2 Kings 25 allows us to see what happened in the immediate aftermath of the Babylonian captivity. Obviously, Babylon came in and was not necessarily kind to their new subjects. One thing in particular stood out to me.
2Ki 25:8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
2Ki 25:9 And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.
They tore down the Temple. With their entire pantheon of deities, I guess they really didn’t care too much about the God of Israel.
The reason that it stood out to me in particular was because it made me think about Jesus. He also talked about tearing down the temple, but He had a reason for it.
Joh 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Joh 2:20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
Joh 2:21 But he spake of the temple of his body.
Of course, this is a very strong reference to the upcoming resurrection of Jesus Christ, but I was thinking about this because even though the Babylonians were able to burn down the Temple, they could not hinder the will of God. They could burn down His house, but if He wanted another one (and one was eventually rebuilt for the second Temple), there’d be nothing they could do to stop that. After all, even death couldn’t stop Jesus from rising again.
As we come to the end of this book, I think the chapter is appropriate. People can do whatever they want here on earth, but it is not going to slow down the purposes of God.
The Israelites finally got themselves in some pretty big trouble. In 2 Kings 24, Babylon marches in and conquers Judah. Nebuchadnezzar brought his armies and captured the entire city to bring back to Babylon except for the poorest people.
Of course this was kind of the final straw. Jerusalem had been attacked by numerous people throughout the course of this chapter, and there is really no doubt as to the reason that God was allowing this series of trials to happen even though this particular verse does come at the beginning of the chapter.
2Ki 24:3 Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;
We are still hearing about Manasseh. You remember how wicked he was, right? Even this many generations down the line, the repercussions of his evil actions were being felt.
I think that this is a very cautionary tale for all of us. It is not that God holds a grudge, but people are ultimately responsible for their actions. If you wander too far away from God, He very well might use some type of trial to get you back to where you need to be.
The best example of this is probably Jonah. He was trying to run away from God, but the terrible weather and the giant fish had other plans. It wasn’t that God was holding a grudge about Jonah running away from the Nineveh, but He was going to allow problems to come into Jonah’s life to bring him back to where he really needed to be which was indeed in Nineveh.
Judah was in a rough spot. There were some great kings, but the evil ones seemed to come about a little more often. They needed to be brought back to God, and sometimes a hard time is the best way to do that.
Josiah was a pretty amazing guy. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that Josiah actually believed and followed our pretty amazing God.
In 2 Kings 23, Josiah went about getting everything out of Judah that was not God honoring. I will not copy all of the verses, but if you remember nothing else about this chapter, remember that it was pretty much a systemic reform. The whole system that had been put in place by Manasseh, who was a pretty terrible king, got thrown away.
After all this was done, here is what the Bible says about Josiah.
2Ki 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.
There was never another king like him. He had some pretty tough competition. David was obviously a man who followed God, and there are plenty of other kings who did good things. However, Josiah was designated as the best.
I think that it is exactly how we want to live our lives. In fact, this is very similar to something that Jesus said.
Mat 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Josiah was special because that is what he did, and Jesus is telling us that we need to do the same thing. We need to love God and do what God wants. Josiah did that like no one else in history, and I think that we can learn a lot from his example.
When you were a little kid and broke the rules, one of the most common excuses I bet you used was, “But I didn’t know.” We always like to plead ignorance because we somehow think that that will remove the consequences.
2 Kings 22 talks about King Josiah of Judah. He is famous because he began ruling at eight years old, but I think that there is something a lot cooler about him.
He had ordered some repair work to be done on the temple, and one of his workers found the book of the law. I don’t know why the king didn’t have it already, but apparently it was hidden away in the temple. The servant brought it to the king, and he wanted it read.
2Ki 22:10 And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
2Ki 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.
2Ki 22:12 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,
2Ki 22:13 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.
There were no excuses there. Josiah had his eyes opened and was all of a sudden aware of all the problems that the people of Judah had caused. He immediately went to God to figure out how to fix it. He didn’t say, “Well, it wasn’t my fault,” or, “I just don’t really care.” He said that he was going to fix the problem because it wasn’t right.
I think that we need to take that attitude. We need to make sure that we don’t gloss over problems because it has always been done that way or it wasn’t our fault. Problems are problems, and as Christians we have a responsibility to walk with God. I hope that we do that to the best of our abilities.
As we have been going through the Bible, it is not hard to realize that Israel had its share of bad kings. However, in 2 Kings 21, it sounds like Manasseh was the worst one yet.
2Ki 21:11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:
That is really something. The king who was supposed to be ruling God’s chosen people was doing things that were worse than even all of the pagan kings before him. That is a pretty sad commentary. It makes me think of a parable told by Jesus.
This story is in Matthew 25. The concept is that a very rich man gave talents to his three servants to use. Two of them took the money that they were given and used it to generate a profit. The third buried his money and refused to do anything.
The main moral of the story is that we need to do a lot if we have been given a lot. We can’t just disappear and hide what we have been given; we need to use it.
The problem is that Manasseh had been given a lot in theory. He had a good upbringing from a family that followed God, and he certainly had God’s law. He knew how to be a Godly leader, but he didn’t do it.
I think this is why God was so angry at him near the end of the chapter. Obviously there have been plenty of wicked kings in the history of the world. They are still wicked kings today.
However, Manasseh had been blessed in so many ways that he should have done a lot more for God. I am not talking about any type of work-based salvation, but I am saying that God does expect us to work for Him. We are supposed to use what we have been given to reflect the glory of God.
2 Kings 20 is a chapter surrounded by bad news. At the beginning of the chapter, Hezekiah is dying, and it is only by his earnest prayer that causes God to decide to extend his life by 15 years. In that time, God also promised that Hezekiah would live to see the Assyrian attack go away entirely.
2Ki 20:5 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.
2Ki 20:6 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.
As you can tell, the news got better as we got into the chapter. However, there is a huge prophecy at the end of the chapter that leaves us on a little bit more bad news.
2Ki 20:16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.
2Ki 20:17 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.
2Ki 20:18 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.
The prophecy was perfectly accurate. We know that the Israelites got taken to Babylon. Probably the most well-known Israelite in Babylon was Daniel, and even though we won’t meet him for a while, I just wanted to put a little context on the story.
Like I said before, there was bad news that the beginning of this chapter, and there was bad news at the end of the chapter. That might be discouraging. However, I guess what I try to keep in mind is that all of this is part of a major plan. In fact, by the end of the Bible, we know the end of the story. We know how history ultimately ends. We might not understand what we are going through at the time, but we can be assured that it will work out.
In 2 Kings 19, we get to meet another famous Biblical figure. Isaiah is the prophet who has the duty of advising Hezekiah. When we left yesterday, the Assyrian invaders had been taunting the people of Jerusalem. They had been yelling that God told them that they would run over the city and conquer the tribe of Judah.
It is out of this situation that we get a pretty epic prayer from Hezekiah that was sent by his servant to Isaiah to talk to God.
2Ki 19:3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.
2Ki 19:4 It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.
I find it interesting that he did not demand anything. He pretty much said that if God wanted to, He could control the situation. He didn’t shy away from the fact that this was a difficult situation though; he was honest with God.
Naturally, God sent back a response through Isaiah.
2Ki 19:6 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.
We all know that blasphemy is a sin. Hezekiah knew that as well. He must have known that God would not appreciate the attitude of the Assyrians. However, it is nice to have confirmation.
I think that that is one of the best things about prayer in the Bible. We are guaranteed that God will hear us, and we also know that God is just.
Pro 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Psa 25:8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
The application for today is that we need to have faith in God. When we come to him in prayer like Hezekiah did, we have a great privilege. We know that He will hear our prayers. That is pretty good news.
In 2 Kings 18, we are looking at Judah. At this point, the tribe of Judah was a separate entity. However, we talked about Israel being invaded by Assyria a little while ago, and today Assyria came up to Judah.
2Ki 18:14 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.
Of course, when you have been overrun by an opponent, what else are you going to do but give into their demands?
In order to pay the bill, he had to take the gold out of the temple of God. That is definitely unfortunate, but it is not like he did it in order to dishonor God. In fact, maybe he realized that all of that finery is not what following God is all about.
Regardless, even though he paid the tribute, the people of Assyria still came to fight.
2Ki 18:29 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand:
2Ki 18:30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
This taunt was delivered in Hebrew, so all the people certainly understood what he was saying. However, here is how they responded.
2Ki 18:36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
I think this is an important chapter for all of us. There many times when people will get on a roll and start challenging everything about God. They will wonder how on earth you can believe in this type of all-powerful being.
Nevertheless, as Christians, we have already made the decision to trust God, so there is a point where we need to be like Judah and hold our peace. We cannot cave in to these challenges, and we cannot all of a sudden bail out on what we believe.
We need to remain steady.
Christianity is exclusive. I don’t mean that in the sense that it takes a special person to get in, but I do mean that it does not leave room for other religions. The Israelites tried that in 2 Kings 17, and it did not work out very well for them.
2Ki 17:39 But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
2Ki 17:40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
2Ki 17:41 So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.
Israel was trying to do everything. They wanted to follow all of the other gods and religions around them, but they were still trying to fear God.
Israel was overrun by Assyria.
God takes disobedience seriously, and He does not appreciate it when people don’t follow His commandments. Some people might say that this sounds egotistical, but it is more about appropriate acknowledgment. Because God created the entire universe, should He not receive credit for doing so? Since He truly is in charge, shouldn’t He be treated that way?
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
This situation hasn’t changed. There is still one way, and there is still one God. That isn’t really a popular concept today, and I know that it is certainly a challenge. It forces a decision just like CS Lewis said.
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
I wonder if King Ahaz even bothered to read the book of Leviticus in 2 Kings 16. What really stood out to me about that book is the precision that God used to define everything about the tabernacle. Everything had a place, everything had a purpose and I imagine it must have been a pretty beautiful place.
Look what happened in our chapter for today.
2Ki 16:7 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.
2Ki 16:8 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.
Basically, he went into the temple and took out all kinds of silver and gold to mail away as a present. I am pretty sure that that was not what God had in mind when He laid out the tabernacle. I know that we are talking that the temple here, but it is certainly possible that many of the same decorations and vessels were carried over from one to the other.
I think that when we think about these types of things, it is rather natural to think about all the talent that we have. The Bible is a pretty awesome guidebook about what we should do with everything that God has given us. Our directions are pretty clear.
Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
We need to do everything to honor God. That is how we should apply all the talent we’ve been given.
Of course, we don’t always do that. We don’t always do our best which is incredibly unfortunate. We sometimes stumble like Ahaz and ultimately throw out something that God has given us for our purpose that is very ungodly.
I think that the application is pretty obvious here.