God's character

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 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'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 knows what is needed.

God knows what is needed.

1 Kings 21

This chapter appalled me. More than once! I know I’ve read this chapter before, but it obviously didn’t make a lasting impression then. Today, it was as if I had read it for the first time. At first, I was appalled by Jezebel. She seemed to have absolutely NO problem forging her husband’s name and enlisting the help of false witnesses in order to engineer the death of an innocent man. Just when you thought you’d seen the depths of evil in Israel, that was a nasty surprise.

God is not blind.

1 Kings 14

This was one of those Bible stories that I hadn’t remembered reading before. King Jeroboam wanted to know what was going to happen to his son (who was ill). So, he immediately thought of Ahijah, the prophet who had prophesied that he would become king of Israel. (It’s interesting, isn’t it? After years of worshiping false gods, it’s pretty clear that Jeroboam still knew who to go to when he wanted some real answers.)

Photo © Unsplash/Ryoji Iwata

Photo © Unsplash/Ryoji Iwata

But, just in case he had angered the prophet with all his heathen worship, Jeroboam decided to send his wife in disguise. You see, by this time, the prophet was blind, and Jeroboam thought he could pull a fast one on him. However, all that time Jeroboam had spent away from the one true God must have made him forget that God could see just fine: "Now Ahijah could not see; his sight was gone because of his age. But the Lord had told Ahijah, 'Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill, and you are to give her such and such an answer. When she arrives, she will pretend to be someone else.'" (vs 4-5)

So, the gig was up before it had even begun. Ahijah delivered bad news to Jeroboam’s wife, and shortly after, Jeroboam’s son died. The salient point in all of this? God is not blind. In this particular instance, God’s prophet was blind, but God told him who was coming. He was not fooled by the queen’s disguise.

Photo © Unsplash/Finan Akbar

Photo © Unsplash/Finan Akbar

God is not blind. He knows the truth about you. We might pretend to be someone other than we are, put on a "disguise" for those around us, but God knows the real story. We might even fool a few people, but we’re not fooling God. He knows the truth about us. And if it frightens you that He knows the truth about you, all you need to do is learn the truth about Him!

God's ways are everlasting.

God's ways are everlasting.

1 Kings 12

What a beautiful little nugget there is tucked away in this chapter of 1 Kings. Solomon has died, and his son Rehoboam has taken over the throne in Israel. The people—who had endured hard labor under Solomon—came to Rehoboam and asked him to ease up on them a bit. After asking for some time to think it over, Rehoboam consulted his father’s advisers. This is the advice they gave him: "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants." (vs 7)

God disciplines because He loves.

God disciplines because He loves.

1 Kings 9

This is, I’m sure, a recurring theme we will encounter as we continue our journey through the Old Testament: God disciplines the ones He loves. And His discipline always carries a redemptive component (otherwise there’s no point to it). But often, I find that it’s God’s discipline that garners Him the most criticism. People tend to look at His "threats" of discipline in the Old Testament as something punitive, harsh, and retributive. And that’s how God gets a bad rap.

God doesn't do anything halfway.

God doesn't do anything halfway.

1 Kings 8

One of the best lessons I learned from my father was that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing all the way. I don’t think this was anything he ever sat me down and told me. Rather, I learned it from watching him. Whatever he undertook, no matter what it was, he did to the very best of his ability. There was no "halfway" with him. There was no mediocre. Everything he did, he did it to the fullest and the finest. Even the little things, the kinds of things that most people would do halfway and then say That’s good enough.

God allows Himself to be eclipsed.

God allows Himself to be eclipsed.

1 Kings 7

Well, now that King Solomon has built a temple for the Lord, he decides to continue building. After all, it’s important for him to have a place to live, right? Perhaps if he hadn’t made his palace so big, he wouldn’t have felt the need to fill it up with 1000 women! But, for me, the size of Solomon’s palace was the interesting thing in this chapter. Given its dimensions, did you realize that Solomon’s palace was more than four times larger than the temple He built for God?

God isn't above His own law.

God isn't above His own law.

1 Kings 2

Throughout history, there’s probably been at least one thing that set a king apart from his subjects: He didn’t have to abide by the same rules as his fellow citizens. That’s one of the "perks" of people in power—they tend to be (or at least see themselves as) above the law. They aren’t held to the same standard as everyone else.

God exercises true power.

God exercises true power.

2 Samuel 20

There is an interesting parallel between this chapter and 2 Samuel 8. Both contain a list of David’s officials. The list in 2 Samuel 8 comes after David has advanced to the throne, subdued the enemies of Israel, and returned the ark of God to Jerusalem. In other words, he has followed God’s leading all the way to victory for Israel. The second list (in this chapter) comes after the mess David created for himself with Bathsheba, Uriah, and the ensuing family chaos. See if you can spot the difference between the two lists:

God loves those who hate Him.

God loves those who hate Him.

You love those who hate you! This was the accusation Joab leveled at David after the big battle where David’s son Absalom was killed. David was absolutely devastated by Absalom’s death, so instead of celebrating the victory of his "enemy," David returned home, weeping over the loss of his child. Apparently, Joab didn’t like that:

God is loyal.

God is loyal.

2 SAMUEL 17

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to draw conclusions about God by contrasting Him with what we are (or what we are not). That was the case with this chapter of 2 Samuel. After David fled Jerusalem, Absalom was seeking some advice on what to do next. His top advisor told him that he should go after David and kill him while he was at his weakest. Then—apparently—all the people of Israel would rally around Absalom as king.

God can be trusted.

God can be trusted.

2 SAMUEL 15

This has to be the most important lesson we could ever learn in life... and it certainly seems it was a lesson David had learned well. As he was fleeing Jerusalem—running for dear life from his own son—he realized that the Levites and the high priest had carried the ark of the covenant out of the temple. This wasn’t unusual. In the past, if you’ll remember, the Philistines had captured the ark and carried it away—sort of like a good luck charm. Well, that didn’t work out so well for them.

God is a servant.

God is a servant.

2 SAMUEL 5

So, finally David is inaugurated as the new king of Israel. And something very short and simple in this chapter stuck out to me: "All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, 'We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, "You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler."'" (vs 1-2)

God speaks well of us.

God speaks well of us.

2 SAMUEL 1

Here again, I think David shows us a glimpse of God’s heart in the sad song he penned following the death of Saul and Jonathan. "Saul and Jonathan—in life they were loved and admired, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold." (vs 23-24)

God is good to everyone.

God is good to everyone.

1 SAMUEL 30

I love seeing these glimpses of God’s heart flash through in the life of David. From this chapter: "Along the way [David's men] found an Egyptian man in a field and brought him to David. They gave him some bread to eat and water to drink. They also gave him part of a fig cake and two clusters of raisins, for he hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for three days and nights. Before long his strength returned. 'To whom do you belong, and where do you come from?' David asked him. 'I am an Egyptian—the slave of an Amalekite,' he replied. 'My master abandoned me three days ago because I was sick. We were on our way back from raiding the Kerethites in the Negev, the territory of Judah, and the land of Caleb, and we had just burned Ziklag.'" (vs 11-14)

God is not a sore loser.

God is not a sore loser.

1 SAMUEL 11

You know, it’s hard not to think of David when we read about Saul. Knowing how the story is going to unfold, and knowing that it’s David (not Saul) who was eventually called “a man after God’s own heart,” it is hard for me to let Saul’s story just be Saul’s story. Somehow, it always just feels like the prolonged prelude to the story of David. And, in many ways, perhaps it is.

Radical Religion {gn45:7-8}

Photo © Unsplash/Joshua Earle

Photo © Unsplash/Joshua Earle

this—
this!
is what I
long for:

a faith so strong in God
that I could
dream the dreams
brave the slave auction
endure the dungeon
and not let the
power and
position and
prestige
go to my head

a life so lived for God
that I could
suddenly find him
incarnate in me
when I come face to face
with those who have done me
wrong

a joy so complete in God
that I could revel
in my power to save
the very ones
who had wanted me dead

a heart so close to God
that in every evil act
I could see
only his goodness

only his goodness