2129.) Isaiah 37

June 29, 2017

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Isaiah 37   (ESV)

Hezekiah Seeks Isaiah’s Help

2 Kings 19 (yesterday) and Isaiah 37 (today) are virtually identical chapters.

As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord.

There was good reason for Hezekiah to be so humble before the Lord. “City after city has fallen to Sennacherib and long lines of deportees are already snaking their bitter way into exile — and it is all Hezekiah’s fault! He followed the lunatic policy of rebellion and was bewitched by Egyptian promises. He might as well have sold his people himself. But even when a matter is our own fault we can still pray about it. And the Lord can always be trusted to hear and help his people.”

–J. Alec Motyer

And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz. They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, ‘This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth.

This was a proverbial expression for a disaster — a woman so exhausted by labor that she could not complete the birth, so it is likely that both mother and child will die.

It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the Lord your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’”

When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the young men of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’”

How these words must have cheered Hezekiah! Before, he had hoped it may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh . . . to reproach the living God (verse 4 above). Now, the Lord speaks through the prophet Isaiah, saying He has indeed heard these words! Now, God is taking it personally!

–David Guzik

The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish. Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, “He has set out to fight against you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’”

We know of people like the Rabshakeh! They blabber on and on, thinking their words are accomplishing their purposes, when really they are just adding fuel to the fire of their own destruction. Lord, give me ears to hear the truth of what I am saying, especially when I am speaking unkindly of others or disrespectfully of you.

Hezekiah’s Prayer for Deliverance

I37 spread it

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”

Hezekiah responds rightly. He takes his problem to the Lord, and praises God for his power and wisdom. And he leaves the situation in the Lord’s hands.

butterfly anxiety

Sennacherib’s Fall

–a glorious answer to Hezekiah’s prayer!

21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him:

“‘She despises you, she scorns you—
the virgin daughter of Zion;
she wags her head behind you—
the daughter of Jerusalem.

23 “‘Whom have you mocked and reviled?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes to the heights?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
24 By your servants you have mocked the Lord,
and you have said, With my many chariots
I have gone up the heights of the mountains,
to the far recesses of Lebanon,
to cut down its tallest cedars,
its choicest cypresses,
to come to its remotest height,
its most fruitful forest.
25 I dug wells
and drank waters,
to dry up with the sole of my foot
all the streams of Egypt.

26 “‘Have you not heard
that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
what now I bring to pass,
that you should make fortified cities
crash into heaps of ruins,
27 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength,
are dismayed and confounded,
and have become like plants of the field
and like tender grass,
like grass on the housetops,
blighted before it is grown.

How humbling this must have been for the Assyrians! All along, they thought it was because of their mighty power they had accomplished so much. Here, God makes it plain that it was His power that did it.

28 “‘I know your sitting down
and your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me.
29 Because you have raged against me
and your complacency has come to my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will turn you back on the way
by which you came.’

30 “And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

33 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

36 And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh.

“The Biblical account concludes with the much debated statement that the Assyrian army was struck down in some way during the night with considerable loss of life, following which the siege was called off . . . The Assyrian Annals tacitly agree with the Biblical version by making no claim that Jerusalem was taken, only describing tribute from Hezekiah.”  — from T.C. Mitchell, The Bible in the British Museum

–David Guzik

I37 Angel-destroying-Assyrians

The Destruction of Sennacherib

by George Gordon Lord Byron
first published in 1815 

(A critic has written that Byron’s diction and rhythm in the poem “drive home the concept of swift visitation and inevitable doom.”)

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still.

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpets unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

38 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

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Music:

I am something of a Diane Bish fan — she is an organist extraordinaire! Here she is (in typical sparkles) with the Choir of Second Baptist Church of Houston and her arrangement of “Lead On, O King Eternal.” Click  HERE  to hear this performance.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Take heart; do not be afraid.    http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Mark6_50.jpg
Do not be afraid with muliple references.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/97/b4/1b/97b41be6b19baa352513a4ce9f4f7a73.jpg
spreads the letter before the Lord.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Book_of_Isaiah_Chapter_37-1_%28Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media%29.jpg
1 Peter 5:7.    http://ih1.redbubble.net/image.8928824.8226/flat,550×550,075,f.u2.jpg
Deuteronomy 31:8.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/43/64/b1/4364b1e8a5cbf059a2dd4bbae4681308.jpg
angel destroying the Assyrians.    http://www.wisdomlib.org/uploads/images/Angel-destroying-Assyrians.jpg

2128.) 2 Kings 19

June 28, 2017

This hexagonal clay prism (the Taylor prism) records the deeds of Sennacherib—eight military campaigns undertaken against various peoples who refused to submit to Assyrian domination.  As part of his third campaign, he besieged Jerusalem and imposed heavy tribute on King Hezekiah. The Taylor prism was discovered in 1830 in the ruins of Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh. It is now at the British Museum.

2 Kings 19   (NIV)

Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold

2 Kings 19 (today) and Isaiah 37 (tomorrow) are virtually identical chapters.

1 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 It may be that the LORD your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the LORD your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.”

To tear one’s clothes and put on sackcloth (a rough, burlap-like fabric) was one way to express deep mourning. Hezekiah understands that this threatening speech comes from someone who is determined to destroy Jerusalem. Sennacherib has already destroyed city after city in Judah and sent thousands of Israelites into exile; Hezekiah knows it is his fault, for rebelling against superpower Assyria and siding with the Egyptians.

5 When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”

Isaiah assures the king that God will deal definitively with the “underlings”!

8 When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah.

9 Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush, was marching out to fight against him. So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: 10 “Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ 11 Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them—the gods of Gozan, Harran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”

Such arrogance displayed here reminds me of Pharaoh:  “Who is God, that I should let the people of Israel go?” We readers know that Sennacherib will get a very clear lesson, as did the Pharaoh, in just who God is!

Hezekiah’s Prayer

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.

I love this verse! As one Bible commentator has said, it is like a child taking his broken toy to his father and asking him to fix it. What is bothering you? What in your life needs “fixing”? Take it to the Lord in prayer!

“When therefore letters come to you, anonymous or otherwise, full of bitter reproach; when unkind and malignant stories are set on foot with respect to you; when all hope from man has perished, then take your complaint – the letter, the article, the speech, the rumour – and lay it before God. Let your requests be known unto Him.”
–F. B. Meyer

15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

17 “It is true, LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, LORD, are God.”

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Music:

HERE  is “If My People Pray”  by Avalon.

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Isaiah Prophesies Sennacherib’s Fall

20 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him:

“‘Virgin Daughter Zion
despises you and mocks you.
Daughter Jerusalem
tosses her head as you flee.
22 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
23 By your messengers
you have ridiculed the Lord.

Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV)

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

And you have said,
“With my many chariots
I have ascended the heights of the mountains,
the utmost heights of Lebanon.
I have cut down its tallest cedars,
the choicest of its junipers.
I have reached its remotest parts,
the finest of its forests.
24 I have dug wells in foreign lands
and drunk the water there.
With the soles of my feet
I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.”

25 “‘Have you not heard?
Long ago I ordained it.
In days of old I planned it;
now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities
into piles of stone.
26 Their people, drained of power,
are dismayed and put to shame.
They are like plants in the field,
like tender green shoots,
like grass sprouting on the roof,
scorched before it grows up.

27 “‘But I know where you are
and when you come and go
and how you rage against me.
28 Because you rage against me
and because your insolence has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will make you return
by the way you came.’

Ouch! The Assyrians would line up their captives, push a hook through their noses or lips, tie them together, and march them out. God says to them, That is exactly what I will do to you!

29 “This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah:

“This year you will eat what grows by itself,
and the second year what springs from that.

God promises that, although the war has prevented planting and harvesting for two years, God will insure that there will be enough food for them.

But in the third year sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
30 Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah
will take root below and bear fruit above.
31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.

There is a war raging on
Between the right and wrong,
And we have encountered the darkness.
But as each night moves along,
We face another dawn
To reach for the courage of love.
As the faint hearted run for the shelter of home,
There’s a question that hangs in the air–
When the smoke clears away from the battlefield,
Who will be there?

Will you stand with the band of survivors
Hand in hand ’til the end of the day?
Taking the land with the band of survivors
Tried in the fire?
Will you stand with the band?

These are the ones
He will choose to win the victory
And He will declare it is over.
And so we honor the call,
Remain upon the wall,
And trust in the name of our God.
When the body is weak and the heart is afraid,
Then be strong, for the message is clear–
When the banner is raised on the mountain
We still will be here.

Will you stand in the path of the strong man
To be counted for all you believe?
Will you stand with the heart of a warrior
By the blood of the Lamb,
In the name of the King?
Will you stand with the band of survivors?

–Twila Paris  (Hear her sing it  HERE.)

“The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

32 “Therefore this is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria:

“‘He will not enter this city
or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
or build a siege ramp against it.
33 By the way that he came he will return;
he will not enter this city,
declares the LORD.
34 I will defend this city and save it,
for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’”

35 That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

Psalm 34:7 (ESV)

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.


“The Destruction of Sennacherib”

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still.

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpets unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

— George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824)

37 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.

“Abraham Sacrificing Isaac” by Laurent de La Hire, 1650 (Musee Saint-Denis, Reims)

An old Jewish legend — and nothing more than a legend — says how it was that Sennacherib’s sons came to kill him. Sennacherib was troubled at how God seemed to bless the Jews so much, and tried to find out why. Someone told him it was because Abraham had loved God so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son unto the Lord. Sennacherib thought he would be even more favored by God, and decided to kill two of his sons in sacrifice to the Lord, becoming even more blessed than Abraham and his descendants. But his two sons learned of the plan, and killed him before he could kill them, thus fulfilling the word of the Lord.

–David Guzik

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New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
clay prism.    http://scribalterror.blogs.com/scribal_terror/2007/05/the_assyrian_ca.html
child with broken toy.    http://www.angiechan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/broken_bear.jpg
fish hook.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/icn-snelled-carp-fishing-hooks1.jpg
angel destroying the Assyrian army.   http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/army-of-sennacherib-granger.jpg
La Hire.    http://www.sai.msu.su/wm/paint/auth/la-hire/

2127.) Isaiah 36

June 27, 2017
Lachish Siege Reliefs Room. The Lachish relief is a set of Assyrian stone panels narrating the story of the Assyrian victory over Judea during the siege of Lachish in 701 BCE. Carved between 700-681 BCE, as a decoration of the South-West Palace of Sennacherib in Nineveh, the relief is today exhibited at the British museum in London.[1] The palace room, where the relief was discovered in 1847, was fully covered with the "Lachish relief" and was 12 meters wide and 5,10 meters long.

Lachish Siege Reliefs Room. The Lachish relief is a set of Assyrian stone panels narrating the story of the Assyrian victory over Judea during the siege of Lachish in 701 BCE. Carved between 700-681 BCE as a decoration of the South-West Palace of Sennacherib in Nineveh, the relief is today exhibited at the British Museum in London. The palace room, where the relief was discovered in 1847, was fully covered with the “Lachish relief” and was 12 meters wide and 5 meters long.

Isaiah 36   (ESV)

Sennacherib Invades Judah

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah,

This is about the year 700 b.c., during the reign of the godly King Hezekiah of Judah. The events of this chapter are also recorded in 2 Kings 18:13-27 and 2 Chronicles 32:1-19.

This begins a four-chapter section different than the prophecies recorded before or after. Isaiah 36 and 37 describe the Lord’s work against the Assyrian threat. Isaiah 38 and 39 describe the response to the Babylonian threat.

“This is history at its best, not dull recital of statistics and dates but an account which enables us to sense the haughty arrogance of the Assyrian and the chilling clutch of despair at the hearts of the Israelites.”

–David Guzik

Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh (a title, meaning something like “field commander” or “chief of staff”) from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army.

detail of Lachish reliefs

detail of Lachish reliefs

Lachish was thirty miles south-west of Jerusalem. Archaeologists have discovered a pit there with the remains of about 1,500 casualties of Sennachaerib’s attack. In the British Museum, you can see the Assyrian carvings depicting their siege of the city of Lachish, which was an important fortress city of Judah. To read more about the historical context and to see more of the reliefs, go  HERE;  really, it is quite interesting!

And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. And there came out to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.

And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if you say to me, “We trust in the Lord our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar”?

The Rabshakeh knew that King Hezekiah had implemented broad reforms in Judah, including the removal of the high places (2 Kings 18:3-4).

The high places were spots of “individual worship” which were prohibited by God’s law (Leviticus 17:1-4). Israel was commanded to bring their sacrifices to the official center for sacrifice (the tabernacle or later, the temple). In the pagan world at that time, it was customary to offer sacrifice wherever one pleased – altars would customarily be built on high hills, in forested areas, or at other special places.  That practice may have been fine for the time of the patriarchs. But now, God regarded sacrifice at high places as an offense. Hezekiah did right when he took away the high places and the altars, demanding that people come to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifice.

This command runs completely contrary to the way most people come to God in our culture. For the most part, Americans have an entirely individualistic way of coming to God, where each person makes up their own rules about dealing with God as they see Him. In the book Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah and his colleagues interview a young nurse named Sheila Larson, whom they describe as representing many Americans’ experience and views on religion. Speaking about her own faith and how it operates in her life, she says: “I believe in God. I’m not a religious fanatic. I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It is ‘Sheilaism.’ Just my own little voice.” This “pick-and-choose-as-I-go-along-according-to-my-inner-voice” approach is just like picking your own high place and altar to sacrifice to God the way you want to instead of the way God wants you to.

–David Guzik

Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land and destroy it.’”

I36 its_over

Ouch!  The Rabshakeh taunts them, saying, Even if we give you two thousand horses, you will still lose in battle against us. So just give up now.

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 12 But the Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?”

He is intent on spreading fear and distrust and discouragement.

13 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. 15 Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 16 Do not listen to Hezekiah. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”

G

The Rabshakeh mocks King Hezekiah, and also (so unwisely!) he mocks God, counting the Lord as merely one like all the other gods.

21 But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.” 22 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

Though they were silent, no doubt they were still deeply affected by this attack. It didn’t just roll off their back as if it were nothing. They have the same experience Paul described in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: 2 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. Things were hard, but the battle was not lost yet! 

_________________________

Music:

Have you felt like everything is against you — like you have a Rabshakeh telling you how hopeless you are and what a mess your future will be?  Do not believe it!  You can exchange all of that junk for the joy of the Lord!   HERE  is Darrell Evans and “Trading My Sorrows.” Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes!

__________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)  The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Lachish siege reliefs room.    http://blog2.bibleplaces.com/uploaded_images/LACHISH_SIEGE_RELIEFS_ROOM,_TB112004283-715389.JPG
detail of siege relief.   http://etc.ancient.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/OSA_5900-1024×684.jpg
It’s over.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/its_over.gif
God is not mocked.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/galatians_6_7.jpg

2126.) 2 Chronicles 32

June 26, 2017

“The Downfall of Sennacherib” by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

2 Chronicles 32   (NLT)

Assyria Invades Judah

1 After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified towns, giving orders for his army to break through their walls. 2 When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib also intended to attack Jerusalem, 3 he consulted with his officials and military advisers, and they decided to stop the flow of the springs outside the city. 4They organized a huge work crew to stop the flow of the springs, cutting off the brook that ran through the fields. For they said, “Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find plenty of water?”

(Read more about this water project below.)

5 Then Hezekiah worked hard at repairing all the broken sections of the wall, erecting towers, and constructing a second wall outside the first. He also reinforced the supporting terraces in the City of David and manufactured large numbers of weapons and shields. 6 He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate. Then Hezekiah encouraged them by saying: 7 “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! 8 He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem

King Sennacherib of Assyria

9While King Sennacherib of Assyria was still besieging the town of Lachish, he sent his officers to Jerusalem with this message for Hezekiah and all the people in the city:

10 “This is what King Sennacherib of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you think you can survive my siege of Jerusalem? 11 Hezekiah has said, ‘The Lord our God will rescue us from the king of Assyria.’ Surely Hezekiah is misleading you, sentencing you to death by famine and thirst! 12 Don’t you realize that Hezekiah is the very person who destroyed all the Lord’s shrines and altars? He commanded Judah and Jerusalem to worship only at the altar at the Temple and to offer sacrifices on it alone.
13 “Surely you must realize what I and the other kings of Assyria before me have done to all the people of the earth! Were any of the gods of those nations able to rescue their people from my power? 14 Which of their gods was able to rescue its people from the destructive power of my predecessors? What makes you think your God can rescue you from me? 15 Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you! Don’t let him fool you like this! I say it again—no god of any nation or kingdom has ever yet been able to rescue his people from me or my ancestors. How much less will your God rescue you from my power!”

Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV)

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

_________________________

Music:

We know what King Sennacherib did not — that God our God is almighty, eternal, gracious, just, and able to rescue us to the uttermost!  HERE  Don Moen sings “There Is None Like You.”

_________________________

16 And Sennacherib’s officers further mocked the Lord God and his servant Hezekiah, heaping insult upon insult. 17 The king also sent letters scorning the Lord, the God of Israel. He wrote, “Just as the gods of all the other nations failed to rescue their people from my power, so the God of Hezekiah will also fail.” 18 The Assyrian officials who brought the letters shouted this in Hebrew to the people gathered on the walls of the city, trying to terrify them so it would be easier to capture the city. 19 These officers talked about the God of Jerusalem as though he were one of the pagan gods, made by human hands.

20 Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers.

Psalm 34:7 (ESV)

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword.

22 That is how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace throughout the land. 23 From then on King Hezekiah became highly respected among all the surrounding nations, and many gifts for the Lord arrived at Jerusalem, with valuable presents for King Hezekiah, too.

Right: the angel killing the Assyrians, center: Sennacherib departs for the city of Nineveh, left: the death of Sennacherib. From an Italian Bible, c. 1300, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

 Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery

24 About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill. He prayed to the Lord, who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the Lord’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. 26Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem. So the Lord’s anger did not fall on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime.

27 Hezekiah was very wealthy and highly honored. He built special treasury buildings for his silver, gold, precious stones, and spices, and for his shields and other valuable items. 28 He also constructed many storehouses for his grain, new wine, and olive oil; and he made many stalls for his cattle and pens for his flocks of sheep and goats. 29 He built many towns and acquired vast flocks and herds, for God had given him great wealth. 30 He blocked up the upper spring of Gihon and brought the water down through a tunnel to the west side of the City of David. And so he succeeded in everything he did.

This intrepid tourist has waded through Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem. One of the greatest works of water engineering technology in the pre-Classical period, the tunnel is 1750 feet long and brings water from one side of the city to the other. The tunnel was discovered in modern times in 1838 by Edward Robinson (if you have been to Jerusalem:  the same Robinson as Robinson’s Arch, Temple Mount).

31 However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.

Summary of Hezekiah’s Reign

32 The rest of the events in Hezekiah’s reign and his acts of devotion are recorded in The Vision of the Prophet Isaiah Son of Amoz, which is included in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 33 When Hezekiah died, he was buried in the upper area of the royal cemetery, and all Judah and Jerusalem honored him at his death. And his son Manasseh became the next king.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Rubens.    http://www.peterpaulrubens.net/images/gallery/the-defeat-of-sennacherib.jpg
King Sennacherib.    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3319/3619742068_d67fcf2886.jpg
Italian Bible picture.    http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=112308&handle=li
Hezekiah’s Tunnel.    http://www.greatcommission.com/israel/HezekiahTunnelByCandleLightWithoutGuide.jpg

2125.) 2 Kings 17

June 23, 2017

“The Fall of Samaria” by Don Lawrence, 1964

2 Kings 17   (NIV)

Hoshea Last King of Israel

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him.

3 Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up to attack Hoshea, who had been Shalmaneser’s vassal and had paid him tribute. 4 But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year.

Hoshea thought he had a strategic opportunity when a new king came to the Assyrian throne, but he was wrong. “When Tiglath-pileser III died in 727 b.c. and was succeeded by his own son Shalmaneser V (727-722), the time seemed ripe for certain western states to renounce their vassal status. Moreover, a seemingly important ally lay southward in the delta of Egypt.” (Patterson and Austel)
–David Guzik

Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison. 5 The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes.

Judgment has come, some 200 years and 19 kings after the division of Solomon’s kingdom. The Northern Kingdom, who for all of its history followed the idolatry of Jereboam-who-made-Israel-to-sin, at last reaps the bitter harvest. The Assyrians deported most of the people, scattering them throughout their large empire so as not to have to deal with any efforts at uprising. The defeat was humiliating and the deportation was painful:  the Assyrians marched the deportees out of the city attached together with a system of strings and fishhooks pierced through their lower lip. Amos had warned them:

Amos 4:2-3 (ESV)

The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness
that, behold, the days are coming upon you,
when they shall take you away with hooks,
even the last of you with fishhooks.
And you shall go out through the breaches,
each one straight ahead;
and you shall be cast out into Harmon,”

declares the LORD.

Israel Exiled Because of Sin

The rest of this chapter shows why God allowed this calamity to happen. It was not for lack of love for His people, for, as my Old Testament professor at Wheaton College often said, “Mercy precedes judgment.” It was rather that their hearts had become so hard and their sin so great that justice was required.

7 All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods 8 and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. 9 The Israelites secretly did things against the LORD their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns. 10 They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 11 At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the LORD had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that aroused the LORD’s anger. 12 They worshiped idols, though the LORD had said, “You shall not do this.”

Exodus 20:1-3 (NLT)

Then God gave the people all these instructions:

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
“You must not have any other god but me.”

13 The LORD warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.”

14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the LORD their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

We will be that which we follow. It does not matter where we are, or what work we are doing. What we follow, that we will become. Follow what is worthless, and we become worthless. Follow truth, love, righteousness, faithfulness, and we will become true, loving, right-living, and faithful. Each one of us has a choice.

Choose you this day (Joshua 24:15), for every day we live we become more and more like that which we choose to follow.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”  updated a bit by the Aaron Pelsue Band (based in Indianapolis).

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They imitated the nations around them although the LORD had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.”

16 They forsook all the commands of the LORD their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger.

18 So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, 19 and even Judah did not keep the commands of the LORD their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. 20 Therefore the LORD rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence.

21 When he tore Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam enticed Israel away from following the LORD and caused them to commit a great sin. 22 The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them 23 until the LORD removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there.

Thus, the Ten Lost Tribes.

Speculation has abounded for centuries as to what happened to the Ten Lost Tribes, and various persons have made claims that their people-group is a descendant of the Ten Lost Tribes:  the Pashtuns of Afghanistan, the British, the Kurds, the Japanese, the Irish, the American Indians, the Latter Day Saints . . .

Samaria Resettled

Jews led out — Gentiles sent in

24 The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. 25 When they first lived there, they did not worship the LORD; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people. 26 It was reported to the king of Assyria: “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.”

27 Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the LORD.

Well, sort of . . . What did the priests of the Northern Kingdom really know about the worship of the One True God?

29 Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. 30 The people from Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, those from Kuthah made Nergal, and those from Hamath made Ashima; 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 They worshiped the LORD, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. 33 They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.

34 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the LORD nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the LORD gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. 36 But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. 37 You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”

40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.

The Samaritans continued well into New Testament times, despised by the Gentiles for being part Jewish and by the Jews for being part Gentile. But Jesus never treated the Samaritans in a demeaning manner. The first person to whom He said clearly, “I am the Messiah” was the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). And when a Jewish lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” — Jesus answered by telling the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10).

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Lawrence.    http://www.bookpalace.com/acatalog/LawrenceSamariaLL.jpg
tablets (Charleton Heston used these in the movie The Ten Commandments).    http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.440473.1314585431!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/alg-ten-commandments-jpg.jpg
Follow Jesus.    https://inspirationalchristiansfortoday.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/follow-jesus.jpg
map of the Northern Kingdom exile.    http://www.bibletrack.org/notes/image/Northern_Exile.jpg
Good Samaritan.    http://www.millennialstar.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/good-samaritan-came-to-him.jpg

2124.) 2 Chronicles 31

June 22, 2017

King Hezekiah re-establishes regular worship on a proper footing, and provides for the regular income of the priests and the Levites, all according to the law of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 31   (NLT)

Hezekiah’s Religious Reforms

1When the festival ended, the Israelites who attended went to all the towns of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, and they smashed all the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and removed the pagan shrines and altars. After this, the Israelites returned to their own towns and homes.

What Hezekiah had started is now carried out by the people — and not only the people of Judah, but the people of the Northern Kingdom as well! Can you sense that the euphoria of the double Passover celebration continues as places of idolatrous worship are destroyed.

2 Hezekiah then organized the priests and Levites into divisions to offer the burnt offerings and peace offerings, and to worship and give thanks and praise to the Lord at the gates of the Temple. 3 The king also made a personal contribution of animals for the daily morning and evening burnt offerings, the weekly Sabbath festivals, the monthly new moon festivals, and the annual festivals as prescribed in the Law of the Lord. 4 In addition, he required the people in Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites, so they could devote themselves fully to the Law of the Lord.

5 The people of Israel responded immediately and generously by bringing the first of their crops and grain, new wine, olive oil, honey, and all the produce of their fields. They brought a large quantity—a tithe of all they produced.

King Hezekiah did not present this as an option for the people of Judah. They were commanded to fulfill their obligations under the Law of Moses to support the priesthood through their tithes (Numbers 18:21-24).

As God said in Numbers 18:21, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel. God commanded the tithes (a giving of ten percent of one’s income) be given to the Levites for their support. This establishes the principle that the tithes belong to God (He said I have given, so they are His to give), but He gave them to the Levites.  When an Israelite failed to give their tithe, they were not robbing the Levite. They were robbing God (Malachi 3:8-10), because God received the tithe from the giver, and He gave it to the Levite.

Some today think the tithe, since it went to support the Levites (who were, in a sense, government workers in ancient Israel), is covered by government taxes of today, and that free-will giving mentioned in the Old Testament answers to the New Testament emphasis on giving. We can say that the New Testament nowhere specifically commands tithing, but it certainly does speak of it in a positive light, if it is done with a right heart (Luke 11:42).

It is also important to understand that tithing is not a principle dependent on the Mosaic Law; as Hebrews 7:5-9 explains, tithing was practiced and honored by God before the Law of Moses.

What the New Testament does speak with great clarity on is the principle of giving; that giving should be regular, planned, proportional, and private (1 Corinthians 16:1-4); that it must be generous, freely given, and cheerful (2 Corinthians 9).

Since the New Testament doesn’t emphasize tithing, one might not be strict on it for Christians (though some Christians do argue against tithing on the basis of self-interest); but since giving is to be proportional, we should be giving some percentage – and ten percent is a good benchmark — and starting place! For some to give ten percent is nowhere near enough; for others, at their present time, five percent may be a massive step of faith.

If our question is, “How little can I give and still be pleasing to God?” — our heart isn’t in the right place at all. We should have the attitude of some early Christians, who essentially said: “We’re not under the tithe – we can give more!” Giving and financial management is a spiritual issue, not just a financial one (Luke 16:11).

–David Guzik

6 The people who had moved to Judah from Israel, and the people of Judah themselves, brought in the tithes of their cattle, sheep, and goats and a tithe of the things that had been dedicated to the Lord their God, and they piled them up in great heaps. 7 They began piling them up in late spring, and the heaps continued to grow until early autumn. 8 When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw these huge piles, they thanked the Lord and his people Israel!

9 “Where did all this come from?” Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites.

10 And Azariah the high priest, from the family of Zadok, replied, “Since the people began bringing their gifts to the Lord’s Temple, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare. The Lord has blessed his people, and all this is left over.”

11 Hezekiah ordered that storerooms be prepared in the Temple of the Lord.

Hezekiah knew he had to deal responsibly with the gifts that were coming in.  He implements procedures and plans so that everything can be done decently and in order, thereby honoring both God and the generous givers.

When this was done, 12 the people faithfully brought all the tithes and gifts to the Temple. Conaniah the Levite was put in charge, assisted by his brother Shimei. 13 The supervisors under them were Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismakiah, Mahath, and Benaiah. These appointments were made by King Hezekiah and Azariah, the chief official in the Temple of God.

14 Kore son of Imnah the Levite, who was the gatekeeper at the East Gate, was put in charge of distributing the voluntary offerings given to God, the gifts, and the things that had been dedicated to the Lord. 15 His faithful assistants were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah. They distributed the gifts among the families of priests in their towns by their divisions, dividing the gifts fairly among old and young alike. 16 They distributed the gifts to all males three years old or older, regardless of their place in the genealogical records. The distribution went to all who would come to the Lord’s Temple to perform their daily duties according to their divisions. 17 They distributed gifts to the priests who were listed by their families in the genealogical records, and to the Levites twenty years old or older who were listed according to their jobs and their divisions. 18 Food allotments were also given to the families of all those listed in the genealogical records, including their little babies, wives, sons, and daughters. For they had all been faithful in purifying themselves.

19 As for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who were living in the open villages around the towns, men were appointed by name to distribute portions to every male among the priests and to all the Levites listed in the genealogical records.

20 In this way, King Hezekiah handled the distribution throughout all Judah, doing what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. 21 In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.

Matthew 6:33   (King James Version)

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

_________________________

Music:

HERE,  in his song, “I Refuse,” Josh Wilson encourages us to step up to the plate and do what God wants done, as Hezekiah did in this chapter.

__________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
appreciation.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/200×150/14/27/13/1427134593121cd0cff18fe0cd09f8de.jpg
10%.   http://socialnorms.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ten-706887_1280.jpg
piles of grain.   https://thedailychapter.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/grain-piles-market-harvest.jpg
the kingdom of God.    http://cpointechurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/kingdom_of_god_795x300.jpg

2123.) 2 Chronicles 30

June 21, 2017

The Passover, or Seder, plate of today usually includes a hard-boiled egg (then going clockwise), lettuce, a roasted lamb shank,  charoset (a mixture of apples, wine, nuts, and spices), bitter herbs (often horseradish), and parsley (to dip in salt water).

2 Chronicles 30   (NLT)

Preparations for Passover

1 King Hezekiah now sent word to all Israel and Judah, and he wrote letters of invitation to the people of Ephraim and Manasseh. He asked everyone to come to the Temple of the Lord at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel.

The Passover is significant from the Chronicler’s point of view for two reasons. First, commemorating as it does Israel’s escape from Egypt in her earliest days as a nation (Exodus 12f.), it comes to symbolize release from the bondage of an overlord in more general ways. As he moves towards the story of the fateful Babylonian captivity, he lays stress on the fact that this need not be the end of the nation. In the Chronicler’s day, the story would have sown hope of a still future resurgence of Israel from under the yoke of Persia.

The second major point which the Chronicler makes out of Hezekiah’s Passover concerns the nature of Israel. Notice that the king’s appeal is not to Judah alone, but to “all Israel and Judah.” The point is stressed by the reference to letters written to Ephraim and Manasseh. As it was under David and Solomon, the people are invited to be united. Many of the Northern Kingdom had been taken as captives to other parts of the Assyrian Empire; for the Israelites who remained, the only possible link with their historical traditions was via Jerusalem.

–J. G. McConville

2 The king, his officials, and all the community of Jerusalem decided to celebrate Passover a month later than usual. 3They were unable to celebrate it at the prescribed time because not enough priests could be purified by then, and the people had not yet assembled at Jerusalem.

4 This plan for keeping the Passover seemed right to the king and all the people. 5 So they sent a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north, inviting everyone to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. The people had not been celebrating it in great numbers as required in the Law.

6 At the king’s command, runners were sent throughout Israel and Judah.  They carried letters that said:

“O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings.

The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen and all that remained after exile to the Assyrians was the remnant of you who have survived. Yet Hezekiah still believed in the concept of the Children of Israel, those of all the tribes of Israel descended from the great patriarchs.

–David Guzik

(This reminds me of the many Christians in South Korea who hold all-night prayer meetings every Wednesday night to pray for their fellow Koreans in the North, who are suffering so terribly under the leadership of the last several decades. Such self-sacrificing love for their brothers and sisters whom they cannot reach in tangible ways!)

7 Do not be like your ancestors and relatives who abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and became an object of derision, as you yourselves can see. 8 Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the Lord. Come to his Temple, which he has set apart as holy forever. Worship the Lord your God so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.
9 “For if you return to the Lord, your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to him, he will not continue to turn his face from you.”

Celebration of Passover

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Music:

As Hezekiah and his people celebrate a renewal of the Old Covenant, we can rejoice that Jesus has established a New Covenant. And because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, it is still true that “the Lord your God is gracious and merciful.”  HERE  is a beautiful Passover song — “New Covenant”  by the artist Shira. She is a grandmother from Texas.

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10 The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them. 11However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.

Not the response Hezekiah had hoped for —

12 At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the Lord. 13 So a huge crowd assembled at Jerusalem in midspring to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 14 They set to work and removed the pagan altars from Jerusalem. They took away all the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.

15 On the fourteenth day of the second month, one month later than usual, the people slaughtered the Passover lamb.

This shamed the priests and Levites, so they purified themselves and brought burnt offerings to the Temple of the Lord. 16 Then they took their places at the Temple as prescribed in the Law of Moses, the man of God. The Levites brought the sacrificial blood to the priests, who then sprinkled it on the altar.

17 Since many of the people had not purified themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover lamb for them, to set them apart for the Lord. 18 Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon those 19 who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.” 20 And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.

“It was a motley crowd which assembled, and multitudes of the people were utterly ignorant of the Divine arrangements for preparation. Hezekiah’s tenderness was manifested in the pity he felt for these people, and in the prayer he offered on their behalf.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

21 So the people of Israel who were present in Jerusalem joyously celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. Each day the Levites and priests sang to the Lord, accompanied by loud instruments. 22 Hezekiah encouraged all the Levites regarding the skill they displayed as they served the Lord. The celebration continued for seven days. Peace offerings were sacrificed, and the people gave thanks to the Lord, the God of their ancestors.

23 The entire assembly then decided to continue the festival another seven days, so they celebrated joyfully for another week. 24 King Hezekiah gave the people 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats for offerings, and the officials donated 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep and goats. Meanwhile, many more priests purified themselves.

Psalm 50:23   (NIV)

“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me,
and he prepares the way
so that I may show him the salvation of God.”

25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, including the priests, the Levites, all who came from the land of Israel, the foreigners who came to the festival, and all those who lived in Judah. 26 There was great joy in the city, for Jerusalem had not seen a celebration like this one since the days of Solomon, King David’s son. 27 Then the priests and Levites stood and blessed the people, and God heard their prayer from his holy dwelling in heaven.

These are the words God gave the first High Priest Aaron to use when blessing the people.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Passover seder plate.    http://www.reformjudaism.org/sites/default/files/styles/article_inline_image/public/%E2%80%A2SederPlate_silh_color_preview.png?itok=WEtSf92o
lamb.    http://www.lauriedonahue.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/lamb.jpg
offering plate.    http://ugospel.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/church-offering-plate-300×199.jpg
“May the Lord bless you  . . . ”   calligraphy by Timothy Botts.    http://www.prestoimages.net/graphics07/1098_pd320419_1.jpg