I have this really theologically scientifically impressive way of deciding what book of the Bible to study. My doctoral husband would be so proud if he knew.
When I finish whatever book I was in, I pull out my daily, "My Utmost for His Highest" devotional by O. Chambers, and wherever the passage of that day comes from...yeah. That's the next book of the Bible I read.
And THAT is how since finishing Romans last week, I've been digging deep in, yep....2nd Chronicles.
I'm not gonna lie...I was NOT all that thrilled when II Chronicles came up. But now I am going to say something that would make Matt proud...
2 Chronicles is REALLY good. Like, genuinely speaking to my heart in powerful ways, good. Like, I'm almost finished with it because I can't put it down, good.
You don't believe me do you.
2 Chronicles is all about being STRONG and Courageous, all about having GREAT faith and determination...all about the LORD fighting for you, that you might only be still.
I don't know about you, but I've been needing some Strong and Courageous lately. Not like the slaying 300,000 Phillistines kind, necessarily...but...I'll take it!
King after king after king you read. Some were really really awful (like the dude who asked God for help in defeating the enemy, God miraculously totally wiped them out, and so he stepped over all their dead bodies, stole their false gods and starting worshiping them. seriously? and this other dude who "died in great pain when his bowels came out, and he departed with no one's regret").
Some were a bit wishy-washy, like the not so amazing Amaziah who "did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart."
The whole heart thing is very quickly revealed in 2 Chronicles as being INCREDIBLY important to our God, something I think I tend to forget.
A lot of people in 2 Chronicles learned their lessons, and a lot of people didn't. A lot of people settled ("The Lord has so much more to give you than this!" chapter 25 reminded me) and a lot of people overlooked, putting their trust in God but not removing the high places (centers for idol worship). God let a lot of them fall again and again, saying "maybe now they will learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms."
But best, there were a couple of people who put their trust fully in the Lord, turned their attention to seek Him, stepped out on crazy faith, and saw AWESOME things. "He walked in the way of his father Asa and did not depart from it, doing right in the sight of the LORD" chapter 20 says of Jehoshaphat.
One idea that repeats itself continually is the bold declaring of faith in God, and the courage that it took. Those who succeeded "took courage" a LOT back then, something I so often lack. Asa even removed his own idol-worshipping mother out of her position, cut down her "horrid image and burned it"! He betrayed his own mama, that he might not betray the Lord.
"Be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work" chapter 15 affirms.
I've been growing greatly through 2 Chronicles, but the two passages/ideas are sticking out to me the most tonight are both from 2 Chronicles 16.
Asa had all of Judah swear an oath with the sacrifice of 700 oxen (I mean, really think about that...) and 7000 sheep that they WOULD seek the Lord.
"All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So the Lord gave them rest on every side." (15:15).
How beautiful is that? Even reading the words "He gave them rest on every side" brings me rest. They promised. With their WHOLE hearts. They sought Him. EARNESTLY. And you know what?
He let them find Him.
He let mere men FIND Himself, men who had strayed again and again He let find our Great and Holy God.
And as they found Him, they found rest on every side...a big deal during an age marked with battle after battle.
Not a chapter later, I am touched again by the whole heart thing.
"Because you relied on the Lord, He delivered your enemy into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."
"What do you want, Lord?" I found myself asking Him not that long ago in regard to a rather large decision Matt and I are currently praying through.
As I've been waiting for a clear and detailed "do THIS" from the Lord, instead I've come back to this passage again and again as the response He's giving me.
You know what the Lord wants? Do you know what He is looking for? Moving for?
He is looking for a whole heart. A heart that is completely His. And He is looking to strongly support it.
Think about everything that you could possibly want or need in your life right now. Does having ANY of that sound better than being "strongly supported" by our God? Does having any of it sound better than finding the Lord, and being given His rest?
Any of it?
So this is what I'm learning in 2nd Chronicles.
We have a strong and mighty God, able to single-handedly defeat even the strongest every-single enemy. And He is looking to and fro for a whole heart for Himself.
Not only one that is not evil. But a heart that has taken down all the high places, that has removed every idol, that has severed every alliance, that has dedicated every portion and seeks fully and only to be faithful to God.
Even when it means being bold and brave, which, at least according to 2 Chronicles, will be required MUCH of the time.
We may not be at war with the surrounding tribes, fighting for the Promised Land that God has given us today.
But I promise, we are very much so at war, and I'm pretty sure you feel it.
And I promise that the very thing God was looking for then is the very thing He is looking for now...a brave heart that is wholly His, that He might strongly support it and be found, that He might give rest on every side.
He has promised to be found.
As His eyes are searching to and fro....will I?