II Chronicles 32

***Holy Week suggested additional reading, Matthew 26***

Vs. 1, “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself.”  The Assyrian king Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah is one of monumental events for the kingdom of Judah.  Hezekiah wisely prepares his people for imminent battle (vs. 2-5), though he did not know that the LORD would ultimately deliver them.  In a stirring speech, Hezekiah strengthens his people to be strong and courageous (vs. 6-8).  Sennacherib sends them a letter of intimidation as he begins to conquer the land surrounding Jerusalem (vs. 9-19).  By Hezekiah and Isaiah’s prayer, the LORD struck 185,000 Assyrians to protect Jerusalem (vs. 20-23)!  The latter half of our chapter (vs. 24-33) gives us a synopsis of Hezekiah’s pride as he unwisely displayed all his wealth to Babylonian ambassadors.  Hezekiah’s reckless open door policy would start the consequences of Judah being exiled to Babylon.  However, let us not forget the faithfulness of Hezekiah.

Regarding application…Spiritual Victory!  Vs. 8, “With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.”  What a timely reminder on Good Friday as the enemy and the world would have us believe Jesus was defeated on the cross.  But our battle is more than flesh and blood.  Our battle is spiritual and Jesus won the war by being victorious over the arm of flesh!  Hezekiah’s victory over Sennacherib is an example of what God can do when we put our trust in Him.  As we face our own battles into a unknown future.  I pray we would remember the road less traveled through the small and narrow gate.

II Chronicles 31

***Holy Week suggested additional reading, Matthew 25***

Vs. 20, “This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God.”  King Hezekiah faithfulness to the LORD helped him reestablish the order of the priests and Levites (vs. 1-21).  They would begin the faithful practice of tithes and offerings to help support those dedicated to the temple.  It was important for the chronicler to focus on such details.  His present audience of exiles had also hoped to rebuild a new temple.  What a wonderful picture of success when people put the LORD first in their life!

Regarding application…Setting the Example.  Vs. 3, “The king contributed from his own possessions for the morning and evening burnt offerings and for the burnt offerings on the Sabbaths, New Moons and appointed feasts as written in the Law of the Lord.”  We are told that all the people generously gave to help support the temple activity and worship.  Question: Why?  Because King Hezekiah set the example by doing it first.  Any good litmus test for a leader is whether he/she is doing what they are asking others to do.  As a Pastor in ministry, I cannot expect the members of my church ministry to do their devotions if I myself don’t do it.  I cannot expect them to tithe if I am not doing it.  I cannot expect them to sacrifice their time if I am not doing it also.  Brothers and sisters, let us lead by setting the right example as followers of Christ.  We don’t do it for the praises of this world or to somehow achieve good works, but we do simply because we love the Lord.

II Chronicles 30

***Holy Week suggested additional reading, Matthew 24***

Vs. 1, “Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel.”  King Hezekiah did something extraordinary by inviting all of Israel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover (vs. 1-11).  The northern nation had been invaded and there were still some remnants in Israel from the captivity.  Sadly, there were those who scorned the invitation, but also some who humbled themselves and attended (vs. 10-11).  Many in Jerusalem also flocked for the Passover bringing unity of mind as they came in repentance (vs. 12-14).  The overwhelming response surprised the priests and Levites as they were not expecting such a heartfelt response (vs. 15).  Some people (perhaps out of ignorance) came without having completed the ritual of cleansing before the Passover.  Hezekiah intercedes in prayer that God would extend grace upon them (vs. 16-20).  The overflow of response in worship was so strong that they extended their festival another week (vs. 21-27).

Regarding application…Low Expectations.  Vs. 15, “They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the Lord.”  The fact of the matter is; they were not ready for such an outpouring.  Brothers and sisters, I encourage you to not come with a pessimistic heart.  When the church shares the truth and the Gospel, we are never going to know how people will respond.  Some did scorn the invitation to come for Passover, but many also responded positively.  As we consider Jesus’ last Passover this week, we have an opportunity to invite our friends, coworkers and family to our local churches.  We want to share about the lamb’s blood shed for us that saved us, just like the Israelites did for their Passover.  Let’s be ready to pray for others and rejoice as we remember what Jesus did for us!

II Chronicles 29

***Holy Week suggested additional reading, Matthew 23***

Vs. 1, “Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah.”  It is no surprise that the chronicler zero’s in Hezekiah’s reign.  Hezekiah’s reforms would have spoken directly to exiles as they were returning from Babylon.  During Hezekiah’s reign, the nation of Israel had already been deported by the Assyrians.  Hezekiah within the first month of his reign instituted a major spring cleaning of the temple (vs. 5-19).  The renewal process of the temple would be highlighted by the efforts of the Levites (vs. 12-17).  Upon completion of the cleansing, Hezekiah leads the whole nation to help and celebrate in the consecration of the temple (vs. 20-36).  We have a fitting reminder of the sacrifices used to atone for their sins as we reflect upon the Holy Week and Jesus.

Regarding application…True Worship.  Vs. 29, “When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him knelt down and worshiped.”  Question: What is the purpose of worship?  It’s to attribute honor and reverence to the LORD!  God’s love over us should inspire within us a natural response; worship is that response.  While worship can encompass all we do, our text here reminds us of the focused purpose in the assembly of God’s people.  Worship comes from the gladness of our hearts (vs. 30).  We have a big opportunity to do that over the Easter weekend.  God’s love compels us to bring worship that is worthy of our Lord and Savior.  I’m excited to worship in the assembly of God’s people on Friday and Sunday!  Come with a joy in your heart!

II Chronicles 28

***Holy Week suggested additional reading, Matthew 22***

Vs. 1, “Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”  The extent of evil that King Ahaz committed during his reign is shocking!  His evil ways (vs. 2-4) not only mimicked Israel’s wayward kings, but he followed in the practices of the Canaanite’s by sacrificing his own children.  Consequences would come upon Judah as the Arameans and even Israel would successfully invade (vs. 5-15).  But God would send the prophet Oded to rebuke Israel for their actions in taking prisoners of war.  Fortunately, unlike Judah, Israel and its leaders repent of their action in this situation and obey the LORD.  In the midst of border battles, Ahaz would not trust the council of the prophet Isaiah and would align himself with the Assyrians (vs. 16-21).  Instead of trusting in the LORD, the Assyrians would turn on him.  Question: How would Ahaz respond?  He would do the unthinkable and strays even further (vs. 22-25).

Regarding application…Worldly Thinking.  Vs. 23, “He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.” But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel.”  Question: What was the downfall of Ahaz?  His assumption that Aram’s success was because of the god’s they served.  Just because something seemingly works doesn’t mean it is the right way.  King Ahaz put his trust in the world he could see rather than God’s words and promises.  Following the footsteps of another person’s success may bring us temporary success.  But if we are not following the footsteps of the LORD, we will inevitably fail.  Worldly thinking is a more dangerous downfall than we realize.  Let’s put our mind on things above (Colossians 3:2).

II Chronicles 27

***Holy Week suggested additional reading, Matthew 21***

Vs. 1, “Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother’s name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok.”  King Jotham would take over for his leprosy stricken father Uzziah.  While the chronicler has some positive reviews for Jotham (vs. 6), it is not enough to change the spiritual climate of Judah.  Jotham was successful in his building programs (vs. 3-4) and his military campaigns (vs. 5-7).

Regarding application…Spiritual Waywardness.  Vs. 2, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the Lord. The people, however, continued their corrupt practices.”  Question: Why did the nation not have spiritual success?  The original account (II Kings 15:32-38) sheds a little more light into this.  Under Jotham’s rule, Judah still did not get rid of the high places.  High places were Canaanite locations of pagan worship.  We can have all the success we desire on the outside, but if we try to split our worship with God and idols; it’s game over.  God made it very clear for His people to get rid of all the high places (Numbers 33:52).  Question: Are there any metaphorical high places in our lives?

II Chronicles 26

Vs. 1, “Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah.”  King Uzziah reigned in a time of prosperity for Judah (vs. 1-5).  The LORD brought victory for Judah over the Philistine and Arabian nations (vs. 6-8).  Uzziah had a love for soil and had was able to advance in technology for warfare and building (vs. 9-15).  Unfortunately, like his father Amaziah, he too fell into the trap of pride as he assumed he was above the law (vs. 16-21).  His arrogant assumption to do the privileges of a priest would result into being afflicted with leprosy.  What a wasted opportunity to lead God’s people the right way (vs. 22-23).

Regarding application…Handling Success.  Vs. 16, “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.”  King Uzziah’s downfall was pride.  He couldn’t handle the success that was given to him.  There are good winners and bad winners.  The good winners are the overconfident ones who gloat in their victory.  I believe it’s rare to find a humble champion.  Even King David was not immune to the pitfalls of success.  Having power and success from a worldly point of view has got to be overrated.  I suppose it’s a good thing that the worlds richest are a small percentage of our population.  Our success as believers is never going to be something the world would aspire to have.  Let’s keep that humble perspective as we live this life!

II Chronicles 25

Vs. 1, “Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddin; she was from Jerusalem.”  The chronicler continues the story of Judah’s kings as he comes to King Amaziah (II Kings 14).  Amaziah is the ninth king of Judah and leads a rather unimpressive degenerating kingship.  He starts out promising by being merciful (vs. 3-4) to the conspirators of his father’s death.   He also listens to the unnamed prophet’s advice by letting go of the Israelite mercenaries (vs. 5-10).  Unfortunately, Amaziah turns to apostasy as he begins to idolize the Edomite god’s he had plundered in victory (vs. 11-16).  His victory over the Edomites led him to believe he was unstoppable.  Amaziah proceeds to threaten Jehoash king of Israel (vs. 17-24), but is soundly defeated and Jerusalem is plundered.  King Amaziah was kidnapped and later murdered (vs. 25-27).

Regarding application…Idolatry’s Lure.   Vs. 14, “When Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought back the gods of the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them.”  Question: Why would Amaziah worship a god who had been defeated by the LORD?  It seems unthinkable, but not as far-fetched we might assume.  These pagan idols had the allure of something tangible.  They were like any temptation we may face today that seems ludicrous for us to struggle with.  This is a sobering reminder for us to ensure we do not allow the enemy to get a foothold in our life (Ephesians 4:27).  Take time to honestly consider things in your life that the enemy attacks you in.  Talk with your spouse, family member, pastor, church member, etc. for accountability and prayer.

II Chronicles 24

Vs. 22, “King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, “May the Lord see this and call you to account.”  What an incredibly tragic turn of events for Judah!  The chronicler reminds us of King Joash’s rise and fall.  Question: What was the cause?  Certainly, Jehoiada the high priest had made a very positive influence on Joash in his early reign (vs. 4-16).  They were able to restore the temple and the sacrifices.  However, when Jehoiada passed away, Joash’s true colors came out (vs. 17-22).  He was negatively influenced by leaders of Judah who wanted to revert back to apostasy.  God’s patience towards them is evident as He sent prophets to warn them (vs. 19).  Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah (Not the minor prophet Zechariah) came to speak truth and reason to Joash.  However, Joash would have Zechariah stoned to death (20-22).  The latter half of our chapter shares with us the result of a king and kingdom who would receive their just punishment (vs. 23-26).  God would exact consequences upon Judah in the form of an Aramean invasion.  Joash would be assassinated by Zabad and Jehozabad who were of mixed descent.

Regarding application…Easily Influenced.  Vs. 17, “After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them.”  Joash had no backbone.  He would be easily influenced by whoever was the most powerful at the time.  Having been part of the church for many years, I have seen my good share of people like Joash.  When they choose to be with godly people, they are wonderful to be around.  But, the moment that they get bored, they will gravitate towards the next cool thing.  I would caution you to be wise around such people.  It’s good to give people the benefit of the doubt and second chances, just don’t put all your eggs in their basket (if you understand what I mean).  Let us be people of courage and fortitude to not be so easily influenced by others!

II Chronicles 23

Vs. 1, “In the seventh year Jehoiada showed his strength. He made a covenant with the commanders of units of a hundred: Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zicri.”  What an intense narrative as David’s lone offspring Joash was the center of the messianic promise!  In our previous chapter, we were told that Jehosheba rescued young Joash from the wrath of Athaliah.  Jehosheba’s husband was a priest named Jehoiada.  He would lead an open revolt against Athaliah who had now assumed full power of Judah.  Jehoiada meticulously concocts his plan perfectly (vs. 1-11).  Athaliah comes to investigate the cheering only to find out that she has been usurped and she would be executed (vs. 12-15).  The people of Judah would unite in covenant renewals as they would enthrone their new king (vs. 16-21).

Regarding application…Stepping Up.  I love how we are told Jehoiada the priest would show his strength!  What impresses me most is the calculated patience of Jehoiada to wait for the right moment to show his hand.  It reminds me of a master chess player waiting to bring out his queen or a great poker player with a poker face finally showing his winning hand.  Jehoiada makes his move.  Question: What areas of life do you need to get stronger so you can show your strength?  We must pray for wisdom and patience when it comes to trusting in the Lord.  Jehoiada knew that this move against Athaliah was in the context of God’s will.  The more we grow in our relationship with the Lord, the more we will be able to step up!