Daily Devotional Week 45 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Ezekiel 7 – 11)

Daily Devotional

Week 45 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Ezekiel 7 – 11)

Ezekiel delivered the terrible declaration of judgment of God, and it was as much personal as it was tribal “My eye will not pity you; I will not spare you. For your behavior I will hold you accountable, and you will suffer the consequences of your abominable practices. Then you will know that it is I, the Lord, who is striking you … Each person, for his iniquity, will fail to preserve his life.”

Ezekiel described God coming upon him “… as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting in front of me, the hand of the sovereign Lord seized me.”

He explained why God would soon-withdraw from the Temple “Son of man, do you see what they are doing – the great abominations that the people of Israel are practicing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary?”

Ezekiel described what happened next “Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub where it had rested to the threshold of the temple. He called to the man dressed in linen who had the writing kit at his side. The Lord said to him, “Go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the people who moan and groan over all the abominations practiced in it.”

[Note: He marked those to be protected based upon
their individual volitional choices.]

He then described Heavenly beings about the process of the Lord removing His presence from the Temple – concluding with “Then the glory of the Lord moved away from the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim … Then the cherubim spread their wings with their wheels alongside them while the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them. The glory of the Lord rose up from within the city and stopped over the mountain east of it.”

Ezekiel pleaded with the Lord for fear that He might completely obliterate the people and received this assurance “When I regather you from the peoples and assemble you from the lands where you have been dispersed, I will give you back the country of Israel.’ “When they return to it, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them; I will remove the hearts of stone from their bodies and I will give them tender hearts, so that they may follow my statutes and observe my regulations and carry them out. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God.”

He concluded “Then a wind lifted me up and carried me to the exiles in Babylonia, in the vision given to me by the Spirit of God. Then the vision I had seen went up from me. So I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.”

Dear Lord, You explained clearly Your reasons to Ezekiel, and You also made clear that there was both individual and tribal responsibility for the punishment to come. While the tribal relationship is gone I remain constantly aware of my continuing individual responsibility to You for my choices. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Lamentations)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Lamentations)

Jeremiah was heartsick over what had happened.

Jeremiah used a rhetorical conversation between himself “The Prophet Speaks” as he described the circumstances and the response of the people “Jerusalem Speaks” as in “Look, O Lord! Consider that I have become worthless!”

The NET translator’s notes explain that he used a pattern which was an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet across chapters 1, 2, and 4 then in chapter 3 he used all 66 letters by themselves. In chapter 5 he did not use the acrostic.

Jeremiah, in chapter 5, switched to “The People of Jerusalem Pray:” where they appeal to the Lord God for rescue “Bring us back to yourself, O Lord, so that we may return to you; renew our life as in days before, unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.”

The Lord told the people that they would be in exile for 70 years, so why would they be whining and asking why He was taking so long to rescue them?

Jeremiah suffered alongside of his people, even though he had delivered the Lord God’s repeated warnings and had pleaded with them to repent.

When have you received punishment which you knew that you deserved and you knew was coming, and still cried-out for a short-cut out of it?

Dear Lord, After the fact Your people lamented but while You called them to faithfulness they were disrespectful and rebellious. May I choose faithful-obedience so that I am not left with endless laments later. Please alert me to a place in your life where I have not been fully-faithful and obedient – a place from which bad consequences may come to me if I don’t repent. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Jeremiah 41 – 46)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Jeremiah 41 – 46)

Jeremiah also reported on similar events as in Kings and Chronicles …

Just as Jeremiah had warned, the failure of the king to surrender to the Babylonians resulted in terrible consequences; not only was Jerusalem destroyed and the people taken away to Babylon “There at Riblah the king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons put to death while Zedekiah was forced to watch. The king of Babylon also had all the nobles of Judah put to death. Then he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him bound in chains to be led off to Babylon.”

Jeremiah was protected by the orders of the Babylonian king and allowed to remain among the people. Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian was also protected for acting from faith in rescuing Jeremiah.

Gedaliah was appointed by the Babylonians to oversee the remnant people and a community rose at Mizpah. Some soldiers who had been hiding, as well as civilians who also managed to hide from the Babylonian army, joined them. “Thus they harvested a large amount of wine and dates and figs.”

Ishmael (son of Nethaniah) and his small army murdered Gedaliah and many others and then took the rest of the people captive – marching them away to the Ammonites. Johanan (son of Kareah) and his small army heard what had happened and rescued the people, but Ishmael escaped with a few men to the Ammonites.

Johanan wanted to go to Egypt but feared the Babylonians would catch them so they asked Jeremiah to consult God. He prophesied that they should stay and not flee to Egypt but arrogant members of leadership called him a liar and insisted that they flee to Egypt, despite the warning from the Lord that they would be worse off there.

Jeremiah was taken with the people to Egypt and there prophesied doom for Egypt, and the rebels from Judah, at the hands of the Babylonians – who would destroy Egypt.

Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, was having a pity-party for himself and the Lord said to him “I am about to tear down what I have built and to uproot what I have planted. I will do this throughout the whole earth. Are you looking for great things for yourself? Do not look for such things. For I, the Lord, affirm that I am about to bring disaster on all humanity. But I will allow you to escape with your life wherever you go.”

Isn’t it amazing that the Lord caused the king of Babylon to preserve Jeremiah and the Ethiopian in the midst of the battle and the deportations?

Dear Lord, The persistent arrogance and rebellion of the people angered You, yet You retained a remnant so that You could keep Your covenant with Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. May I rest in the certainty that Your every sovereign promise will always be kept. Please reveal to me any place where I am, like Baruch, too obsessed with my own stuff to notice what You are doing all around me. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (Habakkuk 1 – 3)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (Habakkuk 1 – 3)

Habakkuk is estimated to have been written variously around 600 to 650 BC. He prophesied the destruction of the Chaldeans just prior to the fall of Jerusalem.

He pleaded with God to explain why the law was not causing sin to end.

He seemed to suffer some of the same confusion as Job and others who were unable to see the big picture – and thus questioned God’s actions.

[Note: God answered Habakkuk’s questions but
ignored his apparent unintentional insolence.]

God would allow the Babylonians to be His instrument of terrible punishment but then they, because they’d imagine themselves to be gods, would also be punished.

Habakkuk was given a word of hope “Look, the one whose desires are not upright will faint from exhaustion, but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness.”

Habakkuk reviewed recent events in history and the Lord’s promises “I will rejoice because of the Lord; I will be happy because of the God who delivers me! The sovereign Lord is my source of strength. He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain.”

Why would Habakkuk have failed to understand that the purpose of the law was to convict and not to make-perfect?

When have you been frustrated with sin and cried-out to the Lord?

Dear Lord, You punish the wicked, chastise the sinner, but “… the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness.” May I grow to become more and more a person of integrity so that I may be one of Your instruments of redemption in this world. I will humbly submit to Your teaching, repent of my sin, request and receive Your forgiveness, then step out in greater faith to serve You. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (2 Chronicles 36:1-21)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (2 Chronicles 36:1-21)

Note: Kings and Chronicles overlap in the reporting of historic events …

Jehoahaz son of Josiah became king but only for a few months “… the king of Egypt prevented him from ruling in Jerusalem.”

The king of Egypt then made his brother Eliakim king – and he changed his name to Jehoiakim. King Necho took Jehoahaz away to Egypt

Jehoiakim was king for eleven years but did evil before the Lord so Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took him captive along with some of the items from the temple.

His son Jehoiachin was king for three months and four days, he was also evil, and Nebuchadnezzar took him and more items from the temple to Babylon.

Zedekiah was king for eleven years during which even the priests did evil, defiling the temple, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the temple – taking the remaining treasures and those who were not killed were taken to be servants in Babylon – fulfilling the prophesy given through the prophet Jeremiah.

The foolish experiment with human kings, which the people of Israel had demanded of God, began and ended badly – just as He had warned.

Why would Jehoiakim act in rebellion against the Lord knowing the likely consequences?

Persia, the next empire to rise, was a region on the opposite side of “Sinus Persicus” (the Persian Sea) from Saudi Arabia. They would eventually control and area far larger than the Babylonians. The Persian people were Elamites, descendants of Elam, the first born son of Shem – one of the sons of Noah.

When have you experienced or observed someone entrusted with spiritual leadership choosing to do evil?

Dear Lord, You have been perfectly consistent in fulfilling your prophesies, blessings for obedience and troubles for rebellion. You have used both the faithful and unbelievers as instruments of Your sovereign plan. May I never forget that everything belongs to You, that You permit humankind great liberty to make choices, but in the great scheme of things Your sovereign will shall be done (with or without my agreement or my willing participation). May I be inclined to make myself Your instrument of blessing. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 44 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (1 Kings 24 – 25)

Daily Devotional

Week 44 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (1 Kings 24 – 25)

Jehoahaz was king for three months and did evil – so Pharoah Necho imprisoned him, levied a heavy tribute on the people, and installed Eliakim king in his place, and changed his name to Jehoiakim – he ruled for eleven years.

During this time King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked and made Jehoiakim his subject for three years.

Jehoiakim rebelled, so the Lord sent Babylonian, Syrian, Moabite, and Ammonite raiding bands to destroy Judah for generations of rebellion (highlighted by Manassah’s extreme evil).

Jehoiachin became king and ruled for three months and did evil.

God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to besiege the city and take the king and his royal court and ten thousand people prisoner, installing Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, as king in his place. He stripped the palace and temple of valuables – and he renamed Mattaniah to Zedekiah.

Zedekiah ruled for eleven years when, following his rebellion against them, the Babylonians breached the city walls and destroyed the siege-impoverished city. They killed Zedekiah’s sons as he watched, gouged-out his eyes, then took him away in chains.

Nebuchadnezzar sent his forces to destroy everything of significance in Jerusalem, including the temple, the royal palace, all of the larger houses, and the protective city walls. The remaining members of the kings court were found and executed and everyone but the poor were deported.

Gedaliah was appointed governor of the remaining people and invited the remnant military in hiding to join him, once things were safe, but they had to submit to the Babylonians. Rather than follow Gedaliah they waited a few months, returned and killed him, then fled to Egypt with the remaining people – for fear of the Babylonian’s revenge.

King Evil-Merodach of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, pardoned King Jehoiachin of Judah, gave him prestige above the other captive kings, and allowed him to join him at the royal table for the remainder of his life. [The text is unclear as
the reason for this action.]

Dear Lord, You place boundaries on Your patience, thus rebellion is not tolerated endlessly. May I remember to not presume upon Your patience with repeated sin. Your sovereign will is sometimes administered by non-Believers who are unaware that they serve Your purpose. May I be watchful for Your action in this world, always remembering that Your means to an end are always the most-perfect possible. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Jeremiah 34 – 40, Psalms 74, 79)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Jeremiah 34 – 40, Psalms 74, 79)

Jeremiah delivered the Lord’s judgment. King Zedekiah, his court, and the people of Judah had ignored God “… even if you were to defeat all the Babylonian forces fighting against you so badly that only wounded men were left lying in their tents, they would get up and burn this city down.”

He was falsely accused of intent to desert to the Babylonians, flogged and imprisoned. When the king summoned him and asked if there was word from the Lord he told him what he had before, that the Babylonians would destroy the city and take him prisoner. He asked not to be left in prison and was moved to the courtyard and given a loaf of bread a day until all of the bread in the city was gone – due to the siege.

Jeremiah was again falsely charged with treason and lowered into a muddy cistern [a shallow well] and left to die. The king was aware of the plan but said he could not prevent it. An Ethiopian official received the king’s permission to rescue him from the cistern but not the courtyard.

He was secretly summoned to the king where he repeated the requirement that he surrender or he and the city would be destroyed. He was instructed by the king to tell no one of his conversation. He remain imprisoned in the courtyard.

Just as Jeremiah had warned, the failure of the king to surrender to the Babylonians resulted in terrible consequences; not only was Jerusalem destroyed and the people taken away to Babylon “There at Riblah the king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons put to death while Zedekiah was forced to watch. The king of Babylon also had all the nobles of Judah put to death. 39:7 Then he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him bound in chains to be led off to Babylon.”

Jeremiah was protected by the orders of the Babylonian king and allowed to remain among the people. Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian was also protected for acting from faith in rescuing Jeremiah.

Gedaliah was appointed by the Babylonians to oversee the remnant people and a community rose at Mizpah. Some soldiers who had been hiding, as well as civilians who also managed to hide from the Babylonian army, joined them. “Thus they harvested a large amount of wine and dates and figs.”

The Rechabites proved that it was possible to keep ones word across many generations.

King Zedekiah was so confused that even as he deliberately ignored the Lord, and mistreated His prophet, he still asked him for help and information from God. The Lord kept providing opportunities for the people to choose faithful-obedience to Him and they persisted in rebellion.

Lord, You had to send a foreigner to rescue Jeremiah because none of his people were listening to you. May I be watchful as Your blessing may come from an unexpected source. Please reveal to me any place where I have read Your Word but have chosen to ignore it. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (Jeremiah 23 – 33)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (Jeremiah 23 – 33)

Jeremiah delivered the angry observation of God that the religious leaders were failing His people “They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered.”

Jeremiah was threatened by the political and religious leaders, even put on trial, but one key leader used his influence to protect him.

Jeremiah was challenged by the false prophets but he challenged them right back in the authority of the Lord.

He prophesied that – after 75 years in Babylon – God would also rescue the people who were His, and that He would destroy any who troubled them.

He prophesied that there would be a new covenant where “… each person will die for his own sins.” and knowledge of the Lord would be individualized “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people.” and all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

Rebellious religious leaders generally represent a rebellious people and that is why the people were not innocent when God condemned the apostate leaders. In the midst of chronic rebellion the Lord still sought a reason for hope among the exiles in Babylon. The Lord would rescue contrite and repentant people.

When have you been in a difficult situation and realized that the only way out was to turn fully away from your heart-condition (repent) and to surrender to the Lordship of Christ?

When have you been faced with a lengthy wait to accomplish or to be liberated and found yourself tempted by potential short-cuts?

When have you been troubled and it was only the Lord’s promise of Heaven that could bring you certain joy?

Dear Lord, Your great plan included a purge and punishment of Israel and Judah and a desire to rescue and restore those whose hearts had turned toward You. May I be careful to keep my eyes and heart on You so that I do not require Your discipline. Please reveal where I need to make changes in my parenting, dealing with family and friends, in the classroom or the workplace, or in some other context. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Jeremiah 11:18 – 22)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Jeremiah 11:18 – 22)

Jeremiah confronted the people with the Lord’s summary of choices and consequences.

Jeremiah shared God’s description of the terrible end for Jerusalem and Judah.

Jeremiah asked the Lord for a wisdom-teaching “Lord, you have always been fair whenever I have complained to you. However, I would like to speak with you about the disposition of justice. Why are wicked people successful? Why do all dishonest people have such easy lives? … The Lord answered, “If you have raced on foot against men and they have worn you out, how will you be able to compete with horses? And if you feel secure only in safe and open country, how will you manage in the thick undergrowth along the Jordan River?” – essentially, he was reminded that it was not in his strength or wisdom that he would complete the ministry of God.

Jeremiah was told how to reply when the people feigned ignorance of the reason for their terrible punishment “Why has the Lord threatened us with such great disaster? What wrong have we done? What sin have we done to offend the Lord our God?’” he was to “… tell them that the Lord says, ‘It is because your ancestors rejected me and paid allegiance to other gods. They have served them and worshiped them. But they have rejected me and not obeyed my law. And you have acted even more wickedly than your ancestors! Each one of you has followed the stubborn inclinations of your own wicked heart and not obeyed me.”

The Lord promised to have Jeremiah’s back – and He demonstrated it to Jeremiah – first making him aware of a secret plot against him, then describing the terrible consequences for the plotters. (The blessing and suffering experienced by the people was always linked to their obedience.)

Jeremiah was publicly flogged and placed in the stocks at the order of the priest who was responsible for Temple security. When was released he announced the Lord’s specific curse upon that priest, his family, and his friends.

Is it possible that the Lord allowed the flogging of Jeremiah to jog him loose from his reluctance to pronounce condemnation upon the rebellious people?

When the term “destined” was used it did not imply fatalistic-predestination but merely God’s perfect awareness of where their choices and circumstances would lead. Just as the fire of hell is described as “never going out”, so it was written here “… you have made my anger burn like a fire that will never be put out.”, but it isn’t intended to teach that God’s anger would literally rage eternally.

Dear Lord, The responsibility for the destiny of the people was upon them, You had given them generations of grace and now temporal justice and law had to be satisfied. May I recognize that You still balance grace and justice and that there is a difference between Your present-day chastising and hard-knocks teaching and Your perfect and final eternal judgment. Reveal to me a place in my life where fear has caused me to resist telling Your story and testifying to Your truth. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Jeremiah 1 – 11:17)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Jeremiah 1 – 11:17)

Jeremiah’s calling was a powerful one “… get yourself ready! Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say. Do not be terrified of them, or I will give you good reason to be terrified of them. I, the Lord, hereby promise to make you as strong as a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall. You will be able to stand up against all who live in the land, including the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and all the people of the land. They will attack you but they will not be able to overcome you, for I will be with you to rescue you,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah was instructed to remind the people of their early faithfulness, followed by unfaithfulness, then what the Lord described as “spiritual adultery”.

He proclaimed God’s challenge for seeking protection from pagan foreign governments and His ridicule for trusting pagan idols “They say to a wooden idol, ‘You are my father.’ They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’ Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me. Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’

Jeremiah shared the frustration of the Lord with their arrogant presumption “Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father! You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young. You will not always be angry with me, will you? You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’ That is what you say, but you continually do all the evil that you can.”

Jeremiah delivered God’s plea to Israel to repent of their sinful rebellion so that he might forgive, reconcile, and restore them – even reuniting them with Judah.

He was assigned to deliver a tribulation and then to observe their response, he said “All of them are the most stubborn of rebels! They are as hard as bronze or iron. They go about telling lies. They all deal corruptly. The fiery bellows of judgment burn fiercely. But there is too much dross to be removed. The process of refining them has proved useless. The wicked have not been purged. They are regarded as ‘rejected silver’ because the Lord rejects them.”

Jeremiah was heartsick.

Jeremiah delivered God’s wisdom, which the apostle Paul later paraphrased “If people want to boast, they should boast about this: They should boast that they understand and know me. They should boast that they know and understand that I, the Lord, act out of faithfulness, fairness, and justice in the earth and that I desire people to do these things,” says the Lord.”

Dear Lord, When You called Jeremiah You made it clear that he was to be fearless in his work for You. May I also, with Your indwelling presence through the Holy Spirit, be fearless. The foolish idolatry of false gods breaks the covenant of intimacy with You. May I learn from the past and be careful to place nothing between You and me. I will be a “good Berean”, consulting the Word, and will ask fellow Believers to pray in-agreement for clarity and courage. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (Zephaniah 1 – 3)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (Zephaniah 1 – 3)

The prophet Zephaniah served at about the same time as Nahum, approximately between 650 and 600 BC. He prophesied to all of Israel and in some ways to all people.

He explained why God was angry and warned that the day of judgment was coming soon.

Zephaniah proclaimed the justice and mercy of the Lord “Seek the Lord’s favor, all you humble people of the land who have obeyed his commands! Strive to do what is right! Strive to be humble! Maybe you will be protected on the day of the Lord’s angry judgment.”

He challenged the people of Jerusalem “The just Lord resides within her; he commits no unjust acts. Every morning he reveals his justice. At dawn he appears without fail. Yet the unjust know no shame.”

Zephaniah concluded with hope from God Who “… will rescue the lame sheep and gather together the scattered sheep. I will take away their humiliation and make the whole earth admire and respect them. At that time I will lead you – at the time I gather you together. Be sure of this! I will make all the nations of the earth respect and admire you when you see me restore you,” says the Lord.”

The judgment of God would come against every nation, first in judgment-to-purify Israel, then in judgment to punish the pagan nations.

How is it that “The just Lord resides within her …” [Jerusalem] – yet they fell into such sin?

How does the same explanation apply to Christians in whom the Holy Spirit of God resides?

Dear Lord, You always offer hope, even as you punish us – Your ultimate purpose is to purify the willing and to purge the unwilling. May I be teachable so that You will not need to take extreme measures to purify me. Today I will celebrate and give praise for the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit and I commit myself to a more intentional walk so as to not offend You. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (2 Kings 22 – 23, 2 Chronicles 34 – 35)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (2 Kings 22 – 23, 2 Chronicles 34 – 35)

Josiah became king at the age of eight. By the time he was sixteen he was inquiring about the expectations of God and thus he went throughout the land to remove the altars to the false gods.

During his thirty-one years as king Josiah restored the faithful leadership of his grandfather, Hezekiah, following the rebellious leadership of his father Manassah.

Josiah destroyed every evil thing that Manassah had built and located and destroyed that which even his grandfather had missed.

Josiah instructed that the Temple be repaired. He instructed the priests to gather and melt silver for the repair of the temple and as the construction progressed and the silver was being transferred they discovered a scroll.

When the scroll was read aloud to Josiah he discovered that the Lord was angry with Israel and Judah for rebellion. Josiah was heart-sick and tore his clothes and wept, then instructed the priests to get an oracle from the Lord via a prophet(ess) of God.

He commanded the people to gather to renew their vow of obedience before God. He also restored the Passover celebration which had been neglected during the entire period of the kings.

The prophesy contained in the scrolls was that the Lord intended to bring complete disaster upon the people for their rebellion but because Josiah responded righteously to the contents of the scroll he would not see that terrible day.

In his thirty-first year as king Josiah led his forces against the kings of Assyria and Egypt. He was killed in battle because he neglected to consult God before the battle.

Dear Lord, You know the hearts of every person among even a huge nation of people, thus even the right heart of a single king cannot redeem a people bent upon rebellion. May I constantly check my heart-condition with Your Holy Spirit so that I never drift into a rebellious mind-set. You allow us to choose to repent – turn away – and to return to You, and You bless us when we do. May I be faithful to respond with humble repentance every time your Holy Spirit shows me where I have had any part in disobedience. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 43 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (Nahum 1 -3)

Daily Devotional

Week 43 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (Nahum 1 -3)

Nahum prophesied to Ninevah about a century after Jonah’s visit. They had drifted back into their pre-Jonah evil ways.

“From you, O Nineveh, one has marched forth who plots evil against the Lord, a wicked military strategist. ”

“Woe to the city guilty of bloodshed! She is full of lies; she is filled with plunder; she has hoarded her spoil!”

He described Ninevah’s great power to destroy other nations, including the Lord’s permission for them to destroy Israel and Judah as judgment, then stated that they faced even worse punishment – for they had sinned far worse than those whom they conquered.

Nahum declared “The Lord is good – indeed, he is a fortress in time of distress, and he protects those who seek refuge in him. But with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of Nineveh; he will drive his enemies into darkness.”

Ninevah had a wonderful opportunity to start-over and to receive blessings from the Lord, but they instead returned to their pagan and violent ways of the past.

Why would the Ninevites have drifted backward?

When have you experienced, or observed, the giving of a second chance that was squandered due to a return to bad behavior?

Dear Lord, You offered Ninevah mercy through Jonah but they had forgotten You and returned to their evil ways, thus You judged them. Please reveal to me where I am backsliding some. I will repent and make the necessary adjustments to resist backsliding – including inviting a fellow Believer to hold me accountable and to pray in-agreement with me. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 42 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Isaiah 60 – 66)

Daily Devotional

Week 42 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Isaiah 60 – 66)

Isaiah encouraged his listeners to see themselves in a promised – but not yet actualized – state of presence with the Lord God “… look, darkness covers the earth and deep darkness covers the nations, but the Lord shines on you; his splendor appears over you.”

The term “Israel” had been moving from literal to figurative in the Lord God’s communication through His prophets for many decades and here it shifts completely to the figurative “You will no longer be called, “Abandoned,” and your land will no longer be called “Desolate.” Indeed, you will be called “My Delight is in Her,” and your land “Married.” For the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married to him. As a young man marries a young woman, so your sons will marry you. As a bridegroom rejoices over a bride, so your God will rejoice over you.”

Isaiah used the symbolism of agriculture for a spiritual purpose “The Lord swears an oath by his right hand, by his strong arm: “I will never again give your grain to your enemies as food, and foreigners will not drink your wine, which you worked hard to produce. But those who harvest the grain will eat it, and will praise the Lord. Those who pick the grapes will drink the wine in the courts of my holy sanctuary.”

Isaiah reported the challenge of the Lord God “I made myself available to those who did not ask for me; I appeared to those who did not look for me. I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!’ to a nation that did not invoke my name. I spread out my hands all day long to my rebellious people, who lived in a way that is morally unacceptable, and who did what they desired.”

He observed that the Lord God would “choose” those who responded to Him and would reject those who rejected Him “But as for you who abandon the Lord and forget about worshiping at my holy mountain, who prepare a feast for the god called ‘Fortune,’ and fill up wine jugs for the god called ‘Destiny’ – I predestine you to die by the sword, all of you will kneel down at the slaughtering block, because I called to you, and you did not respond, I spoke and you did not listen. You did evil before me; you chose to do what displeases me.”

Dear Lord, When humankind could not provide a champion to meet the demands of Your perfect and holy justice, You came down from Heaven and provided Your way for us. Although it is impossible for me to ever properly thank You, may my heart be broken with gratitude every time Your Holy Spirit reminds me of what You have done. You exist as a Trinity of persons, yet are One. Mere humankind cannot fully understand this, just as humankind cannot comprehend other things about God. You desire to make the willing whole and to then welcome us to dwell with You. May I grow in a spiritual sense of Your vision for my future, and that of Your other children, that I may be strengthened for service. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 42 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (Isaiah 55 – 5 9)

Daily Devotional

Week 42 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (Isaiah 55 – 59)

The redemption made possible by Jesus was likened to a temporarily fractured marriage “Indeed, the Lord will call you back like a wife who has been abandoned and suffers from depression, like a young wife when she has been rejected,” “For a short time I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In a burst of anger I rejected you momentarily, but with lasting devotion I will have compassion on you,” says your protector, the Lord.”

God said “Seek the Lord while he makes himself available; call to him while he is nearby! The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle and sinful people their plans. They should return to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them, and to their God, for he will freely forgive them.”

“I dwell in an exalted and holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order to cheer up the humiliated and to encourage the discouraged. For I will not be hostile forever or perpetually angry, for then man’s spirit would grow faint before me, the life-giving breath I created.”

God said “… this is the kind of fast I want. I want you to remove the sinful chains, to tear away the ropes of the burdensome yoke, to set free the oppressed, and to break every burdensome yoke. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to provide shelter for homeless, oppressed people. When you see someone naked, clothe him! Don’t turn your back on your own flesh and blood!”

Distance from the Lord God is always our fault, He stands ready and willing to reconcile and to restore, but “For this reason deliverance is far from us and salvation does not reach us. We wait for light, but see only darkness; we wait for a bright light, but live in deep darkness.”

The consequence of rebellion is always apparent in the form of a troubled civilization “We stir up oppression and rebellion; we tell lies we concocted in our minds. Justice is driven back; godliness stands far off. Indeed, honesty stumbles in the city square and morality is not even able to enter. Honesty has disappeared; the one who tries to avoid evil is robbed. The Lord watches and is displeased, for there is no justice.”

Dear Lord, May I never believe nor tolerate the belief that there is anything remotely like a “cheap and easy grace”. There is no eternal grace absent genuine repentance; an honest confession, turning away from sin/rebellion, requesting and receiving forgiveness, and surrendering everything to the Lordship of Christ. You are our hope and our accountability; our relationship with You is on Your terms and not ours. May I learn to know you better so that I may live rightly before You. You hold us accountable and expect us to hold one-another accountable. You want a real relationship with us, and You want us to have real relationships with one-another, relationships characterized by love and not legalistic rituals and selfish expectations. May I reflect daily on my progress toward maturity in a life that is lived as You would have it, not as the world teaches. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 42 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Isaiah 49 – 55)

Daily Devotional

Week 42 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Isaiah 49 – 55)

God explained why the nation of Israel was no longer blessed, except symbolically “… you were sold because of your sins; because of your rebellious acts I divorced your mother.”

Jesus was prophesied, in the moments following His false trial, conviction, and abuse “… his form was so marred he no longer looked human …” and upon His return … he will startle many nations … Kings will be shocked by his exaltation, for they will witness something unannounced to them, and they will understand something they had not heard about.”

Jesus “… sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him … He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.” “But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.”

Pre-Cross “He was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth. He was led away after an unjust trial – but who even cared?” Assuming our sin “… he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.”

“They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.”

The demand of perfect justice meant that “… the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see [spiritual] descendants and enjoy long [eternal] life, and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.” “My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins.” “So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up [or
off] the [eternal consequences of] sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”

Wisdom: “Seek the Lord while he makes himself available; call to him while he is nearby! The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle and sinful people their plans. They should return to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them, and to their God, for he will freely forgive them.”

Lord, when we act against You, we harm our relationship with You. Today I will joyfully surrender that place in my life that is not right before You. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 42 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Isaiah 42 – 48)

Daily Devotional

Week 42 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Isaiah 42 – 48)

Isaiah said that God would restore Himself as their king and that what was to come was completely separate from the past and that none of those time and place-specific miracles were relevant to what He was about to do “Don’t remember these earlier events; don’t recall these former events. “Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it?”

He then challenged them, much as He previously challenged Job, to show how they were right and He was wrong “Remind me of what happened! Let’s debate! You, prove to me that you are right!” and that His desire is repentance, reconciliation, and restoration “I, I am the one who blots out your rebellious deeds for my sake; your sins I do not remember.”

God challenged the absurdity of idolatry “This is what the Lord, Israel’s king, says, their protector, the Lord who commands armies: “I am the first and I am the last, there is no God but me.” “All who form idols are nothing; the things in which they delight are worthless. Their witnesses cannot see; they recognize nothing, so they are put to shame.”

The Lord would commission Cyrus “… the one I appointed as shepherd to carry out all my wishes and to decree concerning Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and concerning the temple, ‘It will be reconstructed.’”

God would call and equip Persian king Cyrus, despite being neither an Israelite nor a gentile Believer in Him “For the sake of my servant Jacob, Israel, my chosen one, I call you by name and give you a title of respect, even though you do not recognize me.”

The phrase in these texts “I formed you in the womb” is interesting since it describes both the nation of Israel and Cyrus the man, therefore it is not a literal but a figurative illustration.

When have you been ‘rescued’ by an unlikely person, someone clearly sent by the Lord, but not a fellow Believer?

Dear Lord, You love Your children but You do not tolerate disobedience and rebellion. You are so faithful even as we are unfaithful. May I recognize and honor Your grace through a humble heart that repents of sin and cries-out for Your reconciliation and restoration of my relationship with You. You alone are God, there is no other. May I praise You for Your lovingkindness, Your unchanging justice, and Your promise of eternity to Your children. You decide whom You will rescue and whom You will punish; Your justice is perfect and your power irresistible. You require of us that we repent, be reconciled to You, and then our relationship will be restored to pre-Fall purity. May I praise You for Your enduring love. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 42 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (Isaiah 40 – 41)

Daily Devotional

Week 42 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (Isaiah 40 – 41)

Isaiah lifted praise for the mercy and provision of the Lord God to His children “But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.”

Isaiah, rhetorically-challenged the false gods to display their histories of accurate fore-telling prophesy, or to make some new ones right then and there. Then he declared “Look, you are nothing, and your accomplishments are nonexistent; the one who chooses to worship you is disgusting.”

Ridiculing the false gods, and those who followed them, was a powerful way to illustrate their powerlessness and absence of positive value.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Lord God will one day return and restore the earth to pre-Fall conditions, but His new creation will be absent any possibility for sin ever again.

The nations, even rebellious Israel, often forgot the all-powerful Lord God and pridefully imagined that they were purely the makers of their own destiny – when it had often been obvious that the hand of God was upon history.

When one reviews the amazing characteristics of the Lord God one is struck with awe.

An eagle is symbolic of majestic power – but it is, like humankind, dependent upon God’s creation to exist and to perform.

When have you been exhausted emotionally and/or spiritually and the Lord God breathed new strength into you?

Dear Lord, You assure us that You will one day return and make things right. May I praise You daily and rest in the certainty that my eternity is safe in Your hands. You are omnipotent and holy, and You are perfectly and righteously disgusted with false gods and those who follow them – as they are the inventions of Satan. May I be careful to avoid anything like an idol or a superstition or anything else that displaces You in my life. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 42 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (Psalms 135, 46, 2 Kings 20, 2 Kings 21, 2 Chronicles 33, Psalms 80)

Daily Devotional

Week 42 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (Psalms 135, 46, 2 Kings 20, 2 Kings 21, 2 Chronicles 33, Psalms 80)

Psalm 135 is praise with wisdom “The nations’ idols are made of silver and gold, they are man-made. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see, and ears, but cannot hear. Indeed, they cannot breathe. Those who make them will end up like them, as will everyone who trusts in them.”

Manasseh ruled Judah for fifty-five years and reversed all of the good that his father Hezekiah had done. He restored all of the prior places and rituals and symbols of the false gods and added more.

God declared “I will wipe Jerusalem clean … I will abandon this last remaining tribe among my people … they … have angered me from the time their ancestors left Egypt right up to this very day!”

Manasseh was dragged away by the Assyrians but repented and God rescued him – he turned-away from his sins, then he died. His son Amnon followed in his evil ways for two years until he was murdered. His killers were executed and his son Josiah became king.

While Hezekiah had been the most faithful king in the history of the Israelites, but unlike the prophets, he valued his earthly existence too greatly.

There is an implicit principle, beyond the power of the king’s bad choices to bring harm upon the nation, that the people are equally culpable because they demanded a human king “like the nations around them”, and because they did not refuse to participate in his urging of them to do evil before God.

When have you observed a Christian clinging to life, like Hezekiah, as if they didn’t really trust the Lord for their eternity?

Dear Lord, Sometimes when we cling to the things of this world – and make of them idols – You allow us to have them, but the consequences are usually bad. May I cling only to the things which You give, and invest every day I have in this world to serve You. I will refrain from boasting or inappropriately disclosing personal and/or private information to those who have no legitimate need to know. If I have a need to share I will do so with those whom the Lord God has brought into my intimate circle of Christian friends. If You reveal that I may be a poor role model to a child, friend, or other associate, or I am tolerating something which I should not, and which allows evil to enter or flourish when it need not, I will purge it – both for the sake of my right-standing before the You and for the sake of others. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 42 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (2 Kings 18.9 – 19, 2 Chronicles 32)

Daily Devotional

Week 42 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (2 Kings 18.9 – 19, 2 Chronicles 32)

The nation of Israel had been decimated by the king of Assyria because they had refused to be faithful to the Lord God.

The king of Assyria then threatened Jerusalem, including blaspheming God, and the rest of what was left of Judah.

Hezekiah attempted to placate the Assyrian leader with silver and gold to keep them from invading, destroying Judah and Jerusalem, and deporting and enslaving the people – as they had Israel.

The king of Assyria pressed ahead with his plan to obliterate Judah and to destroy Jerusalem.

Why would the Assyrians challenge the God of Hezekiah, and demand their complete surrender, when they could have received service and tribute from Judah as a subject-state?

Hezekiah recognized the threat of Assyria but seemed more upset about the insult to the Lord than he was about the impending battle.

When have you felt threatened and appealed to the Lord God for protection?

Dear Lord, It was always obvious what every king before him should have done, but only Hezekiah was obedient and teachable enough to do the right thing before You. It is a dangerous thing indeed for a mere human king or his associates to mock the living an all-powerful God, Your patience with man is not without boundaries. May I be careful with my own words, and advise others to do so as well, because You deserve our respect. Amen. dmc2016