Saturday, May 20, 2017

Introduction to Chronicles Two (Shmoop.com)

If 1 Chronicles is the uplifting story of Israel's Golden Age, when King David ruled with justice and mercy, then 2 Chronicles is the hard right turn. Everything starts out just fine. David's son, Solomon, builds the Temple in Jerusalem and impresses everyone with his wealth and wisdom. But when Solomon dies, Israel's fortunes take a nosedive. For starters, the country breaks into two warring kingdoms. The new king of the unified kingdom, Rehoboam, isn't as politically savvy as his ancestor, David. Tired of Rehoboam's heavy-handed rule, the ten northern tribes break away and form their own kingdom. Both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel go through a series of kings that could best be described as a mixed bag—if by "mixed bag" we mean incompetent, murderous idolaters who'll kill their own grandchildren if that's what it takes to stay in power. It wasn't all bad news, though. "Jumpin'" King Jehoshaphat tries to get a peace treaty going with his friends in the north. King Hezekiah starts the tradition of celebrating Passover in Jerusalem. And King Josiah rediscovers the first five books of the Bible during his reign and realizes it would be a good idea to pay them some serious attention. But these few bright spots aren't enough to counteract the absolute corruption of the rest of the kings of Israel. Breaking divine law, killing off family members, worshipping goat-demons—there's all kinds of shocking stuff going down. Things get so bad that even though God has promised that David's descendants will always reign in Israel, he lets the Babylonian Empire invade and destroy Jerusalem, level the Temple, deport much of the population, and leave the rest to die in various horrible ways. Eventually, God lets the people return to Jerusalem to rebuild amid the rubble. But if you were feeling optimistic after 1 Chronicles, with the righteous King David having things well in hand, prepare to be discouraged.

Why Should I Care?

Why do bad things happen? The author of 2 Chronicles knows why, and there's no question about it. Bad things happen because people disobey God—it's as simple as that. Did your army just get demolished in battle? Better think twice about worshipping those goat gods. Got a case of leprosy? Just because you're the king doesn't mean you're allowed in the Temple doing jobs reserved for the priests. It couldn't be more clear: if you want health, wealth, victory, and military success, you need to do what Yahweh asks. He might be forgiving if you're truly sorry, but otherwise it's just basic math: disobedience = disaster. Don't you wish it were all that simple? We all know that plenty of bad things definitely happen to very good people. Maybe you have a friend who's kind and generous and dying from a horrible disease. Or a fun, supportive cousin who was killed by a drunk driver. Maybe one of your parents can't find a job despite being hardworking and smart. Maybe your sweet little sister gets chosen as the tribute from Region 12. Natural disasters sure don't make distinctions between good and bad people when they happen. It all seems so unfair, and it's understandable to want explanations. And there are plenty of explanations. You've heard them all—God's will, things happen for a reason, things happen for no reason, we don't have all the information, they must have deserved it, bad genes, bad luck, bad parents. We all want to figure it out so we can prevent this stuff from happening to us. But apart from not doing dumb, avoidable things that put us at risk for accidents or illness or failure, bad things can happen anyway. And as long as they do, people will wonder why. Chronicles is one answer to this huge question, but you'll have to find your own. And while you're looking, don't text and drive, m'kay?

SATURDAY May 20
ARMED FORCES DAY

2 Chronicles, Chapter 14, Verse 13
Then the Judahites conquered all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the LORD was upon them; they plundered all the cities, for there was much plunder in them.

Argh sounds like pirates to me. It does not sound very good to us but we must remember that the only law was “might make’s right”. The truth is that most people were murdering; thieving pirates. What is new is that Israel had a law that was given them by the creator; however loosely they followed it. Israel begins to understand that if you seek the Lord; you will find the Lord; if you forsake the Lord; the Lord will forsake you.

Judah’s King Asa Wins Big[1]

·         When Abijah dies, his son Asa takes over the Kingdom of Judah.
·         Asa keeps Judah on the right path. He gets rid of all references to foreign gods and encourages the people to follow God's law.
·         He also builds up Judah's defenses and army in various cities. Even though there aren't any wars for 10 years, this is a smart move because eventually the Ethiopians attack Judah.
·         Zerah the Ethiopian comes at them with a million soldiers. You read that right. Judah has about 300,000.
·         Totally outnumbered, Asa leads the army into battle and does pretty much the only thing he can do right then—he prays. God helps the strong and the weak. And boy, is Judah weak right now.
·         The Almighty hears the king's panicked cries and responds with a sweeping victory. Not only do they drive back the million-man army, Judah manages to kill every last one. No exaggeration whatsoever there.
·         The warriors in Judah are able to get all kinds of booty from the Ethiopians, so it's a pretty big win for them.

Armed Forces Day[2]

Armed Forces Day is a day to recognize members of the Armed Forces that are currently serving. In 1947, the Armed Forces of the US were united under one department which was renamed the Department of Defense. In 1949, President Harry S. Truman supported the creation of a day for the nation to unite in support and recognition or our military members and their families. On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced that Armed Forces Day would take the place of other individual branch celebrations, and all branches of the military would be honored this single day.  Armed Forces Day takes place on the third Saturday in May.

Armed Forces Day Facts & Quotes
  • According to the US Dept. of Defense, as of 2013, there are 1,387,493 personnel serving in active duty in the United States; 1,259,000 are serving in the different reserve branches.
  • As of September 2011, there were just over 214,000 women serving in active duty.  That is 14.6% of all active duty personnel.
One of the best ways to keep peace is to be prepared for war. - General George Washington

Armed Forces Day Top Events and Things to Do
  • Attend a parade or a military air show.
  • Send a care package to military personnel stationed overseas. Free flat-rate boxes are available at USPS. Use these to mail to military bases for a low cost.
  • Fly the American Flag.
  • Visit a local Veteran's Hospital or Nursing Home to show your gratitude.
  • Honor Military Working Dogs by donating to the ASPCA or other charitable organizations that protect and serve these heroic animals.

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