2 Corinthians – Chapter 12

Vision of Paradise

Verse 1 – It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:

As an apostle, Paul received direct revelations from Christ. The visions mentioned here by Paul, are nowhere else in the Bible.

Verse 2 – I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out-of-body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven.

Paul is talking about himself. (This event could very well have taken place when he was stoned and perhaps died.) The third heaven is God’s dwelling place. The first heaven is the atmospheric sky, and the second is the planetary sky.

Verse 3 – And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows –

Verse 4 – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

What Paul saw could not be expressed. It was so astounding he could find no words to describe, so he didn’t.

Verse 5 – Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities.

Paul chose to speak of himself in the “third-person” and keep himself out of view. Though he keeps himself out, he says of such a man, it would be proper to boast.

Verse 6 – For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I forbear, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.

Paul could have elaborated more on what he had seen or heard but decided not to. He wanted the Corinthians to evaluate him on what they had seen or heard directly from him.

Thorn In the Flesh

Verse 7 – And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffer me, lest I be exalted above measure.

Let’s not take this one verse out of context and assume that Paul had some physical aliment. He does not say what Satan used to “buffer” him. Paul distinctly says it came from “a messenger of Satan.”

Paul had been a Roman soldier confident in everything he did. Now, as an apostle, Paul had great success in preaching the gospel and planting churches, not to mention all his writings. Paul may very well have been in danger of “spiritual pride.” There is no sin that is more subtle, insinuating, deceptive; none that lurks more constantly around the heart, than pride!

Perhaps Paul had kept this vision quiet for 14 years because of the flattery from his friends that would have puffed him up.

Paul doesn’t speak of this thorn as an affliction. He doesn’t complain of it; he does not say it was sent in cruelty.

The thorn means anything pointed. Whether it refers to some infirmity or pain in the flesh or the body, Paul doesn’t  say. Whatever this thorn was it was to prevent “spiritual pride.”

Sometimes, our sufferings and trials are used to keep us humble. (Just a thought.)

Verse 8 – Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.

I find it interesting that Paul chose to use the word “depart” and not “to remove.” This makes me think; rather than a physical disorder, it was spiritual. Also notice, Paul prayed three times in his request, and then he submitted to the will of God. Could that be a lesson for us when asking for something?

Verse 9 – And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power may rest upon me.

When we admit to ourselves that we cannot do anything without Christ, His power and strength will be all we need to accomplish His will.

Verse 10 – Therefore  take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distress, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Should we not all have this attitude? In our infirmities (our weakness), in reproaches (scorn and persecutions), while they may be painful and very uncomfortable while going through, nothing compares to the joy of Christ always giving His grace!

Paul’s Signs Support His Apostleship

Verse 11 – I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing.

Verse 12 – Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.

Paul had performed divine signs in front of the Corinthians and that should have been proof that he was called by God.

These signs and wonders were not just for the apostles. Jesus said in Mark 16:17, 18 – “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; (Verse 18) “they will take up serpents and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on thee sick and they will recover.”

Now, my question is: Have you read anywhere after Jesus said this that the signs stopped? No!! These signs will follow those who believe! What the apostles did when preaching the gospel should be evident today also, but it’s far and few.

Verse 13 – For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong.

Once again, Paul was being sarcastic to the Corinthians.

Verse 14 – Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. and I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

As a father provides for his children, Paul tells them he has labored and provided for them spiritually.

Verse 15  – And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.

There is nothing that hurts so deep than to not have the love for your family returned. When we are believers, we have a family of other believers, and the church at Corinth was Paul’s family. They had hurt him deeply with their actions.

Verse 16 – But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile!

Verse 17 – Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you?

Verse 18 – I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?

Perhaps some feed-back had come to Paul concerning a collection from them for the Jerusalem church. I’m sure the false apostles had something to do with it because they were charging for their preaching.

Verse 19 – Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification.

Verse 20 – For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbiting’s, whispering, conceits, tumults;

Verse 21 – and lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and licentiousness which they have practiced.

The Corinthian church had allowed the secular society dictate to them. Has this very thing happened today in our churches? You bet it has. Christ is coming for His church, and you can rest assured that it won’t be a church that is not separate from the world.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

2 chronicles – Chapter 36

2 chronicles chapter 36

Verse 1 – Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, deposed and deported by Pharaoh Neco, only lasted as king 3 months.

Verses 2-4 – After Neco, and the Assyrians lost their battle with the Babylonians, they passed back through Judah. Neco didn’t want any rebellion from this king as his father had done, so he deposed him and made his brother Eliakim king. Then Neco changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. (The year Nebuchadnezzar became kin of Babylon he won the battle of Carmish. The Assyrians were crushed and it destroyed their empire.

Verses 5-8 – Jehoiakim was an evil king, he committed adultery and opposed the word of God that came from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:10-26). He was eventually carried off by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, along with a number of young men. That was the first of three deportations, the one in which Daniel and his friends were taken (Daniel 1:1-3).

Verses 9, 10 – Now Jehoiachin is made king. He lasted three months and 10 days before he started to aggravate Nebuchadnezzar. So the king of Babylon returned to Jerusalem, collected more treasures and carried another group back to Babylon into exile. This was the second deportation which included the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:1). Zedekiah, Jehoiachin’s uncle is then made king.

Verses 11-14 – Zedekiah: Nineteenth and last king of Judah, son of Josiah; uncle of Jehoiachin; refused to submit to Nebuchadnezzar; and witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem. Even the leaders and priests multiplied their wicked deeds towards God.

Verses 15-17 – God sent messengers time and again to warn Israel but the people mocked, ridiculed, and scoffed at His prophets. So God brought up the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in their sanctuary. Nebuchadnezzar raided the temple and burned the all the palaces. They left Jerusalem in ruins and carried all the treasure back to Babylon.

Verse 21 – The book of Jeremiah records the prophecy of Judah’s punishment for their wickedness. The Lord’s Word was fulfilled and the land enjoyed its Sabbath rest until the 70 years were fulfilled. The 70 years that Israel was in captivity made up for all the years that Israel had not observed this law of rest (Exodus 23:10,11).

Verses 22, 23 – 2 Chronicles focuses on the rise and fall of the worship of God. David planned the temple; Solomon built it and then put on the greatest dedication the world had ever seen. However, several evil kings defiled the temple and degraded worship so that the people revered idols more highly than God. Finally, king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed the temple and Jerusalem. The kings were gone, temple destroyed, and the people removed. The nation was stripped to it very foundation. But God… The Book of Ezra tells the story and the return of the exiles to Judah.

 

2 Chronicles – Chapter 35

2 Chronicles chapter 35

Verses 1-3 – The revival started by the king turning the Passover into a massive celebration. Verse 3 is the last time the Ark of the Covenant is mentioned in the Old Testament. Josiah reassured the people that the Ark would once again have a proper, permanent resting place in the temple.

Verses 7-14 – Since the economy of their time was so bad, Josiah furnished the animals for the Passover. Josiah had everyone so organized, that while the priests prepared the sacrifices, they were also being fed.

Verse 15 – The temple gatekeepers, who were all Levites, guarded the four main entrances to the temple and opened each gate in the mornings. They also cleaned and prepared the offerings and did the accounting for the gifts given to the temple.

Verse 17 – The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a seven-day celebration beginning the day after Passover. This feast reminded the people that they had left slavery behind and had come to the land God promised them.

Verse 20 – The three superpowers of that time–Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt–were about to fight for world supremacy. Egypt and Assyria had formed and alliance against the Babylonians. Neco, the pharaoh of Egypt, was headed to Carchemish in Mesopotamia and was marching through Judah. Josiah fought against them and was killed. Therefore Judah became subject to the Egyptians.

Verses 21-24 – Neco, of Egypt, had not been an enemy of Judah. Nevertheless, Josiah, marched out to meet them for battle. It doesn’t say anywhere in scripture that Josiah consulted the Lord before he did this. Josiah had ignored Neco’s message because of who Neco was–King of a pagan nation. The assumption that Neco could not be part of God’s larger plan cost Josiah his life. Maybe if he would have consulted with God about what He was about to do, he would have been spared.

Verse 25 – Though Jeremiah recorded these laments for the death of Josiah, they are not the same as the Book of Lamentations.

2 Chronicles – Chapter 34

2 chronicles chapter 34

Josiah

Josiah never knew his great-grandfather Hezekiah, but they were alike in many ways. Both had a personal relationship with God; were passionate reformers; both made great efforts that led the people back to God; and were obedient to God. At an early age, Josiah realized that there was a spiritual sickness in his land. He began to destroy whatever did not belong in worshiping of the “True God.”

When the Book of the Law was discovered and Josiah heard it, he was not only shocked but humbled. He realized that there was a gap between his efforts and God’s expectation for His chosen nation.

Verses 1-5 – Josiah was 8 years old when he became king, but at 16, in the eight year of his reign , he began to worship God. The kingdom had become corrupt again and Josiah didn’t have anyone to guide him, but nevertheless followed God. Four years later he began destroying the high places and pagan idols. Scripture says, “He did not turn aside to the right or the left.” That means, he didn’t compromise or was ever persuaded to turn from God’s ways. He made up his mind to seek the Lord and His wisdom.

Verses 6-13 – Josiah did what Hezekiah had done, by ordering the Levites and priests back to work, performing their duties of being in charge of getting the temple in order.

Verses 14, 15 – The book of the Law could have been Genesis through Deuteronomy, that had been lost during the reigns of evil kings. Now that it had been found and read, Josiah realized there had to be drastic changes to lead the people back to God.

Verse 19 – Josiah was so appalled at the people’s neglect of the Law that he tore his clothing to express his grief. True understanding of sin should lead to a “godly sorrow” that brings repentance that leads to salvation. 2 Corinthians 7:10–“For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Verse 22 – Josiah consulted Hilkiah and other royal officials that went to a prophetess named Huldah to get God’s perspective.

Verses 24, 25 – Huldah told them God’s punishment was inevitable because their had been too many generations of wickedness.

Verses 27, 28 – But because of Josiah’s attitude and repentance, the calamity would not come until after his death.

Verses 29-31 – The King publicly made a personal covenant with God that he would follow the Lord and compelled the people to do the same. Just reading God’s word is not enough. We must be willing to do what it says. There is not much difference between the book hidden in the temple and the Bible hidden on  a bookshelf. An unread Bible is just as useless as one that is hidden.

2 Chronicles – Chapter 33

2 Chronicles chapter 33

Verses 1-6 -Since Manasseh was only 12 years old when his father died, he hadn’t seen the victory over the Assyrians by Hezekiah. Manasseh did more evil than all the kings before him. He rebuilt all the sites for idol worship; used sorcery which is power gained from evil spirits; used divination by predicting the future through omens; and sacrificed children to the pagan gods. Ultimately, he brought the entire nation down. Evidently, Manasseh’s fortune-telling wasn’t that good or he would have seen the punishment coming.

Verses 11-13 – Now Manasseh is captured by the Assyrians and taken to Babylon. You might say, he came to himself while in captivity and repented. This was a sincere repentance because God heard him and he was returned to Jerusalem and took up his duties as King again.

Verses 14-17 – When Manasseh returned to Jerusalem, he tried to undo the damage that had been done. Although the people worshiped God alone, they sacrificed in the wrong places. God had told them (Deuteronomy 12:13, 14) to only sacrifice in the places that He chose. This kept them from the influence of pagan religious practices. Unfortunately they worshiped where they wanted and started mixing pagan beliefs with the worship of God.

Verse 18-20 – Manasseh’s son became king, at 22 years of age. He worshiped idols and sacrificed to them. Scripture says he did not humble himself before the Lord and his servants conspired against him and killed him. He lasted 2 years. Then the people had Amon’s assassins executed.

2 Chronicles – Chapter 32

2 Chronicles chapter 32

Verse 1 – The King of Assyria, Sennacherib, wanted to conquer the cities to force them to pay tribute to them. Tribute was more important to the Assyrians because captives cost them. Thus captives were only taken if extreme rebellion took place, or in order to repopulate a destroyed city.

Verses 3, 4 – Cities needed to be built near natural water sources. Natural springs were some of Jerusalem’s major source of water. Hezekiah plugged the springs outside the city and channeled the water through an underground tunnel.

Verses 6-8 – Hezekiah could see through eyes of faith. It didn’t matter how big the Assyrian army was, as long as the Lord was on Israel’s side. Hezekiah was able to encourage the people because he had confidence in where he stood with the Lord.

Verses 9-12 – Many people of the ancient Near East believed that each city and each nation had its own gods. The Assyrian speaker knew that Hezekiah had destroyed sites outside the temple and devoted worship to Hezekiah’s God. So the speaker taunted the people by asking how they could expect help when all the gods (idols) had been torn down. But what Hezekiah had actually done was remove the illegitimate worship sites and restored centralized worship at the temple in Jerusalem. This was pure intimidation to the Israelites in order for them to lose their confidence in Judah’s God.

Verses 20-22 – Hezekiah, who received encouragement from the prophet Isaiah, trusted in God and received a miracle. The Assyrian Army of 185,00 gathered around Jerusalem, ready to attack. However, Hezekiah and Isaiah cried out to the God of Israel and God sent an angel to annihilate the Assyrian army. Sennacherib was forced to withdraw in shame and returned home where his own children eventually assassinated him.

Verse 23 – After this victory, many people from other nations brought valuable gifts for the king. This brought international respect to Hezekiah, Jerusalem, Judah, and Yahweh. Be careful to give God the honor and credit after He delivers you.

Verse 24 – This is a much shorter version of what took place than what is written in 2 Kings and Isaiah. Hezekiah became sick after this victory, to the point of death, but God heard his plea, after Hezekiah humbled himself, and God gave him 15 more years. The Lord provided confirmation of this promise by having a shadow cast by the sun, move in a counter-clockwise direction (2 Kings 20:1-11).

verses 25, 26 – 2 Chronicles doesn’t go into detail about Hezekiah’s pride, but 2 Kings 20:12-19 does. King Hezekiah’s rebuke came when he entertained visitors from Babylon and showed them all his treasures he had in his palace. So Hezekiah humbled himself before the Lord.

Verses 27-31 – During Hezekiah’s reign, we are reminded of the time of Solomon. Hezekiah was able to acquire abundant riches. God tested Hezekiah to show Hezekiah what he was really like and to show him his shortcomings and the attitude of his heart. This test was meant to strengthen him, develop his character, and prepare him for tasks ahead. Our strength has to come from the Lord especially in times of stress and pressure. If we are consistent with our relationship with Christ during times of testing, He will go through the storms of life with us and deliver us.

2 Chronicles – Chapter 31

2 Chronicles chapter 31

Verse 1 – after the lengthy Passover feast, the people demonstrated their renewed devotion by going throughout the area to destroy all the idols, pagan altars, and Asherah poles. They even went into the northern kingdom, Ephraim and Manasseh to carry out this purge.

Verses 2, 3 – The priest had not been supported during the evil kings reigns. Hezekiah went back to the instructions laid down by David. The division and rotation of duties had to be established all over again.

Verses 4-8 – Hezekiah reinstated the practice of tithing-giving a tenth of ones income to the priests and Levites so they could be free to serve God. Upon Hezekiah’s order, everyone contributed to this, providing a tithe of all their crops and livestock. This effort included people from both Israel and Judah. How different the church would be today if all believers consistently followed this pattern.

Verses 20, 21 – Because Hezekiah did what was “good and upright and true before the lord God,” he was rewarded by God, and he prospered!