Saturday, April 25, 2009

Conviction and Hope: 2 Chronicles 16:9

At work yesterday a friend brought up a verse he has been meditating on; 2 Chronicles 16:9, [T]he eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. I remembered the verse as soon as he read it, but I was amazed at its sudden implications. It was one of those moments where I felt completely undone by the word of God. Scripture is truly sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).

This semester has brought many challenges as I try to balance several jobs and projects with school. I have very little down-time and while I thought I was relying on the Lord for support, this passage made me realize how far away from God my heart has been. Like Asa in the context of the 2 Chron. passage, I have looked to my own strength and my own devices, going to the "King of Aram" for help, rather than waiting upon Yahweh.

Yet I also realized another implication. While Asa was condemned by God, You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war, I do not stand condemned. Romans 8:1 says, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:9-11, You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Romans 8:15-16, For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

It is not good for me to live for myself or by my own power. Instead, I should devote myself to relying upon the awesome power of our sovereign God. And I am able to do this through the Spirit who strengthens me after humbling me and breaking down my defenses. What a good God we have to faithfully bruise us in order to conform us to the image of his Son! I am a man of unclean lips and an unclean heart. I stand judged and humbled for my sin and yet I have been found innocent and faithful, not through any doing of my own, but through the righteousness of Jesus Christ! I have nothing to boast in but that I know the Lord!

A third implication came to me from the 2 Chronicles verse which has revised how I have viewed God lately. I have been so busy and have seen God as somewhat aloof. Yet 2 Chron says that God actively seeks out faithful ones to strengthen. God not only wants us to be righteous in our actions, he looks for those who are committed in faith to him and strengthens them. What a hope and joy for the believer! I do not have to do things by my own power. I will call upon Yahweh and he will be faithful to save me (even if that salvation doesn't look like I expect it to). Our God is the same God who continually saved Israel. He is not weak or powerless. He is mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:14-20).

A side note: For those who might look at the 2 Chron and Zeph passages and say that the may only be rightly understood as promises to a national Israel, I would point out Deut 9:21/Isaiah 42:1-9/1 Peter 2:9-10, and Jeremiah 31:31-34/John 14:26/Acts 2:1-39. These passages forsage the the opening of the "Israelitish religion" for all believing people. It is through the work of Jesus that we can apply the Old Testament to ourselves today.


Jonathon Banister said...

Thank you for a very good word brother.
There are so many circumstances that surround the life of the believer that can cause us to feel distant from God. I am thankful that our God is the living God who does indeed strengthen those whose heart is completely his.

Sasha said...

Thanks for the post! Been thinking about you all!

LM said...

This same scripture spoke to me recently as well, though I read it in the New King James version. I felt this version had a slightly different and, frankly, more accurate, meaning. You can judge for yourself. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro thoughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him."
I feel that this says God will do more than just strengthen our hearts; He'll use his power to help us according to His will, to give us victory, as He would have done for King Asa if the King had stayed loyal to Him.

Steven Douglas said...

I am curious, LM, what makes it "more accurate"? Is it because it seems more God focused than man focused? Just wondering.


LM said...

Hey Steven,

The original King James version says, "to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." I think this talks about a direct intervention from God. Just a little later in Chapter 20, we see such an intervention on behalf of Jehoshaphat. God wipes out Judah's enemies and Judah doesn't have to lift a finger. It's wasn't about Judah getting stronger, it was about being loyal to God and leaning on him. I love that, and I came across this scripture in a time in my life when I really needed that! Asa turned away from God and relied on earthly political power. Hence his downfall and 16:9. Of course, God can make us stronger in so many ways. I like Isaiah 40:31 which gives a good example of that. But I like the idea of God stepping in when we're at the end of our rope and taking care of business. And this concept of being "perfect"/ "loyal" to God reminds me of Psalms 66:18. Anyway, thanks for your blog. I think we were both touched by this awesome scripture.