's line - Ezra - came up from Babylon to Jerusalem in Darius' seventh year.

King Artaxerxes sent Ezra a letter basically giving Jew free reign to return to Jerusalem, and giving Ezra unlimited resources. He could not impose taxes though. He had to teach the Jews the way of the law.

Key verse:
23. Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with diligence for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and of his sons?

My thoughts:
We are finally introduced to Ezra, the namesake of this book. He is a priest and great teacher for Israel.

Right at the very end of this chapter we have a dramatic shift in this narrative. It starts being in first-person from Ezra point of view. It is then possible that Ezra did, in fact, write these parts of the book. This would then be the first book in the Bible actually written by it's namesake, with the possible exception of the books of Moses.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ezra 6

So King Darius found King Cyrus' edict and made the temple construction start again, and told the governor to supply the Jews with all they needed.

He also cursed anyone who changed this edict to be impaled by their own house-beam.

So they kept building under Haggai and Zechariah, and finished in the 6th year of King Darius. They had a great party, and reinstated the worship at the temple, and they observed the Passover.

Key verse:
11. Furthermore, I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble.

My thoughts:
Don't you sometimes feel that our laws and punishments are a bit weak. I mean, how often do we sentence people to an impaling? I've never seen that for one!

Interestingly, there now appears to be some converts to Judaism in the Passover. At all times God has accepted all people who humble themselves.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ezra 5

The Governor questions the construction

Summary:
Haggai and Zechariah prophesied to the Jews as they rebuilt the temple. The governor of their area asked them who gave them authority to restart rebuilding. However, because of the bureaucratic process of inquiry they were not stopped. The governor sent King Darius a letter, asking him to check if Cyrus had in fact allowed the Jews to rebuild their city.

Key verse:
11. We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.

My thoughts:
It's quite interesting reading these ancient official letters between official people. I now work at the Ministry of Health here, and letters haven't changed much. Then, like now, you have to write letters and check records if you want anything done.

I also notice these books becoming somewhat more historical. Not that the other narratives didn't happen, but now we are beginning to have much more mention of records and letters. This is probably last chapter's news, but I noticed that Persia had records of Jerusalem's history. Perhaps these could've been collaborating evidence for the truth of the Biblical records. Who knows?

You can always trust bureaucracy to slow things down.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ezra 4

Opposition to the reconstruction

Summary:
Some people who didn't like Judah came to Zerubbabel and offered to help build the temple. He refused them, and so the people went around discouraging the current builders. This was during Cyrus' reign over Persia, and continued until Darius much later.

When Xerxes became king, the opposers made an accusation against Judah, and they sent a letter to King Artaxerxes. The letter encouraged the king to realise that Jerusalem was a rebellious city, and rebuilding it is a mistake. So the king stopped the construction at Jerusalem.

Key verse:
5. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.

My thoughts:
When have the Jews ever done something and not be opposed? The truth is, if you do God's work, then you will face opposition. Always.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ezra 3

The rebuilding begins

Summary:
In the seventh month, when they hadn't even began building the temple, they rebuilt the altar, and began sacrificing again, despite the nations around them.

As they started getting resources, in the fourteenth month, the Levites began rebuilding the temple under Zerubabbel and Jeshua. Many rejoiced singing "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever." when the foundations were laid, but the old men who had seen the old temple wept. It was so loud you couldn't tell the difference.

Key verse:
12. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.

My thoughts:
Here we have Zerubbabel and Jeshua. My understanding is that this Jeshua might be the same Joshua of Zechariah 3, but I'm not sure. If so, we have here the rebuilding of the temple under the High Priest dynasty of Jeshua, and the royal dynasty of Zerubbabel. With the temple, the order of Israel, and therefore the cosmos is complete.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Ezra 2

Those who came

Summary:
Heapsa people returned to Jerusalem from all towns in Judah. There were Levites, and temple servants, and descendants of Solomon's helpers. Some people even came who couldn't quite show they were from Israel, but they came anyway. There were a total of 42,360 people who came. People went to their towns.

Key verse:
64. The whole company numbered 42,360

My thoughts:
Of all the over a million people who came out from Egypt, and 2 million were still around during David's census, God's people now number less than 50,000. This is the remnant.

They obviously had quite clear records by this time, as they had people who couldn't prove their origin, so presumably most of the others could.

I met a kid called Ezra on the road trip. We wasn't even 2 yet. We decided he was the source of all evil. Ch Ch Ch K K K K.

Guess you had to be there...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Ezra 1

Cyrus let the Jews go home

Summary:
Cyrus, king of Persia, allowed the Jews to return to their homeland to rebuild their temple. He even gave back all the items of the temple that Babylon had taken. Those who were going to Jerusalem prepared themselves.

Key verse:
2. This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
'The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah...'

My thoughts:
There are prehaps three truly defining moments in Jewish history. One is the exodus, one is the exile, and prehaps, thirdly, the holocaust, which is not biblical. We never get a true historical description of exile in the Bible. We simply have before and after. They were exiled by the Babylonian Empire, who were subsequently taken over by the Persians, and it is under the Persians that the Jews are allowed to return.

It is a truly defining moment for the Jews. Though the Jews are certainly not perfect after the exile, there seems to be a significant change in their faith afterwards. Whereas previously the Jews had become quite merged with the surrounding nations, and did not follow the faith that they had during the judges, now it seems that there is such a strong identity with being Jewish, and subsequently worshipping Yahweh. This strong identity was made by being forced to preserve it to survive in Babylon.

Things during/after/just before the exile are generally much more historically justified than the things we might accept by faith in the first temple period.



Oh Merry Christmas everyone!! Ezra 1 relates to Jesus' birth because Jesus was born to save God's people from the oppression in a spiritual sense, whereas the Jews were saved from exile in a physical sense. Or something like that...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

2 Chronicles 36

The final kings

Summary:
After Josiah, Jehoahaz became king for 3 months, and he was oppressed by Egypt. After he was taken to Egypt, Jehoiakim, who was evil, reigned for 11 years. He was womped by Nebuchadnezzar. His son, Jehoiachin, reigned for 3 months, and was taken off to Babylon, and his Uncle, Zedekiah, was set up in his place by Babylon, and Zedekiah reigned for 11 years. They were all evil.

Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon, so Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, and took away all the people. God had judged them, and the land had its 70 years of rest, as Jeremiah prophesied. After seventy years, King Cyrus from Persia issued a decree allowing the Jews to go back and rebuilt Jerusalem.

Key verse:
21. The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.

My thoughts:
The Chronicler is clearly familiar with Jeremiah - a book clearly around in his time. If Jeremiah was written before the exile, as faith presumes, then it truly contains some startling prophecies.

I find the concept of the land resting for 70 years interesting. It is partly the Chronicler trying to justify why God had exiled his people. There is an ancient law in the Torah saying that the land should rest every 7 years, and not be worked. The land is being rebuilt, for Judah's return. Someone, ideal Judaism seems more environment-conscious than we are.

Friday, December 23, 2005

2 Chronicles 35

Josiah's Passover

Summary:
Josiah celebrated the Passover, and ordered that the ark be put and kept in the temple. He provided passover lambs for all people. The Priests ran the ceremony, and they did it exactly as the law required. It was the greatest Passover since the days before the kings.

A King Neco was later in a war up north, and Josiah decided to attack him, but it wasn't God's will. He was killed in that battle. Jeremiah wrote a book lamenting this.

Key verse:
18. The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem.

My thoughts:
Here we have a mention of the ark, which I think is the last time it is mentioned in regards to Israel's history. There are many thoughts of what happened to the ark (however pretty much all academic opinions safely assume it was destroyed with the temple). However it is definitely interesting searching on google and reading people's thoughts on it.

Here we have mention of a book written by Jeremiah of lamentations. This is almost certainly not the book of lamentations that we have today.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

2 Chronicles 34

The book of the Covenant is found

Summary:
Josiah was 8 when he became king, and reigned 31 years. He did good. As he grew older, he had all the Baals and other altars torn down. He had the temple repaired.

Whilst they were repairing the temple, the book of the Law, which had been given to Moses, was found. When the book was read to Josiah, he was gutted, because he realised how far Israel had gone from God. They asked Huldah, a prophetess about it, and she prophesied that God was going to curse them, just as the book said, but that the curses would only come after Josiah's time.

Josiah read the book to all the people, they the pledged to follow it.

Key verse:
21. Great is the Lord's anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.

My thoughts:
A controversial story indeed. It is very plausible to believe that the Torah did not really exist in any real way until this event. The book just happens to turn up. You can imagine a keen priest compiling and then presenting it to the king as the lost book of Moses. It is impossible to know exactly when the Torah comes into existence. The Bible does seem to assume that it came to Moses, though this cannot be entirely true, though I believe the jist of it was revealed to Moses, and that he may have written sections of it. It depends where your faith is at.

You can see the power of the book in this story. It convicts Josiah, and shows him what is going wrong. Perhaps this is one role of the Bible we have now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

2 Chronicles 33

King Manasseh's repentance

Summary:
Manasseh reigned for 55 years, and was evil. He pretty much undid all the good work of Hezekiah, and worshipped anything that wasn't God. He put an idol in the temple. He was dragged away to Babylon as a slave, but then he called out to God, and God brought him back. After that he got better, and restarted worship at the temple. The people stopped worshipping other Gods, but they still worshipped in the wrong places. His son Amon succeeded him.

Amon reigned for two years, and was evil. He died in a coup, and Josiah was made king.

Key verse:
13. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom.

My thoughts:
Here we are again presented with old testament grace. Manasseh was one of the worst kings ever, but God still saved him, and Manasseh, by in large, turned back to him.

Note how people still worshipped Yahweh, but at the wrong place, and this was considered very evil. The temple was the only place where sacrifices could be made to God. If you understand this, then
John 4 is lots more significant.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

2 Chronicles 32

Sennacherib attacks

Summary:
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, then invaded Judah. Hezekiah tried to prepare, but building up the towers, building weapons, and cutting of Sennacherib's water supply. He told his men that God was more powerful than any army. Sennacherib tried to discourage Jerusalem's people against Hezekiah's strong faith in God, saying that he had pushed aside many gods.

Hezekiah and Isaiah - a prophet - prayed, and God sent an angel who killed the Assyrians, and Sennacherib went home.

Hezekiah later became sick, and God healed him, but he became proud, but because he repented, God's anger for his pride was delayed til after his death. He was wealthy and successful, and his son Manasseh succeeded him.

Key verse:
19. They spoke about the God of Jerusalem as they did about the gods of the other peoples of the world—the work of men's hands.

My thoughts:
You can feel the disgust and utter conviction in today's key verse. How dare anyone think of Yahweh as just another god? Though we have a clear understanding of God's ultimate power over all things in our Churchified society, you can imagine that any true conviction that God is the only true God above all others would be difficult to foster when you are in a (comparatively) small community who worshipped Him. However, the Jews were sure that their God, their national God, was in fact also God of All That Is.

Monday, December 19, 2005

2 Chronicles 31

The tithe

Summary:
After the passover, everyone went and smashed all other altars

Hezekiah organised the priesthood, and got everyone to give their offerings - and everyone brought their tithe. The leftovers of the tithes were kept in storehouses, and were distributes to God's people.

Key verse:
5. As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.

My thoughts:
Tithing has become a very controversial topic these days. The church is often portrayed as being money hungry.

Here is my brief thoughts on tithing. Tithing is an old testament idea. It is associated with the now obsolete temple and priesthood, and is tied to the governance and law of a nation, Israel. So tithing is not a Christian idea. This is a Christian idea:

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Matt 19:21

and

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." Acts 4:32

So if you were relieved to hear that tithing isn't a Christian idea, then don't be. Under the old law, people had 90% of what they earn. Under the new covenant, we should have nothing.

Most people don't believe that Jesus was being literal when he spoke to the rich young man in Matthew. They assume it's ridiculous if it's serious, but they've never tried it.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

2 Chronicles 30

The passover is celebrated

Summary:
Hezekiah invited all of Judah and Israel to celebrate in the passover at the temple. They held it on a unique date, and it was the first time in ages that it had been celebrated in large numbers.

Most people from Israel ignored the call, but it was still a significant event. Some people ate the passover without consecrating themselves, but Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were healed.

It was a great day.

Key verses:
9. If you return to the Lord, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.

18-19. May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of his fathers—even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.

My thoughts:
The thing that strikes me about this chapter is how many exceptions they make to 'the rules'. The passover is held on the wrong day, because they weren't ready; people celebrated it without consecrating themselves; they celebrate for too many days.

This is God's mess. It's unorganised. It's messy. But it's humble, and it's seeking God, so God accepts it. Hezekiah's prayer here (the key verse) is a great prayer of repentence.

This whole chapter is about grace. God accepts people despite not doing things right - as long as our hearts are seeking him. This is a good message, because I know I couldn't stand with God without it.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

2 Chronicles 29

King Hezekiah

Summary:
Hezekiah reigned for 29 years. He was good, and reminded the priests of how neglected the covenant had become, and he told them that the planned to reestablish the covenant.

The priests got together and purified the temple. Once they had done so, Hezekiah called all the officials together and got the priests to make great sin offerings. During the sacrifice, everyone worshipped to trumpets and music.

Hundreds of sacrifices happened that day: the first day sacrifices had taken place in a very long time.

Key verse:
35. So the service of the temple of the Lord was reestablished.

My thoughts:
At this stage in Israel's history, and especially to the Chronicler, the temple, and temple worship are at the very centre of the Jewish faith. We can see this in 1 Chronicle's lengthy description of the temple construction.

It is therefore, very exciting that the temple service is reestablished. Not only is Israel on track with God again, but the whole cosmos is in order again. Yahweh is being worshipped.

Friday, December 16, 2005

2 Chronicles 28

King Ahaz

Summary:
Ahaz reigned 16 years, and was evil. He worshipped Baals and sacrifices children. So he was given to Aram and Israel to be conquered. Judah suffered bad losses, and Israel took them prisoner, but then a prophet Oded reminded Israel of her sin, and that she ought to give Judah's people back. So they did.

Judah was again in trouble, and Ahaz struggled to gain support from Assyria. Ahaz got worse as he got older.

Hezekiah, his son, succeeded him.

Key verse:
23. he thought, "Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me." But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel.

My thoughts:
I love all these little forgotten Bible characters. Take Oded for example. He commanded a nation to be just to their enemies, and the nation listened. That's extremely powerful, but no-one remembers Oded.

I might make Oded on of my kid's middle names.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

2 Chronicles 27

King Jotham

Summary:
Jotham ruled for sixteen years, and was good. He built up Judah, and conquered the Ammonites. The people, however, stayed quite evil. His son, Ahaz, succeeded him.


Key verse:
6. Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.

My thoughts:
So Jotham's a bit of a non-event then. It's notable that Judah has some unexciting good kings, whereas Israel just has no good kings!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

2 Chronicles 26

King Uzziah

Summary:
Uzziah, Amaziah's son, reigned for 52 years. He was good. He built up Judah, attacked the Philistines and Arabs successfully. He was famous. He built up Jerusalem.

He had an organised army, with seige weapons. However, he was arrogant, and tried to take the priests role in the temple. The priests confronted him, and he got angry, and got leprosy.

He had leprosy til he died, and his son Jotham took over.

Key verse:
15. In Jerusalem he made machines designed by skillful men for use on the towers and on the corner defenses to shoot arrows and hurl large stones. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.

My thoughts:
This is a massive reign. The moral of the story is: If you take the priests job unlawfully, you will get leprosy and die. Let that be a lesson to you.

Seige weapons! Awesome! Obviously Hebrew didn't have words for things like catapults and ballistas. First time mentioned in the Bible.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

2 Chronicles 25

King Amaziah

Summary:
Amaziah ruled for 29 years. He was an okay king. He killed those who had killed his father, and built a big reorganised army, including buying some soldiers from Israel. A prophet warned against using Israel's men, because God had rejected them. So he sent the Israelites away, who weren't too pleased.

Amaziah's men womped Seir, while the angry Israelites took some of Judah's towns. Amaziah took Seir's gods and worshipped them, so God sent a prophet who warned Amaziah of his destruction.

Amaziah picked a fight with Jehoash, king of Israel. Judah lost. Amaziah was later killed in a conspiracy.

Key verse:
9. Amaziah asked the man of God, "But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?"
The man of God replied, "The Lord can give you much more than that."

My thoughts:
Just to be clear: a major theme of Chronicles is that if you follow God, good stuff happened, and if you reject him, bad stuff happens. It's clear through all the good and bad kings.

Sounds like prosperity gospel to me. But it's in the Bible. Hmmm...

Monday, December 12, 2005

2 Chronicles 24

King Joash

Summary:
Joash became king at age seven, and reigned 40 years. He got Jehoiada to set up a collection box outside the temple, and to use the collected money to restore the temple. All Judah gave generously, and the temple was restored. Jehoiada died at 130, and was buried with the kings.

After his death, Joash turned against God, and people rejected his prophets and worshipped other gods and idols. Zechariah, Jehoiada's son, told Joash that God had forsaken him, and he had forsaken God. They killed him in the temple courtyards.

The Arameans attacked, and ransacked Jerusalem, and killed Joash. Amaziah, his son, succeeded him.

Key verse:
10. All the officials and all the people brought their contributions gladly, dropping them into the chest until it was full.

My thoughts:
It's interesting to see how charity worked in much the same way as it does now. People have money, which they choose to give to a good cause. You can see how early it was in human culture that personal currency started happening.

It's pretty sad that Zechariah was killed in the temple. I have a feel that this is refered to in the New Testament. Does anyone know where it is?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

2 Chronicles 23

Jehoiada strikes back

Summary:
After six years, Jehoiada, the high priest, gathered military men, Levites and leaders together around the temple. He told them that David's son shall reign. Some of them guarded the temple, some the palace, some a gate in Jerusalem, and the rest in the courtyards.

He gave them weapons from the temple, and they anointed Joash, gave him a book of the law, and proclaimed him as king.

When Athaliah heard this, she was gutted. Jehoiada's men killed her followers, and killed her outside of the temple.

They smashed the foreign altars and Baals, and seated Joash on the throne. And then Jerusalem was peaceful.

Key verse:
11. Jehoiada and his sons brought out the king's son and put the crown on him; they presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him and shouted, "Long live the king!"

My thoughts:
Here we see part of what it means to be the king of Judah. He is given a 'copy of the covenant' with his crown. They are to rule within the covenant. Books were scarce in ancient times, and there are many scholars who would suggest that no such book would have existed in Joash's time. However, the record of history here seems to show that from a very early date, God's people were a people of a book.

This is why, if you ever rule the world, you should be nice to people. If you aren't, then they revolt!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

2 Chronicles 22

King Ahaziah and Queen Athaliah

Summary:
So Ahaziah became king, but only for a year. His mother was Athaliah. He did evil, and allied with Ahab's son, Joram, who got injured in a battle. When Ahaziah visited Joram, he got caught by Jehu, who had killed Ahab's line, and was killed.

Athaliah took power for six years and killed all of the royal family. But Joash, Ahaziah's son, was hidden in the temple during Athaliah's reign.

Key verse:
11. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered and put him and his nurse in a bedroom.

My thoughts:
Here's the one and only Queen in Israel's history, however he is evil and is not considered part of the continued monarchy of Judah. The vital point is that Joash was saved. To mix metaphors, David's line has not been extinguished.

I think it's funny that Joash was hidden in the temple. Perhaps the only place Athaliah never really went...

Friday, December 09, 2005

2 Chronicles 21

King Jehoram

Summary:
Jehoshaphat died, and his son Jehoram succeeded him. Jehoram killed his brothers, and reigned eight years. He did evil, but God still kept his promise to preserve David's line. Edom and Libnah revolted against him. He set up high places. He received a letter from Elijah, saying how God had cursed him because of him sin. The Philistines and Arabs attacked Jerusalem, killing his sons, except for Ahaziah. Jehoram died because of his curse. No-one cared, and he wasn't put in the king's tomb.

Key verse:
7. Nevertheless, because of the covenant the LORD had made with David, the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever.

My thoughts:
The verse saying that God will curse for 3 or 4 generations but bless for a thousand comes to mind. God is faithful to his promise, despite things not going to plan.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

2 Chronicles 20

God wins the battle

Summary:
The Moabites and Ammonites teamed up and attacked Jehoshaphat. When Jehoshaphat found out, he inquired of God, and got everyone to fast. He reminded God of his promise to Solomon that he would hear when people call out to him at his temple. He asked to God to save them.

The Spirit came on a man, Jahaziel, a Levite from Asaph. He told them not to fear, because God would fight this battle. They wouldn't have to fight. So they worshipped and praised. When they went out to battle, Ammon and Moab were ambushed, and fought each other and Seir, and were defeated.

Jehoshaphat's men found the armies dead, and so they nicked their stuff.

Jehoshaphat reigned 25 years. He built a fleet with Israel's evil king, Ahaziah, but God destroyed the fleet because of Ahaziah's sin.

Key verse:
15. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.

My thoughts:
Notice how this amazing miracle had almost nothing 'supernatural' happen. God didn't strike them down with fire from heaven. A skeptic could say that this 'miracle' was nothing. That door is always open, even in biblical times. God does not force faith.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

2 Chronicles 19

Jehosphaphat appoints judges

Summary:
When Jehoshaphat got home, Jehu the seer condemned him for siding with God's enemy (Ahab). Jehoshaphat went into the regions of Judah, and focussed them on God, and appointed judges, who he charged to be fair. He also appointed some Levites to administer the law.

Key verses:
6-7. Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.

My thoughts:
I think these verses are an awesome statement for any Christian lawyer of judge to pledge. I particularly like the 'not judging for man but for the Lord' part.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

2 Chronicles 18

Micaiah the true prophet

Summary:
Jehoshaphat was rich and allied to Ahab, king of Israel. When Ahab asked for help at war, Jehoshaphat suggested consulting God first. So Ahab brought together hundreds of prophets, who all prophesied victories, but none of them were from God. Jehoshaphat looked for a prophet of God, and found Micaiah, who Ahab didn't like, because he always prophesied bad things.

And he did. He could only say what God told him. First he 'prophesied' victor, then he prophesied that they would fail, and Ahab felt justified. Micaiah said he saw God seeking a spirit to entire Israel into a battle they would lose, so God sent a lying spirit into the other prophets. Ahab imprisoned Micaiah.

In the battle Jehoshaphat also got caught, but God saved him. Ahab was killed with a stray arrow.

Key verse:
13.
I can tell him only what my God says.

My thoughts:
We see a different side to God here. Here he is a jealous and vengeful God, seeking to harm Israel. We must not forget that though he is gracious, he is just, and will not refrain from exacting punishment when appropriate.

Jehoshaphat's good for seeking God's counsel, and he is saved because of it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

2 Chronicles 17

King Jehoshaphat

Summary:
Asa's son, Jehoshaphat, became king. He did well, and followed God. He sent teachers through Judah's towns to teach them of the law. He built up great armies, and the surrounding nations gave gifts.

Key verse:
9. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.

My thoughts:
The chapters are really short at the moment, which is helping me catch up!!!

Jehoshaphat is a really good king.

This is besides the point, but I found this interesting article. Ever wondered how Jesus was on David's throne, despite the fact that Jehoiachin, one of the last kings of Judah was cursed never to have a descendant on the throne? No? Well here's the answer anyway!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

2 Chronicles 16

Asa's blemish

Summary:
Towards the end of Asa's reign, Baasha, king of Israel, fortified the border between them. Asa paid the king of Aram (Ben-Hadad) to break his treaty with Isreal, so Baasha would have to retreat. So Aram attacked Israel, and Baasha withdrew from the Judean border, and Asa took it back.

A prophet condemned Asa for relying on another king, rather than on God. Asa put him in prison.

Asa died of a disease.


Key verse:
9. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

My thoughts:
This is Asa's only real recorded fault (in Chronicles at least). He was a good king. Notice his fault was for doing the exact opposite of what he did against the Cushites.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

2 Chronicles 15

A covenant renewed

Summary:
The Spirit of God came upon a man called Azariah. He told Asa that God is with him when he is with God.

Asa destroyed the idols, and repaired God's altar. All people living in Judah came together, and they gave sacrifices to God. They made an oath and a covenant to God. Asa even desposed his mother, because she had set up an Asherah pole.

Key verse:
2. If you seek him, he will be found by you

My thoughts:
Check out this key verse, then look up Matt 7:7. There's more unity between the old and new testaments than you might think.

Friday, December 02, 2005

2 Chronicles 14

Good King Asa

Summary:
After Abijah, his son Asa became king. He did good and avoided war. He smashed down any altar that did not worship God. He built up Judah's cities.

Zerah the Cushite attacked him, and Asa went against him with a massive army. Asa prayed. Zerah and his army lost.

Key verse:
11. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you

My thoughts:
In the western world we are so secure. We don't rely on God, because we don't have to. I feel broke at the moment, because I have eight spendable dollars on my eftpos card. I may feel desperate, but I also know that I have $6000 in my savings account. I'll be fine. Even if I didn't have those savings, my parent's would support me.

We are so darn secure. That is why we don't rely on God. We need to rely on him more.

My Bit:
Woot for U2 tickets, and for my friends getting on TV3 for lining up since 6.30pm last night!!! (tickets were sold at 9am this morning)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

2 Chronicles 13

King Abijah

Summary:
King Abijah reigned in Judah for three years, and he warred against Jeroboam of Israel, each with hundreds and thousands of men.

Abijah called to Jeroboam from a mountain, telling him that God had chosen David's line. He reminded them that they had turned against God, but Judah had a legitimate priesthood, and were still following God. Abijah urged the Israelites to stop fighting their God.

Judah won that battle, and Abijah took some cities, including Bethel.

Abijah's reign was also recorded in the prophet Iddo's writings.

Key verse:
12. Men of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.

My thoughts:
Obviously, Judah is seen in a very positive light compared to Israel. I find it interesting, however, that despite Israel's lack of a temple and real possibility of fulfilling all the laws relating to the tabernacle, God is still clearly wanting to work in Israel. God knows that Israel is not going to fulfil the temple law, but he still wants people's hearts, as is clear by Israel's many prophets.

I have never heard of the prophet Iddo before. His writings are obviously lost. They would be interesting if found.

Abijah is seen very positive in this chapter, however in Kings, he is said to be committing the sins of his father, Rehoboam.