2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36
Click here for today’s reading http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Kings%2024-25;%202%20Chronicles%2036&version=NIV
Today we complete the reading of both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. This means we have completely read 26 out of 66 Books of the Bible…that is more than 1/3rd of the books!! Give yourself a pat on the back or a big hug for such an accomplishment. We started 2 Chronicles at the end of June, 2 Kings at the end of July, and here it is September and we are closing those books. AWWWWEEEESSSOOMMMEEEE!!!
We have a review of our summer reading today. Keep your eyes on God’s PATIENCE and LOVE as we read and remember that we are on THIS side of the CROSS. We are NO LONGER under the LAW but under HIS GRACE because of Jesus Christ. As we review this story let’s look at the WHY, WHEN, WHERE, WHO, WHAT, and HOW.
First let’s look at the WHY was all this happening to Judah, and WHAT was happening? The bottom line was they rebelled and refused to TURN BACK to GOD. Remember Judah and Israel were a unified nation under David many years ago. Then they split into two separate nations. After the split Israel had nothing but BAD kings so they fell into captivity under Assyria about 100-150 years prior to Judah’s captivity under Babylon. Judah had a few good kings who turned things around for awhile, but the kings who did evil in the eyes of The Lord made a nation of stubborn, self-centered, rebellious, people who wanted to live by their own rules and not God’s. God warned Israel for years to TURN BACK TO HIM but they did not. Judah did not seem to take note of the reason for Israel’s fall because they continued down the SAME road (with few exceptions). Bottom line….their OWN actions and CHOICES to SIN, worship idols, build statues to idols, sacrifice children to their idols, and basically “do it their way” rather than God’s way lead to Judah’s exile and captivity by Babylon.
Today we flash back all the way to 612 BC, and this begins to point to the WHEN. However, Nebuchadnezzar took control as king of Babylon in 605 BC, so he took some time before he launched his first attack against Judah. We witnessed Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt each strive to be THE WORLD POWER. Although we are talking about who is in power these nations (and Judah) were the WHERE of this story. Interestingly these three nations make a triangle with the Promised Land right on the middle. Egypt was the first world power and was joined by Assyria which slowly, bit by bit took over a HUGE area with their very cruel ways. Most recently Babylon first took Assyria and then the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish. After that, the Babylonians went after control of Judah. This was attack 1 of 3 on God’s people. With each invasion more captives, and more things were taken. (When we read Daniel, we will come back to this first invasion since scholars believe this is when Daniel was taken).
Let’s take a look at the WHO of the story. Some of the names of the characters in our history are:
Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon
Pharaoh Neco was from Egypt
King Jehoiakim (did evil in the Lord’s eyes) was from Judah and was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in the first attack, served him for three years then rebelled and was killed.
Jehoiakim’s son, Jehoiachin (also did evil in the eyes of The Lord), reigned for 3 months then surrendered to King Nebuchadnezzar in Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd invasion.
The second and third invasion occurred and the temple was raided. Most of the leaders, including the king, were taken captive. The Babylonians and Assyrians differed in their policies for taking captives. The Assyrians moved most the captives OUT and resettled in the land with foreigners. The Babylonians took ONLY the strong, the skilled, the people of influence and left the poor and weak to rule the land. Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah (of Judah and another son of Josiah) on the throne of Judah. Before Zedekiah became the King of Judah his name was Mattaniah but Nebuchadnezzar changed his name to Zedekiah. Since King Jehoiakin was in captivity and not dead, the Jews did not respond or recognize Zedekiah as their king. (NOW … it makes a LOT of sense why Zedekiah was a man without a spine in our reading yesterday…..he listened to Jeremiah, then told the people who wanted to Jeremiah to do so, and then okayed Jeremiah’s rescue!! BUT knowing the background makes his actions more understandable…..one King of Judah had been killed, one was still alive in captivity, and Zedekiah was appointed by the King of Babylon…..I’d say he was under a little pressure and probably afraid for his life….but isn’t that what happens when we do not maintain a close relationship with God?) While in captivity and exile, the people of Judah were allowed to live together, find jobs, and become an important part of the society. This policy kept the Jews united and faithful to God all the years of captivity. It also made it possible for their return in the days of Zerubbabel and Ezra. The Babylonians did however leave a REMNANT of people behind and did not take all of them into captivity. Nebuchadnezzar left the poor and the weak in their land, assuming they would be under his authority. This was ALL part of God’s big plan.
Sadly, after Zedekiah had to see his sons killed they gauged out his eyes and took him captive, so Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah as a governor over the land since he was faithful to Babylon…but he didn’t last too long….. assassinated.
A very sad moment in the destruction of Judah was: “On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.”
The burning down of the Temple and the royal palace….went back to David’s time. David built the royal palace and Solomon built the Temple. Do you remember how beautiful if was. Although it had been ravaged several times under several of Judah’s Kings, I could not help but feel a huge loss when it all was totally destroyed. God often takes things in our lives that are precious to us…..but HIS provisions are still there.
Finally we meet Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Evil-Merodach (WHAT a NAME, right?) who became king in Babylon in 562, 24 years after the captivity began. He was actually a nice king, even allowing officials to dine with him and releasing Jehoiachim, but his brother in law killed him and succeeded the throne.
The HOW is actually tied in with the WHY. How did it happen? It happened because God had warned HIS people over and over to TURN BACK to HIM. God was VERY patience with both Judah and Israel. Judah was attacked 3 times, each time with years of warnings for repentance. Israel too was not taken in a single swipe, they too were invaded 3 times, God gives the ones He loves so many opportunities to repent before HE has no other choice but to exile us in order to get our attention.
When we read Lamentations we are going to read about what it must have been like for Jeremiah to see all this happening. What would you have written if you were Jeremiah?
In Summary, we started this Summer with the prophet Elijah and we end with Captivity. The next 40 days will be the ending our reading of the Old Testament. I pray you will desire to dig deep in these books because I know God has treasures that will speak personally to you as a message from God. Be obedient as to what HE is telling you, and trust HIM to keep HIS promises. HIS love and HIS Word endure FOREVER!!
Sharing HIS love,
2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35
Click here for an AWESOME read http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Kings%2022-23;%202%20Chron%2034-35%20&version=NLT
In 2 days we will begin reading the Book of Jeremiah. I am pointing this out now because what we read today is back ground for Jeremiah. Don’t you love reading this chronologically (or as close to chronological as we can get?) IMHO….it all flows for me reading it this way.
We get a review about King Josiah. He was 8 when he became King. He was 16 when he began to seek The Lord and began to reform Judah at the age of 20. King Josiah followed the ways of The Lord and gave instructions for the Temple to be renovated from all those years unused and neglected. King Ahaz (Josiah’s great great grandfather had nailed the Temple doors shut so no one could enter!!) Ahaz’s son, King Hezekiah reopened the Temple and followed in the ways of The Lord. However, King Hezekiah’s son Manasseh and Manasseh’s son Amon both ignored the Temple’s significance and did not follow the ways of The Lord. Now Josiah (Amon’s son) begins to restore the Temple. During the restoration, the Book of the Law is found. Josiah learned ALL that was in the Book of the Law and realized how far his nation had grown from God. He repented, and humbled himself before The Lord. He was determined to reform his nation, and got rid of all the idols, and statues built to other gods.
Josiah also sent the priest, Hilkiah, who found the Book of the Law to the Prophetess, Huldah who was able to tell them that Judah would end in destruction, in exile, and in captivity BUT she also told them that BECAUSE Josiah humbled himself before The Lord that Josiah would be “gathered to his fathers and buried in peace” so his eyes would not have to witness all the disaster in Judah. LOOK at the difference ONE man can make!!!
Josiah renewed the Covenant with all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem before God in the Temple. The Asherah poles, idols, and all articles made to worship any other gods except the ONE TRUE God were all destroyed. Josiah maintained his focus!! He reinstated the offering plate that God had originally intended for the Temple. The money would pay the workers, the High Priest, Hilkiah (possibly Jeremiah’s father….see the connection….isn’t is awesome!!??) It took reading the Book from the Lord to see how disobedient they were being. Immediately after seeing what God’s law was, Josiah and the priests repented from their ways, humbled themselves and reformed, not just their deeds but their hearts.
I am not sure what all was in the “Book of the Law”, but it definitely included the Book of Deuteronomy with the references to ….you shall love The Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind….. One thing for sure the “Book of the Law” had been neglected just as the Temple had been. I don’t know if there were multiple copies or just one because Jewish tradition indicates that God’s Word was passed verbally from generation to generation. With so MANY corrupt Kings in Judah (and Israel) most people probably had NO clue what was in the book and the bad Kings did not want them to know. Josiah KNEW the Book of the Law was precious and needed to be taught again…..once he himself knew what was in it. We are so blessed to have such easy access to the Bible, the Word of God. I know we have several Bibles in our home and then there is the wonderful world of all the online Bibles and commentaries. Josiah is a huge example to me in how important the Bible, the Living Word of God is in our daily lives.
We have been reading the Bible together for about 7 months. I am living proof that the Word of God Transforms. But if I did not read it and relied on my past teachings, my own opinions, my own thoughts…… I would get myself into a lot of trouble because I would not know what the Word says. I would be “tossed like the waves of the sea” and possibly open to things that “seem OK in our worldly view” but are totally wrong in God’s eyes. All of us were raised with certain teachings, rituals, traditions, theology, and doctrine that may have NOTHING to do with what the Word of God says. BUT….if we don’t read the Word and ASK God to SHOW us what HIS Word means…..we can never be transformed more into HIS image. Without HIS Word…we will be open to following false prophets, false doctrines, false theology, and having our own idols. I am so glad God has blessed me with a hunger to KNOW HIM more and more each day. AND I am so blessed that each of you are reading this and asking HIM the same things for your lives.
The death of Josiah was so very said; however judgement on Judah by this time was already in motion. When we read the book of Jeremiah, 3 big events will occur during it. They will refer back to today’s readings.
THE BATTLE OF MEGIDDO (609 B.C.) between Judah and Neco, the Pharaoh of Egypt. This is when Josiah was killed.
BATTLE OF CARCHEMISH (605 B.C.) 4 years later, during Jehoiakim’s reign they were being used by Egypt. In this battle, the Egyptians were defeated by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar, this caused the first deportation of the Jews in 20 years.
We will see the CAPTURE of JERUSALEM BY NEBUCHADNEZZAR. They will capture the city and the Temple and exile the greater part of those who were left to Babylon.
Josiah was one of the greatest kings, yet his own son fell right into step with all the pagan teachings (it says in the reading his fathers…the ones before Josiah). This was a reminder of how critical it is to teach our children or the children in our care God’s Word, so it is ON THEIR HEARTS!! “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Tomorrow we will read Zephaniah and then dive into Jeremiah…so remember what is happening to Judah from today’s reading because Jeremiah lived during the time of the Kings who followed Josiah.
Good news and good readings ahead of us….stay tuned for more of God’s Living Word
Sharing HIS love,
2 Kings 20-22
Click here for today’s reading http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Kings%2020-22&version=NIV;AMP
CHAPTER 20 — NO….YOU are not dreaming….. we have read the beginning of this chapter before about Hezekiah’s rule, being a great King for Judah, following the ways of The Lord, destroying all the high places, idols, and Asherah poles…cleaning house. Then he re-opened the Temple so the people could come worship The Lord there again (his father Ahaz had nailed the doors SHUT!) Because of Hezekiah’s faith and goodness The Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and healed him. BUT… the Lord not only heal him but extended his life (15 years.) The Lord also gave him a sign that HE would do what HE promised (moving the shadow back 10 steps.) Next we saw Hezekiah showing (possibly an act of kindness to the envoy or an act of pride…we are not specifically told. However, because he showed off ALL his possessions to the wrong people (Babylonian Envoys). THEN the Babylonian’s would later remember all the wealth they saw. Isaiah told Hezekiah they would return and take ALL his possessions.
Here is a reminder of the men here. Hezekiah was a very good king; which is TOTALLY AMAZING because his father, King Ahaz, was the WORST King!! Unfortunately as wonderful as Hezekiah was as a King, we see his son, Manasseh, was more of Ahaz than of Hezekiah…….soooo sad!!
CHAPTER 21–Manasseh (reigned 55 years) was so bad that in his years of killing he took the life if Isaiah. Jewish tradition says that Isaiah may have been hiding from him in a hollow log and was sawed in half. Bad kings were never fond of the prophets, for the messages they brought from the Lord were of judgement and doom. Manasseh sacrificed his own son in a pagan ritual, consulted mediums, used divination, built Asherah poles, and really set a very bad example as a leader of his country. Through his leadership he encouraged the people of Judah to return to worshiping in anyway they desired to any god they desired!! BAD BAD BAD — God had to do something with these people.
Amon (reigned two years), the next Judean king was a chip off the ole block, bad to the bone…….. Just like his dad. SAD SAD SAD!!
CHAPTER 22–Then came Josiah and he reigned 22 years. Josiah was a good King and he followed in the ways of The Lord. During Josiah’s reign verse 8 tells us: “Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the BOOK OF THE LAW in the house of the Lord! Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.”
CAN YOU IMAGINE FINDING THE BOOK OF THE LAW HIDDEN IN THE TEMPLE!!! Josiah sent Hilkiah to the Prophetess Huldah to ask what it meant and what should be done. That most certainly was WISDOM!!!
We end today’s reading with: “Behold, therefore [King Josiah], I will gather you to your fathers, taken to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring on this place. And they brought the king word.”
In reading this I am soooooo aware of the impact ONE leader can have on an entire country… will the country serve the ONE true God or will they be encouraged to serve everything else that is against Him?? And once again… I have a huge burden to pray for our leaders at all levels in all areas. WE NEED godly leaders.
I found it beautiful the way God was protecting Josiah because HE knew his heart!!! What a wonderful way to end today’s reading…witnessing God’s protection on a King who was humbly seeking HIM!!! God did not want Josiah to live to see the judgement that was going to come upon Judah!!
Sharing HIS love,