Both Immovable And Flexible

The vision of Isaiah…in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (Isaiah 1:1). 

Israel (the 10 northern tribes) was in the final stages of collapse, with kings only serving short spans, idolatry running rampant, and enemies closing in on every side. Isaiah boldly proclaimed that Judah was on the same path unless she repented and turned wholly to God.

Isaiah had the same message for four kings:

  • Uzziah—who started off well, but fell away from God
  • Jotham—who faithfully served God
  • Ahaz—who never wanted to serve God
  • Hezekiah—who led a powerful revival in the return to worshiping God alone

Isaiah’s message never waivers. Through 66 chapters, 4 monarchs, and 60 years of ministry, Isaiah never compromises, waters down, nor alters the message God has given him.

But he does use different methods to deliver God’s consistent message—sometimes he thunders, sometimes he weeps, sometimes he uses illustrated messages, sometimes he speaks plainly, and sometimes he uses word pictures.

A mark of a godly leader is one who is both immovable and flexible.

Immovable on God’s principles; flexible on his delivery.

Can that be said of you and me?

This is part 21 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

Little Is Not Insignificant

gods-promise-to-youPastor Phillips Brooks visited Israel in the mid-1800s. While there he visited a small church just outside of Bethlehem. Listening to the worshipful songs being sung in that quiet countryside, he was inspired to pen the words to O Little Town Of Bethlehem.

Because of that quiet setting, notice how Rev. Brooks notices things we often miss—

  • little town on Bethlehem
  • in thy dark streets
  • while mortals sleep
  • no ear may hear His coming

But little does not mean insignificant. And just because we can’t see or hear something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or it isn’t important.

Sometimes we’ve looked and listened and waited and searched for so long that we have given up and we begin to drift off to sleep. We continue to live in our own “little town” surrounded by silence. And we are in danger of missing a miracle right in our midst!

We know today that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But did you know that this little town was still so obscure in Christ’s day that many people in Israel were unaware of what went on there? (See John 7:41-43). Even after King Herod had gruesomely killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem, scarcely anyone outside of that town knew about it or cared about it.

But God cared. And He knew exactly what He was doing.

But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son (Galatians 4:4)—the exact right moment—to be born in Bethlehem—the exact right place (Micah 5:2). Notice even Micah says of Bethlehem though you are small among the clans of Judah, giving birth to the title of Rev. Brooks’ poem.

How small was it? Look at the description of the territory for the tribe of Judah (in Joshua 15), and you can easily glossed over the names of all of the towns. But look more closely and you will see something you didn’t read in that list of towns. Take a close look at all 38 cities: it’s still missing.

There are a couple of very notable figures that dominate the Old and New Testaments, and they have something in common—King David and Jesus both come from the tribe of Judah. And both of them were born in Bethlehem. But in the list of towns in Judah’s territory, there is absolutely no mention of Bethlehem.

This town either didn’t exist, or it was so “insignificant” that Joshua didn’t even think to mention it. It would be almost another 500 years before David would be born in Bethlehem, and then another 900 years after that before Jesus would be born in this little town of Bethlehem.

God had in mind for the greatest earthly king in Israel’s history and the King of all kings to come from such humble origins… from a village that didn’t even make the list. Bethlehem was ready for these kings at just the right moment!

Jesus said heaven and earth will pass away, but His words will never pass away. What promise in His Word do you need to cling to? 

Just as those awaiting the Messiah clung to Micah’s promise until it came to pass, you must find God’s promise for you in His Word, cling to it, and don’t let go until it comes to pass in your little town.

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading from today…

I was totally blown away when I saw this morning that BibleGateway featured my chart The Kings & Prophets Of Judah & Israel!

[INFOGRAPHIC] 22 Surprising Facts About Sleep from the Cleveland Clinic. Here’s a great book resource: Sleep: It Does A Family Good.

Very powerful: An open letter to my friends struggling with eating disorders.

“In times of extraordinary crisis ordinary measures will not suffice. The world lives in such a time of crisis. Christians alone are in a position to rescue the perishing. We dare not settle down to try to live as if things were ‘normal.’ Nothing is normal while sin and lust and death roam the world, pouncing upon one and another till the whole population has been destroyed.” —A.W. Tozer

“I want you to know how to study theology in the right way. I have practiced this method myself. … The method of which I am speaking is the one which the holy king David teaches in Psalm 119. … Here you will find three rules. They are frequently proposed throughout the psalm and run thus: Oratio, meditatio, tentatio [prayer, meditation, trial]. …

“You should completely despair of your own sense and reason, for by these you will not attain the goal. … Rather kneel down in your private little room and with sincere humility and earnestness pray God through His dear son, graciously to grant you His Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide you and give you understanding. [Psalm 119:18, 27, 33, 34-37]. …

“Second, you should meditate. This means that not only in your heart but also externally you should constantly handle and compare, read and reread the Word as preached and the very words as written in Scripture, diligently noting and meditating on what the Holy Spirit means. … Therefore, you observe how in this psalm David always says that he will speak, think, talk, hear, read, day and night and constantly—but about nothing else than God’s Word and Commandments. For God wants to give you His Spirit only through the external Word. [119:11, 15, 48, 24, 47, 93, 97] …

“Third, there is the tentatio, the trial. This is the touchstone. It teaches you not only to know and understand, but also to experience how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how comforting God’s Word is: it is wisdom supreme. This is why you observe that, in the psalm indicated, David so often complains of all sorts of enemies. … For as soon as God’s Word becomes known through you, the devil will afflict you, will make a real [theologian] of you.” [119: 67-68, 71] —Martin Luther, on the 119th Psalm

Israel’s Kings & Prophets

click for larger view

click for larger view

click for larger view

I posted earlier that I am reading through my Archeological Study Bible in chronological order. In other words, I’m reading the books of the Bible not in the order they appear, but in order of the historic events they cover.

One challenging point in history is the divided kingdoms of Israel (the 10 northern tribes) and Judah (the 2 southern tribes). What makes it challenging when reading straight through the Bible is the history is covered in 1 and 2 Kings and then again in 1 and 2 Chronicles. In the midst of these kingdoms, several prophets are sent by God. Some of these prophets only have their words recorded in Kings or Chronicles, while others have their words recorded elsewhere in the Bible (usually the book name is the prophet’s name).

In trying to keep all of these people and messages clear in my mind, I have put together a list of all the kings and prophets during the period of the divided kingdom (roughly 931-586 BC).

You can click the picture above to get a larger view, or you can download a PDF copy by clicking here → Kings of Israel & Judah ←  **UPDATE: several people pointed out some tweaks I needed to make to this chart, and I am grateful for the input! This is the revised copy as of August 28, 2017.**  

**UPDATE #2: a few more tweaks … this is the revised version as of July 31, 2014.**

**UPDATE #3: I have posted a chart zooming in on the chronology of the Old Testament prophets which I recreated from the Archeological Study Bible. You can read it and download it by clicking here.**

A couple of notes:

  • Prophets who also have their words recorded in a book that bears their name are listed in bold italics.
  • The “start / finish” designation for each of the kings is clearly my subjective opinion.
  • Sometimes you will see dates for two kings’ reigns that overlap. These are where there was a co-regency (that is a father and son ruling simultaneously).
  • The prophets that are listed under the Israel side after Israel had gone into captivity are the prophets that God was using to speak to the Israelites in exile.
  • As always, I am grateful for the biblical resources at BibleGateway.com, which is also a great place to do your daily Bible reading.

**UPDATE #4: I continue to do more research and get feedback from people far wiser than me … the latest version is dated August 28, 2017.

I am not a biblical scholar, nor do I have a history degree. This is just a chart I put together to help me in my Bible reading, and I thought it might help someone else too. I would welcome any corrections or clarifications that anyone would offer on this humble work.

%d bloggers like this: