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First Reading: 2 Chronicles Chapter 17 and 18
2 Chronicles 17
17:1 Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king and strengthened himself against
Israel. 2 He stationed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah and put garrisons
in Judah and in the towns of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured.
3 The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals 4 but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. 5 The LORD established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. 6 His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.
7 In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah to teach in the towns of Judah. 8 With them were certain Levites-Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tob-Adonijah-and the priests Elishama and Jehoram. 9 They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the LORD; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.
10 The fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not make war with Jehoshaphat. 11 Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks: seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred goats.
12 Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful; he built forts and store cities in Judah 13 and had large supplies in the towns of Judah. He also kept experienced fighting men in Jerusalem. 14 Their enrollment by families was as follows:
From Judah, commanders of units of 1,000: Adnah the commander, with 300,000 fighting men; 15 next, Jehohanan the commander, with 280,000; 16 next, Amasiah son of Zicri, who volunteered himself for the service of the LORD, with 200,000.
17 From Benjamin: Eliada, a valiant soldier, with 200,000 men armed with bows and shields; 18 next, Jehozabad, with 180,000 men armed for battle.
19 These were the men who served the king, besides those he stationed in the fortified cities throughout Judah.
2 Chronicles 18
18:1 Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with
Ahab by marriage. 2 Some years later he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria.
Ahab slaughtered many sheep and cattle for him and the people with him and urged
him to attack Ramoth Gilead. 3 Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of
Judah, "Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?"
Jehoshaphat replied, "I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war." 4 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, "First seek the counsel of the LORD."
5 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets-four hundred men-and asked them, "Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?"
"Go," they answered, "for God will give it into the king's hand."
6 But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?"
7 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah."
"The king should not say that," Jehoshaphat replied.
8 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, "Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once."
9 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance to the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. 10 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns, and he declared, "This is what the LORD says: 'With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.'"
11 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. "Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious," they said, "for the LORD will give it into the king's hand."
12 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, "Look, as one man the other prophets are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably."
13 But Micaiah said, "As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says."
14 When he arrived, the king asked him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?"
"Attack and be victorious," he answered, "for they will be given into your hand."
15 The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?"
16 Then Micaiah answered, "I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, 'These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.'"
17 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Didn't I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?"
18 Micaiah continued, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing on his right and on his left. 19 And the LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?'
"One suggested this, and another that. 20 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.'
"'By what means?' the LORD asked.
21 "'I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said.
"'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.'
22 "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you."
23 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. "Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?" he asked.
24 Micaiah replied, "You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room."
25 The king of Israel then ordered, "Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king's son, 26 and say, 'This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.'"
27 Micaiah declared, "If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me." Then he added, "Mark my words, all you people!"
28 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes." So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.
30 Now the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders, "Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel." 31 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, "This is the king of Israel." So they turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him. God drew them away from him, 32 for when the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel, they stopped pursuing him.
33 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told the chariot driver, "Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I've been wounded." 34 All day long the battle raged, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Arameans until evening. Then at sunset he died.
4:1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us
be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also
have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard
was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
"So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'"
And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." 5 And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."
6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 7 Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:
"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
CRITICS OF THE BIBLE
Part 2 of 8
We cannot be students of the Bible without recognizing the fact that such a book, one which claims Divine inspiration, is continually being attacked by critics who doubt its claims. We acknowledge this. Though the scope of this writing is not aimed at proving the critics wrong, a few of the most often cited criticisms of the Bible are cited with sources to investigate for answers.
Some common Bible criticisms are:
What are the sources of answers to this criticism?
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