2 Kings 17 – If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done…

There’s an old saying that goes something like this…”If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Yet, so many of us continue to do what we’ve always done and wonder why we’re not getting different results. We put off studying for an exam, and then get upset because we got a poor grade. We keep to ourselves, and then wonders why they don’t have friends. We put off taking care of little things around the house then gets discouraged that our house is in the condition it’s in. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

This point is driven home in 2 Kings chapter 17. There, the unthinkable happens. Israel is defeated and taken over by the Assyrians, leaving them completely demoralized and discouraged. But, they were God’s chosen people. God Himself had led them out of Egyptian slavery with miracles the likes of which the world had never seen. How could this have happened?!

The answer is found in nearly every sentence of 2 Kings chapter 17. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He gave them a new way to live. But they continued to do what everyone else had aways done. Consequently, they got the same results everyone else had gotten. (2 Kings 17:8) Though they were aware of a different way, they chose to keep doing what they had been doing; believing that some how it would yield different results. But it didn’t, and it doesn’t.

We’re all prone to do what we’ve always done. But God doesn’t call us to live life on autopilot. He calls us to make clear and intentional choices about how we will live. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) We cannot be who we want to be, nor can we be where we want to be, if we continue to do what we’ve always done.

2 Kings 11-12 – When You Need a Fresh Start


 

Ever need a fresh start? At the beginning of 2 Kings Chapter 11, the nation of Judah was in need of a fresh start. King Ahaziah had died and the king’s mother, Athaliah had taken over the rule of Judah. She was so bent on running things herself, she had all of the king’s family killed so none of them could dethrone her. And she ruled for six or seven years, taking Judah down a very wicked path.

But, one of the king’s sons (Joash) had been snuck out of the palace by the king’s sister and hidden in the temple, where he could grow and learn under the watchful eye of Jehoida the priest.

When Joash was finally revealed to take his rightful place on the throne, his grandmother, Athaliah, has been reigning for so long the wickedness was deeply entrenched. They were in need of a fresh start.

Jehoida, Joash, and the people took some broad steps toward a fresh start, and these steps are applicable for anyone who needs a fresh start. To get a fresh start, you must…

  1. Have COURAGE. Jehoida had the courage to hide Joash for six years, even though it was risky. (2 Kings 11:4-16)
  2. Enter into a COVENANT with God. Make a commitment of loyalty and obedience to Him above all others…including yourself. (2 Kings. 11:17)
  3. Undergo CLEANSING. Jehoida led the people to destroy the pagan altars, the pagan priests, and anything that would detract from loyal devotion to God. (2 Kings 11:18)
  4. COMMISSION God as your ruling king. Personally and publicly, place God on the throne of your life. (2 Kings 11:19-21)
  5. CONSTRUCT your life in a way that honors God. Consistently repair the areas of your life you’ve left unattended and the areas you’ve left in disrepair. (2 Kings 12:4-15)

Is your life in need of a fresh start? Try taking these five steps and watch how God responds!

2 Kings 8-10 – How Could a Loving God Allow This?

Every day, we hear of “random” acts of violence, people who have everything making “senseless” decisions that cost them everything, and people who “supposedly” represent a Holy God but do unholy things. You can’t help but wonder, “How could a loving God allow this?

Well, you get the same feeling reading 2 Kings chapters 8-10. So much blood-shed and murder. And it all seems to be directed by God Himself! On top of that, Jehu commands and carries out the killings, because God has communicated to him that this is the consequence of not obeying the Lord. Yet, Jehu doesn’t obey God completely either! (2 Kings 10:31) It’s like an oncologist who has just watched his patient die of lung cancer, yet goes outside for a cigarette!

So, to understand these chapters, let’s stick with the oncology theme for a minute. Think of these chapters in terms of cancer treatment. If cancer in a body is not stopped, the malignancy mutates and grows at an alarming rate. So a physician sets out to use chemotherapy and radiation to kill the cancerous cells and prevent them from completely taking over. But even though it’s only the cancer that’s targeted, many other cells (and the body itself) suffer from this treatment.

Though it doesn’t make us feel any better about it, this what is happening in 2 Kings 8-10.

We all suffer from the cancerous, addicting effects of a destructive sinful nature, yet we become indignant that God would allow bad things to happen to us. We look with smug satisfaction when others “get what they deserve,” but get upset with God if we should get what we deserve…even though God has been more gracious to us than we deserve.

Yes, 2 Kings 8-10 are ugly chapters. They point to our ugly condition and tendencies. But despite what God may allow, He is still seeking our best…even in our worst.

2 Kings 1 – Fishing for Answers

When you were growing up and needed to get your parents to sign off on something, didn’t you know which parent was more likely to say “yes” to what you wanted? Isn’t that the parent you went to?

As adults, we still tend to seek advice from friends and family whose opinions are in line with ours.

King Ahaziah

In 2 Kings chapter 1, King Ahaziah of Israel is seriously injured and seeking the advice of a pagan prophet.

Elijah

But Elijah, the prophet of God, intercepts the king’s messenger. Elijah tells the messenger to return to king Ahaziah and tell him that, because he turned to a false god for information, he would die in the bed to which he was currently confined.

Furious at not receiving the answer he wanted, the king sends soldiers to arrest Elijah. But the soldiers are destroyed as a sign that Elijah was delivering truth from God. The king sends more soldiers, and the same thing happens to them. Then, the king sends even more soldiers. But this time the soldiers ask Elijah to be merciful and spare them. Elijah not only spares them, but he also returns with them to confront the king.

Elijah comes before the king and delivers the exact message he delivered in the beginning. No embellishment. No dramatics. He simply repeats the original message.

What happened next?! 2 Kings 1:17 makes this simple, matter-of-fact statement: “So Ahaziah died, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.” It happened exactly as God said it would.

Us

What is it that leads us to turn to anything and everything but God? Why do we turn to that which will feed our ego, rather than to that which will feed our soul? Why do we fish for the answers we want, rather than the truth we need?

God knows the beginning from the end. (Revelation 1:8) He has the answers we need, and we should pursue His answers, even if they’re not really what we want to hear.

1 Kings 21-22 – You Can’t Get Away With It!

Some people just don’t get it. Do you know the type? These people don’t listen, even though the message is clear and strong. They keep walking down the wrong paths, even though the warning signs are loud and clear. It’s as if they think they’re exempt from the consequences, even though the consequences are nipping at their heels. They are what the Bible calls…fools.

This is the picture we get of King Ahab, in 1 Kings chapters 21-22. Ahab is self-focused. Despite the warnings and consequences, he wants what he wants. He only wants to hear what he wants to hear and tries to squelch the truth he doesn’t want to hear. (See 1 Kings chapter 22.)

But God’s truth and God’s consequences are sure, no matter what we do to ignore them or avoid them. We can’t escape God. That’s why an arrow, shot randomly into a crowd of soldiers, finds the disguised Ahab and strikes him in the very small space between the joints in his armor.

Lucky shot? I think not. Numbers 32:23 tells us that we can be sure that our sin will find us out. Ignoring our rebellion and denying our sin will not make it go away. And it will not make God go away!

Don’t be like king Ahab; doing what you want, when you want, and how you want. Listen to God, follow His instruction, count the cost of discipleship, and avoid the consequences of serving yourself.

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (Galatians 6:7 NLT)

1 Kings 12 – Are You A Repeat Offender?

Have you ever watched someone do something foolish and said to yourself, “I’m never going to do anything like that,” and then wound up doing something very similar later on? If so, you have a picture of what’s going on in 1 Kings chapter 12.

There, Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, chooses to reject wise counsel and instead do what he wants to do. Because of this tragic and rebellious sin, Rehoboam loses over 90% of his kingdom to Jeroboam.

Now you would think that Jeroboam, having watched Rehoboam lose most of his kingdom through selfish rebellion, would have learned to do things differently. But after God gives most of the kingdom to him, and after God has told him that He will do for him what He did for David, Jeroboam turns away from the God who has given him the kingdom and sets up idols and false gods for worship. He’s a repeat offender.

It makes you want to say, “How can you be so foolish?”

But before we start pointing fingers, how many times have we watched someone suffer the consequences of willful disobedience only to turned around and ignored our own need to obey.

It’s part of our post-fall wiring (Romans 3:23) and none of us are exempt. This is why we need a Savior to pay for our sin and give us a new life that can combat the old life.

Rehoboam. Jeroboam. They all sound alike. They all act alike, and they are all prone to wander off the path of God…just as we are. The question is not, “Will you ever do something like that?” The question is, “When you do, will you turn back to the God of your blessings or continue toward your downfall.

Are you a repeat offender?

2 Samuel 24 – Righting Your Wrongs

Have you ever done something you knew was not right? Maybe others even told you it wasn’t wise, but you did it anyway. Then afterwards, things began to unravel. Your conscience began to trouble you. Your situation got worse. And you began to realize you needed to right your wrong.

Oddly enough, God ends the book of 2 Samuel with just such a situation. In 2 Samuel chapter 24, Israel has sinned and David falls to temptation, taking an unnecessary and uncalled for census. (1 Chronicles 21:1) Perhaps David’s act of taking a census was an act of pride and arrogance, but afterwards David knows he has done wrong. God, being just, brings judgement on the sin of David and Israel…graciously allowing David some say in the judgement.

Then, in mercy, God relents. He tells David to offer a sacrifice at the very place where David experienced mercy.  Though the owner of the land, the oxen, and the wood needed for the sacrifice offers it all to David for free, David insists on buying them instead…knowing that by its very nature and definition, a sacrifice must cost us something.

Why would God put such an account at the end of 2 Samuel? Why would He conclude the story of David in such a way? Perhaps its a reminder to us that no matter how much God blesses us, we should never get “too big for our britches.” Perhaps its a reminder to listen to wise counsel, no matter how successful we’ve become. (Proverbs 13:10) (Proverbs 21:11) (Proverbs 11:14) And perhaps it’s a reminder that God will not ignore sin…no matter who you are. (Numbers 32:23)

We must not forget that how our story ends will depend on whether we heed these same reminders and remain humble before the Lord.

2 Samuel 13 – Have You Become Your Parent?

It happens to everyone. If you live long enough, it will happen to you. It’s the day no one wants. The day you fought so hard to avoid. It’s the day where something you say or do causes you to stop dead in your tracks and say, “Oh no! I’ve become my parent!”

It’s inevitable. Whether it’s due to nature, nurture, or natural consequences of actions, parents will end up passing some things on to their children. Some of those things will be good, and some of those things will be not-so-good.

This is what is happening in chapter 13 of 2 Samuel. In chapter 12, the prophet Nathan confronts David with his sin and tells David that the consequences of his sin will ripple out into his family; and eventually into the nation itself. (2 Samuel 12:10-11). And that begins in 2 Samuel chapter 13.

But David’s sins of immorality and murder were not handed down to one child. They were spread out among two children. We find Amnon re-enacting David’s immorality by raping his half-sister, Tamar. And we find Absalom re-enacting David’s murder by killing his half brother, Amnon, for raping his sister Tamar. Like a drop of food coloring in a pitcher of clear water, David’s sin begins to infiltrate his family and his nation.

It’s a sobering thought, not just to parents, but to all of us. Our sin and poor judgment can actually infect those around us. This should cause us to stop and think each time we’re about to make a decision of some sort. “How will what I’m about to do live on in the lives of those around me?”

So here’s the question: What kind of legacy will you be leaving if your children, or the people close to you, eventually look or sound like you?

1 Samuel 8 – Teenage Rebellion

In 1 Samuel chapter 7, we compared the nation of Israel to little children who get distracted and wander away from their parents. But sometimes, God’s children are more like willful teenagers, opposing what God wants and willfully choosing a different direction.

This is what you see in 1 Samuel chapter 8. Israel decides that they want to be like everyone around them, rather than look like their parent (God.) They want God there when they need help, but they still want to do their own thing. And even after they are warned about the difficulties and dangers their choices will produce, they still want what they want. And they are willing to enter back into a slavery of sorts to get what they want.

The truth is, we are more like the Children of Israel than we want to admit. How often we disregard what God wants in favor of what we want. How often we turn our back on His provision and find ourselves in slavery to what we thought we wanted/needed.

And like a good parent, God will hang back and watch us make poor choices. He will allow us to willfully turn away from Him, while all, the time waiting for us to realize the slavery and mess we’ve chosen. Then, when we cry out to Him, He will step in to help us walk out of our mess.

God wants children who will stay close and dependent to Him, not teenagers who will willfully break away from Him. The question is…which are you?

Joshua 22 – It’s Really None of My Business

“It’s really none of my business. “Besides, what right do I have to say anything to them?”

Individualism and personal freedom dominant our world today. They sound like noble ideas, but they actually run counter to what Scripture teaches.

  • God implies that we are our brother’s keeper. (Genesis 4:9)
  • He encourages us to “interfere” in the lives of those involved in sin. (Galatians 6:1-3) (James 5:19-20).

God tells us that we weren’t created for individualistic isolation, but rather for caring community. (Gen. 2:18) (Ecc. 4:9-12).

In Joshua chapter 22, the Israelites on the west side of the Jordan river learn their brothers and sisters on the east side of the river have sinned. They don’t say, “What they do over there is their business. God will deal with them. It doesn’t really effect use anyway.” Instead, the people to the west go to those in the east, and seek their restoration. They even offer to bring their eastern brothers and sisters back home with them and share their land with them. The people of the west cared enough about their eastern brothers and sisters to be assertive and get involved.

This may feel like intruding, but we are our brother’s keeper. We are to get involved when others are drifting into sin, in hopes of restoring them to the community. As God’s people, we are not called to be a collection of individuals, but rather a community of care and concern for one another.

So, in love, gentleness, and humility, get involved in reaching out to your brother and sisters struggling with sin.