17:1-41 - ‘The people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt’ (7). What happens when people reject the God of salvation? - They become ‘empty’ and ‘worthless’ because they have chosen to ‘pursue emptiness’ by ‘following worthless idols’ (15). If you don’t have salvation, you have nothing. Jesus makes this perfectly clear when He says, ‘What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36). You can have it all - all that the world thinks is important - and yet have nothing - nothing that really matters! The world has its ‘winners’. They have won ‘the praise of men’. We must be careful: ‘Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God’. It’s better to be ‘God’s friend’ (James 4:4; 2:23)
18:1-37 - Hezekiah ‘held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him…’ (6). We give up so easily. We start well, then we lose our way. We don’t stick at it. Some people are all smiles - when things are going well. When the going gets tough, they lose their smiles - and you can’t see them for dust! What’s the problem? - They’ve taken their eyes off Jesus. They’re looking around at everyone and everything - except Jesus. Notice how different Hezekiah was! He ‘held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him’. This is what makes the difference - Keeping your eyes on Jesus. What is it that keeps us going? We are ‘kept by the power of God’ - He ‘is able to keep us from falling’ (1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24). ‘Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus’ (Hebrews 12:1-2).
19:1-37 - ‘Do not be afraid because of the words you have heard’ (6). Who are you listening to - the world or the Lord? Sometimes, the voice of the world seems to be so loud - so loud that we can hardly hear the voice of the Lord at all. We need to listen well if we are to hear the voice of the Lord in today’s world. When we are discouraged, we need His Word of encouragement: ‘The zeal of the Lord will do this’ (31). When you feel like saying, ‘I can’t’, remember this: ‘Our God is able’ - ‘able to help those who are tempted’, ‘able to provide you with every blessing in abundance’, ‘able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think’ (Daniel 3:17; Hebrews 2:18; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 3:20). Don’t say ‘I can’t’. Say, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me’ (Philippians 4:13).
20:1-21:18 - ‘Carried off to Babylon’ (20:17) - There’s a real sadness about these words. In Revelation 18:2, Babylon is described as ‘a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit’. In today’s world, it seems like things are going the same way. ‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ (Revelation 14:8; 18:2) - Everything seems to be falling round about us. We hear so much bad news. We wonder, ‘What does God think about all this?’. God is looking for people who will stand when everyone else is falling, people who will stand up for Him - ‘Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues’ (Revelation 18:4). Even ‘in Babylon’, there were ‘the chosen’ - people who belonged to the Lord (1 Peter 5:13). Let us be such people - ‘in the world’ but ‘not of the world’ (John 17:11,16).
21:19-23:3 - You never know what’s going to happen next! There was repair work going on at the House of God (5-6). It seemed so mundane. What happened next was certainly not mundane. Revival broke out! A book was found. It was ‘the Book of the Law’ (8).The rediscovery of God’s Word brought transformation. Everything changed when the Word of God took its rightful place among the people. King Josiah wanted to find out what was in ‘this book that has been found’ (13). He read its ‘words’ to ‘all the people’ (23:2). The words were not only read.They were acted upon: ‘The king… made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep His commandments… with all his heart and all his soul… and all the people joined in the covenant’ (23:3). They returned to ‘the ancient paths’, to ‘the good way’ (Jeremiah 6:16) - and so must we!
23:4-30 - In 18:5, we read about Hezekiah; ‘There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him’. Here, we read about something rather different - ‘Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him’(25). This seems confusing: Which was the better king - Hezekiah or Josiah? We need to look more closely at these statements. Hezekiah is commended for his trust in the Lord - ‘’Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel’ (18:5). Josiah is commended for his obedience to God. His actions were ‘according to all the law of Moses’ (25). Trust and obedience belong together. Hezekiah’s faith led to obedience (18:6). By his obedience, Josiah showed that he had ‘turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might’ (25). We need both - trust and obedience.
23:31-24:17 - ‘The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valour… all of them strong and fit for war’ (24:16). A prisoner of war is taken out of the battle. We have been given ‘the whole armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:11,13). We must use ‘the weapons of our warfare’. We must ‘take every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). It is not easy to ‘fight the good fight of faith’ (1 Timothy 6:12). Satan wants to make us his prisoners of war. Satan is a very powerful enemy - ‘the whole world is in the power of the evil one’. We must live as those who ‘are of God’, firmly convinced that ‘He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world’ (1 John 5:19; 4:4). The world seems so strong. The devil seems so powerful. It will not always be so - ‘Hallelujah!’ (Revelation 16:19; 18:21; 20:10; 19:1,6-7).
24:18-25:30 - ‘Finally, in the end, it came to the point that He cast them out of His presence’ (24:20). There is a real word of warning here. God is patient - ‘He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9). We dare not presume upon God’s patience: ‘Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? God forbid!’ (Romans 6:1-2). There can come a point when God says, ‘This is the point of no return, the end, the final straw’. This is what God’s Word says in Romans 1:21-28 - ‘They did not honour God or give thanks to Him… Therefore God gave them up… They worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator… For this reason God gave them up… Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up…’. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Come to Christ now!