June 13: For It Is Better
2 Chronicles 31:1–32:33; 1 John 2:15–17; Psalm 104:16–35
“If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you! For it is better for you that one of your limbs be destroyed than your whole body go into hell” (Matt 5:30).
We might struggle to relate to this outspoken Jesus; we prefer gracious Jesus, offering us a pardon from sin through His sacrifice. We like friendly, loving Jesus, who wraps His arms around us even when we act disgracefully. Jesus is all of these things, but He is also very serious about sin.
One of the most tragic trends in church history is the increasingly casual attitude toward sin. We so badly want people to receive God’s grace that we’ve stopped expecting others—and ourselves—to fight against sin. Yet Jesus knew that fighting sin was necessary. In Matthew 5:30, He is not suggesting that we can be sinless by our own merit; salvation comes solely from the free grace He offers through His death. Jesus is telling us that we must rip sin out of our lives. Doing so is how we experience heaven on this earth that is, at times, nothing short of a hell. Jesus is building on what He knew about idolatry and the need for it to be completely abolished.
When the Israelites were confronted with their idolatry, they ripped it out of their lives: “All Israel … went out and shattered the stone pillars, cut down the Asherahs, and destroyed the high places and the altars from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh to the very last one” (2 Chr 31:1). We must do the same. What are we idolizing? What is causing us to sin? We need to rip that idol out or rip that arm off. Otherwise our sins will continue to torment us and prevent us from knowing God.
John the evangelist perhaps put it best: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because everything that is in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance of material possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:15–17).
Let’s allow the things that are passing away to be destroyed so we can embrace what is eternal.
What sins do you need to remove from your life? How can you do away with the things that are causing you temptation?
JOHN D. BARRY
- And when all these things were finished, all Israel, that were found in the cities of Judah, went out and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake down the high places, and the altars throughout all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had made an end: afterward all the children of Israel returned every man to his possession, into their own cities. And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the Priests and Levites by their turns, every man according to his office, both Priests and Levites for the burnt offering and peace offerings, to minister and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the Lord. (And the king’s portion was of his own substance for the burnt offerings, even for the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons and for the solemn feasts, as it is written in the Law of the Lord) He commanded also the people that dwelt in Jerusalem, to give a part to the Priests, and Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the Lord. And when the commandment was spread, the children of Israel brought abundance of firstfruits, of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field, and the tithes of all things brought they abundantly. And the children of Israel and Judah that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought the tithes of bullocks and sheep, and the holy tithes which were consecrated unto the Lord their God, and laid them on many heaps. In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. And when Hezekiah and the princes came, and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and his people Israel. And Hezekiah questioned with the Priests and the Levites concerning the harps. And Azariah the chief Priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have eaten, and have been satisfied, and there is left an abundance: for the Lord hath blessed his people, and this abundance that is left. And Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the Lod: and they prepared them, And carried in the firstfruits, and the tithes, and the dedicated thigns faithfully: and over them was Conaniah the Levite the chief, and Shimei his brother the second. And Jehiel, and Azaziah and Nahath, and Asahel, and Jerimoth, and Jozabad, and Eliel, and Ismachiah, and Mahath, and Benaiah were overseers by the appointment of Conaniah, and Shimei his brother, and by the commandment of Hezekiah the King, and of Azariah the chief of the house of God. And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, porter toward the East, was over the things that were willingly offered unto God, to distribute the oblations of the Lord, and the holy things that were consecrated. And at his hand were Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua, and Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shechaniah, in the cities of the Priests, to distribute with fidelity to their brethren by courses, both to the great and small, Their dailiy portion: beside their generation, being males from three years old, and above, even to all that entered into the house of the Lord to their office in their charge, according to their courses: Both to the generation of the Priests, after the house of their fathers, and to the Levites from twenty years old and above, according to their charge in theri courses: And to the generations of all their children, their wives, and their sons, and their daughters throughout all the Congregation: for by their fidelity are they partakers of the holy things. Also to the sons of Aaron, the Priests, which were in the fields and suburbs of the cities, in every city the men that were appointed by names, should give portions to all the males of the Priests, and to all the generation of the Levites. And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and did well, and uprightly, and truly before the Lord his God. And in all the works that he began for the service of the house of God, both in the Law and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered. After these things faithfully described Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered into Judah, and besieged the strong cities, and thought to win them for himself. When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that his purpose was to fight against Jerusalem, Then he took counsel with his princes and his nobles, to stop the water of the fountains without the city: and they did help him. So many of the people assembled themselves, and stopped all the fountains, and the river that ran through the midst of the country, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water? And he took courage, and built all the broken wall, and made up the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made many darts and shields. And he set captains of war over the people, and assembled them to him in the broad place of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably unto them, saying, Be strong and courageous: fear not, neither be afraid for the king of Assyria, neither for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us, then is with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God for to help us, and to fight our battles. Then the people were confirmed by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. After this, did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem (while he was against Lachish, and all his dominion with him) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Jordan that were at Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith Sennacherib the king of Assyria, Wherein do ye trust, that ye will remain in Jerusalem, during the siege? Doth not Hezekiah entice you to give over yourselves unto death by famine and by thirst, saying, The Lord our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places, and his altars, and commanded Judah, and Jerusalem, sayng, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it? Know ye not what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other countries? were the gods of the nations of other lands able to deliver their land out of my hand? Who is he of all the gods of those nations (that my fathers have destroyed) that could deliver his peace out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor seduce you after this sort, neither believe ye him: for none of all the gods of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your gods deliver you out of mine hand? And his servants spake et more against the Lord God, and against his servant Hezekiah. He wrote also letters, blaspheming the Lord God of Israel, and speaking agianst him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other countries could not deliver their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand. Then they cried with a loud voice in the Jews speech unto the people of Jerusalem that were on the wall, to fear them and to astonish them, that they might take the city. Thus they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, even the works of man’s hands, But Hezekiah the King, and the Prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz prayed against this and cried to heaven. And the Lord sent an Angel, which destroyed all the valiant men, and the princes and captains of the host of the king of Assyria: so he returned with shame to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels, slew him there with the sword. So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and maintained them on every side. And many brought offerings unto the Lord of Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was magnified in the sight of all nattions from thenceforth. In those days Hezekiah was sick unto the death, and prayed unto the Lord, who spake unto him, and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not render according to the reward bestowed upon him: for his heart was lifted up, and wrath come upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled humbled himself (after that his heart was lifted up) he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah. Hezekiah also had exceeding much riches and honor, and got him treasures of silver, and of gold, and of precious stones, and of sweet odors, and of shields, and of all pleasant vessels: And of store houses for the increase of wheat and wine and oil, and stalls for all beasts, and rows for the stables. And he made him cities, and had possession of sheep and oxen in abundance: for God had given him substance exceeding much. This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper water springs of Gihon, and led them straight underneath toward the city of David Westward: so Hezekiah prospered in all his works. But because of the ambassadors of the princes of Babel, which seem unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him to try him, and to know all that was in his heart. Concerning the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the Prophet the son of Amoz, in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. So Hezekiah slept with this fathers, and they buried him in the highest sepulcher of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honor at his death, and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead. 2 Chronicles 31:1–32:33
- Love not this world, neither the things that are in this world. If any man love this world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, (as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life) is not of the Father, but is of the world. And this world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that fulfilleth the will of God, abideth ever. 1 John 2:15–17
- The high trees are satisifed, even the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted, That the birds may make their nests there: the stork dwelleth in the fir trees. The high montains are for the goats: the rocks are a refuge for the conies. He appointed the moon for certain seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth. The lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat at God. When the sun riseth, they retire, and couch in their dens. Then goeth man forth to his work, and to his labor until the evening. O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is the sea great and wide: for therein are things creeping innumberable, both small beasts and great. There go the ships, yea the Leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. All these wait upon thee, that thou mayest give them food in due season. Thou givest it to them, and they gather it, thou openest thy hand, and they are filled with good things. But if thou hide thy face, they are troubled: if thou take away their breath, they die and return to their dust: Again if thou send forth thy spirit, they are created, and thou renewest the face of the earth. Glory be to the Lord forever: let the Lord rejoice in his works. He looketh on the earth and it trembleth: he toucheth the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing unto the Lord all my life: I will praise my God, while I live. Let my words be acceptable unto him: I will rejoice in the Lord. Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and the wicked till there be no more: O my soul, praise thou the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 104:16–35