Spiritual Rants: June 22 “Making A Mesha Everything” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: 2 Kings 3:1-4:17 Acts 14:8-28 Psalm 140:1-13 Proverbs 17:22

Old Testament: 2 Kings 3:1-4:17

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2 Kings 3:1-27  Making A Mesha Everything

Ahab’s son, Jehoram, took over Israel while Jehoshaphat was in the eighteenth year of his reign down in Judah.  Jehoram lasted twelve years but was an evil king but not as bad as his parents.  He tore down the Baal idols which his father put up but he still followed in his family’s inheritance of sin going back to Jeroboam.

The king of Moab, Mesha, used to pay 100K sheep and the wool of 100K rams to King Ahab.  When Ahab died, he looked to break that bondage.  So Jehoram asked Jehosophat to help annihilate Mesha.  Just as he had with his father, Ahab, Jehosophat said, “Sure thing” (v. 7).  Jehosophat wanted to consult a prophet first so Jehoram proposed Elisha.

Elisha told Jehoram to go find his own prophets.  He relented and asked for a musician to come and play.  While he played, the Spirit came on Elisha and he prophesied that Yahweh would give the Moabites over to them by flooding them out, stopping up the springs, putting stones on the fields so nothing would grow and chopping down the trees so there’d be no fruit or shade.  The next morning when the Moabites woke up, they saw the water and it was red so they supposed that Israeli allies had fought and destroyed each other.  So they left to plunder them but got attacked by Israel’s forces!  The Moabites tried to flee but the Israelites followed them and filled the land with stones and cut down the trees.  When Mesha saw he was losing, he took 700 warriors to try to break through the king of Edom’s lines but he failed.  So he took his oldest son, the heir to his throne, and sacrificed him on a wall.  That roused the passion of the Moabite soldiers to the point that the Israelites retreated from the battlefield with only a partial victory.  Was that a curse against Jehoram and his family?

2 Kings 4:1-7   That’s Oil, Folks!

A wife of one of the prophets pleaded for help from Elisha.  Her husband had died and creditors wanted to take her children as slaves.  Elisha found out she had a jar of oil in the house and told her to borrow a lot of empty containers.  She was then to start pouring the oil she had into the vessels.  When she ran out of containers, she also ran out of oil.   Elisha told her to sell the oil and pay her debts and then live on then the rest of the money.

2 Kings 4:8-17  A Sonny Day

A well known, upper-class woman invited Elisha for a meal.  She told her husband they were having a prophet for dinner.   They decided to finish off one of the upstairs rooms with a bed and table and chair with a lamp so Elisha would have a place to stay if he wanted it.

He stayed there one day with his servant, Gehazi.  Gehazi told Elisha that he should offer the woman something.  Gehazi told him that she didn’t have any kids and her husband was older than she.  So Elisha told her that by the same time the following year she’d have a son.  She replied, “You’re kidding.”  But by the same time the next year she had a son.

New Testament:  Acts 14:8-28

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Acts 14:8-28  What A Drag

Paul was watching a man in the crowd from Lystra who had been lame from birth.  He could tell the man had the faith to be healed so he told him to stand up.  He got up and starting leaping for joy.  The rest of the people thought Paul and Barnabas were Hermes and Zeus, respectively.  The priest of Zeus in town even wanted to offer sacrifices to them!  Paul and Barnabas ripped their clothes at the outrage of it all and ran into the crowds shouting that they should turn from their pagan ways and turn to the true, living God who had provided for them for generations.  It was all they could do to keep the people from sacrificing to them.

Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds over to them.  They convinced them to drag Paul out of the city and stone him.  Everyone thought he was dead but the disciples came to get him and he stood up and walked into the city.  The next day he left with Barnabas to go to Derbe.  They were able to lead a lot of people there to the Lord so they went back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch encouraging the other disciples along the way.  They were telling them that they would have to endure “many tribulations” along the way of entering “the kingdom of God” (v. 22).  Where are the prosperity preachers when this verse is read?

The apostles appointed elders in all the churches and prayed with them and fasted.

Next, they went through Pisidia to get into Pamphylia, both regions in present-day Turkey.  They preached in Perga before going down to Attalia.  Back to their home base in Antioch where they had been sent out in the first place.  When they got back to Antioch, they debriefed by delivering a report on how God had been reaching the Gentiles.  They hung out there for a while.

 

Psalm 140:1-13   A Lament By David

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Psalm 140:1-13   Day Trippers

Psalm 140 is the final “imprecatory” psalm.  An imprecation is a curse.  There are several imprecatory psalms.  They are Psalms 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, as well as this one.

I don’t believe we are to pray these against people in this age unless you are sure they are completely satanic.  These prayers can be used against demons.  They were prayed in Old Testament times against the enemies of Israel.  Since the seven year tribulation time in the future is also a distinctly Jewish time period, the prayers can be used against the enemies of Israel once again.

In Psalm 140, David is praying against the enemies of Israel or his own enemies since he is the King of Israel.  Those who oppress him are “evil” and particularly abusive and “violent” (v. 1).  They work at being evil and stirring up strife and war (v. 2).  They don’t literally sharpen their tongues.  That would really hurt them.  They use their language as sharpened swords to pierce believers’ reputations and to try to deprive them of power (v. 3a).  They sting believers with the poison of attacks that cause believers to shrivel and possibly die (v. 3b).

Have you ever been attacked by a fellow believer?  They can be the worst offenders.  I have quoted this portion from A.W. Pink before.  Pink was a Christian pastor and author of the late 19th and early 20th century.  He quoted a pastor named Thomas Scott who ministered in the late 18th century.  It would seem that this quote is universally applicable, having been used in all three of the previous centuries.

 

“The believer’s progress must be gradual: his faith and his graces must be proved, and his pride subdued, before he can properly endure any kind of prosperity: and for these purposes the Lord often employs the perverseness of his brethren, without their knowledge or contrary to their intention. In the professing Church few honour those whom the Lord will honour: before Jesus came, and in each succeeding generation, the very builders have rejected such as Heaven intended for eminent situations; and His servants must be conformed to Him. Ambition, jealousy, envy, and other evil passions, cause men to conceal their real motives under plausible pretenses. The believer’s wisdom, however, consists in waiting quietly and silently under injuries, and in leaving God to plead his cause, except it be evidently his duty to be active.”

Thomas Scott, p. 241 Gospel of John, by A.W. Pink

The point is that fellow believers can really be jerks.  Watch out for them.  They can act like wolves among lambs.  Jesus warns us of such (cf. Matt. 10:16).  Of course, Jesus was alerting us not only of dangerous believers but unbelievers.  True ministers of God are their targets.  The Lord recommends being shrewd like serpents but innocent as doves when being attacked.  David knew what it was like to be oppressed by his own people as well as foreign enemies.  So did Jesus.  He even had to rebuke Peter one time (cf. Matt. 16:23; also John 13:38).

In either case, David implores the Lord to protect him from evil people who would try every day to trip him up (vv. 4-5).  The chances are good that God will cause them to suffer the same punishment that they had planned to inflict on believers (cf. Ps. 7:15-16, 35:8, 57:6; 141:10; see the story of Haman in the book of Esther, Hanging Together Or Hanging Separately?).

David asks the Lord not to allow his enemies to have a victory over him (vv. 6-8).  This prayer can be prayed in any age that you are being persecuted for your faith.  And since we are in the end times, there may be antichristic people out there wanting to devour Christians for lunch.  John warned us about this day and believed he was already in the midst of the end times.  “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).

There have been students recently attacked for sharing Bible verses in school, church meetings that have been threatened by their own town governments for meeting in neighborhood homes, and even businesses that have refused to participate in activities or actions that they have deemed contrary to their faith.  The time of the Lord’s return is much closer than it has ever been in all history.

Verses 9-11 may be prayed against our enemies in this age, provided we ask that God be the final arbiter deciding the punishment of our persecutors.  Always, our attitude should be to try to negotiate peace with any of our adversaries (cf. Rom. 12:18).  Then we should allow God to have His way with anyone who has come against us (cf. Rom. 12:19).

Finally, we should try to do something good for the one who opposes us, if we can (cf. Rom. 12:20).  God’s will is always that we attempt to overcome evil with good (cf. Rom. 12:21).  Proverbs 25:21-22 as well as Rom. 12:20 tell us that we will be “heaping burning coals” on the heads of our enemies by treating them with unexpected good, fulfilling verse 10 in this psalm.  Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (cf. Matt. 5:44).

Verse 10 makes it clear that the people who oppose God are destined for the “lake of fire” described in Revelation 20:14-15 and Matthew 25:41.  David asks that a slanderer stalk the slanderer that has stalked him (v. 11).  Satan himself specializes in slander and debasing a believer’s heritage.  Wiersbe believes that the setting for this psalm could have been when David was in Saul’s court and jealous competitors were bad-mouthing him.

David ended up accomplishing much more for the Lord than any of his challengers.  As Wiersbe points out, David, ” . . . would write nearly half of the psalms, he would expand and defend the borders of the kingdom, and he would make the preparations necessary for the building of the temple. What a great man he was because he trusted in the Lord!”

We should follow David’s example when we are persecuted for doing God’s will.  We will have the same reward then as David!

We do not need to worry about what people think of us.  The Lord will guard our reputations even if we don’t have money for lawyers (v. 12).  I have been amazed of the things I have been accused of while in the ministry.  I have been even more astonished to see how people’s words bounce back on them and the Lord has kept my reputation intact!  Trust the Lord.  He will protect you, too (cf. Prov. 3:5-6)!

All those who have trusted the Lord and have reflected His glory will give thanks to Him and live with Him throughout eternity (v. 13, cf. John 17:3)!

Proverbs 17:22   Cackles And Cardiology

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My wife describes my hearty laughs as cackles.  She says I don’t laugh, I cackle.  What-ev-er.

Turns out, I should cackle more than I do!

A book written by Norman Cousins called Anatomy of an Illness, recounts his struggle with an “incurable” disease.  Cousins was the editor of the Saturday Review for over thirty years and was no dummy.

He decided that since his disease was not possible to treat anyway, he’d think outside the box and try some things.  He came across the ideas of using high doses of Vitamin C as well as trying to amuse himself and laugh more.  He set up a projector, before the days of iTunes, and watched a lot of Three Stooges movies.  My guess is that he would have recovered even more quickly if he had watched the Marx Brothers.  But I have a distinct bias.  I know.  That’s the silliest thing you eva hoid.

Did I mention?  Cousins recovered.  Doctors were baffled.

Thus proving “A joyful heart is good medicine.”

Conversely, ” . . . a broken spirit dries up the bones.”  If depression doesn’t literally dry out your bones, I’m sure it feels like it does.  The point it that there is really a mind-body connection.  The Scripture tells us that it’s true and experience bears it out.

 

Choose Life: Scripture:  2 Kings 3:27    NASB    “The Rule Of The First Thought”

“Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel, and they departed from him and returned to their own land.”  2 Kings 3:27

 

This is a strange verse.

When we are reading Scripture and we think that the first thoughts that cross our mind are absolutely from the Holy Spirit, I call that “The Rule Of The First Thought.”  It is often wrong.  Here is a case in point.

The Israeli kings were wiping out King Mesha and his pagan horde.    They were about to annihilate the Moabites.  So to make sure he had his gods’ attention, Mesha sacrificed his son and heir up on the wall where the Israelis could see it.

So did that work and the pagan gods mustered their forces against Israel, causing them to retreat?  Possibly.  Was the entire Israeli army now afraid that the Moabites would come against them with renewed vigor and would defeat them?  Ehh.  Maybe.

Another interpretation is that when the Judahites, who had been summoned to fight with the northern kingdom Israelites, witnessed the scene of the child sacrifice, they were so disgusted that they left the scene.  There was not a reason to completely eviscerate the Moabites, they had already been repulsed and put in their place.  And the men of Judah were probably also so revulsed by the sight of the child sacrifice that they became angry at the northern kingdom for drawing them into the war: ” . . . there came great wrath against Israel [the northern kingdom], and they departed from him and returned to their own land.”

I believe the above is the best way to handle this difficult passage.  So here’s a rule of interpreting Scripture.  Don’t always assume the first thing that enters your mind when reading Scripture is the right interpretation.  It may be but if you are not comfortable with it and you’ve come up with something different than anyone else in the history of the church . . .  you may want to keep thinking and check some other resources.

 

If you do, do will find that you have chosen life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:   

 

Here is the most important thing about studying the Bible . . .  ready?   . . .  here it comes . . .  brace yourself . . .   READ IT!   That’s the most important thing.  Ig-norance of the Bible is ignorance of the Bible.

Here is the second most important thing about studying the Bible:  OBSERVE what it says!   Don’t just scan it and let the words run from one end of your brain to the other.  Think about them and meditate on them.  Think about how you can apply them.

The best way to study Scripture is learn some Bible Study Methods by learning principles like in a book like Living By The Book.  But short of studying the science of interpretation, you can also check out good resources to get Bible backgrounds, interpretations, and applications.  Here are the resources I recommend:

Thru The Bible, J. Vernon McGee

The “Be” Series, Warren Wiersbe

The Bible Knowledge Commentary

The Life Application Bible

The NIV Study Bible

The Ryrie Study Bible

(Most of the Bibles above come in different styles and translations, NIV and NASB are most recommended by me.  This blog primarily uses the NASB.)

Those resources should keep you busy for a while and keep you from falling into the errors of following “The Rule Of The First Thought.”

 

 

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:   Making A Mesha Everything

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