OT: 2 Kings 22:3-23:30
Today, Josiah cleaned house. The great bulk of the reading delineates exactly what he did to bring his kingdom back in line with the Law. It definitely sounded like a huge undertaking. Even reading about it was kind of exhausting! In a year in which I am focusing on faithfulness, I got a lot from Josiah's example. It is one thing to have a "mountain-top experience" and to feel "on fire" for God. It is quite another thing to truly live out that experience on a day-to-day basis. Josiah had his emotional experience when he read the Law (sidenote: I love the secretary's sentence, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." It makes it sound like this long lost, mysterious document. And it was. Okay, back to my musings). But then he had to faithfully live that experience out. That latter part took time, dedication, and self-discipline. So often, God puts something on my heart, and I get all fired up about it, but then I don't see it through. I rely on an emotional high, which of course, never lasts for long. I have been working on relying instead on that particularly wonderful fruit of the Spirit, self-control. And since I am a weak person and thus recognize how hard self-control is, I can especially admire the discipline it took for Josiah to fully execute the cleansing that the kingdom so desperately needed.
I also love how the people celebrated the Passover for the first time since the judges (23:21-23). I consider that such a seminal celebration for the Israelites (and it is). Yet, they hadn't celebrated it for hundreds of years now. Wow.
Two more observations in closing:
--I noted that Josiah completely humbled himself before God and "tore his robes" when he read the Law. See, this is the response that God seems to generally like, and today was no exception. Man, Hezekiah got lucky, I tell ya!
--It was kind of sad that the die had already been cast for Judah, even though Josiah turned the kingdom around so completely. God made it clear in this reading that judgment for their evil deeds would still come, though He did spare Josiah. In that light, Josiah's death in battle was merciful (23:29). I can't help but think, though, that this rededication was immensely beneficial for the people, regardless of what the future held. It reconnected them with God, and it surely solidified their sense of identity, which was soon to be sorely tested in captivity.
NT: Acts 21:37-22:16
One thing that I forgot to note yesterday was that Paul's efforts to smooth things over with distrustful Jewish Christians (or maybe they considered themselves Christian Jews?) was in vain. Before he could tell them all of his "purification rites" plan, they tried to kill him. This story shows that, unfortunately, logic and conciliatory measures have their limits.
In today's reading, Paul once again plays his citizen card. He seems to only save it for special occasions, and addressing a rowdy crowd was something that he couldn't pass up (see: the riot in Ephesus). Thus, when the commander of the soldiers mistook him for an Egyptian terrorist (what?), Paul decided to throw out his true lineage: "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cicilia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people" (2). Or as he probably said it, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cicilia, a citizen of no ordinary city":). The commander caught the drift and allowed him a bit of free speech. Roman citizenship definitely had its perks.
Paul uses this opportunity to trot out his testimony for the first (recorded) time. I'm sure that he has them with the first bit (zealous Jew, and all that), but I'm curious to see how they take the rest of it. If memory serves, they don't take it well.
Holy cow! We just started over! I knew this was coming, but it definitely snuck up on me, especially b/c I usually don't read the scripture references before I read. Thus, when I started reading the familiar first verse, I was completely shocked.
Well, yay! I'm glad that we have a chance to go through all this again. I only wish that we could do the same with Proverbs.
Verse 11 is about the illusions of the wealthy, and verse 12 has to do with pride v. humility.