After about 8 months of being in the “Year of the Bible,” we are finally about to move out of the Old Testament. The Book of Chronicles marks the end of the Hebrew Scriptures. It is sort of a look back at the story up to now, going back through Israel’s journey from the viewpoint of those Jewish survivors involved in the mostly unsuccessful “return from exile” that we read about in Ezra – Nehemiah.
1 & 2 Chronicles (originally only one “book,”) goes back to mostly the same period of history as the Book of Kings, but offers a different interpretation of those events in light of the exile. In other words, don’t look for a dry re-tread of old history here. Instead, you will find a deep reflection and reinterpretation of Israel’s past.
But first, let’s look back on our own Year Of The Bible journey. School is back in session, and the scattered summer calendar is giving way to the old routines again. Most of us are back in town for a long time, and we will get back to our reading as we had been doing before. So, how have you been doing with your reading?
Some of you guys have expressed to me that this has been a life-changing experience for you. The Old Testament has really come to life, and you have been amazed to see Jesus himself through so much of it.
Others have expressed tedium, exhaustion, and frustration with it.
I think some of us gave up reading quite a while ago.
How has this experience been in your group so far? What are your favorite parts? Your least favorite? What surprises have there been for you? What are the difficulties?
What parts have worked for you, and what hasn’t?
If you gave up a while back, don’t you think you are missing something worth doing? Why don’t you pick back up with us again this week? You can very easily use the ReadScripture App on your mobile device to keep you up to date. We’re beginning the much more familiar New Testament very soon, and we would love to have you join us as we explore it over the next few months.
In the meantime…
I had so much response from this past week’s message, that I thought we should talk about that a little bit. I hope this week’s divergence is okay with you.
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So, right now we are working through the book of Esther. It is a great story, and I am enjoying the narrative means of teaching for a change. What do you guys think of it in your group?
This past week, we looked at the character of Haman, who was very very prideful. I described pride not as one sin, but as “the cause of all other sins.” Did you agree or disagree with me on that?
James 1:14-15 NLT
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
I think “our own desires” here could be described as pride, don’t you? Why or why not?
The Greek word for “desires” here in James is actually “craving.”
Typically, when I read James, and he talks about giving into desires, enticing and dragging me away, I think about those “really bad” things that I am not supposed to crave. What are the kinds of things we as believers should never crave?
But, what about those other cravings? The ones we turn a blind eye to?
You probably know I love Oreo cookies. (I can’t remember the last time I actually ate one right now) But they are definitely my favorite cookie! If I ever want Oreos, I can just swing by the store and grab some. There are stacks of them at Ingles, WalMart, CVS, Dollar General, and whatever store you drive by on your way home.
So, I grab them from time to time. And once I sit down with those things, and I have a glass of milk with me, you better watch out! There will be milk and crumbs everywhere, and my teeth will be black with them.
My cravings for those things definitely get the best of me from time to time.
Contrast my cravings for, access to, and consumption of Oreo cookies, and contrast that with the children of Haiti, just 90 miles from Miami. Most of those kids have never seen an Oreo cookie. In fact, most of them live on a small handful of rice on any given day. ON very rare occasions, they may splurge and get some chicken in with that rice. That is, after they have hiked together to the nearest well (sometimes miles away) to get their family’s water for the day.
I think about myself and I think about our constant desires or cravings for food, clothes, vehicles, gadgets, homes, toys, and so on. We want what we want when we want it… And thanks to America, we have immediate, low-interest access to all of it.
And where have our cravings taken us. Are we really better off because of our satisfied cravings? As a nation, we have a very high incarceration rate. Obesity is one of our primary killers. Suicide plagues even our younger generations. We thumb our nose at God and publicly embrace sin.
Are we already “enticed and carried away?” Has pride already done us in?
Is it possible that God already has a role-reversal planned for us? Think about the events of the past few years. Think about the events of this past week or two. Think about Charlottesville and Russia. Think about China, and of North Korea. Could we be living through the beginnings of that role reversal in our very generation?
Now, this next verse is a promise made to Solomon about Israel, “God’s people…” But I believe and hope that this principal remains true even for us today:
2 Chronicles 7:14
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
Isn’t this what we need right now? I doubt that a restoration of our land will ever come from Democrats, from Republicans, or from any worldly system. We need hearing from God and healing of our hearts.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
What would it look like for this to happen on a national level?
What would it look like for this to happen on a community level?
What would it look like for this to happen to me?