Posts Tagged “2 Kings”

Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

October – the month of beautiful trees, a briskness in the air, bonfires and the annoying start of Christmas items in stores! It’s also the month for reading the books of Jeremiah, James, 1 and 2 Peter and Luke.  Throw in 2 Kings if you’re reading the additional readings. And the encroaching coolness outside makes it a great time to curl up and read.

If you’ve fallen behind and are looking for a good place to jump back into the readings, this month is perfect. Start on September 30th and you’ll join us at the start of Ecclesiastes and James. From here, the readings provide a great build up to Christmas. The New Testament readings will put you in a perfect place to enjoy the holiness of the upcoming season.

The following buttons will open PDFs of the September/October bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the Sept/Oct 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The October Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

Enjoy your reading! We’d love to hear what God speaks to your heart.  Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for October is below.

Resting at the River's Edge October 2013 Recommended Reading Schedule

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

While fall doesn’t officially start until about three weeks into the month, the beginning of September always feels like the beginning of fall to me. And it’s always a time when routines are adjusted to the change in schedules. Be sure to keep your Bible reading in your schedule! Our Resting at the River’s Edge schedule will help you stay on track, reading four or five chapters each weekday. If you fall behind, don’t worry about it! That’s why we only schedule readings on weekdays – so we can use the weekend to catch up. And if you can’t catch up on weekends, still don’t worry about it! Just keep reading at a pace that allows you to enjoy God’s Word. I’m confident that God will reveal Himself to you as you take time to get to know Him.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the September/October bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the Sept/Oct 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The September Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

I look forward to hearing from you about how God is speaking to you through His Word during the coming month. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for September is below.

Resting at the River's Edge Reading Schedule for September 2013

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the the half-page PDF you can download here or the September/October Bookmark you can download here.

We’d love to have you share what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Word of God, speak to us this month!
Sandy

Download all 2012 bookmarks here Download only the September/October 2012 bookmark here

Download a half-page PDF of the October Reading Plan here

Here’s the October reading plan:

Oct 2012 RARE Reading Plan JPG

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the September/October Bookmark.

September offers an opportunity to start anew as routines change with the changing weather. If your reading declined during the summer months, jump back in and join us. We’d love to have you share what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Word of God, speak to us this month!
Sandy

Download all 2012 bookmarks here Download only the September/October 2012 bookmark here

Download a half-page PDF of the September Reading Plan here

Here’s the September reading plan:

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By guest blogger Phil Hovatter

The fifteenth chapter of the book of Second Kings tells the brief and odd story of the reign of King Azariah of Judah. This man (whose name means “God has helped”) was king of Judah. That’s a pretty significant job. He reigned for 52 years. That’s a very significant amount of time. And yet the book of Kings summarizes his entire life in just seven short verses.

So what does Second Kings tell us about King Azariah?

  • He was the son of king Amaziah, one of the “good” kings of Judah
  • His mother Jecoliah was from Jerusalem. (We can presume from this that Azariah’s dad had married a nice Jewish girl instead of hooking up with a pagan princess for political reasons.)
  • He became king when he was just 16 years old
  • He reigned for a long time – 52 years
  • He “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” which is to say that he promoted observance to the Mosaic Law and proper worship of Yahweh
  • He didn’t remove the “high places” in Judah, where the people offered incense to pagan gods
  • And here’s the kicker: “The Lord afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died, and he lived in a separate house.”
    2 Kings 15:5 (NIV)

Disney gave us the Lion King. God gave Judah the Leper King.

This is one of those passages that makes me scratch my head and wonder what the heck is going on here. Azariah was a good king, the son of another good king. Good kings were in short supply in those days (much as they are in ours). God allowed him to stay in power for over half a century. And yet Scripture is very definite about giving credit to the Lord for afflicting Azariah with leprosy.

Why would God do such a thing? What (if anything) can we learn from this?

First and foremost, bad things happen to good people.
Entire books have been written on this subject, some of them seeking to tap into the ways and wisdom of God, others being total nonsense. But the fact remains that in this fallen world, even “good” people will have to endure some degree of difficulty and trying circumstances.

Everything that the Psalms declare about the Lord being our rock, our fortress, our high tower, our shield, our defender, and our hedge of protection is true. But read the Psalms carefully. All those titles are ascribed to God by people who were facing the worst personal circumstances. It’s from within those times and places of difficulty that we see that the Lord is all of these things for us, and more.

Remember that “Azariah” means “God has helped.” That was the name his Mama gave him. He could have asked to be called by something else that denied that sentiment if he didn’t believe it. You might remember in the book of Ruth that Naomi (“pleasant”) asked people to call her Mara (“bitter”) when the chips were down for her. Her circumstances weren’t pleasant at all and she didn’t want a name that denied her reality. Azariah could have done the same thing, but he didn’t. And in fact, Azariah is known by another name in Scripture. Later on in the same chapter of Second Kings, the writer refers to him as King Uzziah. This name is also used of him by the prophet Isaiah in chapter 6 of his book, where he says that he had his vision of God on His throne in the year that King Uzziah died. “Uzziah” means “my power is Yahweh.”

The Leper King of Judah didn’t wallow in self-pity or accuse God of being unloving or unfair to him. He let God be God and he went on about the business of being king despite his leprosy.

Another lesson we might learn from this passage is that bad circumstances don’t necessarily disqualify us from significant service to God.
The Lord intentionally afflicted King Azariah with leprosy, but He didn’t remove him from the throne. If you’ve read the gospels you have some idea of what the lifestyle of a leper was and what their standing was in the community. “Unclean! Unclean!” The Leper King had to live in another house, but he still fulfilled the duties and responsibilities of ruler of the nation. His son Jotham served as his go-between so that the people could avoid contact with their diseased king.

A prevalent opinion in Old Testament times that we see even in some passages of the New Testament is that disease and affliction is assumed to be a judgment by God on the sin in a person’s life. “Who sinned? This man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” The entire book of Job was given by God to dispel this false notion that calamity only comes as a judgment on sin. Job was the most godly and righteous man of his time, and yet God allowed horrible catastrophes to afflict him.

Afflictions will test your faith, but they don’t mean that you have been disqualified for service.

Lastly, afflictions don’t have to diminish your fruitfulness. In fact, they might enhance them.
While Second Kings gives a very brief sketch of the life of King Azariah, the book of Second Chronicles goes into considerably more detail. The Leper King, forced to live in seclusion from his people, had an illustrious career as king:

He rebuilt the defenses of Jerusalem, modernized the army, and retook Gath. He pushed the borders of Judah to the southern extent of David’s empire, and fortified them. He rebuilt Ezion-geber, the Red Sea port, and got the mines of the Arabah working again, These accomplishments gave him copper products to exchange with lands to the southeast and with Tyre, and trade all through the region flourished. Agricultural lands were developed, and as a result, Judah experienced prosperity unparalleled since Solomon’s day.
New Commentary on the Whole Bible: Old Testament

This is just speculation on my part, but perhaps his seclusion allowed him to focus more on governing the nation and less on the distractions that come from being king. I heard a story recently on Moody Radio about a man who, as a child, was afflicted with a dangerous brain tumor. The tumor was surgically removed, but it destroyed his sense of smell. When he grew up, he became a missionary to a third world country, ministering to people who lived in a garbage dump. The smell was so horrible that no one else ever went there to work with the people who lived there. His affliction uniquely qualified him to be fruitful in ministry to these poorest of the poor.

And let’s not forget Joni Eareckson Tada, a promising high school athlete who severed her spinal cord in a diving accident and became a quadriplegic. God has used her and her affliction to minister to handicapped people around the world. Would she ever have taken this path without first becoming a quadriplegic herself?

So what about you? What sort of adversity or calamity are you facing in your life? Could it be that God is allowing it so that He can work something in you or through you that wouldn’t likely happen if it weren’t for the difficult situation you find yourself in now? We’re called to be witnesses for the gospel and ambassadors for Christ wherever He puts us. How can God use your lousy circumstances to bring about something of eternal value and beauty?

King Azariah could say unequivocally that “God has helped” and “my power is Yahweh,” despite his own personal affliction. He remained faithful and fruitful despite suffering from a catastrophic disease. The Leper King of Judah is one dude that I really look forward to meeting.

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Congratulations! If you are reading along with us using the Resting at the River’s Edge schedules, you will have read half way through the entire Bible by July 4th! That’s quite an accomplishment and you are to be commended.Perhaps, though, you haven’t kept up with our reading schedule but continue to progress in them. Maybe you’re a few days, a few weeks or a few months behind the schedule. That’s OK. You are also to be congratuled as you have continued on a task that probably seemed overwhelming at first. Perhaps you’re on the “Read through the Bible in Two Years” plan. And that’s just fine!We’re not in a competition with one another. Rather, we’re all seeking to grow in our knowledge of the Lord and in His grace. I hope in the process of reading through the Bible at whatever pace you’re keeping, that your confidence has risen and you fully expect to be able to read through the whole Bible on your schedule.

More importantly, I hope that you have learned more about the God we love and serve as you’ve read a large portion of the Old Testament and that you have become more convinced than ever about how much He loves you as you’ve read portions of the Old Testament in conjuction with portions of the New Testament. He truly loves you! More than you can imagine!

Finally, I hope and pray that the Scripture you are reading is informing your life for Christ – in other words, that the Word of God that you read on the pages of your Bible are affecting how you live.

So I say again…Congratulations! Way to go & keep it up!

Oh — and enjoy this month’s readings!

To download a PDF of July’s reading schedule, click here.

April Reading

July Recommended Reading

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When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the Temple of the LORD to pray.
2 Kings 17:1 (NLT)

I love this verse. It is a constant reminder that when things fall apart, the best thing for me to do is humble myself and pray. King Hezekiah had received a report that he was about to be attacked by the Assyrian army – an army that was kicking butt across the region. Israel was next on the list. How could the small nation stand against such an army?

The king of Assyria tried to weakened the Israelites before actually engaging them in battle. He sent messengers before him who:

  • Taunted King Hezekiah and the Israelites. He basically said “If you can find 2,000 horsemen in your army, I’ll give you 2,000 Egyptian horses for them to ride and then I’ll still beat you!”
  • Challenged their faith by saying “Do you think we’ve invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord Himself told us ‘Go and destroy it!'”
  • Destroyed their confidence in their king and God saying directly to the people “Don’t let the king fool you. He’ll never be able to save you from my power. None of the other countries were able to stand against me.”

King Hezekiah heard all this and went into the temple of the Lord to pray.

Lord, make me more like Hezekiah – I want to act with a calm faith in the face of what looks like sure disaster.

In our economy today, many people are listening to the kings of Assyria in their lives. They are hearing and believing that they will come to ruin unless they surrender now. The enemy is whispering in their ears “Who do you think you are that God would deliver you? Don’t you know that I’ve been sent by God to humble you – to punish you or to teach you a lesson? I could give you free housing/car/health insurance (choose your most pressing financial issue) and I’d still drown you in debt before the end of the year. Why will your God deliver you?”

The answer is He will deliver us because He is our deliverer. He will deliver us because we belong to Him. Husbands don’t let their wives be taken captive. Jesus Christ is the bridegroom of the Church – He is our husband.

But let’s respond correctly. Let’s choose to believe our God instead of foreign kings and let’s humble ourselves and pray.

I’m not making economic predictions. I have no idea if the economy will turn around in January or March or March of 2020. But I know that my deliverance comes from the Lord and is not dependent on the economy. My deliverance is not dependent on my own ability to work hard or to make money, it’s not dependent on being at the right place at the right time, and it’s not dependent on the amount of faith I have. It is dependent on God’s mercy and grace and His mighty power.

Where do you choose to place your trust – in the economy or in God’s mercy and power? Who do you choose to believe – enemy kings or the King of Kings?

How you approach 2009 depends on where your trust lies. If your trust is in God’s mercy and power, you can face the new year with confidence, not despair.  Place your trust in the King of Kings. He is the faithful provider, not dependent upon the whims of the economy. Strengthen that trust by visiting with Him regularly in prayer and by reading in the Bible about His nature and His history of faithfulness.

As an aside, let me give you something to think about. I’m going to be providing a plan for read through the Bible in 2009 along with weekly encouragements and blogs that correspond to the readings. Don’t be intimidated by it! You can read throught the Bible by reading about 3.2 chapters each day. For now, just be open to the idea. You’ll learn more about the plan in a day or two.

As I was writing this blog, a favorite verse came to mind:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

I wasn’t sure of the wording or the reference, so I looked it up. I found it in the middle of this wonderful prayer that seems a perfect ending to this blog. It is my prayer for you as we look toward 2009.

1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
Selah

4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.
6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven
with the saving power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
9 O LORD, save the king!
Answer us when we call!
Psalm 20 (NIV)

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In 2 Kings 6, we learn that “King Ben-hadad of Aram mobilized his entire army and besieged Samaria. As a result there was a great famine in the city. After a while even a donkey’s head sold for two pounds of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung cost about two ounces of silver” (verses 24 and 25, NLT). Samaria was experiencing a great lack because of the siege. It had sent their economy into a tailspin. Even the cheapest things money could buy were priced outrageously. The attitude within the country was one of defeat; there was no anticipation of victory. There was no hope.Chapter 7 begins with the prophet Elisha delivering a message: “Hear this message from the LORD! This is what the LORD says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, five quarts of fine flour will cost only half an ounce of silver, and ten quarts of barley grain will cost only half an ounce of silver.” He prophesied that the lack would turn to plenty – that the land would become outrageously plentiful. Where previously two ounces of silver bought a cup of dove’s dung cost, now only a half ounce of silver would buy five quarts of fine flour or ten quarts of barley grain. It was an unbelievable prophecy to the man who heard it. And I suppose it’s understandable that he didn’t believe Elisha because he had been living without hope. He had been living with the expectation of defeat, not the anticipation of victory.

Fast forward to verse 17 and you’ll read “So everything happened exactly as the man of God had predicted.” Now that’s an economic turnaround.

What I find so interesting in this story is what happened between verses 1 and 17 – the way God turned the economy around. He caused the Aramean army “to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching….So they panicked and fled into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, and they fled for their lives” (verses 6 and 7). The entire army that had set up the siege around Samaria heard so much noise that they thought Samaria had hired another army to defend the city and they panicked and fled for their lives. Let’s call that miracle #1.

We’ll call miracle #2 the fact that none of the Samaritans heard anything! They didn’t even know that the army had fled! In fact, there were four lepers sitting outside the city gates and they didn’t hear anything either. They continued to live under the siege mentality and finally came to the point where they said “Why should we sit here waiting to die? We will starve if we stay here, and we will starve if we go back into the city. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway” (verses 3 and 4). Obviously, the four lepers didn’t hear the sound heard by the Arameans and thought the Arameans were still in their tents.

So the lepers went into the Arameans camp and found it…abandoned! They went back to Samaria and told the gatekeepers who shouted the news to the palace. The king was also still living under the siege mentality. Scripture says that he “got out of bed in the middle of the night and told his officers, ‘I know what has happened. The Arameans know we are starving, so they have left their camp and have hidden in the fields. They are expecting us to leave the city, and then they will take us alive and capture the city'” (verse 12). It’s clear from the rest of the narrative that both the king and his officers thought the Arameans were still in the area, waiting to capture them. Listen to the defeat in one of his officers’ words “We had better send out scouts to check into this. Let them take five of the remaining horses. If something happens to them, it won’t be a greater loss than if they stay here and die with the rest of us” (verse 13). Again, he fully expected, anticipated, that they would all die.

But we’ve read to the end and know that the Arameans, indeed, had abandoned everything as they ran in fear for their lives. And before the day was over, as the Samaritans appropriated the abandoned property of the Arameans, two ounces of silver bought much, much more than it had the evening before. Let’s put it into dollars and cents. If an ounce of silver cost $20, last night a cup of dove’s dung cost $40 and a donkey’s head cost $640. Tonight, you can buy five quarts of fine flour or ten quarts of barley grain for $10. I’d rather be living today than yesterday!

There is so much that can be learned from this story, but I’d like to focus on only three things.

1) We are in a time when our economy is causing many to become afraid. God can change that overnight, by causing things to happen that none of us would expect, anticipate, or even think possible. The Samaritans did not anticipate that God would scare off their enemies. They had lost all hope of it happening. They believed they were going to die.

2) We can live our lives looking at the circumstances around us and become like the lepers, the king and all the other residents of Samaria believing that we have been defeated, that we will die; or we can live our lives knowing that our God can do great and mighty and unexpected things to save us. He has proven Himself in this regard – the birth, life and death of Jesus was unexpected, even though it was anticipated. The Israelites were looking for a Messiah to come; they were anticipating it. Yet Jesus was not what they expected, nor was His death the manner in which they expected to be saved.

3) God often, typically, uses the unexpected to bring about our deliverance. In Samaria, he used the four lepers – men who were not even allowed into the city to save the city from starvation and death. And of course, he used the totally unexpected invisible chariots and horses to strike fear into the Arameans.

I don’t know in what manner my needs will be met in the coming months, but I know where the provision will come from – from a God who loves me intensely and who is unbelievably creative and able to change my situation overnight. So I choose to live in hope instead of defeat. How about you?

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