How often has God blessed us with a second chance and we chose to return to the same situation or behavior? We all make mistakes, once, twice, and for some maybe three times. However, when we continue to do that same thing, it’s not a mistake, it’s not an accident, it’s a choice. God removes a toxic person from our life, we chose to let them back in. God shuts doors that are harming us, we choose to open them back up. God opens doors for us, we choose to let fear stop us from walking through. We pray for deliverance but then choose to return to the same thing we asked to be delivered from! I plead guilty. Don’t judge me. I know I am not the only one! God could control us like puppets, but from the beginning He has allowed us to make our own choices. We get to make our own choices, but we do not get to choose our consequences.
This morning as I was reading 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles in the Old Testament, I begin to think about how similar we are to our ancestors. In the Old Testament judgement came against every nation, first in judgement to purify Israel, then in judgement to punish the pagan nations. But even then the Lord was merciful. He offered mercy through Jonah. Then again through Nahum who prophesied to Ninevah about a century after Jonah’s visit because the people had drifted back into their pre Jonah evil ways. (sound familiar). Ninevah had an opportunity to start over and to receive blessings from the Lord God, but instead they chose to return to their pagan and violent ways of the past. In those days, the leaders of the people were known as kings, today’s leaders have different titles. The Kings, like some leaders today, were not God honoring and did not do what was right according to the Lord. Although King David is one of the well-known Kings in the Bible, I personally love King Josiah the most. My grandson has the honor of being named after him. King Josiah did what the Lord approved and followed in his ancestor David’s footsteps, when he could have chosen to follow in the rebellious leadership of his father, Amon. (2 Chronicles 33:23-25). He was not perfect, but the Bible says no king before or after repented before the Lord as he did, with his whole heart and soul. Josiah destroyed every evil thing that his father had built. He instructed that the temple be rebuilt. He located and destroyed that which even his grandfather had missed. He commanded the people to assemble and renew their vow of obedience before the Lord God. Still God knows the hearts of every person in this world, so even righteous Kings or leaders cannot redeem a people focused upon rebellion. So even though Josiah did what was right, the Lord God was angry with Israel and Judah for rebellion. The Bible says Josiah was devastated. He humbled himself before the Lord, tore his clothes and wept before God, so God allowed Josiah to die and be buried in peace. God did not allow him to witness all the disaster He would bring. There goes God again showing mercy. In fact, the entire time God caused prophesies of judgement, He also cause prophesies of hope.
Speaking of hope, let’s fast forward to the present day. The difference between now and the Old Testament is that we have the gift of salvation through Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives within us today. He is our advocate. He is our voice of conscious and He has set us free. Free to do what? Free to accept His gift, confess and repent, seek and receive the Lord God’s forgiveness, free to live a life of abundance that is pleasing to God. Most importantly, free from spiritual death to eternal life! If we look around us at the world we live in and everything that is happening, not only around us but within us, we should realize God is trying to tell us something. We should realize that the enemy is busier than ever because he knows that his time is running out. If you cannot see there is a spiritual battle going on as well as what you see happening physically, I suggest you ask God to open your spiritual eyes. Do not be distracted by the enemy! Spiritual warfare is real, and we need to be equipped to understand the attack and how to fight the battles. I also suggest you read the Books of Kings which describes the history of Israel’s Kings from the end of the rule of David until the time of the Babylonian exile. Why? Because just as we learn from our past today, we can learn from our history of yesterdays. It is relevant not only because the Old Testament teaches us what not to do, but because the theme of the entire Bible is Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself confirmed the fact that He is in the Old Testament. In John 5:46, Jesus explained to some religious leaders who had challenged Him that the Old Testament was talking about Him, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” The entire Bible is a light that points us to God’s offer of reconciliation, the hope of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus allows us the choose to repent and return to Him. We don’t have to worry about making the right choice, if we consult Him first. We should celebrate and give praise to the Holy Spirit. He is our hope! We should commit ourselves to a more intentional walk with Him. Do we choose to be like King Josiah and repent, or do we choose to be like the other Kings and choose poorly? The Lord only wanted Israel and Juda to choose Him. Jesus only wants us to choose Him! Why did the people of Judah copy Israel when they saw the horrible things that happened to Israel as a result of them choosing to do their will and not God’s will? Why do this world continue to choose evil over good, as if God is not calling us, when we see the horrific things that God is allowing to happen or doing Himself? I think about Jeremiah, the prophet. Jeremiah delivered the Lord God’s plea to Israel to repent of their sinful rebellion so that He might forgive, reconcile, and restore them, even reunite them with Judah. God challenged Jeremiah to seek out even one person of integrity in Jerusalem, which would have triggered His willingness to withhold destruction from Sodom and Gomorrah, but Jeremiah could not find one. Not one!? God is the same merciful God today, yesterday, and tomorrow. He sent His son Jesus to us, because He does not want to lose one soul! May we learn from the past and be careful to place nothing between us and God. May we constantly check our hearts, with the Holy Spirit so we won’t drift into a rebellious mindset. May we choose to be that one God is looking for. Do we follow Jesus, or do we follow the world? It is our choice, one choice leads to eternal life, and the other to destruction. I choose Jesus, who promises in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 that He will return to rule and reign forever. He is the King of Kings! Love and Blessings…
“But tell the people of Jerusalem that the Lord says, “I will give you a choice between two courses of action. One will result in life; the other will result in death. Those who stay in this city will die in battle or of starvation or disease. Those who leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians who are besieging it will live. They will escape with their lives. For I, the Lord, say that I am determined not to deliver this city but to bring disaster on it. It will be handed over to the King of Babylon and he will destroy it with fire.” (Jeremiah 21:8-10)
“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city. Although they say, “As surely as the LORD lives,” still they are swearing falsely.” LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God. So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds. Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them, a leopard will lie in wait near their towns to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many.” (Jeremiah 5:1-6)
“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David.” (2Chronicles 34:1-3)
“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses” (2 Kings 23:25)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”- the things God has prepared for those who love him, these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the LORD so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 2:9-16)
“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)