‘My chains fell off…my heart was free…’

30 07 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX : 1 Kings 14 v. 21 – 16 v. 7; Acts 16 v. 16 – 40; Proverbs 15 v. 21 – 30

1 KINGS
Rehoboam King of Judah – Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, is 41 when he becomes king and he reigns in Jerusalem (God’s chosen city) for seventeen years.
Judah is inciting God’s anger by turning away from Him and to other gods, setting up Asherah poles, using male shrine-prostitutes, and generally taking on board the practices of the peoples they had driven out of the land.
In the fifth year of his reign, Egypt’s King Shishak attacks Rehoboam’s Jerusalem, carrying off treasures from the temple and the palace, including all those golden shields Solomon had made. Rehoboam replaces them with bronze shields, which were used by the guards to protect the palace and the king.
Everything else Rehoboam did is recorded in the book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah.
Jeroboam and Rehoboam were always at war.
When Rehoboam died, his son, Abijah, succeeded him.

Abijah King of Judah – Whilst Jeroboam was celebrating his eighteenth year as king, Abijah (son of Rehoboam and Maacah) became king of Judah. He lasted three years. He was as bad as his father before him (v.3); ‘his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been.’
Because God wanted to continue to honour David’s line, for David’s faithfulness and commitment to the covenant / commandments (except the little incident with Uriah), Abijah’s purpose is to father Asa - ‘God gave Abijah a lamp in Jersualem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong’.
The warring between Judah and Israel continued through Abijah’s reign. Then he died, and all the event of his reign are listed in the book of the Annals of the kings of Judah.

Asa King of Judah – It’s the 20th year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel, when Asa becomes king of Judah, where he reigns for 41 years.
‘Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done’.
He got rid of the shrine-prostitutes and the idols from his father’s short reign. He sorts his grandmother out when he discovers she’s made an Asherah pole (deposing her from her queen-mother role). He brought the dedicated silver and gold back into the temple.
Much of Asa’s time he was at war with king Baasha of Israel (who followed Jeroboam and Nadab). Baasha fortified Ramah (just 5 miles north of Jerusalem) to prevent the comings and goings of Judah.
The silver and gold treasures are then entrusted to the officials and sent to Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, in Damascus. In doing this, Asa sought a treaty with Ben-Hadad, and urged him to break his treaty with Baasha and Israel. Ben-Hadad agreed, and turned against Israel, conquering various towns and cities, including Dan and Naphtali.
Baasha withdrew, then, from Ramah, and Asa sent out an order to all Judah to go and bring the building materials from Ramah (stones and timber), which he then used to build up Geba and Mizpah.
All of Asa’s achievements are written in the book of the Annals of the kings of Judah. We are told that he contracted disease in his feet, in his old age. When he died, his son Jehoshaphat succeeded him as king.

Nadab King of Israel – Jeroboam’s son, Nadab, succeeds him during Asa’s reign, and he is king of Israel for just two years.‘He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, walking in the ways of his father and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit.’ So there’s a plot to oust him, by Baasha, Ahijah’s son. Nadab is struck down in a Philistine town, whilst on an attack.
Baasha succeeds Nadab and proceeds to start killing all of Jeroboam’s family, wiping them all out. A reminder of the word of the Lord to Jeroboam through ‘his servant Ahijah the Shilonite’.
Nadab’s brief reign is chronicled in the book of the Annals of the kings of Israel.
Asa and Baasha are continually at war with each other during their reigns in Judah and Israel.
 
Baasha King of Israel – So Asa has been king for three years in Judah, when Baasha succeeds to the throne of Israel, where he reigned for 24 years. His reign is marked by ‘evil in the eyes of the Lord’, following Jeroboam’s wicked ways.
God brings his word to Baasha through Jehu, son of Hanani, ‘I made you leader of my people Israel, but you…caused my people Israel to sin…so I am about to consume Baasha and his house…’
All the events of Baasha’s reigh are written in the book of the Annals of the kings of Israel. When he dies, his son, Elah succeeds him.

ACTS
Paul and Silas in Prison – On the way to pray one day, they encounter a slave-girl who had a spirit which enabled her to tell fortunes, making a lot of money for her owners. The girl followed Paul and the others, shouting after them:
‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved’. (Good publicity ?)
She did this for many days, and undoubtably got on their nerves, perhaps preventing them from getting on with what the Spirit was telling them to do.
In the end, Paul turned to her and commanded the spirit to come out of her, in Jesus’ name. Immediately the spirit left her.
Their source of finance gone, her owners had Paul and Silas dragged off to the authorities. They appeared before the magistrates and were jailed on a charge of inciting an uproar in the city, ‘advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice’.
They are stripped and beaten and thrown into prison. Instructed to guard them very carefully, the jailer puts them in the inner cell, their feet in the stocks. The jailor things they are secure there! But God has miraculous plans….
~ at midnight they are praying and singing songs to God (the other prisoners have no choice but to ‘listen to them’)
~ a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the prison and all the doors fell open, all the chains fell off (a reminder to me that this gospel is good news for ALL) 
~ the jailer wakes up and sees the all the doors open, assumes the worst and goes to kill himself (before the authorities do it!)
~ Paul calls for him to spare himself, and when he sees they’re all still there, he falls trembling before them and asks ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
~ they tell him to believe in Jesus for his salvation – and all his household too (he is being encouraged to involve his whole household, instrumental in bringing them all to faith)
~ late in the night they go with the jailer to his house, where he washed their wounds, and all the family were baptised; they ate a great meal together.
‘he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family’
~ in the morning, the magistrates order for the men to be freed – but, they already are !!
~ Paul states that they were beaten publicly without a trial – disregarding their rights as Roman citizens - ‘now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No let them come themselves and escort us out’. The innocent have a right to see their names cleared.
~ at this, Paul and Silas are appeased, and escorted from prison, with the request that they leave the city
~ they go to Lydia’s house, and meet up with the brothers to encourage them, then they move on.

The jailor encounters God in the workplace – on a particularly bad night – and his life, and that of his family, will never be the same again !!
Heavenely Father, may we encounter you, also, in our workplaces, when we sometimes least expect it.
Thank You for helping and equipping us through the challenging times.

PROVERBS
‘a man of understanding keeps a straight course…
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed…
how good is apt reply…a timely word
the path of life leads upward for the wise…
a cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.’

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