Spiritual Rants: August 2 “Phoebe And Other Friends” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: 2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13 Romans 15:23-16:9 Psalm 25:16-22 Proverbs 20:16-18

Old Testament:  2 Chronicles 32:1-33:21

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2 Chronicles 32:1-33:21    PK

Here are the parallels in Kings to our section for today:

2 Kings 18:13-37                                        2 Chron. 32:1-19        also Isa. 36:1-22

2 Chron. 19:1-34                                           2 Chron. 32:20           also Isa. 37:1-35

2 Kings 20:12-19                                          2 Chron. 32:31           also Isa. 39:1-8

2 Kings 20:20-21                                       2 Chron. 32:32-33

2 Kings 21:1-16                                                2 Chron. 33:1-13

 

2 Chron. 32:27-30 and is unique and without parallel in Kings.

I have written on Hezekiah  previously here:

Games Of Thrones

Not So Cute, Eutychus

A Prophet Gets Belted

 

Hezekiah was attacked by the king of Assyria.  He, unlike some other kings, trusted the Lord for victory over them.  He not only made provision for battle like cutting off the water supplies outside Jerusalem but also trusted in Yahweh.  He said, “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. 8 With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles” (v. 7-8).

Just like Satan, the king of Assyria tried to bluff and intimidate the people of Judah.  He told the people not to trust Hezekiah, reminding them he had been victorious over other peoples.

When you have a problem, wouldn’t you like to have Isaiah, the prophet, pray for you?  Hezekiah did.  I know I would.  But did you know we have something better?  The book of Hebrews says that Jesus ever lives to pray for us (Heb. 7:25; cf. Rom. 8:24).  The result was that Yahweh sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army (v. 21).  It was such a disgrace that his own children offed him when he got back home.

After this, Hezekiah became terminally ill and asked Yahweh to extend his life.   Yahweh granted him fifteen more years of life but maybe that wasn’t as good a thing as you might think.   Nine years ago today I had six by-passes.  I thought that was a record but I just heard yesterday of someone who just had seven.  I was hoping to see the Lord while I was under anesthesia and I didn’t mind if I went “home.”  Instead, I have lived nine more years to serve the Lord.  I hope the Lord did the right thing there.

In Hezekiah’s case, instead of showing gratitude to the Lord, Hezekiah became proud.  Although Hezekiah was one of the best kings who had served the Lord, the same can not be said of his kid, Manasseh.

Manasseh was one of the worst kings over Judah.  He was twelve when he became king and reigned for fifty-five years.  He rebuild the pagan idol worship centers that his father had taken down.  He made his sons pass through fire as in heathen worship rites (v. 33:6).  People have been known to die from that sort of thing.  He “practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and rpiritists” (v. 33:6).  He led Judah to do more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed through the nation’s swords (v. 9).   How can bad kids happen to good people?  I don’t know.

Yahweh brought the Assyrian army against Judah again as a punishment for their unbelief.  Manasseh was taken into captivity in chains and hooks.  He humbled himself before the Lord and the Lord allowed him to return to Jerusalem.  He had learned his lesson.   (This gives hope to some parents who are worried about their kids and for PK’s?)

New Testament:  Romans 15:23-16:9

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Romans 15:23-16:9   Friends

Paul states his plans to go to Spain and home to see them in Rome on the way.  He says he is bringing a contribution for the poor back to Jerusalem.  This is a man who had tried to demolish the church in Jerusalem.  Now he is bringing money to them.  Truly there had been a change of life.  The Gentiles were better off financially than the Christians in Jerusalem so they were helping the disadvantaged.  Paul explains this in 2 Cor. 8-9.  However, the principle in v. 27 is that those who are benefited spiritually should benefit their ministers materially (cf. 1 Cor. 9:11; 2 Cor. 8:14; Gal. 6:6).  This is so strange.  I have been told so many times that I should make tents!  Do you know how many people use tents these days?  Most everyone lives in a house!  I think they say this because Paul was a tent-maker (Acts 18:3) and because they are cheap and unappreciative of spiritual help.

In chapter 16, Paul commends Phoebe to the Romans.  He obviously has never watched Friends.  I know I haven’t.  This is a different Phoebe.  She was a helper.  She was the one who was delivering this letter to Rome.  She was a Gentile as her name indicates.  Verse 1 says she was a “servant” but the NIV is more to the point, she was deaconess!  There is no explaining this away and why would you want to?  She had a place of authority in the church at Cenchra (v. 1) not far from Corinth.

Paul wanted to say “hi” to Prisca aka Priscilla and Aquila (v. 5).  They had risked their lives for the Lord.  They had moved to Corinth due to the Jewish persecution in Rome.  That is where they met Paul who was a fellow tent-maker (see above, Acts 18:2, 18-19).  They had moved back to Rome but later moved to Ephesus.  P and A had a house church in Rome at the time (cf. 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philem. 2).

Paul greets his first convert, Epaenetus, in the region of Asia.

Mary as a name means “bitter” (v. 6).  McGee points out that the name also means “rebellious” and that Mary has had quite a change of heart, now working her rear off for Christ.

Andronicus and Junias were Jewish but also prisoners with Paul.  They were Christians before Paul was converted.  They were recognized as “outstanding” by the “apostles” (v. 7).  Apostle could  be taken in the broad sense that Barnabus and Silas were considered “sent ones” (meaning of apostle, cf. Acts 14:14).  Notice the church in Rome was founded by Priscilla, Aquilla, and Adronicus and Junias.

Ampliatus was most likely a slave, one for whom Paul had great regard.  Urbanus was a city boy from the hood.  I’m not kidding.  That’s why his name was Urban-us.  (Check out McGee if you don’t believe me.)  Stachys has been found listed in a royal household.  Paul likes him, too.  All three of these people were probably slaves since they all had slave-type names.

 


Psalm 25:16-22   Private Instruction, Part 2    A Lament Psalm by David


Proverbs 20:16-18   Breaded

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You can’t trust someone you don’t know.  Why would you?   People that aren’t believers and are outside of the country are bad risks (v. 16, cf. Jer. 17:9; Rom.  5:12).

When a person steals something, it feels really good.  But afterward it doesn’t feel good at all (v. 17).  On the similar hand, if you quit a job that you don’t like, it feels really good.  But then if you don’t have a job to replace it, it feels like putty.

Winging stuff can be thrilling (v. 18).  It’s a lot smarter to plan things out ahead of time with the help of other smarter people than yourself.  You will have a more victorious life.

 

Choose Life: Scripture:  2 Chronicles 32:7-8   NASB    “Where Spiritual And Material Meet”

“’Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him.  With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.’ And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.”   2 Chronicles 32:7-8

“For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things”  Romans 15:26-27

 

I spent hours trying to decide whether to write the devotion today from the OT reading or the NT reading.  I just couldn’t decide so I decided to combine them.

I have already written on a similar verse to 2 Chronicles 32: 7 in 2 Kings 6:16 when Elisha told his servant to be encouraged because they were not only surrounded by the enemy but also by a host of angels (see blog Com-pan-ee!!).  In our verse today, the King of Judah, Hezekiah, tells his people that they don’t need to fear the enemy because God Who is with them is greater than the king opposing them who was just made of flesh.  The people trusted Hezekiah and trusted the Lord.  The Apostle John said something similar, ” . . . greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4b).  John was making a reference to our spiritual enemy, Satan, aka “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).  Certainly if the Spirit within us (cf. Rom. 8:9) is greater than Satan, He is also greater than any fleshly enemies.

Now, how can I work our NT passage into this devotion?  Our OT verses indicate that God will help us in the material world through His supernatural powers.  The NT verses indicate that the new Gentile converts were helping their Jewish counterparts though the Gentiles were new to spiritual truths and the Jews had been the guardians of spiritual truths for thousands of years through Abraham.  Paul was commending the Gentiles for their generosity.  Paul exhorted the Corinthians to take care of their ministers using similar language, “If we ministers sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we ministers reap material things from you?” (1 Cor. 9:11).

Both sets of verses, OT and NT, join the spiritual with the material.  We should trust God Who lives in the spiritual world for our victories in life in the material world.  By the same token, we need to convert our spiritual blessings into material blessings for those who bless us spiritually.  Ministers have to live, too.  I think, often, churches figure ministers can just trust God. They can.  They can trust verses like 2 Chronicles 32:7-8 but ultimately they depend on the generosity of those they serve.

Are you trusting God to help you win your battles in life?  Does your commitment to the Lord include a commitment to those who serve you spiritually?

 

 

If it does, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application: 

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive . . .” (Acts 20:35b).  But I think He was just pulling everyones’ legs.  Of course, it’s more fun to get stuff than to give, right?  Or everyone would be generous.  They wouldn’t cut people off on the road.  They wouldn’t cheat people in business.  They’d look after the poor.  They would give generously to their churches.

I know you don’t do those things.  I don’t either.  But on the other hand, do you pay more to your waiter than your minister during the week?  Who gives you the better food?  Do you pay your eye doctor or your auto-mechanic full price?  The Bible says that “the laborer deserves his wages” (1 Tim. 5:18b).  ( I can say all this now because I don’t have a church currently.)  It also seems to be a principle that we appreciate more what we pay for than what we get for free (see blog Free Stuff).

Someone has said that you can tell someone’s commitment to Christ by looking at their checkbook.  If someone saw your checkbook, what would they think about your commitment to Christ?  Think of ways you can further Christ’s ministries on earth.  As someone else once said, “You can’t take it with you but you can send it on ahead” (cf. Matt. 6:20).

 

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:   Phoebe And Other Friends

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