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Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty of God’

Day 37

Word:  1 Kings 22:1-28(abridged)(NLT)

22 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. Then during the third year, King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to visit King Ahab of Israel. During the visit, the king of Israel said to his officials, “Do you realize that the town of Ramoth-gilead belongs to us? And yet we’ve done nothing to recapture it from the king of Aram!”

Then he turned to Jehoshaphat and asked, “Will you join me in battle to recover Ramoth-gilead?”

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “Why, of course! You and I are as one. My troops are your troops, and my horses are your horses.”Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.”

So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, about 400 of them, and asked them, “Should I go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?”

They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! The Lord will give the king victory.”

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.”

The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”

So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”

10 King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on thrones at the threshing floor near the gate of Samaria. All of Ahab’s prophets were prophesying there in front of them. 11 One of them, Zedekiah son of Kenaanah, made some iron horns and proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans to death!”

12 All the other prophets agreed. “Yes,” they said, “go up to Ramoth-gilead and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!”

13 Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”

14 But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what the Lord tells me to say.”

15 When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should we hold back?”

Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for the Lordwill give the king victory!”

16 But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the Lord?”

17 Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’”

18 “Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”

19 Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the Lord says! I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’

“There were many suggestions, 21 and finally a spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I can do it!’

22 “‘How will you do this?’ the Lord asked.

“And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’

“‘You will succeed,’ said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’

23 “So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets. For the Lord has pronounced your doom.”

24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah walked up to Micaiah and slapped him across the face. “Since when did the Spirit of the Lord leave me to speak to you?” he demanded.

25 And Micaiah replied, “You will find out soon enough when you are trying to hide in some secret room!”

26 “Arrest him!” the king of Israel ordered. “Take him back to Amon, the governor of the city, and to my son Joash. 27 Give them this order from the king: ‘Put this man in prison, and feed him nothing but bread and water until I return safely from the battle!’”

28 But Micaiah replied, “If you return safely, it will mean that the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he added to those standing around, “Everyone mark my words!”

29 So King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah led their armies against Ramoth-gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle.

31 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had issued these orders to his thirty-two chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel. Don’t bother with anyone else!” 32 So when the Aramean chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But when Jehoshaphat called out, 33 the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, and they stopped chasing him.

34 An Aramean soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. “Turn the horses and get me out of here!” Ahab groaned to the driver of his chariot. “I’m badly wounded!”

35 The battle raged all that day, and the king remained propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran down to the floor of his chariot, and as evening arrived he died. 36 Just as the sun was setting, the cry ran through his troops: “We’re done for! Run for your lives!”

37 So the king died, and his body was taken to Samaria and buried there.38 Then his chariot was washed beside the pool of Samaria, and dogs came and licked his blood at the place where the prostitutes bathed, just as the Lord had promised.

 

This wonderful text brilliantly reveals what happens with nations and national leaders who do not recognize that the King of All Nations is sovereign! 

First, two kings get together and decide what they need to do politically and militarily!  The king most loyal to God suggests it would be a nice thing to find out what the King of All Nations thinks.  The least loyal king says “why not” and calls all the people he knows who will tell him what he wants to hear—such a tell-tale sign of a bad leader!

The loyal king recognizes the poor quality of the intel just given, so he asks if there aren’t any real, honest-to-God prophets.  The disloyal king says, well, there is this one guy who never says anything positive—the most negative person I know.

They call the Truth-teller and he first plays their game, but they see through that, so he tells them not only the truth, but how the King of All Nations is orchestrating the whole event so that the disloyal king will believe the lie he wants to believe and be killed. The king will die and the mission will fail.

And so it happens!

Real leaders seek out truth.  Real leaders are willing to believe the truth even when it is bad news! Real leaders are willing to act according to the true facts set before them, not just the way they want the facts to be.

Real leaders know that the King of All Nations is in control and seek His Will and His guidance.

 

Prayer:  God of Heaven, we are so eager to do what we want to do. We are so eager to follow leaders who tell us what we want to hear.  Even as a nation we sometimes act on what we want to do and not on what the truth or true facts are.  Forgive our presumptuous hearts—as if our judgment is always right.  Lead us not into temptation! Do not just let us hear what we want to hear; rather, let us hear your Words.  Deliver us from evil.  It is your kingdom, your power, and your glory forever. Amen

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WORD Exodus 3:3-15 (NLT)

“This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”

When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

“Here I am!” Moses replied.

“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt….Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”

12 God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”

13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

14 God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.

Moses was 80 years old when God appeared to him and told him that he was chosen to become the leader of an emerging nation.  Surely God could have found a more charismatic leader, younger at least, and more eager for the opportunity.

But the backstory is that God had been preparing Moses since birth for this assignment.  Moses was born to Hebrew slaves in Egypt during a dangerous time! His mother hid him from government soldiers for three months, but then could no longer protect him. She did all she knew to do, putting him in a floating basket in the Nile and posting her older daughter there to see what might happen. Pharaoh’s daughter found him and adopted him as her own son, hiring his own mother to be his wet nurse.  Now what would Moses have learned as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter? Exodus 2:1-10

After he had grown up, Moses kills an Egyptian in an attempt to deliver justice to his people. He must have felt strong, empowered, righteously indignant. He was attractive, but not yet ready to be God’s chosen leader.  After fleeing Egypt in fear of his life, he becomes a shepherd for his new father-in-law in the much-less-important land of Midian.  Forty years, he herded sheep, learning perhaps humility, learning how solitary and lackluster leadership can be. Exodus 2:11-24

These forty years were shockingly different from the first forty, but apparently necessary because only afterwards did God determine that it was time to act.  Exodus 2:25

It does seem that God had a plan both for the nation He was creating and for the Leader that He had chosen for it.

As we look around for national leadership, perhaps one of our questions could be who has God been preparing for this role?  What in his/her life’s story would suggest that God’s plan for the person and God’s plan for this nation intersect?

Even the Hebrew slaves often doubted Moses’ leadership, so it is not always easy to see God’s plan, but the more submissive we are, the less independent we desire to be, the more likely we are to find His person, His way.

Prayer Open our eyes and our hearts, Lord, to see those who want to lead our nation with your eyes. Give us wisdom and insight to discern how you may have prepared some person for national leadership, but protect us from mistaking our own wisdom for yours. Amen

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 ourgodreigns-picThe history of the world is full of critical moments, moments when the fates of nations seem to dangle by the thread of a single decision, a sole ballot, a solitary soldier, most often by some seemingly random act. Lawyers and insurance companies call these “acts of God,” trying to describe events that we humans have little or no control over.  But what if these unique moments really are acts of God!

As I was reading Israel’s history along with the prophets that spoke into those times, the undeniable involvement of God in history was no surprise, but it did strike me differently this time how much God was also involved in the affairs of many other nations, raising them up, bringing them down, punishing them for their sins, and rewarding them for righteousness.

Has God withdrawn from human affairs? Is he no longer concerned about good and evil, about justice and mercy? Does he no longer use nations to accomplish his will?  I’m convinced that the King of All Nations is as present in world affairs as ever.

The current U.S. national election, especially the presidential election, has presented many Christians with challenges that don’t seem to have good answers.  I have no intention of advising you for one candidate over another; rather, what I would like to do is share with you the Word of God, especially those passages that speak about choosing leaders and about the nature of God’s interaction with nations, in order to help you discover perhaps a divine framework within which you can act and find peace about this national election as well as the international events of our times that affect all of us.

Each day, I will share with you a text, some short and others longer, from the Word. My hope is that the Word will not only instruct and inspire you, but also challenge you to apply what you hear to our own election. Unless otherwise stated, all of the texts are taken from the New Living Translation.  Some of the longer passages are abridged, which I have noted so that if you want to read the entire passage you have the citation and can do so.

The Word is followed by a few thoughts of mine on the passage which I present to you, not as exegesis, not as a homily, but rather as initial stimulation to your own listening and thinking about what God is saying to you.

Lastly, we end in a brief prayer, acknowledging that we can neither know nor obey without divine help.

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