2 Chronicles, chapters 33-36

“[The king of the Chaldeans]
carried off captive to Babylon those who escaped the sword, […] to fulfill Jehovah’s word spoken by Jeremiah […].”

~2 Chronicles 36:20, 21

In chapter 36 we witness the rapid declive of Judah’s dynasty.
After King Josiah died in 629 b.C.E. there were no more good kings (2 Chron. 35:23-25).
Jeremiah, the prophet, was gradually subjected to worse and worse treatment as the kingdom became less and less reverent of Jehovah God (Jer. 36:26; 38:7-13).
Yet he never gave in.
He never stopped preaching the dire future that awaited those who did not repent (Jer 35:13-17).
He survived the destruction of the Holy City in 607 b.C.E. and kept serving as a prophet to his people (Jer. 40:5,6).
His determination to carry out his calling in such deteriorated circumstances serves as an inspiration to all of us struggling to actively take part in the kingdom witnessing work in a morally disintegrating world.

Learn more about Jeremiah through this free audio book.

1 Chronicles, chapters 26-29

The chief of the third group assigned to serve during the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the chief priest, and 24,000 were in his division.
~1 Chronicles 27:5

The reader may recall from previous passages the story of Benaiah and his loyalty toward King David’s reign (2Sa 23:20-23; 1Ki 1:8, 2:29).
He was one of David’s few confidants who did not betray him even after his death.
What I had not personally reflected upon was his family’s namesake.
His father was “the leader of the sons of Aaron,” that is to say, the Levite priests (1Ch 12:27).
Benaiah did not live off of his father’s spiritual reputation.
He made his own name before God and followed his own career in sacred service, unrelated to priestly duties.
What this teaches me is that even if my mother or father or grandparents are well known in the community for their ministry work, I still need to make my own name before God as an individual.
It is not enough to inherit values; they must also be put to good use.

1 Kings, chapters 15-17

“When Zimri saw that the city had been captured, he went into the fortified tower of the king’s house and burned the house down over himself, and he died.”~1 Kings 16:18

Zimri was a chief warrior, overseeing half the forces of Israel (1 Ki. 16:9).

He betrayed his king, slayed him, then sat on his throne (1 Ki. 16:10).

Zimri then proceeded to exterminate the entire house of his predecessor (1 Ki. 16:11)

Although this was in alignment with Jehovah’s prophecy, Zimri was not motivated by a desire to carry out God’s will (1 Ki. 16:1-3; 12).

He was an idol-worshiper and an opportunist, greedy for power, who, in a transient display of bravery, acted purely out of self-interest (1 Ki. 16:19,20).

A few days later, the ten-tribe nation of Israel opted to make another one of their army-chiefs king.

This new king’s name was Omri (1 Ki. 16:16).

Omri besieged the palace where Zimri was hiding himself (1 Ki. 16:17).

Up to that moment, Zimri had solely relied on his own power and not God’s.

Thus, it played out that he caved in to his fears and killed himself before his enemies could grab a hold of him.

How long did Zimri’s rule last?

Seven days.

Any satisfaction he had derived out of his corrupt actions was extremely short-lived.

Zimri’s actions are a lesson in loyalty and lack of faith.

1 Kings, chapters 12-14

“It is the man of the true God who rebelled against the order of Jehovah; so Jehovah gave him over to the lion, to maul and to kill him, according to the word of Jehovah that he spoke to him.”

~1 Kings 13:26

The prophet whom Jehovah had sent to warn the newly formed northern nation of Israel of its future destruction, faced a simple test of faith while he traveled back home (1 Ki. 13:1,2).
He was to not eat or drink with any of the inhabitants of that land (1 Ki. 13:9).
When a false prophet deceived him, telling him God changed his mind about the orders given, the first prophet did not inquire of God.
He simply went along with the false prophet, perhaps because he said the words he wanted to hear:
“An angel told me by the word of Jehovah, ‘Have him come back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water,'” (1 Ki. 13:18, 19).
When we suddenly come under pressure to do what we thought was wrong, do we take the time to pray and investigate God’s will?
Or do we simply succumb to the pressure because it’s an easier way out of our immediate problems?
The shallowness of the first prophet’s decision cost him his life (1 Ki. 13:21,22).

2 Samuel, chapters 9-12

Uriah replied to David: “The Ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. So should I go into my own house to eat and drink and lie down with my wife? As surely as you live and are alive, I will not do this thing!”

~2 Samuel 11:11

Uriah was a Hittite, a descendant of Canaan (2 Sam. 23:39).

Canaanites were the pagan inhabitants of the Promised Land that the Israelites were supposed to have exterminated (De. 20:16-18).

Still, Uriah’s house was close to King David’s (2 Sam. 11:2,3).

He was classified as a “mighty warrior,” (1 Chron. 11:26,41).

These facts, along with his conduct, indicate that he was also a Proselyte- a pagan converted to true worship.

The most outstanding thing we know of him is the zeal he had for fulfilling God’s law.

He went into war with the rest of his army, minus their commander-in-chief, King David.

Where was their leader?

Sleeping with Uriah’s wife (2 Sam. 11:4).

(I am leaving out a few details because the story is widely known.)

When Uriah’s wife became pregnant with David’s child, King David asked Uriah to come back home with the intention of making it appear as if the child were his (2 Sam. 11:5-10).

Uriah respected God’s law and considered his war mission to be holy.

To sleep with his wife while the rest of his army was in battle was unthinkable.

Furthermore, that would have prevented him from immediately joining them, because having a semen emission under God’s law made him “unclean,” (De. 23:9-11).

King David’s plan failed, and he sentenced Uriah to be killed in battle, sending the letter by Uriah’s own hand (2 Sam. 11:12-15).

Uriah had such a level of zeal for God’s law that it cost him his life, but the important thing is that he died faithful (2 Sam. 11:24).

David did not have to die for his own sin, but his son died as a consequence of it, and David did not know another day’s peace for the rest of his life (2 Sam. 12:9-14).

Uriah’s story leaves us with a thirst for justice that is not fully quenched and it helps us see that in this world, sometimes it does not matter how good or innocent we are, we are still subject to injustices.

There may at times be brothers in the congregation in important roles with many privileges who step all over one of the sheep they are supposed to care for (Acts 20:29).

The important thing for us sheep is to not judge or leave the congregation, but to continue serving God faithfully and leave justice in his hands (Rom. 12:19).

1 Samuel, chapters 14 and 15

“[…] Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer was behind him; and the Philistines began to fall before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer was putting them to death behind him.”
~1 Samuel 14:13

By standing up to their people’s oppressors, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were demonstrating great faith in Jehovah, crediting him with the victory before it begun (1 Sam. 14:6).

There is another lesson in their actions: teamwork goes a long way.

They were obviously very coordinated, being able to carry out this extraordinary deed of striking and putting 20 men to death, despite being outnumbered 10 to 1 (1 Sam. 14:14).

Although as Christians we do not participate in deadly combat, we do need to collaborate extensively with other members in the Congregation on a weekly or sometimes daily basis.

The success we experience spiritually is directly related to our ability to subject to theocratic arrangements, which in turn is directly related to being humble (1 Cor. 14:40).

Like Jonathan’s armor-bearer, we need to be willing to sacrifice personal interests in order to demonstrate our unyielding loyalty toward God and our spiritual family (1 Sam. 14:7).

Then we will clearly see Jehovah’s blessings and his loyalty toward us (1 Chron. 16:34).

1 Samuel, chapters 1-4

“Then Elkanah went to his house in Ramah, but the boy became a minister of Jehovah before Eli the priest.”
~1 Samuel 2:11

A few years prior, when Elkanah’s sterile wife Hannah came before Jehovah to pray for a son, the high priest Eli had mistakenly made offensive comments to her, misjudging her for a drunkard (1 Sam. 1:10-14).

Her reply to him reflected a quiet and mild spirit (1 Sam. 1:15-18; 1 Pet. 3:4).

When Hannah’s prayer was answered and her child was ready to be weaned, neither her nor her husband held resentment against the house of Jehovah nor toward his appointed servants.

They understood that the center for pure worship was the tabernacle at Shiloh and did not restrain from taking their son to serve there (1 Sam. 1:21-25).

They had faith in Jehovah that he would look after their son and that it was the best place for him despite the imperfections of those serving there.

Likewise, we should not let the imperfections of others in the congregation deter us from offering ourselves up for greater service.

We may witness personality defects that could work as stumbling blocks, but we should continue to recognize Jehovah’s congregation for what it really is: the center for pure worship (Isa. 2:2,3).

If we do our part and leave the rest in God’s hands, we will surely be blessed, like in the case of Hannah and Elkanah (1 Sam. 2:20, 21; Mal. 3:10).