Script for the June 1st episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the June 1st episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is in 2 Chronicles 15-16 and John 12. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.

2 Chronicles 15

This chapter begins with a divine promise and continues with the king of Judah doing everything to enjoy the benefits of that promise.

2 Chronicles 15:1-2 (CSB): “The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. So he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Asa and all Judah and Benjamin, hear me. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you.”

Azariah continued to say that Israel did not have a teaching priest, was not following the Lord, and experienced conflict because of it. But, when they turned to the Lord, they found Him.

Again, we realize that the Lord has a soft spot in His heart for repentance. He will return to a people if they repent, regardless of what they have done, how far they have strayed, or how long they have been gone.

Then, the prophet looked King Asa in the eyes and said:

2 Chronicles 15:7 (CSB): “But as for you, be strong; don’t give up, for your work has a reward.”

In other words: “Keep following the Lord. Keep doing the work of getting your people to follow the Lord. There are some wonderful benefits that we will all enjoy if you don’t give up.”

King Asa got busy. He tore down idols. He renovated the altar in the Temple area.

Then, he gathered everyone together. The Lord isn’t merely interested in getting rid of sin. He wants our hearts. So King Asa led in a sacrifice to the Lord and then called upon the people to wholeheartedly repent and serve Him.

2 Chronicles 15:12-13 (CSB): “Then they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their ancestors with all their heart and all their soul. Whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel would be put to death, young or old, man or woman.”

The first part sounded good, didn’t it? The people entered a covenant to “seek the Lord.” This means that they wanted to obey Him, seek His blessing, and experience Him.

But the second part is a bit harsh, isn’t it? People who refused to enter the covenant would be killed. Wow! But God’s relationship with Israel was like no other. When the people of Israel disobeyed God’s law and went after other gods, He would punish them. And that punishment would bring harm upon the individual citizens. So King Asa would make it clear that a failure to do what was in the best interest of the people of Judah would be a capital offense.

So how did the people of Israel respond? Did they obey resentfully? Did they rebel against such strong words? Or did they gladly participate in the covenant?

2 Chronicles 15:14-15 (CSB): “They took an oath to the LORD in a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets, and with rams’ horns. All Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They had sought him with all sincerity, and he was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side.”

Then, as the chapter comes to an end, we read that even though some pagan high places weren’t destroyed, “Asa was wholeheartedly devoted (to the Lord) his entire life.”

And because of their obedience, God was free to bless them…

2 Chronicles 15:19 (CSB): “There was no war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.”

2 Chronicles 16

The previous chapter left us hanging. What happened in the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign that brought about war? This chapter answers that question.

King Baasha of Israel came against the nation of Judah.

2 Chronicles 16:1 (CSB): “… He built Ramah in order to keep anyone from leaving or coming to King Asa of Judah.”

King Asa did not believe that he could do anything about it, so he sent a boatload of gold and silver to the king of Aram. Essentially, he asked the king of Aram to go and beat up the army of Israel.         

2 Chronicles 16:4-5 (CSB): “Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies to the cities of Israel. They attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the storage cities of Naphtali. When Baasha heard about it, he quit building Ramah and stopped his work.”

King Asa went and dismantled the city that the king of Israel had built. Everything was now going well, right? Wrong!

The prophet (seer) Hanani went to King Asa and rebuked him for depending upon the king of Aram. After all, he said, didn’t the Lord deliver him from the kings of northern Africa when they came against him?

And then, we see what King Asa’s primary sin was. He worked his own problem without depending upon the Lord.         

2 Chronicles 16:8 (CSB): “… When you depended on the LORD, he handed them over to you.”

That’s it! Friend, this same thing still gets God upset. Spiritual maturity isn’t self-reliance. Spiritual maturity is complete dependence upon the Lord. Certainly, there are things that we can and should do to work our problems. But we should make certain that those things are what the Lord wants us to do, and we should be sure that we are trusting in the Lord all the while.

Then, we come to one of my many favorite verses in the Bible. Well, the first half of the verse is one of my favorites. The second half of the verse, not so much.

2 Chronicles 16:9 (CSB): “For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him. You have been foolish in this matter. Therefore, you will have wars from now on.”

Wow! The Lord is actively looking the whole world over to find men and women, boys and girls that are sold out for Him. He’s looking for people whose hearts belong completely to the Lord. And since Asa’s heart toward the Lord had declined and he was now trusting in his own whits, he was going to have trouble the rest of his days.

So, how did King Asa respond? Did he repent? Did he plead with the Lord for forgiveness and restoration? Hardly!

2 Chronicles 16:10 (CSB): “Asa was enraged with the seer and put him in prison because of his anger over this. And Asa mistreated some of the people at that time.”

Good grief! This is just a reminder that simply because we begin our spiritual journey well doesn’t mean we will end well. Let’s determine in our hearts that we will love and serve and obey the Lord all the days of our short life. But let’s also determine that when someone comes and points out some sin or deficiency in our life, we won’t get angry and go into self-protection mode. Let’s listen and make the necessary adjustments.

This chapter ends with Asa’s decline and death. Because he had rejected the Lord and His Word, the Lord stepped back and let King Asa live his own life. And bad things happened.

2 Chronicles 16:12-13 (CSB): “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a disease in his feet, and his disease became increasingly severe. Yet even in his disease he didn’t seek the LORD but only the physicians. Asa rested with his ancestors; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.”

Friend, let’s start well like King Asa but let’s continue following the Lord until we breathe our last breath. Regardless of what blessings, or lack thereof, come our way, the Lord has done so much for us that He is worthy of everything we can give to Him.

John 12

As this chapter opens, we are invited into a home that almost certainly had a lot of laughter and love. Jesus, with His disciples, was in Bethany in a home that may have been owned by a man named Simon who once had leprosy if this corresponds to Mark 14. If that is the case, then Jesus is in a place where a man who was once a leper had been healed by Jesus. Lazarus, who had been dead, was raised to life, which may not have made him very happy to leave Heaven, but it made his sisters giddy with joy.

While they were reclining at the table, Mary took an incredibly expensive jar of ointment and anointed Jesus’ feet with it. She also wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with fragrance, but many of the disciples may have had a very bad taste in their mouths. Feet were utterly filthy, and this woman was getting all of the sweat and nastiness of Jesus’ feet on her hair. What in the world was going on?!

Apparently, none of the disciples said anything. They probably knew that saying something might get them in trouble with Jesus, so they kept their thoughts to themselves.

But one of the disciples was so appalled at what he was seeing that he dared to speak up. His words would have stung. They would have made Mary feel utterly stupid.

John 12:4-5 (CSB): “Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot (who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’”

It sounded like Judas was taking the moral high ground. He appeared to care about poor people and the proper use of assets. But the Apostle John, who wrote this book, gave his commentary after quoting Judas.

John 12:6 (CSB): “He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the money-bag and would steal part of what was put in it.”

There’s a principle here, friend. It’s this: What someone says doesn’t matter nearly as much as why they said it. While it is incredibly difficult to come to 100% accuracy in determining someone’s motive, that shouldn’t keep us from doing our best to assess why someone is saying what they’re saying.

Just because a car salesman says you should get the most car for your money doesn’t mean you should. His motivation for getting a big commission check is different from your motive of getting a good car for as little money as possible. So, pay attention to motive, not just the words.

Well, back to that house in Bethany, it may have been that Judas’ words had caused Mary to sit in silence. Maybe she was even beginning to shed some tears as her act of love and devotion to her Messiah had been so marginalized.

As we would expect, Jesus stood up for those who were being mistreated. Essentially, he told Judas to keep his baseless opinions to himself. Mary’s act of anointing Jesus with oil was actually getting Him ready for his death and burial in just a few short days.

Then, in verses 9-10, we learn that a large crowd of Jews heard that Jesus was in Bethany. So they came to Bethany probably to take Jesus captive or kill Him. But they also came to kill Lazarus because his resurrection was the reason many people believed in Jesus. Their hatred of Jesus was so powerful that they were completely blind to anything rational.

On Sunday, Jesus rode a young donkey into Jerusalem as the crowds cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!”

Jesus’ disciples would have thought that He was just about to ascend to His throne and rule Israel. Yet, Jesus had been clearly telling them that He was going to die and rise again.

John 12:16 (CSB): “His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.”

Do you remember when Jesus’ mother, Mary, came to him at the wedding in Cana of Galilee? She said: “Jesus, they don’t have any wine.” She seems to have been implying, “Please do something about it.” But Jesus said, “My time hasn’t come yet.” Jesus was saying that He was on a divine schedule, and He didn’t want to get ahead of the Father.

Well, as we enter the final week of Jesus’ ministry that culminated on the cross, we hear Jesus say, “My time has now come.”

John 12:23 (CSB): “Jesus replied to them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.’”

Then Jesus gives a visual principle. He says that just as a grain of wheat has to be put into the ground and die in order for new life to come from it, so He must die and be put in the ground.

John 12:24 (CSB): “Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

But we don’t like to die to ourselves. We don’t want to die to our desires and ambitions. But death is the only way to truly live. That’s what Jesus is essentially saying in these next verses.

John 12:25-26 (CSB): “The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

Then Jesus acknowledges that even though He is very disturbed about what awaits Him, this is the very reason why He came. And then a voice from Heaven affirms Jesus by saying that He will glorify the Son. This means that because of Jesus’ great sacrifice that would provide salvation to all who trust in Him, Jesus’ name would be known and enjoyed by billions and billions of people.

After Jesus said that the Son of Man would be “lifted up,” clearly an allusion to the Roman cross, this caused a bit of a stir in the crowds. So someone in the crowd asked the obvious question.

John 12:34 (CSB): “Then the crowd replied to him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”? Who is this Son of Man?’”

Jesus didn’t give them a straightforward answer. Any misstep, and they would take Him by force and kill Him before He could get to the cross. So He simply said that the light was only going to be with them a little longer, and they needed to respond to that light by believing in it before things got dark.

Jesus was referring to Himself as the Light of the World. His light revealed truth and exposed sin and error. But people who are in sin and love their sin don’t like being exposed by the light. That’s why Jesus, the Light of the World, was so despised by a world that didn’t want Him to mess up the happiness they had in their sin.

Jesus then left and hid. Some of them might catch the analogy and then come for Him. He wouldn’t give them that opportunity.

In verses 37-43, John quotes from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. The central theme that John makes in this section is that Jesus graciously concealed truth from those who would not believe. After all, those who know truth and disobey it are guilty of a greater judgment than those who violated a truth they did not know. This is often why Jesus spoke in parables. He was graciously withholding truth from folks who would not believe, so He didn’t want to increase their guilt.

This section ends with a couple of powerful verses…

John 12:42-43 (CSB): “Nevertheless, many did believe in him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, so that they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than praise from God.”

So is it possible for someone to believe in Jesus and yet keep it quiet? Certainly. That is absolutely possible. There are many brothers and sisters all over the world who meet in secret because if it were known that they are Christians, they could be jailed or killed. But the norm should be that someone who is a follower of Jesus should not hide it.

As this chapter comes to an end, Jesus cries out to be heard. We don’t know where He is nor who is listening. But His words are essentially a summary of His ministry.

Let me simply read His words as we close.

John 12:44-50 (CSB): “Jesus cried out, ‘The one who believes in me believes not in me, but in him who sent me. And the one who sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me would not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and doesn’t receive my sayings has this as his judge: The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said. I know that his command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for leaving Heaven and laying aside much that was rightfully Yours to come to earth. Thank You that You taught us how to live and how to enter into a relationship with You. Thank You that You died on the cross and rose from the dead to give eternal life to anyone who trusts in You. We pray that You would enable us to live a life worthy of what You have done and are doing for us. We pray this in Your Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!