Today: Proverbs 16:28-33; Proverbs 17:1-4; Acts 28:17-31; 2 Kings 21 & 22

Proverbs 16 & 17

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” Proverbs 16:33

“The crucible for silvers and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.” Proverbs 17:3

No matter what happens, no matter what decisions are made by powerful people, no matter how chance a situation may seem, GOD IS IN CONTROL.

God is almighty, omniscient, and omnipresent. He can do all things and knows all things including the future. He knows our thoughts, hearts, and motivations. Nothing, NOTHING, is hidden from God.

"Saint Paul" painting by Philippe de Champaigne

Acts 28

What an amazing situation God set up for Paul in Rome. “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ — with all boldness and without hindrance!” (v.30-31) God placed Paul in the safest, most effective place he could be… in a central location, a place people from all over the world visited, and under Roman protection. That he could preach “without hindrance” really was a big deal (hence the author Luke’s exclamation point!). Christians were being hunted and persecuted. Paul himself had persecuted Christians before his conversion. To be able to preach about Jesus boldly without hindrance was a luxury. Only God could have orchestrated such a perfect situation to spread His gospel message.

Many people did believe Paul’s message. Many heard it and rejected it as well. To those that rejected Christ, Paul said:

“The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when He said through Isaiah the prophet: Go to this people and say, ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.’ For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Acts 28:26-27

Isaiah’s words are still true about US today. Paul’s words from God are about US! For those of us who DO see with our eyes, hear with our ears, understand with our hearts and turn to Him… HE HEALS!

2 Kings 21

The great godly king, Hezekiah, was followed by one of the most evil of all, King Manasseh. Manasseh “rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, ‘In Jerusalem I will put my Name.’ In the two courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing His anger.” (v.3-6) Manasseh was worse than all the other evil kings combined!

2 Kings 22

It did not take long for all of the good done by King Hezekiah to be erased by his wicked son, Manasseh. But God gave Judah yet another chance in Hezekiah’s great great grandson. The child king Josiah “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.” (v.2) The land of Judah had completely forgotten God’s law. The children of Judah had no idea that the Mosaic law even existed. When they discovered a dusty old Book of Law when Josiah had the temple repaired, everyone was shocked by its message. They had no knowledge of their own history.

We find ourselves in a similar place today. We have forgotten about God. Very few people worship Him, and even fewer have any knowledge of what His holy Scriptures say. We have not taught our children about truth. God’s message to Josiah through the prophetess Huldah is also relevant to us today. I do believe God’s judgment is coming and He is “going to bring disaster on this place and its people.” (v.16)

But God’s promise to Josiah applies to us as well:

“Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people — that they would become a curse and be laid waste — and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.” 2 Kings 22:19-20

Only God knows the timing of these things. But when His people cry out to Him with humble hearts, He can and DOES sometimes delay judgment. May WE also respond and humble ourselves before the LORD as Josiah did. May we also weep in His presence at the sins of our nation.