Day 104 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Second Kings and Psalms.
2 Kings 12 – Jehoash (that is, Joash) did what was right. He was a relatively good king who rejected idolatrous worship, but the high places were not taken away. After all his efforts, Joash was able to achieve only a very humble restoration of the temple.
Judah, like Israel (10:32–33), is oppressed by Hazael king of Syria. In fact, Joash had to empty the treasuries of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house. Long past are the days when the king of Israel had “rest on every side” (1 Kings 5:4).
The destructive consequences of sin and rebellion against God are on full display. Once again we are reminded of how badly we need to be rescued.
How does this chapter help you see that even while we may attempt to do good things, sin is still within us and all around us? How does this point you to your need for rescue?
2 Kings 13 – Once again we encounter a king of Israel, Jehoahaz, who persists in evil and infidelity. Yet, with his back against the wall of human oppression, the king seeks the help of the covenant God whom he has forsaken. Remarkably, the Lord responds with mercy and sends a savior to deliver His people. It is certainly true, therefore, that the Lord is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).
Having been delivered from the enemy by the Lord’s savior, we might have expected both king and people to respond to the Lord’s grace with renewed devotion and fidelity, but that did not happen. In the very next verse (13:6), we read that they did not turn from their sins but rather persisted in gross idolatry.
As we read through the accounts in the book of Kings, we might be tempted to become frustrated with the mercy of the Lord toward His people. They sin, become ensnared in their sin, cry out for help, the Lord delivers them, and then they return to their sin. The grace and mercy of the Lord in the midst of so much sin seems almost ridiculous, defiant of all moral equilibrium.
But this is exactly the point. The grace and mercy of the Lord shines brightest when it appears against the backdrop of our darkest sins. Our temptation in life is to minimize our sin so that we might appear more acceptable to those around us, especially those around us in the church. But facades of this kind only shroud the greatness of God’s mercy and grace. As God’s people learn to boast in God’s grace, we will become less preoccupied with fabricating fig leaves to hide our sin. The masks come off. We are free to stop pretending.
To fully appreciate the significance of the incident recorded in 13:20–21, it is important to remember that the Elijah and Elisha narratives were written to prepare God’s people for judgment and exile from the land. Soon, the Israelites would be living in foreign lands. As the final narrative concerning the prophet Elisha, this passage sets before God’s people the means by which ultimate restoration would occur: resurrection from the dead.
Israel’s experience of exile in Babylon, Egypt, and various other nations is not unlike the Christian life. We too live as aliens and strangers in a world to which we do not belong (1 Peter 2:11; Ephesians 2:19). This world is not our home, and living as if it were will only lead to disappointment and despair. We must always remember the hope evidenced through the bones of Elisha: God’s ability to fulfill His promises is not limited by death (Acts 23:6; 24:15; Romans 6:5; 1 Corinthians 15:12–42), and so we are free to live fearlessly and hopefully in this world that will soon pass away.
And we do so mindful that the Son of God Himself became a stranger and a sojourner on this earth, becoming one of us for our salvation. Living as exiles in this world, and as those who are already at home in the next, we follow in the footsteps of the Savior.
How do you keep from becoming too comfortable in this world?
2 Kings 14 – Once again, an evil king was raised up to shepherd the ten northern tribes of Israel. Soon, the sin of the king and the people led to their affliction. Then, when Israel was helpless, the Lord used this evil king to save Israel from destruction.
The mercy of the Lord is not limited by human power. In fact, all human authority exists by the command of the Lord, as the instrument of His will (Romans 13:1). Whether our leaders are virtuous or evil at any given time, God is still in control, and we should not despair.
How do we recognize God’s sovereignty in those who lead us (whether we perceive them to be good or evil)?
Psalm 104 – God is worthy of praise and glory in part because of the splendor and variety of the creation He has made and which He sustains. The created order serves, as it were, to clothe God and provide for Him a theatre suitable for the display of His majesty, beauty, and glory. Creation is also the object of God’s meticulous and ominous provision, protection, and governance.
When one recalls the earlier claim in the Psalms that “by the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host” (Psalm 33:6), one comes to see a passage like Psalm 104 as depicting the role of the “Word” of God who creates and sustains all that is created. The New Testament clearly understands the roles of creator and sustainer as applying to Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father, “through whom also He created the world” (Hebrews 1:2), and the One who “upholds the universe by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). This eternal Son was designated by His Father to create all that the Father designed and then to hold together and sustain all that He has made (Colossians 1:16-17).
This Psalm celebrates the wisdom and love this Creator has over all that He has made and which He sustains. Every aspect of creation exists in complete dependence upon Him. Creation, then, provides a basis for the eternal Creator Son to rejoice in the works that He has brought forth.
How does this Psalm provide us reason to offer praise and honor to Jesus for His care for us and all of creation?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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