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It struck me as well how things were going from bad to worse...how leaving a godless life was leading the people of Judah and Israel to a life of hideous crimes.As everything else it only takes one step at a time...one day without praying,another without reading the bible.
So many times I see the name of God and Jesus uttered in vain...Today the name of Jesus is used to exploit people,sometimes it is even cursed...Like Israel of old....the sins of the world are really running over.We want to worship ourselves using God's name as a means to do so...seeking God only for benefits....May God help us all become true worshippers in spirit and in truth.
God bless you all

Mike,

>>And so D called on patriotism and loyalty to Artemis to go against Paul's truthful teaching. I wonder if we in our lives today ever choose our finances over God? >>

I would like to add, how many use “patriotism and loyalty” as a cover for their true financial, physical, and material interest? Growing up on households where church leadership used those three covers as smoke and mirrors to hide behind sexual depravity, I am always skeptical of folks who use Christianity and its tenets of faith to gather up a posse. We get riled up in an emotional tirade by their pitting Christianity against a perceived societal or legal wrong, wrongly or rightly, in such a way that we fail to examine the facts as well as the person putting forth the accusations. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you shoot your brains out

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Everything we are reading and seeing in the Book of II Kings dealing with Israel right now can be summed up by two passages:

When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but when the ruler is a man of discernment, understanding, and knowledge, its stability will long continue. (Proverbs 28:2 AMP)

Jesus sums up the consequences of rooting out evil and depravity (Jehu), getting the house in order, yet not filling it with anything, righteousness being left in the “streets.”

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease); and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. And when it arrives, it finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.
(Luke 11:24-26 AMP)


The above two passages not only speak to Israel it speaks to our lives, personal and corporate. Having a great looking body, controlled by rules and regulations—do’s and don’t—does not make a Believer. I like what John wrote yesterday about worship, especially the part about …false worshipers worshiping the True God. Truly, the state of Israel after Jehu was became worse then before him.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

On a lighter but pointed note, has anyone ever expierenced the words of Acts 19:32 in a meeting of some kind, especially church meeting, "Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn't even know why they were there." I realize this statement is made of a bunch of pagans, but I've experienced the same out of control 'group dynamic' in several churches I've been a part of. No wonder Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14 that "all things must be done decently and in order."

I like this verse and comment from Psalm 147:
“Rather, the LORD's delight is in those who honor him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love."

Do you put his hope in his unfailing love? Or do you rely on your own strength?
~~~

All of life on earth, in this fallen world, seems dedicated to drawing us away to distractions from the one true thing.

It is NOT wrong to have strong desires. It is wrong, however, to let seemingly “innocent” desires—even for good things—to grow into strong desires that take us away from delighting in the Lord.

And, of course, it is wrong to allow “small” evil desires for what is sinful to develop into strong desires that we later cannot control.

Yet, as I read this morning in an excellent devotional book, “…the devil can dangle a carrot in front of your face, but there is something inside you that actually wants the carrot. You aren’t lustful because some demon comes on you. You are lustful because you have within you a desire for what isn’t right. Jesus said, ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man…’ (Matthew 15:19, 20). The devil can appeal to that lust, but he did not create it. It’s already in us.”

Again, the correct understanding of the nature of reality and the nature of God is key. If there is no God, there is no right or wrong—only human opinion and the military force to back up one opinion versus another.

Satan and/or darkness are not equals with God. Only God can create. The only thing Satan can do is pervert what God has already created.

So we see the extremely sad saga of the northern kings, that they chose evil. Wow! I know that sin is deceptive, and that it appears to be the best way even though it is killing us because it distorts our feelings and perceptions.

Yet, it seems amazing to me that while watching their fathers get judged by the Lord directly or through circumstances that at least one son—a future king of Israel—did not realize that what their fathers were doing was not working.

Just from a practical point of view, I would think that the son would have realized, “What my father as king is doing is not working. Therefore, I will be different and seek the Lord.”

Yet, the darkness of sin is very deceptive, and one cannot see outside of that bubble without seriously determining to forsake sin and seek the Lord. It can be painful, but it is worth it.

Psalm 147 (NKJV)
1
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.
2
The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
4
He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
5
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
6
The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.

Proverbs 18 (NKJV)
4
The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.

NOTE:
It is good to meditate on the reality and goodness of the Lord.

A choice to set aside time for thanksgiving and praise is one good way to do this. And, the words that we speak to and over ourselves are extremely important. We can speak the wisdom of God over us—and establish us in God and His Word—or we can speak foolishness.

May we abide or “remain” where God has already planted us—in Christ Jesus—by delighting in His Word and His Presence.

John 15 (NKJV)
7
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Vance

2Kings15

It was late yesterday when I posted this link to chart of Kings of Judah and Israel.
http://www.geocities.com/thekingsofisrael/kings.html

Uzziah
(AKA Azariah)

Why was Azariah (Uzziah) afflicted with leprosy?

Unfortunately, later in his 52-year reign Uzziah presumed to alter the worship of the LORD, placing himself in the spotlight by entering the temple and burning incense, a duty reserved by the LORD for the priests only. A group of 81 priests confronted the king, informing him of his violation — a courageous act, given the unquestioned power of the king in those days. Uzziah became furious. While he raged at the priests, the LORD showed his support for the priests by afflicting Uzziah with leprosy, which became immediately visible on his forehead. As no leprous person was permitted in the temple, the priests began urging the now-unclean king to leave. Uzziah, himself in a panic, rushed away.

Uzziah never recovered from leprosy. For the rest of his life he lived in seclusion, and his son Jotham acted as king during his absence.
http://www.geocities.com/thekingsofisrael/biography_Uzziah.html

Kings of Israel
Four of the five kings listed in this reading were assasinated. Some after very brief reigns. I am not so sure it was a brilliant career move to desire the "king's role" in Israel????

Ahaz of Judah

King Ahaz devoted himself to pagan worship and its associated evil, touring the nation building shrines, and seeking the aid of every powerless religion he knew of. He even sacrificed his own sons, burning them alive in a ritual to the idol Molech. As a result of his infidelity, the LORD opposed Ahaz' administration, and during his 16-year reign Judah lost the empire built by his grandfather King Uzziah and his father King Jotham, suffered constant military raids by neighbors, and even lost national sovereignty, becoming a vassal to Assyria

http://www.geocities.com/thekingsofisrael/biography_Ahaz.html

"He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree."

When did he have time to rule?????

There is some dispute as to what the sacrifices to Molech were like. Whatever they were they were prohibited for Jews as mentioned five times in Leviticus. (eight times overall in Bible)
http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/words/m/1151621125-6378.html

For what it's worth the rabbinical description of Molech sacrifices was:

Moloch was represented as a huge bronze statue with the head of a bull. The statue was hollow, and inside there burned a fire which colored the Moloch a glowing red. Children were placed on the hands of the statue. Through an ingenious system the hands were raised to the mouth (as if Moloch were eating) and the children fell into the fire where they were consumed by the flames. The people gathered before the Moloch were dancing on the sounds of flutes and tambourines to drown out the screams of the victims.

A different rabbinical tradition says that the idol was hollow and was divided into seven compartments, in one of which they put flour, in the second turtle-doves, in the third a ewe, in the fourth a ram, in the fifth a calf, in the sixth an ox, and in the seventh a child, which were all burnt together by heating the statue inside.

Let's see: Ahaz worshipped everywhere possible, possibly sacrificed to Molech, used silver and gold from Temple treasury to buy Assyria's help, and finally altered the temple from God's instructions to the way he desired the configuration.....led to King Ahaz' contribution as King......
...through evil practices and poor leadership, lost all the two previous generations had gained, and lost national sovereignty as well, leaving Judah a vassal of Assyria.


Acts 19

I think the best commentary I have seen giving detail as to the Ephesian artisans, Artemis, and political climate of Ephesus is here:
http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/index.php?action=getCommentaryText&cid=5&source=1&seq=i.51.19.1

Artemis and Ephesus
(Excerpts from link above)

The catalyst for the disturbance is Demetrius, a manufacturer of silver shrines of Artemis. These were plaques, silver reliefs of the goddess within her temple. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has a second/first-century B.C. bronze matrix of Artemis in her temple (Reeder 1987). It is the form into which a sheet of silver or bronze was pressed to make such a plaque. Once dedicated in the Great Temple of Artemis, these would serve local worshipers and pilgrims as votive offerings, family worship centers, amulets or just souvenirs.....

...The temple of the great goddess Artemis, the pride of Ephesus and Asia, will be reckoned as nothing. It may be hard for Demetrius's hearers to imagine that this structure could totally lose its value in the eyes of the world. After all, Antipater deemed it one of the seven wonders of the world. Its precincts covered an area 425 225 feet, four times the size of the Parthenon, with 127 sixty-foot columns. It was the foremost worship center of Asia and a world-renowned bank (Pausanias Description of Greece 7.5.4; Dio Chrysostom Orations 31.54)....

... In Rome the Aventine temple of Diana (Roman equivalent of Artemis) had a statue modeled on the Ephesian type, and on the occasion of the marriage of Emperor Claudius to Agrippina, commemorative coins were struck at Ephesus with the profiles of the newlyweds on one side and a figure of the statue with the legend "Diana Ephesia" on the other (Kreitzer 1987:61).....

....The theater (capacity twenty-four thousand) was the largest and most impressive of all structures in ancient Ephesus. Built into the steep western slope of Mount Pion with a view of the city and the broad street to the sea, it was used for large gatherings of inhabitants, as well as the citizens' assembly (Finegan 1981:162).
======================================================
The chant Great Diana of the Ephesians! must have sent a chill up the backs of the Christians, including Paul who no doubt could hear it from outside the theater.

i. “The noise must have been deafening. The acoustics of the theater are excellent even today and at that time were even better because of bronze and clay sounding vessels placed throughout the auditorium.” (Williams)

======================================================

Once again an offshoot of Gallio's line of thought prevails, and due to the persuasive speech of the city clerk (a very high position in the city)the crowd disperses.

The last point of four the clerk makes is very important:

Ephesus is a "free city": Rome had granted it self-government, so sure was she of its citizens' loyalty. It never suffered the indignity of having garrison troops quartered in it as, say, Jerusalem did. It was an assize town, where major court trials were held, and the centre, too, for the Pan-Ionian Games. Ephesus witnessed often the pageantry, pomp and splendour that was Rome.

If a riot took place with needless bloodshed - then Rome would show up and squash the insurgency and at best establish a garrison and roman pro-consul there - something the Ephesians did not want to happen.

Once again through slightly different means - God's soverignty is in view as the church seems to be protected from the years 50 A.D. to around 60 A.D. by secular reasoning. Again this allows it time to grow past infant stage - to a stage where it would be impossible to stamp out Christianity.

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