2 Kings 21; Hebrews 3; Hosea 14; Psalm 139
There seems to be a theme running through my reading this morning.
2 Kings is not an easy read-it is not easy to read how God’s precious chosen people chose to walk in evil-how a king sacrificed his son to fire, how he led the people in such a way that they provoked God to anger; an anger that would cause God to eventually remove his protection from His people; a people that had provoked Him since he rescued them from Egypt. And then there is the very solemn chapter 3 of Hebrews which states in verses 7-11: “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
In both of these cases it seems there is a warning for us. Today, if I hear His voice; and I most assuredly do as I read the Scriptures; do not harden my heart-do not be deceived by sin. The kings and the people of Israel and Judah (for they were divided into two kingdoms) looked upon the outside world-looked upon the nations around them and wanted to be like them. There are a lot of temptations for us to do the same today. The world around us is very good at taking a nugget of truth and distorting it into something that is not very pleasing to God; with very good and cunning arguments too. But today if I hear God’s voice I must not be hardened to His words, I must not be deceived by sin.
And then I came to the end of Hosea. Hosea was written during a time of great economic and political success, yet they abandoned God and followed after all sorts of false gods. Hosea’s prophecies are a warning to Israel and Judah that God is going to give them over to their enemies-he has reached His limit and they will be punished for their disobedience. God is going to abandon His people. But the story does not end there-in the closing chapter of Hosea there is hope. “Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” It is so encouraging to read how God restores the people whom He called apart to Himself. Hosea goes on, “I (God) will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.” The following verses speak of the prosperity that will come as God once again blesses Israel. The book of Hosea closes with these words. “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” (Do you see a theme going on here?)
Then I came to Psalm 139. A very familiar Psalm that I have often used in my prayer time. “How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with You.” (v. 17-18)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (v. 23-24)
Grace, peace, and mercy,