This week's chapter is 17, The Kingdoms' Fall
I have a companion book called "Exploring the Story" by Adam T. Barr. There is a section in this chapter that is a good review I thought I'd share with you.
In the beginning God created a perfect home for humans, a garden named Eden. He asked them to trust and obey him by not eating the fruit of a certain tree. When they disobeyed and ate the fruit they were expelled from their garden home. Sin spread throughout the world and infected the descendants of Adam and Eve so thoroughly that the only answer was annihilation, yet God saved one family. Setting them down in a world scraped clean, he asked them to spread out and once again fill the earth. Yet again they disobeyed, and the Lord struck confusion in their midst, confounding their communication and multiplying their languages. By the time of Abraham, no one was serving the Creator God any longer.
But in calling Abraham, the Lord made a covenant with a chosen people. He made promises to Abraham and his children forever. In 1 Kings 4:20 we read that the people of Abraham grew "as numerous as the sand on the seashore." God's promises to Abraham were fulfilled as his descendants grew and inherited the Promised Land.
Unfortunately, after receiving the promises of God, the pattern of sin repeated once again. Just as it happened in the garden, and after the days of the flood, it was happening again. God had made a good place for his people, but his people did not trust his guidelines or accept his direction. Once again, God would have to clean out his house and start again.
And so it goes, on and on. Praise God that if we trust Him, we will once again be in a beautiful garden sharing 'face time' with Him.
Have a blessed week.
Do you remember what it was like to be a kid and you had to be disciplined or punished? I know that growing up there were sometimes things that we would do to just push the limits. It would carry on for just so long and then, Wham! the consequence would come down. There was a limit to our parents’ mercy and they could be pushed, but only so far. And when we were disciplined, they would utter the near-universal phrase, “I’m only doing this for your good.” Looking back now, we can see that many times it probably was.
Imagine if you were surrounded by millions of kids that pushed the boundaries? That would get tiring. Well, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was just like us when we were kids. God said time and time again that they needed to listen to Him and to follow Him. But almost every single one of their leaders would do evil in God’s sight and they would gladly follow them. Warning after warning wouldn’t stop them, until finally, Wham! they got the message.
Why does it sometimes take a captivity for us to finally listen? When we were little, it may have been a timeout or sore behind. But as adults, sometimes it is God’s gentle but extremely firm reprimand and removal. This week’s chapter shows how Israel disregarded God for centuries until finally God showed that there was indeed an extent to His mercy. Israel was taken into captivity and the Northern Kingdom wiped off the face of the earth. But God, just like a good parent, says that it is for their good. He wants them to know that He alone is their Redeemer, Provider, and Blessing-giver. Thankfully, this captivity is not the end of the story for God’s People. God’s plan to rescue and restore will come to completion.
A 208 year period, 39 kings. Only 5 honored God.
Over and over and over God sends His messengers to try to convince the people to turn back to God.
But they are too stubborn.
King Hezekiah was one of the good kings. Read the chapter this week to learn how this helped the nation of Judah while the nation of Israel was taken captive. Following God, honoring Him can--NO--does make a big difference. Hezekiah understood what was important.
Please spend some time with your family reading and discussing chapter 16, The Beginning of the End.
The kingdom of Israel was unified for a few decades and during that time, it still didn’t seem like easy going. As soon as wise Solomon was dead, the nation unraveled quickly. Solomon’s very unwise son Rehoboam, was in charge of Judah and the man who conspired against Solomon, Jeroboam, was in charge of the 10 northern tribes, now called Israel. From this point on, the majority of what is done is evil in God’s eyes. Israel is taken into captivity a hundred and a bit years before Judah. And later on in the Old Testament and in the New Testament we only hear of the Kingdom of Judah, not Israel. God told Israel that they would be destroyed off the face of the earth because of their wickedness, but He would save a remnant.
Sometimes it seemed like Israel was doomed from the beginning. But in chapter 15 of The Story, we see how God sent at least 4 prophets to the northern tribes to turn their hearts back to God again. Much of the Old Testament section we call the Major and Minor Prophets is devoted to God calling His own back to Him. Even though the northern kingdom of Israel is no longer mentioned, God did not allow their punishment until He had reached out to them again and again.
Sometimes we look at our world and we see great wickedness all around. God promises that He will punish evil, but it seems that He takes His precious time sometimes. Actually, He does, because in 2 Peter 3:9 it says “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” So if God sent prophets to try to draw Israel back to Him, who is He sending to the world now? A prophet is not only one that proclaims God’s Words of what will come, but is also one that proclaims the Truth. You and I have been sent to share God’s Word, He has given us a mission to proclaim light and truth to those around us. The prophets gave their all to proclaim the life-giving message of God’s love. What about you and me? Do we?
What an awesome and wonderful job you have raising babies and training them to be self sufficient, God loving and honoring adults. What a responsibility, what an honor...
As I read and re-read our lesson this week (chapter 15 God's Messengers) I couldn't help but wonder if there are times I'm so thick headed that I just don't get what God is trying to tell me. There is a 208 year period after Israel is divided during which one author writes, there was 208 years of spiritual decline and unprecedented immorality. Of thee 38 kings these 2 nations had during this period, there were only 5 labeled as good. Even though God sends messenger after messenger to help the people change, there never seems to be much positive movement.
What is your relationship with God? Is it really what you want it to be? Are you spending 5 or 10 minutes with God and feeling that is good? Are you so committed that it wouldn't matter how cold it was you would do everything in your power to get to church to worship our Almighty, Awesome God with other believers? Consider what God has done for you... It seems like over and over again God does so much more for the Israelites than they deserve. Do you see that He is doing that for you? right now?
The Israelites just could not leave those idols alone. Useless, powerless, non-caring lumps of stone, wood, or what have you. WHAT was the attraction? What idols are you serving?
I know most of you are serving God and worshiping Him in ways that really please Him. Way to go! I know I love God, I want to serve Him to the best of my ability. I want to know Him more. But I'm not that good at it. I still can be so distracted that I want to get up and go do something else. That doesn't mean those things are wrong...I just need to be careful where my heart is. As I pray asking God to help me be who He wants me to be, help me do what He wants me to do, and help me to talk to Him more; I'll pray He does the same for you.
I love you, I love God.
Please spend some time this week encouraging your family with God's Word.
God bless you!
I’m sure that you have noticed the news lately. And if you have, you know that the inauguration of the new President of the United States of America will take place next Friday. Though he will be the President of this entire country, there are many people who are saying, “Not My President!”
If you look through the books of 1st and 2nd Kings and 1st and 2nd Chronicles, we see many leaders mentioned. Most were ones that you and I would definitely say, “Not MY Leader!” They chose to do what was right in their own eyes, rather than what was right in the eyes of God. And when they did, His anger was aroused. You see this pattern over and over.
There were not many bright spots at all in the kingships of Judah and Israel. Their leaders’ hearts were not fully devoted to the Lord their God. To us, it’s really hard to fathom why they wouldn’t follow God because they had seen Him work in mighty ways. They saw His presence in the Temple for crying out loud! But still, by and large, they didn’t follow God. The nation as a whole either by choice or complacency agreed with their leaders and their decisions. And they paid the consequences.
God asks us to respect those who are in authority over us. But He also says to stand up for the truth. I don’t mean the way the world defines “truth,” but the way God does. The other day I was reading a humorous, but thought-provoking article from the Christian satire website the Babylon Bee. It talked about a progressive Christian who constantly refreshed her Bible apps in order to see if God finally had “gotten His act together” regarding His views on sexuality since He was “on the wrong side of history.” (It’s worth a read, here.) It’s funny to us and seems absurd, but this is what we do all of the time. We change the “truth” to be what is right in our own eyes. Our hearts are not fully devoted to God.
This week as you read through the characters in Chapter 14 of The Story, ask God to show you what you can learn from these leaders and for you to understand how to follow God as your Leader no matter what.
We take turns writing when God gives us an idea. The author will be noted.