Tuesday, January 29, 2008

2 Chronicles 11:5 - 12:16

What is this passage all about?
The Levites and other devout Israelites move from Israel to Jerusalem so they may offer sacrifices. After a time, Rehoboam and his nation abandon the law and God judges them with invasion by Egypt.

What can I learn from it?
There are two contrasting pictures is this passage, which adds to the minor details of Rehoboam's reign which are in 1 Kings. The first tells of devotion to God. The priests and their families (the Levites) left the land that they own in Israel because Jeroboam had made idols and appointed his own priests to serve for his pagan religious practices. The Levites, knowing God's call for them to serve Him at His holy temple in Jerusalem, gave up their worldly possessions in order to fulfil this responsibility. Other people from all over the northern kingdom of Israel, faced with Jeroboam's rebellion against God, left Israel and their tribal lands within it and moved to Jerusalem where they could worship the LORD correctly. These people are described in the passage (11:16a) as "Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the LORD, the God of Israel." What a lovely appelation! This meant that the people of Judah, although they were called by the name of that tribe, included also people from every other tribe of Israel, especially large numbers of Benjaminites and Levites. They were the first "remnant" that God kept for himself.
However, after Rehoboam had fortified the cities of Judah, the king and his people became complacent and (12:1) "abandoned the law of the LORD." I don't think this has quite the same connotations as with Jeroboam's complete rebellion against God, although the LORD does say through his prophet Shemaiah (12:5) that, " 'You have abandoned me.' " As a consequence, God enabled Shishak of Egypt to capture many cities in Judah (12:2-3) and plunder the temple in Jerusalem, taking much of the wealth of Solomon (12:9). It was the reaction of the leaders of Judah, in humbling themselves before God and admitting that what happened was God's justice (12:6), that led to God relenting and protecting them from further destruction (12:7). God limited his punishment to allowing Shishak to rule over them for some (unspecified) time. This was in order that they might learn to appreciate the blessings of God's rulership (12:8). " 'They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.' " Succeeding generations must have wished that they learnt the lesson better!
I've done a quick scan from my concordance of the instances where the word continue is used, and these are some reminders to me of the need to make and effort to continue in the faith that God has given me, by His grace:
2 Chronicles 6: 14
Romans 11:22
Philippians 2:12
Colossians 1:23
1 Timothy 2:15
2 Timothy 3:14
1 John 2 :28
2 John 1:9

How can I apply this to my own life?
The crucial thing is to remain in Him, to maintain my strong faith in Jesus. I need to be like the Israelites and set my heart on seeking the LORD. I must not abandon Him. I need to work at building my faith, setting my foundation on the Lord Jesus Christ, so that I may continue in my faith. This means effort and determination. Continuing to find time for Bible study, despite the business of everyday life. Praying as and when the Holy Spirit guides me rather than shrugging of the itch to pray that I get particularly when I receive conviction over some sin. Eagerly seeking opportuinities to learn more of God. Meditating upon His nature and worshipping Him in spirit and truth. Thanking Him rather than taking credit when He blesses me. Keeping Him #1 in all that I do.

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