In Time of Distress

“Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the Lord. This is that King Ahaz.“ 2 Chronicles 28:22 NKJV

In time of distress, like the economic crisis in Lebanon, like the Hollywood-like assassination attempt on the president of Haiti, or like Cuba’s current situation?  In time of distress, like the perilous times we live in?  IN TIME OF DISTRESS – Do we draw closer to God or become increasingly unfaithful?  This is a dire question you need an answer to immediately.  You need to make up your mind now today before you are in a time of distress or before things get any worse! Let me explain…

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Second Chronicles chapter 28 and Second Kings chapters 16-17 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).

Our modern world has done many scientific studies on human behavior under distress, mostly so they knew how to train and manage human’s during wars and make them good soldiers.  We could have skipped the studies and just let the scientist examine the behavior of the Kings we have been reading about. Here we have King Ahaz – well aware of ALL of the miracles and amazing blessings of the Lord. And warned by a prophet that God’s sovereignty was all over his distress – all Ahaz needed to do was talk it out with God. But fear and confusion came in. Ahaz never set his heart to choose God. He never decided before hand what to do in certain situation.  You see, without the stress or pressure of a situation you can decide ahead of time. This is a lesson I learned as a child.

As a child I heard the guest speaker to the youth ministry say – you don’t have an unplanned pregnancy right now, you don’t have hormones and stress influencing you. So without the pressure – decide: if you ever had an unplanned pregnancy, would you abort the baby or carry it to term and figure out from there if you wanted to put the baby up for adoption or keep him/her. 
So that night, I thought – I do not think I will ever have that kind of distress. The speaker gave other examples as well which apply to teens – but we can come up with our own examples (for us now and in this time) of distress based on looking at the world events. None the less back in the 1980’s – that fateful night I gave in and did this silly exercise of choosing what I would do. 

In the mid 1990’s I learned I had an unplanned pregnancy.  I was engaged to be married to the father and figured maybe we should move the wedding up so I wasn’t as fat in the pictures. I was unprepared for the “distress”.  I was pressured to abort. I was dumped and the wedding was cancelled. I had to move and start over all while going through a complicated pregnancy.  But through it all I never wavered on my choice. I had made it more than 5 years earlier. A child was a blessing from the Lord and I was going to fight to keep my blessing and be blessed to the fullest. I became increasingly faithful. I drew closer to God.

We are all looking into a future full of distressing times – I tell you because that is what the Bible says. I would love to say it will get easier and wonderful – but it won’t in the physical world. Walk in the spirit and it will.  God always draws close to those who are feeling it, under distress, have a heavy and hurting heart. God is close. Will we choose to turn to Him and curl up in His loving and protective arms? Or will we turn away and become unfaithful?  Try it our way.

I have said it a million times, but let me say it again – God’s ways are not our ways. His ways are better. He knew it was coming – HERE IS YOUR WARNING! So decide. When the going gets tough, are you going to handle it yourself or take it to God. You see, He knows it is coming and He already made a way through and He has said over and over, trust me climb up in my arms – put me first – and I am the way through it!

Now, this story isn’t a story about King Ahaz. It is a story about all of the descendants of Jacob. Ahaz’s lack of faithfulness to God encouraged an entire Nation to turn from God.  Now then you must also realize that your story isn’t about YOU. Do not be selfish. God is very clear that we are created to give Him glory and that is what our story is about.

Think about that.

Our story isn’t about our self. It is about giving glory to God. And about having a relationship with Him and sharing it with others.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: James 4:7 
NKJV – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
NAS – “Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
ESV – “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
NLT – “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
NIV – “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: 2 Chronicles 28 & 2 Kings 16-17 NKJV

2 Chronicles 28

Ahaz Reigns in Judah

28 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord, as his father David had done. For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made molded images for the Baals. He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the [a]high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.

Syria and Israel Defeat Judah

Therefore the Lord his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria. They defeated him, and carried away a great multitude of them as captives, and brought them to Damascus. Then he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who defeated him with a great slaughter. For Pekah the son of Remaliah killed one hundred and twenty thousand in Judah in one day, all valiant men, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers. Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king’s son, Azrikam the officer over the house, and Elkanah who was second to the king. And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand women, sons, and daughters; and they also took away much [b]spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria.

Israel Returns the Captives

But a prophet of the Lord was there, whose name was Oded; and he went out before the army that came to Samaria, and said to them: “Look, because the Lord God of your fathers was angry with Judah, He has delivered them into your hand; but you have killed them in a rage that reaches up to heaven. 10 And now you propose to force the children of Judah and Jerusalem to be your male and female slaves; but are you not also guilty before the Lord your God? 11 Now hear me, therefore, and return the captives, whom you have taken captive from your brethren, for the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you.”

12 Then some of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who came from the war, 13 and said to them, “You shall not bring the captives here, for we already have offended the Lord. You intend to add to our sins and to our guilt; for our guilt is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.” 14 So the armed men left the captives and the [c]spoil before the leaders and all the assembly. 15 Then the men who were designated by name rose up and took the captives, and from the [d]spoil they clothed all who were naked among them, dressed them and gave them sandals, gave them food and drink, and anointed them; and they let all the feeble ones ride on donkeys. So they brought them to their brethren at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

Assyria Refuses to Help Judah

16 At the same time King Ahaz sent to the [e]kings of Assyria to help him. 17 For again the Edomites had come, attacked Judah, and carried away captives. 18 The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the lowland and of the South of Judah, and had taken Beth Shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Sochoh with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages; and they dwelt there. 19 For the Lord [f]brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the Lord. 20 Also Tiglath-Pileser[g] king of Assyria came to him and distressed him, and did not assist him. 21 For Ahaz took part of the treasures from the house of the Lord, from the house of the king, and from the leaders, and he gave it to the king of Assyria; but he did not help him.

Apostasy and Death of Ahaz

22 Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the Lord. This is that King Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, saying, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. 24 So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 And in every single city of Judah he made [h]high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers.

26 Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, from first to last, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 27 So Ahaz [i]rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem; but they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel. Then Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Chronicles 28:4 Places for pagan worship
  2. 2 Chronicles 28:8 plunder
  3. 2 Chronicles 28:14 plunder
  4. 2 Chronicles 28:15 plunder
  5. 2 Chronicles 28:16 LXX, Syr., Vg. king (cf. v. 20)
  6. 2 Chronicles 28:19 humbled Judah
  7. 2 Chronicles 28:20 Heb. Tilgath-Pilneser
  8. 2 Chronicles 28:25 Places for pagan worship
  9. 2 Chronicles 28:27 Died and joined his ancestors

2 Kings 16-17

Ahaz Reigns in Judah

16 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his father David had done. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.

Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to make war; and they besieged Ahaz but could not overcome him. At that time Rezin king of Syria captured [a]Elath for Syria, and drove the men of Judah from Elath. Then the [b]Edomites went to Elath, and dwell there to this day.

So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser[c] king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and save me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me.” And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and sent it as a present to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria heeded him; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.

10 Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus; and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the design of the altar and its pattern, according to all its workmanship. 11 Then Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. So Urijah the priest made it before King Ahaz came back from Damascus. 12 And when the king came back from Damascus, the king saw the altar; and the king approached the altar and made offerings on it. 13 So he burned his burnt offering and his grain offering; and he poured his drink offering and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. 14 He also brought the bronze altar which was before the Lord, from the front of the [d]temple—from between the new altar and the house of the Lord—and put it on the north side of the new altar. 15 Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, “On the great new altar burn the morning burnt offering, the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice. And the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.” 16 Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that King Ahaz commanded.

17 And King Ahaz cut off the panels of the carts, and removed the lavers from them; and he took down the Sea from the bronze oxen that were under it, and put it on a pavement of stones. 18 Also he removed the Sabbath pavilion which they had built in the temple, and he removed the king’s outer entrance from the house of the Lord, on account of the king of Assyria.

19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 20 So Ahaz rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.

Hoshea Reigns in Israel

17 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel who were before him. Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money. And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.

Israel Carried Captive to Assyria

Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves [e]high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images[f] on every high hill and under every green tree. 11 There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, 12 for they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”

13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” 14 Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. 16 So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. 18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.

19 Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. 20 And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. 21 For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin. 22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, 23 until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.

Assyria Resettles Samaria

24 Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities. 25 And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26 So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land.” 27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land.” 28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.

29 However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt. 30 The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31 and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 So they feared the Lord, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the [g]high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. 33 They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods—according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.

34 To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the Lord, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances, or the law and commandment which the Lord had commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel, 35 with whom the Lord had made a covenant and charged them, saying: “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them; 36 but the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice. 37 And the statutes, the ordinances, the law, and the commandment which He wrote for you, you shall be careful to observe forever; you shall not fear other gods. 38 And the covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget, nor shall you fear other gods. 39 But the Lord your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” 40 However they did not obey, but they followed their former rituals. 41 So these nations feared the Lord, yet served their carved images; also their children and their children’s children have continued doing as their fathers did, even to this day.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Kings 16:6 Lit. Large Tree; sing. of Eloth
  2. 2 Kings 16:6 A few ancient mss. Syrians
  3. 2 Kings 16:7 A later name of Pul, 2 Kin. 15:19
  4. 2 Kings 16:14 Lit. house
  5. 2 Kings 17:9 Places for pagan worship
  6. 2 Kings 17:10 Heb. Asherim, Canaanite deities
  7. 2 Kings 17:32 Places for pagan worship

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