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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

1964.) 2 Kings 14

November 10, 2016

Just to keep our geographical bearings: a map of Israel, Judah, and the surrounding nations. (See the city of Petra in the south of Edom.)

2 Kings 14   (NIV)

Amaziah King of Judah

1 In the second year of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, Amaziah son of Joash 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 Jehoaddan; she was from Jerusalem. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash. 4 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

Again, we see the half-hearted allegiance towards God.

5 After the kingdom was firmly in his grasp, he executed the officials who had murdered his father the king. 6 Yet he did not put the children of the assassins to death, in accordance with what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses where the LORD commanded: “Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.”

7 He was the one who defeated ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and captured Sela in battle, calling it Joktheel, the name it has to this day.

2k14-petra

Some Bible scholars believe that Sela was the ancient stronghold of Petra, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Go to Jordan and see it — it is worth the effort!

8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, with the challenge: “Come, let us face each other in battle.”

9 But Jehoash king of Israel replied to Amaziah king of Judah: “A thistle in Lebanon sent a message to a cedar in Lebanon, ‘Give your daughter to my son in marriage.’ Then a wild beast in Lebanon came along and trampled the thistle underfoot. 10 You have indeed defeated Edom and now you are arrogant. Glory in your victory, but stay at home! Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?”

Had Amaziah become proud because of his recent victory? Did he feel invincible? There is no indication that this challenge was given by the Lord.

11 Amaziah, however, would not listen, so Jehoash king of Israel attacked. He and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth Shemesh in Judah. 12 Judah was routed by Israel, and every man fled to his home. 13 Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh. Then Jehoash went to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate—a section about four hundred cubits long. 14 He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace. He also took hostages and returned to Samaria.

Amaziah paid a high price for his foolishness. He lost his freedom, being captured by the king of Israel. He lost the security of his capital city when part of the city walls were destroyed. And he lost the gold and silver items which were stolen from the temple.

15 As for the other events of the reign of Jehoash, what he did and his achievements, including his war against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 16 Jehoash rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel. And Jeroboam his son succeeded him as king.

17 Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah lived for fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel. 18 As for the other events of Amaziah’s reign, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?

19 They conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish, but they sent men after him to Lachish and killed him there. 20 He was brought back by horse and was buried in Jerusalem with his ancestors, in the City of David.

An ignoble ending . . .

21 Then all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah. 22 He was the one who rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah after Amaziah rested with his ancestors.

Jeroboam II King of Israel

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit.

Jereboam son of Nebat was the first king of Israel. He erected the two golden calves, and is often referred to in Scripture as Jereboam-who-caused-Israel-to-sin.

25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.

Hello, Jonah!  Wall mural by Jerry Wallace.

Hello, Jonah!  Wall mural by Jerry Wallace.

26 The LORD had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them. 27 And since the LORD had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash.

28 As for the other events of Jeroboam’s reign, all he did, and his military achievements, including how he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 29 Jeroboam rested with his ancestors, the kings of Israel. And Zechariah his son succeeded him as king.

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Music:

Do you feel your frustration mounting just a little as you read, over and over again, that they did not tear down the high places or the golden calves? And so they continued to break the First Commandment which says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Let’s join together now in worshiping and praising the Lord, the Almighty, the King — “our maker, defender, redeemer, and friend”!

HERE  is Chris Tomlin and “Oh Worship the King” — an old hymn (the words from 1833, the tune from 1708) made new in this arrangement.

__________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Israel and Judah map.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bd/Kingdoms_of_Israel_and_Judah_map_830.svg/502px-Kingdoms_of_Israel_and_Judah_map_830.svg.png
Petra.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/The_Monastery,_Petra,_Jordan8.jpg
Fragonard.    http://www.fineartprintsondemand.com/artists/fragonard/jeroboam_sacrificing_to_the_golden_calf-400.jpg
Jonah.     https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/b5/62/2c/b5622ce4731e47061448c957e82cbf16.jpg

1962.) 2 Kings 13

November 8, 2016

The hand bones of St. John the Baptist, on display at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. In the text today we read that Elisha’s dead bones brought a man back to life, a story often cited as one of the earliest sources to show the efficacy of relics.  I have seen John the Baptist’s head in two (yes, two!)  places:  Topkapi and San Silvestro in Capite in Rome!

2 Kings 13   (NIV)

Jehoahaz King of Israel

In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. 3 So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son.

4 Then Jehoahaz sought the LORD’s favor, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. 5 The LORD provided a deliverer for Israel, and they escaped from the power of Aram. So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they had before.

Shades of the book of Judges! Remember the “sin cycle” Israel fell into? The Walk Thru the Old Testament seminar explains it this way:  Sin (always idolatry) — servitude  (by neighboring tribes who worshiped false gods) — supplication (when all else fails, pray!) — salvation (at the hands of a military leader, known as a judge) — silence (peace for a time). Here is the same pattern, with a nameless deliverer, bless him!

6 But they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit; they continued in them. Also, the Asherah pole remained standing in Samaria.

7 Nothing had been left of the army of Jehoahaz except fifty horsemen, ten chariots and ten thousand foot soldiers, for the king of Aram had destroyed the rest and made them like the dust at threshing time.

8 As for the other events of the reign of Jehoahaz, all he did and his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 9 Jehoahaz rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Jehoash his son succeeded him as king.

Jehoash King of Israel

10 In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash son of Jehoahaz became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned sixteen years. 11 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he continued in them.

12 As for the other events of the reign of Jehoash, all he did and his achievements, including his war against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 13 Jehoash rested with his ancestors, and Jeroboam succeeded him on the throne. Jehoash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.

14 Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”

“Dear friends, let us seek so to live that even ungodly men may miss us when we are gone.”
–C. H. Spurgeon

15 Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. 16 “Take the bow in your hands,” he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.

2k13-arrow

17 “Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”

18 Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”

When I was in my mid-teens, I played on an organized baseball team. Generally I played first base, but occasionally I was directed to a position in the outfield. Although I was far from being a superstar, I had a lot of fun, and I always gave the game my very best effort.

After all these years, one particular game is still vivid in my mind. I was in the unfamiliar position of centerfielder when a long fly ball was hit over my head. I turned backward and ran as fast as I could, pushing with every muscle in my body to position myself so I could snag that ball. At the last moment I reached out as far as I could, and — wonder of wonders — I caught it! Of all the surprised people on the field that day, I undoubtedly was the most surprised of all!

Amazing things can happen when we give our best. In our text today, however, King Jehoash did not give that kind of effort. Jehoash was visiting the Prophet Elisha, who was on his death bed, and Elisha instructed the king to do a couple of unusual things. First, they together shot an arrow out of the open window. Elisha explained that this was prophetic of how God would deliver the Israelites from their oppressor, the Syrians. Next, Jehoash was instructed to take a handful of arrows and hit them against the ground, symbolic of Israel thrusting down Syria. Instead of following through vigorously, however, Jehoash responded in a half-hearted manner. By responding in this way, he forfeited the opportunity to win lasting victory over Syria. Israel would win some individual victories, but long-term peace would be denied them.

Today, we can learn a lesson from Jehoash’s half-heartedness. Whatever God asks us to do, let us be sure to do it with all of our might. Let’s not stop with a cursory effort, but invest ourselves wholeheartedly! We will receive the blessing for seizing that golden opportunity and speaking up at the right time, or for remaining on our knees in prayer a little longer — until the answer comes!

Our best may not seem like much, but it is of great value in God’s eyes! Let’s determine today to give it to God — in whatever we do. In the long run, we will be glad that we did.

–unknown

20 Elisha died and was buried.

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Music:

Recently I attended the funeral of a friend of mine. Linda was only 61 and died of cancer. But as the pastor said at her service, “It took her life, but never her spirit and faith.” She did not lose her belief in the efficacy of prayer and the goodness of God. She knew Christ had prepared a place for her and she found comfort in that. Like Elisha, Linda leaves behind a legacy of faith in God and obedience to her Lord. She is a model for me, and I look forward to seeing her lovely smile again in Heaven.

HERE  is Steve Green and “Find Us Faithful.”

_________________________

Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

“The Tomb of Elisha” by David C. Hancock, 2005

22 Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz. 23 But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence.

24 Hazael king of Aram died, and Ben-Hadad his son succeeded him as king. 25 Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
St. John’s hand.    http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lehrjntsQI1qahuhjo1_500.jpg
sin cycle diagram.    http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/studies/images/cycle.gif
Elisha, the king, the arrow.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/faca5-5.jpg
boy playing baseball.   http://cache.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Globe_Photo/2009/06/06/baseball329__1244263489_8364.jpg
Hancock.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/hancock-elisha.jpg

1961.) 2 Kings 12

November 7, 2016

What King Joash was unable to do —

2 Kings 12   (NIV)

Joash Repairs the Temple

1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. 2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

This implies that when Jehoiada died, Jehoash no longer did what was right in the sight of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 24:15-23 tells us that he turned to idolatry when Jehoiada died, and judgment followed.

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

How they loved their sin! What “high places” are in our lives, that we continue to worship at the cost of our own faithfulness?

4 Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the LORD—the money collected in the census, the money received from personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the temple. 5 Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, then use it to repair whatever damage is found in the temple.”

The temple needed restoration because it had been vandalized by Athaliah and her sons (2 Chronicles 24:7). And should we wonder at the king’s attention to the temple, when it had been his home during his earliest years?

6 But by the twenty-third year of King Joash the priests still had not repaired the temple. 7 Therefore King Joash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and asked them, “Why aren’t you repairing the damage done to the temple? Take no more money from your treasurers, but hand it over for repairing the temple.” 8 The priests agreed that they would not collect any more money from the people and that they would not repair the temple themselves.

9 Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the LORD. The priests who guarded the entrance put into the chest all the money that was brought to the temple of the LORD. 10 Whenever they saw that there was a large amount of money in the chest, the royal secretary and the high priest came, counted the money that had been brought into the temple of the LORD and put it into bags.

11 When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. With it they paid those who worked on the temple of the LORD—the carpenters and builders, 12 the masons and stonecutters. They purchased timber and blocks of dressed stone for the repair of the temple of the LORD, and met all the other expenses of restoring the temple.

13 The money brought into the temple was not spent for making silver basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, trumpets or any other articles of gold or silver for the temple of the LORD; 14 it was paid to the workers, who used it to repair the temple. 15 They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty. 16 The money from the guilt offerings and sin offerings was not brought into the temple of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.

So Joash gets to the heart of the problem — not a lack of money, but a lack of good financial management. The temple repairs were completed at no expense to the priests, with trustworthy workers and generous offerings from the people.

17 About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem. 18 But Joash king of Judah took all the sacred objects dedicated by his predecessors—Jehoshaphat, Jehoram and Ahaziah, the kings of Judah—and the gifts he himself had dedicated and all the gold found in the treasuries of the temple of the LORD and of the royal palace, and he sent them to Hazael king of Aram, who then withdrew from Jerusalem.

Why didn’t he trust God for deliverance? Instead, he traded away sacred treasure for a temporary stay.

19 As for the other events of the reign of Joash, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 20 His officials conspired against him and assassinated him at Beth Millo, on the road down to Silla. 21 The officials who murdered him were Jozabad son of Shimeath and Jehozabad son of Shomer. He died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. And Amaziah his son succeeded him as king.

Joash — his reign began with such promise, and ended with such disgrace.

There are two kinds of mediocre lives.

(1) Those that just never really pursue a godly life. They tolerate sins within and without.

(2) Those that do well for a while. They are motivated, one way or the other, to excel in doing what is right and good. But when that influence is gone, like Jehoiada in Joash’s life, he was easily influenced by others.

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Music:

Let us learn a lesson from Joash’s negative example not to live a mediocre life! Let us resolve to remain diligently faithful to the end, to honor the Lord in both life and death.

This hymn, about those who finished strong and are now “with angels shining bright,” is one of my Top Five Hymns.  It was sung at my mother’s funeral in both English and Norwegian.  “Behold A Host Arrayed in White,”  sung  HERE  by the Mandel Kantori from Norway.

  1. Behold a host, arrayed in white,
    Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright!
    With palms they stand;
    Who is this band
    Before the throne of light?
    Those are the saints of glorious fame,
    Who from the great affliction came
    And in the flood
    Of Jesus’ blood
    Are cleansed from guilt and shame.
    They now serve God both day and night;
    They sing their songs in endless light.
    Their anthems ring
    As they all sing
    With angels shining bright.
  2. Despised and scorned, they sojourned here;
    But now, how glorious they appear!
    Those martyrs stand,
    A priestly band,
    God’s throne forever near.
    On earth they wept through bitter years;
    Now God has wiped away their tears,
    Transformed their strife
    To heav’nly life,
    They now enjoy the Sabbath rest,
    The heav’nly banquet of the blest;
    The Lamb, their Lord,
    At festal board
    Himself is host and guest.
  3. O blessed saints in bright array
    Now safely home in endless day,
    Extol the Lord,
    Who with His Word
    Sustained you on the way.
    The steep and narrow path you trod;
    You toiled and sowed the Word abroad;
    Rejoice and bring
    Your fruits and sing
    Before the throne of God.
    The myriad angels raise their song;
    O saints, sing with that happy throng!
    Lift up one voice;
    Let heav’n rejoice
    In our Redeemer’s song!

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New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Finish strong.    http://stephenwaring.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/finish-strong.jpg
the box at the temple.    http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Divided%20Kingdom%20Artwork/target0.html