“My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” – 2 Chronicles 29:11
Been really struck recently about how EVERY Christian is called to be a leader, a minister – ‘Senior Pastor’ of their world. It’s a mindset change that is necessary for the people of God to get out of child mode and into maturity mode!
A few notes out of this verse:
* Ministers stand before God. They hang around him and are ready to do His bidding at a moments notice. They live as servants firstly of God. They belong to Him.
* Ministers minister to God. Not for Him but TO Him. His pleasure and delight is the focus of their ministry. They give their devotion and affection to the Lord.
* Ministers minister with a sense of God’s closeness. They minister ‘before Him’ – although their ministry may be to people, their eyes are firmly fixed on God. They live for the applause of One.
* Ministers burn incense continually. Incense speaks of prayer. They live with a continual connection with God. There is always a sweet fragrance coming off their lives.
2 Chronicles 8:11 – Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David to the house that he had built for her; for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places where the ark of Yahweh has come are holy.
Solomon is in a dilemma – he is living in Jerusalem near the Ark of the Covenant – where the very presence of God is dwelling. He is also living with his wife, the daughter of Pharoah of Egypt. These two will not dwell happily together – because the customs and practices of his wife are detestable to God, and the holiness of God is detestable to his wife.
So Solomon makes a decision – he moves his wife out of the city, and thus brings about a temporary solution. But it’s an indicator of a much bigger problem for Solomon – he had divided loyalties.
We can only be wholehearted about something when our whole heart is united. Hosting the presence of God in our lives will start to bring about a reaction from everything in our lives that is opposed to His presence. Solomon tried to deal with this the quick and easy way – by separating the two. Many Christians try the same thing – compartmentalising their lives into what is holy, and what is not. But it ended up being the ruin of Solomon, and it will ruin us too. In our heart, our love of God must surpass every other love that we have. Any time another love starts to take His place, we risk idolatry.
Some would ask – what about those who are married to people who aren’t Christians? It’s a difficult road for sure, and for that reason Paul’s advice on the subject was ‘don’t marry unbelievers’. But if you’re already married, and you’ve got saved and your husband/wife isn’t – then you have to walk out a careful balance of continuing your ongoing commitment to your spouse, while making sure that in all things, your love for God comes first. Don’t be discouraged – many non-Christian spouses have eventually been won over to the faith by the demonstration of love for God and love for others that their husband or wife shows.
One thing is true – there is only one TOP place in our heart’s love. Don’t try to share the balance – but put the One who is worthy of that place first!
2 Chronicles 5:13 – “it happened, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord […] that then the house was filled with a cloud”
Note that the trumpeters and singers were as one, making one sound to be heard in praise and worship. Unity in worship that builds on unity in the leadership prepares a house for a move of God.
There are some natural differences between singers and musicians on a worship team. But when they come together as one – God responds in awesome ways!
2 Chronicles 4:17 – In the plain of the Jordan did the king make them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredah.
The gold and brass items to be used in the temple were all made in the region of the plain of Jordan – for the sound of no tool was allowed at the building site (1 Kings 6:7).
They were made in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredah. Succoth means ‘booths’, and was the place where Jacob journeyed and made a house for himself (Genesis 33:17). Zeredah means ‘to puncture’ and was the place where Jeroboam came from (1 Kings 11:26).
So the vessels fit for use in the temple were made in the clay between the dwelling place and the piercing place. So it is with his servants – who are refined and tested in the place between glory and pain.
2 Chronicles 14:6 – He built fortified cities in Judah; for the land was quiet, and he had no war in those years, because the Lord had given him rest.
King Asa came into a season where there was rest in the land – because the Lord had given him rest and peace on all sides. In this season, he was able to build up fortified cities and invest into the land.
When we’re not fighting battles and we enter into a time of peace – it’s a huge opportunity for us to rebuild walls and invest into various things in our lives.
But here’s the key – the Lord had given him rest. We can be in the midst of huge struggles and storms of life – and yet still find ourselves in the REST of God.
We must labour to enter into His rest – because from that place all the real building begins!!
2 Chronicles 14:9 – There came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an army of a million troops, and three hundred chariots; and he came to Mareshah.
King Asa had spent years rebuilding the strength and military numbers of Israel and had done an excellent job. Eventually he was able to raise an army of over 500,000 men – which would have been a strong confidence for the people of Israel and a deterrent to the surrounding nations against attacking Israel.
Yet Asa’s 500,000 men paled in comparison to the millions of Zerah’s troops who came out against them.
No matter how well prepared you are, and how diligent you’ve been at stewarding the resources that God has given you, there will always be challenges to face that are greater than the resources you have to deal with them. God allows this to happen to increase our dependence upon Him, and so that our victory does not belong to us, but to Him.
Asa cries out to the Lord, and then arises in faith to attack the army. Although the odds were overwhelming, Israel carries a massive victory.
It doesn’t matter what is coming against you – it only matters who is with you!
2 Chronicles 10:8 – But he forsook the counsel of the old men which they had given him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.
When Rehoboam took over the kingship from Solomon, he was presented with a challenge. All of Israel came to his coronation – but they stated that Solomon had made their lives difficult and pushed them into hard service. They said to Rehoboam, that if he would make their yoke lighter, they would serve him.
As Rehoboam considered this, there were two groups of people that he consulted with. One was the old men, the other were the young men. The old men counselled him to have mercy on the people and relieve their burden – the young men advised him to increase the people’s service and demand more from them.
Rehoboam ended up ignoring the counsel of the old men, and went with the counsel of those who had grown up with him. As a result, the nation of Israel split that day, and 10 tribes walked out from under Jerusalem’s governance.
The lesson in this story is not to forsake the advice of those who have been around a long time. We can become so enamoured with the good ideas of our contemporaries that we forget to look back and listen to the voices of our fathers. There can be real wisdom found when we listen to those who have gone before us, who understand not only the situation we are in today, but how we got to that situation in the first place.
There’s a reason the commandment tells us that if we ‘honour our father and mother’ we will live long in the land.
Be a person who exercises humility – who can learn not just from contemporaries, but from those who have treaded the road before you. They have a great wealth of insight to pass on if we will just listen.
2 Chronicles 12:10 – King Rehoboam made in their place shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who kept the door of the king`s house.
Within a generation – Jerusalem had gone from immense power and glory under the leadership of Solomon, to serving Egypt and having to hand over national treasures to a foreign king under Rehoboam. What an immense change!
In this verse we see Rehoboam putting shields of brass in the place of the shields of gold which had been taken. In Solomon’s time, when even silver was of very little value, brass definitely didn’t make the cut! But brass is all that is available to Rehoboam to make these shields with.
It’s very likely that Rehoboam made the shields of brass in order to keep up appearances. To give the impression that Jerusalem was still strong when she was in fact very weak.
Verses like this should encourage us to walk very humbly before God. Rehoboam inherited a judgment from God that came down on the house of Solomon. No-one in Solomon’s days would have imagined that things could have got this bad. Yet God is more than capable of very quickly making a powerful kingdom into a begging servant if they turn away from His ways and His commands.
So don’t get arrogant if God has placed you in a strong position. Keep walking before Him with a contrite heart, and you will continue to see the blessing of God poured out on you.
2 Chronicles18:7 – The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of Yahweh: but I hate him; for he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. Jehoshaphat said, Don`t let the king say so.
The righteous King Jehoshaphat (J) has joined with the wicked King Ahab to go to war against Syria. Before they go out, J asks if they can inquire of the prophets. So Ahab obliges and brings out his prophets who dance around and promise success and victory to the campaign.
Yet J knows the word of God, and realises that these prophets are not prophets of Yahweh. It’s very likely that they were in fact prophets of Baal. So he asks Ahab if he has a prophet of the Lord. This is where this verse comes in. Ahab does have someone to inquire of the Lord by, but Ahab hates him because he never has anything nice to say about Ahab!
A mark of the end times is that people will gather around themselves teachers who tell them ‘what their itching ears long to hear’. Ahab is a type of the person who is interested in God if God can give him what he wants. Encouraging words are always well received by people. God has plenty of encouragement for His people – but He will also not stay silent about our sin!
The message Ahab received may not have been ‘encouraging’ – but if Ahab had listened to the prophet of the Lord, he would not have gone out to battle and lost his life.
In the same way, the word that God speaks to us may not always give us the ‘warm fuzzies’! Sometimes it comes with the intense and inescapable conviction of the Holy Spirit – and we can walk away feeling fairly nailed to the wall!
But in all things, even in His sternness, if we will listen to and obey His voice – we will never be put to shame.
2 Chronicles 30:18-19 – For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the Passover otherwise than it is written. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, The good Yahweh pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, Yahweh, the God of his fathers, though not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.
King Hezekiah had invited all of Israel to a re-institution of the feast of unleavened bread. His invitation was turned down by many in Israel – and those who came would have endured scorn and mockery from their families and communities.
Now that they had arrived in Jerusalem, it was found that many of those who had come were not cleansed according to the law – so from a legal point of view, they should not have been participating in the feast.
Yet Hezekiah prayed for them – asking that the ‘good Lord’ would pardon all who set his heart to seek God. The next verse shows us that God answered that prayer, and healed them.
This passage is not given to show us that God’s commands don’t matter. He has reasons and ways that are far beyond ours, and it is in our best interest to apply all diligence to observing what He commands us.
Instead what we see in this passage is a people who are trying to return to God, a man of faith who is working with them, and a God of mercy.
True faith seeks to love and obey God and what He has commanded, but it also has an understanding of the mercy of God – how He is one who justifies the unrighteous and pardons the ungodly. Hezekiah knew this God, and knew that in this situation, that the Lord would not hold their impurity against them.