Readings in II Kings, II Chronicles, Amos, Hosea, Jonah and Isaiah
Here in Portland, Oregon we have just experienced a 3 day mini-heat wave. A common feature of Oregon heat waves is that they seem to come out of the blue…without much “warm up” time…one day it is in the 60’s and the next day it is in the 90’s…
I really have a difficult time with hot weather…my body just can’t tolerate the heat and after more than a couple days, I feel swollen and rather faint…I know I am a bit of a wimp…but it feels very similar to being claustrophobic. Today when I took my seat on our porch and let the cool breeze wash over me…and rejoiced with Caleb when the rain drops started to fall…yes…we did do a spontaneous rain dance…I was reminded that we all have heat waves in our lives…not matter the season. Heat waves that can come without any advanced notice…actual scorching temperatures or circumstantial ones that leave us exasperated and faint.
Here’s what lingered with me from this past week’s time in the Word:
AMOS: A prophet to Israel…the son of a priest…the first words of this book say that Amos was one of the shepherds of Tekoa…God chose an ordinary man…with an ordinary vocation…to speak extraordinary words to His people…Amos went from tending the sheep to the pressure cooker lifestyle of telling the rebellious people of Israel that they needed to repent and return to the Lord their God. Can you feel the mercury rising…from the pastures to a sore throat and blistered feet…
“Seek me and live.” (5:4)
“Seek the LORD and live.” (5:6)
“Seek good, not evil, that you may live then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.” (5:14)
“Hate evil, love good.” (5:15)
The above words seem so simple….straightforward even…but not so easy to live by…
Naaman: Naaman was the commander of the army of the king of Aram. The Word says he was a great man in the sight of his master and held in high regard and he was a valiant soldier however there was a huge BUT…he had leprosy. A slave girl held the key to his relief…but Naaman was a great man…he was sure that he would need a great cure…how could seven dips in the pool relieve his suffering…
Seek the LORD and live!
Seeking the Lord may mean being asked to do something that seems foolish but can bring healing.
Uzziah king of Judah: Uzziah walked in the way of the Lord but pride got the best of him and once he became powerful he decided that he could perform the role that God had given priests alone and burnt incense at the altar of incense…pride was his downfall and he was afflicted by the Lord with leprosy all the days of his life.
Seek good, not evil, that you may live, then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.
Jotham king of Judah: Jotham was the son of King Uzziah…would he live by his father’s example…is it possible to escape the sins of the father…absolutely!
“He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the LORD.” (II Chron. 28: 2)
“Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God.” (28: 6)
Seek me and live!
Hosea: The second and third verses of Hosea say these words…that give me quite a shudder:
“When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him,
“Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD. So he married Gomer…” (1:2,3)
What has God asked of you…of me? What has he said as He has begun to speak in our lives? I would describe this as a heat wave…but God spoke and Hosea obeyed. God’s words aren’t what I have been praying for my children as I pray for their future spouses. Yes, perhaps this book is merely an allegory…perhaps not…regardless…
Hate evil, love good!
Jonah: The story of Jonah is so familiar even to preschoolers…I really enjoyed reading the book of Jonah this week…he even encountered a heat wave.
Just like in Hosea and Amos…no time is wasted…God tells Jonah to go to Ninevah and preach against the wickedness that was so prevalent…Jonah runs away and gains passage on a ship…God had other plans for Jonah and sends a great storm which causes all on board to fear for their lives…Jonah realizes the inevitable ship wreck is due to his exodus from God’s calling…when the sailors ask Jonah where he is from and what does he do and what people he is from…I love his answer:
“I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” (1: 9)
Jonah boldly proclaimed who he was and whose he was…he also made sure that the sailors knew who made the seas on which they traveled…as the sailors had been pleading with their own gods to no avail.
Man overboard…the sailors are saved and Jonah enters the belly of a great fish which the Lord provided.
Jonah has some time to think about his plight and prays to the Lord and after he utters these words…that fish decides Jonah should depart:
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving, with sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed, I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD.”
Jonah preaches to the Ninevites and they declare a fast and call out to the LORD…and the LORD has compassion and He relents…cause for celebration by Jonah…NO WAY…He is displeased and angry…huh?
He basically tells God that he was afraid that God would be God and would be gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and would relent from sending calamity.
I have to admit…I think I have been there…maybe not to the extent of this former fish dweller, I mean he wanted to die, he was so angry , but I have gotten my feelings stomped on a time or two…do I want to forgive…easily…quickly…would I like God to give them the big KAPOW…sorry…I have…has God been God to them…YES…has He been God to me…thankfully yes as well. God asks Jonah if he has any right to be angry…do I?
Jonah builds a shelter and sits outside of the city in the shade to watch and wait to see what happens to the city. I wonder if he was waiting to see if the people would slide back into their old ways…so he could point fingers…or maybe that is just what I have been prone to do…ouch!
The Lord provides him with a vine and makes it grow over Jonah to give him shade for his head to ease his discomfort and this vine made Jonah happy. The next day, God provided a worm to chew the vine so it withered and he also sent a hot wind and lots of sun…a heat wave in fact…with the vine now history, Jonah’s poor little head was sunburned and he felt faint. He wanted to die…again God asks Jonah if he has the right to be angry about the vine…Jonah says…I do…I am angry enough to die. The book of Jonah closes with God telling Jonah that he has been angry about a mere vine that he did nothing to make it grow or even tend to it…but the city of Ninevah has hundreds of thousands of people who can’t tell their right from their left hand…should God not be concerned about that great city?
Don’t you love the heart of God? God will definitely be nothing less than be God. The story of Jonah reminds me of Elijah…God’s servants get tired…maybe even a bit moody at times…God deals so gently with them…through the penetrating shade of a vine to a whisper of a gentle breeze…He can ask hard questions but He is fiercely tender…altogether loving.
Today you may find yourself in the midst of a heat wave…it could involve being ordinary for an extraordinary God, following simple instructions that lead to abundant life, putting away pride, walking in your calling, abandoning generational curses, saying yes to an unimaginable request or going where you are sent…
My prayer today is that we will all wipe our sweaty foreheads and say an emphatic YES…because in the midst of it, He just might provide you with a vine that will shade your head or in my case…cool breezes and drops of refreshment from heaven…providing energy enough to dance.
Join us here at Bev’s place every Monday as we read the Word Cover to Cover chronologically…read other recaps that are not quite so wordy…in fact, I give up…it is impossible! Just imagine all that I left out…now that is something to not ponder long…it could be headache inducing.