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.

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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.

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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.’”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Music:

HERE  is “If My People Pray”  by Avalon.

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Isaiah Prophesies Sennacherib’s Fall

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

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

Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Twila Paris  (Hear her sing it  HERE.)

“The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

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

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

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

Psalm 34:7 (ESV)

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


“The Destruction of Sennacherib”

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

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

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

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

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

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

— George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824)

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

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

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

–David Guzik

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

2125.) 2 Kings 17

June 23, 2017

“The Fall of Samaria” by Don Lawrence, 1964

2 Kings 17   (NIV)

Hoshea Last King of Israel

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

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

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

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

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

Amos 4:2-3 (ESV)

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

declares the LORD.

Israel Exiled Because of Sin

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

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

Exodus 20:1-3 (NLT)

Then God gave the people all these instructions:

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

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

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

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

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

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

_________________________

Music:

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, the Ten Lost Tribes.

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

Samaria Resettled

Jews led out — Gentiles sent in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________

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

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?”

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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.”

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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

1986.) 2 Kings 15

December 12, 2016

“The King Uzziah Striken with Leprosy” by Rembrandt, 1635 (Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth House, Derbyshire)

2 Kings 15   (NIV)

Azariah King of Judah

1 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah (also known as Uzziah) son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign. 2 He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years.

Azariah became king at a tough time.  The city had recently been attached, walls were in disarray, temple treasures stolen, some of the residents taken hostage. And the new king is only a teenager!

His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done.

2 Chronicles 26 (which we will read tomorrow) tells us much more about the successful reign of Azariah (also known as Uzziah):

  • He began his reign when he was only 16 years old (26:3).
  • He reigned during the ministry of Zechariah the prophet (26:5).
  • He defeated the Philistines and took many of their cities, and also kept the Ammonites in tribute (26:6-8).
  • He was internationally famous as a strong king (26:8).
  • He was an ambitious builder and skilled in agriculture (26:9-10).
  • He built up and organized the army, introducing several new items of military technology (26:11-15).

–David Guzik

4 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

5 The LORD afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died, and he lived in a separate house. Jotham the king’s son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.

6 As for the other events of Azariah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 7 Azariah rested with his ancestors and was buried near them in the City of David.

“Coals on the Altar” by Vicky Glisson

Isaiah 6:1-8  (KJV)

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

_________________________

And Jotham his son succeeded him as king.

Zechariah King of Israel

This section of this chapter looks at five of the last six kings of Israel and “anticipates the final overthrow of this kingdom of the tribes. It describes the corruption and disorganization that made them the easy prey of Assyria,” –F. B. Meyer. As you read, notice how short their reigns are, and how often the changes in monarchy come because of murder. Mark the brutality of the kings and the idolatry of the people that leads, inevitably, to civil chaos.

8 In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned six months. 9 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his predecessors had done. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit.

10 Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against Zechariah. He attacked him in front of the people, assassinated him and succeeded him as king. 11 The other events of Zechariah’s reign are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. 12 So the word of the LORD spoken to Jehu was fulfilled: “Your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

Shallum King of Israel

13 Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned in Samaria one month. 14 Then Menahem son of Gadi went from Tirzah up to Samaria. He attacked Shallum son of Jabesh in Samaria, assassinated him and succeeded him as king.

15 The other events of Shallum’s reign, and the conspiracy he led, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel.

16 At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.

Menahem King of Israel

17 In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria ten years. 18 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. During his entire reign he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit.

19 Then Pul king of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver to gain his support and strengthen his own hold on the kingdom. 20 Menahem exacted this money from Israel. Every wealthy person had to contribute fifty shekels of silver to be given to the king of Assyria.

Just so you don’t feel too sorry for the rich people, here the prophet Amos describes them:

Amos 8:4-6 (ESV)

Hear this, you who trample on the needy
and bring the poor of the land to an end,
saying, “When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great
and deal deceitfully with false balances,
that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals
and sell the chaff of the wheat?”

The money was used to buy the backing of the Assyrian king. Israel is now a vassal of Assyria.

So the king of Assyria withdrew and stayed in the land no longer.

21 As for the other events of Menahem’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 22 Menahem rested with his ancestors. And Pekahiah his son succeeded him as king.

Pekahiah King of Israel

23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah son of Menahem became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned two years. 24 Pekahiah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. 25 One of his chief officers, Pekah son of Remaliah, conspired against him. Taking fifty men of Gilead with him, he assassinated Pekahiah, along with Argob and Arieh, in the citadel of the royal palace at Samaria. So Pekah killed Pekahiah and succeeded him as king.

26 The other events of Pekahiah’s reign, and all he did, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel.

Pekah King of Israel

27 In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah son of Remaliah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twenty years. 28 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit.

29 In the time of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maakah, Janoah, Kedesh and Hazor. He took Gilead and Galilee, including all the land of Naphtali, and deported the people to Assyria. 30 Then Hoshea son of Elah conspired against Pekah son of Remaliah. He attacked and assassinated him, and then succeeded him as king in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah.

This Assyrian king was not content with tribute payment. He came and took some of the best land, a sizable portion of the Northern Kingdom. And he deported a significant number of the Israelites. These are dark days for the Northern Kingdom:  They have not listened to God, and there are tragic consequences.

Hoshea will be the final king of Israel.

31 As for the other events of Pekah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?

Jotham King of Judah

32 In the second year of Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham son of Uzziah king of Judah began to reign. 33 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother’s name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. 34 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done. 35 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the LORD.

This is a good sign — the king working to repair the temple of the Lord.

36 As for the other events of Jotham’s reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 37 (In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah against Judah.)

God is sending trouble to Judah and giving the people an opportunity to put their trust whole-heartedly in the Lord.

38 Jotham rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David, the city of his father. And Ahaz his son succeeded him as king.

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Music:

This song will carry you through whatever may come. After the recent readings of disobedience and death in Israel and Judah, here is a cheerful way for us to say YES to the Lord in our own little worlds!

HERE,  by Darrell Evans — “Trading My Sorrows.”

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New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Rembrandt.    http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rembrandt/rembrandt15.html
Glisson.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/isaiha6coalsonthealtar1.jpg
The end is near.   http://kaylasaid.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/the-end-is-near.jpg