God delivers the impossible.

God delivers the impossible.

2 Kings 19

Well, this is certainly a drama-filled chapter in the Bible! Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, has gone around the region, conquering everyone and everything in sight (including Israel!), and now, he was sitting on Jerusalem’s doorstep with 185,000 soldiers, ready to capture Judah as well.

God doesn't make junk.

God doesn't make junk.

2 Kings 17

Evil, evil, and more evil. Where does it all lead? To the ruin of God’s creation! Did you notice this verse? "But [the Israelites] would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless." (vs 14-15)

God wants to give you rest.

God wants to give you rest.

2 Kings 16

As I read this chapter, I felt so bad for Ahaz, didn’t you? "Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree." (vs 2-4)

God tells the whole truth.

God tells the whole truth.

2 Kings 15

Well, what can you say about a chapter like 2 Kings 15? It’s nothing but a discouraging report of a succession of evil kings—each one seemingly worse than the last! Plus, it seemed to be the same story over and over again: A king comes to the throne, is evil, and doesn’t reign very long until he is assassinated. Then, the person who assassinated the previous king comes to the throne, is evil, and doesn’t reign very long until he is assassinated. Over and over again.

The Confrontational Creator {ex14:16-17}

Photo © shutterstock.com/Melnik

Photo © shutterstock.com/Melnik

The problem with sin is that we
want to have our cake
and eat it too,
just like Pharaoh,
who wanted to have his slaves
and free them too.

But not to decide
is to decide,
and not to give in
is to remain stubborn

and that has an effect.

We all think
/or want to believe/
that no matter
what we choose
we automatically
revert back to
this neutral default place
after each decision,
that our choices
don't have any lasting
consequences.

But that's ridiculous.

If you've lived in darkness
your entire life
and someone suddenly
turns on a light
you are no longer a person
who has only known darkness.

You cannot return
to saying that you do not know
what light looks like.
You may say it still,
all right,
but in your heart
you know it's not true

and that has an effect.

God is the Light of the World,
that Great Confronter who
scouts out
runs down
and passionately pursues
His darkness-dwelling
children.

He would not dream
of letting you remain
forever in your darkness.
He knows nothing of
live and let live,
has no hands-off policy,
and is generally unaccommodating.

He does not prefer to avoid confrontation.

As surely as He lives,
you live,
and as surely as He lives,
you will experience Him.

And when you do,
you cannot return
to saying that you have never
experienced Him.
You may say it still,
all right,
but in your heart
you will know it's not true

and that will have an effect.

And if you persist
in ignoring or avoiding reality
for long enough
you may just find yourself
in a chariot
at the edge of the sea,
unable to bat an eyelash
at the rising walls of water,
unable to wonder how or why the briny deep
is drawing back to reveal dry ground,
unable to think twice
before rushing headlong
into the foregone destruction
of a hardened heart.

 

God shows kindness to evil people.

God shows kindness to evil people.

2 Kings 13

Such a familiar refrain to begin this chapter: "In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son." (vs 1-3)

God can use anyone.

God can use anyone.

2 Kings 12

This chapter recounts the tale of Joash—a king of Judah who did some very good things, such as rebuilding the temple, but apparently didn’t end up so well. His downfall started after the death of Jehoiada, the high priest: "Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there." (vs 2-3)

God's promises stand up to evil.

God's promises stand up to evil.

2 Kings 11

After King Ahaziah of Judah was killed, his mother Athaliah went nuts: "When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family." (vs 1) Can you imagine this? A grandmother setting out to kill all of her grandchildren? The children of Ahaziah were heirs to the throne, but apparently, Athaliah decided that she should sit on the throne. And she did. She became the only queen of Judah.

God doesn't restrict His representatives' freedom.

God doesn't restrict His representatives' freedom.

2 Kings 10

The new king of the Northern Kingdom, Jehu, had been specifically commissioned by God for a special purpose: "You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord’s servants shed by Jezebel." (2 Kings 9:7) And, as we saw in the last chapter, Jehu set out to do his job with zeal.

God is the only way to peace.

God is the only way to peace.

2 Kings 9

Before we get into the meat of today’s blog, I have to point out this verse because it actually made me laugh out loud: "The guard in the watchtower said [to the king], 'Your Majesty, the rider got there, but he isn’t coming back either. Wait a minute! That one man is driving like he’s crazy—it must be Jehu!'" (vs 20) Ha! It seems there were bad drivers all the way back in Bible times. Either that, or Jehu was a teenager.

A Rondel on Boys Who Weren't Necessarily Bad {ex12:13}

exodus-judging-a-rondel-on-boys-poem.png

For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.
Those oldest boys may have been perfectly upright;
no wickedness in them had been diagnosed,

no judgment that they were, to evil, a host,
but doomed even if they were kind and polite.
For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.

Even a Hebrew who thought smeared blood the most
distasteful and gruesome of any known sight,
who neglected to paint the jambs crimson-bright
would suddenly find his own firstborn a ghost,
for where there was no blood on the post…

 

Rondel: a French form consisting of 13 lines—two quatrains and a quintet—with a rhyme scheme of ABba abAB abbaA (the capital letters are the refrains, or repeats).

God can restore everything.

God can restore everything.

2 Kings 8

Since I didn’t end up commenting on her in chapter 4, I’m glad the Shunammite woman is back again. You remember her: She was the gal who (along with her husband) built a room in their home for the prophet Elijah. And, in order to repay their kindness, Elijah told the childless couple that they would have a son. This obviously delighted the woman, but it was clear that she didn’t want to get her hopes up. What I really loved about her, though, was what she did when her son died of a head injury several years later. The woman went immediately to Elijah and said, "Did I ask you for a son, my lord? Didn’t I tell you, 'Don’t raise my hopes?'" (2 Kings 4:28)

When the Heart Becomes a Black Hole {ex11}

Photo © Unsplash/Ed Robertson

Photo © Unsplash/Ed Robertson

by the time
God announced
the plague
on the firstborn
for the /second/ time
didn't Pharaoh know
God could and
would
do exactly
what He said

after the
blood
frogs
gnats
flies
dead livestock
boils
hail
locusts and
darkness
was there anything left
more dark
than Pharaoh's heart

how dark does it have to get
to not understand
that your opponent
controls
the very elements

-all of them-

didn't Pharaoh know
that if God said
his son was going to die
he would /in fact/
be planning a funeral
if he didn't
change course

why wouldn't you change course

in ancient egypt
the only person more important
than the firstborn son of the Pharaoh
was Pharaoh himself

why wouldn't you change course

is there anything
in this world
more powerful
than the human heart

is there anything
more capable
of being more implacable
than the heart
bent on rebellion

is there anything
more wild and dangerous
than the freedom to choose
and the power
it imparts

the power to
so harden ourselves
to truth
that /in the end/
we could sacrifice
what is most important
to us

and be ourselves
swallowed up by
allconsuming
darkness

 

God changes fortunes in a heartbeat.

God changes fortunes in a heartbeat.

2 Kings 7

A few years ago, our water heater unexpectedly broke, and after some consultation with a plumber, we realized that we would not only have to get a new water heater, but a water softener as well. I just hate it when that happens! If you don’t have money in savings, unexpected expenses like that can really get you down.

God's mercy doesn't always change hearts.

God's mercy doesn't always change hearts.

2 Kings 6

During all the years of the American-led war on terror, there have often been debates about how best to bring change to the Middle East—particularly about how to change the hearts and minds of those who seem intent on destroying Western culture and peoples. Many think it is wrong for us to use military force to accomplish these goals, and they offer other solutions instead, ranging from outright ignoring the problem to pacifism or targeted kindness.

God uses the subtle witness.

God uses the subtle witness.

2 Kings 5

I had a hard time titling this blog. I knew exactly what I wanted to convey, but couldn’t really think of a good way to communicate it in a title. So, I hope by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll understand what I had in mind.

My thoughts about God and the subtle witness are based on two portions of this chapter. First, this: "Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, 'If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.'" (vs 2-3)

God thinks differently than we do.

God thinks differently than we do.

2 Kings 4

Well, this whole chapter was about how God worked miracles through His prophet Elisha. The one that really stuck out to me, though, was the very first story about the widow, her two sons, and the olive oil. Just before creditors were going to come and take her boys into slavery because of their debts, Elisha told her, "Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side." (vs 3-4)