2 Kings 18:13-19:37, Acts 21:1-17, Psalms 149:1-9, Proverbs 18:8
Today is the 1st day of July welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. Welcome to a brand-new shiny sparkly month, the 7th month of the year and the 182nd day of the year. So, here we are launching into the 7th month. We have crossed through essentially the halfway point in terms of months for sure. And, so, here we are. I guess we could consider this the back half, and there is a lot in front of us. And, so, let us dive in and take the next step forward. That next step leads us back into the book of second Kings. We kind of ended the month of June just imagining the fact that 10 of the tribes of Israel are gone. Like, the kingdom of Israel is…is gone. The people of been deported into exile, the 10 tribes of the north when the Assyrian Empire conquered them. So, let’s take the next step forward and see what happens next. We’re reading from the Christian Standard Bible this week. Second Kings chapter 18 verse 13 through 19 verse 37.
Okay. So, in the book of second Kings we’ve continued this advance by the Assyrian Empire and King Sennacherib. They had conquered Israel, the northern kingdom, the 10 tribes in the north and were continuing their conquest southward through the land with the intention of also overcoming the kingdom of Judah and sending them into exile the same way. So, as the story goes, Sennacherib captures the city of Lachish or La-chish and this…this was a walled fortified city. Like this was second only to Jerusalem and its defenses. And, so, the Assyrians captured the city and then send on an envoy to Jerusalem with essentially an intimidation tactic. And, so, they go outside the walls and some officials come to meet with them to get the message and they begin to speak with them and it is a message of intimidation, which essentially is, “what…what makes you think you can survive this? What…what are you relying on the makes you think you’re going to get away from us because you’re not? Who has ever withstood an attack from the Assyrian Empire? What place that we’ve ever gone did we not conquer and destroy? So, what would make you think that you’re gonna survive? Is it your God? Your God? Has any other God stood in the way of the king of Assyria?” You can just kind here the taunting and intimidation involved. And then the officials are like, speak to us in Aramaic, not in Hebrew so the people don’t understand. But that just makes the envoys from Sennacherib shout out to everybody in a language they can understand, in the Hebrew language to surrender so to like…to demoralize the people with inside the city. “Come out, surrender. You will live. You can stay here. You __. I’ll let you come back. And you’re gonna have to move but I’ll move you somewhere good, somewhere like this. You can keep your life you can keep your family. Surrender to me. Don’t be deceived by your king. Don’t be deceived by Hezekiah, thinking that the Lord is going to save you. No God has saved any country that we’ve invaded. Come out and surrender. Otherwise, you’re going to be trapped in there eating your own poop and drinking your own pee.” Totally demoralizing. If you are within the city walls trapped preparing for a siege surrounded outmanned outnumbered outgunned or out sordid and then this campaign of intimidation and taunting and arrogance comes. I mean sometimes that’s the thing that can take us out, the voice of intimidation, the accusation, the arrogance. And, so, king Hezekiah eventually gets the news, the word of all this and there’s sackcloth and ashes. And then there’s this beautiful scene of Hezekiah who was a good king, a good, good, reforming king in the land of Judah, the kingdom of Judah. He goes into the Lord’s temple with the letter, the second form of intimidation. He spreads this out before the Lord. Like right here on this page, that’s the taunting voice, that is the arrogance being spoken against you, Lord. It’s really actually a beautifully humble acknowledgment. I mean Hezekiah’s like the things that they’re saying our true as far as the destruction that has been left in their wake. Like they have destroyed everything they have attacked, and we truly are powerless to sustain or survive this without you, Lord. Sentiments inside of a prayer that we’ve probably prayed at one point or another. And then they send word to the prophet Isaiah asking for prayer. And Isaiah sends a message back from the Lord that relying on the Lord is actually a safe thing to do. The only safe thing to do at all in this scenario, and the Lord will not deny his people. And, so, Isaiah gives this message of confidence that there is a future for Judah, and that this isn’t going to happen. The Lord says, “this year you will you what grows on its own and in the second year what grows from that. But in the 3rd sow and re-plant vineyards and eat their fruit. Like, there’s a future here. And then the Lord says the surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. And that has been the word for our year, rooted. And, so, that jumped off the page to me. And I begin to think, even as I was reading. Take root downward and bear fruit upward, that’s it. We are always asking for the fruit of the Spirit to be present and plentiful in our lives but thinking back to the parable of the good soil that Jesus…or the different kinds of soil that Jesus talked about. To have fruit upward we need roots downward. If we’re not seeing that, then it’s beneath the surface that we need to be looking. It’s in the rootedness. If all we’re doing is looking for or looking at the fruit…I mean if we see someone bearing fruit for the kingdom of God and we must know that they are rooted. And if we want a bountiful harvest of the fruit of the spirit in our lives, then we must likewise be rooted. And this is what God is promising these people who are totally outnumbered and totally being intimidated. But as the story goes the Angel the Lord strikes down the Assyrian army, 185,000 people die and King’s Sennacherib has to go back to Assyria and in short order, he is assassinated by his own sons, and Judah is rescued under the leadership of King Hezekiah and the prophetic voice of Isaiah. And it will take a little bit of time and a totally different Empire to eventually carry Judah into exile. But we will follow that story and see how it all goes down in the days ahead.
And then there’s this really heartbreaking scene in the book of Acts today where the apostle Paul is on his way to Jerusalem and everywhere he stops people are warning them not to go up to Jerusalem. I mean, he’s a lightning rod at this point. Paul is a Pharisee who was educated in Jerusalem, who was zealous for the Mosaic law, who was absolutely against the name of Jesus, and he’s done an about-face and is moving in a completely just different direction. And, so, the Jewish people look at Paul as a heretic, as somebody who has actually left his faith, somebody who was saying that Gentiles can be involved in this story, like somebody who needs to die. And, so, as Paul is making his way back to Jerusalem he’s been warned, even prophetically warned that captivity and chains and suffering are in his future. And, so, everywhere he goes he’s like on his goodbye tour on his way back to Jerusalem. Very, very, very sad. And, so, people are pleading with him today and he’s saying like it’s breaking my heart to listen to you guys. You have to know that the Lord told me to go to Jerusalem and I know what’s coming and I’m ready. Like, I’m willing for captivity. But I’m willing to die for the name of Jesus if that’s what this takes. But I have to obey the Lord and it’s breaking my heart to see you so sad. And, so, we get a little bit of a personal glimpse into the apostle Paul. We’re still kinda getting to know him. We’re in the book of Acts, but after this we will begin Paul’s letters. And, so, we’ll be listening to Paul’s personality in his letters for quite a while. So, this glimpse of him just having a human moment here is really helpful because a lot of Paul’s writings are highly theological. And obviously we will be continuing the story in the book of Acts. Is he gonna get there to Jerusalem? Does he make it? What happens? We’ll find out in the days ahead.
And then lastly from the book of Proverbs, a theme that comes up often in the Bible. And that is what is coming out of our mouths. And, so, the book of Proverbs has a single sentence for us. A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being. I cannot read that proverb without saying something about it, even if I’m just talking to myself. Gossip is such a destructive force. It destroys communities. It’s like a cancer in communities. When there’s this kind of back story that’s unspoken that’s fragmented that’s in pieces throughout a community, it's…it can be so divisive and devastating. And, so, what we’re told here is that gossip is tasty. And we know that. Like it’s tasty to have the inside scoop, to sort of get some information that’s not out there about somebody or even have a friendly Christian conversation about somebody else. Somebody else’s problems that we need to pray for. What do you think is going on? Well, I heard this. Really, well I heard this. And before you know it just fully creating a story without…about a person without the person there to say, no that’s not…that’s not how it went. I was there, it’s me. This is how it went. We need to know from the voice of wisdom is that these things end up in our innermost being. Like we can pick up somebody else’s offense through gossip. All kinds of things can happen through this. And, so, let’s at least just simply acknowledge once again the Bible has brought this up. The Bible brings this up a number of times in a number of ways. We’re not to be able to escape the fact that the power of life and death is in our tongue. So, in our mouths and what comes out of our mouths actually matters and sets things into motion. But what we receive from other people’s mouths into our ears when it’s gossip, it may be tasty, but it goes into the innermost being, which simply allows us to question whether or not we want that we want that, do we want that stuff, that kinda stuff, other people’s offenses, this kind of stuff, do we want that in our innermost being? Not like just something that we heard and went in one ear and out the other, but something that went into our ears and sank down into our innermost being. If we don’t then…well…then wisdom would tell us to avoid this kind of behavior.
Father, we thank You for Your word. We thank You for even the many different facets that we could look at ourselves through Your word in the stories that we read today, being surrounded and taunted by an enemy trying to intimidate us or Paul following what You would told him to do even though he knew what was going to happen was being warned, and what the Proverbs have told us about being careful what we participate in and listening to. We thank You that the Scriptures really do touch all of the different facets of our lives as we enter into a relationship with them. And we thank You that day by day step-by-step we are doing just that. And indeed, the Scriptures are touching our lives. And, so, plant these seeds in our lives. May our roots go down word that we might bear fruit upward. We ask this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
dailyaudiobible.com is home base and it’s where you find out what’s going on around here. And we’ve got several things going on around here. And by the way, if you’re using the Daily Audio Bible app you can find out what’s going on around here as well by pushing the Drawer icon in the upper left-hand corner.
So, we have the Daily Audio Bible long walk coming up, which is less than a week now, a week from yesterday. The seventh day of July is the Daily Audio Bible holiday, our own little global campfire holiday. And I’ve been explaining it for…for a week or whatever. And it’s just a time to give ourselves permission to carve out a day and go for a long walk with God. Go out into nature, go intentionally with the idea that a long walk, a stroll through somewhere beautiful with the lover of our souls where we can say all that we need to say and hear all that we need to hear is a worthwhile endeavor to say the least. And, so, that’s what we do every seventh day of July. All over the world go out into beauty, spend the day with God saying we need to say and listening as we prepare to really set the course for the second half of the year. And, so, make plans for that. That’s coming up this coming Thursday, the 7th of July. And obviously that’s a solitary endeavor. That’s a very, very personal journey with God but it’s something that we’re doing by the thousands together at the same time in different places in the world. And it’s very unlikely we’re gonna go anywhere without her phone these days and it’s important to remember these times, especially like a time that we spent with God. Maybe take some pictures. Take some pictures of the beauty that you see, a video of what you experienced and come and share your long walk story. We put a post on the Daily Audio Bible Facebook page. That’s facebook.com/dailyaudiobible. And you can post your pictures and your stories in there and then we can all enjoy them together looking through each other’s lenses basically, opening windows into each other’s lives. So, that’s coming up on the 7th of July. Make plans for that. I am ready and looking forward to it.
And then the other thing that we’ve got going on right now is that we have announced the fact that we intend to go back to Israel on a pilgrimage, February 6th through the 19th 2023 and love to have you. And you can check out those details at dailyaudiobible.com in the Initiatives section or you can use the Daily Audio Bible app and open up the Drawer and find the Initiatives section and you’ll find Israel 2023 in there or you can just go to dailyaudiobibleisrael.com and that will get you there as well. So, check it out and looking forward to that and in a few months.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer and Praise: