2364.) 2 Kings 25

May 24, 2018

“The Deportation to Babylon” by Eric de Saussure, 1968.

2 Kings 25   (NIV)

The Fall of Jerusalem

Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

1 So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. 2 The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

A siege wall around the city prevented food and supplies from entering the city; eventually the population was starved out.

3 By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. 4 Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city.

At this desperate point for Judah at the siege of Jerusalem, King Zedekiah made a last-chance effort to escape the grip of the nearly-completely successful siege, planning a secret break through the city walls and the siege lines of the Babylonians, using a diversionary tactic.

They fled toward the Arabah, 5 but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, 6 and he was captured.

Date palms near Jericho.

Jericho. “It seems ironic that here, at the very spot where Israel first set foot on the Promised Land, the last of the Davidic kings was captured and his monarchy shattered. Here, where Israel experienced her first victory as the walls of Jericho fell before unarmed men who trusted God, was the scene of her last defeat.”
–Russell H. Dilday

He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. 7 They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.

So the final thing he saw — was the killing of his sons.

Blinding prisoners was unusual, since most prisoners would be put to work. But blinding the king had a highly symbolic significance–obviously he could not lead the people now–as well as a dispiriting emotional impact on the deportees.

8 On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He set fire to the temple of the LORD,

“The Talmud declares that when the Babylonians entered the temple, they held a two-day feast there to desecrate it; then, on the third day, they set fire to the building. The Talmud adds that the fire burned throughout that day and the next.”
–Russell H. Dilday

the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.

Psalm 74:3-8 (NLT)

Walk through the awful ruins of the city;
see how the enemy has destroyed your sanctuary.

There your enemies shouted their victorious battle cries;
there they set up their battle standards.
They swung their axes
like woodcutters in a forest.
With axes and picks,
they smashed the carved paneling.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground.
They defiled the place that bears your name.
Then they thought, “Let’s destroy everything!”
So they burned down all the places where God was worshiped.

10 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem.

The walls of Jerusalem–the physical security of the city–were now destroyed. Jerusalem was no longer a place of safety and security. The walls would remain a ruin until they were rebuilt by the returning exiles in the days of Nehemiah.

11 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. 12 But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.

13 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon. 14 They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. 15 The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls—all that were made of pure gold or silver.

“The Chaldees destroy the brazen Sea” by James Tissot, 1900 (Jewish Museum, New York)

16 The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed. 17 Each pillar was eighteen cubits high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was three cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar.

Jerusalem was left desolate, completely plundered under the judgment of God.

18 The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. 19 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.

So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.

_________________________

Music:

“Away from her land.” Yet — this is not the end of the story! We rejoice that some Jews will return to Judah, and particularly to Bethlehem in Judah, because not even a total military defeat and deportation to far-off lands will be able to thwart God’s plan of salvation and the coming of Jesus!

HERE  is the “Nunc Dimittis” from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers.

“Lord, now Thou lettest Thy servant depart,
According to Thy word, in peace.
For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation
Thou has prepared before the face of all people,
A Light to illuminate the Gentiles
And the glory of Thy people Israel.”

_________________________

22 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah. 23 When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maakathite, and their men. 24 Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials,” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.”

Reasonable and pragmatic advice, to humble one’s self and to submit to the judgment of God brought through the Babylonians . . . 

25 In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah. 26 At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.

. . . which was considered treason by others . . .

Jehoiachin Released

27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.

The End of 2 Kings

Give us this day our daily bread.

from Morning and Evening
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.” — 2 Kings 25:30


Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king’s palace with a store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord’s people. A daily portion is all that a man really wants. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want.

Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day’s supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy.

This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin’s case is ours, we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
de Saussure.    https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/490-2-kings-25/
date palms.    http://sites.google.com/site/pilgrimstojerusalem/_/rsrc/1226464477774/Home/historical-background/Date_palms.jpg
the destruction of Jerusalem.    http://clintthoughts.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/jerusalem_destruction.jpg
Tissot.     https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Tissot_The_Chaldees_Destroy_the_Brazen_Sea.jpg
loaf of bread.    http://www.omaha.com/inspiredliving/baking-our-daily-bread/article_8850b254-0d44-11e6-bb9c-1bce384aa23d.html

2233.) 2 Kings 24

November 22, 2017

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, were built by King Nebuchadnezzar in about 600 BC to please his foreign wife, who longed for the plants of her homeland. The gardens were destroyed by earthquakes after the 2nd century BC.

2 Kings 24   (NIV)

1 During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonian Empire, was concerned with Judah because of its strategic position in relation to the empires of Egypt and Assyria. Therefore it was important to him to conquer Judah and make it a subject kingdom, “his vassal,” securely loyal to Babylon.

  • Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem because the Pharaoh of Egypt invaded Babylon. In response the young prince Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians at Charchemish, and then he pursued their fleeing army all the way down to the Sinai. Along the way (or on the way back), he subdued Jerusalem, who had been loyal to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
  • This happened in 605 B.C. and it was the first (but not the last) encounter between Nebuchadnezzar and Jehoiakim. There would be two later invasions (597 and 587 B.C.).
  • This specific attack is documented by the Babylonian Chronicles (a piece of it pictured above), a collection of tablets discovered as early as 1887, held in the British Museum. In them, Nebuchadnezzar’s 605 B.C. presence in Judah is documented and clarified. When the Babylonian chronicles were finally published in 1956, they gave us first-rate, detailed political and military information about the first 10 years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. L.W. King had prepared these tablets in 1919; he then died, and they were neglected for four decades.
  • Excavations also document the victory of Nebuchadnezzar over the Egyptians at Carchemish in May or June of 605 B.C. Archaeologists found evidences of battle, vast quantities of arrowheads, layers of ash, and a shield of a Greek mercenary fighting for the Egyptians.
  • This campaign of Nebuchadnezzar was interrupted suddenly when he heard of his father’s death and raced back to Babylon to secure his succession to the throne. He traveled about 500 miles in two weeks – remarkable speed for travel in that day. Nebuchadnezzar only had the time to take a few choice captives (such as Daniel), a few treasures and a promise of submission from Jehoiakim.

–David Guzik

But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled. 2 The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive.

_________________________

Music:

The shedding of innocent blood.  HERE  is the old hymn, “Jesus, your blood and righteousness,” written by Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf in the 1700’s, with a new tune by the vocalist, Lori Sealy.

Jesus, Your blood and righteousness
my beauty are, my glorious dress;
‘midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
with joy I lift up my head!
Bold shall I stand in Your great day;
for who a charge to me shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
from sin, fear and guilt and shame.

Through Your blood and righteousness
I am so richly blessed.
By grace I’m justified,
redeemed by the LORD Jesus Christ.

Jesus, be endless praise to You,
whose boundless mercy did pursue –
and for me full atonement made,
Your blood my ransom paid!

Through Your blood and righteousness
I am so richly blessed.
By grace I’m justified,
redeemed by the LORD Jesus Christ!

When from the dust of death I rise
to claim my mansion in the skies,
then this shall still be all my plea,
He lived and died for me!

O let the dead now hear Your voice,
now bid the banished ones rejoice,
their beauty this their glorious dress,
Your blood and righteousness.

Through Your blood and righteousness
I am so richly blessed.
By grace I’m justified,
redeemed by the LORD Jesus Christ.

_________________________

5 As for the other events of Jehoiakim’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 6 Jehoiakim rested with his ancestors. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.

7 The king of Egypt did not march out from his own country again, because the king of Babylon had taken all his territory, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River.

Egypt had been soundly defeated by Nebuchadnezzar.  Now Babylonia is the “super power” of the Fertile Crescent.

Jehoiachin King of Judah

The teenage king. Nothing in his three-month reign would give Jerusalem confidence.

8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. 9 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father had done.

10 At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and laid siege to it, 11 and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it. 12 Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him.

In the eighth year of the reign of the king of Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. 13 As the LORD had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed the treasures from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace, and cut up the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the LORD. 14 He carried all Jerusalem into exile: all the officers and fighting men, and all the skilled workers and artisans—a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left.

And certainly they — the poorest of the land — would not cause Nebachadnezzar any problems.

15 Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon.

He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the prominent people of the land. 16 The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand skilled workers and artisans. 17 He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah.

Remarkably, Jehoiachin spent 37 years in prison, a humiliated and forgotten man. He had lots of time to consider his life, and perhaps brought to mind stories he had heard about his grandfather, Josiah, and memories of the dishonorable death of his father. Perhaps he even prayed, and humbly sought mercy from the Lord.

With a change of Babylon’s kings came a change in Jehoiachin’s fate. Evil Merodach became the king of Babylon, and in the year he began to reign, he released Jehoiachin from prison. The new king was kind to him, and gave him a prominent position in his administration, better than all the other exiled kings who were with him in Babylon. Jehoiachin dined at the king’s table regularly, and his needs were met by the king of Babylon for the remainder of his life. His children included Shealtiel, in the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:12. (2 Kings 24:8-16; 2 Chronicles 36:9, 10)

–Pete Miller of ShareFaith.com

Zedekiah King of Judah

Puppet king of Nebuchadnezzar. Last king of Judah.

18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 19 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done. 20 It was because of the LORD’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.

The Fall of Jerusalem

Many Jews of the time believed that God would never allow the city of Jerusalem to fall. They did not realize that God was more concerned with their hearts (in terms of justice, truth, worship, forgiveness, kindness, etc.) than he was with their nation as such. Their sins had to be dealt with before their flag could fly with honor.

Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
hanging gardens of Babylon.    https://www.realmofhistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/animation-hanging-gardens-of-babylon_2.jpg
Babylonian Chronicle.   http://cojs.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/Babylonian_Chronicle-2.jpg
captive Jehoiachin.   http://www.temkit.com/08-Bible-Prophecy/Knowing-Prophecy/images/captivek.jpg

2221.) 2 Kings 23

November 6, 2017

King Josiah finds he has major cleaning to do, ridding the kingdom of all signs of idolatry.

2 Kings 23   (NIV)

Josiah Renews the Covenant

1 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 He went up to the temple of the LORD with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book.

Josiah knew judgment was coming but still he wanted to do the right thing. So he himself read the law to his subjects. (This is one of the videos I want to see when I get to Heaven — “Josiah Reading the Torah to the People”!)

Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

Nearly all the rest of this chapter details what Josiah did to eliminate idolatry in the land. As you read, notice the extent of the worship of false gods. Notice the many gods and goddesses, priests, places, buildings, support activities — here, there, everywhere — idol worship was deeply ingrained in the kingdom. It takes significant effort on Josiah’s part to root out all the many tentacles of idolatry.

4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. 5 He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. 6 He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.

Jewish graves in Atlanta, Georgia.

This was not meant to desecrate the graves. Rather, the ashes were desecrated by being flung on dead things. In just a few verses, we will read of bones being burned on altars to defile the altars. The dead bodies/bones make whatever they touch unclean.

7 He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the LORD, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.

8 Josiah brought all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the high places, from Geba to Beersheba, where the priests had burned incense. He broke down the gateway at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua, the city governor, which was on the left of the city gate. 9 Although the priests of the high places did not serve at the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, they ate unleavened bread with their fellow priests.

10 He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice their son or daughter in the fire to Molek. 11 He removed from the entrance to the temple of the LORD the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melek. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.

12 He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of the LORD. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley. 13 The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption—the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the people of Ammon. 14 Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones.

After getting rid of some of King Solomon’s contributions to idolatry, Josiah even takes his reforms up to Bethel in the former Northern Kingdom.

15 Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also.

16 Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.

17 The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?”

The people of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.”

18 “Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.” So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.

This is the remarkable fulfillment of a prophecy made hundreds of years earlier. The words of this anonymous prophet are recorded in 1 Kings 13:1-2: Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you. Josiah was careful to honor the gravestone of this anonymous prophet.

19 Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria and that had aroused the LORD’s anger. 20 Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

21 The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the LORD in Jerusalem.

A Passover trivia tidbit for you:

For years Coca Cola has been made with high fructose corn syrup, a low cost sugar substitute made with (surprise!) corn. Corn is a leavening agent which means it must be cut out of the Jewish diet for Passover. So, to serve the Jewish population in large cities in the United States, the Coca Cola company opens a special production line, supervised by a rabbi, to make a kosher Coke alternative with real sugar instead of corn syrup. Passover Coke (bright yellow cap with Hebrew writing) is hard to find but flies off the shelf wherever it’s sold, since many people remember the flavor as the “old” (they would say tastier) Coke.

24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

Sola scriptura regards the Bible as the only final authority in matters of faith and practice. To quote Martin Luther — “The true rule is this: God’s Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel, can do so.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is the incomparable Phil Keaggy and “True Believers,” to encourage us to “stand on every word You say.” Josiah was faithful, but, as this chapter continues, guess what will happen . . .

Phil is a seven-time recipient of the GMA Dove Award for Instrumental Album of the Year, and was twice nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album. He has frequently been listed as one of the world’s top-3 “fingerstyle” as well as “fingerpicking” guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine readers’ polls.

Just don’t know where, where to begin
When earthly kings surrender to this world of sin.
To walk the walk, talk the talk, truth is
Heaven on earth is one stairway
That can’t be bought.
The price is paid, we believe that our God reigns,

The true believers stand on every word You say,
The true believers made alive in Christ today,
This is how we survive and where we mean to stay.
The true believers.

You’ve had enough, all you can take
When your river of tears
Runs into an ocean of heartbreak.
He’ll be your moon when your sun goes down,
Fire for you if ice is all that’s on your ground.
When your music has died,
And silence is the sound,

The true believers stand on every word You say,
The true believers made alive in Christ today,
This is how we survive and where we mean to stay.
The true believers.

So if you need to call on a friend,
He’s there for you right until the very end,
His love is alive forever and amen.

The true believers stand on every word You say,
The true believers made alive in Christ today,
This is how we survive and where we mean to stay.
The true believers.

_________________________

26 Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to arouse his anger. 27 So the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘My Name shall be there.’”

28 As for the other events of Josiah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?

29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria.

Assyria was in decline and Babylonia was ascending. Assyria turned to Egypt for help against the Babylonians. Pharaoh Necho of Egypt was marching up to Assyria, through Judah. Josiah tried to stop him . . .

King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Necho faced him and killed him at Megiddo.

“Josiah killed by the Egyptians” by Frank E. Wright

30 Josiah’s servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.

Jehoahaz King of Judah

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 32 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his predecessors had done. 33 Pharaoh Necho put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

Pharaoh Necho in this chapter is known in history as Necho II.  This bronze statue of him is in the Brooklyn Museum.

So now Judah is effectively a tribute state to Egypt.

34 Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died. 35 Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Necho the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments.

Jehoiakim King of Judah

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah; she was from Rumah. 37 And he did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his predecessors had done.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
cleaning supplies.    http://nowsourcing.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/spring-cleaning.jpg
tentacles.    http://cdn.isciencetimes.com/data/images/full/2014/05/15/6504-octopus.jpg
Jewish graves.    http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/00/1a/ec/45/jewish-graves.jpg
Josiah destroying the altars.   https://freemethodistpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/josiah_.jpg
kosher Coke.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/koshercoke.jpg
sola scriptura.   https://redeeminggod.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Sola-Scriptura.jpg
Wright.     http://www.gci.org/files/images/b7/_0317152610_035.jpg
Necho, Pharaoh of Egypt.    http://www.touregypt.net/images/touregypt/necho1.jpg

2220.) 2 Kings 22

November 3, 2017

Torah scroll: the book of the Law. What was presented to Josiah may have been the entire Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy).

2 Kings 22   (NIV)

The Book of the Law Found

Let’s set the stage.

We are at the very end of the history of the kingdom of Judah. Her most wicked king, a man named Manasseh, had reigned for 55 years. During his time on the throne, he took the nation into the very depths of depravity. It seems he coldly calculated how to break each of God’s commands. He filled Jerusalem and the temple with pagan idols and altars and he filled the city with innocent blood. The king and the people were so utterly corrupt that God said they had far exceeded the perversions of the Canaanites who lived there before them, and who had been judged for their wickedness. The scale of justice had been irreparably tipped to judgment and it would only be a matter of time till the Babylonians came and destroyed the nation, her capital, the temple, and carry away the people into exile.

After Manasseh died, his son Amon reigned for a short time, being assassinated in a royal coup. Then his son Josiah became King. He was only 8 when his reign began but from the beginning, he had a heart to serve God. Once his grip on the throne became secure, he moved to undo the perversions of his grandfather and father. In the 18th year of his reign, he gave orders that the temple was to be repaired. Years of abuse and neglect had resulted in much damage and Josiah was diligent to make sure the house of God was restored. So he sent a delegation of royal officials to the high priest with orders for workers to begin repairs.

1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the LORD. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest

According to Jeremiah 1:1-2, the Prophet Jeremiah was the son of this priest Hilkiah.  Jeremiah began his ministry during the reign of King Josiah.

and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the LORD, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the LORD— 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.”

Josiah orders both necessary funding and necessary management for the project.

Shaphan was the head of the delegation of officials who went to the temple with Josiah’s order. They stayed for a short time to make sure the work had begun so they could return with a full report to the king. But it wasn’t long after the repairs had started that Hilkiah, the high priest, came to Shaphan with an urgent message. The Book of the Law  had been discovered, either by one of the priests or one of the workmen. He turned it over to Shaphan, who immediately opened the scroll and began to read. He returned to Josiah with news that the repairs were well underway, and that the long lost Book of the Law had been found. Then he read it to the king.

8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

Hearing the Word of God

We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
–Martin Luther, from The Small Catechism

Luke 11:27-28 (English Standard Version)

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.”
–Soren Kierkgaard

I prayed for faith and thought that some day it would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith didn’t seem to come. One day I read in Romans that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” I had up to this time, closed my Bible and prayed for faith. Now I opened my Bible and began to study and faith has been growing ever since.
–D.L. Moody

Colossians 3:16 (Contemporary English Version)

Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

God whispers to us in our health and prosperity, but, being hard of hearing, we fail to hear God’s voice in both. It’s then that God turns up the amplifier by means of suffering. Then his voice booms.
–C. S. Lewis

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Word of God, Speak”  by MercyMe.

_________________________

What Shaphan had was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, the books Moses had written. They recorded the origin of Israel and their early history. They told of God’s great power in delivering them from Egypt and bringing them in to the land of promise. But they also spoke of God’s law. They declared great blessings on obedience and terrible judgment on rebellion. As Josiah listened to Shaphan read the horrific curses on disobedience, his heart had to begin to lurch with fear. All he had to do was look around Jerusalem and Judah to see the evidences of nearly 75 years of the worst evil imaginable. There was idolatry everywhere; pagan altars filled the temple grounds and streets of the city, and the accursed high places his great grandfather Hezekiah had dismantled had been rebuilt by Manasseh. Everywhere he looked was evil.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.

People tore their clothes only under cases of extreme grief, as when they lost a close loved one. Because the king was the person of highest rank, he was not supposed to tear his clothes unless it was a case of ultra extreme grief. When Josiah rent his royal robes, it was a sign of profound emotion. He knew Judah was in a dangerous predicament. He knew the blasphemies of the previous kings and the people were more than enough to result in the complete annihilation of the nation. So he quickly sent another delegation to find out if the judgment proclaimed in the Law was soon in coming and if there was any way to divert it before it was too late

John 16:8-11 (Amplified Bible)

And when He [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment:

About sin, because they do not believe in Me [trust in, rely on, and adhere to Me];

About righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God), because I go to My Father, and you will see Me no longer;

About judgment, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentence already is passed upon him.

12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

Huldah was a godly woman known to speak for God. The king’s delegation went to her with Josiah’s request, but her message was not very encouraging. The scales of justice had been tipped to judgment;  it was too late to turn aside God’s wrath. All that had been foretold in the Book of the Law would come to pass and Judah’s rebellion would be punished. The only word of comfort was that because Josiah had shown such remarkable repentance and sorrow before God for the sins of his fathers and people, the judgment would not come till after he was gone.

14 Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter.

“Huldah: Treasure the Word” by Elspeth Young

15 She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”

For Josiah — mercy precedes judgment.

So they took her answer back to the king.

Even though Huldah said that judgment would come, Josiah determined to do what was right in his own day. Chapter 23 will tell us of the marvelous and sweeping reforms he made to Jerusalem, the temple, the priesthood, and the entire nation.

But what is striking about this passage is the revelation that the Book of the Law had been lost, of all places, in the house of the Lord! Their Bible, the books of Moses, the record of God’s covenant with His people, His commandments, His counsel, the record of His love, power, and truth, had been missing for generations. Yet the priests still went about their religious duties, the offerings and sacrifices were still made, the rituals were dutifully performed, the horns were blown, the lamps were lit—the show went on. But no one knew why or what for!

One of the most important roles of the ministry of the priest was the task of teaching. Not only were they to officiate at the temple, they were also supposed to instruct the people out of the law. It was part of their solemn charge to not only represent the people to God, but to represent God to the people. And the primary way to do that was to read from and instruct them in the law.

They were to tell the people of their godly heritage. They were to remind them of God’s love and power demonstrated in their history. They were to carefully show them the way of life through obedience to the covenant He made with them at Sinai. They had the wonderful privilege of bringing people into a relationship with God by showing them God’s revelation of Himself. But they had neglected this most vital part of their ministry. They neglected the teaching of the Word of God and turned to something else, something easier—temple service.

And eventually, the Bible was lost in the house of God.

–all commentary in red from Calvary Chapel notes, Oxnard, CA

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Torah scroll.    http://www.torahscroll.com/myimages/UsedFullSizeWhite3.jpg
hearing.     http://www.freedomscope.com/Images/hearing_impaired.jpg
Josiah tearing his clothes.   https://assetsnffrgf-a.akamaihd.net/assets/m/402014288/univ/art/402014288_univ_lsr_xl.jpg
Young.    http://alyoung.com/Art_Gallery/Elspeth_Young/Women_in_Scripture/Huldah.jpg

2134.) 2 Kings 21

July 6, 2017

“Woman Drying a Plate” by Jozsef Koszta, 1919.  Speaking through the prophets, the Lord describes the Southern Kingdom’s future using a metaphor of wiping dishes.

2 Kings 21   (NIV)

Manasseh King of Judah

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah.

Manasseh is, we shall see, a ruler given to all kinds of evil.  He was only 12 when his father died and he came to the throne, which means he was born in those last, gift-from-God 15 years of Hezekiah’s life.

2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done.

He brought Judah back to the old forms of idolatry . . .

He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” 5 In the two courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts.

. . . and he introduced his people to new ones.

6 He sacrificed his own son in the fire,

The Canaanite god, Molech, was described by the 12th century Jewish rabbi, Rashi, in this way:

Moloch was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.

practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger.

7 He took the carved Asherah pole he had made and put it in the temple,

Asherah was the Canaanite mother goddess of fertility. She was worshiped with temple prostitution — is Solomon’s temple now a common brothel?

of which the LORD had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. 8 I will not again make the feet of the Israelites wander from the land I gave their ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them and will keep the whole Law that my servant Moses gave them.” 9 But the people did not listen. Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites.

10 The LORD said through his servants the prophets:

The prophets were Hosea, Joel, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Isaiah. They spoke invitations to the nation from the Lord, imploring them to return to God, and they spoke warnings, clear reports of the punishment that would come on account of continued disobedience. Their message is summarized in the following verses:

11 “Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. 12 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 13 I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and give them into the hands of enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their enemies; 15 they have done evil in my eyes and have aroused my anger from the day their ancestors came out of Egypt until this day.”

16 Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end—besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the LORD.

Isaiah sawn in two with the king watching — from a medieval illuminated manuscript

By tradition, one of the evils done by Manasseh was the murder of Isaiah the prophet. Many think that Hebrews 11:37 (they were sawn in two) is a reference to the martyrdom of Isaiah.

17 As for the other events of Manasseh’s reign, and all he did, including the sin he committed, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 18 Manasseh rested with his ancestors and was buried in his palace garden, the garden of Uzza.

2 Chronicles 33:11-19 describes a remarkable repentance on the part of Manasseh. Because he and his people would not listen to the warnings of God, the Lord allowed the Babylonians to bind King Manasseh and take him as a captive to Babylon. There, when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers (2 Chronicles 33:12) and God answered his prayer and restored him to the throne. Manasseh then proved that his repentance was genuine by taking away the idols and the foreign gods from Jerusalem, and he commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel (2 Chronicles 33:16).

This is a wonderful example of the principle, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Manasseh was raised by a godly father, yet he lived in defiance of his father’s faith for most of his life. Nevertheless, at the end of his days he truly repented and served God. In this way, we can say that it was very true that Manasseh rested with his fathers.

Yet, his repentance was too late to change the nation. “The widespread revolts during the reign of Ashurbanipal, which occurred from 652-648 BC, may provide the occasion for Manasseh’s summons to Babylon and imprisonment. If so, his subsequent release and reform were apparently far too late to have much of an effect on the obdurately backslidden people.” (Patterson and Austel)

It was also not soon enough to change the destiny of the kingdom. “Years later, when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, the writer would blame Judah’s punishment on the sins of Manasseh (2 Kings 24:3-4).” (Dilday)

–David Guzik

And Amon his son succeeded him as king.

Amon King of Judah

19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah. 20 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done. 21 He followed completely the ways of his father, worshiping the idols his father had worshiped, and bowing down to them. 22 He forsook the LORD, the God of his ancestors, and did not walk in obedience to him.

23 Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated the king in his palace. 24 Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place.

An evil father — the only good he did for Judah was to produce a son who would become one of the best kings ever.

25 As for the other events of Amon’s reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 26 He was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza. And Josiah his son succeeded him as king.

_________________________

Music:

“In Times Like These” — how Judah needed the Lord, the Savior! But they probably wouldn’t have listened to that message, even with the Cadet Sisters bringing it so beautifully. So let us hear and bring joy to the Lord’s heart today by naming Jesus as our Savior! Click  HERE.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Koszta.    http://www.wikigallery.org/paintings/297501-298000/297925/painting1.jpg
evil reign.   http://www.elimbcc.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/grunge_tree_background_by_gh1ll13-d5kgmi5.jpg
prophet.   http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/cms/CW/faith/14733-stain-glass-prophet-daniel-point.1200w.tn.jpg
Isaiah sawn in two.    http://www.cowart.info/blog/uploaded_images/Isaiah-sawn-into-763940.jpg

2130.) 2 Kings 20

June 30, 2017

What would you do if you were offered fifteen more years to live?

2 Kings 20   (NIV)

Hezekiah’s Illness

1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

2 Kings 20:1 (KJV)

Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

My mother, Maurine Edvenson Riskedahl (high school photo above), grew up in a family that saw a lot of sorrow. Several of her siblings died in infancy, hard-earned money was scammed from them for Oklahoma oil wells that never delivered (existed?), an Iowa farm was lost in the 30’s. And my mother’s mother fought a difficult battle for many years with multiple sclerosis. On New Year’s Day of the year my mother turned 13, each of the family members chose a year verse, as was their habit. The verse my mother’s mother chose for herself was 2 Kings 20:1 —“Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.”

My grandmother died that year just days after Christmas. She spoke her last words to her family, all gathered around her bedside, and the words pointed to joy:  “I’ll be waiting for you just inside the Eastern Gate.”

I heard this story often as a child, and now that I am older, I think the verse is a wonderful year verse for each one of us. Is our house in order with the Lord? Are we keeping short accounts with friends and family, eager to forgive, averse to holding grudges? Are we regularly telling the ones we love how important they are to us? Are we giving our best to the Master with our time, our skills, our money? Are we taking time every day to praise and worship and thank the Lord for all His goodness to us? Do we show God’s grace and joy to those in our sphere of influence? Do we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance? Do we love with the love of Christ?

I never met my grandmother, of course. But that day will come. And when we meet, “just inside the Eastern Gate,” I will thank her for teaching me to prepare willingly and carefully not only for death, but also for eternal life in Heaven.

2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 “Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”

_________________________

Music:

“Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)” strikes me as a fitting song for such an unusual gift! Actually, God gave him two gifts:  another 15 years to live, and the knowledge that he had only 15 more years, which, it seems to me, would be quite an incentive to live rightly.

Written and sung by Brian Doerksen,  HERE.

_________________________

7 Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a poultice of figs.” They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered.

Folk remedies from many cultures use a paste of figs to cure external inflammations, warts, and sores.

8 Hezekiah had asked Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the LORD will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the LORD on the third day from now?”

9 Isaiah answered, “This is the LORD’s sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?”

10 “It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.”

11 Then the prophet Isaiah called on the LORD, and the LORD made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.

The sundial went back.  (From the “Zurich Bible,” 1536)

Envoys From Babylon

12 At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness. 13 Hezekiah received the envoys and showed them all that was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine olive oil—his armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

Ah, this is his pride.

14 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?”

“From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came from Babylon.”

15 The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?”

“They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”

16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: 17 The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. 18 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

19 “The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”

Ah, this shows his selfishness!

20 As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?

Hezekiah’s Tunnel is a tunnel that was dug underneath the City of David in Jerusalem before 701 BC  during the reign of Hezekiah.  

The ancient city of Jerusalem, being on a mountain, is naturally defensible from almost all sides, but suffers from the drawback that its major source of fresh water, the Gihon spring, is on the side of the cliff overlooking the Kidron Valley.  This presents a major military weakness as the city walls, if high enough to be defensible, must necessarily leave the Gihon spring outside, thus leaving the city without a fresh water supply in case of siege.

The Bible tells us that King Hezekiah prepared Jerusalem for an impending siege by the Assyrians,  by “blocking the source of the waters of the upper Gihon, and leading them straight down on the west to the City of David” (2 Chronicles 32).  The tunnel has been securely dated both by the written inscription found on its wall and by dating organic matter contained in the original plastering. It is one of the few intact, 8th century BC structures in the world that the public can not only visit, but enter and walk through.

The tunnel, leading from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam was designed as an aqueduct to provide Jerusalem with water during an impending siege by the Assyrians, led by Sennacherib.  The curving tunnel is 533 m long, and by using a 30 cm (0.6%) gradient altitude difference between each end, conveyed water along its length from the spring to the pool.

According to the Siloam inscription, the tunnel was excavated by two teams, one starting at each end of the tunnel and then meeting in the middle. The inscription is partly unreadable at present, and may originally have conveyed more information than this. It is clear from the tunnel itself that several directional errors were made during its construction.  

The difficult feat of making two teams digging from opposite ends meet far underground is now understood to have been accomplished by directing the two teams from above using sounds generated by hammering on the solid karst through which the tunnelers were digging.

Hezekiah’s tunnel, discovered in 1838 by the American biblical scholar Edward Robinson, can be walked through today from end to end.

–from Wikipedia

21 Hezekiah rested with his ancestors. And Manasseh his son succeeded him as king.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
15.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/BBFC_15_2002.png
fig.   https://www.joyfulbelly.com/Ayurveda/images/content/124-Figs.jpeg
sundial.    http://www.pitts.emory.edu/woodcuts/1536BiblV2/00000558.jpg
tunnel.   http://kanakukinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/HezekiahsTunneltb110705532dxo.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.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “If My People Pray”  by Avalon.

_________________________

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

_________________________

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/

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).

_________________________

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

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

2088.) 2 Kings 16

May 3, 2017

The inscription reads, “Belonging to Ahaz (son of) Jehotam, King of Judah.” Dated to the 8th century BCE, this is the first seal impression of a Hebrew king ever found.

2 Kings 16   (NIV)

Ahaz King of Judah

Perhaps the worst king of Judah.

1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 3 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.

Leviticus 20:3 (ESV)

I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name.

4 He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.

What must life have been like for a godly citizen under the rule of the worst king of Judah?

Micah 7:4-7 (CEV)

The most honest of them

is worse than a thorn patch.

Your doom has come!

Lookouts sound the warning,

and everyone panics.

Don’t trust anyone,

not even your best friend,

and be careful what you say

to the one you love.

Sons refuse to respect

their own fathers,

daughters rebel against

their own mothers,

and daughters-in-law despise

their mothers-in-law.

Your family is now your enemy.

But I trust the LORD God

to save me,

and I will wait for him

to answer my prayer.

5 Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him.

On the whole, Judah suffered terrible losses from this attack. King Ahaz lost 120,000 Judean soldiers and 200,000 civilian hostages in these battles with Israel and Syria (2 Chronicles 28:5-8). It was dark time for Judah, and it looked as if the dynasty of David would soon be extinguished, as so many dynasties in the northern kingdom of Israel had ended.

–David Guzik

6 At that time, Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram by driving out the people of Judah. Edomites then moved into Elath and have lived there to this day.

7 Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, “I am your servant and vassal.

Why didn’t Ahaz say these words to the Lord, instead of to an enemy king?

Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.”

The prophecy of Isaiah 7 – including the announcement of the Immanuel sign – came from Isaiah to King Ahaz during this joint Israel-Syrian invasion. As the following verses reveal, Ahaz refused to trust in the Lord and instead put his trust in the king of Assyria. Yet for the sake of David, God did not allow this disastrous attack on Judah to prevail. He would not allow this Satanic plot against the Messianic dynasty of David to succeed.
–David Guzik

8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria. 9 The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death.

How differently Ahaz’s ancestor King David would have responded to this crisis!

Psalm 18:6 (NLT)

But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
my cry to him reached his ears.

10 Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria.

This is not an ordinary state visit. This is an official act of submission, Judah to Assyria.

He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction. 11 So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned. 12 When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, he approached it and presented offerings on it. 13 He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and splashed the blood of his fellowship offerings against the altar. 14 As for the bronze altar that stood before the LORD, he brought it from the front of the temple—from between the new altar and the temple of the LORD—and put it on the north side of the new altar.

Using the plans sent from King Ahaz, the priest Urijah imitated the pagan altar at Damascus and had it ready by the time Ahaz returned from the Syrian capital. The king did this both to please his new lord Tiglath-Pileser, and to incorporate the latest trends in altar design into the national worship of Judah.

Why on earth would the king do such an awful thing?

2 Chronicles 28:23 (NLT)

He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah.

15 King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: “On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Splash against this altar the blood of all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.” 16 And Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered.

17 King Ahaz cut off the side panels and removed the basins from the movable stands. He removed the Sea from the bronze bulls that supported it and set it on a stone base. 18 He took away the Sabbath canopy that had been built at the temple and removed the royal entryway outside the temple of the LORD, in deference to the king of Assyria.

All of this took place in the great temple that Solomon had built for the Lord.

19 As for the other events of the reign of Ahaz, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 20 Ahaz rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. And Hezekiah his son succeeded him as king.

_________________________

Music:

Oh, Ahaz, and oh, my own heart — there is such a better choice!  HERE  is the Calvin College Alumni Choir and “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee.”

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
seal of Ahaz.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/ahazbulla-copy.jpg
Molech.    http://www.bible-topten.com/images/Molech_2.jpg
Isaiah 7:14.    http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Isaiah7_14.jpg
map of Assyrian Empire.    http://www.livius.org/a/1/maps/assyrian_empire_map.gif
Solomon’s temple.   http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2008/images/solomon_temple.jpg