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Monday, July 14, 2014

Revival and Reformation Pt 14: 2 Chronicles 12


[Audio File is here]

Revival and Reformation Pt 14
2 Chronicles 12
Holy Father, it’s true – our hearts are often sluggish, our minds often dull, our perception often cloudy. We urgently need you to open our eyes, clear our heads, and remove the clutter in our hearts, so that we can rightly recognize what you are saying to us this day. Help us, Father, for Christ’s sake and in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sin! Big, fat, ugly, greasy, slimy sin! Sin can destroy our families, our businesses, our health, our nation and our churches. So, when we have sinned, or when sin has overtaken a congregation, imprisoned a denomination, or captured a nation, what happens? Are there consequences? And then what happens when we turn from our wicked ways and turn to God? Does it set us Scott-free from all of the aftereffects? Let’s look into the Holy Scriptures and see what God says to all this.

Background up to this point: Chapters 10-11.

The Decline: 1-4; {a} v. 1. For all of the spiritual infusion of 11.13-16, it just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t a strong enough epoxy to hold the pieces together! {b} V. 2, cause and effect!  (For more see 1 Kings 14.21-24).
The Word of Yahweh: v. 5. {a} We all need to take serious notice of the principle here and in 1 Chronicles 28.9; 2 Chronicles 15.2, 24.20 – abandoned to the consequence of your sin. This word of the LORD by the prophet would have been highly uncomfortable, unpopular, and unwanted then as it would be now. Westminster Confession of Faith 11.5 
(God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.”).
{b} Don’t miss the significance of whom the prophet speaking to. It’s the King and leaders. Why is that? Based on v.1-2, it appears that the leadership has set the temperature and direction for those they lead. Now hold that point in the back of your head, because we’ll return to it later in the sermon.
The Response: v. 6. The same Hebrew word as in 7.14 “humbled” – used 4 times in this chapter alone!!! What is their response to the unpopular and uncomfortable Word of God? Do they shoot the messenger? No, but – at this point at least – they submit to the Lord’s words, and that comes through clearly in their bull’s-eye vocal affirmation. “The LORD is righteous” in what has happened to us. The LORD is just and fair in abandoning into the hands of Shishak. The LORD is correct in his analysis of us and his response! The LORD is righteous! They’re humbling themselves and submitting to the Word of God. And this runs along with what James, the brother of our Lord, says:

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:18-21).

The Promise: vs. 7-12. {a} The “Cause and Effect” action is now in the other direction (contra v. 2). The condition of humility is essential to Yahweh’s Promises in 7-12. As our Lord Jesus says to the religious leaders of his day, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23.12). {b} The Place of Strong Discipline – v.7b, 8 and 12. After their tumble there will not be a “No-Fault” restoration – often times there are consequences to our sin that we may still have to deal with long after we’re forgiven and restored.  Sometimes, mercy cuts deep; but it cuts deep for our benefit, our good! Sometimes mercy cuts deep to teach us and restrain us.

The Everlasting Warning: v. 14!!!! The whole of chapter 12, from verse 1 to verse 14 shows us the importance of leadership leading the way either into or away from the God-ward life. 7.14 must have an equal response w/ 12.14.  That old principle is often times very true: the people can only prosper in Christ up to the level of their leadership; whether in our families, church and denomination. There is a clear, but subtle warning here to we who are in leadership. What direction are we setting for our families, congregation, denomination?

Significance of this whole chapter – All of this taken together was meant to guide those coming out of exile in the middle of the 300s B.C. – here was the trajectory that got us into that mess; here’s the way out of this muddle (7.14 kind of stuff); this is the way forward – God promising “some deliverance”; here is one lesson to learn as you continue to struggle with the consequences of sin (v.8) – to learn the difference between God’s service (which is the way of true liberty) and the service of idols and idolaters; and here is the other lesson that the leaders are to learn – lead your people to “set their heart to seek the LORD.”

But let me leave you with some hopeful thoughts. First, this chapter gives hope to leaders. The Lord stands ready to hear, forgive and heal! And specifically if we come in humility, setting our hearts to seek the Lord, acknowledging the Lord is righteous in how he has dealt with us. Let me take it one step further. As we set our hearts to seek the Lord, we benefit those who follow in huge and healthy ways; especially if we keep in mind Paul’s words, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11.1).

And secondly, for all of us: thankfully our chief Shepherd and supreme Overseer of our souls is Jesus Christ – and as we strive to draw from him, follow him, cherish him, etc., then there can be a going beyond the brokenness and faultiness of leadership by always looking through them (as it were) and keeping our eyes on The Leader himself; the leadership of Jesus! He will never lead us astray. Unlike Rehoboam, Jesus’ heart is always, eternally, unendingly set on seeking to submit to his Father – which is super great news for us!!!!! “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6.37-40).


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