Monday, April 30, 2018

A Kingdom Divided- Judah (Part 16)

King Zedekiah is on the throne in Jerusalem. He only has the poorest of the people left in the land. Anyone from the royal line, the army, or anyone who had a useful trade was taken to Babylon as a captive.
II Chronicles 36:11-14- Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.  And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel. Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.
The prophet Jeremiah preached during Zedekiah's reign as well. He told the king what the Lord had to say. Zedekiah would listen to Jeremiah, but he wouldn't obey what God said.
The king of Babylon had made Zedekiah promise to follow his rule, but Zedekiah was rebellious at heart to God and Nebuchadnezzar. So, Nebuchadnezzar brought war to Jerusalem.
II Kings 25:1-3- And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. 
Jeremiah knew what was coming and he wanted to get out of that wicked city!
Jeremiah 37:12-14- Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people. And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes.
As Jeremiah was trying to leave, one of the men in the gate of the city accused him of being a traitor and dragged him before the leaders of the city. Though the king was kind to Jeremiah, there were other leaders in his kingdom which were not.
Jeremiah 38:6- Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.
Jeremiah was thrown into a deep pit full of nasty muck which he sank down in and got stuck. There was no water down there for him to drink.
But, God hadn't forgotten about Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 38:7-10- Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; Ebedmelech went forth out of the king's house, and spake to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city. Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.
Things had gotten really bad in Jerusalem. There was no more bread. Food was very scarce. But, once the king heard what they had done to Jeremiah, he sent one of the eunuchs who liked Jeremiah to pull him out of the muck.
Jeremiah 38:13- So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
Though the king was kind enough to get Jeremiah out of the pit, he left him in the prison. Perhaps he feared the other leaders in his city. Or maybe, he wanted to keep Jeremiah where he could easily find him.
Jeremiah 37:16-17- When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days; Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.
Zedekiah kept going back to Jeremiah to see if the Word of the Lord had changed. I guess he kept hoping that God would change his mind, but he didn't bother to humble himself or ask for God's mercy.
Jeremiah 37:21- Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers' street, until all the bread in the city were spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
The king made sure that Jeremiah was fed and taken care of. The leaders of the city weren't so happy with Jeremiah. They came to him to see if the king was turning. Zedekiah knew they would do this, so he told Jeremiah what to say.
Jeremiah 38:24-28- Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of these words, and thou shalt not die. But if the princes hear that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death; also what the king said unto thee: Then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's house, to die there. Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived. So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.
Poor Jeremiah! He was only doing what the Lord had told him to do! But these people were so evil they didn't want to hear the truth. And, they were going to punish anyone who spoke it.
Jeremiah 21:3-5- Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah: Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city. And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
God was tired of it all. He had enough! God, Himself, was going to fight against Jerusalem!
Jeremiah 52:7-8- Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him.
The king tried to flee away, but God wasn't going to let him escape. He was going to punish Zedekiah for knowing His will and choosing to ignore it!
Jeremiah 52:9-11- Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.
For his rebellion against the king of Babylon, his sons were killed and he was blinded. Zedekiah, now blind and alone, was thrown into a Babylonian prison and left there to die.
Jeremiah 52:26-27- So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah. And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land.
God also punished the evil leaders that had thrown Jeremiah into prison! Nebuchanezzar killed them, too.
But, God wasn't done with the people of Judah!
Jeremiah 52:12-13-  Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, And burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about.
God allowed the Babylonian army to destroy the city, Solomon's palace, and the temple of the Lord.
Then, the king of Babylon assigned a Governor to watch over the people who were left in the land.
II Kings 25:22, 25-26 - And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler. But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah. And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldees.
Rebel  groups rose up and killed the governor that was placed in charge of the remnant. The people that were left feared what Nebuchadnezzar would do. They thought they could run away, and they were going to drag poor Jeremiah with them! They fled to Egypt, but they couldn't flee from the presence of the Lord!
Jeremiah 44:11-12- Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah. And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration,an an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach.
God was going to send punishment to them in Egypt, and they would die in that country.
The people who hadn't been killed in Jerusalem, were taken as captives to the land of Persia.
II Chronicles 36:20-21- And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

The Jews would stay in captivity for 70 years, like the prophet Jeremiah had foretold.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Kingdom Divided- Judah (Part 15)

Josiah's reign was cut short because he went to battle after God had warned him not to. He was a good king to his nation, and he was mourned by many. Josiah had led the people to serve the Lord, and because of this, God's judgement had been pushed off.
His son Jehoahaz was crowned to rule in his place.
II Chronicles 36:1-2- Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father's stead in Jerusalem. Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
Jehoahaz was a wicked king. Because of his wickedness, the curses and judgement of the Lord were going to start falling on the nation of Judah.
II Kings 23:33-34- And Pharaohnechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold. And Pharaohnechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.
The same king, Pharoahnecoh, that had killed Josiah in battle, came against Jehoahaz after only 3 months on the throne, and took him captive. Jehoahaz was led away to Egypt as a prisoner, and that's how and where he died.
He also made the nation of Israel pay him tribute money. In Jehoahaz place, Pharoahnecoh set up another king. The new king was given a new name by the king of Egypt- Jehoiakim.
II Kings 23:35-37- And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaohnechoh. Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
The first thing that Jehoiakim did we to tax the people of Judah. He had to raise the money for the King of Egypt, or there would be war! Jehoiakim was not a good king. Though he reigned 11 years, they wouldn't be peaceful.
Jeremiah 46:2- Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaohnecho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.
II Kings 24:1-2- In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets.
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, came down during Jehoiakim's reign and conquered the king of Egypt. After this, he came against Jehoiakim and made him pay tribute. On top of these troubles, there were small renegade armies that would come into the land and attack different areas of Judah.
God sent prophets to warn Jehoiakim. But he wouldn't listen.
Jeremiah 26:20-23-And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah: And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt; And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.
Urijah told the king what God had said. But, the king wanted to kill him for it. Even though Urijah ran away to the country of Egypt, Jehoiakim sent an army to capture him and kill him.
After Urijah's death, Jeremiah the prophet sent a letter to tell Jehoiakim what the Lord wanted him to hear. But, Jehoiakim wouldn't listen to that either.
Jeremiah 36:29-30-And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.
Jehoiakim took a letter than Jeremiah had sent and read part of it. He didn't like what it had to say, and so he had it burned. God wasn't going to let his words go to waste. He told Jeremiah to write it down again.
Jeremiah 22:18-19- Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
God said that Jehoiakim would be drawn out of the city like an animal and killed.
Daniel 1:1-2- In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
II Chronicles 36:6-8- Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and his abominations which he did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.
Nebuchadnezzar kept Jehoiakim under his thumb from the third year of his reign until the eleventh year. Then, he bound him in chains and dragged him from the city like an animal. Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon as a prisoner, and there he died.
II Kings 24:6-7- So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead. And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.
Jehoiachin was the next to be anointed king. But he was only 8 years old when he was anointed.
II Chronicles 36:9- Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD
Although he was anointed, it appears that he wasn't the ruler until he was 18. His mother would reign as the Interim Queen until he was of age to ascend the throne.
Jeremiah 13:16, 18- Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory.
Jeremiah tried to warn them to turn to God and repent, but they wouldn't.
When Jehoiachin was of age to ascend the throne, he would only sit on it for a little over 3 months.
II Kings 24:8-9- Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.
Jehoiachin, also known as Jeconiah, did evil while on the throne. God warned him and his mother that if they did evil, evil would come to them. But, they continued in their wicked ways and made the Lord angry!
Jeremiah 22:24-26,30-  As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.
The Lord was going to punish the king, the evil mother queen, and he was going to destroy his children. Jeremiah went on to prophesy that there would never be a ruler from this line to sit on Jerusalem's throne and have a successful kingdom!
II Kings 24: 11-12.14- And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it. And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.
Both he and his mother were bound in chains and taken to Babylon as prisoners, along with the other leaders, his army, and anyone who could be of use to the king of Babylon.
II Kings 24:17- And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
All of the people who could have risen up and started a war against Nebuchadnezzar were taken away as prisoners. So, the king of Babylon took Jehoiachin's uncle and made him the next ruler. Zedekiah was left to rule over the poorest of the land.
Jeremiah 29:1-2, 4-7- Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon; (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;) Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
Jeremiah sent and told the captives that the Lord would help them to grow and live in Babylon. All they had to do was live peacefully among the heathen and pray to the Lord. In time, God would bring them back to the land of Judah.
We never find out the end of most of these captives. But, I believe that Jehoiachin came to repent while he was in prison.
II Kings 25:27-30- And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison; And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon; And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life. And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.
After 37 years in a Babylonian prison, the next king of Babylon had compassion on Jehoiachin and took him out of prison. He was seated at the table of the king and allowed to eat and live like a prince the rest of his days.
God's judgements are never without mercy. If we humble ourselves, no matter how wicked we were, the Lord will have mercy on us. If we ask for forgiveness, no matter where we find ourselves, the Lord will hear.
The nation of Judah could have asked God for forgiveness at any time, but they didn't. They could have repented and asked God for mercy, but they wouldn't.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Kingdom Divided- Judah (Part 14)

A new king has been crowned to rule over the nation of Judah. Just a little child of 8 years old, but he is the leader of a great nation.
II Chronicles 34:1-3- Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. ​
King Josiah might have been young, but he would be known as one of Judah's greatest kings! Why? Because when he was still young, he decided that he would seek God's will for his life and his kingdom. At 16 years of age, he made it a point to find out what he needed to do for God to bless him and his people.
Josiah made a decree that everyone would keep the Passover like it was written in the Law of Moses. King Hezekiah, Josiah's grandfather, also had his people keep the Passover, but Josiah went above and beyond what even Hezekiah had done!
II Kings 23:21-23- And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem.
II Kings 22:3-5-  And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying, Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people: And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the LORD, to repair the breaches of the house,
When he was 18 years old, he made a point of finding out what was needed to repair the temple. You can serve God anywhere, but the Lord had chosen the temple in Jerusalem as the place He wanted the Israelites to worship Him. And, Josiah was going to make sure that the temple was exactly how the Lord wanted it.
II Kings 22:8-10- And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
While cleaning the temple up, the priests found a book in the temple. It was part of the Law of the Lord that told what God expected of His people, and the curses that would come if they turned away from Him and worshiped false idols.
You see, Josiah started by seeking God's face. And, because of this, God sent Josiah exactly what he needed to worship Him properly. When we try to do God's will, God will send us more guidance.
II Kings 22:11- And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
Josiah knew all the wickedness that his father and grandfather had brought into Israel. And now, he knew the destruction that their sins would bring down on his kingdom!
II Kings 22:12-13- And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king's, saying, Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.
Josiah was afraid for his people. He wanted to hear from God what was needed to keep the curses of the Law from ravaging his kingdom.
II Kings 22:14- So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.
The priests went to a college that was in Jerusalem to talk with a woman who heard God's voice. She said that God was going to send all those curses on Israel, but because Josiah was doing right and trying to obey Him that God wouldn't send the curses during his reign.
II Kings 23:1-3- And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.
The king gathered all his subjects together and read them the book that had been found. They made a promise together that they would serve God and do everything that He had commanded of them in the Law of Moses.
By the time he was 20 years old, he began to go around his kingdom and the areas that surrounded his kingdom and remove the false idols that tempted his people to sin!
II Kings 23:4-5, 14-15- And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men. Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
The golden calf that had been the downfall of the nation of Israel was destroyed by Josiah during this purge.
II Kings 23:16-18- And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Bethel. And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.
Do you remember when Israel and Judah first split into two nations? Jeroboam had built the golden calf so that the Israelites wouldn't go worship God at the temple in Jerusalem. And, God sent a prophet to tell Jeroboam that the idol would be destroyed by a king of Judah whose name would be Josiah.
This prophet disobeyed God and died in Bethel, and was buried in the tomb of an elderly local prophet. When Josiah saw the tomb, and heard the prophecy, he knew that the Lord had chosen him for this purpose!
After destroying all the false idols, Josiah got rid of the people who would be able to turn the heart of his nation toward idolatry!
II Kings 23:24- Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.
Josiah got rid of all the evil that was in his kingdom. Some would have called him intolerant! Others would have said he was a fanatic. But, what did God think of this?
II Kings 23:25- And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.
God said there was no king before him that turned himself to serve God like Josiah did!
All this was accomplished by the time Josiah was just 24 years old. And, Josiah made sure that his people keep their promise to worship God only.
II Chronicles 34:33- And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.
II Chronicles 34:20-21 - After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.
Josiah went out to fight against the king of Egypt that had been sent by God to war with the city of Carcheish. The king of Egypt tried to tell Josiah that God sent him to war only with the city of Carchemish, but Josiah didn't listen to him.
II Chronicles 34:22-23- Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers.
II Kings 23:29- In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
 II Chronicles 34:24-25- And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.
King Josiah cut his life short by fighting a battle that the Lord didn't want him to fight. His people and the prophet Jeremiah mourned for their lost king! The words of their sorrows from the loss of this great ruler were written in the book of Lamentations written by the prophet Jeremiah.
II Chronicles 34:26-27- Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which was written in the law of the LORD, And his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
II Kings 34:30b- And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father's stead.

Friday, April 27, 2018

A Kingdom Divided- Judah (Part 13)

We learned how Hezekiah was a good king for the nation of Judah. We've learned how he prayed to God when they were keeping the Passover and God heard his prayers in heaven. We've learned how he prayed to God when his nation was on the brink of war and God fought for him.
God listens to our prayers just like He listened to Hezekiah's prayers.
There's another big prayer that Hezekiah prays to God for.
II Kings 20:1-3-  In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying, I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
The prophet, Isaiah, came to Hezekiah and told him to get things ready because he was going to die. He needed to pick out the next king, and he needed to make sure that the next rulers would love God and obey His ways.
But, Hezekiah wasn't ready to die, yet. He prayed to the Lord and asked God to remember all that he had done during his lifetime. He was hoping God would extend his life.
And God heard his prayers and saw his tears and answered him.
II Kings 20:4-6- And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
So, Isaiah came back to Hezekiah to tell him that the Lord was going to allow him to live another 15 years!
II KIngs 20:8- And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day?
Hezekiah wanted to know what miracle would be done to show that God spoke to Isaiah.
Isaiah asked if Hezekiah wanted God to make more hours in that one day or less hours in that one day.
Hezekiah said that the sun always rises in the East and sets in the West. But, if God were to make the sun move back to the East and add more hours to that day that it would definitely be a miracle that only God could do!
II Kings 20:11- And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.
So, God added more hours to the day to show King Hezekiah that he was going to live.
II Kings 20:7- And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.
So, Hezekiah got better and he went to the house of the Lord and thanked Him for His mercy.
II Kings 20:12-13- At that time Berodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.
The king of Babylon had heard about Hezekiah being sick. And, he certainly saw the sun moving the wrong way in the sky! And he sent an ambassage to Hezekiah with gifts.
Hezekiah was so pleased to see this that he gave the ambassadors from Babylon a tour of his home. He showed them his treasures, his armory and all his weapons, everything that he was proud of!
II Kings 20:14-15- Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon. And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.
The prophet Isaiah came back to visit the king after the group from Babylon had left. And, he asked what the men were shown in the kingdom.
Hezekiah replied that he showed them everything that he had.
II Kings 20:16-18- And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
Isaiah prophesied to Hezekiah of the Babylonian captivity of the nation of Judah.
Why?
II Chronicles 32:31- Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
God wanted to see what Hezekiah would do if He stepped back and allowed Hezekiah some room to roam. Do you think that God didn't know what would happen? Of course He knew!
But, sometimes God allows things to happen so that we ourselves learn what's in our hearts. What do you think was in Hezekiah's heart?
Pride.
II Chronicles 32:25-26- But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
God showed Hezekiah the pride that was building in his heart. And, Hezekiah responded correctly! He humbled himself and asked God to forgive him.
II Chronicles 32:32- Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.
II Kings 20:20-21- And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.
Hezekiah was a very good king. The things he accomplished for his kingdom were noted by the men who wrote the Bible.
So, Hezekiah lived out his 15 extra years that God had promised him and then he died. And, his son reigned in his place.
II Kings 21:1-2- Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hephzibah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.
This is something that we don't usually think about! When we pray and ask God for things, we are looking at our circumstances in the present. We don't think about the future.
Hezekiah wanted to live, and so he prayed and asked God for a longer life. His son Manasseh was born three years later. This son would be one of the most wicked kings the nation of Judah would ever have!
Who would have been crowned king had Hezekiah accepted God's will and died? Would Judah have had another good king that would be a righteous ruler over that nation? We will never know.
Because Hezekiah prayed for his own will instead of God's will, his nation got a curse instead of a blessing!
II Kings 21:5-6- And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
II KIngs 21:16- Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.
II Chronicles 33:9-10- So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.
God is very merciful! He is very longsuffering. He didn't want to have to punish the nation of Judah. He sent prophets to tell them to repent and turn back to God, but they wouldn't!
So, God sent the King of Assyria against the nation of Judah.
II Chronicles 33:11-13- Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.
The king of Assyria captured Manasseh and took him in chains to the city of Babylon. The Bible says that he was in afflication- so he was probably in a dungeon like other prisoners would be.
But, it took this for Manasseh to finally see how wicked he had been. He was ready to repent! He begged the Lord to forgive him.
And, guess what! The Lord did. The Lord was merciful even after all the evil things that Manasseh had did. And, he even allowed Manasseh to return to his kingdom.
II Chronicles 33:15-16- And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
Manasseh not only repented, but he went about the capitol city cleaning out the false idols that he once worshiped. He made sure that he thanked God for His goodness and His mercy, and he commanded his people to worship the Lord instead of false idols.
II Chronicles 33:18, 20 - Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel.  So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
Manasseh reigned for 55 years over the nation of Judah. He had one of the longest reigns in the history of the nation. That's how longsuffering God is. He will wait a long time for us to repent!
Though Manasseh got right with the Lord God Almighty, his son who took the throne next did not.
II Chronicles 33:21-23- Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem. But he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them; And humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.
God tried to give Amon the chance to repent, but he wouldn't. He was stubborn and hard-hearted, and wicked. And the Lord wasn't going to allow him to ruin his people anymore!
II Kings 21:23, 26a-  And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the king in his own house. And he was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza:
Amon's own servants killed him after only 2 years on the throne.
II Chronicles 33:25- But the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.
The citizens of Judah caught the servants who had murdered Amon and killed them. Then they crowned the young son, Josiah, to be their next king.
Good kings. Bad kings. Old kings. Young kings. What would Josiah be?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Kingdom Divided- Judah (Part 12)

When we last talked about the nation of Judah, they had just had the wicked king Ahaz die. His son, Hezekiah, was now king over the land. Would he be a good king like his grandfather? Or, an evil king like his father?
II Chronicles 29:1-2- Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.
Hezekiah was a good king!
II Kings 18:3-6- And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.
Hezekiah got rid of all the places where Israel was worshiping false idols. He also got rid of the brass serpent that Moses had made way back when the children of Israel were in the wilderness. Do you remember that?
Well, the Israelites were worshiping it like it was a god. But, Hezekiah told them it was just a piece of brass, and he smashed it into little pieces so that the Israelites wouldn't sin with it anymore.
II Chronicles 29:3-5- He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.
Hezekiah was a very good king! In his first month as king, he opened the temple of the Lord, repaired the building, and then gathered the priests so they could clean up the mess that wicked King Ahaz left behind!
II Chronicles 29:17, 20, 27-29- Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end. Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD. And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.
Once the priests finished cleaning the temple. The king gathered all the leaders of the city and they went into the house of the Lord and sacrificed, sang, and worshiped the Lord God Almighty.
Next, the king got together with his leaders and they planned for the entire kingdom to keep the Passover.
When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, the last miracle that Moses told the Jews was coming would require them to offer a sacrifice of a lamb. If they didn't, they would also be visited by the death angel. When they had left Egypt, Moses told them that they were to have a Passover feast every year to remember the Lord's mercy on His people.
II Chronicles 30:1, 5- And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel. So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written.
Hezekiah wrote letters and sent them throughout all the land of Israel and Judah. He invited every Jewish person to take part in the Passover feast.
II Chronicles 30:10-13- So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the LORD. And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation.
When the letters arrived at the different villages, there was a bunch of people making fun of the messengers and their message. But, that didn't stop King Hezekiah. He knew what God wanted him to do, and he wasn't concerned with what people were saying.
When the time came for the Passover, there were many people there who had turned to worship the Lord their God.
II Chronicles 30:15-16, 18b-20- Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. And they stood in their place after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.
There were many people who showed up for the Passover that hadn't sanctified themselves. Maybe they didn't know how to sanctify themselves. Or, perhaps they decided at the last minute to attend the Passover. However it happened, Hezekiah interceded for them in prayer, and the Lord answered him.
II Chronicles 30:25-27-  And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced. So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem. Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.
It had been hundreds of years since the Jews had kept the Passover the way Moses said it was to be kept. And, God let them know that He heard their prayers and their songs all the way up on His throne in heaven!
This was just the beginning of Hezekiah's reign. Throughout his rule, Hezekiah searched the law of Moses and put into practice what was written there. He made sure the priests were serving in the temple according to the Scriptures. He had the people of the land take care of the priests according to the Scriptures.
II Chronicles 30:20-21- And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
God was with Hezekiah every step of the way because the king wanted to please God.
Did this mean that Hezekiah never had any troubles? No.
II Kings 18:13-16- Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house. At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
Hezekiah thought that if he gave a nice enough present to the king of Assyria that he would go away and leave his kingdom alone. But, he was wrong. The king of Assyria didn't want presents- he wanted war!
II Chronicles 32:1-3, 6-8- After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself. And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
The king of Assyria had taken the nation of Israel captive. He was now coming after the nation of Judah.
Hezekiah wanted to make it as difficult as possible for the Assyrian army. He got rid of the water so they wouldn't have something to drink, and then he prepared an army.
But, Hezekiah knew that the only way for his people to win would be if they put their trust in the Lord! He told his people to depend on the Lord. And the Lord was going to help him!
II Kings 18:17a, 19-20, 25- And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And Rabshakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Am I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.
First, the king of Assyria sent leaders and an army to Jerusalem. He yelled to the city that God had sent him to destroy Judah. But, he was lying. He was hoping that the people of the city would fear and that would allow them an advantage in the war. He wanted the people to doubt their king and their God.
II Kings 19:1-2- And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.
Hezekiah  heard the speech, and he went into the temple in repentance clothing to beg for the Lord to show mercy to him and his people. He sent for the prophet, Isaiah, to see if the Lord had a message for him.
II Kings 19:6-7- And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
Isaiah told the messengers that God heard his prayers, and God heard what the men of the KIng of Assyria had said.
II Kings 19:8-11- So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?
I Chronicles 32:10-11, 14, 18- Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem? Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The LORD our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? Then they cried with a loud voice in the Jews' speech unto the people of Jerusalem that were on the wall, to affright them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city.
The leaders had to leave because their city was under attack. But, while the Assyrian army was gone, the king of Assyria sent messages to Israel telling them that he was coming back.
He told the Israelites that his nation had conquered many other nations. He said that his false god was greater than all the other images of the other nations that he had conquered. And, he told the Jewish people that his false god was greater than the Lord God Almighty.
II Kings 19:14-15a- And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD
Hezekiah, again, brought this before the Lord. He was scared for his people. And, he just wanted God's assurance that He was still going to take care of them!
II Kings 19:20, 32-34- Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
God was not at all impressed by the speech of the King of Assyria. He was going to show the Assyrians that He was the Lord God Almighty.
II Kings 19:35-37- And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
God sent a destroying angel out which killed all the leaders of the Assyrian army and all thier most valiant warriors. The destroying angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers!
The king of Assyria fled back to his country in shame. When he got back home, his own children murdered him.
God was going to take care of His people. His people were trying very hard to live according to His laws. And, this makes God happy! When we put God first and trust Him, even when things seem impossible- God does the most amazing things!
II Chronicles 32:23- And many brought gifts unto the LORD to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.
God's display of His power caused many to turn from their false idols and worship the Lord God Almighty.
Wow! All this because Hezekiah put his trust in His God instead of looking at his circumstances.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Kingdom Divided- Judah (Part 11)

King Uzziah had been a good king, but eventually he had to be humbled by God because of his pride. King Uzziah went into the temple and tried to offer incense to the Lord, which only the priests were allowed to do. For his sin, God made him a leper.
Being a leper, Uzziah had to live in seclusion from his kingdom and his people. His son Jotham performed the duties of the king in his place. When Uzziah died, Jotham was crowned king.
II Chronicles 27:1-2- Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the LORD. And the people did yet corruptly.
Jotham was a good king, but the punishment that the Lord placed on his father seemed to scare him so badly that he never went to the temple of the Lord.
But, just because a ruler is good, doesn't mean his subjects will be. There were people in his kingdom who were wicked. And because of their wickedness, God allowed war to come.
II Kings 15:37-  In those days the LORD began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah.
God was trying to get the attention of the people of the land of Judah. King Jotham was listening, and because of this God would make him a mighty king!
II Chronicles 27:3-6- 3 He built the high gate of the house of the LORD, and on the wall of Ophel he built much. Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers. He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same year an hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him, both the second year, and the third. So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.
Jotham accomplished much in his 16 years on the throne. He built up his kingdom, and made it strong. He also won many battles. Do you know why he was so successful? The Bible tells us. It was because he prepared his ways before the Lord. That means he looked to do what was right in God's sight.
II Chronicles 27:7-9- Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars, and his ways, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. He was five and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.
Good King Jotham died, and his son Ahaz was crowned the next king of Judah. But, Ahaz was not a good king like his dad.
II Kings 16:1-2-  In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father.
II Chronicles 28:2-4- For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
How could such a good man as Jotham have such an evil son? Could it be because Jotham never went to the temple?
Hebrews 10:25-  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Paul says that we should come together as believers. He warns against not doing this. Why? Can we worship God by ourselves? Yes. But, getting together with other believers not only encourages us, but also sets a good example for our children.
Another reason Ahaz turned out so wickedly could have been that he was hanging out with some of those wicked people who lived in his father's kingdom.
Proverbs 27:17- Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
You become like the people you choose to hang out with. If your friends are evil, you will be a wicked person. If your friends are wise, you will become a smart person. If your friends are silly, you will become a goofy person.
Ahaz may have become a wicked person because he never went to the temple and learned to love God, but instead he hung out with wicked people who worshiped false idols. We don't know. But, we do know that God wasn't going to let him get away with it!
II Kings 16:5-6- Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.
II Chronicles 28:5-6- Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.
God allowed the king of Syria and the King of Israel to wage war against Jerusalem; Many died, and many more became slaves.
II Chronicles 28:9-11, 14-15- But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded: and he went out before the host that came to Samaria, and said unto them, Behold, because the LORD God of your fathers was wroth with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven. And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God? Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you. So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation. And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren: then they returned to Samaria.
God was sending his prophet to try and show the Jewish people that He was still there! That He could still hear their prayers and help them! If King Ahaz had turned to God and asked for mercy, and humbled himself, God would've helped him. But, he didn't.
Isaiah 7:3, 11-12-  Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field; Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
God sent Isaiah to talk to King Ahaz. He told Ahaz that God was going to destroy the king of Syria. He also told Ahaz that in 65 years Israel would be destroyed as a nation. He told Ahaz to ask for a sign and that God would make it happen to prove to Ahaz that He was the powerful God, the Creator of the world. But, Ahaz wouldn't ask for a sign.
So, Isaiah prophesied about the coming of the Son of God- the Lord Jesus Christ. He told Ahaz that Christ would be born from a virgin- a woman who hadn't been married. And that both Israel and Judah would not have a king when it happened.
Isaiah spoke of both the Assyrian captivity of Israel and the Babylonian captivity of Judah. He foretold of the birth of Jesus Christ! And many other  prophecies in the book of Isaiah.
But, Ahaz would rather trust man than God.
II Kings 16:7-9- So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.
King Ahaz sent a lot of money to the king of Assyria. This man was just as wicked, and served evil false idols. He came and fought against the Syrians and the Israelites, and won. But, he didn't do this to help Judah.
II Chronicles 28:20-21- And Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not. For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not.
King Ahaz was trying so hard to make friends with evil men. He even went to the capitol city of Assyria in an attempt to strengthen his alliance.
II Kings 16:10-12, 15-16- And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof. And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus. And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon. And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king's burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brasen altar shall be for me to enquire by. Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.
Now, a long time ago God showed Moses how He wanted everything in the tabernacle to look. When the temple was built, God gave Solomon direction on how to do it. God has a certain way that he expects us to worship Him.
Wicked King Ahaz not only went about worshiping false idols, but he went into God's temple and made an altar that looked like one used to sacrifice to false idols. And, he commanded the priest of the Lord to go against God's commands and use this new altar.
Do you think God was pleased with this? No!
But, that wasn't all the evil that Ahaz caused in the temple of the Lord.
II Kings 16:17-18- And king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stones. And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king's entry without, turned he from the house of the LORD for the king of Assyria.
King Ahaz took other items out of the temple that the Lord wanted int here. And then, he invited the wicked King of Assyria to enter.
This was God's house. This was suppose to be a holy place where the Jews could go to get forgiveness for their sins. This was suppose to be a place where their prayers would be heard and answered by God.
And, King Ahaz and the king of Assyria had ruined it! And, after he ruined it, he closed it up so that those who really wanted to serve the Lord couldn't.
II Chronicles 28:22-25- And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers.
This wicked King Ahaz seemed to want to seal Judah's fate. He closed up the temple, and then made places of worship to all different sorts of false idols throughout Jerusalem.
II Chronicles 28:26-27- Now the rest of his acts and of all his ways, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem: but they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.
Ahaz had made God angry! God's wrath would soon come against the Kingdom of Judah.
Would Hezekiah be able to obtain God's mercy for his people? Would he be a good king like his grandfather, or would he be a terrible person like his dad?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Kingdom Divided- Judah (Part 10)

Even though King Joash didn't end up doing good, his son tried to follow how his father started out.
II Chronicles 25:1-2- Amaziah was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart.
It is possible that Amaziah's mother had been chosen by the kind priest, Jehoiadah, that had raised his father, King Joash. If so, this woman would have been a very good woman, and she would have raised her son to love the Lord God Almighty.
Amaziah did love the Lord. He did want to do what was right for his people.
II Kings 14:5-6- And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father. But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Remeber, that at the end of Joash's reign he began to worship false idols, and he became a very mean man. He even killed the son of the kind priest who raised him. Because of this, his servants murdered him.
When King Amaziah took the throne, he brought judgment on the men who had killed his father. But, the good king, Amaziah, didn't make those men's families pay for their father's sin because he was reading what the Lord said in the Law of Moses. He wanted to obey God and be a good king.
Amaziah knew that he needed an army to protect his people. He gathered all the men he could find that would be soldiers, but he thought he needed more than he had. He didn't ask God what he should do.
II Chronicles 25:6-8- He hired also an hundred thousand mighty men of valour out of Israel for an hundred talents of silver. But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim. But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down.
Amaziah hired a thousand men out of Israel. He paid them a hundred talents of silver to come and fight for him. But, that's not what God wanted.
God sent a prophet, possibly Jonah, to tell the king that God would make him lose the battle if he went with these wicked men that he had hired.
II Chronicles 25:9-10- And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this. Then Amaziah separated them, [to wit], the army that was come to him out of Ephraim, to go home again: wherefore their anger was greatly kindled against Judah, and they returned home in great anger.
Amaziah asked the prophet, "What about the money?" It seems that is what we all think about. God isn't worried with how much something costs; He wants you to obey Him regardless of the price tag.
The prophet told Amaziah to let them keep the money. He said God could repay so much more. So, Amaziah obeyed God and told them to leave.
Now, I would think that they would be happy to get paid to do nothing! They didn't have to go out onto the battle field and risk their lives. But, these men were so wicked that it made them angry to be sent home.
II Chronicles 25:11-12- And Amaziah strengthened himself, and led forth his people, and went to the valley of salt, and smote of the children of Seir ten thousand. And other ten thousand left alive did the children of Judah carry away captive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they all were broken in pieces.
God did allow Amaziah to win the battle! And he destroyed 20,000 soldiers out of the enemy army.
Do you remember the guys he let keep the money and go home? Well, sometimes when we act without asking God, we still get into trouble even if we end up obeying Him.
II Chronicles 25:13- But the soldiers of the army which Amaziah sent back, that they should not go with him to battle, fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria even unto Bethhoron, and smote three thousand of them, and took much spoil.
These wicked men wanted to fight and kill so badly that they attacked Amaziah's kingdom while he was away. They killed a bunch of people and kidnapped others.
Maybe it was because Amaziah was angry that the Lord allowed these soldiers to attack his kingdom. Or perhaps, he watched Joash turn to idols and he though he would try this for himself. We don't know what he was thinking.
II Chronicles 25:14-16- Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them. Wherefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, which said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand? And it came to pass, as he talked with him, that the king said unto him, Art thou made of the king's counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten? Then the prophet forbare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel.
God, again, sent a prophet to warn Amaziah that he was doing wrong. But, instead of obeying and humbling himself like last time, he threatened to kill the prophet.
The prophet realized that Amaziah's heart had turned completely away from God, and he knew that God was going to destroy him because of it.
Amaziah thought that his army was great. Perhaps, he even decided that he won his last battle because of his strength and not because the Lord was blessing him.
He asked his counsellors, and they all decided to go to war with Israel.
II Kings 14:8- Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face.
The king of Israel, Jehoash, warned Amaziah that the battle wouldn't end well. He told Amaziah that he was being boastful because he had won  a single war. But, Jehoahaz had a mighty army that was not easily beat!
II Chronicles 25:20-24- But Amaziah would not hear; for it came of God, that he might deliver them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought after the gods of Edom. So Joash the king of Israel went up; and they saw one another in the face, both he and Amaziah king of Judah, at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah. And Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent. And Joash the king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, at Bethshemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and the silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God with Obededom, and the treasures of the king's house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.
Amaziah lost the war. He watched as many of his soldiers were killed. He watched as the king of Israel destroyed the wall around his capitol city. He watched as the soldiers went through Jerusalem and took all his precious treasures.
But, worse than that was the fact that the King of Israel left him alive. He had to face his entire kingdom knowing that he failed them- he hadn't been a good king.
II Chronicles 25:26-28- Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, first and last, behold, are they not written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel? Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the LORD they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish: but they sent to Lachish after him, and slew him there. And they brought him upon horses, and buried him with his fathers in the city of Judah.
There is a saying, "History repeats itself". This is true in Amaziah's case. He turned to idols like his father, and was murdered by his people just as his father had been.
II Chronicles 26:1,3-4 - Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did.
Uzziah, who is sometimes called Azariah, began to reign at 16 years old. He tried to do right. He had one of the longest rules in Judah's history- 52 years as king!
Who was the next prophet after Jonah? Well, the next man named was Zechariah. He has a book in the Bible of all his prophecies. He helped King Uzziah during his reign.
II Chronicles 26:5- And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.
II Chronicles 26:6-7- And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines. And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, and the Mehunims.
It seems that war is always a part of Jewish history. God helped Uzziah to win the wars that he fought against the Philistines, the Arabians, and another people called the Mehunims.
But, God also helped him to have some peace during these times by making friends.
II Chronicles 26:8- And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.
God greatly blessed Uzziah.  And, God gave him wisdom in fortifying his kingdom. He built up towers and walls all throughout his kingdom. He found water in the desert and dug wells for his animals. He had many flocks and herds. He also had lots of gardens and vineyards. God's blessings made his name well known.
He was also blessed with a large, mighty army to protect his land. He had 2,600 leaders with 307,500 soldiers under them. They had weapons, and armor, and something even more interesting- war machines.
II Chronicles 26:14-15- And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones. And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.
Truly, God made Uzziah a great king.
But, Uzziah made the mistake so many make when they get blessed by God- he got prideful!
II Chronicles 26:16- But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
Uzziah thought that he could over step his bounds. He was king, yes, but he was NOT a priest. And, God had made it very clear in the Law of Moses that only priests were allowed to burn incense in the temple.
II Chronicles 26:17-18- And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God.
When 80 priests confronted him and told him that he was breaking the law and God wasn't going to bless him, he became angry!
II Chronicles 26:19- Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar.
God punished Uzziah right there in front of all 80 priests. He turned Uzziah into a leper. That horrible disease that no one ever recovered from- the walking death sentence!
II Chronicles 26:20-21- And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he [was] leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land.
Because of his pride, Uzziah had to go live in a special place for sick people. He could never go back to his house, or to the temple of the Lord again. He had to live in isolation because of the leprousy.
His son, Jotham, performed the duties of king in his place.
II Chronicles 26:22-23- Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.  So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.
All of things that Uzziah went through were written down by another great prophet, Isaiah. He, also, has a book in the Bible named after him.
Uzziah died, but because he was a leper he was buried in a field instead of the royal sepulchre.
The son who had been taking care of things in his place was crowned king in his stead.

How sad that a once good and righteous king who brought so much wealth and safety to his people had to leave this world in such a shameful way. But, sin always costs more than we think it will. And, Uzziah had to find that out the hard way!

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Kingdom Divided- Judah (Part 9)

During the reign of Amaziah, king of Israel, God used a certain prophet.
2 Kings 14:23, 25- In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.
Jonah wasn't known for all the miracles that Elisha was. He wasn't known for standing up to the wicked rulers of his day like Elijah. He was known for something else. Do you know what it was?
Jonah 1:1-2- Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
God wanted Jonah to go warn a Gentile nation that they were to repent or face the wrath of God for their wickedness.
Jonah 1:3- But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
Joanh didn't want to warn the men of Nineveh. They were very evil men. Jonah thought that they deserved the wrath of God. So, instead of going West on dry land to the town of Nineveh, Jonah got into a ship heading East.
He was trying to run from God. Can you run from God? No. Can you ever go somewhere where God won't see or hear you? No. But, Jonah thought that he could get away from God.
Jonah 1:4-5- But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
God was going to show Jonah that he couldn't run from Him. He sent a terrifying storm that was so bad it was about to break the ship apart.All of the sailors were trying to throw items overboard to keep the ship from sinking. As they were doing this, they were praying to their false gods to save them.
But, where was Jonah? He was asleep down inside the ship.
Jonah 1:6- So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.
The captain of the ship woke Jonah up. He wanted Jonah to pray and ask whatever god he worshiped to help them.
When asking the false gods to help didn't stop the storm, the sailors decided to cast lots, or do a special game that would tell who had brought this evil on them.
Jonah 1:7-9- And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
The Lord God Almighty used this game of casting lots to show the sailors that it was Jonah's fault. When they asked Jonah what he was doing in their ship, he confessed that he was a Jew.
This scared the men. And, the storm just kept getting worse no matter what they tried.
Jonah 1:10-11- Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.
Jonah told them that he was given a job by the Lord God Almighty that he didn't want to do. So, he was running away.
The sailors asked what they had to do to stop the wrath of his God.
Jonah 1:12-15-  And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
The sailors didn't want to throw Jonah overboard. They tried everything they could to gain control of their ship, but nothing worked. When they feared they would all die in the storm, they prayed to Jonah's God to forgive them for throwing him overboard. And then, they tossed Jonah into the violent waves of the sea.
But, to the sailor's amazement, the winds ceased their blowing, and the waves settled their raging. The storm immediately went away and all that was left was a peaceful sea.
Jonah 1:16- Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.
The sailors had never seen any false idol do that! They decided that the God of Jonah was worth worshiping, and they offered Him a sacrifice, and made promises to do right.
Now, Jonah was floating around in the middle of a now peaceful sea. Perhaps, he thought that he would drown and then he wouldn't have to go to Nineveh and tell those wicked Gentiles the Lord's message.
But, God had other plans.
Jonah 1:17- Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
God sent a great fish to gulp Jonah down. What kind of a fish was it? Well, Jesus tells us.
Matthew 12:40- For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The fish was a whale! And Jonah was stuck inside the stinky whale for three whole days and three whole nights!
Well, those days and nights gave Jonah a good amount of time to think about what he had done. He was sorry that he disobeyed God. He was sorry that he tried to run away. And he decided to pray and apologize.
Jonah 2:1, 10- Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
God heard Jonah's prayer from the inside of the whale's belly. God told the what to spit Jonah out onto the shore. The whale obeyed what God told him to do.
What do you think God said to Jonah?
Jonah 3:1-2-  And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
Yep. God told Jonah to do the same thing He had told him to do before- go preach to the Gentiles of Nineveh.
What do you think Jonah did?
Jonah 3:3-4- So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
Jonah wasn't going to take any more side trips. In fact, he was so eager to obey God that he ran that whole three day trip in just one day!
Here was a man who stank like dead fish! He probably didn't look any better! And, he was yelling that they would be destroyed along with their city in 40 days!
Do you think they believed him?
Jonah 3:5-9- So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
Yes, they believed him! Everyone from the king to the beggar on the street put on clothes of repentance, and didn't eat or drink. All they did was sit in dust and ashes and pray that God would forgive them and not destroy them and their city.
And, guess what? God answered their prayer.
Jonah 3:10- And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Jonah's preaching produced a town wide revival! Do you think Jonah was happy about this?
Jonah 4:1- But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
You see, the reason Jonah didn't want to obey God was not because he was afraid of these wicked Gentiles. It wasn't because he didn't want to travel that far from home.
The reason was because Jonah knew that God would forgive them. And Jonah thought that they deserved to die for their wickedness.
So, when God did forgive them and decided not to destroy their city, Jonah got mad!
Jonah went outside the city and sat down in the desert sands to fume.
Jonah 4:5- So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
God wasn't finished with Jonah. He was a merciful God, not only to the wicked Gentile nation, but also to the angry prophet.
This time, God sent a gourd and a worm. The gourd grew up and shaded Jonah from the desert sun. But, the worm ate the gourd. Jonah had only a little relief from the heat because of the gourd before the gourd died from by the jaws of the worm.
Jonah 4:8- And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
But, Jonah was so mad that he wanted to die.
Jonah 4:10-11- Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
God was trying to get Jonah to understand. Jonah was upset that a worm had destroyed a plant. But, he was angry that God wouldn't destroy 120,000 people- some of them innocent children.
But, God is always righteous. When He tells someone that they are doing wrong, and they ask for His forgiveness, then He forgives them!
1 John 1:9- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Jesus used the nation of Nineveh as an example to the religious leaders of His day.
Matthew 12:41- The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
The religious rulers wouldn't obey Jesus' preaching. They wouldn't listen to the Son of God. And, Jesus said that the men of Nineveh would be in the judgement hall when they stood before the Lord God Almighty.
You see, the men of Nineveh only heard from a stinky prophet, and yet they obeyed. But, those religious leaders had heard from the Messiah, the Son of God, and they weren't going to obey.
Did Nineveh do right from that point on? No, sad to say they did not. They returned to their wicked ways, and God sent the punishment that He had promised He would send.

Nahum 3:7- And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?
Zepheniah 2:13- And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness.
And, what became of Jonah?
Well, perhaps Jonah had heard Elijah preach. It's possible that Jonah had been one of the sons of the prophets that were under Elisha's teachings. Jonah, perhaps, could have become the next great prophet!
But, Jonah refused to care. Jonah refused to repent. And, Jonah wasn't used by God ever again because of it.