Political Turmoil

By a local political analyst.

The year is 640BC. Judah is a small nation surrounded by three greedy superpowers. Assyria to the north, Babylon to the northeast, and Egypt to the south are in an on-going competition to acquire land and to tax foreigners, and to just outright bully people around.

The 10 tribes of Israel to the north were forcibly dragged away to Assyria 80 years ago and remain there as slaves (2 Kings 17:20). This leaves Judah exposed and extremely vulnerable, caught in the middle of these superpowers. Just a few years earlier, Assyria captured King Manasseh (who had been king for decades) and dragged him away in hooks and chains, bringing shame to the whole nation (2 Chronicles 33:11). Sometime later, Manasseh was allowed to return and rule again. But he was a crippled leader ruling a desperate nation. He served for a total of 55 years and upon his death his son Amon was crowned king.

Amon lasted only two short years. He was so evil that his own officials assassinated him inside the palace walls. This desperate deed cost them their own lives. Yes. His own trusted officials put him to death and they in turn were killed for treason.

Amon had no brothers to take over the throne. They had been killed by their father as sacrifices to the “protecting father,” the god Molech. (2 Chron. 33:16).

Talk about political turmoil!

This tiny nation, surrounded by superpowers, is torn by intrigue and assassination and now the only heir to the throne is an 8 year old boy!

Assyria

This is the superpower that defeated and destroyed the 10 tribes to the north some 82 years before. Josiah’s great-grandfather, Hezekiah, was king of Judah at that time. He paid a huge amount of money to the Assyrians to send them away happy. It was “more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold” (2 kings 18:14). But, this did not satisfy the hungry lion, Assyria wanted more and they turned to attack Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17). But God caused 185,000 of their soldiers to die in their sleep (1 Kings 19:34-37) and the whole army ran back to Assyria to hide.

They did not stay away for long. They came back when Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh, was king. They placed a hook through his nose and dragged him away in disgrace and placed him in prison. He cried to God and God was merciful to him. Somehow, Assyria allowed him to return to Jerusalem as king. But, the Assyrians were still around and creating fear and anxiety among the people of Judah.

Babylon

During the time of Hezekiah’s reign, an envoy from the north arrived in Jerusalem. Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them all the nation’s treasures, the gold, the silver, the weapons and everything. However, God was not impressed with this attitude and sent his servant, the prophet Isaiah, with a message. In 2 Kings 20:16, Isaiah prophesied that one day all these treasures will be looted and carried away to Babylon.

This was to happen during the reigns of Josiah’s sons and grandson,2 Kings 24: 8ff. Babylon at the time of Amon, and then Josiah, was one of the three superpowers and gathering momentum.

In just 11 years these fears will prove to be real when Judah and Jerusalem are attacked by Babylon and then finally falls to their army commander. Another 11 years later King Nebuchadnezzar will bring this Jewish nation to an end, never to be the same again. 2 Kings 24:10; 25:1ff.

Egypt

Egypt was the cunning fox from the south. They knew they could not defeat the other superpowers on their own, but, if Babylon and Assyria fought each other, and if smaller countries would join with Egypt, then Pharaoh could become the most powerful man in the world. This was his ambition.

Judah stood in-between Egypt and the two other superpowers, and they suffered at the cruel hands of all three. It was Egypt’s king, Pharaoh Neco, that fought against Josiah and Josiah was killed (2 Kings 23:29). Neco was simply passing through Judah in order to help Assyria fight against Babylon, but Josiah tried to stop him and lost his life in the process 2 Chron. 35:20-25.

Is there any hope for Judah’s future? The whole world is laughing and talking behind our backs.

Judah’s Location God gave the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. This land is rich and fertile. It is also the place where the great continents meet. Africa, Asia, Europe meet at the land of Israel. It was God’s plan that they live at this centre-point so that all nations could learn about the true God and be blessed by Him (Gen. 12:1-3). However, because Israel constantly rejected their God, they have had enemies on all sides even up to today.

N.B. This book is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.

Josiah – Chain Breaker

This book was written by a team of authors. Well researched, it seeks to be accurate in the details, while also telling the Bible story in a creative and interesting way. It is an example of what is called “creative non-fiction.” The chapters are written from different voices or viewpoints. Our hope is that the powerful message of this Bible story will “come alive” and “grab you” in a most enjoyable way.

This book was not written in a normal manner. Most books are written by individuals working on their own. Instead, the five authors of this book chose, studied, planned, and wrote it together as a group project.

One reason they chose Josiah is because they were reminded of so many young people who are drifting aimlessly down dangerous and destructive paths. No one needs to do this. No one should! Life is good. Life is beautiful. And any person’s life becomes good and special when it is given to God.

Josiah is an outstanding example. Out of a horrible beginning [are you aware of this?], he serves as proof that the True and Living God loves people. He loves to take the injured, the disadvantaged, the battered and bruised and clean them up, restore their dignity and strength, and make them shine in all that is good and right. He is ready to do that for you.

The publisher, Christian Books Melanesia, has been promoting the development and training of PNG Christian authors. Each author of this book has benefitted by attending a CBM Writers’ Workshop. Then, they gathered at Wewak for a more advanced workshop. They chose to study and write about the life of Josiah, and this book is a result of their efforts.

It is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in the world through eBook sellers. More posts will follow in the days to come, and parts of the book will be quoted.

The Aftermath


Perhaps you can relate. [i]

Do you feel battered and bruised? Perhaps splintered? Like you are dragging half of yourself behind you as you “will” the other half to slog forward? Do you feel smaller, weaker, clumsier, dumber, slower than you did 12 months ago? Out of 62 years of life, 2020 was easily my most difficult.

Many of us experienced irretrievable loss – death of family and friends.

Some of us suffered new physical difficulties: Losing two senses–taste and smell–for the first time ever, wondering if/when they might return.[ii] Also, aches and pains in the joints that last for months, and still not sure they are gone.

Then there are the inner battles, the mind, emotions, our inner “soul and spirit” battling discouragement, fatigue, doubts about ourselves and are abilities to cope going forward. Mental health issues are more real and immediate and consequential than perhaps we had seen before. Welcome to this side of life!

And the struggles are far from done. Battles rage on. So, calling this the “aftermath” is not so accurate. But we also need to trust, to believe, that we are moving toward the end of this storm.

Can I suggest that this is a good time to Hear Divine Words?

Quite the nice promise here:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT.

Perhaps it is hard to picture solace or peace as a genuine possibility. Negative, debilitating thoughts have moved in and set up house. Dark questions, waves of doubt, have clamped down and are difficult to dispel. Mental fatigue has become the norm. What can be done?

If you haven’t learned this yet, it is time to learn it now: No human being can be healthy and well “in and of themselves.” We are not fashioned to be self-sufficient, to waltz happily “on our own.” Human beings are designed by our Masterful Creator to need one another and to need HIM. Dependance is not weakness. Needing others and being needed by them is the only way to thrive.[iii] It has taken me many decades to really see this.[iv] 

Jacob in the Bible is a case study on learning dependence. His encounter with God (Gen. 32) left him limping, but on the right trail.

Deity promises “perfect peace” to all who depend upon Him; to those who “fixate their thoughts” on Him.

Let’s encourage one another on this path and rejoice together with the results. “Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Phi. 4:6-7 NLT.

N.B. The picture is of the “farmers market” in our town of Wewak, Papua New Guinea. Come for a visit when travel opens up again!


[i] But aftermath is not the correct word here, because we are clearly still caught in the “math.”

[ii] If you don’t know what this is like, be thankful. Here you are, chewing your favorite food and “bang” the realization comes. You know what it should taste like, but your taste buds are mummified. The only sense left in your mouth is the sense of touch. Your tongue and cheeks can “feel” the food, but that is the only “enjoyment” you can grasp for. Texture and perhaps temperature is all you feel, meal after meal after meal.

[iii] In all the stories about Jesus, in the Bible he depended on other people to meet his needs for food, shelter, etc. See Luke 8:3.

[iv] There is a book with a strange sounding title that I would like to read but haven’t been able to afford it, the title is Jesus and John Wayne. It must deal with things like this.


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Let’s Apprehend Hope

Words do silly things:

The noun “Apprehension” is defined as “a fear or anxiety about something.”

The verb “to Apprehend” is defined as “to take hold of,” “to come into possession of.”

BUT, no one wants to apprehend [come into possession of] apprehension [fear and anxiety]!

We want to shed it, overcome it, to remove the anxieties and fears that haunt us. To be rid of it and live on a higher plane.  We would love to throw all our anxieties into a bottomless pit and banish them forever.

How can this be done?

This past year has created all sorts of apprehension among us humans in all stages and walks of life. The pandemic, the economy, shutdowns, elections, sickness, and loss of life, have assaulted our hearts with fears, doubts, insecurities – apprehensions.

To apprehend is to face the causes of apprehension and willfully overcome them.  

We have been hurt physically, mentally, emotionally, economically, relationally, and spiritually. Some of us may have considered dropping out permanently. Life deals tough blows. But here we are. Still moving forward. Still looking for light, relief, peace, belonging and joy.

Hope requires a decision (actually, repeated decisions), but willpower alone is not enough. We need help from outside ourselves. We can receive this help from trusted friends, relatives, counselors, and most of all, our Loving Father, the Royal Son, and the Resident Advocate (Eph. 1:3-14).

God wants to relate with us honestly, with integrity. Look at how David approached Him. “Be gracious to me, Adonai, because I am withering away; heal me, Adonai, because my bones are shaking…I am worn out with groaning; all night I drench my bed with tears…Adonai has heard the sound of my weeping, Adonai has heard my pleading, Adonai will accept my prayer.” Psa. 6:2,6,8,9 (Complete Jewish Bible). Wherever we find ourselves, be genuine with God.

A most incredible truth in the universe is that God “hearts” each one of us.

Let us encourage one another in this journey; assist each other along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Pride gets us nowhere. It is up to us as individuals, families, communities, churches, etc. to turn the noun into the verb, for ourselves and for others.

More will be written about this in the next two weeks. Hope is not a flimsy feeling; Biblical hope is a most powerful, transformational force.

The first follow-up post is here: https://heardivinewords.com/2020/12/24/deity-hearts-you-me-everyone/

Let’s overcome apprehension by fully apprehending hope!

Enjoy your free digital book

Death of family is the hardest thing we face. Pastor Darius lost his beloved wife after a long battle with cancer. But worse than this, he and his only daughter were in a road accident. He survived, but his daughter died in his arms. The pictures on the cover are of the actual event.

Huge questions raised their voices. “What are you doing, Lord?” “Where were you when I needed you?” “Why didn’t you take me and let Martina live out her future?” “Could I ever trust you again, Lord?”

Groping for God is Pastor Darius’ heart-searching, honest account of the deep waters of doubt that he went through, and the things that helped bring him through the despair and out the other side. You will not forget this story, and Pastor’s advice is powerful.

This book is being offered to you free of charge. Click on the link below, and it will take you to an online store. In the box that says Code, enter the word “Free”. Use the code and you will receive a free digital copy of the book that is yours to keep. You can check out as a Guest with just a name and email address. Download your new book on any phone, tablet or computer.

Happy Reading! And pass it on!