Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Click here for corresponding sermon audio!

                 What does the Bible have to say about aging?  Some of the best scripture we have on growing older is found in Ecclesiastes.  Ecclesiastes is Wisdom literature, and in the world of the Bible wisdom was associated with age.  Elderly people were considered a precious resource for their wisdom.  For instance, when a great famine came, it was helpful to have someone to advise leadership who remembered when the last great famine came.  Also, Ecclesiastes is one of three books traditionally credited to Solomon.  The rabbis liked to say that Songs was written in Solomon’s youth, Proverbs as he was raising his children, and Ecclesiastes when he was old.

Our scripture focus today is the second part of the two part conclusion to Ecclesiastes, which begins in chapter 11:7.  In finishing his thoughts on the meaning of life, the Teacher first summarizes his instructions to the young person—enjoy youth while you have it.  Don’t dwell on the negative aspects of your life, because things will be worse some day.  The enjoyment of youth is a gift from God, and to fail to take pleasure in youth is a sin.  However, while you are enjoying youth, do keep in mind that your actions now will have consequences down the road.  Therefore, don’t enjoy life too much!

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 is a beautiful though bleak picture of the aging and dying process in poetic form.  Remember that life is short.  Everyone who is fortunate enough to live a long life finds that things that once gave pleasure eventually lose their attraction.  Word pictures are given of the deterioration of the body.  “Before the sun…and stars grow dark” speaks to dimming vision, “grinders cease” speaks to losing teeth, “songs grow faint” speaks to hearing loss.  Finally, the “silver chord” suspending the “golden bowl” (lamp) breaks, and the light goes out.  What’s on the outside breaks, but what is on the inside returns to God forever.

The Teacher concludes his book the way he began it— “all is vanity”.  In our culture today, we do everything imaginable to fight the aging process.  Madison Avenue would have us cut, color, lift, nip, and tuck in an effort to put off the inevitable.  Yet we know that it’s pointless to try to stop growing older.  Instead, as Christians, we should enjoy each stage of life for what it is.  Whatever our body is capable of doing, we should be thankful and active, rather than focusing on our limitations.  While taking good care of our physical bodies is good stewardship, we can also take comfort that as they wear out on the outside, we will soon be trading them for eternal vessels that never grow old.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Our culture today often focuses on the negative aspects of growing older.  What are some of the best parts about getting older? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

Ecclesiastes 9:1-10, 10:10

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ecclesiastes 9:1-10, 10:10

Click here for corresponding sermon audio!

                  Every man and woman, regardless of race, religion, status, or standing has one thing in common.  All will face physical death.  But what happens after we die?  This is not a new question.  In the world of the Old Testament (the ancient near east), many people groups believed that life and death were cyclical, just like the seasons of the year or the movement of the heavenly bodies.  In other words, once a person died they were merely reborn in another body.  How a person lived their life determined what kind of body they would have in the next life (bad—animal, good– human, really good—god.)

Ecclesiastes offers a different perspective on death.  You only live one time, then you stay dead forever.  There is no reward or punishment—just a place of “the dead”.  Ecclesiastes is written in the voice of Solomon.  Having had an extremely successful life, wealth beyond measure, favor in the eyes of his subjects and other nations, and a reputation as the wisest man in the world—he is now facing the same fate as the fool, the failure, and the slave.  All alike will face the exact same destiny—death.  Solomon says that in the place of the dead all people “know nothing”.  In other words, there will be no memory of life on earth upon which to reflect.

Throughout Ecclesiastes, the Teacher gives consistent advice in light of life’s bleak outlook—work hard at something you are good at doing, fear God as someone whose ways cannot be understood but who is ultimately in control, and eat, drink, and be merry as often as you can.  This is pretty good advise if the only thing we have is this life.  With this in mind, the Teacher gives principles for making the most out of your work in chapter 10.  These are given in the form of proverbs.  For example, 10:10 uses the illustration of trying to cut with a dull axe rather than taking a few more minutes to sharpen it first to encourage the laborer to work smart, not hard

Today, we live in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus and His followers taught us that death is not the end, that there is punishment for wickedness after death, but that through faith in Christ we have the hope of eternal reward.   The understanding that what we do in this life affects what happens after we die changes everything!  Suddenly, we discover that life is more that working, playing, and merely fearing God.  We can have a rich, meaningful part in God’s Kingdom both now and when life is over.  While it remains true that all will die and that life on earth is meant to be enjoyed, we live in hope that death is not the end.  Through Christ, passing from this life becomes a new beginning.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

What do you think happens to us after we die?  Do you spend much time thinking about it?  How does the thought of your own death make you feel? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

Ecclesiastes 7:20-8:1

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ecclesiastes 7:20-8:1

                  The second half of the book of Ecclesiastes deals primarily with the search for wisdom.  Remember, Ecclesiastes is “wisdom” literature.  We know that wisdom is highly valued in the Bible, but we may not understand that when the Bible uses the word “wisdom”, it had a different meaning than it does today.  Wisdom was not just personal knowledge.  Wisdom was the collective understanding of moral conduct passed from one generation to the next.  In other words, to be considered “wise” in the ancient near east, you had to understand the right things to do, actually do them, and teach your children to do them.

In our scripture focus today, the Teacher is in the middle of sharing his conclusion that when it comes to finding wisdom, we shouldn’t try too hard.  It will only lead to frustration.  In verses 20-22, we are reminded that no one gets it right 100% of the time.  In the Bible, to sin is to act unwisely, and to be wise means to be righteous.  The Teacher has observed that there is no such thing as a person who never sins and is always righteous.  When people try to pretend they are perfect, they set themselves up for failure.  Furthermore, we should not be too hard on others when they say unwise things, since we all fall so short.

Verses 23-29 give a picture of Solomon attempting to figure out wisdom as if it were some type of mathematical formula.  The story presented here is of this great man who had encountered thousands of people.  He tries to “add up” all the wise things he has learned from them, in order the discover the hidden, secret wisdom formula.  What he finds out is that even if we think we have figured it all out, we end up trying to apply our wisdom to human relationships, and we find out we don’t really know anything.  Solomon admits that he might be able to understand one man in a thousand, but he can’t understand a woman at all!

If we can’t possibly hope to understand wisdom, how then should we live?  Chapter 8 verse 1 gives us the key:  “Wisdom makes one’s face shine, and the hardness of one’s countenance is changed.”  In the Bible, anytime God is depicted it is with a shining face—so bright humans can’t look directly at it.  However, those in the presence of God come away with that brightness on their faces.  The key to a good life is understanding God is the source of wisdom.  We can’t hope to understand God’s ways, but if we keep our faces turned towards God, the presence of the Holy Spirit will give us God’s wisdom.  When we focus on remaining in God’s presence, God’s wisdom shines through us.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Why do you think it is so hard to understand other people?  Is it harder to understand people of the opposite gender?  What’s the key to getting along with those different than us?

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

Ecclesiastes 5:8-15

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ecclesiastes 5:8-15

                  Solomon was Israel’s wealthiest king.  This gave him a unique perspective, as only someone who has been wealthy can understand what it is like to have more money than one can spend—the rest of us can only speculate!  The Teacher of Ecclesiastes speaks from the perspective of someone who “has it all” – money, power, family, pleasure.  King Solomon certainly fit the bill on all of those.  In fact, his story in I Kings tells us that he accumulated literal hoards of horses, gold, and wives—more than he could ever use!  In Ecclesiastes, the Teacher is able to speak from experience, rather than speculation, as to what great wealth brings to a person.

Today’s scripture focus deals with the love of money.  It begins be addressing the corruption that results from greed.  Verse 8 talks about the “higher ones” that oppress the poor and thwart justice.  Today we might call them the “higher ups”.  People who rise to power generally do so because they are ambitious, and don’t mind stepping on those below them in the pursuit of wealth or power.  The Teacher tells his audience not to bother worrying about such things—it’s always going to be that way, no matter what, and in the end everyone benefits from those who pursue wealth—there would be no field to plow without them.

In verses 10-15 we see the dilemma for such “higher ones”, however.  Since they love money, they can never be happy because you never have enough of what you love.  Therefore when they make money, they can’t enjoy it.  As money increases, so do responsibilities, worries, and fears.  Work increases with more wealth, rather than decreases.  Field laborers are able to sleep at night, but not so the owner of the land.  What’s more, those who love money often lose it in their greedy plots to get more, leaving them with no more to show for what they’ve done in their death than when they were born.

John Wesley had a great philosophy towards wealth.  He encouraged those who were converted under his ministry—many of them former alcoholics who suddenly weren’t spending their entire day’s pay at the tavern—to “make all you can, save all you can, give all you can”.  Money is a great servant and a horrible master.  With money, we can do much more for God and others than we can do without it.  However, when we pursue money, possessions, and power for their own sake, we end up with debt, worry, health problems, and a lot of sleepless nights.   By pursuing God rather than money, we trade what we cannot keep for what we cannot lose.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Has money ever been a source of worry in your life?  Is simply having more money the solution to most people’s problems, or is it more complicated than that? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

                 Just how did the book of Ecclesiastes end up in the Bible?  This question has caused debate for centuries.  We don’t know when it started being regarded as scripture.  Ecclesiastes is written as if it were an autobiography of Solomon.  It asks the question “is life worth living?”  Surprisingly, the conclusion of the book is “no”!  How did such a pessimistic book end up in the Old Testament when more orthodox writings attributed to Solomon did not?  The short answer is we don’t know.  We are reminded, however, that Wisdom literature is about exploring questions common to humanity, rather than teaching right doctrine or covenant theology.

Today’s scripture focus is the most well known section of Ecclesiastes.  Verses 1-8 is a beautiful poem that stands out in contrast to the cynicism surrounding it.   In “A Time for Everything”, the Teacher demonstrates that all of our experiences take place in God’s time—not ours.  There are seven sets of life events that bring joy and sorrow:  birth and death, sickness and recovery, crying and laughter, beginning relationships and ending them, building and destroying, taking and giving, and loving and hating.  For every life circumstance that brings a beginning, an ending is sure to come.  For each sorrow, there is a corresponding joy.

Following the seven stanza poem, the Teacher goes on to give commentary on its meaning.  People have a concept of eternity built into their hearts, and yet we are all aware that life is temporary.  Rather than accept our fate, we spend our lives laboring and toiling as if we can extend our time on earth or escape tragedy.  And yet, only God can appoint times and seasons.  The Teacher explains that God has made ALL things beautiful in God’s own time.  The only way to be content in life is to accept the bad along with the good, enjoy the simple blessings or eat and drink, and come to terms with the fact that our times are set by God alone.

As Christians, we understand Ecclesiastes was written before Jesus made eternal life possible for those who believe.  We have reason to hope that the Teacher did not have.  However, there are important lessons for us in today’s passage that stand on their own.  If we are going through difficulty, we should remember that for every sorrow, we have the promise that joy comes in the morning.  It’s also good for us to have a reminder that, while making healthy choices and investing in the future are important, this life is temporary for everyone.  We would all do well to take more time to enjoy the simple pleasures each day brings, for they are all blessings from God.

 

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

 

What are some simple pleasures you can enjoy on a regular basis  (example:  for me, it’s a good cup of coffee or a nice walk.)?  Commit to take time to thank God each time you enjoy it this week. 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

 

Ecclesiastes 1:2-14

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ecclesiastes 1:2-14

                 Today we begin our annual six week study in the Wisdom section of scripture.  This section of the Bible includes the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.  Wisdom literature is different from other sections of the Old Testament, in that it is meant to teach general observations and truths, rather than theology, history, or covenant. Most of the Old Testament is built around telling the story of God’s agreement with Israel, how God blessed them when they kept that agreement, and how they suffered when they broke it.  Wisdom literature, however, often uses poetry to explore questions that arise if it seems God is silent or absent.

This year we will focus on Ecclesiastes.  The name of the book means “gatherer”, and is one of the earliest forms of the word “teacher” or “preacher”.  This is how the author identifies himself in the first verse.  Traditionally, Ecclesiastes has been attributed to Solomon, though the work itself is anonymous.  The reason the church has generally given Solomon credit for writing Ecclesiastes is because the author is identified as a son of David, a king, as someone known for his great wisdom, and as someone who accumulated great wealth.  We will assume for our study that the book was at the very least written in the spirit of Solomon.

The main theme of Ecclesiastes is given in the second verse—”Vanity of vanities!”  This is a difficult phrase to translate.  The NIV captures the idea with the word “meaningless”, but “vanity” goes beyond that.  It is a form of the word “vapor”.   The Teacher wants his audience to know that everything “under the sun” is as fleeting as a wisp of smoke.  Anytime the Bible describes something as “_____ of _____’, it means it is the greatest or largest (ie.  Song of songs, king of kings, etc.)  So in other words, the “vanity of vanities” is the greatest puff of smoke imaginable!  What is this huge vanity?  Life itself.

“What is the meaning of life?  How can I be happy?”  These are questions that have been around since long before Solomon.  Ecclesiastes is written from the perspective of someone who has spent years pursuing wisdom and wealth.  We will discover a timely message as we journey through these scriptures together—one that is possibly more needed in our day than in the days of Solomon.  The pursuit of wealth and pleasure does not result in happiness.  Work and study do not always lead to happiness.  The truth is, there is no happiness guarantee in this life.  Instead, each moment has value in and of itself as an opportunity to please God.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

A recent poll showed most Americans are less happy than they were ten years ago.  Why do you think this is?  What would it take for people to be happier today? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

 

2 Kings 23:1-3

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Kings 23:1-3

Click here for corresponding sermon audio!

                  We have been studying the lives of various kings who ruled during the declining years of Israel and Judah.  Last week, we learned how the righteous ruler Hezekiah turned the nation of Judah back to God.  Sadly, he failed to disciple his son, Manasseh, the longest serving king.  He sat on the throne for 51 years. Unfortunately, he was also Judah’s most wicked king.  He built shrines to Baal and Ashtoreth right in the Temple, filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, consulted magicians and mediums, and even sacrificed his own child to the god Molech by burning him alive.  The wickedness of Manasseh eradicated any good done during his father’s reign.

When Manasseh finally died, his son ruled only two years before being assassinated.  This made Manasseh’s grandson, Josiah, king of Judah at the age of 8.  Unlike his grandfather, Josiah was interested in serving God.  But after 53 years of idolatry, God’s law had been forgotten.  Josiah started by having the Temple repaired, much like his ancestor King Joash.  During the repair of the Temple, a scroll containing the Law (probably Deuteronomy) was discovered.  The High Priest had it sent to King Josiah, who had it read in his presence.  Upon hearing God’s law, the king ripped his clothing in grief.  He knew just how far the nation was from God.

Josiah turned to God, inquiring how to proceed.  One of the Temple officials was married to a prophetess.  She confirmed that God was indeed going to destroy Judah as Israel had been destroyed, but because of Josiah’s heart, it would not happen under his reign.  Josiah assembled all Judah at the Temple, read the rediscovered Law, and had the people commit to follow it.  Then, he removed and destroyed every vestige of pagan worship in the Temple, in Jerusalem, in Judah, and even in the now desolate former kingdom of Israel in the north.  Josiah even outdid David by reinstituting Passover, which hadn’t been celebrated since the days of the judges!

Though Josiah knew Judah’s fate was sealed, he sought to do all the good he could while he could.  It wasn’t enough for him to remove the bad from the kingdom, he chose to replace it with the good (celebration of the Lord’s feasts).  Because of Josiah’s leadership, Judah was able to experience one last great revival just a few years before its capture by Babylon.  Like Josiah, we know today that eventually things aren’t going to end well for our planet.  We can choose to shrug our shoulders and give up, knowing the world is getting worse, or we can choose to do all the good we can while we can.  The life of Josiah shows us the better choice.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

 

In following Christ, it’s not enough to just stop doing bad things.  We have to start doing good things!  What are some good practices you would recommend someone try who is trying to quit bad, destructive habits? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

2 Kings 20:12-21

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Kings 20:12-21

                 King Hezekiah is the subject of our scripture focus today.  This king of Judah, a descendent of David and Solomon, has been described as a “second Solomon”.  During his nearly thirty year rule, he restored some of the former glory to Jerusalem through several public works projects.  It was said of Hezekiah in chapter 18:5 that he “trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel.  There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”  That’s a pretty impressive memorial!  What set Hezekiah apart?  He removed all the “high places” in the country—the unsanctioned worship sites that had become shrines to idols.

Twice in Hezekiah’s life he was faced with impossible situations and turned to God for deliverance.  When threatened with destruction from Assyria, he went to the Temple and prayed.  God answered by bringing death to the Assyrian army.  Then In his late 30s, Hezekiah was stricken with a terrible illness.  Hezekiah cried out to God, and while he was still praying, the prophet Isaiah gave Hezekiah the Lord’s response:  he would live another 15 years.  Isaiah 38 recounts this same event and adds these words from Hezekiah— “Lord, by such things men live; and my spirit finds life in them too.  You restored me to health and let me live.”  (Isa. 38:16)

Upon hearing of Hezekiah’s illness and recovery, the king of Babylon sent envoys to visit him.  Babylon was small in those days, and subject to the mighty Assyrian empire.  Most likely, the Babylonian king was looking to form an alliance with Judah and make a stand against Assyria.  Hezekiah, wanting to ensure Babylon of his strength, showed off all of the kingdom’s holdings, treasures, and weapons.  It never occurred to Hezekiah that Babylon itself might one day become powerful and use this information against Judah.  The prophet Isaiah pointed out to Hezekiah that is exactly what would one day happen.

Hezekiah’s reaction to Isaiah’s words was short sighted.  He was unconcerned about what would happen after he died, as long as there was peace during his lifetime.  There are three lessons we can learn from the life of Hezekiah—1)  when faced with impossible situations, pray.  2)  Don’t tell everything you know.  3)  Most importantly, our accomplishments in this life count for very little if we fail to care for those who come after us.  Hezekiah was a righteous king, but because he didn’t see the need to think about what would happen after he died, the righteousness of the kingdom died with him.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

What, if anything, are some things we can do to make sure Denison Church of the Nazarene is still proclaiming the message after we have all gone on?

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

 

2 Kings 17:1-14

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Kings 17:(1-6) 7-14

                 Today’s scripture focus chronicles the reign of Hoshea, the last king of Israel .  Remember that Israel used to be one unified kingdom under David and Solomon.  After Solomon’s death, his son raised the taxes of the ten northern tribes, while exempting his own tribe, Judah, from paying any!  This led to the civil war, and the ten northern tribes broke away.  As a result, there were now two nations of Jews—Israel in the north and Judah in the south.  In order to keep their citizens from defecting to Judah, the king of Israel built temples where the people could worship locally, rather than travel to Jerusalem.

Without a connection to the feasts and fasts observed at Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the kings and people soon fell into pagan idol worship.  While David’s descendants remained on the throne in Judah, Israel was constantly changing kings and royal dynasties through rebellion, assassination, and war with surrounding nations.  Israel’s last king Hoshea took the throne after killing Pekah, who had killed Pekahiah before him!  It is recorded of Hoshea that he did “evil in the eyes of the Lord”, but not as much as the guys who came before him!  However, being not as bad as somebody else was not enough to spare Hoshea and save Israel.

Under Hoshea, Israel had been paying tribute to Assyria, the most powerful empire in the world at the time.  However, Hoshea tried to get a better deal by forming an alliance with Egypt.  When the Assyrian king found out, he put Hoshea in prison.  After three years of war, Assyria conquered Samaria, the capital of Israel.  Assyria’s custom was to remove a large percentage of the natives of conquered lands and scatter them across the empire, while resettling the land with foreigners.  This is what happened in Israel.  The descendants of the remaining Israelites and foreign immigrants eventually became the despised Samaritans of Jesus’ day.

The second half of chapter 17 explains why Israel was conquered and exiled.  They had failed to remember.  When Israel built their own centers of worship instead of following God’s plan, people no longer heard the story of how God had delivered them.  They quit studying the covenant and the Law.  Everybody did what was right in their own eyes.  Every household had their own gods and own ways to worship that god, including prostitution and child sacrifice!  God sent prophets to warn the people, but in their stubbornness they refused to listen.  God will only allow sin for a season.  God is patient, but  eventually all sin leads to destruction.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Israel forgot about God, and it eventually led to their downfall.  Do you see parallels between Israel and our culture today? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

2 Kings 12:1-8

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Kings 12:1-8

                 For the remainder of our time in Kings, we will examine the life of a different king of Judah or Israel each week.  Remember Judah was the Southern Kingdom, with Jerusalem as its capital and Solomon’s temple as its center of worship.  Israel was the Northern Kingdom.  Samaria was the capital city, with Bethel and Dan as centers of worship.  Judah was always ruled by a descendent of King David; Israel had nine different dynasties during its 200 year existence.  The fortunes of both kingdoms rose and fell, depending upon whether or not their kings served God faithfully.  Both kingdoms were eventually conquered by outside forces.

Today let’s look at one of Judah’s better kings— Joash (or Jehoash).  After his father’s untimely death, Joash’s grandmother had the entire royal family killed so she could rule in her son’s place.  Joash was an infant when his father died.  Fortunately, he was hidden by his aunt and uncle for six years.  This uncle—Jehoiada—was a prominent priest, and instructed Joash in the ways of the Lord.  Finally, when Joash was seven, his uncle revealed his existence to the people by placing him in a prominent place in the Temple.  The people immediately acknowledged him as the rightful king, and his wicked grandmother was executed.

Joash reigned over Judah for forty years.  This was the same length of time that Solomon reigned, which is notable because the most significant accomplishment of Joash’s tenure was the repair of Solomon’s Temple.  The Temple was over 130 years old by this point.  It had been neglected during the years of Joash’s grandmother, who like her father Ahab worshipped Ba’al.  Joash directed that certain monies given by the people for the military census, for vows, and for voluntary offerings be used to repair the Temple.  The priests, however, held onto the money.  Joash took over the project, and personally saw that the work was done.

Joash is described as righteous.  He did what was “right in the eyes of the Lord” for as long as his uncle was alive to advise him.  In spite of Joash’s faithfulness, his story did not end well. Temple restoration was cut short when Joash was forced to pay tribute to Hazael, king of Syria.  He had to turn all the gold and silver in the Temple and palace over to Hazael to avoid war.  Once Syria paid tribute to Judah—now the situation was reversed.  In the end, Joash was assassinated by his own cabinet!  The lesson of Joash’s life is that even if we are obedient, we may not see the “glory days” in our lifetime.  We are not called to be successful but faithful.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

When was the last time you worked really hard on a project, only to have it fall apart or not work out the way you planned?  Do you feel it was a complete waste, or did you learn anything from it? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?