Vs. 1, “So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it.” The Babylonians executed siege warfare, an effective strategy that would cutoff the food supply in time. This would take King Nebuchadnezzar nearly two years to conquer and destroy Jerusalem (vs. 1-7). Upon capturing the fleeing Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar would kill his sons before his eyes and subsequently gouge out his eyes as a consequence for rebelling against Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar employed a specialist named Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard (vs. 8-21). Nebuzaradan did the dirty work of destroying the city and slaughtering many. The book of Lamentations gives us the prophet Jeremiah’s perspective of this horrifying event. The murder of Gedaliah, the newly appointed governor by Nebuchadnezzar, is also a very unfortunate circumstance. Gedaliah’s father was a friend of the prophet Jeremiah. Led by the rebel Ismael, their purpose was only revenge against what had happened to their people. The last section of our chapter and book outlines what transpired to Jehoiachin in Babylon (vs. 27-30). King Nebuchadnezzar had now died and his successor and son Evil Merodach, had pardoned Jehoiachin.
Regarding application…When to Submit. Vs. 24, “Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials,” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.” God was chastening His people. They had been defeated and should have listened to the advice of Gedaliah. It’s important to note the prophet Jeremiah also encouraged the same thing (Jeremiah 29). I think of Corrie Ten Boom (and family), how she had to know when to submit to the Nazi’s. God had not abandoned her, and through her submission we have wonderful testimonies of God’s grace and love. Submission is not an easy thing. It is a vulnerable thing to voluntarily place our self under another’s authority. But, the Bible teaches us that we are to submit to the Lord and Christ as the head of the church. Even submission to appointed leaders (Romans 13:1-7) is something we must adhere to. The only situation we see is when a government’s law are against God’s (sharing the Gospel, etc.) Let us be people of wisdom even in the midst of tragic events.
Vs. 20, “It was because of the LORD’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.” It is a sobering time for Judah as the kings of Judah fall like domino’s to God’s righteous anger. King Jehoiakim had to adjust to a changing landscape of leading nations. Assyria and Egypt were no longer the big players as Babylon rose in power. Jehoiakim’s rebellion would be his downfall as he would die even before Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon would invade (vs. 1-6). Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim would become king for only three months and then surrender Jerusalem to the invasion of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC would take Jehoiachin prisoner and deport thousands of people from Judah except for the poor (vs. 10-17). Jehoiachin’s uncle Mattaniah whose name would be changed to Zedekiah would become vassal king of Judah under the Babylonian rule (vs. 18-20).
Regarding application…God’s Wrath. God’s anger is not an emotional lapse of ungodliness, but rather a response to sin. God is holy. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Romans 1:18. In our finite minds, it is hard to reconcile a gracious God with a wrathful God. The reality of God’s anger is something we must realize is a personal thing. God created us to be holy and set apart. One of the things that we must keep ultimately in mind is this; if there is no wrath, there is no salvation! Question: Why would Jesus need to come if God’s wrath upon a sinful world did not exist? Jesus’ death on the cross covered our sins and gave us the ability to become the righteousness of God. Amazing truth!
Vs. 25, “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” Though there would be impending judgment upon Judah due to past sins (vs. 26-27), this would not prevent Josiah from renewing God’s covenant (vs. 1-20). Think of it as spring-cleaning and getting rid of all the junk (idolatrous practices) that had accumulated over the years. Josiah honored God by holding the Passover Feast (vs. 21-23), which had been ignored for many years. Josiah got rid of all the things that other kings would not and was the most ideal of all kings of Israel and Judah in his obedience (vs. 24-25). Tragically, Josiah is killed in battle against the Egyptians at Megiddo (vs. 28-30). Josiah’s death was mourned by the nation and it was a grave mistake for Josiah to mettle in the Assyrian/Egyptian conflict. The latter part of our chapter now deals with Judah’s downfall before the Babylonian exile (vs. 31-37). Jehoahaz (Josiah’s son) becomes king, but does not live up to a godly standard. He is imprisoned by the Egyptians and replaced by his brother Jehoiakim who also does evil before the LORD.
Regarding application…A Time for Renewal. Vs. 3, “The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD.” It’s never too late and this is exactly what Josiah did. Josiah could have easily wallowed in God’s judgment and given up trying after centuries of failure. But Josiah realized that as long as God gave him life, it was time for renewal. No matter how many times we fail, God is ready to give His children an opportunity to repent and change. A time for renewal doesn’t have to be relegated to retreats or revivals. Renewal starts in our hearts and can affect a whole church! As the old praise song states, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” Let’s not go through the motions of life. As we start our week, let’s renew God’s promises in our lives and live for Him!
Vs. 1, “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath.” What a perplexing thing it is to see that the evil King Amon would have such a godly young son in Josiah. Josiah sought the LORD at a young age and was convicted to change the idolatrous ways of his people. Josiah sends his secretary Shaphan to inform the Hilkiah the high priest to start restoring the temple (vs. 3-7). In the midst of the restoration project, Hilkiah found the Book of the Law (vs. 8-13), which was first five books (Pentateuch). Josiah’s responds with a convicted heart as he sees the error of his people. In the latter half of our chapter, we see the King Josiah’s delegation seek a prophecy from Huldah the prophetess (vs. 14-20). We are reminded that the Bible has examples for us of women prophets (Miriam, Deborah, Noadiah, Isaiah’s wife, Anna, Philip’s prophesying daughters). Huldah’s prophecy from God was not one with a happy ending. Though King Josiah added additional years of peace for Judah, the consequences of God were already in motion.
Regarding application…Responding to God. Vs. 11, “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” Before I respond to the obvious, notice how King Josiah had the chance to respond because he first sought the LORD. They would have never found the Book of the Law if he did not desire to restore the temple. But most importantly, having received the Word; Josiah responds with repentance and action. A genuine response to God is often followed up by our actions. We have either seen or experienced ourselves a conviction of heart and promised to change our lives only to revert back to our old way of life. However, Josiah would not follow this pattern. Question: How are you responding to God’s word? Thank you Lord for your word!
Vs. 11, “Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols.” Sadly, Hezekiah’s son Manasseh was an evil King (vs. 1-18). What a stark contrast between godly Hezekiah and the evil ways of his son! Manasseh engaged in atrocious idolatrous acts that even rivaled the enemies of God. The people of Judah followed in Manasseh’s example. Judah had turned from the LORD and this would bring about dire consequences, as the Babylonian exile was soon to come. We are informed in II Chronicles 33 that Manasseh repented upon being put in chains and sent to Babylon by the Assyrians. God accepted his repentance, but unfortunately, it was a little too late for the plumb line was already measured. The latter half of our chapter chronicles the very short reign of Manasseh’s son Amon (vs. 19-26). Amon followed the evil ways of his father and his own officials conspired against him causing his assassination after only two years. Fortunately, the people of the land killed the conspirators and put the rightful heir (Josiah) on the throne. It was certainly difficult times for Judah.
Regarding application…God Measures. Vs. 13, “I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.” A plumb line is a cord with a weight at the end. It would be put alongside a wall during its construction to ensure an accurate measurement. God built up this nation with an expectation, but they were building it their own way. Question: How are we building our lives? How are we building our church? I wonder how we would measure up with God’s spiritual plumb line of our lives. Take time to consider the error of Manasseh’s ways. He knew the measure of God’s expectations, but completely disregarded God’s ways.
Vs. 1, “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” Hezekiah’s terminal illness was going to bring about death. In the midst of that illness, we see God’s merciful compassion and amazingly gives Hezekiah fifteen additional years to live (vs. 1-11). This answered prayer of Hezekiah’s brings about an interesting theological thought: was this part of God’s plan? There are theological perspectives when it comes to the will of God (perfect, permissive, divine, sovereign, etc). In the latter half of our chapter, Hezekiah unwisely opens his storehouses and riches to display to the Babylonian ambassadors (vs. 12-21). A similar mistake was made with trying to pay tribute to the Assyrians early on (II Kings 18). Hezekiah’s reckless open door policy would start the consequences of Judah being exiled to Babylon. In the end, let us not forget the faithfulness of Hezekiah.
Regarding application…Is God There? Vs. 5, “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD.” What amazing insight we are given to God’s omniscience! I’m reminded of the television series Undercover Boss. I’ve never seen an episode, but the premise is the CEO of a company will go undercover to visit his/her employees. They are not only given better insight about their company, but they also are ready to reward a specific employee. Unlike Undercover Boss, God is not limited to an occasional visit. God is omniscient and quite aware of all our activities. There are times when we are going to feel like Hezekiah and pray with near hopelessness, but God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and He hears ours!
Vs. 34, “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.” After Sennacherib’s threat, King Hezekiah does the only thing he could do; turns to the LORD (vs. 1-19). We should be impressed with such a reaction. Rather than fight fire with fire, Hezekiah realized he could not defeat the enemy on his own. Hezekiah’s dependence on the Lord is shown through turning to God’s prophet Isaiah and praying in the temple to the LORD. The LORD speaks through Isaiah as he writes this poetic response to the judgment that will come upon the Assyrians (vs. 20-34). There is a sense of a mocking tone towards the overconfident Sennacherib. It is humbling reality to be reminded that God knows everything! Our passage ends in dramatic fashion as the LORD Himself smites 185,000 Assyrian soldiers to protect Jerusalem (vs. 35-37). We also see Isaiah’s prophecy come true as Sennacherib meets his timely death.
Regarding application…You Shall Not Pass. Vs. 33, “By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the LORD.” It is a dangerous thing to be threats against the LORD Almighty! Sennacherib did not realize whom he was messing with. Losing 185,000 of your troops will certainly cause anyone to retreat. The LORD works in mysterious ways beyond our understanding. He uses ungodly people to carry out His will (vs. 25), yet the LORD will not stand for such a brazen attitude in Sennacherib. There are times in my life where I have patiently allowed others to walk all over me. However, if my wife or family is threatened, it’s game over! If we have the “backs” of our loved ones, how much more does our God for us?
Vs. 5, “Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.” What a stark contrast compared to our last chapter! King Hezekiah is a breath of fresh air as he puts his trust in the LORD. Unlike King Hoshea of Israel or his own father Ahaz, Hezekiah leads Judah into many reforms (vs. 1-8). We are given a synopsis of what transpired in the Northern Kingdom (vs. 9-12). When the Assyrians finally came to invade Jerusalem, Hezekiah had a moment of fear and gave into their demands (vs. 13-16). But, the Assyrians did not hold up their end of the bargain (vs. 17-37) and Sennacherib (King of Assyria) sent three officials to intimidate Hezekiah and Judah. King Hezekiah sends his own delegation of three; Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah.
Regarding application…Who Will You Trust? Vs. 36, “But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.” Fortunately, the people obeyed and trusted in their king when spoken directly to in Hebrew (vs. 28-36). When tough times arise, there are all sorts of responses that we can have. While Hezekiah made a mistake thinking the tribute would stop the invasion, he still would not give up his city. He ultimately put his trust in the LORD and his people in turn followed. It’s easy to trust in the Lord when things are going well. When a crisis comes, it is like a light shining into the darkness; it exposes who we really are. Question: Who will you trust?
Vs. 6, “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes.” Hoshea would become the last king of the northern nation Israel (vs. 1-6). King Hoshea had made an alliance with Assyria, but revolted against the Assyrian King. He lost his gamble and the deportation of Israel would commence. The LORD would bring upon consequences for Israel’s spiritual waywardness (vs. 7-23). In the latter half of our chapter, the Assyrians import foreign people to colonize the Northern Kingdom. This would bring about the origins of the Samaritans (half Jew and half Gentile). Samaritans play an important role in the New Testament Gospel’s (John 4, Luke 10, Acts 8).
Regarding application…Stubborn Hearts. Vs. 40, “They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices.” There is a tendency for us to take pride in our stubbornness. They would not listen to God’s priests or prophets when it came to turning back to the LORD. While Israel had evil kings, the people’s response shows us why God had to chasten the whole nation. Question: Why do we stubbornly persist in doing wrong? I think here is part of the reason; it is hard to admit that we were wrong when it’s pointed out. It’s humbling and difficult to swallow constructive criticism. Think honestly about ways that you may struggle with stubbornness that can go against the Lord’s ways. Let us hear the still small voice of God as He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit!
Vs. 3, “He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.” We don’t have to imagine how evil King Ahaz of Judah was; to sacrifice your own son at a pagan alter is horrible thing to do! It was King Ahaz that Isaiah would share the prophesy of virgin who would give birth to Immanuel (Isaiah 7). But Ahaz would not listen to the council of God’s prophets and aligned himself with the evil Assyrians. He even sent all the riches of the temple (vs. 8) as a bribe to the Assyrian King (Tiglath Pileser). He even commanded Uriah the priest to make an Assyrian alter and place it in temple in Jerusalem (vs. 10-18).
Regarding application…Following Our Own Ways. Vs. 2, “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 his God.” King Ahaz was a direct descendant of King David, but this did not guarantee his spiritual success. Ever since Adam and Eve we have had a conundrum. Cain and Abel had the same parents and lineage, yet one had a good heart and one had an evil heart. Question: How can this be? Ahaz came from the line of Judah and David, yet his heart was evil. In the end, we all have our own choice to follow the Lord’s way or our own way. King Ahaz was given chances to turn and trust in the Lord. Likewise, God is giving you a chance today to turn the page of your life and follow Him!