He Determines the Number of the Stars

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2 KINGS 15:1-16:20 | ACTS 19:13-41 | PSALM 147:1-20 | PROVERBS 18:4-5

Jeroboam and his son Zechariah were counterparts to Azariah.  While the former were father-and-son kings of Israel, the latter was king of Judah.  Next, we learn of a series of four kings of Israel:  Shallum, Mehanem, Pekahiah, and Pekah who were counterparts to Jotham, king of Judah.  Following these generations, there is Hoshea who succeeds Pekah as king of Israel, and Ahaz succeeds Jotham as king of Judah.

Ahaz’s reign is a long and noteworthy one.  He ascends the throne at the age of twenty and rules in Jerusalem for sixteen years.  Ahaz was evidently even more perverted than his ancestors in continuing with the idol and pagan worship, so much so, that it is said that he sacrificed his own son.  Furthermore, he wasn’t at peace with the king of Israel and the neighboring Arameans, and seeks the help of the Assyrian rulers to help him go to war. 

Assyria is modern day northern-Iraq.  The Assyrians help him and he attacks Damascus, defeats the people, and before he leaves, makes note of elaborate temple plans that he brings back with him to renovate the design of the temple in Jerusalem. 

I suppose stranger things have happened in the history of the people of Israel and Judah, but this would certainly rank high among them.  At any rate, Ahaz is finally succeeded by his son, Hezekiah.  It is to be seen what this king of Judah might be like.

But for now, we shall turn to our reading in the book of Acts.  We find here that while Paul has established himself as the serious preacher, teacher and even healer in every town and city that he travels to, there have been other believers and followers who appear to have falsely taken on the mantle of Paul, especially in their attempts to commit acts of sorcery and to drive out evil spirits in the name of Jesus Christ and even Paul. 

It is said that one such sorcerer encountered a most interesting man possessed by an evil spirit.  When he attempts to exorcise the demon-possessed man, it is said that the man cries out, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 

I found this to be utterly hilarious!  Well, Paul and the others get wind of this and round up the fake people and eventually put an end to this.

But soon, there is yet another uproar of a new kind:  in the city of Ephesus, a silversmith by the name of Demetrius is up in arms because the idols of the Greek goddess Artemis that he makes for a living are no longer in demand, and he isn’t too happy that his livelihood has been disrupted thanks to the likes of Paul who go about preaching that idols made by the hands of man are not worthy of worship. 

So, Demetrius organizes a protest that is soon in danger of turning into a riot.  However, the riot is closely avoided thanks to a city clerk that speaks some sense to a crowd and assures them that the city of Ephesus is indeed the home to the deity of Artemis, and if they wished to press any charges against Paul and the other preachers, they ought to do so in a civilized manner by way of approaching the courts.  This little speech apparently works to dismiss the crowds for now.

Turning now to our reading of the psalm for the day, we find a long psalm that is full of praise and thanksgiving for the provision and protection from the Almighty.  Like many a psalm, it begins and ends with the words, Praise the Lord, which in Hebrew literally reads Hallelu Yah.  Some of the verses that the psalmist has penned are words that would behoove us to read and repeat, such as these:

3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars
   and calls them each by name.
5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
6 The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs that is worthy to ruminate on:

4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.

2 thoughts on “He Determines the Number of the Stars

  1. As my youngest son would be glad to tell anyone who would listen, the Temple to Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and, by some accounts, the most impressive looking (which is saying something). It’s kind of amazing that the preaching of Paul and others in Ephesus is successfully competing with this wonder in drawing the people’s attention. It gives us an idea of the power of the message, the passion of Paul and his ability to present the gospel

    1. What I wouldn’t give to have been in that audience at the temple to listen to Paul preach. And like you say, it is the power of the message and perhaps not so much the messenger that compels.

      The brilliance of the message lies in its simplicity. Believe, all ye that listen! Believe, accept, and confess, and you are forgiven!

      Regards, Simmi D. Isaac (Sent from my iPhone)

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