Bible Gateway The Daily Audio Bible Reading Plan (VOICE) 2016-07-25T00:00:00-05:00 Powered by Bible Gateway http://www.biblegateway.com http://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/daily-audio-bible?version=VOICE The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Monday July 25, 2016 (VOICE)

2 Chronicles 14-16

14 After Abijah joined his ancestors in death and was laid with his fathers in the city of David, Jerusalem, his son Asa ruled the Southern Kingdom in his place. During Asa’s reign, the country was quiet for 10 years as it had been during Solomon’s rule. Asa obeyed the Eternal One, his True God, and led the nation in reformation[a] 3-5 by removing remnants of idol worship in Judah: foreign altars and high places, incense altars, sacred pillars, and statues of Asherah. Asa commanded Judah to seek the Eternal One, the True God of their ancestors, and to obey His laws and commandments. The kingdom was peaceful during Asa’s reign.

Asa must have learned from his father Abijah’s battle against the Northern Kingdom. Asa knows how important God’s support is to the success of the Southern Kingdom, so as king he makes proper worship of God the first priority of his reign. Proper worship of God surely leads to national stability.

Asa utilized this peaceful time which the Eternal had given to build fortified cities in Judah since he was not preoccupied with wars.

Asa (to Judah): Because we have followed the Eternal One, our True God, He has allowed us to keep our land and has given our nation a time of peace. Let’s use this time to strengthen what He has so graciously given us. Let’s build strong cities, defend them with walls, guard them with towers, secure them with gates, and lock them with crossbars.

The Judahites agreed, so they built the cities and prospered. Asa built an army of heroic men including 300,000 Judahites, who carried large shields and spears, and 280,000 Benjaminites, who carried shields and bows.

When Zerah from Cush[b] came to Mareshah in the Judean highlands to attack Judah with an army of one million men and 300 chariots, 10 Asa went to meet the challenge. The two armies faced each other in the valley of Zephathah[c] at Mareshah.

Asa (praying to the Lord): 11 Eternal One, only You can help the powerless when they fight the powerful, so help us, Eternal One, our True God, because we trust You and we are facing this innumerable army for the honor of Your reputation. O Eternal One, You are our True God. Do not let mere mortals win in a battle against You.

12 Just as Asa requested, the Eternal defeated the Cushites on behalf of Judah, and the Cushites fled. 13-14 Asa and his men pursued the Cushites as far as Gerar in southwestern Judah. So many of the Cushite army died that they could not recover; they were decimated by the Eternal and His army. The Judahite army was able to crush all the cities around Gerar because the people of Gerar feared the Eternal, and the army plundered each city they destroyed. 15 In the villages and pastures, they crushed the herdsmen and seized large numbers of sheep and camels. Then the Judahite army returned to Jerusalem.

15 The Spirit of the True God gave a prophecy to Azariah, the son of Oded, who relayed it to Asa and his people.

Azariah: Asa and all of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, listen to me! God responds to you as you respond to Him: If you are with the Eternal, then He is with you. If you look for Him, then He will let you find Him. But if you abandon Him, then He will abandon you. So learn from the mistakes of your ancestors. For a long time, the tribes of Israel were without the True God, His priests, and His laws. But when they were distressed by wars and oppression, they returned to the Eternal One, the True God of Israel. They sought Him, and He let them find Him. In those times before the monarchy, no one traveling had a peaceful life. Everyone in the lands had numerous difficulties; nations and cities fought back and forth, destroying each other again and again. Because of their disobedience, the True God troubled them constantly. But you, who are devoted to being with God and searching for God, be strong and do not lose courage because your actions will reap rewards.

Asa responded to the message of Azariah the son of Oded the prophet with that courage and strength. He removed the abominable idols from the Southern Kingdom of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities he had conquered from the Northern Kingdom in the hill country of Ephraim. Then he repaired the Eternal’s altar in front of the porch of His temple. 9-10 During the Festival of Weeks in the 3rd month of the 15th year of his reign, Asa assembled in Jerusalem all of Judah and Benjamin and those from the Northern territories of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had moved to the Southern Kingdom when they realized the Eternal One, his True God, was with Asa. 11 That day, they sacrificed to the Eternal 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep from the wealth they gained during their war against Cush, 12 signifying their covenant agreeing to seek the Eternal One, True God of their ancestors, in everything they did. 13 They decided that anyone (man or woman, young or old, important or insignificant) who would not seek the Eternal One, the True God of Israel, should be executed in accordance with His command,[d] 14 and they promised this to the Eternal with loud voices, shouting, trumpets, and horns. 15 All of the Southern Kingdom rejoiced at their decisions and their vow because they had acted on Azariah’s prophecy: they had promised to look for Him and only Him earnestly and entirely, and they knew He would let them find Him. In response to the promises, the Eternal gave peace in their lives and with their neighbors.

16 Asa continued his reforms even after this. He also removed his own mother, Maacah, from her position as queen mother because she had continued in her idol worship, making a carved image of Asherah. Asa cut down the cultic statue, crushed it, and burned it beside the brook Kidron. 17 In spite of his work against idol worship, he did not remove the high places in the Northern Kingdom. Asa followed His ways throughout his reign, 18 and he returned the silver, gold, and utensils which he and his father had dedicated to the house of the True God. 19 Until the 35th year of his reign, the Southern Kingdom did not fight any wars.

Even in the wake of military success, during a period when most kings would become conceited, Asa continues to focus on God. Eliminating the remnants of idol worship and practicing the festivals in the Southern Kingdom are not enough for him—he insures that all political leaders are role models of proper worship. Asa punishes his own mother and makes an example of her apostasy by stripping her title and destroying her cultic objects in front of the nation. This sends a strong message to the people that everyone is accountable for his actions.

But not even Asa is perfect. He neglects to destroy the high places in the areas he conquers in the Northern Kingdom, so his reign will not be completely peaceful.

There are two significant reasons why the Eternal is always opposed to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms forging alliances with other nations, even if for self-preservation. First, any political alliance is also a religious alliance. Each king and his group of diplomats bring their national deities to witness and support the treaty. The Eternal never stands for setting up other divine rivals, even to witness military agreements. Often treaty members recognize and worship their respective patron idols to show political and religious friendship between the countries.

Second, a political alliance is also a spiritual alliance. King Asa—and the majority of Israelite and Judean kings—demonstrates a lack of trust in the Eternal’s provision and protection when seeking out pragmatics (such as food and land) from the surrounding Gentile nations. It is a constant challenge to seek God for personal and national existence when all the other nations are bigger and stronger. The sad reality is that Judah is often a vassal people to the more wealthy and powerful Israel, and both nations are taken captive and deported by those in whom they will seek refuge: Assyria and Babylonia.

16 But in the 36th year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah, conquered Ramah, and fortified it as his outpost in the Southern Kingdom. By controlling Ramah, Baasha controlled access to Jerusalem and to Asa king of Judah.

Asa retaliates by hiring out Aram to fight Baasha.

Asa took silver and gold from the treasuries of the Eternal’s temple and his own palace, and he sent them to Ben-hadad, king of Aram, who lived in Damascus.

Asa (in a letter to Ben-hadad): Let’s renew the treaty which our fathers shared with each other. Please take this silver and gold which I have sent to you, and use it to attack Baasha, king of Israel. If you will break your treaty with him, then he will withdraw his troops from my country.

Ben-hadad accepted King Asa’s offer and sent the commanders of his armies to conquer cities in Israel and to add them to the nation of Aram: Ijon (a fortified city in Naphtali), Dan, Abel-maim, and all the store cities in the region of Naphtali. When Baasha heard that Aram was attacking him, he stopped his work of strengthening Ramah and returned to the Northern Kingdom to fight. Then King Asa and his people in Judah pillaged Ramah, removing Baasha’s stones and wood and using them to fortify Geba and Mizpah.

These cities are along the Israelite border, so they guard major trade routes between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.

At that time, Hanani the seer shared his vision with Asa, king of Judah, interpreting the king’s mistakes and predicting Israel’s future.

Hanani: Because you trusted the king of Aram instead of the Eternal One, your True God, you missed your opportunity to conquer the Aramean army! Do you remember that the Cushites[e] and the Libyans had immense armies with many chariots and horsemen? You could not have conquered them with your own army or your own cunning, but because you trusted the Eternal, He gave them to you so you could crush them. The Eternal watches everything that happens on earth so that He may strongly support those who follow Him. By hiring mercenaries, you have acted foolishly and proven that you are not following Him. From now on, peace will elude you and you will surely fight wars.

10 Asa was enraged by the seer’s vision. He imprisoned Hanani and cruelly oppressed some of his people.

11 The actions of Asa, from his birth to his death, are recorded in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the 39th year of his reign, Asa contracted a severe foot disease. Once again, he had the opportunity to look to the Eternal, but instead he relied on physicians.

What happens to Asa’s faith at the end of his life? As Hanani points out, Asa began his reign as a devoted follower of God who trusted Him in battles and worshiped Him in peace. But after neglecting to destroy the altars in the Northern Kingdom, Asa’s faith diminishes. He trusts foreign armies and human physicians over his own God, so he dies a painful death.

13 So Asa joined his ancestors in death three years later, in the 41st year of his reign. 14 The people buried him in his own tomb, which he had cut out for himself in the city of David, Jerusalem, and filled with spices prepared by a perfumer. Then the people built a large fire honoring him.

Footnotes:

  1. 14:2 Deuteronomy 7:5
  2. 14:9 May refer to Ethiopia in Africa or Cushan (a.k.a. Gerar) in southwest Judah.
  3. 14:10 Greek reads, “north of Mareshah.”
  4. 15:13 Deuteronomy 13:9
  5. 16:8 May refer to the people of Ethiopia in Africa or Cushan (a.k.a. Gerar) in southwest Judah.
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Romans 9:1-24

In all of Paul’s letters, there is no more triumphant note than in this declaration. He has reached the climax of what it means to live em powered by God’s Spirit. We are champions, one and all. We will taste victory and sweet success made possible by His love and gifts to us. We may fear the harsh judgment of the majority. We may bristle under the scowls of others. We may even be unsettled by thoughts of death, persecution, and dark spiritual powers. But Paul celebrates the absolute assurance that no one and nothing can come between us and the love of God.

Now let me speak the truth as plainly as I know it in the Anointed One. I am not lying when I say that my conscience and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to my state of constant grief. It may sound extreme; but I wish that I were lost, cursed, and totally separated from the Anointed—if that would change the eternal destination of my brothers and sisters, my flesh and countrymen. They are, after all, Israelites who have been adopted into God’s family; the glory, the covenants, the gift of the law, the temple service, and God’s promises are their rightful heritage. The patriarchs are theirs, too; and from their bloodline comes the Anointed One, the Liberating King, who reigns supreme over all things, God blessed forever. Amen.

The tone changes abruptly. One minute Paul is celebrating the power of Jesus’ love; the next he is grieving because they are not pressing their way into the Kingdom.

Clearly it is not that God’s word has failed. The truth is that not everyone descended from Israel is truly Israel. Just because people can claim Abraham as their father does not make them his true children. But in the Scriptures, it says, “Through Isaac your covenant children will be named.”[a] The proper interpretation is this: Abraham’s children by natural descent are not necessarily God’s covenant people; what matters is that His children receive and live the promise. For this is the word God promised: “In due time, I will come, and Sarah will give birth to a son.”[b] 10 But the story didn’t stop there. Remember when Rebekah conceived her twin boys by our father Isaac? 11-12 The twins were in Rebekah’s womb when God said to her, “The older will serve the younger.”[c] This was not based on merit or actions; the twins had not done anything to please or displease God. This was God’s call on each son and His desired purposes. 13 Just as the Scriptures say, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.”[d]

14 So how do we talk about that? Are God’s dealings unjust? Absolutely not! 15 Because He said to Moses, “I will show mercy to whomever I choose to show mercy, and I will demonstrate compassion on whomever I choose to have compassion.”[e] 16 The point is that God’s mercy has nothing to do with our will or the things we pursue. It is completely up to God. 17 The Scriptures even speak to the Pharaoh himself: “I have given you a position of power so that I might show My greater power through you and so that My name might be declared throughout every land upon the earth.”[f] 18 So when and where God decides to show mercy is completely up to Him. Likewise, when He chooses to harden one’s heart, how can we argue?

19 I can hear one of you asking, “Then how can He blame us if He is the one in complete control? How can we do anything He has not chosen for us?” 20 Here’s my answer: Who are you, a mere human, to argue with God? If God takes the time to shape us from the dust, is it right to point a finger at Him and ask, “Why have You made me this way?” 21 Doesn’t the potter have the right to shape the clay in any way he chooses? Can’t he make one lump into an elegant vase, and another into a common jug? Absolutely. 22 Even though God desires to demonstrate His anger and to reveal His power, He has shown tremendous restraint toward those vessels of wrath that are doomed to be cracked and shattered. 23 And why is that? To make the wealth of His glory known to vessels of mercy that are prepared for great beauty. 24 These vessels of mercy include all of us. God has invited Jews and non-Jews, insiders and outsiders; it makes no difference.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Psalm 19

Psalm 19

For the worship leader. A song of David.

The celestial realms announce God’s glory;
the skies testify of His hands’ great work.
Each day pours out more of their sayings;
each night, more to hear and more to learn.
Inaudible words are their manner of speech,
and silence, their means to convey.
Yet from here to the ends of the earth, their voices[a] have gone out;
the whole world can hear what they say.[b]

God stretched out in these heavens a tent for the sun,
And the sun is like a groom
who, after leaving his room, arrives at the wedding in splendor;
He is the strong runner
who, favored to win in his race, is eager to face his challenge.
He rises at one end of the skies
and runs in an arc overhead;
nothing can hide from his heat, from the swelter of his daily tread.

The Eternal’s law is perfect,
turning lives around.
His words are reliable and true,
instilling wisdom to open minds.
The Eternal’s directions are correct,
giving satisfaction to the heart.
God’s commandments are clear,
lending clarity to the eyes.
The awe of the Eternal is clean,
sustaining for all of eternity.
The Eternal’s decisions are sound;
they are right through and through.
10 They are worth more than gold—
even more than abundant, pure gold.
They are sweeter to the tongue than honey
or the drippings of the honeycomb.

11 In addition to all that has been said,
Your servant will find, hidden in Your commandments, both a strong warning
and a great reward for keeping them.
12 Who could possibly know all that he has done wrong?
Forgive my hidden and unknown faults.
13 As I am Your servant, protect me from my bent toward pride,
and keep sin from ruling my life.
If You do this, I will be without blame,
innocent of the great breach.

14 May the words that come out of my mouth and the musings of my heart
meet with Your gracious approval,
O Eternal, my Rock,
O Eternal, my Redeemer.

Footnotes:

  1. 19:4 Hebrew manuscripts read, “line.”
  2. 19:4 Romans 10:18
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Proverbs 20:1

20 Too much wine begins to mock you,
too much strong drink leads to noisy fights,
and whoever is misled by either is not wise.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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