1 – 2 Chronicles 32:18-19 (ESV) 18 And they shouted it with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, in order that they might take the city. 19 And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men’s hands.
RAF: The Devil knows our language. He knows how to communicate to us in ways we will hear clearly – and always with the aim of undermining our trust in God. He knows how to play on our fears to make us think God is somehow not able to keep us, not willing to keep us, or corrupt in some way. These are Satan’s devices, and he uses them skillfully. But our ears must be tuned to God’s voice. To remember Who and What He is. To stand firm in the knowledge of God’s perfections, promises and the holy character of His person. Then, we can stand strong. Only then.
2 – 2 Chronicles 33:7-9 (ESV) 7 And the carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever, 8 and I will no more remove the foot of Israel from the land that I appointed for your fathers, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the rules given through Moses.” 9 Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.
RAF: What makes Manasseh’s departure so insidious is that he did not destroy God’s Temple, burn it down and put something in its place – then, the lines would be clear. Instead, he co-opted the Temple. He leaves it standing so the people are led to blend the worship of the true God along with the imported gods Manasseh introduces. This tactic is not dead. It is employed today. We can bring all sorts of other gods into God’s house, and attempt to blend them all together. So, we can have the idol of prosperity – and just add it to the true God. Or the idol of self, we make room for it in God’s own house. The idols of entertainment, ease, career, family and even sensuality can be hauled in and set right beside the cross. Heavenly Father, help us. Keep our hearts and minds wholly yours. Help us to never make room for any other god. To look to you and you alone for our happiness, joy, safety and well being. Forgive us for the times we have sought those things in other people, other things, or in external circumstances rather than in You.
3 – 2 Chronicles 34:3 (ESV) 3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images.
RAF: The 8th year of his reign would make him but 16 years old. We ought never to underestimate the impact of a young man or woman whose heart is wholly set after God. Age is no barrier to effectiveness, either great age or youth. Some would toss off those so young as though their religion is but idealism, a phase or a fad. But there can be the deepest of devotion even in one 16 – or younger. How we ought to encourage those younger ones among us not to treat their own walk with the Lord lightly, but to seize upon their energy and the years before them to do great things for God.
4 – Ezra 1:1 (ESV) In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
RAF: The one-word theme of Ezra is: RETURNS. It records the return of those exiled to Babylon in several waves after their 70 years was complete.