Posts Tagged ‘2 Chronicles’
- Chronicle Lessons: (Part 1)
- Chronicle Lessons: (Part 2)
What are my takeaways from these passages from Chronicles (2 Chronicles 23-26)?
- God’s Spirit calls us to repentance. In this calling or “wooing” we often feel bad, or guilty, or convicted of our separation from God. We must remember; however, that these “feelings” of separation and conviction of guilt are not repentance in themselves…they help us to be aware of our need for repentance. What we need is not to treat the feeling, but to address the problem that has resulted in the conviction of guilt and separation. We need to turn away from ourselves and turn toward God…
- Repentance brings with it a need for radical reformation. If we are going to repent and not merely go through the motions of repentance (typically expressed by showing remorse for our actions, but never truly turning toward God), we must initiate radical reformation in our life. We can’t make the mistake of confusing this action step for “works of the Law.” Too often we fall to the Accuser’s deceptive lies that action on our part in our role and partnership of our salvation as “working for our salvation.” Do not be deceived; salvation is a work of grace alone by the hand of God… However, we do play a part in His work of grace. We participate as partners and friends of God in the sanctifying work of our salvation. Radical reformation means removal of the things from our lives that would trip us up in that work of sanctification and perfecting of our faith, and more often than not, we are the ones to initiate these. God the Holy Spirit will reveal the areas in need of reforming, but most often, we are the ones to initiate the steps to reform. This is the partnership. Radical reformation means determined turning away from any lure that would call us to the path of our former self. Another point to remember about radical reformation is this; radical reformation is not “one size fits all.” What this means is that an act of radical reformation for my journey and my life might not be necessary for someone else. Yes, there might be some areas of overlap… and common sense might reveal some of these. The important thing to remember is that I cannot assume my acts of reformation are the prescription of reformation for anyone else.
- Every believer and follower of Jesus might not be called to be a leader of people, but every believer and follower of Jesus is called to be a leader of themselves. In as much as this is true (and it is), what it means is that you will be called to invest all of yourself into the ministry of reforming yourself into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Yes, it is God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who affect this transformation in the life of the believer, but it is our wholehearted submission and availing of ourselves that allow that transformation to take place. A “half-hearted” effort in developing a living and sanctifying relationship with Jesus Christ will result in repeated failure at best and ultimate destruction at worst; neither of these scenarios are especially enticing. God has provided every means for us to successfully live and progress in our relationship with Him. We are admonished and exhorted to follow the ancient paths, but so many “christians” (at least the majority I have met) are unwilling to go this route. The route of sanctification is a life-long, joyfully difficult process. Most people in our contemporary society want or expect their process with spiritual formation and Christian perfection to be a “7 step 90 day program.” Nope. Doesn’t work like that. How it works is total submission and wholehearted obedience in every single area of our life. Whole-hearted.
- Spiritual Pride is a notorious and nefarious killer of Christians. The very worst thing about spiritual pride is how often the person most deeply afflicted by it is unaware of their affliction. Because spiritual formation and sanctification is a life-long process, a person making progress in their spiritual walk is extremely susceptible to the trapping and tripping of spiritual pride. A new (or old for that matter) Christian begins to advance in their walk with Jesus…they begin to see some progress and fruit from their efforts; perhaps the new Christian begins to be praised for their spiritual acumen and some of the victories they’ve experienced over sin-strongholds in their life. This is the perfect breeding ground for the seeds of spiritual pride to take root. We see examples of spiritual pride throughout Scripture; it was one of the things Jesus spoke most harshly about in the gospels. As mentioned in my takeaway about “wholehearted devotion,” godly community and spiritual disciplines play an important role in helping us live humble and spiritual pride-free lives.
“Preserve your church, O God, not only from renunciation or neglect of faith but also from a tepid faith that calls forth from others contempt rather than conversion. Amen.”
As I’ve been learning and re-learning these lessons from 2 Chronicles, I’ve been paralleling my reading with Scripture from the New Testament (The Gospels, Epistles, and The Revelation). I wish to share some of the elements of these readings that seemed to lend emphasis to the lessons learned from Chronicles.
- Revelation 19:7 –“…And His Bride has prepared herself.” Are we? Are we preparing ourselves? (see more here)
- Revelation 19:10 –“The essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus” Question: Are we, as followers of Christ, living “prophetically?” Is our witness a clear testimony of the power of Jesus in our lives?
- Revelation 20:1-6 –“There is a second death, and it is forever (eternal).” We don’t like to think about this; neither believers nor unbelievers like to confront this truth, but this is what Scripture teaches. Eternal separation from God is a reality and the choices we make today in the light of eternity will determine which eternity is ours.
- Matthew 16:21-28 –“Beware of thinking with the mind of man…” Reformation of the soul cannot come without radical reformation on the heels of true repentance.
- Revelation 22:11 –“Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.” Probably one of the most disturbing passages of Scripture (to me) in the New Testament. Here is a word of instruction to let wicked evil doers alone. We would want to attribute this statement to the most vile of persons; however, I contend that anyone serving themselves more than God is one who is doing harm and one who is vile… There are many “tares” growing “among” the wheat. “Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie” (Revelation 22:15). The question begs asking… “Are you living a lie, or are you wholehearted…?”
St. Athanasius wrote; “The Lord calls His ransomed peoples to sing songs of victory…” The lyrics to this song are told and sung most victoriously by the actions of our lives.
“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is He that made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” ~~Psalm 100
Chronicle Lessons: (Part 2)
In part one of this meditation I was reflecting on the evidence of true repentance (turning from self and turning to God… turning from sin and dark destruction to begin living in light and life). I recognized in almost every instance of true repentance, there was evidence of radical reformation. This reformation usually took on significant changes in the person or society’s way of living. There was no mistaking that something life-changing had taken place.
True Repentance = Radical Reformation
Another point that I noticed is how quickly even the reformed and repentant soul can be deceived, distracted, and diverted. We witness this in the life of young king Joash as told from chapter twenty three and twenty four of Second Chronicles.
Today, I wish to examine more examples of repentance and radical reformation.
2 Chronicles 25
It is my contention that Christians get into the most trouble in their Christian journey because of the human desire to “coast” or rest. We work hard for a season and build up a lead in whatever it is we do (our faith and/or religion is not exempt from this tendency) and then we shift in to relaxo-cruisiematic mode for a while. The problem with this, especially as it affects our faith, is that we will often drift into complacency. I think no one is exempt or immune from this syndrome or phenomenon.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
One of the earliest and most important commandments that God has given us is to put Him first in everything and all that we do. Jesus said that we must love him more than our own families and our own life (Luke 14:25-35). Far too many people are inclined to believe that we can follow the precepts of God without engaging our whole heart. I won’t go as far as saying, “impossible,” but I will emphasize that Scripture teaches the possibility is most unlikely. Take for instance, king Amaziah, the son of Joash, and what 2 Chronicles tells us.
“…Amaziah did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight, but not wholeheartedly.” (2 Chronicles 25:2)
But, it says that Amaziah did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight… just not wholeheartedly. At first glance this seems that it could indicate that it might be okay to live this way, and it still be “pleasing to God.” However, closer inspection and continued reading of the story reveal to us that “not wholeheartedly” was the beginning of the downward spiral that lead to the ultimate destruction of Amaziah. Not Wholeheartedly almost enticed him into compromising the armies of his command to fight with the idolatrous armies of Israel. The prophet (man of God) advised him on this occasion that to join forces with Israel would mean the destruction of Judah:
7 But a man of God came to him and said, “Your Majesty, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the LORD is not with Israel—not with any of the people of Ephraim. 8 Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overthrow.” (2 Chron. 25:7-8)
In the end, not wholeheartedly met its fate in Amaziah as he not only failed to listen to the instructions from God (prophets sent to him by God), but followed the desires of his own pride and leading an entire nation to destruction (2 Chronicles 25:16-27).
2 Chronicles 26
Living a life that is pleasing to God, but Not Wholeheartedly is not the only danger we must be on the lookout for. A second insidious danger is the evil of spiritual pride. King Uzziah followed Amaziah as Judah’s leader. The chronicles tell us that Uzziah followed after his father Amaziah and “did right in the eyes of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 26:4). We are also told that as long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success… (2 Chronicles 26:5).
There are two things I notice; (1) he did just as his father Amaziah had done; which leads me to believe he didn’t do things wholeheartedly either (2) As long as he sought the LORD, implies that he might not have always sought guidance from the LORD. We shall see if these observations prove themselves true.
“He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success” (2 Chronicles 26:5).
The chronicle of Uzziah’s reign tells us of his great accomplishments as a leader, builder, reformer, and king. There were not any mentions of weakness in Uzziah until… “His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful” (2 Chronicles 26:15). “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall” (2 Chronicles 26:15). The remainder of Uzziah’s story doesn’t get any better. His arrogance led him to act out and behave in a way that resulted in his being separated from his entire kingdom for the remainder of his life. He was forced to live in isolation and was forever banned from the temple of the LORD (2 Chronicles 26:20-21).
Tomorrow — Part 3: Lessons Learned and Wrap-Up
Chronicle Lessons: (Part 1)
I’ve been reading from Chronicles the last week or so and giving some considerable thought to what I’ve been “hearing” from those Scripture passages (as well as others) during this time of my blogging silence for the past two weeks. So, anyway… What about Chronicles?
The groundwork for my reading was somewhat prepared from the time I had spent earlier in Nehemiah (see here). What stuck with me about this passage (Nehemiah 13:1-30) was the repentant hearts of the people. Actually, what followed the repentance of the people is what was so striking to me… their radical reformation. They initiated some very significant changes in the way they did life. So, yeah, this reading and meditation had set a foundation before I entered into my readings from Chronicles.
Radical Reformation follows Repentance
I might be the only one, but the word repentance seems to have lost some of its meaning when used in our contemporary vernacular. At my first glance, when I use the word repentant or repent, I most often think of an apology or some attitude or emotion that projects a feeling that “I’m sorry.” And, in a very minor sense of the word and its use in the Bible, particularly a minor part of the Old Testament (Nacham: 100 uses) it does mean feeling sorry or consoling oneself. But, in the bigger picture (Shuwb: over 1,000 uses) and the more important role, repentance is not “feeling sorry” nor does it mean being apologetic. It (repentance) might bring with it the need to apologize for an action or attitude of heart, but that is not what it is or what it means.
Repentance means to change one’s mind or purpose. It conveys a change of heart and attitude. In the New Testament Scriptures, the implied meaning of repentance is even more specific. Most commonly, it infers not only a change of mind from a previous life direction (sin), but with this turning away from sin the one repenting actually turns to God. And this, conveys an entirely different understanding compared to merely feeling sorry about one’s actions and thinking that “I’ll try to do better next time.”
I am the one who searches minds and hearts … ~~Jesus (Revelation 2:23)
True repentance is the only way to life. We cannot know new life in Christ without turning to Him… and this is exactly what repentance is: turning away from ourselves and turning to Christ.
“Search me O God, and know my heart: test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting…” Psalm 139:23-24
2 Chronicles 23:1-21 (A Sign of Repentance)
In this story from Chronicles we see a nation, sparked by repentance, to turn back to God. In the wake of this repentance came radical reformation. There were visible and indisputable changes that marked the turn from sin to changed hearts following God.
“I will listen to what the LORD, God Almighty, will say; He promises peace to his people, His saint—but let them not return to folly.” Psalm 85:8
We see in the next chapter of Chronicles (twenty-four) how quickly the repentant heart can turn from God and return back to following its own way. Young king Joash, as long as he had godly counsel (Jehoiada the Priest who had been the catalyst for repentance in chapter 23), followed the ways of God and did right in His eyes. Here we learn that accountability and godly guidance/wisdom are good things (2 Chronicles 24:2). We also learn that “yes men” and “ego-boosting friends” are not good (2 Chronicles 24:17-18). In the midst of our pending rebellion, God is often merciful and will take measures to call us back to himself (2 Chronicles 24:19-20). Sadly, judgment, repercussion, and consequence looms near and is certain if we fail to heed God’s call to return to Him (2 Chronicles 24:23-25)
“You faithless and corrupt people… How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? ~~ Jesus (Matthew 17:17)
“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:22-24
More tomorrow with Part 2…
Daily Meds [01AUG09]
Reading this morning from 2 Chronicles my attention was drawn to a couple of passages. These Scriptures retell the stories of Israel’s and Judah’s kings and while these passages in particular are not directly related to one another, they seemed to be speaking a unified message to me.
Passage no. one: (Speaking of King Uzziah) “But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his down fall. He sinned against the LORD his God…” (2 Chronicles 26:16)
Passage no. two: (Speaking of King Hezekiah) “At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 30:12)
As I mentioned, these passages jumped out from amongst the others I was reading this morning. I was prompted to ask myself; “Jeff, what does the Lord want to teach you from these verses?” This is what came to me… Read the rest of this entry »