Thursday, January 31, 2019

What to pray (2 Chr 20:1-13)

WHAT TO PRAY (2 Chr 20:1-13)
Dr. Paul Manuel—2019

Sometimes you face a difficult situation and know that you should pray but do not know how. In an act of desperation, you might compose a limerick like this student writes the night before an exam.
As I sit me down to study,
I pray the Lord I won't go nutty.
If I should fail to learn this junk,
I pray the Lord I will not flunk.
But if I do, don't mourn at all,
Just lay my bones in the study hail.
And tell the prof I did my best,
Then pile my books upon my chest.
Now I lay me down to rest,
And pray I'll pass tomorrow's test.
If I should die before I wake,
That's one less test I'll have to take.
Sometimes you face a difficult situation and know that you should pray but do not know how. King Jehoshaphat faces a difficult situation, and he may wonder What to Pray. He does not compose a limerick, though, but voices something that is effective in resolving his difficult situation.

After the Northern Kingdom of Israel falls to Assyria, and King Jehoshaphat rules the remaining Israelites in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, a federation of local governments decides to exploit Judah's weakness and invade the land. As these hostiles position troops at the border ready to attack, the Jewish monarch knows he is outmatched and appears before his people to enlist their aid in asking God for help.

I. The nation faces a coalition of enemy forces (2 Chr 20:1-4).
2 Chr 20:1 The Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army2 is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
A. The enemy readies to pounce.
When Assyria invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel, enemy troops spared the Southern Kingdom of Judah, leaving that nation intact as a buffer with the Egyptian empire further south. Now that Assyrian troops are no longer in country, Judah faces a coalition of Moabites and Ammonites together again as they were when Israel was in the wilderness on its way to the Promised Land. At that time, God had instructed Moses to avoid them and not to engage with them militarily:

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

So you want a king? (1 Sam 8:1-22)

Dr. Paul Manuel—2019

When you pray it is important to word your petitions carefully so there is no confusion about what you are requesting.
A young boy and his grandmother were walking along the sea shore when a huge wave appeared out of nowhere, sweeping the child out to sea. The horrified woman fell to her knees, raised her eyes heavenward, and begged the Lord to return her beloved grandson. Lo and behold, another wave reared up and deposited the stunned child on the sand before her, wet but unharmed. The grandmother looked the boy over carefully. He was fine. But still she stared up toward the heavens. "When we came here," she snapped indignantly... "he had a hat!"
When you pray it is important to word your petitions carefully so there is no confusion about what you are requesting.

God's people spent the first few hundred years after their exodus from Egypt trying to establish a presence in Canaan. They eliminated many of their opponents, as God instructed, yet not all, and they recently encountered an additional challenge to the conquest. While the Israelites have been moving into the land from the west, the Philistines have been moving into the land from the east and now occupy a significant portion of the coastal plain. To this point, the judges provided good leadership, but the latest judge, Samuel—more specifically, his sons—may not be up to the challenge. It is time for a change, a radical change in the leadership of God's people.' So there would be no question about what they want, the people subscribe to this adage: Be Careful What You Ask.

I. The people desire a king (1 Sam 8:1-18).
1 Sam 8:1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."
To this point in the history of Israel, God is the nation's leader, a position He demonstrates most clearly by bringing the people out of Egypt and into Canaan. He operates through human agents, like Moses and the judges, but His use of the miraculous leaves no doubt that He is the one working. Unfortunately, while God designed the system, the system has broken down, because human agents are fallible. The latest examples, Samuel's sons, are very fallible, a situation that has caused some concern among the people, as well as some consideration of an alternative solution.
A. Their request is understandable.
1. The priests are dishonest.
Samuel's sons are corrupt, guilty of abusing their religious authority. They are dishonest, take bribes, and pervert justice (v. 3), all in violation of God's explicit commands; and these activities disqualify them for service in the tabernacle of the Lord. But the priests' dishonesty is part of another problem.