The 365 Day Devotional Commentary



Reading 95

THE EXILES RETURN Ezra 1–6“Everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:5).The enthusiasm of those who returned to Judah was tested by hardship and by opposition from local peoples. Despite a long delay, the Jerusalem temple was rebuilt and God was again worshiped at the site He had chosen.



This time line relates events reported in Ezra with other postexilic events.

Decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1–4)538B.C
The first return (Ezra 1:5–2:70)539B.C
Temple construction begins536B.C
Opposition & Delay
Ministry of Haggai520B.C
Ministry of Zechariah520B.C
Temple completed515B.C
Events of Esther483–473B.C?
Decree of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:11ff)458B.C
Return under Ezra458B.C
Decree of Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:17ff)446B.C
Decree of Artaxerxes (Neh. 2:1–8)444B.C


A decree of Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the Jerusalem temple (1:1–11). Ezra listed the returning families (2:1–70). They rebuilt the altar (3:1–6) and laid the temple foundation (vv. 7–13). Ezra quoted letters documenting opposition to the Jews (4:1–5:17) and the decree of Darius authorizing the temple completion (6:1–12). The task was completed (vv. 13–18) and Passover celebrated once again (vv. 19–22).

Understanding the Text

“In order to fulfill the word of the Lord” Ezra 1:1–4. Jeremiah had predicted the Captivity would last 70 years (Jer. 25:11–12; 29:10). Isaiah, writing in the time of Hezekiah, had named Cyrus as the ruler who would fulfill God’s will (Isa. 45:1–5). The very year this Persian conqueror supplanted the Babylonian kings, he did issue a decree permitting the Jews to return home. The decree also authorized reconstruction of the Jerusalem temple! Josephus says that Cyrus read Isaiah’s prediction and was moved to fulfill it. It’s more likely this decree was one of many similar orders issued by Cyrus, who reversed the Babylonian policy of deportation, and permitted all captive peoples to return home. The prophecy of Isaiah, and the action of Cyrus, remind us that God is sovereign. He controls the fate of nations, and all history moves toward ends which He alone has determined. The One we worship truly is God. “Everyone whose heart God moved” Ezra 1:5–2:70. While some 50,000 Jews turned their hearts toward home, many more thousands chose to remain in Babylon. The Captivity had not been harsh: recovered records show that Jews, who were settled in an attractive district by the Kebar canal, were successfully involved in trade and business in the enemy capital. Why go back to face hardship, when life was easy in Babylon? Only those whom God moved to complete commitment would make the difficult choice. Those who stayed were comfortable. But they missed out on so much. The names of the returnees are enshrined in Scripture. And only those who returned witnessed the restoration of God’s temple and worshiped there. How important to keep our hearts open to the Lord, so that if He calls us to a special place of service we will be willing to respond. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord” Ezra 3:1–13. Those who returned to Judah found a desolate land. Thorns and thistles choked once-fertile fields, while Jerusalem was a heap of ruins. How hearts must have fallen as the enormity of the task before the returnees was driven home. Yet as soon as the people settled in their towns, they reassembled at Jerusalem. There they rebuilt the altar, roughed out the foundations for the new temple, and praised God. The greater our difficulties, the more important it is to put God first. When we do we, like those in ancient Judea, find our hearts also filled with joy and praise. “The enemies of Judah” Ezra 4:1–5:17. Judah was a tiny area within a larger administrative district of the Persian Empire. Neighbors in what had once been Israel at first offered to help build the temple. The offer was rejected: they were not members of the covenant people descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The rebuff hardened local antagonism, which developed into active opposition. This opposition, with the difficulty faced by the returnees in scratching a living from ruined fields, halted construction of the temple. The letters in these chapters are written in Aramaic, the diplomatic language of that age, rather than in Hebrew. Ezra clearly quotes material available to him in the Jerusalem archives. Note too that the letters do not all date from the early return. What Ezra has done is to draw evidence from material written over a span of many years to document the fact that God’s people faced serious opposition. We too can expect opposition at times. Hostility from outsiders is no sign that God has abandoned us, but may in fact suggest that we are doing exactly what God wants! “A decree concerning the temple of God” Ezra 6:1–12. In the end King Darius confirmed the order of his predecessor, Cyrus. Not only was the temple to be rebuilt, but the very officials who had opposed it were ordered to pay all construction expenses from the royal treasury! The God of the Old Testament truly is sovereign. Men may plot against His people, but God’s plans will be carried out. “Then the people of Israel . . . celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy” Ezra 6:13–22. There had been years of struggle and discouragement. But at last the temple was finished. By showing his ability to “change the attitude” of the ruler of the empire that supplanted ancient Assyria, God had “filled them with joy.” God is still at work, even in the lives of our enemies. The wait may be long, but God can still change attitudes, and fill us with joy too.


Where Will the Money Come From? (Ezra 6)

I suppose it’s one of our most common worries. We need to build an addition on the church. But where will the money come from? I’d like to go to seminary. But where will the money come from? I wish I could help that missionary. But where will the money come from? I feel God wants me to go into nursing. But where will the money come from? The same question was surely asked in ancient Judah as the people considered finishing the temple. The Prophet Haggai described the desperate conditions of that time: “You have planted much, but have harvested little. . . . You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it” (Hag. 1:5–6). How could a destitute people, struggling to make ends meet, ever raise the funds necessary to complete God’s temple? In his message urging Judah to give priority to God’s temple, the prophet makes this statement. “ ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,‘ declares the Lord Almighty” (2:8). How the people of Judah must have struggled. They were convinced they must complete the temple. But where would the money come from? And then the decree of Darius, in response to the challenge raised by Judah’s enemies, arrived. There, with the permission to rebuild, were the words, “The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury” (Ezra 6:4). The endless wealth of one of the world’s mightiest empires was suddenly made available to God’s poverty-stricken people. The incident teaches us an important lesson. “Where will the money come from?” is an important question. But not knowing should never deter us from acting if we are sure of God’s will. The message from God that Haggai shared so long ago is still true. The silver is the Lord’s. And the gold is the Lord’s. When we commit ourselves to do His will, the Lord will provide.

Personal Application

Lack of funds cannot keep us from doing God’s will.


“In building, we need not act as the people of the world do. They first procure the money and then begin to build, but we must do just the opposite. We will begin to build and then expect to receive what is necessary from Divine Providence. The Lord God will not be outdone in generosity.”—Alphonsus Liguori

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary



During the 70 years of Exile most of the Jews settled into a comfortable life in Babylon and other Eastern cities. Then in 539 B.C. Cyrus the Persian issued a decree permitting any Jew to return to his ancient homeland, to rebuild the temple of the Lord. Only a few responded. This enthusiastic group of settlers laid the temple foundation, but local enemies delayed its completion for 18 years. The first six chapters of Ezra tell the story of these pioneers and their struggle to finish the temple of the Lord. In 458 B.C. another group of exiles, led by Ezra the priest, returned to Jerusalem. Ezra was a reformer, who taught God’s Law in Judea and called God’s people to rededicate their lives to the Lord. This book, written by Ezra, tells the story of these two groups of exiles who resettled the Promised Land.


I.The Exiles ReturnEzra 1–2
II.The Temple Is RebuiltEzra 3–6
III.Ezra Teaches God’s LawEzra 7–10

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 94

JUDAH’S LAST YEARS 2 Chronicles 33–36

“The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention” (2 Chron. 33:10).After Hezekiah, Judah fell into a sharp spiritual decline that sealed the Southern Kingdom’s destiny. Despite a brief and superficial revival under Josiah, the nation rushed to judgment.


Manasseh plunged Judah into a half-century of apostasy (33:1–11). Manasseh’s late conversion could not reverse the spiritual trend to evil (vv. 12–20), nor could the efforts of Josiah (34:1–35:27). Judah’s last four kings merit only brief mention (36:1–14). Jerusalem fell, the people were exiled, but after 70 years a remnant returned to Judah to rebuild the temple (vv. 15–23). The Topheth at Carthage. The remains of thousands of children burned as sacrifices have been found just outside ancient Carthage. The ashes, in votive jars, confirm the Bible’s affirmation that pagans—and some kings of Israel and Judah!-did engage in the gruesome practice of child sacrifice.

Understanding the Text

“He did evil in the eyes of the Lord” 2 Chron. 33:1–10. Manasseh’s 55 years were the darkest in Judah’s spiritual history. He shut down the temple, except to use its courts for pagan worship centers, turned to the occult for guidance, and even used his own sons as burnt offerings. “In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God” 2 Chron. 33:11–20. Manasseh was taken captive to Babylon, then a major city in the Assyrian Empire. There he had a conversion experience. Manasseh returned home eager to restore worship of the Lord to Judah. Manasseh’s experience foreshadowed that of Judah itself. Perhaps the author of Chronicles wants us to recognize the parallel. Babylonian Captivity, for Judah as for Manasseh, was intended by God for good. We too need to understand that our times of distress are not punishment but discipline. God permits them, and intends to do us good through them. Manasseh’s efforts to bring about spiritual renewal in Judah were too little too late. He was unable to undo the harm his rule had done to God’s people. What a reason for turning to God early in our lives. Why wait to turn to God, and risk doing irreparable harm to those we love? “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord” 2 Chron. 34:1–28. Josiah, Judah’s last godly king, ordered the temple repaired and cleansed. The workmen found the Book of the Law, possibly Deuteronomy, or perhaps the entire Pentateuch. It is not surprising the Law was lost: Manasseh’s early hostility toward God undoubtedly was expressed by efforts to destroy Scripture. When Josiah discovered just what God required of His people, and compared the life now lived in Judah, he was shocked. Judah was undoubtedly guilty and merited the just punishments detailed in that book. Josiah’s own immediate and humble response was honored by the Lord. The curses announced would not strike Judah during Josiah’s lifetime; for that brief period Judah would still know peace (shalom, “well-being”). One godly person, who truly repents and seeks God, can affect the fate of an entire generation. “He had everyone . . . pledge themselves” 2 Chron. 34:29–33. Josiah assembled all his people to hear the Word of God. Josiah then “had everyone” pledge to keep the Word. There is a vital distinction here. Josiah was eager to obey God. The text suggests that his spontaneous response was not mimicked by the people in general. Instead they obeyed the Word because the king “had” them do so. Note that it was only as long as Josiah lived that Judah followed the Lord (v. 33). The revival that took place in the heart of Josiah never reached the hearts of his people. We can infect others with love for God. But we cannot command it. “Josiah celebrated the Passover” 2 Chron. 35:1–19. Josiah’s spectacular celebration of Passover expressed his own love for God (cf. v. 7). Some of his officials were also touched and “contributed voluntarily” to supply sacrificial animals. Even when our love for God is unable to infect multitudes, some individuals will be touched, and will respond. The emphasis on the worship seen here, as in stories of other godly kings, again reminds us that spiritual vitality calls for knowing, loving, and worshiping the Lord. “He died. He was buried in the tombs of his fathers” 2 Chron. 35:20–27. Some have ridiculed the earlier prediction that Josiah would be “buried in peace” (34:28). How can this be reconciled with Josiah’s death in battle? Very simply. During his entire reign Josiah and his kingdom knew God’s blessing. Only after Josiah’s burial would the blessing of peace be removed. Yet there is another implication here. Death is not the end of blessing for the believer. It is the beginning of blessings beyond our power to imagine. In death as in life, Josiah found peace through personal relationship with God. “He did evil” 2 Chron. 36:1–15. The last kings of Judah, with “all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful” to the Lord (v. 14). These people knew no peace, but only a terror and uncertainty that culminated in the fall of Jerusalem, and the survivors’ exile to Babylon. “He has appointed me to build a temple” 2 Chron. 36:15–23. The author of Chronicles, writing after the exiles’ return, continued to emphasize worship. God did not forsake His people, but brought them back. And the focus of the decree which freed them was again the temple, which God moved Cyrus, the ruler of Persia, to order rebuilt. The promises given to David had not yet been fulfilled. But if God’s people, who were called by His name, remained faithful in worship, the promised Messiah would surely come.


Beyond Redemption? (2 Chron. 33)

Everyone who followed the Ted Bundy case, or has read news stories on other serial killers, would be both repelled and fascinated by Manasseh. The text describes him as “despicable.” His reported acts suggest he was far worse than that! Spiritually Manasseh was cold and hardened. The Lord spoke to him, but Manasseh “paid no attention.” Emotionally he was hardened. He could burn children alive without feeling any remorse. Then came a distressful period of imprisonment in Babylon. And in his distress Manasseh sought “the Lord his God.” That simple phrase reminds us of a most wonderful truth. The Lord is the God of all humanity—of the righteous and even of the wicked. Manasseh, certainly one of the most wicked men who ever lived, turned to God and God, in truly amazing grace, chose to be “his God.” What a lesson to remember when we come in contact with the hardened, the wicked, and the evil. Our God is their God too! If they will only turn to Him, God will be their God. He will forgive them for Jesus’ sake. And, as He did with Manasseh, He will transform their lives.

Personal Application

Like godly Josiah, wicked Manasseh sought the Lord with tears. God has made His choice: He is the God of Josiah and the God of Manasseh as well.


“Some leaders say we are in a great revival right now. If we are. . . . I ask where are the tears? What’s happening to the intense spirit of conviction that always marks such things? Why are the converts coming in trickles instead of waves upon waves? . . . We are not in revival, although we may be closer to its possibility than we realize.”—David Mains

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 93


“In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them” (2 Chron. 29:3).There is nothing as revitalizing for the believer as heartfelt worship of the Lord.


During Hezekiah’s reign the Assyrians crushed the Hebrew kingdom of Israel and deported its citizens. Sennacherib then invaded Judah, expecting to do the same. Divine intervention alone saved the Southern Kingdom, and Judah remained an independent nation for another 136 years. In telling the story of these pivotal years in Judah’s history, the author of 2 Chronicles emphasizes Hezekiah’s concern for the worship of God, indicated by the attention he gave to the temple and to the Passover. The author’s point is that the person or people who truly worship God find their faith renewed, and that God responds to a renewed faith by acting on behalf of His worshipers.


Hezekiah’s emphasis of worship is seen in his rededication of the temple (29:1–36), his celebration of Passover (30:1–27), and reorganization of the priests and Levites who served God (31:1–21). The king’s trust in God was rewarded as the Lord threw back Sennacherib’s invading force (32:1–23). Later Hezekiah became proud, but repented and was restored (vv. 24–33).

Understanding the Text

“Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord” 2 Chron. 29:1–11. Hezekiah was stimulated to restore the worship of the Lord to Judah by the realization that his nation’s past troubles had come when his people turned their backs on God. Judah’s only hope was to return to God in full commitment. This the king was determined to do personally and nationally. The leader who wants to influence others must first be fully committed himself. “The whole assembly bowed in worship” 2 Chron. 29:12–36. Hezekiah immediately set the priests and Levites to work purifying the temple and themselves. When this was done, “early the next morning” the king gathered his officials and went up to the temple to worship. Hezekiah’s action clearly demonstrated that worship was his first priority as king. The immediate impact of this emphasis was internal. Those who worshiped found themselves singing praises “with gladness” and willingly bringing “sacrifices and thank offerings.” Worship remains the key to joy for the believer. And worship remains the key to spontaneous giving. A modern church which neglects worship will not touch the hearts of its members or overcome contemporary materialism. “Come to . . . Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover” 2 Chron. 30:1–31:21. Hezekiah invited believers in hostile Israel to celebrate Passover with his own people. The invitation was accepted by many, who joined in the joyful worship. The result is striking. The text tells us that after participating in the worship experience, the Israelites who were there went through the countryside destroying the pagan worship centers and altars in Judah and in their own tribal lands. Worship still stimulates commitment. If we need encouragement to remain fully committed to God in our daily lives, we can find that encouragement in worshiping God with others. It’s one thing to share a spontaneous worship experience. It’s another to maintain the spirit of worship. Hezekiah carefully organized the priests and Levites who were responsible for temple worship. You and I need to be as disciplined. We need to set aside daily time for worship as well as to meet with others in a church that makes worship a priority. If we do attend to worship, Scripture’s commendation of Hezekiah will surely apply to us as well: “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the Law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” “Hezekiah . . . cried out in prayer” 2 Chron. 32:1–23. Worship deepens our awareness of who God is, and thus strengthens our trust in Him. When Judah was invaded by the Assyrians and Jerusalem was threatened, Hezekiah turned immediately to the Lord. And God answered. The most important thing we can do to enrich our prayer lives and deepen our trust in God is to worship Him. When worship is a vital part of our relationship with the Lord, we too have great confidence in prayer when troubles come. “Hezekiah’s heart was proud” 2 Chron. 32:24–33. The author concluded with an account of Hezekiah’s pride and repentance. Not even an enriched worship life will keep us sinless. We human beings are always vulnerable to our sinful natures. Yet the text reminds us that “Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem.” The closer our relationship with the Lord, the more responsive we will be to His rebuke.


Kneel Down and Worship (2 Chron. 29)

The Hebrew words usually translated worship mean “to bow down” or “to prostrate oneself out of respect.” The underlying thought is that of showing reverence; of a growing awareness of who God is, and the expression of our awe and our praise. David Mains views worship as “praising God for who He by nature is.” That is, in worship we show our respect and appreciation by focusing our attention on one of His revealed attributes, and by thanking and praising Him for being this kind of Person. This is the significance of the worship-based revival that Hezekiah led. Yes, that worship followed the ritual patterns that were established in Moses’ Law. But we need only read the text to realize that Hezekiah’s worship revival was a matter of the heart. Ritual served simply as a mode of expression. For this worship, Hezekiah purified and consecrated himself, for God is holy (vv. 18–19). For this worship, Hezekiah appointed a multitude of sacrifices, for God deserves our best (29:20–24). For this worship, singers sang and trumpeters played, for God is the source of joy, and worship is to be joyful (vv. 25–28). For this worship, Hezekiah and others brought rich gifts, for God has given us rich gifts, and we are privileged to return to Him some of what He gives (29:29–31). And in this worship, Hezekiah and all Judah found a source of joy. Whatever ways of worship we have today, if our worship is preceded by consecration, expressed joyfully and accompanied by gifts of our best, that worship will bring us joy and will deepen our trust in the Lord.

Personal Application

What place does worship have in your life and in your church?


The Seven Modern Sins Politics without principles. Pleasures without conscience. Wealth without work. Knowledge without character. Industry without morality. Science without humanity. Worship without sacrifice.-Canon Frederic Donaldson

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 92

JEHORAM TO HEZEKIAH 2 Chronicles 21–28

“Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to Him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen” (2 Chron. 24:19).The text of Chronicles highlights the righteous acts of Judah’s kings. Yet it’s clear that the spiritual condition of Judah after the time of Asa and Jehoshaphat did deteriorate. The flaws in Judah’s kings serve as warnings for you and me.


The focus on Judah’s kings continues, with reviews of the reigns of a series of morally and politically weak rulers: Jehoram (21:4–20), Ahaziah (22:1–9), Athaliah (v. 10–23:10), Joash (v. 11–24:27), Amaziah (25:1–28), Uzziah (26:1–23), Jotham (27:1–9), and Ahaz (28:1–27).

Understanding the Text

“He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel” 2 Chron. 21:1–20. Earlier kings showed that seeking and serving God was the path to national and personal blessing. Jehoram, who murdered his brothers and chose idols over the Lord, shows us that forsaking God leads to disaster. Though warned by the Prophet Elijah, Jehoram gave no thought to repentance. The resulting national disaster saw the rebellion of subject nations (vv. 8–10) and attacks by other hostile peoples (vv. 16–17). Jehoram himself died in agony of an “uncurable disease of the bowels” (vv. 18–19). “His mother encouraged him in doing wrong” 2 Chron. 22:1–9. One source of Jehoram’s evil was his marriage to Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel who was as committed to evil as her wicked mother. Athaliah dominated her 22-year-old son, who ruled only one year before being killed by Jehu, who exterminated the family of Ahab in Israel. Ahaziah’s short life was so evil that he was accorded burial only because he was a descendant of godly Jehoshaphat, who was was still remembered with affection in Judah. When we have parents and grandparents who set different courses in life, we can choose which example to follow. Ahaziah chose to be influenced by his mother. He did not have to choose her pathway. “She proceeded to destroy the whole royal family” 2 Chron. 22:10–12. With her son dead, Athaliah decided to take the throne for herself. This broke tradition, but Athaliah was a determined as well as an evil woman. She killed all members of the royal family (except for a baby who was rescued and hidden away), and with no rival left, claimed royal power for herself. She held that power for some seven years, until the hidden child was revealed and crowned. Then she was killed by her own palace guards at the command of the high priest, Jehoiada. Athaliah must have been an exceptional and forceful woman to have held the throne against all precedent. Yet how insecure any power gained and exercised by the wicked. “Jehoiada the priest” 2 Chron. 23:1–21. The high priest, aware that God had promised to provide rulers for Judah from David’s family line, protected the hidden prince, Joash. He also organized a rebellion against Athaliah. It is significant that his uprising included all the priests and all the Levites as well as all off-duty palace guards. Yet not one betrayed the conspiracy to Athaliah! Athaliah undoubtedly reigned by terror and murder. The leader who sets himself or herself up as the enemy of his or her people creates a fear and hostility that ultimately leads to an uprising in self-defense. “After the death of Jehoiada. . . . they abandoned the temple of the Lord” 2 Chron. 24:1–27. Joash served God only as long as Jehoiada lived. The influence of this high priest is seen in that he chose wives for the king, the traditional role of a parent (vv. 2–3), and in the concern shown in Joash’s early years for the temple. But when the positive influence of Jehoiada was withdrawn, Joash’s personal character was revealed. We can judge a person’s character only after he or she has matured and begins to make his or her own choices. The choices Joash made led to disaster for him and defeat for his nation. “But not wholeheartedly” 2 Chron. 25:1–26. The next king, Amaziah, did choose the Lord, but failed to follow Him wholeheartedly. His reliance on God was shown by dismissing a hundred thousand hired Israelite mercenaries when told to do so by a prophet. Because of his obedience, Judah won a great victory. But Amaziah inexplicably began to worship the gods of the nation he had defeated! Despite another prophet’s warning, Amaziah went to war with Israel and suffered defeat. Amaziah was taken and apparently kept captive in Israel. He was returned, possibly to create internal problems, as his son had been crowned king of Judah while he was captive. In the political infighting that followed Amaziah was forced to flee to Lachish, where he was killed. A brief, early flare of faith is no substitute for lifelong commitment. Our only protection from potential disaster is consistent, daily commitment to the Lord. “As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success” 2 Chron. 26:1–23. Uzziah, who is also called Azariah, is yet another example of a king who was successful only as long as he remained committed to the Lord. He was a vigorous and active person who restored Judah to power (vv. 6–15), but when powerful was “unfaithful” to the Lord. Uzziah’s contempt for the Lord is shown by his violation of laws governing temple ritual. The king was stricken with leprosy while in the temple, and lived in isolation the rest of his life (vv. 16–21), while royal business was conducted by his son, Jotham (v. 21). “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God” 2 Chron. 27:1–9. Jotham’s 16-year reign was a time of blessing, marked by dominance over nearby nations. While the Lord blessed the nation on account of Jotham, “the people . . . continued their corrupt practices.” True revival must touch the people of God as well as leaders. “He . . . made cast idols for worshiping the Baals” 2 Chron. 28:1–27. The catalog of the sins of Ahaz is truly terrible, including the fiery sacrifice of his own sons. National disasters followed, as Judah was successfully invaded by the Syrians and the Israelites. Only intervention by the Prophet Oded kept the Israelites from taking thousands of the people of Judah to Israel as slaves. These defeats did not turn Ahaz to God, but rather led him to beg Assyria for help against Syria and the Philistines. The Assyrians were only too happy for an excuse to expand westward—a movement which “gave [Ahaz] trouble instead of help.” The text says that “in his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord.” How true this always is. Under the pressure of troubles, human beings tend to reveal what is in their hearts. The believer is drawn closer to the Lord. The unbeliever turns against him in anger and frustration (see vv. 24–25).


Borrowed Faith (2 Chron. 23–24)

I was brought up in a Christian home, rich in love and acceptance. I went to church, lived a moral life, and believed in Jesus. It wasn’t hard to do. After all, I was surrounded by people who believed; people who in simple, quiet ways, lived their faith. Yet after two years in the Navy I realized that I had to make personal decisions of my own. Influenced by the teaching of Donald Grey Barnhouse, I began to study my Bible. I started and led a noon Bible study on my base. And I became active in a nearby local church. I realized that at home I’d been living on borrowed faith. Out on my own, I learned that I had to develop and nurture a faith of my own. This is a lesson that the life of Joash teaches as well. Joash was a good and godly king—as long as he was surrounded by people who believed, like the priest Jehoiada who raised him. It wasn’t hard for him to live a good life, or even to “believe.” But when Jehoiada died, Joash found that a borrowed faith is never enough. When Joash began to make decisions on his own, he made wrong ones. He abandoned the temple of the Lord and worshiped idols. He and his people refused to listen to the prophets who warned them. Joash even killed the son of the man who had raised him, when that son confronted him concerning his sins. Ultimately, because king and people had forsaken the Lord, disaster came. Joash, who chose evil, was killed in his bed by officials who conspired against him. The story of Joash underlines two important truths. First, we can’t tell from a child or young person’s early life what his future will hold. So, while we can rejoice in signs of early spiritual growth, we can’t afford to become complacent. We need to keep on praying for our children, that as they mature they will develop their own personal and growing faith in God. Second, we need to examine our own lives, to make sure we’re not living on borrowed faith. For faith to be real, you and I need to take responsibility for our own choices—and to make sure that our choices are guided by a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord.

Personal Application

How do your daily choices reflect your own personal commitment to God?


Think not that faith by which the just shall live Is a dead creed, a map correct of heaven, Far less a feeling fond and fugitive, A thoughtless gift withdrawn as soon as given: It is an affirmation and an act That bids eternal truth be present fact.-Hartley Coleridge

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