The Fate of the Wicked

Read 2 Chronicles 22:10-12; 23:1-21.

“All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword.” (2 Chronicles 23:21 NIV)

When Ahaziah died, his mother Athaliah made her move to consolidate power in herself. She had all the royal heirs killed – all except one: her grandson, Joash. She would have killed him too, undoubtedly, had not Joash’s aunt, Jehosheba (Ahaziah’s sister), hid him from her for six years.

In the seventh year there was a coup: Joash was made king and Athaliah was killed. Such was the fate of this wicked woman. Whether in terms of wicked counsel or murderous acts, she was indeed wicked. When she died the Bible says the city not only rejoiced, it also became calm and quiet, i.e., it finally had peace. What a terrible legacy! Instead of people mourning over her death as a great loss, they were quite happy to be rid of her.

A number of Scripture passages come to mind upon reading about Athaliah’s death: “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.” “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a person sows, that he shall also reap.” “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.” (Proverbs 11:10)

Lord, I realize from your Word not only how destructive wickedness is, but also how loathsome and reprehensible it is. May you eliminate all traces of it from my heart and mind. Cleanse me by your blood and make me holy. Amen.

A Mother's Influence

Read 2 Chronicles 22:1-9.

“He [Ahaziah] also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly.” (2 Chronicles 22:3)

One should not underestimate the impact of a mother’s influence upon her child. In Ahaziah’s case, from a young age he was trained in wickedness because “his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly.” As a result, he walked in the ways of the house of Ahab (Israel’s wicked king). They too were his counselors. It comes as no surprise, then, that he ended his life badly. An abundance of evil counselors made sure of that, beginning with his mother.

Happily, the Bible also provides a counter-example to Ahaziah’s mother in the person of Timothy’s mother, Eunice. Paul says of Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” (2 Timothy 1:5) The faithfulness of Eunice – and her mother’s before her – bore fruit in the life of her son Timothy: He became a stalwart soldier of Jesus Christ, a preacher of his gospel, and a shepherd of his flock.

Mothers, by your influence you are a force to reckon with – either for good or for ill. May your influence be for good!

Lord, bless our mothers who have committed themselves to training up their children in your ways. May their hearts rejoice when they see their efforts bear fruit. Amen.

Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

Nothing to Fear

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear . . .” (Psalm 46:1, 2a)

Fear has no sway over minds fixed on heaven.
Death has no say o’er the Children of Light.
The plague may reap souls by the hundreds or millions,
Still in his love we will safely abide.

The Author of Life who has given us breath
Will preserve the great gift he has graciously given.
His goodness and love are beyond any doubt
Even if the events are beyond comprehension.

So trust in the Lord and commit all to him.
His own children we are – we are precious to him.
And when this storm has passed and the sky once more clear,
We will see in the end there was nothing to fear.

Copyright 2020 Dennis M. Cortes

Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

On Plagues and Judgment

In my Bible reading during this time of quarantine, I’m taking note of the times when God judged his people by sending a plague among them.

For instance, we have the case of King Jehoram who walked in the wicked ways of the kings of Israel, who killed his brothers, and who led his people to spiritual harlotry. The Lord punished him in this way, “Behold, the Lord will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions,” (2 Chronicles 21:13 ESV).

Then we have the case of the Israelites in the wilderness: “But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them” (Psalm 106:13-15 ESV)

It may well be that the present calamity that has befallen the world is a form of global divine judgment. For people of faith who believe that God is sovereign, that nothing happens outside of his will, and that he has a purpose in everything, including judgment, this conclusion is not easy to dismiss.

In any event, now is as good a time as any to heed the words of 2 Chronicles 7:13, 14: “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”(NKJV)

Lord, forgive us our sins. Show us your mercy. Heal our land, heal our world! Amen.

Image Source: https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/07/coronavirus-epidemic-prediction-policy-advice-121172

One with Wuhan

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

The air has suddenly become deadly
and breathing more precious than ever.
Closeness has been suspended;
distancing is the norm.
The news is not uplifting;
fear is on the rise.
Businesses are closing;
people stay at home.
Churches do not gather;
preaching is done on-line.
Grocery shelves are empty;
panicking, we buy!
The future is uncertain:
Are we doomed to die?

When faced with our mortality,
our priorities go awry.
But he who sits upon the throne
dispenses justice on the earth.
He hears the cries of beasts and men,
and singles out Wuhan.

Now all the world must suffer.
The death of all, the sin of one.

Copyright 2020 Dennis M. Cortes

Image Source: http://www.wsj.com

Lord of Broken Hearts

Lord of broken hearts and healing balm,
press upon my heart your gentle palm.
Assuage the pain! My comforts wane!
When I am weak, your face I seek
though you are Spirit without form.
Lord, you are strong. Oh, quell the storm
that rages in my hapless breast
and grant to me, your troubled child, sweet rest!

Copyright 1998 Dennis M. Cortes

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Focus!

You can’t do everything:
Even flying fish don’t really fly.
Compared to soaring eagles,
it’s no contest.
Turtles weren’t made to race like hares
and men weren’t meant to hug like bears.
Focus like a rifle;
don’t scatter like a shotgun.
Ready, aim, fire;
not Ready, fire, aim!
Do one thing and do it well.

Copyright 2020 Dennis M. Cortes

Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

True Heroes

True heroes have hearts that bleed
for helpless arms that try to move
great, immovable, rocks.

Hopeless endeavors, prodigious
expenditures of vain strength, sweating
drops of blood; and yet
whistling they push. These
heroes with bleeding hearts
whistle while they push
with all their might against the rocks.

The rocks remain unmoved.

“At least we tried.” Are they,
then, heroes or plain fools?

Copyright 1998 Dennis M. Cortes