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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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:
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

2122.) 2 Chronicles 29

June 20, 2017

“A true love of God must begin with a delight in his holiness.” –Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

2 Chronicles 29   (NLT)

Hezekiah Rules in Judah

Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became the king of Judah,

“May you live in interesting times,” the old Chinese curse (fortune?) goes. Certainly Hezekiah lived in interesting times! Three years after he came to the throne, the Assyrians set siege to Samaria, the capitol of the Northern Kingdom. Three years later, Israel fell. What a clear lesson to the young king! See what happens when God’s people dismiss God’s Word and worship idols!

and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. 2He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done.

Hurray!  Another good king!

2 Kings 18:5   (NIV)

Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.

Hezekiah Reopens the Temple

3 In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them. 4 He summoned the priests and Levites to meet him at the courtyard east of the Temple. 5 He said to them, “Listen to me, you Levites! Purify yourselves, and purify the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary. 6 Our ancestors were unfaithful and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned the Lord and his dwelling place; they turned their backs on him. 7They also shut the doors to the Temple’s entry room, and they snuffed out the lamps. They stopped burning incense and presenting burnt offerings at the sanctuary of the God of Israel.

8 “That is why the Lord’s anger has fallen upon Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them an object of dread, horror, and ridicule, as you can see with your own eyes. 9 Because of this, our fathers have been killed in battle, and our sons and daughters and wives have been captured. 10 But now I will make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him.”

12 Then these Levites got right to work:

From the clan of Kohath: Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah.
From the clan of Merari: Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel.
From the clan of Gershon: Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah.
13 From the family of Elizaphan: Shimri and Jeiel.
From the family of Asaph: Zechariah and Mattaniah.
14 From the family of Heman: Jehiel and Shimei.
From the family of Jeduthun: Shemaiah and Uzziel.

15 These men called together their fellow Levites, and they all purified themselves. Then they began to cleanse the Temple of the Lord, just as the king had commanded. They were careful to follow all the Lord’s instructions in their work. 16 The priests went into the sanctuary of the Temple of the Lord to cleanse it, and they took out to the Temple courtyard all the defiled things they found. From there the Levites carted it all out to the Kidron Valley.

17 They began the work in early spring, on the first day of the new year, and in eight days they had reached the entry room of the Lord’s Temple. Then they purified the Temple of the Lord itself, which took another eight days. So the entire task was completed in sixteen days.

Eight days just to carry out all the rubbish and trash and stuff. Reminds me of “Hoarders” on television . . .

The Temple Rededication

18 Then the Levites went to King Hezekiah and gave him this report: “We have cleansed the entire Temple of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the table of the Bread of the Presence with all its utensils. 19We have also recovered all the items discarded by King Ahaz when he was unfaithful and closed the Temple. They are now in front of the altar of the Lord, purified and ready for use.”

20 Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials and went to the Temple of the Lord. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, and seven male lambs as a burnt offering, together with seven male goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the Temple, and for Judah. The king commanded the priests, who were descendants of Aaron, to sacrifice the animals on the altar of the Lord.

22 So they killed the bulls, and the priests took the blood and sprinkled it on the altar. Next they killed the rams and sprinkled their blood on the altar. And finally, they did the same with the male lambs. 23 The male goats for the sin offering were then brought before the king and the assembly of people, who laid their hands on them. 24 The priests then killed the goats as a sin offering and sprinkled their blood on the altar to make atonement for the sins of all Israel. The king had specifically commanded that this burnt offering and sin offering should be made for all Israel.

Look at how carefully King Hezekiah works! He gets up early to take care of things. He orders the work to be done according to the instructions of God. He includes more than the required sacrifice, and he does not forget praise and worship . . .

25 King Hezekiah then stationed the Levites at the Temple of the Lord with cymbals, lyres, and harps. He obeyed all the commands that the Lord had given to King David through Gad, the king’s seer, and the prophet Nathan. 26 The Levites then took their positions around the Temple with the instruments of David, and the priests took their positions with the trumpets.

27 Then Hezekiah ordered that the burnt offering be placed on the altar. As the burnt offering was presented, songs of praise to the Lord were begun, accompanied by the trumpets and other instruments of David, the former king of Israel.

Psalm 43:4   (NIV)

Then I will go to the altar of God,
   to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
   O God, my God.

28 The entire assembly worshiped the Lord as the singers sang and the trumpets blew, until all the burnt offerings were finished. 29 Then the king and everyone with him bowed down in worship.

To WORSHIP is to:

  • quicken the conscience by the holiness of God,
  • feed the mind with the truth of God,
  • purge the imagination by the beauty of God,
  • open the heart to the love of God, and
  • devote the will to the purpose of God.

–William Temple

30 King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord with the psalms written by David and by Asaph the seer. So they offered joyous praise and bowed down in worship.

31 Then Hezekiah declared, “Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord, bring your sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings to the Temple of the Lord.”

Hebrews 13:15-16   (NIV)

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

So the people brought their sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings, too. 32 The people brought to the Lord 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 male lambs for burnt offerings. 33 They also brought 600 cattle and 3,000 sheep and goats as sacred offerings.

34 But there were too few priests to prepare all the burnt offerings. So their relatives the Levites helped them until the work was finished and more priests had been purified, for the Levites had been more conscientious about purifying themselves than the priests had been. 35 There was an abundance of burnt offerings, along with the usual liquid offerings, and a great deal of fat from the many peace offerings.

So the Temple of the Lord was restored to service. 36 And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had done for the people, for everything had been accomplished so quickly.

_________________________

Music:

Time to worship. May it always be a blessed time, a joyful time, a cleansing time.

George Askins was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States as an adult. A Methodist, he became an itinerant preacher, mostly in Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky. He died in 1816.  HERE  is one of his pieces, “Brethren, we have met to worship.” It is sung in bluegrass gospel style by the MacDonald Family Singers

1 Brethren, we have met to worship
And adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power,
While we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit
Of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna
Will be showered all around.

2 Brethren, see poor sinners round you
Slumb’ring on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving,
Can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers,
And our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna
Will be showered all around.

3 Sisters, will you join and help us?
Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners
Who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior,
Tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna
Will be showered all around.

4 Let us love our God supremely,
Let us love each other, too;
Let us love and pray for sinners,
Till our God makes all things new.
Then He’ll call us home to heaven,
At His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself, and serve us
With sweet manna all around.

_________________________

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:
worship.    http://blogatsouthpointe.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/worship.gif
interesting times.   https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qc9qyLWaBOg/V_97xT06dkI/AAAAAAABf7E/35pI4yll0hk/may-you-live-in-interesting-times1_thumb%25255B7%25255D.png?imgmax=800
king.    http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/4700/4782/king_16_lg.gif
junk truck.    http://media.independent.com/img/photos/2008/02/07/1800gotjunk_t479.JPG?ad14627618f647f3902aa65ed5ac8237c798b1ef
songs of praise in the temple.   http://www.searchingthescriptures.net/main_pages/articles/instrumental_music_in_church/artwork/music_temple.jpg
Hallelujah music.   http://storage.cloversites.com/lifespringchurchsbc/site_images/sub_page185_picture0.jpg

2121.) 2 Kings 18

June 19, 2017

On the Lachish reliefs in the British Museum, Israelite prisoners are shown being sent into exile by the Assyrians under Sennacherib.  This relief formerly adorned a wall in Sennacherib’s palace in ancient Ninevah.

2 Kings 18   (NIV)

Hezekiah King of Judah

1 In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah.

Hezekiah came to the throne of Judah right before the fall of the Northern Kingdom. He had reigned for three years when the Assyrians came to Samaria and laid siege to the city, and in another three years, the nation fell. It was the clearest of lessons! Disobedience to the Lord will have significant and severe consequences.

3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. 4 He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles.

Finally!  We have been waiting for a king to do this!  Good for you, Hezekiah!

He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)

Numbers 21:1-9 describes how during a time of a plague of fiery serpents upon the whole nation, Moses made a bronze serpent for the nation to look upon and be spared death from the snake bites. This statement in 2 Kings tells us that this particular bronze serpent had been preserved for more than 800 years and had come to be worshipped as Nehushtan.  Hezekiah, in his zeal, broke in pieces this bronze artifact and put an end to the idolatrous worship of this object.

This bronze serpent was wonderful thing —  when the afflicted people of Israel looked upon it, they were saved. It was even a representation of Jesus Christ, as Jesus Himself said in John 3:14-15. At the same time, man could take something so good and so used by God and make a destructive idol out of it.

–David Guzik

5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6 He held fast to the LORD and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.

This strong and godly character demonstrated by Hezekiah is particularly amazing when we remember that his father was Ahaz, one of the worst and most ungodly kings of Judah.

7 And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 8 From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory.

“He shook off that yoke of subjugation and tribute to which his father had wickedly submitted, and reassumed that full independent sovereignty which God had settled in the house of David.”

–Matthew Poole

God blessed the king for being faithful and obedient.

9 In King Hezekiah’s fourth year, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria marched against Samaria and laid siege to it. 10 At the end of three years the Assyrians took it. So Samaria was captured in Hezekiah’s sixth year, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel. 11 The king of Assyria deported Israel to Assyria and settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in towns of the Medes. 12 This happened because they had not obeyed the LORD their God, but had violated his covenant—all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. They neither listened to the commands nor carried them out.

Then, some years later, a different approach:

13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 So Hezekiah king of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish:

The mention of Lachish is important historically. 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 carving depicting their siege of the city of Lachish, which was an important fortress city of Judah.

The single inscription which identifies the location depicted in the reliefs reads: “Sennacherib, the mighty king, king of the country of Assyria, sitting on the throne of judgment, before (or at the entrance of) the city of Lachish (Lakhisha). I give permission for its slaughter”

“An interesting wall relief taken from the excavation of Sennacherib’s royal palace in Nineveh is persevered in the British Museum. It portrays the Assyrian king on a portable throne in his military camp outside Lachish. Prisoners of war are marching by on foot, and all the booty from the city is being displayed on ox-wagons.” (Dilday)

–David Guzik

“I have done wrong. Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.” The king of Assyria exacted from Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace.

16 At this time Hezekiah king of Judah stripped off the gold with which he had covered the doors and doorposts of the temple of the LORD, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

Can you say “appeasement”?

“We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will. I cannot believe that such a program would be rejected by the people of this country, even if it does mean the establishment of personal contact with the dictators.”

–Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister 1937-1940

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem

17 The king of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer and his field commander with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They came up to Jerusalem and stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. 18 They called for the king; and Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to them.

These very high officials from Assyria walk right to Jerusalem (obviously, they have the situation well in hand) and make a speech to destroy Israelite confidence. As you read it, note how the field commander taunts the Israelites, threatens them, lies to them, intimidates them:

19 The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah:

“‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? 20 You say you have the counsel and the might for war—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me? 21 Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him. 22 But if you say to me, “We are depending on the LORD our God”—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar in Jerusalem”?

It was a great temptation for Hezekiah during this time to make a defensive alliance with Egypt, which seemed to be the only nation strong enough to protect Judah against the mighty Assyrians. As a prophet, Isaiah did everything he could to discourage Hezekiah and the leaders of Judah from putting their trust in Egypt (Isaiah 19:11-17; 20:1-6). The LORD wanted Judah to trust Him instead of Egypt.

–David Guzik

Strangely, the Rabshakeh could see the truth of Egypt’s weakness better than many of the leaders of Judah could. Hezekiah’s trust-in-Egypt policy would indeed be trouble for Judah.

23 “‘Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses—if you can put riders on them! 24 How can you repulse one officer of the least of my master’s officials, even though you are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 25 Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the LORD? The LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.’”

This reminds us of the Rabshakeh’s whole strategy, which was to make Judah give up. This was the entire reason the Rabshakeh was at the aqueduct, speaking to these leaders of Hezekiah’s government. He had the vastly superior armies; he could have just attacked Jerusalem without this little speech. But the Rabshekah would prefer it if Judah would simply give up, out of fear, discouragement, or despair — especially when he claims God is on his side!

26 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.”

An effort to keep panic down among the inhabitants of Jerusalem — but it doesn’t work, as the field commander graphically illustrates.

27 But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?”

28 Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29 This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. 30 Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’

31 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, 32 until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!

He glorifies the enemy of God’s people! He makes them doubt their own leaders! He builds fear and disbelief into them! He makes surrender seem an attractive option! He says deportation will allow them to buy some quality real estate in a place of his choosing!

“Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ 33 Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 35 Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

_________________________

Music:

Clearly, the field commander does not know that the Lord is the Living God, and that one day in his courts is better than a thousand days elsewhere!  HERE  is Matt Redman’s song, “Better Is One Day.”

_________________________

36 But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”

37 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went to Hezekiah, with their clothes torn, and told him what the field commander had said.

_________________________

Let’s summarize where we are right now:

  • Sennacherib, the King of Assyria has conquered the entire region surrounding Jerusalem, including the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the walled cities of Judah.
  • Only Jerusalem remains unconquered.
  • Hezekiah, the good King of Judah, tries to avoid takeover by sending a large tribute to Sennacherib. It doesn’t satisfy the King of Assyria.
  • It’s 701 B.C. and Sennacherib has Jerusalem surrounded and cut off with several hundred thousand soldiers.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Lachish relief.     http://www.answersingenesis.org/assets/images/articles/utp/chap10/lachish-relief.jpg
Moses and the bronze serpent.    http://www.zianet.com/maxey/brsnake1.jpg
Sennacherib on his throne.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lachish_reliefs#/media/File:Lachish_inscription.jpeg
Chamberlain and Hitler, 1938.    http://corriecanuck.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/neville_chamberlain_and_adolf_hitler_peace_in_our_time.jpg
map of Assyria, Judah, Egypt.   http://www.historyinthebible.com/supplementary_pages/graphics/820_BC.jpg
Yeah, right.   https://media.makeameme.org/created/YEAH-RIGHT.jpg

2120.) Psalm 146

June 16, 2017

Ps146 praise Jesus

Psalm 146   (NIV)

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Ps146 praise 2

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—

Colossians 1 tells us that JESUS is supreme in all creation:  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

    he remains faithful forever.

Ps146 neverfail

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.

Think of Jesus touching and healing lepers and feeding thousands of people with miraculous bread and fish!

The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,

. . . and remember how Jesus helped crippled people to walk and opened the eyes of the blind!

the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,

. . . and don’t forget the bent-over woman, and the woman with the issue of blood, when Jesus took their hands and literally lifted them up!

    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner

. . . and look at how kindly Jesus healed the centurion’s servant and the Syro-Phonecian woman’s daughter!

    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

. . . and he brought joy to the widow of Nain when he brought her son back to life!

    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

From the Nicene Creed, speaking of Jesus:

And He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

Praise the Lord.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a song that just begs you to sing along! — “Jesus, What a Beautiful Name.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Praise Jesus.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/ps146-praise-jesus.gif
Psalm 146:2.    https://myloveforjesus.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/psalm146.jpg
I will never fail you.    https://testimoniesofhisgoodness.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/neverfail.jpg?w=570

2119.) Isaiah 35

June 15, 2017
Desert in bloom in Alamo Canyon, Ajo Mountains, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona

Desert in bloom in Alamo Canyon, Ajo Mountains, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona.  Photograph by Ed Cooper.

Isaiah 35   (ESV)

The Ransomed Shall Return

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

I35 streams

For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

VISION AND REALITY

“And the parched ground shall become a pool”  —  v. 7

We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation.

“Life is not as idle ore,
but iron dug from central gloom
and battered by the shocks of doom
to shape and use.”

God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give up. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry. In the light of the glory of the vision we go forth to do things, but the vision is not real in us yet; and God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality. Ever since we had the vision God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal, and over and over again we escape from His hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape.

The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.

in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;

I35 This_is_the_way
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

_________________________

Music:

Coming home. How many times have we longed to go back home? From summer camp as a kid — from freshman year at college — from a long vacation on too many different beds — from an unsettling place to what is known and loved. I think of what it must have been like for my mother (whose birthday was later this month) to arrive in Heaven and see her mother, father, little siblings who had died as children, and her Savior — welcoming her home to everlasting joy and gladness, with no more sorrow or sighing and much singing! And this is our future, too, as followers of Jesus Christ! Click  HERE  for a delightful “Welcome Home” (and thank you, Carole!).

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Cooper.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/f2/1e/d3/f21ed32ea53ed79000880bc3bf94b0d0.jpg
vs. 6-7.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/citysafari/winter_08/isaiah_streams_2008.jpg
This is the way.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/this_is_the_way_isaiah.jpg
Welcome home balloon.    https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/390e3447-28b3-4439-b293-1d706a28dad8_1.0492b2f6c36bb658c7fe8af6cba20286.jpeg?odnHeight=450&odnWidth=450&odnBg=FFFFFF