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July 5, Day 187 – A Place of True Safety

Behind the scenes in 2 Kings 8:16-9:37, God’s providential hand is unmistakably at work to bring about His divine purposes. Here in chapter 8, we see that Jehoram, the thirty-two-year-old son of Jehoshaphat, ascends the throne of Judah. Unfortunately, Jehoram “married a daughter of Ahab, and he did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (verses 16-18). We see that, during his reign, ‘Edom rebelled against Judah … and has been in rebellion to this day” (verses 20-22). Little more than this information is provided about Jehoram other than his death, and he is followed by his son, Ahaziah, whose mother was Athaliah, granddaughter of Omri. Here, we see that Ahaziah and Joram went to war together against Hazael, who, as we saw yesterday, murdered Ben-Hadad, his predecessor. It’s hard for us to understand how much violence and bloodshed took place in Israel in those days. In chapter 9, we see that the prophet Elisha summons a young prophet to anoint Jehu, who fancies himself as a zealot for God (cf., 2 Kings 10:16). By God’s Word, Jehu will become the king of Israel, but essentially, he is just another reckless thug who violently destroys the complete line of Ahab and brings it to its end (verses 7-8). In Jehu, we see again how God can use wicked people as His instruments of wrath. Jehu, on a campaign to fulfill the prophet’s words, “drives like a madman” (verse 20), meets Joram and Ahaziah, and kills them both (verses 21-29). Earlier, we saw that the young prophet prophesied, “as for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her” (verse 10). In the midst of this section’s incredible wickedness and violence, God removes Jezebel and fulfills the prophetic word exactly (verse 35). Unfortunately, Jehu will also turn out to be a scoundrel, but we will see that, in His own way and time, God will deal with him, too.

Psalm 80 is a passage that we should read often and upon which we should reflect frequently. Sometimes, when things don’t seem to go right for us, we wonder why God seems distant, does not act, or takes forever to answer our prayers. We’ve talked about this truth that – although we are created in His image – God is not like us. He is high, holy, lofty, mysterious, and lifted up, and we must remember this truth every day. Psalm 80:1-7 helps us to put our feelings about this life into perspective. The universe is not about us, and the Psalmist recognized this truth. He asks, “How long will your anger smolder, O LORD God Almighty?” (verse 4). God has every right to be angry at the presence of sin in His universe – and yes – even at our sin. We must also understand that God is our Creator and we are but His created subjects. HE runs the universe, and all of today’s readings confirm that God is sovereignly working behind the scenes to accomplish HIS purposes. Thank God that, twice, he writes, “Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved” (verses 3 and 7). He wants to restore us, save us, and favor us with His face shining upon us.

In Acts 23:12-35, we see how God kept Paul safe in the midst of turmoil. We notice that “more than forty Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul” (verse 12). May I please recommend that you never do that? As God in His sovereignty is protecting Paul’s life and has already guaranteed by His Word and His promise that Paul will go to preach at Rome, if these Jews keep their oath, they are simply going to die hungry and thirsty. Through the Roman commander, God removed Paul to Caesarea - a place of refuge and safety – accompanied by “two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen” (verse 23). This “detachment” outnumbered the conspirators by more than ten to one (verse 23), so it would be sufficient, don’t you think? We see that the commander wrote an official letter to Governor Felix, and the “soldiers carried out their orders” (verse 31). However, “the next day,” we notice that God additionally provided the Roman cavalry to finish the job - handing Paul over to the governor” (verses 31-34). Sovereignly and definitely, God ensured Paul’s safety; no conspiracy in the world could violate his security.

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