Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 31 - 2 Chronicles 36

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Chronicles 36. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • After Josiah (see chapter 35 for more on Josiah) dies, his son becomes king, followed by a series of other kings, each of whom reign for relatively short amounts of time.
  • In his writings, Jeremiah scathingly writes about how Jehoiakim, as king, persecuted God's prophets (see Jeremiah chapters 25, 26 and 36).
  • Nebuchadnezzar (verse 6) was the son of the founder of the new Babylonian Empire. He became king in 605 BC then crushed the Assyrians, then invaded Jerusalem (verses 6-7). We read more about Nebuchadnezzar in the Bible book called Daniel.
  • In verses 19-20 we see the consequence of all the many years of the Israelites ignoring and sinning against God - the Temple and everything of value is destroyed or stolen, and the people are killed or taken captive.
  • One of God's laws the Israelites had ignored stated that they should rest their land for a year, every seven years. The 70-year-captivity of the Israelites to the Babylonians led the land to not be worked for 70 years, thus making up for all the years the Israelites had refused to do what God had told them (see verse 21).
  • King Cyrus of Persia and his proclamation happen 48 years after the destruction of the temple, the year after he conquers Babylon. The Bible book of Ezra details Cyrus' proclamation and the return of the Israelites from captivity to Judah. Ezra is the next book we will study on the weekends in our Verve Bible Reading Plan. (We read through the New Testament on weekdays and the Old Testament on weekends.)
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • Because of his compassion, God gave repeated warnings to the Israelites (see verses 15-16). The Israelites did not listen. Instead, they continued to sin. Sin repeated, and never confessed or repented of, leads a person's heart to grow increasingly hard to God. Over time there is less and less openness to God and His love. The Bible says in Hebrews 3:12-13, "Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still 'today,' so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God." We need to recognize our sin, confess it to God, and repent of it. 
  • It is critical for our future that we repent of our sin, because eventually God's mercy will turn to judgment. Back in Leviticus 26:27-45, God had predicted that if the Israelites continued to disobey Him they would be invaded and taken captive. Here in 2 Chronicles 36 we see the prediction become reality. God also promises that if we continue to ignore and disobey Him the result will be eternal separation from Him in Hell (see, for instance, Matthew 25:46, Revelation 21:18 and 2 Thessalonians 1:9).

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • How often do you prayerfully examine your life, looking for sin and areas where you might be ignoring God, and then confessing and repenting of those sins? It's very important to do that regularly.
  • Do you have anyone who is close enough to you to "warn" you, ""while it is still today" when they see that you're moving in the wrong direction? You need people like that, but people won't do that for you, unless they're close enough and feel like they permission to do so. That's part of the beauty of being in a Verve Group. It gives you the possibility of developing those kinds of friendships.
  • Who do you know who is ignoring God and moving towards an eternity apart from Him? In the New Testament, in the book of Jude, verses 22 and 23 talk about always showing mercy to people, but it says that there are people we will need to "rescue" "by snatching them from the flames of judgment." Is there someone you need to, very compassionately and prayerfully, talk to, warning them and calling them back to God?