Saturday, June 29, 2013

CLIX - Break

I began this blog a year ago in the book of Genesis.  We have completed our study through the book of II Kings, publishing 158 blog postings.  I will now take a short break and begin with I Chronicles in August.

God bless you, and have a safe and enjoyable July.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CLVIII - II Kings 23:31-25:30 - Wrapping up Kings

This post will conclude our study of the two books of Kings.  In these last chapters we will look at four different kings, much unlike the great king Josiah.  We will see the succession of kings interrupted, although the Davidic Covenant remains intact.  We're going to sadly see how this great nation that David and Solomon built has been reduced to a mere puppet to other nations, all of which did not have direct access to God like Judah did.  But since Josiah, none of the ungodly kings bothered to tap into this Great Resource known as the God of Israel.  Much like Manasseh, these kings actually promoted ungodliness.  Sound familiar?

Allow me to caution you about the "sound-alike" names you will encounter.  There is Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.  But there are a few more names that we will study that are significant to this last passage of Kings:  Pharaoh-Nechoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Gedaliah, and Nebuzaradan.  Quick background - The Assyrians had been a world power and were aggressive about the expansion of their kingdom.  Under their powerful king Sennacherib in 722 BC they were the ones who conquered the Northern Nation of Israel and took all of the Israelites captive, making them slaves in Damascus and other areas within the Assyrian empire.  But in the 114 years between Israel's captivity and the death of Josiah, Assyria's empire had weakened and became small and insignificant compared to the cunning and patient Babylonians to the east and the Egyptians to the south.  For centuries, nobody challenged the mighty military of the Egyptians.  They were seldom aggressive against other countries, mostly because Egypt had within its borders the resources sufficient to supply their needs, and then some.  But Pharaoh-Nechoh was different, which brings us to the beginning point of our text for this post.

II Kings 23:31-36  -  After the death of one of my favorite kings Josiah, his son Jehoahaz took the throne of Judah.  He did evil in the sight of God, much like Manasseh.  Jehoahaz reign only three months in Jersusalem before Pharaoh-Nechoh of Egypt overtook Judah's miitary and captured Jehoahaz, taking him in chains back to Egypt, where Jehoahaz later died.  The normal succession of kings in Judah would have placed the son of Jehoahaz on the throne, but Pharaoh-Nechoh named Jehoahaz's brother as the next king of Judah.  Hense the Davidic Covenant continued on, but it is sad for a nation when their leader is selected by the king of an enemy nation.  The new king of Judah was Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, brother of Jehoahaz.  Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king of Judah and reigned eleven years, doing whatever Pharaoh-Nechoh told him to do, which included disrespecting God.

II Kings 24  -  During these eleven years of Jehoiakim's reign, Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon.  I cannot say for certain but I think Babylon had become so powerful that Paraoh-Nechoh did not wish to interfere with any dealings Nebuchadnezzar initiated with any nation, even those like Judah who paid Egypt tribute annually.  This chapter begins with Nebuchadnezzar invading the land and Jehoiakim rebeled against his aggressions.  {Perhaps Jehoiakim was thinking all along that Egypt would come to his rescue against these Babylonians, but that was not going to happen.  This was briefly explained in verse 7.}  Also during these eleven years of Jehoiakim, so much evil took place in Jerusalem that God sent not only the Babylonians, but also Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiders to torment all of Judah.  {God was allowing the stage to be set for the elimination of Judah as He did Israel to the north.  God was not being unkind.  He was keeping His promise.}  Jehoiakim was killed during these raids and his son Jehoiachin succeeded him as king of Judah.

II Kings 24:8-18  -  Jehoiachin was only eighteen years old when he became king and reign only three months.  Three months was not very long, but long enough to do evil in the sight of God.  Jehoiachin was too young, inexperienced, and ungoldy to handle all that was going on around him.  Egypt had pulled out of the area, and Judah didn't have enough military to even protect the walled city of Jerusalem.  The Babylonians were camped outside the city, ready to capture it and enslave its inhabitants.  Jehoiachin had no choice but to surrender, and place himself at the mercy of Nebuchadnezzar.  As a show of obeisance, he took his mother, his court, and all of the nobles of Judah with him to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.  But this show of submission did not phase the powerful Nebuchadnezzar.  He took them all prisoner and carried them off to Babylon to enslave them and display them as a conquest.  He then pillaged the city of Jerusalem, including the Temple.  He captured and took back to Babylon all people worthy to serve Babylon as slaves.  All he left in Jerusalem were the poor and uneducated; noone who could unite the remaining people and pose a threat to Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar appointed Matteniah, another of Josiah's son's, to be king of what was left of the nation of Judah.  So much control did Nebuchadnezzar have over Matteniah, that he changed his name from Matteniah to Zedekiah.  {This, to a Hebrew, would be a severe humiliation because it disrespected his ancestry.}  Judah had only its poor and uneducated people left.  Its king was an appointed puppet by their worst enemy, the Babylonians.  Judah had no military, no income, nothing of value left, even in the Temple.  There was no government or law enforcement.  It just existed.  It went on like this for another eleven years.

II Kings 25  -  The End of a Nation

In the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign he rebelled against Babylon.  {We must give Zedekiah some credit here.  He was at least able to build a military strong enough to defend Jerusalem for two years against the much superior military of King Nebuchadnezzar.}  The Babylonian army camped outside the walls of Jerusalem and simply waited them out, causing a famine within the city.  In verses 3--> Babylon finally stormed the walls of Jerusalem and captured it.  They captured Zedekiah, and killed all of his sons in front of him.  Then they burned his eyes out and carried him off in chains to Babylon.  Verses 8-->  Babylon's captain of the guard, Nebuzaradan went to Jerusalem to destroy it, which he did, starting with the Temple, being the crown-jewel of Jerusalem.  They then destroyed the rest of the city, including tearing down the city's walls.  {Later we'll find out that they left small portions of the wall intact.}  While Nebuzaradan was destroying the city, he was rounding up the remaining inhabitants to either kill or take back to Babylon as slaves.  Although most inhabitants were removed, Nebuchadnezzar wanted to leave a remnence of people there to farm the rich farmland and the vineyards.  He was not going to let anything go to waste.  He left a man named Gedaliah in charge of all of the farmland and vineyards, and their work crews.  In verse 25 Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah gathered ten men and assassinated Gedaliah.  Ishmael immediately fled to Egypt to escape death by the Babylonians.

Verses 27-30  -  Remember Jehoiachin?  He was the king who, with his mother and all of his king's court, surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar twenty-seven years earlier.  By this time Nebuchadnezzar had died and Evil-Murduk took his place as king of Babylon.  Evil-Murduk somehow came to know Jehoiachin and liked him.  He released Jehoiachin from prison and gave him a position of respect in Babylon for the remainder of his life.

This concludes our study of First and Second Kings.  We've seen twenty kings of Judah and nineteen kings of Israel.  I have repeated my claim that "leaders matter", as the nations of Israel and Judah followed their kings in doing right or doing wrong.

 Over the span of time the kings did more harm than good, and were ultimately the cause for the downfall, destruction, and elimination of the nation Israel.  Samuel warned God's people about kings.  They should have listened.

Next Post  -  I Chronicles

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CLVII - II Kings 22-23 - Josiah, King of Judah

In the last post we looked at the reign of Manassah.  He was an evil king who reigned as king of Judah for fifty-five long years.  Then his son Amon reigned for two years and was just as bad as his father.  These two extremely evil kings were sandwiched in time between two kings who were both considered the very best of Judah's kings.  Before Manassah, was his father Hezekiah, and after Amon was Josiah.  We spent much time studying Hezekiah, and today we'll look at Josiah in the 22nd and 23rd chapters of II Kings.

Chapter 22

Verses 1-2  -  The History books are generous to Josiah.  {I've always liked the name Josiah.}  He is regarded as a political and religious reformer.  To accomplish what he did, he must have been courageous and resolute in character.  He was only eight years old when he took the throne.  One thing that makes me a respecter of his character was that the only advisors around the king's palace were those appointed by Josiah's evil father Amon and his more evil grandfather Manassah.  Was this eight year old boy wise enough already to make discernments against all of these adult males.  God must have had His hand in this.  The most recent good role model was Hezekiah, and he died 49 years before Josiah was even born.  The Scripture says in verse 2 that Josiah "did not turn aside to the right or to the left".  This phrase is high praise when used in the Scripture.

Verses 3-7  -  Repairing the Temple  -  When Josiah was 26 years old he made a priority in his reign to repair the Temple. {The Temple, as we saw back in I Kings 6, was magnificent beyond description.  Josiah noticed that this Temple to the Living God of Israel was in a run-down state of repair.  He must have thought this to be disrespectful to God and all of Israel's great ancestors.}  These verses tell how he instructed Hilkiah the high priest to gather all the money in the treasury of the Temple.  {It doesn't say how much money there was.  It was probably paltry compared to Israel's glorious past.  Remember, only the Israelites in Judah came to the Temple.  Those in the northern kingdom were captured and taken to Samaria as slaves more that eighty years ago.}  I like the way Josiah gave the instructions in this passage.  He instructed the high priest to give the money to the artisans who were to supervise the repairs of the Temple.  These men were instructed to hire the craftsmen they needed and to purchase the materials necessary for the repairs.  Then in verse 7 he says that they were not required to give an accounting of the money, because they were considered honest men.  {This is no small deal.  To this day, accurate accounting is always required in the handling of money.  Josiah was a gifted leader, among his other qualities.}

Verses 7-20  -  The Book of the Law  -  When the work on the Temple was being done, Hilkiah the high priest found an old book, which he knew must have been important (probably due to the protective place it was being hidden).  {There has been centuries worth of study and speculation as to the exact book this was.  Current wisdom says it is the Book of Deuteronomy.  Deuteronomy was part of the Torah (the Law), which is comprised of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  Bear in mind that this copy of Deuteronomy hidden in the Temple may very well have been written by the hand of Moses himself.}  I'm not certain as to why Hilkiah gave the book to his scribe Shaphan to read.  I would have thought the high priest would have been anxious to read it himself.  But after Hilkiah recognized what it was by Shaphan's reading, he immediately sent Shaphan to show King Josiah this precious find.  In verse 11 it says that when Josiah heard the words from the book he "rent his clothes" in remorse, as he knew that Judah was not living in obedience to God's writings.  If Josiah was at all a student of History, almost any section of Deuteronomy would have caused alarm.  Deuteronomy is very clear on God's expectations of His people and the consequences for disregarding them.  Josiah knew the level of importance of this knowledge he had come upon.  He knew it could not be ignored.  So his reaction was quick.  He appointed a commission of five men, Hilkiah being the leader.  They were to search out a true prophet of God and get a clear meaning of God's wishes on this matter.  The most reliable prophet within Judah at this time was a woman named Huldah.  She was actually living in Jerusalem.  The royal deligation found her, told her about the book found in the Temple, and presented the kings's concerns, requesting her to, "inquire of the Lord for Josiah and the people of Judah" (vs 13).

Huldah's prophecy was simple and direct.  Her response was not just her opinion.  It was "what the Lord says" (vs 16).  She says God is going to bring disaster on Judah.  {All the Judaens were aware of what happened to Israel.}  The specific charge against Judah was apostacy:  Forsaking the true God of Israel and worshiping strange gods.  That is short and not so sweet.  She told them what would happen and why.  But then she continues on with her prophecy in verse 19 and says that Josiah himself would be spared from seeing this judgement on Judah because Josiah had repented and humbled himself before God.

Chapter 23

The delegation of five took Huldah's message back to Josiah.  Josiah's response was again quick and determined.  He knew he must be the leader of this great nation and do everything he possibly could to make amends.  He knew he could not undo centuries of apostacy, but he knew he must put forth every reasonable effort.  So he called all the elders and clan representatives of the people of Judah together at the Temple.  When they were all present, Josiah himself (not Hilkiah the high priest) went to the speaking platform to announce a sweeping change.  Note that in the second verse was the first mention of the term "Book of the Covenant".  After Josiah read the entire book, he "made a covenant", which could be rendered literally.  He was inside God's Temple, holding the Book of Deuteronomy, in the witness of all the elders of Judah.  Josiah pledged to "walk after the Lord".  This would require him to keep the Lord's commandments, testimonies, and statutes.  These three terms covered the spiritual, moral, and worship requirements which God imposed on His people through the Book of Deuteronomy.  Then at the end of verse 3, all the people in the Temple pledged themselves to the covenant made by Josiah.

Verses 4-20  -  Please take a moment to read this passage.  It tells of all the steps Josiah took just to get rid of all of the religious idols, places, building, and even people that had anything to do with worshiping false gods.  This passage will give you an idea of extremes God's chosen people went to dishonor Him.  Just one small example in verse 7 tells that Josiah destroyed the buildings that housed male prostitutes used in Baal worship.  But you should read the entire passage to get a flavor of what had taken place.

Verses 21-23  -  The most important observance in all of Jewish History is Passover.  This observance celebrates God delivering the Israelites from Egyption slavery.  This is the most important of the three feasts they were to celebrate each year.  I mention this because I believe Passover had not been observed properly for generations.  {Our Lord is a patient God, isn't He?)  Joshiah called for a Passover celebration in Jerusalem.  He said he wanted this celebration to be as it is written in the Book of the Covenant.  He really gave it all the hype it deserved.  It says that there had not been such a Passover celebration since the time of the Judges.  That would be over 430 years.

Verse 29  -  {This massive and jubilant celebration just might be a contributing factor for the event recorded in verse 29.  Remember, Passover was when God's Angel of Death passed over the Hebrews' houses as he killed the first born of all of the Egyptians.  The Egyptians do not look back kindly at this event.}  While Josiah was still the king of Judah, Pharaoh-Nicho had become king of Egypt.  For some reason, Pharaoh-Necho had become an ally of Assyria.  Assyria was still an aggressor against Judah, and the added forces of the Egyptians made the Assyrians an even more severe threat.  In defending Judah territory at Megiddo, Josiah was killed by the Egyptians.

Please remember this great king Josiah.  Few had accomplishments equal to his.

Next post  -  Judah Falls - Wrapping up II Kings

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

CLVI - II Kings 21

Hezekiah, although not perfect, was a righteous king who devoted his reign to restoring the nation of Judah to a nation as God intended it to be.  During his twenty-nine year reign in Jeusalem he destoyed pagan worship images, cut down the groves that had been dedicated to Baal and Ashteroth, and purified the Temple.  He definately placed Judah and its citizens on the right path, after generations of apostacy.  In addition to that he built back Judah's military and economy to respectful levels.  Historic records indicate that Hezekiah personally chose his son Manasseh to succeed him on the throne of Judah.  In stark contrast to his Godly father, Menasseh was wicked to the core.  He gained the reputation of being among the worst kings in Judah, rivaling his grandfather Ahaz.  And he had plenty of time to corrupt the nation Judah.  He was the longest reigning king of Judah or Israel:  Fifty-five years.  As Hezekiah destroyed the pagan worship centers, Manasseh rebuilt them.  He reestablished "Baalism" in the entire nation, and he was aggressive in doing it.  He was bound and determined to turn Judah away from God.  Much of this chapter 21 is dedicated to describing just how evil Manasseh was.

Chapter 21:1-9  -  Manasseh was only twelve years old when he became king, and started his fifty-five year reign of wickedness.  {He must have had advisors that led him away from his father's ways.}  Manasseh's sins ran the gamut of the gross pagan perversions of his day.  The gravity of his sin was heightened by the fact that not only did he sin, but he "seduced" the people of God to follow him in sin.  Verse 2 uses the term "detestable practices" (NIV).  {The King James Version uses the oft used term "abominations".  The definition of the Hebrew word abomination is "something to be abhorred (hated)".  Throughout the Old Testiment, this word is referred to God's perception of a practice, which was usually pertaining to either idolatry or lewd human sexual behavior.  In using this word to describe an activity, God indicates it should be hated because He hates it.  As I've mentioned before, and will get into more in-depth later, God forbids all sins, transgressions, and iniquities.  But different language terms are used for different specific sins.  This tells me that there are levels of sins in God's eyes.  None of them are so severe that they cannot be covered by the blood of Christ, but in our study of God's written Word, we are made aware of His attitudes about different activities.  More on this in future posts.}  Verse 3 tells us that Manasseh turned Judah right back to Baal worship.  {Baal and Asheroth were the male and female fertility gods.  Worshiping other gods is strictly forbidden in the Ten Commandments and God has constantly warned against this thus far in our studies, and He will continue His stern warnings about this.  But what makes this especially bad was the way people worshiped these fertility gods.  Worship activities were little more than sexual orgies.}  This passage tells us that Manasseh wasn't satisfied with just rebuilding the pagan worship centers throughout the nation, but he brought it into the Temple itself (vss 4-5).  He defiled this holy Temple of worship:  One of the most defiant and disrespectful acts someone could perform against God.  The Temple is where God said "He would put His Name in it".  This act tells us that Manasseh was telling the nation that the God of Israel was nothing and He did not exist, and even if He did exist, He was not as important as the pagan gods Baal and Ashteroth.  {God must have feelings and this act must have hurt them.}  This evil of this man Manasseh is beyond measure or description.  Look at verse 6.  He burned his own son alive in his worship of the pagan god Molech.  Try to imagine that if you can.  This is evil practice.  And the Scripture says Manasseh led the entire nation to pagan worship.  This tells me that probably thousands of Judah's citizens did the same thing to one or more of their children.  {Weak minded people will follow leaders, right or wrong.  Manasseh was an evil "pied piper", blindly followed by people who did not have minds of their own.  I believe God expects better from us.  This means we need to scrutinize all adjustments in our activities and attitudes concerning our "walk".  Let's not be deceived.  We are warned not to be "tossed to and fro by the winds of doctrine".  Plant your feet firmly on solid ground and stay put.  More on that in future posts.  I'm getting too preachy.  Back to the Scripture.}
Verses 10-11  -  God Pronounces Judgement on Manasseh and Judah

The Amorites were a Caananite people who had taken perversion in idol worship to a record level.  They are mentioned in verse 11, which indicates that Manasseh led the Israelites in Judah to a lifestyle of apostacy beyond that of the Amorites.  God spoke to Manasseh and the people of Judah through His prophets.  (The specific prophets were not mentioned, but they were probably Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and/or Hosea.  We'll see in our study of the major and minor prophets that all of the people, including the kings, were warned frequently and with appropriate sense of urgency about their behavior.)  Simply put, because of Manasseh's acts and the peoples following him, God will cause the same thing to happen to Judah that happened to Israel.  But in verse 12 He adds that whoever hears about it, "their ears will tingle".  This expression means that the truth would be so terrible that the hearer would experience a ringing sensation in his ears, similar to the effect of a sharp, piercing sound.  {Ever hear news that seemed to have that effect?  The words are so unpleasant that you don't want to repeat them in your mind.}  Verse 14 and similar verses in the Bible indicate the ultimate punishment:  God will "FORSAKE" them.  This simply means that God will turn His back on them and no longer be involved in their lives.  {This should be taken very seriously.  I fear God will forsake this great nation we live in.  Sometimes I fear He already has.  I'm not convinced of that yet, but I am convinced that we are following similar paths of those He has forsaken in the past.  I can make a strong case for it.}

Believe it or not, Manasseh repents and attempts to gain favor with the true God.  This chapter in II Kings does not give the account of Manasseh's repentance.  That can be found in II Chronicles 33:10-20.  We'll take a close look at that when we get there.

Verses 19-26  -  After fifty-five long years of Manasseh's evil reign, he died and his son Amon became king of Judah.  {Doesn't it seem fitting that Manasseh named his son "Amon"?, which might indicate some strange admiration of the Godless Amonites.  Just a thought.}  Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king of Judah.  He was evil just like his father.  After just two years, Amon's reign ended in violence.  His court officials conspired together and killed him.  I'm sure these "officials" planned on placing one of their own on the throne to replace Amon, but God made a promise to David:  One of David's descendants would always sit on the throne in Jersusalem.  When the people of Jerusalem heard that these officials killed King Amon, they rose up against the conspirators, killed them and made Amon's son Josiah the king.  (You're going to like Josiah.)
Just one last word before I end this post:  We need to be vigilant in monitoring our leaders to stop them when they try to lead us away from God.  Is this happening in our lifetime here in the United States?  You bet it is.  God, Christmas, prayer, theTen Commandments, religious holidays, the Bible.  They have all been under attack or tivialized in the last few decades.  When Christians raise objections, we are hollered down as Neanderthals and ungodliness seems to be further strengthened.  We must remain in prayer about this.  We must not allow this nation's candle to be extinguished.

Next post:  Josiah

Monday, June 3, 2013

CLV - II Kings 20 - Hezekiah's Foolish Act

As previously stated, Hezekiah was an excellent king, following God's commandments more diligently than the kings before him.  His accomplishments were lofty and numerous.  He has gone down in History as one of the greatest kings, and he did it without a role model, as his father Ahaz was recorded as the most ungodly and destructive kings in Judah's History.  Hezekiah had a great mind and a Godly heart.  Hezekiah is at times compared to David, the gold standard.  But, like David, Hezekiah was not without faults.  We are going to take a close look at Hezekiah in this chapter.

Chapter 20   -  The timing in chapter 20 can be confusing.  The books of First and Second Kings are written in basic chronological order, but not strictly, as we've seen in earlier chapters.  The opening verse says "in those days", which refers back to the two earlier chapters.  The events in chapter 20 take place before the second attack by the Assyrians.  Hezekiah had fallen ill with an incurable affliction.  (We don't know exactly what affliction it was.)  The famous prophet Isaiah went to Hezekiah and told him what God said:  "Put your house in order, because you are going to die".  Hezekiah was awestruck by this news from God.  By telling him to "put your house in order" meant that Hezekiah didn't have much time left.  Hezekiah (vs 2-->) turned his face to the wall.  {Turning one's face to the wall was a gesture that symbolized the renunciation of the world, and turning to God only.}  He did the right thing upon hearing such terrible news.  It says he wept bitterly.  His prayer to God was sincere with a tone of desperation.  And the record of his prayer is brief.  Hezekiah's attitude during this prayer is thought provoking.  The first thing out of Hezekiah's mouth was a reminder to God how he "walked before God faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in His eyes".  Hezekiah respectfully made an appeal to God Almighty, presenting his case.  {This is a legitimate appeal.  There is nothing wrong with us appealing to God this way as long as we do not do as the Pharisees and compare ourselves with others.}  And look what happens in vss 4-6.  God changes His mind.  And He acted immediately.  Isaiah didn't even make it to the middle courtyard of the Temple before God stopped him and instructed him to go back to Hezekiah and tell him "I have heard your prayer and have seen your tears; I will heal you".  Imagine how relieved Hezekiah was.  Not only did God say he would heal him, but would deliver him from the hand of the Assyrians.  AND..... add fifteen years to Hezekiah's life.  Hezekiah went from only days to live, to fifteen years to live.  And let's not neglect the importance of God's promise to take care of the Assyrians for him.  The Assyrians were tyrannical people, having shown the military might that could easily conquer Jerusalem and all of Judah.  And the Assyrians were cruel victors in war.  They defeated Samaria and Israel and took into slavery all the Israelites that they did not torture and kill.  But God said to Hezekiah concerning the Assyrians:  "I got this.  Don't worry about them any more.  Worry about something else, because I got this one covered."  {Please readers:  Remember this passage.  God answers prayer and He is happy to take care of an evil source of one of your main problems.  And when He takes care of a problem, that problem is taken care of for good.  A few years ago, I needed to bring this passage to mind, but I was being so overwhelmed with the difficulties introduced by an evil faction, I didn't approach God with the right attitude.  I sit here today knowing that He had my back the whole time, and I didn't have sense enough to know it.  It would have make the world of difference.} In verses 8-11 Hezekiah wants Isaiah to provide him assurance.  Isaiah asked if Hezekiah wanted the sun to advance ten degrees or go back ten degrees.  Hezekiah knew it would be more amazing for the sun to reverse itself ten degrees to the east and that is exactly what happened.

Chapter 20:12-18  -  This passage tells of Hezekiah's foolish act.

{At this time, Assyria was the dominant world power and a cruel aggressor as they were expansion-minded.  In the south, Egypt was equal to Assyria in military and economic strength, but Egypt showed little interest in expansion, as their wealth of natural resources provided them with everything they needed.  But to the west there was a ruler who successfully resisted the Assyrian empire and ruled his people independently from Assyrian dominance or interference.  This ruler's name was Marduk-baladan and his people were the Babylonians.  These Babylonians were smart, patient, and knowledgeable of the steps necessary to build their own empire.  The Assyrians to the north and east didn't worry them a bit.  They were quietly building a mighty military and a powerful economy.  They were going to be a force to be reckoned with.}  This brings us to verse 12.  Marduk-baladan heard that Hezekiah was ill so he sent a delegation of government dignitaries to Jerusalem along with a letter and some gifts for King Hezekiah.  {Marduk-baladan was a smart politician.  This expression of concern was merely a gesture to secure a political ally for the future.}  These dignitaries bringing gifts from so far away flattered Hezekiah.  So he proceeded to "show off" a bit.  One thing led to another and by the time these guests departed, Hezekiah had shown them everything.  All treasures, gold, silver, weaponry, all warehouses with arsenals and various riches.  Hezekiah was of course expected to be cordial to these visitors, but not foolish.  Hezekiah was a bit over-anxious to establish friendly relations these Babylonians, but Babylon would soon become Judah's most bitter enemy.  Judah would become a target of Babylonian aggression, at least in part because of the treasures they now know were in Jerusalem.  {I want to take a brief moment to voice a warning about this:  Keep your business to yourself, especially anything pertaining to money or valuable possessions.  Such knowledge should be strictly reserved for family members, and only those who have reach adulthood.  This should be stubbornly adhered to, no matter how innocent a slip-of-tongue may seem or how uncomfortable it may seem in some circumstances to withhold information in casual conversation.}  Then the prophet Isaiah approached Hezekiah about this in vss 14-->.  Isaiah skillfully inquired of Hezekiah everything that had happened with the Babylonian delegation.  Isaiah knew this was a huge mistake, no matter where the foreigners were from.  Then in verse 16 Isaiah pronounced God's judgment on Hezekiah for this breach of confidentiality.  The Babylonians would one day carry all of the Israelites in Judah off to Babylon as slaves.  Hezekiah's descendants would become personal servants of the king of Babylon.  {Many years later, this prophecy was fulfilled.  Nebuchadnezzar led Babylon to the position of world dominance (605-562 BC).  In the process, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah (Judah's kings and Hezekiah's descendants) were deported to Babylon as slaves.}

Verse 19  -  I'm a respecter of Hezekiah.  I agree with the Historians that he was one of the truly great kings in the History of God's chosen people.  But I'm troubled by this verse.  Isaiah had just told Hezekiah a terrible prophecy about how Judah would be taken into slavery by the Babylonians because of Hezekiah's foolish act.  But it would happen sometime in the future, certainly more than fifteen years from this event, long after Hezekiah's death.  Hezekiah's response to Isaiah was "this is good.  there will be peace in my lifetime".  If I had been Hezekiah, I'm not sure exactly what I would have said, but I wouldn't said that.

Next post  -  Manasseh, the next king of Judah

Saturday, June 1, 2013

CLIII - Think on These Things

As I mentioned before, on the first of each month I will send a list of things for you to think on as a review of what we've covered thus far.  If you are unable to bring to mind significant thoughts concerning each of these, you might want to scan the pertinent blog posting.  This list will get lengthy as we proceed through our study. 
The Creation
Adam and Eve
The Fall
Cain Kills Abel
Noah and the Ark
Noah's Son:  Shem, Ham, and Japheth
Tower of Babel
Sodom and Gomorrah
Isaac Is Born
Hagar and Ishmael
Abraham Tested
Isaac and Rebekah
Jacob and Esau
Stolen Birthright
Laban, Rachel, Leah
Jacob's Ladder
The twelve sons of Jacob = Israel
Joseph the Dreamer
Joseph and Potifer's Wife  =  Prison
Cupbearer and Baker
Joseph and Pharaoh
Jacob's Son's Reunite
Israel Goes to Egypt
400 Years of Slavery in Egypt
Moses is Born
Moses Kills Egyptian - Becomes Fugitive
God Commissions Moses
Ten Plagues of Egypt
The Exodus
Israel Through the Wilderness
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle
The Ark of the Covenant
The Golden Calf
Cloud by Day, Pillar of Fire by Night
Levitican Law
Forty Years in the Wilderness
Twelve Spies sent to Canaan
Moses Gives Final Sermons
Joshua Replaces Moses as Leader of Israel
Rahab the Canaanite Prostitute
Crossing the Jordan; 12 Stones
Battle of Jericho
Land Allotments for the 12 Tribes
Baal and Ashteroth
Gideon Lays Out the Fleece
Samson and Delilah
Ruth and Boaz
Hannah Dedicates Samuel
Saul - Israel's First King
David and Goliath
Jonathan, David's Friend
The Ark Returns to Jerusalem
David and Bathsheba
Solomon Crowned King
The Temple in Jerusalem
Rehoboam and Jeroboam
Leaders Matter
The Ungodly Kings of Israel
The Godly Kings of Judah
The Fall of Israel to Assyria