Tag Archives: war

2 Kings 4:29-8:15

One of my challenges to understanding the Old Testament is reading about war, yet there are many stories of interest in God’s narrative other than just who wins or loses the battles. The first several short stories in this Scripture focus describe God confirming His prophet, Elisha through signs and miracles. I especially was struck by an incident when Elisha prayed that God would feed a hundred men where there were only 20 loaves of barley bread in one man’s knapsack. His servant broke bread until all were fed and some food was left over (reminds me of the miracles through the Lord Jesus yet to come). Elisha also instructed an enemy captain, Naaman, what to do to receive healing from leprosy (doing good to his enemy, again is messianic). We also learn that Elisha, who spoke not of his own will, but what he heard from God, was completely confident in what he was to say. Even when he knew the outcome would not be favorable, he did not hold back speaking the word of God. It is one such story that drew me in for a closer look.

When Elisha met with the king of Aram’s messenger regarding Aram’s failing health, Elisha said this to the man, “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.” But Elisha could not stop staring at the messenger, Hazael, who became embarrassed under Elisha’s gaze. In this eerie moment, Elisha was given a horrifying vision of what was to come at the hand of Hazael. He wept as he prophesied to Hazael what he would do to the Israelites, saying, “You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.” Elisha knew he was helpless to do anything about this but weep; yet he was tasked with knowing and prophesying the tragedy.

I do not seek that kind of relationship with God, our Father. Still, there have been times when I feared for a person’s future without really knowing why. And when some disaster shortly befell that person, I went to my knees in fear and in prayer for mercy. On another occasion, when this foreboding overtook me concerning what a person said, I prayed for God to forgive her. I still pray that His mercy was shown to her in her last moments of life. I am no prophet, and frankly I do not want to be the harbinger of destruction. It weighs down my soul.

Yet, there are many even today who are called prophets, and who are sounding the alarm about the times we are living in. How can I discern when God is speaking through them? When I hear of destruction, is my fear of what is to come causing me to tremble? Or am I fearful for the words of those who pray for this destruction, not just to destroy the enemy armies but to cut off their descendants? Are we to pray for our enemies and ask God to destroy them at the same time? This, too, weighs down my soul.

My writer friends and I have been discussing the ‘divided heart.’ Loving two things at the same time. I thought about Jesus’ commandment, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Matthew 5:43-48). If we are to obey Christ, therefore, we must love our enemies even knowing their intent to do us or others harm. How do we do that?

Look up to heaven. Look into the face of Jesus Christ. Let His words, His Spirit, and His will be alive in our prayers. For the only way a soul is lifted up is to give God glory. He alone knows the end of all life; I am not the one who has understanding. And that is okay. My prayer is that God be with us all, protecting our hearts from becoming embittered, unforgiving, or vindictive. What we may see in a vision or otherwise, we must submit to a good God who is Lord over all the earth. Let us start by dropping to our knees in prayer for mercy. Then pray that God will increase our faith in the sovereignty of His will.

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Jeremiah 38, 39, 52; 1 Peter 2

A contrast of despair and hope.

King Zedekiah’s kingdom is surrounded and starved, and he is pursued and forced to witness the heartbreaking murder of his children and fellow nobles before his own eyes are gouged out, and he is led away–captive. (Jeremiah 39) I read through this passage and Jeremiah 52, and the despair and loss is thick. Names in a book, figures of history–once living, breathing men. We all have a story–about where we come from and where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going. About loss and love and despair and hope.

In Jeremiah, a city is dismantled and destroyed–the temple pillars Solomon had raised, gone. (I catch the briefest glimpse, of pomegranates, a detail recorded.)

These things had been made for the Lord’s Temple in the days of King Solomon. 21 Each of the pillars was 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference. They were hollow, with walls 3 inches thick. 22 The bronze capital on top of each pillar was 7 1⁄2 feet high and was decorated with a network of bronze pomegranates all the way around. 23 There were 96 pomegranates on the sides, and a total of 100 pomegranates on the network around the top. (Jeremiah 52:20b-23, NLT)

In 1 Peter 2, a new temple.

And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say,

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
    chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
    will never be disgraced.”

Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.”

And,

“He is the stone that makes people stumble,
    the rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy.”

 

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (1 Peter 2:5-12, NLT)

Father God, I am so grateful for your word in my hands and heart, for your love and direction, for your mercy and provision. I read these words in 1 Peter 2 and I am filled with hope and joy, to be part of something you are creating, to be valued and loved, chosen. You chose me. I want my life to be a song of praise to you. Keeping my eyes on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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2 Samuel 17; 2 Corinthians 10; Ezekiel 24; Psalm 72

For the Lord had determined to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster on Absalom! (2 Samuel 17:14b, NLT)

A message to deliver, men taking cover in a well. (2 Samuel 17)

Symbols and signs–a scorched pot, a wife’s death, a silent example. (Ezekiel 24)

A war waged with mighty weapons that break down strongholds. Thoughts captured. (2 Corinthians 10)

A psalm of hope and peace. Abundance. His glory. (Psalm 72)

18 Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel,
    who alone does such wonderful things.
19 Praise his glorious name forever!
    Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen! (Psalm 72:18-19, NLT)

He is in control.

11 All kings will bow before him,
    and all nations will serve him.

12 He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
    he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
13 He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
    and he will rescue them.
14 He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
    for their lives are precious to him. (Psalm 72:11-14, NLT)

I remind myself today, that his ways don’t often come packaged the way I imagine or expect, but he is always at work, always in control.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

God instructs Joshua to decimate his enemies: hamstring the horses and strike down every breathing enemy–man, woman and child. It’s a blood bath…  the stuff of nightmares. These pages of the Bible leave me with far more questions about God than answers. Where is the God of grace and mercy that I cling to? But who is God if I disregard these pages? I am made in God’s image, not He in mine.

And what would Joshua think of the sanitized bubble that I live in? Perhaps he would be envious; war and violence are realities on television and far from me. Perhaps he would be appalled at my comfortable, complacent living.

David, also a man of war saw the horrors of war first hand and sings this: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the people under me… I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you, the one who gives victory to kings, who rescues his servant David.” Psalm 144:1,2…9,10.

It’s no wonder that the Jews didn’t understand Jesus. They were looking for a warrior king whose hands were dripping with blood and taking revenge. Instead, comes a king who says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14  They wanted a kingdom that they could see, a kingdom where they would be in power.

Who is this God we serve? He can wipe nations from the face of the earth and yet calls the youngest and weakest to draw near to him. Are we are in a spiritual war that is just as deadly and God spares us the horrors of seeing all that is going on around us? Paul says as much and repeats the message God spoke to Joshua and the people of Israel: “Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12.

Dear Lord, keep me from being complacent and naive in thinking that what I see is all that is going on. May I be ready and not deceived by the evil one. Heal me from distraction and chasing from false idols so that I may be your woman and follow hard after you. 

Kathy

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Ephesians, Jeremiah, Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Psalms, Uncategorized

2 Kings 18; Philemon; Hosea 11; Psalms 132, 133, 134

The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah this:

“The great king, the king of Assyria, says: What can you trust in now? You say you have battle plans and power for war, but your words mean nothing. Whom are you trusting for help so that you turn against me?

“Don’t listen to Hezekiah. He is fooling you when he says, ‘The Lord will save us.’ Has a god of any other nation saved his people from the power of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? They did not save Samaria from my power. Not one of all the gods of these countries has saved his people from me. Neither can the Lord save Jerusalem from my power.” 2 Kings 18:19-20; 32b-35 (NCV)

When I am in the midst of a struggle in life, I can hear two voices at war in my head.

The voice of the enemy screams at me, shouting half-truths about the struggle and solutions to the problem, taunting me with intimidation, threatening my life, and questioning the faithfulness of my God. The enemy tries to scare me into believing that I am all alone, that maybe the Lord really isn’t all-knowing, all-powerful, that He isn’t a loving God but an angry God. The enemy attempts to turn my heart, my mind, my soul against the only True and Living God, tries to weaken my trust in Him.

“Israel, how can I give you up?

How can I give you away, Israel?

I don’t want to make you like Admah

or treat you like Zeboiim.

My heart beats for you,

and my love for you stirs up my pity.

I won’t punish you in my anger,

and I won’t destroy Israel again.

I am God and not a human;

I am the Holy One, and I am among you.

I will not come against you in anger.

Hosea 11:8-9 (NCV)

The voice of God whispers, still and small, yet clear. He speaks kindness, love. He shares His heart for me, His child; He reminds me that He will never leave me nor forsake me, even when, according to the world’s standards, I may have done something to deserve punishment. He retells His Good News – He gave His Son, the final blood sacrifice, offered me the priceless gift of grace and mercy, and provided redemption and reconciliation. He shares His strength with me, shares His truth with me, shares His wisdom with me. He gives me the answer – Trust. In. Me.

It is up to me to decide who to trust, what voice to listen to. Sometimes it is hard to hear anything but the loud, clamoring noise from the enemy camp. It is hard to stand up to the heckling and there are moments in my human weakness when I succumb to the jeers and give in. I start to believe the lies of the enemy.

Maybe Onesimus was separated from you for a short time so you could have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a loved brother. I love him very much, but you will love him even more, both as a person and as a believer in the Lord. Philemon 1:15-16 (NCV)

Then, in my feebleness, in those moments of separation from my Heavenly Father, I feel a strength that is not my own lifting me up, strengthening me. His truth rings in my ear, reverberates into my heart. His low tones rumble encouragement to my spirit and I remember the choice I made years ago to trust in Him and lean not on my own understanding. I remember that He chose me first, before the beginning of time, before I ever cared for Him. The battle of the voices ends and God’s voice resounds clear.

The Lord has chosen Jerusalem;

he wants it for his home.

He says, “This is my resting place forever.

Here is where I want to stay.

Psalm 132:13-14 (NCV)

I am in Him and He is in me forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Hosea, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Philemon, Psalms