2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29-31, Psalm 48
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In Isaiah we read that there would be a REMNANT of people that would be left behind during the exile and captivity.
2 Kings 18 — Hezekiah is the King in Judah. Hezekiah means “Jehoviah is my strength.”
His father was Ahaz, a very evil King of Judah!! He had the Temple doors locked up. BUT his mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. Verses 3-4 begins by telling us “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He REMOVED the high places, SMASHED the sacred stones and CUT DOWN the Asherah poles. 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.)”
NEHUSHTAN means “thing of brass”…… the Israelites and people of Judah were worshiping EVERYthing except God!!! In Numbers 21, the Israelites once again became discouraged, and in their unbelief they murmured against Moses for bringing them into the wilderness. They had forgotten that their own sin caused them to be there, and they tried to blame Moses. (I KNOW… SHOCKER!!) As a judgment against the people for their sin, God sent poisonous serpents into the camp, and people began to die. Then the people realized they were the ones in sin so they confessed their sin to Moses and asked for God’s mercy. When Moses prayed for the people, God instructed him to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so the people could be healed. Although the bronze snake was just a piece of metal, God was teaching HIS people something about faith. (Plus it was a foreshadow of Christ…..and if you ever look at the emblem used in the medical community…..you will see a snake associated with it…. amazing–eh??) Yet here we are several hundred years later ….. and they are WORSHIPING the BRONZE snake but…….Hezekiah solved that issue!! Just because something “looks” religious….does not mean it can not become an idol in our personal lives…..ughhhh!! These religious things are simply things…they can not save us…heal us…bring us eternal life…..there is ONLY ONE who can do that!!
Hezekiah was very wise. Look a the next verses in 2 Kings 18: “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. 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.”
WHAT A BREATH OF FRESH AIR IT WAS READING TODAY’S READING.
In Hezekiah’s wisdom, he not ONLY did away with the idols, altars, and gods his people worshiped rather than worshiping GOD; but he also RE-CONSECRATED the items of the Temple. WHY???? It was because the Temple had become DEFILED by all the idols, other gods, and everything else HIS people worshiped EXCEPT the ONE TRUE God!!!
2 Chronicles 29-31 — Hezekiah — I am just so happy to be reading about him right now…. WHAT a GREAT example he set for God’s people. With all the kings we have read about …their names all begin to blur together. BUT…. if you can… REMEMBER HEZEKIAH. These people have not worshiped the LORD God Almighty in 200 years and Hezekiah brings back the original law that God had commanded. Did you notice that we were reading about ALL 12 TRIBES again!!???
The people of Israel were encouraged to RETURN to the LORD. The word RETURN is used and not the word COME!! Think about that…. God created us….HE knew us before we were in our mother’s womb…HE shared secrets with us….HE WANTS us to RETURN to HIM…. RETURN to our CREATOR. When life gets rough and we make the wrong choices……we are the ones who move away from HIM…. HE is always there waiting for us to RETURN to HIM.
2 Chronicles 30:15-20 is so beautiful. The Passover Lamb was slaughtered according to Mosaic law. The priests and Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves. Burnt offerings were brought to the Temple of the Lord. Things were being done the way God had outlined them in the times of Moses. MANY in the crowd had not consecrated themselves for the feast.
“18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But HEZEKIAH PRAYED FOR THEM, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who SETS THEIR HEART ON SEEKING GOD—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” 20 And the LORD HEARD Hezekiah and HEALED the people.
God is so good!!! When the people returned to HIM, HE answered. LOOK at the POWER ONE LEADER can have on their nation!!!!
I am reminded of God’s promise from 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Psalm 48 — Ahhhhh — GREAT is the LORD and WORTH of Praise!!!! AMEN!!
Sharing HIS love,
Israel In Captivity Map
2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16-17
Click here for today’s reading http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Chronicles%2028,%202%20Kings%2016-17&version=NIV;MSG
2 Kings 17 is a HUGE read today!! This HISTORY of Israel is FOREVER changed. The year is 722 BC. The SAME thing will happen to Judah in 586 BC!!
Take a moment to re-read the 10 Commandments so you recall EXACTLY what God laid out for HIS PEOPLE to obey. Click here to re-read the 10 Commandments http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%2020:1-17&version=NIV
2 Kings 17: begin with verse 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. 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 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. 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. They set up SACRED STONES and ASHERAH POLES on EVERY high hill and under every spreading tree. 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 provoked the LORD to anger. They WORSHIPED IDOLS, though the LORD had said, “You shall not do this.” 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 fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.”But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in the LORD their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant HE had made with their fathers and the warnings HE had given them. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the LORD had ordered them, “Do not do as they do,” and they did the things the LORD had forbidden them to do.
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. They SACRIFICED their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced DIVINATION and SORCERY and SOLD themselves to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger.
So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, and even Judah did not keep the commands of the LORD their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. 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.
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. The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them 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.”
(skip to 34) “To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the LORD nor adhere to the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands that the LORD gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 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. 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. You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is HE WHO WILL DELIVER YOU FROM T HE HAND OF YOUR ENEMIES.” They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 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 fathers did.”
MAN…. it does NOT get any clearer than this!!! God has set standards for us to live by, to help us, guide us, help us draw closer to HIM. THESE people KNEW what the right thing to do was!!! BUT….they CHOSE to do things against God’s laws “in secret” (ummmm…like God couldn’t see what they were doing???!!!) They forgot about God, about worshiping HIM in HIS Temple, about NO ONE BEING PRIESTS except the Levites. These people were BOLD in their rebellion…..they did what they wanted to do!!!
SUCH a very sad, heart wrenching piece of history!!! Until last year I always heard that the 12 tribes simply “disappeared” ….but they did not…. GOD SCATTERED THEM. It was NO SHOCKER that God scattered them because of all they did that was blatantly against God…prideful…stiff necked…idol worship…child sacrifice to other gods!! It is very important to KNOW that HE scattered them and did not wipe them out!!! This will be a HUGE topic when Cyrus releases the captives and tells them to go back to Jerusalem and they DON’T!!! BUT don’t MISS the fact that by SCATTERING HIS PEOPLE…God will USE this to spread the GOSPEL!!! When the Passover Feast happens with Jesus….God’s CHOSEN PEOPLE will come from NEAR AND FAR to celebrate the Passover. THEN when they return home….they will have the story of the GOSPEL and JESUS to go towards the ends of all the earth!!! IS THAT NOT AMAZING!!!
The scripture that kept coming to me as I read this and thought about how God would use HIS PEOPLE was Romans 8:28-30 –“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
So, regardless of where you are or what you are going through, if you are a child of God…HE WILL use what you and I are going through for HIS GOOD. Even in the midst of this horrific piece of history that HIS PEOPLE brought on themselves through their own bad CHOICES……the end picture is that God will STILL use it for Good!!
KNOW that no matter what you are going through, how hard it seems, or how glorious a time you may be in right now ….. PRAISE GOD for it ALL…HE will use it for HIS purposes and for GOOD!!!
Sharing HIS love,