Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 17:6–18:12, Eph 1:1–23, Prov 8:9–18
Today’s Theme: The Blessed, Bless God
Today is an exciting day, we begin our study of Ephesian’s, this is one of my favourite books in the bible. Today’s theme is the wonderful blessing we are blessed with in Christ which cause us to praise our God, a shortlist of 11 blessings are outlined for us to mediate on and give thanks to God for them.
Alongside this main theme we see the destruction that reigns in the lives of those who do not trust in God and the call to wisdom.
2 Kings 17:6–18:12
Don’t fear other gods / demons
And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods(2 Kings 17:7, ESV)
One of the reasons the children of Israel were led into bondage was because they had feared other gods, we can end up in bondage by fearing things in our life more than and in place of God.
Also in a very direct parallel we should not fear the false gods and demons, we fear God only.
Nothing is secret
And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city.(2 Kings 17:9, ESV)
Lord deliver us from the folly of thinking we can do anything secretly from you
God has anger
and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger,(2 Kings 17:11, ESV)
God has actual personal anger which can be provoked. I recently saw a good Christian documentary that went too far in making the point that God is loving by stating God is not angry when in fact the bible teaches that God is loving and is angry too, our sins provoke God to actual anger
Don’t be stubborn
But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God.(2 Kings 17:14, ESV)
God sent messengers in his love to warn the people but they stood in stubborn rebellion, we should not stand in judgement of this but look at ourselves and ask if we are being stubborn too
What are you running after?
They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them.(2 Kings 17:15, ESV)
You will become what you run after, if like the people you run after false and empty idols you too will become false and empty
And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.(2 Kings 17:17, ESV)
Israel reached a level of gross depravity, even sacrificing their babies to demons. As human beings we are inherently evil because of the fall and left unchecked we will descend into anarchy and depravity this is why God set up laws, governments, the authorities (police, courts etc), schools and of course the church.
Syncretism is not right
So they feared the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.(2 Kings 17:33, ESV)
This is like modern day syncretism, where some teach that someone can have Christ in context with their cultural religion… simply not right or true
Do it for your children
So these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.(2 Kings 17:41, ESV)
What we do, our children are likely to do. Serve the Lord faithfully for the sake of the generations that will follow you
Don’t make idols
He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).(2 Kings 18:4, ESV)
There are great things God used and did in the past that we must not make idols of today this could include the nation of Israel, the reformation or some past revival etc
Trust in God
He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.(2 Kings 18:5, ESV)
This is a huge statement that Hezekiah trusted in the Lord more than all other kings (including David)
Rebel against the enemy
And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him.(2 Kings 18:7, ESV)
Let us rebel against Satan and the flesh and not serve them. Rebel against the tyranny of sin
Listen and obey
because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded. They neither listened nor obeyed.(2 Kings 18:12, ESV)
We must both listen and obey. Listening is pointless without obedience. Obedience is impossible without first listening.
Blessed people bless God
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,(Ephesians 1:3, ESV)
God is blessed and praised by those he has blessed which is all those he has redeemed. Moreover God is blessed by those who recognise his blessing in their lives.
Paul declares that we have every spiritual blessing in heavenly places, he will spend the next few verses detailing exactly what those blessings are, they are spiritual in the sense that they are for God’s people only and are in the heavenly (permanent) dimension rather than the earthly (temporary) dimension.
I will give you a sketchy outline of some (not all) of the blessings expounded on by Paul.
Blessing 1: Election
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love(Ephesians 1:4, ESV)
This puts election in context, we were chosen before creation began. The reformed understanding of this is correct. God chose us long before we were created, meaning his choice was not dependant on our own choice, sense, goodness, religiousness, ethnicity or any other thing initiated by us.
Blessing 2: Adoption
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,(Ephesians 1:4b–5, ESV)
The full stop is put in the right place so this reads that it was in his love that he predestined us and went so far as to adopt us. Our adoption is evidence of his special love for us.
Blessing 3: Grace
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,(Ephesians 1:7, ESV)
How wonderfully rich is the grace of God. There is more than one blessing here, the others are redemption and forgiveness of sins but both come from the over arching blessing of his grace.
Blessing 4: Knowledge
making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ(Ephesians 1:9, ESV)
We know the mystery of God’s will. God’s will is not a mystery to us, it is clearly defined in the bible, the gospel message and the Holy Spirit guides us daily
Blessing 5: Inheritance
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,(Ephesians 1:11, ESV)
God is sovereign in election and works all things after the counsel of his own will, not mans, not circumstance but his own will. In relationship with him we have an inheritance as Pastor prayed and taught yesterday.
This is one of the great themes of this letter, our inheritance in Christ.
Blessing 6: Hearing
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,(Ephesians 1:13, ESV)
Hearing and believing is 100% necessary for our salvation. Not everyone hears so even this is a blessing from God
Blessing 7: Sealed
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.(Ephesians 1:13–14, ESV)
This is not something for graduated saints only, but for all saints. We have been sealed by the promised Holy Spirit. This means we can have confidence and assurance in our salvation, it is not something that can be simply or easily lost, it and we are sealed by God himself.
You are secure in Christ unlike Islam and other works based religions where there is no guarantee or security.
Blessing 8: Enlightened
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,(Ephesians 1:18, ESV)
Our eyes should be open and clear to the hope to which we are called, this letter goes a long way to opening our hearts to the truth of this hope in the predestined love and plan of the Father.
We should not live in fear of losing our salvation at the last minute or of missing the mark and so being cast into hell, we who trust in Christ and have been predestined have eternal security.
We have been enlightened regarding the hope we have in the glorious inheritance of Christ. Hallelujah!!
Blessing 9: Power
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might(Ephesians 1:19, ESV)
We are kept by God’s great power, you cant get more secure than that.
Blessing 10: Jesus
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.(Ephesians 1:21, ESV)
Jesus is king and we are on his side, this is the greatest blessing.
Blessing 11: The Church
And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,(Ephesians 1:22, ESV)
Jesus, not the pope is the head of the church. The church itself is a blessing for God’s people to be nourished, protected and built up in him.
Wisdom is precious
for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.(Proverbs 8:11, ESV)
Wisdom is the most precious commodity in the world
Study and apply
“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.(Proverbs 8:12, ESV)
Wisdom, prudence, knowledge and discretion this is shouting that studying the word of God thoroughly and applying it is booth good and key
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.(Proverbs 8:13, ESV)
The fear of the Lord simplified is to hate evil
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.(Proverbs 8:17, ESV)
This is good, this is why we invest time and effort into the reading, study and meditation on God’s word