Today in a sermon I heard about a certain King Of Judah known as King Ahaz, he is the 14 King of Judah (counting form King David). And He reigned the land of Judah 735-715 BCE.
He is an example of a bad king and there was many lessons that could be learnt from him.

During this period, the Assyrians are gaining power in the middle east and are expanding their empire quickly, bring fear to many nations around them. At this time, the Kings of Syria which is a much smaller Kingdom, was thinking of forming an alliance with the 2 southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and hoping that their combine powers could fend off the attacks of the Assyrians.

They manage to get the support of the King of Israel, however, the kingdom of Judah was more interested in an alliance with the Assyrians. As the result, Syria and Israel started to fight against Judah in a war, and the kingdom of Judah is at a disadvantage. At this time, King Ahaz and his subjects were filled with fear of this prospective battle, and then God sent Prophet Isaiah to Ahaz and said

“Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you, saying, “Let us go up against Judah and trouble it, and let us make a gap in its wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel” thus says the Lord GOD:
” It shall not stand,
Nor shall it come to pass.
For the head of Syria is Damascus,
And the head of Damascus is Rezin.
Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken,
So that it will not be a people.
The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
And the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son.
If you will not believe,
Surely you shall not be established.”‘”
(Is 7:4-9)

Over here, God promised Ahaz that he would protect the land of Israel and that the Kings of Syria and Israel will be defeated. All God requires from Ahaz is for him to believe. If he were to believe, his kingdom will be established.

However, Ahaz did not listen to Isaiah, yet he relied on his own methods to solve the problem.
If we were to look at the remaining Acts of King Ahaz (2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28)

Here is a rough summary of what happened
1. The Kings of Syria and Israel captured Elath from Judah (2 Kings 16:5-6)
2. King Ahaz requested for help from the King of Assyria Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 16:7-9)
Giving the Assyrian the Silver and Gold from the temple. Assyria  helped to defeat the invaders
3. King Ahaz copied the designs of the idols in Israel and set them up in the temple (2 Kings 16:10-17)
4. Philistines and Edomites attacked Judah (2 Chron 28:17-18)
5. Ahaz appealed for the King of Assyria to help. This time the Assyrian did not help yet  distressed him further (2 Chron 28:19-20)
6. The distressed Ahaz started to worship the gods of Syria as he thinks it is them who help Syria defeat Judah (2 Chron 28:22-23)
7 Finally he died, and Hezekiah ruled in his place (2 Chron 28:27)

How it applies to us today?
It is surprising that God actually extended comfort and help to King Ahaz as he had been unfaithful to God in the beginning (2 Chron 28:1-4, 2 Kings 16:1-4).

Sometimes as we are faced with life’s difficulties, we tend to behave like King Ahaz, he saw the might of the Assyrians, Syrians and Israel, and when war is about to start, he does his accessed of the situation and realize that it is hard for him to win. Hence he got afraid (Is 7:2) . His heart moved like the trees of the woods moved by the wind.

But, as we are afraid and seeing the danger, did we ever look at God? What if God sends a help just like what Isaiah said to Ahaz? Would we be able to hold our peace and believe? Such actions requires tremendous amount of faith.

Alot of times, we tend to be like Ahaz, we tend to try to solve the problems using the methods that we know of, Ahaz made extensive use of diplomacy to ask for help from the Assyrians. He even reach the stage where he gave up the gold and silver that was meant for God to exchange for Assyrian help. Yet their help proved to be a distress to him. Sometimes, the help that we seek for would eventually become our stumbling block. In fact if we were to trust God, perhaps the story may have been different (Remember what happened during the reign of Hezekiah his son?)

We tend to forget that God is our refuge in times of trouble, and he is that anchor we need in a storm. When the situation got tougher on Ahaz because of his disobedience, instead of turning closer to God, Ahaz started to rely on the gods of the Syrians thinking that since they helped Syria defeat Judah, their gods must be stronger. Instead he drift further and further from God, and his reign is mark with numerous defeat and the decline of the peoples faith.

I am writing this to remind myself, that lately I had been too troubled by many things that are happening around me, and I also failed to rely on God in prayer. This sermons seems to be a wake up call on me, and I hope I would be able to rely and God and not keep looking at the surrounding problems…

May God help all of us 😉

This is an old hymn that is often sing in every Christian funeral. It is often links to the ship Titantic as it was reputed to be the final hymn played by the Titanic Band before the ship sinks. Although there was always some dispute as some of the survivors heard a different hymn. But the Band Leader Hartley reportedly said to a friend if he was on a sinking ship “Nearer, My God, to Thee” would be one of the songs he would play.

This song is written in the context of the story of Jacob found in Genesis 28:10-20.

Jacob story began at Gen 25. He started to contend with his bro over who is the firstborn even in the mothers womb (Gen 25:21-22) There God already said that the older will serve the younger. Then Rebekah their mother gave birth to this twins, one called Esau and One Called Jacob. Although Jacob must have heard Gods prophesy, but he did not really care about God.. God to him was the God of his fathers. He depended alot on his own deceptiveness. He once cheated his brother of his birthright (Gen 25:29-33).

Later on, Rebekah his mother heard Issac their father asking Esau to hunt for food. so that Issac can eat the game and bless him. Rebekah wanted Jacob to deceive his father to get the blessing. Rebekah dressed Jacob up in his Brothers clothing, used sheep hair to disguise Jacob to make him feel hairy. Rebekah prepared food and asked Jacob to bring it to Issac. Issac blessed Jacob instead of Esau (Gen 27:30-35).

This actions incurred the wrath of Esau the brother, and he vowed to kill Jacob. At this time Rebekah heard Esau and have to send Jacob away from his home. This is the first time Jacob is left on his own in a foreign land. He had never really learn to trust God, and there he comes, setting a stone as his pillow he fell asleep.

Title: Nearer My God To Thee (The Words in Italics are not found on our hymnbook)

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

There let the way appear steps unto heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me in mercy giv’n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

That is when this God, that he never ever tried to know, appeared before him, he saw for himself a great staircase, which lead to heaven. And Angels are ascending and descending from it. And God said

“I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Gen 28:13-15)

Jacob wakes up, and he marveled at this, however, he did not called God his God (Gen 31:42).. But he made an agreement with God, that if he were to return here safely, he would come and offer his offerings to God. Thus he found the strength to move on with his life onward

Over here we can see how much God loved Jacob, although Jacob doesn’t really knows him, he still choose to protect Jacob, and comfort Jacob. He promised him never to leave him. Long before Jacob even called him “My God”. This offer is extended to us today (Rom 5:7-9)

It is up to us to receive the love of God, to trust him once again, and believe that he cares for us (1 Pet 5:7)

Today as I am returning from home, a thought suddenly dawn on me. What is true faith? Is faith mere belief? Most Christian groups teaches that if you believe in God all your heart, you are saved. You are save by grace through faith. Suddenly, i decided to look back into the bible for the verses which can let us understand what is faith.

Some of you may wander, why the sudden interest in the topic? Perhaps lately in the midst of all these fighting for useless prizes, it suddenly dawn unto me that that i should stop my footsteps and spend sometime to think about my faith.

 Why is faith important to a christian? And why should we be concern over the matters? Faith is important to a christian, because a christian without faith, can never be one that can please God (Heb 11:6). Faith is the basis of christian religion, and having faith is the beginning of a Christian’s walk in life.

 According to the author of Hebrews, faith is “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).  The entire chapter of Heb 11 is dedicated to definition of faith. In it contains many examples of the manifestation of faith. In the coming few entries, i will be using each of the examples in the chapter to help all of us understand faith.

After looking pondering through some of the examples in the list, my initial understanding is Faith is a rank higher then believe. Most Christians say that if you were to believe that there is God, that is faith. But even the demons believe God exist, (Jas 2:19). Such beliefs does no benefit to a person.

In most of the examples here, you can see that each character believed in God, and also have beliefs that are entrusted to them from God. These people went one step beyond mere believing, and their faith can be seen through the actions that they do.

 Some Christians may wonder, does this contradicts the idea that it is through faith that we are saved, not by mere performing of rituals. This is heavily emphasised by Paul in the book of Romans. But we must understand that the ancients saints never had this separation of faith and works as of now. The main reasons for the book of Roman is because the believers then believed that righteousness can be attained by keeping the laws of Moses, and they do not understand that one is justified by faith in God.

This entry seeks to define faith, and with the concept, we can understand the books of Romans better as well.

 I would be sharing about the first example, which is Abel in my next blog entry