Posts Tagged 'Judah'

Panic Podcast: Joseph, Part 3

Judah and Joseph were brothers, but they couldn’t have been more different. Today, we’ll be looking at how different they were and how God was working in Joseph’s life and blessing him to such an extent that his pagan boss and his family were blessed, too!  Yes, how you live your life makes a difference in other people’s lives.

 

Panic Podcast: The Story of the Old Testament, Part 4

Today, I want to take a look at the 19 kings of Israel and the 19 kings of Judah.  Just kidding.  Faster than the speed of light, we’ll look at how the united kingdom of Israel collapsed into the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and we’ll look briefly at a couple of kings.

 

ISAIAH, Part 4

One spoiled kid!

Woe to Rebellious Children

Isaiah 30

Chapter 30 of Isaiah presents another “woe,” this one issued by the Lord to Judah. These “woes,” beginning in chapter 28, contain both promises and threats to various people. The “woes” proclaimed went out to:

  • the leaders of Ephraim and Judah (ch. 28)

  • the City of David (ch. 29)

  • Judah, the stubborn nation (ch. 30)

  • those who were relying on Egypt, (ch. 31)

After all that God had done for His people, for some reason, instead of turning to Him for help in times of crisis, they continually turned away from Him and sought the help of other nations. This time, they turned to the now-feeble nation of Egypt. It was a ridiculous idea; Egypt was weak and getting weaker. What help could they possibly offer to Judah? Turning to them made no sense whatsoever, but that fact didn’t stop Judah from doing just that.

Like all sin, this rebellious act had no thought behind it. It would only harm Judah. When sin is looked at from God’s perspective, it never makes sense. It always harms the one involved in it. But that is the nature of rebellion. Like the spoiled child who, though hungry and thirsty, screams and throws his bowl of food on the floor and spits out his milk ends up with nothing to eat or drink, when the believer stubbornly refuses to turn to God, preferring to turn to others for help, he ends up with nothing.

While time and again God’s people turned a deaf ear to the prophets, this time Judah actually listened! The Southern Kingdom listened to Isaiah and did not join with Egypt in order to be delivered from the Assyrians. However, the Northern Kingdom of Israel ignored the prophet’s warning and the result: they were utterly destroyed as they were taken into captivity.

Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up to attack Hoshea, who had been Shalmaneser’s vassal and had paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison. The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. (2 Kings 17:3—7)

1. Like rebellious children, verses 1—3

This is the fourth “woe,” and it was an unmistakable warning. Essentially, this woe is simple: Don’t go to Egypt for help.

One thing is certain, a person never wants God to pronounce a “woe” against them! Generally speaking, when God pronounces a “woe” against a person, nation, or group of people, it’s already too late for them.

a. The nature of this “woe”

Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” (verses 1, 2)

The proposed alliance with Egypt occasioned this “woe.” The TNIV’s translation “obstinate” can also be translated “rebellious.” Either is correct, but “rebellious” might convey Judah’s attitude better. Judah’s rebellion against Assyria was also a rebellion against their God. A rebellious child of God never pleases anybody; not God, not the world, and never themselves. Sin never satisfies.

Judah’s idea of aligning themselves with Egypt was not only a rebellious action against God, it was a cruel, in-you-face manifestation of self-will. Judah, though, had a bad habit of manifesting self-will, since we are told this latest idea was one more sin, piled high on an already high pile of sin.

The Jews were not being led by God’s Spirit in this venture. This alliance was not His idea, therefore it was a bad idea. God was not angry just because the Jews strayed from His will, He was angry because His people were so spiritually dull they couldn’t see how harmful this alliance would really be.  This reminds us of James’ “double minded man.”  Here is a spiritually dull believer who can’t muster the faith to receive anything, including direction, from the Lord.

Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:7, 8)

It was dangerous to seek help from Egypt because at this point in history, they were far into their state of decline. Isaiah rightfully referred to the kind of protection Pharaoh could offers as merely “shade.” Indeed, his protection would have been an illusion.

Whatever any sin promises the one being tempted, it is in reality just an illusion. It is true that sin can make the sinner feel good; that’s why even good Christians struggle against it. But whatever good feelings sin provided, they are temporary. Sin never satisfies because it can never deliver what it promises. God is the Author of joy and happiness, peace and prosperity, not sin. Do you know why sin cannot satisfy any human being? The answer may surprise you:

…you were dead in your transgressions and sins… (Ephesians 2:1)

A corpse is incapable of any feelings whatsoever. Judah, on the verge of committing this dreadful sin, would get nothing in return for jumping in bed with Egypt, a corpse.

b. The result of this “woe”

But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. (verses 3—5, verse 3 cited)

In spite of Pharaoh’s friendly reception of Judah, their trust in his support would result only in disillusionment and disgrace. Just as Judah got themselves into deeper trouble by turning to others for help and rejecting the Word of god, so believers, when they seek anything from any source other than God find themselves in spiritual quicksand.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each of you is tempted when you are dragged away by your own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13—15)

The outcome for one involved in sin is never good. James gives us the “gestation of sin.” Sin and sinning have consequences: ultimately ending in death. One way or another, the sinner will die; he will die in his sins and he will die spiritually. But there is another law at work here. Jeremiah 17:5 is a frightening verse for anybody considering yielding to temptation and sinning:

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who trust in mortals, who depend on flesh for their strength and whose hearts turn away from the LORD.”

God actively campaigns against those who willingly and knowingly turn from Him and get involved in things not His will. So sin carries with it natural consequences and supernatural consequences. Does sin make any sense? Of course not! But that doesn’t seem to deter many Christians from committing them.

c. Reaction to this “woe”

The people of Judah were so bent on going their own way according to their own plans, they wanted nothing to do with Isaiah and the Word of the Lord.

For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. (verse 9)

It seems as though the more Isaiah preached the truth to his people, the more his people became filled with antagonism. The Word of God sometimes has this effect on people. We frequently hear about the “drawing power” of the Word, but sometimes for stubborn, obstinate, rebellious believers, who know full-well their sin, it has the opposite effect. It arouses feelings of anger and bitterness within, usually toward the one giving them the truth.

See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” (verses 10, 11)

In other words, “Either make us feel good with your preaching, or take your God and go!” Is it possible to fall so far from God that a Christian can adopt that attitude? One only has to watch the “sermons” that are broadcast on so-called Christian TV these days to realize how watered down the Gospel has become. Christians would rather feel good than feel God.

2. God’s ever-gracious response

In spite of Judah’s stubbornness, God never stopped longing for His people:

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (verse 18)

Isaiah’s “therefore” and “because” of verse 12 begins a series of startling expressions of “the law of relationships.” Thousands of years later, the apostle Paul expressed Isaiah’s “law of relationships” this way:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7, 8)

The Jews were sowing the wind and were about to reap the whirlwind!

Historically, the alliance with Egypt never happened. This was one instance where God’s people heeded God’s Word. Judah, because of that obedience, was spared the destruction that was the fate of Israel.

(c)  2011 WitzEnd

JEHOSHAPHAT: Help in Distress

Jehoshaphat and the army of Judah plunder the slain enemy army.

2 Chronicles 20:1—30

Ever been in distress? If you have, then probably know what it means, for those happy few who have never been in distress, here is a definition from Dictionary.com:

1. great pain, anxiety, or sorrow; acute physical or mental suffering; affliction; trouble
2. a state of extreme necessity or misfortune.
3. the state of a ship or airplane requiring immediate assistance, as when on fire in transit.

That about covers it; no matter how positive you may be, there is nothing good about distress. You can do your best to avoid it, but eventually you will encounter distress in your life. In Chronicles, there is a lot of distress. The two kingdoms of Israel—Israel to the north and Judah to the south—faced a lot of distress from inside and outside. One thing is certain about the distress Israel and Judah faced: it revealed the true character of their leaders.

Considering the fact that the Jews were God’s chosen people, we may find it surprising that they faced so much distress. We could understand it if their distress was always the result of their sin and sinful choices, but that wasn’t the case. Sometimes the distress God’s people faced had nothing to do with them; sometimes there seemed to be no logical reason for the distress. How do we deal with that? How do we, as Christians, deal with the distress we encounter when it seems there is no reason for it? One thing is sure, God is omnipotent and omniscient, but sometimes He just allows distress to come into our lives. How we deal with God during these times of distress is at least as important as how we deal with the distress.

As we approach 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat is a well-know figure in the narrative. He followed his father, Asa, as king of Judah. Up to this point in his life, Jehoshaphat walked as a man of God. But, like most men of God, King Jehoshaphat made an unwise decision that almost cost him his life. He struck a deal with Ahab, king of Israel to the north to do battle against Ramoth Gilead. King Ahab was an evil, deceitful king, and eve though Jehoshaphat had no business entering into an agreement with him, God spared Jehoshaphat’s life and he continued to govern Judah with excellence.

Chapter 20 recounts the greatest period of distress in Jehoshaphat’s reign.

1. A cry for help, 2 Chron. 20:1—13

[a] An terrible threat, verses 1—4

Some time around or shortly after 853 BC, King Jehoshaphat faced a wholly unexpected invasion by the combined forces of Moab, Ammon, and people known as “the Meunites.” Just before this unprovoked enemy attack, Jehoshaphat installed godly judges throughout the land:

He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be on you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.” (2 Chronicles 19:6, 7)

This was a major step for the king to take; it was meant to incline the hearts of the people toward God. This was, without a doubt, the right thing for the king to do. And yet, it was just after this that the time of distress came.

There was no enemy more powerful, treacherous, fearsome, and numerous than the combined forces of the Moab and Ammon. The last time they engaged Israel in battle was during David’s tenure as king. There is no record as to why they chose this moment to march against Judah. What we do know is that Judah was at peace with them and their aggression was completely unwarranted.

Despite his great faith in God and devotion to Him, Jehoshaphat was “alarmed” (verse 3). Who wouldn’t be? The king wasn’t made of stone! Here he had done everything right, yet he was about face his greatest foe for no good reason.

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. (verses 3, 4)

In spite of what faced him, Jehoshaphat continued to do the right thing; he went straight to the Lord, did not complain, then went ahead and rallied the entire nation by declaring a fast. Because the hearts of the people were already inclined to God thanks to the godly judges appointed by the king, they responded wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. The people rose the king’s expectation of them.

[b] Recalling God’s story, verses 5—9

In times of crisis and distress, remembering previous experiences with God and God’s help can be a source of great strength. We see this throughout the Psalms; when David was in distress or his life in danger he often recounted in poetic form his past experiences with God’s delivering power.

As we read the king’s prayer, we notice a series of questions; this was typical of Hebrew prayers. It sounds as though God’s character is being questioned, but it isn’t. Nor does God need to be reminded about all the good things He has done for His people. It is a reminder to the one praying of God’s greatness. We have short memories, and even when praying we should rehearse all that God has done for us and blessed us with.

[c] Urgent prayer for help, verses 10—13

After recalling all that God had done for His people and quoting from his great-great-grandfather Solomon’s prayer, Jehoshaphat called on God for help. The king and his people faced the dilemma all people face from time to time:

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. (verse 12b)

While nobody knew what to do about the situation of God’s enemy, there was one option open to them that is also open to every child of God—our eyes are on you.  This great statement of faith was reminiscent of what his father Asa had said:

Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. LORD, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.” (2 Chronicles 14:11)

Obviously Asa raised his son right!

2. Following God’s plan, 2 Chron. 20:14—19

Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Dot be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’ (verse 15)

[a] An encouraging prophecy

When God’s people seek Him sincerely, God answers! Sometimes He doesn’t answer right away; sometimes we have to wait. That period of waiting can be difficult and it can try our faith, but God always comes through for His people. The priest/prophet Jahaziel, was God’s spokesman. This man was of noted lineage, being a descendant of Asaph, chief Levitical musician during David’s time. His word of encouragement to Jehoshaphat resembled the spirit of David against Goliath:

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands. (2 Samuel 17:47)

If God helped David and gave him the desired victory, why wouldn’t He do exactly the same thing for Jehoshaphat? Jahaziel further said:

Stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you. (verse 17)

The army had to assume their positions and be ready to fight, but victory was assured. There are times when a believer must pray earnestly and then exert natural human effort, and then are other times when the prayer is enough. Here, we see a little of both. Jehoshaphat and his army had to get ready to fight, then God would hand them the victory.

[b] A reverent response, verses 18, 19

The king had to make a quick decision, and the Spirit of God guided him to the truth. He knew the prophet was speaking the very words of God, and in response, the king humbly bowed his head with all the people giving thanks while the Levites stood and shouted praise to God. What a sight that must have been!

3. Trust God to deliver, 2 Chron. 20:20—30

[a] A strange battle plan, verses 20, 21

Make no mistake about it, this was a holy war. At one time, the army of Israel would have marched into battle preceded by the Ark of the Covenant. Those days, however, were now a distant memory. While they didn’t have the Ark, they did have the Levites, the tribe of priests. It was the Levites that marched ahead of the army, singing praises to God! An odd battle plan, to be sure, but God had to be honored and the people’s fear and apprehension had to be assuaged. Nothing can encourage a believer better than praise. The sight of the Levites singing and praising God ahead of the army marching into battle must have struck the religious and patriotic nerve of every citizen of Judah.

That same sight, though, must have seemed silly in the extreme to Judah’s enemies. God’s ways, though, never make much sense to outsiders. When God moves on you to do something, it may seem odd to others, but that shouldn’t deter you in any way from carrying out God’s wishes for you to the letter. Obedience always brings success.

[b] God’s victory, verses 22—24

As He had promised, Israel showed up to fight but didn’t need to raise a sword. For some reason, internal strife broke out among the enemy soldiers and instead of fighting the army of Judah, they turned and fought one another. Not a single soldier of the enemy remained alive.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. (verse 24)

Can you imagine what crossed the minds of the soldiers of Judah? The last time an invading army destroyed themselves was during Gideon’s day:

When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. (Judges 7:22)

If this teaches us anything it is that God never changes! No enemy of God’s people can prevail; either God will destroy them somehow, or He will empower His people to destroy them, or they will destroy themselves! What happened to the Moabite and Ammonite armies adds a whole new meaning to the old saying, “there is no honor among thieves.”

[c] Joyous celebration of God’s grace, verses 25—30

It didn’t take long for the soldiers to overcome their initial shock and bewilderment at the sight of hundreds and hundreds of dead soldiers lying before them. In short order, the army of Judah plundered the dead bodies of the their enemies for three days. Three days! That’s a lot dead soldiers and a lot of plunder to collect.

On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day. (verse 26)

“Berakah” is a wonderful word; it means “the place to bless the Lord.” The soldiers and people knew to whom the credit needed to God for their victory.

The result of this battle cannot be overstated:

The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side (verses 29, 30)

These two verses should be studied by presidents and prime ministers around the world. It is God alone who gives a nation—any nation—peace and rest. It seems like nobody learns this lesson. Rest and peace do not come about by policy and law, or by treaties and alignments. Rest and peace are not the results of merely winning a war. How many wars have been fought and won by America since it’s inception; are we at peace today? The reason why there is no peace is because God has not given it. We, like all nations around the world, are not trusting in or looking for the Prince of Peace.

King Jehoshaphat was a godly king. He was not perfect, but he served the Lord well, with distinction. In times of distress, we should all remember the heroes of 2 Chronicles 20 and follow their example. We should not remember or trust in our own strength, but in God’s. We need to remember what God has done for His people throughout history. You and I as believers are descendants of Jehoshaphat; his history is ours. Let’s learn to let God fight our battles.

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

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