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2 Kings 23:31-25:30 ~ Acts 22:17-23:10
Psalm 2:1-12 ~ Proverbs 18:13
Old Testament - Today we finish up the book of Second Kings! First Chronicles begins tomorrow! It is an incredibly sad day of readings in 2 Kings today... literally, it's the end of the Kings. We finish up the day's readings with a "governor" of Judah - who was quickly assassinated - and the former King of Judah living in exile in Babylon. Yes, Babylon has taken the stage. Babylon, which we will read much more about in the book of Daniel and some of the books of the prophets later this year. This map below shows the scope of the Babylonian Empire in the late 7th through early 6th centuries B.C.:
In today's readings we are introduced to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The readings move at a fast pace in 2 Kings 24 & 25. However, later this year in the Bible we'll get many more details leading up to the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile. Very sad readings today in 2 Kings 25 verse 9 when the Temple of the Lord is burned in Jerusalem by Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, and the Babylonian army!
So, why did the exile happen? Judah's exile from the Promised Land was the most dire of the covenant curses for disobedience from Leviticus 26:14-39 (see verse 33 in particular) and Deuteronomy 28:15-68 (see verse 36 in particular). Below is an image of the blind and chained Zedekiah being deported to Babylon in today's readings from a 14th century French Bible:
The book of Second Kings closes out today with hope for Israel's royal line to continue through King Jehoiachin, who is exiled in Babylon. With God there is always hope! More to come on the fall, exile, and restoration of Israel in our readings later this year. Below is an image courtesy of lavistachurchofchrist.org of 2 Kings 25:27: "In the thirty-seventh year of King Jehoiachin's exile in Babylon, Evil-merodach ascended to the Babylonian throne. He was kind to Jehoiachin and released him from prison on April 2 of that year."
New Testament - Today at the end of Acts 22 Paul threw out this incendiary statement that shocked the crowd: ""But the Lord said to me, `Leave Jerusalem, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!'" This reminds me that the Gospel today still shocks people. The Gospel is still moving forward in our world to people that we sometimes may not think "deserve" it, like this crowd didn't think the Gentiles deserved relationship with "their" God of Israel. God is bigger than we think He is. God is pursuing the whole world. Let us pray he continues to shock crowds like he did in Acts 22... It's so interesting - looking at this image below of Paul's presence and words creating chaos in a crowd and the Roman guards being there in the midst. This is so reminiscent of Jesus' final day in Jerusalem before he walked up the hill to Golgotha. Think Paul was emulating his Savior? How about you? Are you emulating your Savior? Or are you playing it safe?
We can see Paul's wisdom at work in today's Acts readings! First he shares at the appropriate time that he is a Roman citizen - by birth - which means he cannot be punished until proven guilty.
Then, before the High Council he wisely throws out in Acts 23 verse 6 - ""Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were all my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!" This instantly divides the Pharisees and Sadducees at the council - and allows things to get heated enough that the soldiers take Paul out of the council for his safety. Bible.org's fantastic look at "Paul's Trial before the Sanhedrin" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 2 today is a prophetic and Messianic Psalm! This Psalm is frequently quoted in the New Testament in reference to Jesus as God's Anointed and the great son of King David. The word "Messiah" comes from the Hebrew word for "anointed one". And the word "Christ" comes from the Greek word for "anointed one". (as we read Anointed One in verse 2 of this Psalm today)
Verses 11 & 12 in this Psalm are encouraging and also a strong warning for us at the same time- "Serve the LORD with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. Submit to God's royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of your pursuits--for his anger can flare up in an instant. But what joy for all who find protection in him!" I think the closing sentence should be a huge encouragement to us. If we are seeking to love God and Jesus and other people with all of our hearts, mind, strength and souls - God knows it. And he will provide eternal protection for us. Yes, there will be suffering in this life - but joy can be found in knowing that we will have an eternity to spend with God and his royal son.
Bible.org's commentary on Psalm 2 is at this link.
Proverbs - Proverbs 18 verse 13 today teaches us: "What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening to the facts!" This is a great reminder to actually listen to people instead of immediately espousing our own wise advice! :) Listening... it sometimes seems to be a lost human skill these days... Are you listening? Who are you listening to? Are you listening to God? Are you listening with love to others in your life?
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!