Old Testament In a Year: November 10 – 2 Chronicles 36; Daniel 1, 2

2 Chronicles 36; Daniel 1, 2
Focus Verse: The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. – Daniel 2:11

The Chaldeans were right about one thing. There was not a human being on earth who could do what King Nebuchadnezzar was asking and both tell his dream and its interpretation. It was difficult. It was impossible. Only God could do such a thing. Daniel recognized this, as well. The reason he could both tell King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation and the Chaldeans could not was because Daniel personally knew God while the latter only knew about God.

Daniel believed that nothing was too difficult for God. He had faith that the things which were impossible with him were possible with God. He knew that all wisdom and might did not belong to Him, but to God. Because Daniel’s reliance was fully on his great God, he was able to reveal deep and hidden things and make known to the king his dream.

When our eyes are focused upward, difficult will be made easy for us.

When our voice is directed to Heaven, impossible will become possible for us.

When our faith is firmly rooted in God and our trust lies in His salvation, then He will give us His wisdom and might. The things others cannot do, we will do. And they will know…truly, our God is God of gods and Lord of kings.

Old Testament In a Year: October 17 – 2 Chronicles 35; Habakkuk 1, 2, 3

2 Chronicles 35; Habakkuk 1, 2, 3
Focus Verse: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. – Habakkuk 3:18

In this Scripture passage, the word “yet” is used as a conjunction meaning “but at the same time; but nevertheless.”

Habakkuk is saying that even though he, his people, and their land are not presently experiencing blessings, his faith will remain in God. They are being afflicted, but at the same time Habakkuk will rejoice in the Lord. They are going through trouble, but nevertheless Habakkuk will take joy in the God of his salvation.

Habakkuk can rejoice amid distress because he has hope in God that Israel’s present affliction will not last forever. Their salvation will come. He has confidence that his strength, which is God, will bring Israel out of their low estate and enable them to walk on high places.

We too can determine like Habakkuk to rejoice in God regardless of what we’re going through. In this world, we will have trouble, but we can take joy in God because He is our salvation and strength and has already overcome the world. Amid distress, affliction, and doubt, we can look back and remember the great things that God has done in the past for others and be confident that God will do those great things – and even greater things – again in the future for us. Such confidence will fill us with joy.

Though we experience loss, yet we will rejoice in the Lord. Though our crosses are heavy to bear, yet we will take joy in God. Our present losses and crosses will not last forever. Our Savior will come. And where He is, we will be also.

Old Testament In a Year: October 15 – 2 Chronicles 33, 34

2 Chronicles 33, 34
Focus Verse: And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. – 2 Chronicles 34:2

Big props to Josiah right here. I mean, when this kid became king, he was not playing. He was dead serious about following God.

Josiah’s determination and dedication to following God is such a big deal because: (1) his immediate family background was not super Godly by any stretch of the imagination, and (2) he was only an eight-year-old.

Focusing on point one, let’s back up to the previous chapter (33) in which we are introduced to Josiah’s granddaddy, Manasseh, and his daddy, Amon. Manasseh was just about to hit his teen years when he started to reign in Judah at the age of twelve. But unlike Josiah, Scripture says, “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” He built altars to false gods. He worshipped the sun, the moon, and the stars. He burned his sons as an offering. He used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery. He had dealings with mediums and with necromancers. Not only did Manasseh do evil, but he led his people to do evil, as well. He did so much evil that God was angered by it.

Manassah, stop your evil, God warned him. Or something really bad is going to come of it.

But Manassah did not pay God any attention. He went right on doing evil.

So, God had another king – the king of Assyria – to capture Manasseh with hooks and bind him with bronze chains. He was taken from his kingdom of Judah and forced to live like a prisoner in the king of Assyria’s kingdom of Babylon. Now, God had Manassah’s attention. Now, Manassah knew that God was God.

O God, I’m so sorry for doing evil, Manassah cried. O God, please hear me. Please save me.

Did God hear him? Did God save him?

It may be hard to believe, but even after all the bad things Manassah had done, God did hear him and God did save him…because God is awesome like that. He didn’t stay angry at Manassah. He still loved Manassah. And because Manassah was truly sorry for doing evil, he was allowed to return to Judah. Once he returned to home sweet home, Manassah tore down all altars to false gods and he no longer worshipped the sun, the moon, and the stars. For the rest of his days, he only worshipped God. When he died, his son, Amon, became king.

Amon was twenty-two-years-old when he started to reign in Judah. You would think that after seeing all his daddy went through, Amon wouldn’t even think about doing evil. But, no. Amon took the sins of his daddy to a whole nother level. He was so bad that the Bible doesn’t even bother to elaborate on his badness. I’m guessing that Amon’s servants didn’t want to put up with another bad boy extraordinaire because after two short years they conspired against Amon and killed him. This act was unfortunate, but it cleared the way for Amon’s son, Josiah, to become king.

Now, Josiah was smart. Daddy and granddaddy, I love y’all and all, he said. But I’m wearing the crown now and I don’t have time to repeat y’all’s mistakes. I gotta be about doing what’s right.

Focusing on point two, Scripture says that Josiah was eight-years-old when he started to reign in Judah. Can you imagine: One day, you’re just struggling to keep up with third grade homework assignments, and the next day, you’re told that your daddy has been murdered and you’re responsible for running his kingdom? I know. No big deal. Right?

Right, Josiah said. I got this.

Even though he was just a kid, Josiah was already dedicated to doing what was right in the eyes of God. He was already determined to follow the good example of David and not the bad examples of his daddy and granddaddy. He was already devoted to practicing righteousness and would not be turned aside to the right or to the left.

One is never too young to seek God, to have a heart that is tender to His Word, and to have a spirit that is humble before Him. You do not have to follow what those before you did or what those around you are doing. Follow God. Determine to walk after Him and to keep His Word, with all your heart and with all your soul. In the words you say, in the things you do, and in the ways you love, set an example for others…then no one will look down on you because you are young.

Old Testament In a Year: September 12 – 2 Chronicles 31, 32

2 Chronicles 31, 32
Focus Verse: With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. – 2 Chronicles 32:8

Ephesians 6 tells us that we do not fight against flesh and blood. And just as we do not fight against flesh and blood, neither do we fight with flesh and blood. As believers, we have God to help us and fight our battles – whether they are spiritual, financial, or physical.

This is why we can be confident regardless of what or who we’re faced with.

I am with you, God says. Therefore, be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid of hardship or trouble. Do not be dismayed when you receive a negative doctor’s report or fail to be promoted at your job. Because I am with you, not without you; because I am for you, not against you, you will experience victory in every battle. With this assurance, be encouraged and take confidence.

Old Testament In a Year: September 11 – 2 Chronicles 29, 30

2 Chronicles 29, 30
Focus Verse: Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. – 2 Chronicles 30:1

Hezekiah was one of the kings of Judah who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Not only did he do what was right, but he worked to help others do what was right, as well.

When Hezekiah set about to cleanse the temple, to restore temple worship, and to celebrate Passover, he did not do it alone. He knew he was doing a good work, the right thing, a holy effort, and he got others involved in it. He recruited the priests, the Levites, the officials of the city, singers, trumpeters, and the whole assembly. He sent letters throughout all Israel and Judah and to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting everyone who had a heart to return to the Lord, to do so.

As a result, not only was he blessed, but others were blessed as well. Collectively, they were pardoned, consecrated, and healed. Together, they feasted, sang, sacrificed, and praised the Lord with great gladness and thanksgiving. God is pleased when His people work together and worship together for Him. And when we are doing a good work for the Lord, we should not keep it to ourselves, but should spread it far and wide and seek to get as many others as possible involved.

Old Testament In a Year: September 10 – 2 Chronicles 27, 28

2 Chronicles 27, 28
Focus Verse: So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God. – 2 Chronicles 27:6

To order your ways before the Lord means that you prepare what you do and what you say by His commandments. Your behavior, your actions, your attitude, and your words are directed and guided according to God’s Word, God’s will, and God’s way.

Those who are careful to follow, obey, and order their ways before the Lord, will always experience success. They will experience temporal success in this world, but more importantly they will also experience eternal success in the world to come.

Old Testament In a Year: September 6 – 2 Chronicles 24, 25, 26

2 Chronicles 24, 25, 26
Focus Verse: And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart. – 2 Chronicles 25:2

The latter part of this verse explains why the three kings in the three chapters of 2 Chronicles 24, 25, and 26 started off well in serving God, but ultimately failed. Joash, Amaziah, and Uzziah all did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but none of them did so with a whole heart.

In the case of Joash, he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. As soon as Jehoiada died, Joash stopped doing what was right. He abandoned the house of the Lord. He started serving false gods such as the Asherim and idols. He even had Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, stoned to death. This shows that Joash was not doing right because he personally loved God. He was only doing right out of eyeservice, to please Jehoiada. He only loved and served God half heartedly, not with a whole heart.

In the case of Amaziah, as soon as God gave him several victories in war, Amaziah turned away from God. I really don’t know what Amaziah was thinking, but he turned from serving the God who had given him victory and began serving the false gods of the very men who he had defeated. He worshiped them. He made offerings to them. And as a result, he was defeated.

In the case of Uzziah, he started off very well. He was only sixteen years old when he became king and Scripture says that “he set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.” Uzziah experienced victory in battle, and because of God’s help, he became very strong and his fame spread throughout the region. As he grew strong, however, Uzziah also grew proud and his pride led to his destruction. He failed to remember that his prosperity and strength was not because of him, but because he sought the Lord. As soon as Uzziah stopped seeking the Lord, he stopped being prosperous and strong.

This is why Jesus encouraged us to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” If we only love God with half or a part of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then we leave room to love something else or someone else and that something or someone else will eventually push God out. When it comes to following, loving, and serving God, we must be all in and do so with a whole heart, or we will end up starting off well and then fading out just as Joash, Amaziah, and Uzziah did.

Old Testament In a Year: September 5 – 2 Chronicles 23; Joel 2, 3

2 Chronicles 23; Joel 2, 3
Focus Verse: And Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the Lord’s people. – 2 Chronicles 23:16

Immediately after Jehoiada determined that he would belong to the Lord, along with the king and all the people, the words of that covenant were followed by action. They didn’t just declare that they were the Lord’s people. They demonstrated that they were the Lord’s people. By tearing down the house of Baal, by breaking Baal’s altars and images, by killing the priest of Baal, by posting watchmen for the house of the Lord – they showed they were serious about following God and doing what was right.

We often say that we are followers of God, that we love and obey and believe in Him, but do our actions reflect our words? Does our behavior match our speech? If not, we must make changes in our life so that we are the Lord’s people not just by what we say, but also by what we do.

Old Testament In a Year: September 4 – 2 Chronicles 22; Joel 1

2 Chronicles 22; Joel 1
Focus Verse: He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done. For after the death of his father they were his counselors, to his undoing. – 2 Chronicles 22:4

1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” We don’t know if Ahaziah had good character to begin with, but we do know that the bad company he kept, corrupted him and ultimately led to his undoing. Instead of following God’s guidance and instead of following the good examples of forefathers such as David and Asa, Ahaziah decided to follow the guidance of his wicked mother Athaliah. He allowed members of the evil house of Ahab to counsel him.

Don’t think that the company you keep doesn’t affect you. If you don’t have absolutely strong morals and firm convictions, being guided and counseled by those who do not love God can be your undoing.