Daily Devotional

by Larry Stockstill

How sad it is to see a person move from having a tender heart and complete trust in God to having a cold, hard heart and an analytical mind that calculates every move.

Unfortunately, that is just what happened to Asa. He began his reign with a mighty victory, totally relying upon the Lord to defeat the Ethiopians. At the end of his reign, however, when he had grown old and was no longer childlike in his faith, he hired mercenary soldiers to fight his battles. The prophet rebuked him for his unbelief, reminding him that "the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Asa's unbelieving attitude was also evident in his latter years when he "developed a serious foot disease. Even when the disease became life threatening, he did not seek the Lord's help but sought help only from his physicians. So he died in the forty-first year of his reign" (2 Chronicles 16:12-13). How far Asa had strayed from the time when the whole nation sought the Lord and God gave him "rest from his enemies" (2 Chronicles 14:6)! He now focused his hope on the efforts of man rather than the power of God. Asa was not wrong to seek the help of physicians, but he did err in placing his trust in them rather than in the Lord.

Let us purpose to stay simple, trusting, and childlike in total dependence upon God for all our days.

2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14

14 In Hebrew texts 14:1 is numbered 13:23, and 14:2-15 is numbered 14:1-14.And Abijah rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. Asa his son succeeded him as king, and in his days the country was at peace for ten years.

Asa King of Judah14:2-3pp — 1Ki 15:11-12

Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.2Ch 21:12He removed the foreign altarsS Jdg 2:2 and the high places, smashed the sacred stonesS Ex 23:24 and cut down the Asherah poles.That is, wooden symbols of the goddess Asherah; here and elsewhere in 2 ChroniclesS Ex 34:13He commanded Judah to seek the Lord,S 1Ch 16:11 the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands.He removed the high placesS 1Ki 15:14 and incense altarsIsa 27:9; Eze 6:4 in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him.He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest.S 1Ch 22:9

“Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought him and he has given us restS 1Ch 22:9 on every side.” So they built and prospered.

Asa had an army of three hundred thousandS 1Ch 21:1 men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men.

Zerah the CushiteS 2Ch 12:3 marched out against them with an army of thousands upon thousands and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah.S Ge 10:8-9; 2Ch 11:8; 24:2410 Asa went out to meet him, and they took up battle positions in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.

11 Then Asa calledS 1Ki 8:44; S 2Ch 13:14; 25:8 to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us,Ps 60:11-12; 79:9 Lord our God, for we relyS 2Ch 13:18 on you, and in your nameS 1Sa 17:45 we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevailPs 9:19 against you.”

12 The Lord struck down1Ki 8:45 the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled,13 and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar.Ge 10:19 Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed2Sa 22:38; Ne 9:24; Ps 44:2, 19; 135:10 before the Lord and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder.2Ch 15:11, 1814 They destroyed all the villages around Gerar, for the terrorS Ge 35:5; S Dt 2:25; 11:25 of the Lord had fallen on them. They looted all these villages, since there was much plunder there.15 They also attacked the camps of the herders and carried off droves of sheep and goats and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

Asa’s Reform15:16-19pp — 1Ki 15:13-16

15 The Spirit of God came onS Nu 11:25, 26 Azariah son of Oded.He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you2Ch 20:17 when you are with him.Jas 4:8 If you seek2Ch 7:14; Ps 78:34; Isa 45:19; 55:6; Jer 29:13; Hos 3:5 him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.S Dt 31:17; S 1Ch 28:9For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teachS Lev 10:11 and without the law.La 2:9; Am 8:11But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him,S Dt 4:29 and he was found by them.In those days it was not safe to travel about,S Jdg 5:6; 19:20; Zec 8:10 for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil.One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another,Isa 19:2; Mt 24:7; Mk 13:8; Lk 21:10 because God was troubling them with every kind of distress.But as for you, be strongJos 1:7, 9 and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”1Sa 24:19; Ps 18:20; 58:11; Pr 14:14; Jer 31:16

When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son ofVulgate and Syriac (see also Septuagint and verse 1); Hebrew does not have Azariah son of. Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols1Ki 15:12 from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured2Ch 17:2 in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altarS 1Ki 8:64; S 2Ch 8:12 of the Lord that was in front of the portico of the Lord’s temple.

Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers2Ch 11:16-17 had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

10 They assembled at Jerusalem in the third monthS Lev 23:15-21 of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.11 At that time they sacrificed to the Lord seven hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep and goats from the plunderS 2Ch 14:13 they had brought back.12 They entered into a covenantS 2Ki 11:17 to seek the Lord,S 1Ch 16:11 the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul.13 All who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, were to be put to death,S Ex 22:20; Dt 13:9-16 whether small or great, man or woman.14 They took an oath to the Lord with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns.15 All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought GodDt 4:29 eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them restS 1Ch 22:9 on every side.

16 King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maakah2Ch 13:2 from her position as queen mother,S 1Ki 2:19 because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah.S Ex 34:13 Asa cut it down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley.S 2Sa 15:2317 Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life.18 He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.S 2Ch 14:13

19 There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.

Asa’s Last Years16:1-6pp — 1Ki 15:17-2216:11–17:1pp — 1Ki 15:23-24

16 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha2Ki 9:9; Jer 41:9 king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah.

Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus.2Ch 19:1-20:37; 22:1-9“Let there be a treaty2Ch 20:35; 25:7 between me and you,” he said, “as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.”

Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel MaimAlso known as Abel Beth Maakah and all the store cities of Naphtali.S 2Ki 15:29When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and abandoned his work.Then King Asa brought all the men of Judah, and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using. With them he built up Geba and Mizpah.Jer 41:9

At that time Hanani1Ki 16:1 the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you reliedS 2Ch 13:18 on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.Were not the CushitesThat is, people from the upper Nile regionS Ge 10:6, 8-9; S 2Ch 12:3 and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers2Ch 24:24 of chariots and horsemenOr charioteers? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered2Ch 13:16 them into your hand.For the eyesJob 24:23; Ps 33:13-15; Pr 15:3; Jer 16:17; Zec 3:9; 4:10 of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish1Sa 13:13 thing, and from now on you will be at war.S 1Ki 15:6; 2Ch 19:2; 25:7; 28:16-21

10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison.S 1Ki 22:27 At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.

11 The events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted2Ch 21:18; 26:19; Ps 103:3 with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek2Ch 7:14 help from the Lord,Jer 17:5-6 but only from the physicians.13 Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his ancestors.14 They buried him in the tomb that he had cut out for himselfS Ge 50:5 in the City of David. They laid him on a bier covered with spices and various blended perfumes,S Ge 50:2 and they made a huge fire2Ch 21:19; Jer 34:5 in his honor.

Early Years of Asa’s Reign

14 Verse 14:1 is numbered 13:23 in Hebrew text.When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years.Verses 14:2-15 are numbered 14:1-14 in Hebrew text.Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God.He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles.He commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands.Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace.During those peaceful years, he was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies.

Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.

King Asa had an army of 300,000 warriors from the tribe of Judah, armed with large shields and spears. He also had an army of 280,000 warriors from the tribe of Benjamin, armed with small shields and bows. Both armies were composed of well-trained fighting men.

Once an EthiopianHebrew a Cushite. named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 menOr an army of thousands and thousands; Hebrew reads an army of a thousand thousands. and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah,10 so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah.As in Greek version; Hebrew reads valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.11 Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”

12 So the Lord defeated the EthiopiansHebrew Cushites; also in 14:13. in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled.13 Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar, and so many Ethiopians fell that they were unable to rally. They were destroyed by the Lord and his army, and the army of Judah carried off a vast amount of plunder.

14 While they were at Gerar, they attacked all the towns in that area, and terror from the Lord came upon the people there. As a result, a vast amount of plunder was taken from these towns, too.15 They also attacked the camps of herdsmen and captured many sheep, goats, and camels before finally returning to Jerusalem.

Asa’s Religious Reforms

15 Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded,and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you.For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them.But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.

“During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land.Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling them with every kind of problem.But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”

When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet,As in Syriac version and Latin Vulgate (see also 15:1); Hebrew reads from Oded the prophet. he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, which stood in front of the entry room of the Lord’s Temple.

Then Asa called together all the people of Judah and Benjamin, along with the people of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them. For many from Israel had moved to Judah during Asa’s reign when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.10 The people gathered at Jerusalem in late spring,Hebrew in the third month. This month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of May and June. during the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.

11 On that day they sacrificed to the Lord 700 cattle and 7,000 sheep and goats from the plunder they had taken in the battle.12 Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul.13 They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman.14 They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding.15 All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.

16 King Asa even deposed his grandmotherHebrew his mother. Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole, broke it up, and burned it in the Kidron Valley.17 Although the pagan shrines were not removed from Israel, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful throughout his life.18 He brought into the Temple of God the silver and gold and the various items that he and his father had dedicated.

19 So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.

Final Years of Asa’s Reign

16 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa’s territory in Judah.

Asa responded by removing the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple of the Lord and the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message:

“Let there be a treatyAs in Greek version; Hebrew reads There is a treaty. between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.”

Ben-hadad agreed to King Asa’s request and sent the commanders of his army to attack the towns of Israel. They conquered the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah,As in parallel text at 1 Kgs 15:20; Hebrew reads Abel-maim, another name for Abel-beth-maacah. and all the store cities in Naphtali.As soon as Baasha of Israel heard what was happening, he abandoned his project of fortifying Ramah and stopped all work on it.Then King Asa called out all the men of Judah to carry away the building stones and timbers that Baasha had been using to fortify Ramah. Asa used these materials to fortify the towns of Geba and Mizpah.

At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram.Don’t you remember what happened to the EthiopiansHebrew Cushites. and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers?Or and horsemen? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you.The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”

10 Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people.

Summary of Asa’s Reign

11 The rest of the events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. Yet even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the Lord’s help but turned only to his physicians.13 So he died in the forty-first year of his reign.14 He was buried in the tomb he had carved out for himself in the City of David. He was laid on a bed perfumed with sweet spices and fragrant ointments, and the people built a huge funeral fire in his honor.

14 So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.

And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God:

For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:

And commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.

Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.

And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the Lord had given him rest.

Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the Lord our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.

And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour.

And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.

10 Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.

11 And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let no man prevail against thee.

12 So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.

13 And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.

14 And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the Lord came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.

15 They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.

15 And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:

And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.

But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.

And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.

And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.

And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord.

And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.

11 And they offered unto the Lord the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.

12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;

13 That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.

14 And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.

15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about.

16 And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.

17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.

18 And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.

19 And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.

16 In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.

Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,

There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.

And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.

And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease.

Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.

And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.

Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, he delivered them into thine hand.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

10 Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.

11 And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.

12 And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.

13 And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.

14 And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him.

Romans 9:1-24

Paul’s Anguish Over Israel

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying,Ps 15:2; 2Co 11:10; Gal 1:20; 1Ti 2:7 my conscience confirmsS Ro 1:9 it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.For I could wish that I myselfEx 32:32 were cursed1Co 12:3; 16:22 and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people,S Ac 22:5 those of my own race,Ro 11:14the people of Israel.ver 6 Theirs is the adoption to sonship;Ex 4:22; 6:7; Dt 7:6 theirs the divine glory,Heb 9:5 the covenants,Ge 17:2; Dt 4:13; Ac 3:25; Eph 2:12 the receiving of the law,Ps 147:19 the temple worshipHeb 9:1 and the promises.S Ac 13:32; S Gal 3:16Theirs are the patriarchs,Ro 11:28 and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah,Mt 1:1-16; Ro 1:3 who is God over all,Jn 1:1; Col 2:9 forever praised!Or Messiah, who is over all. God be forever praised! Or Messiah. God who is over all be forever praised!Ro 1:25; 2Co 11:31 Amen.

God’s Sovereign Choice

It is not as though God’s wordS Heb 4:12 had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.Ro 2:28, 29; Gal 6:16Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”Gen. 21:12Ge 21:12; Heb 11:18In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children,S Ro 8:14 but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.S Gal 3:16For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”Gen. 18:10,14Ge 18:10, 14

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac.Ge 25:2111 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or badver 16—in order that God’s purposeRo 8:28 in election might stand:12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”Gen. 25:23Ge 25:2313 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”Mal. 1:2,3Mal 1:2, 3

14 What then shall we say?S Ro 8:31 Is God unjust? Not at all!2Ch 19:715 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,

and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”Exodus 33:19Ex 33:19

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.Eph 2:8; Tit 3:517 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”Exodus 9:16Ex 9:16; 14:4; Ps 76:1018 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.Ex 4:21; 7:3; 14:4, 17; Dt 2:30; Jos 11:20; Ro 11:25

19 One of you will say to me:Ro 11:19; 1Co 15:35; Jas 2:18 “Then why does God still blame us?Ro 3:7 For who is able to resist his will?”2Sa 16:10; 2Ch 20:6; Da 4:3520 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?Job 1:22; 9:12; 40:2 “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,Isa 64:8; Jer 18:6 ‘Why did you make me like this?’”Isaiah 29:16; 45:9Isa 29:16; 45:9; 10:1521 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?2Ti 2:20

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patienceS Ro 2:4 the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?Pr 16:423 What if he did this to make the riches of his gloryS Ro 2:4 known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for gloryRo 8:3024 even us, whom he also called,S Ro 8:28 not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?S Ro 3:29

God’s Selection of Israel

With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it.My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grieffor my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters.Greek my brothers. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children.Greek chosen for sonship. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.Or May God, the one who rules over everything, be praised forever. Amen.

Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people!Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,”Gen 21:12. though Abraham had other children, too.This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.For God had promised, “I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”Gen 18:10, 14.

10 This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins.Greek she conceived children through this one man.11 But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes;12 he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.”Gen 25:23.13 In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.”Mal 1:2-3.

14 Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not!15 For God said to Moses,

“I will show mercy to anyone I choose,

and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”Exod 33:19.

16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.

17 For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”Exod 9:16 (Greek version).18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.

19 Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”

20 No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?”21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?22 In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction.23 He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory.24 And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Psalm 19:1-14

Psalm 19In Hebrew texts 19:1-14 is numbered 19:2-15.

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavensPs 89:5; Isa 40:22 declarePs 50:6; 148:3; Ro 1:19 the glory of God;Ps 4:2; 8:1; 97:6; Isa 6:3

the skiesS Ge 1:8 proclaim the work of his hands.S Ps 8:6; S 103:22

Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they reveal knowledge.Ps 74:16

They have no speech, they use no words;

no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voiceSeptuagint, Jerome and Syriac; Hebrew measuring line goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.Ro 10:18*

In the heavens God has pitched a tentS Job 36:29; Ps 104:2 for the sun.S Jdg 5:31

It is like a bridegroomJoel 2:16 coming out of his chamber,S Job 36:29

like a champion1Sa 17:4 rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavensDt 30:4

and makes its circuit to the other;Ps 113:3; Ecc 1:5

nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the LordS Ps 1:2 is perfect,Ps 119:142; Jas 1:25

refreshing the soul.Ps 23:3

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,Ps 93:5; 111:7; 119:138, 144

making wise the simple.S Dt 4:6; Ps 119:130

The precepts of the Lord are right,Ps 33:4; 119:128

giving joyPs 119:14 to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.S Ezr 9:8; Ps 38:10

The fear of the LordPs 34:11; 111:10; Pr 1:7; Ecc 12:13; Isa 33:6 is pure,

enduring forever.

The decrees of the Lord are firm,

and all of them are righteous.Ps 119:138, 142

10 They are more precious than gold,S Job 22:24; Ps 119:72; Pr 8:10

than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,Ps 119:103; SS 4:11; Eze 3:3

than honey from the honeycomb.S 1Sa 14:27

11 By them your servant is warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

12 But who can discern their own errors?

Forgive my hidden faults.Ps 51:2; 90:8; Ecc 12:14

13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;S Nu 15:30

may they not rule over me.Ps 119:133

Then I will be blameless,S Ge 6:9; S Ps 18:32

innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart

be pleasingPs 104:34 in your sight,

Lord, my RockPs 18:31 and my Redeemer.S Ex 6:6; S Job 19:25

Psalm 19

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

The skies display his craftsmanship.

Day after day they continue to speak;

night after night they make him known.

They speak without a sound or word;

their voice is never heard.Or There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,

and their words to all the world.

God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.

It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.

It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.

The sun rises at one end of the heavens

and follows its course to the other end.

Nothing can hide from its heat.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect,

reviving the soul.

The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,

making wise the simple.

The commandments of the Lord are right,

bringing joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are clear,

giving insight for living.

Reverence for the Lord is pure,

lasting forever.

The laws of the Lord are true;

each one is fair.

10 They are more desirable than gold,

even the finest gold.

They are sweeter than honey,

even honey dripping from the comb.

11 They are a warning to your servant,

a great reward for those who obey them.

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?

Cleanse me from these hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!

Don’t let them control me.

Then I will be free of guilt

and innocent of great sin.

14 May the words of my mouth

and the meditation of my heart

be pleasing to you,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

19 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Proverbs 20:1

20 WineS Lev 10:9; Hab 2:5 is a mockerS 1Sa 25:36 and beer a brawler;

whoever is led astray1Ki 20:16 by them is not wise.Pr 31:4

20 Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls.

Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.

20 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

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