To Change A Heart

What I notice the most about politicians, as they endeavor to win my vote, is that they continually promise to change the existing laws – always in order to benefit a certain class of people. Whether to benefit those who want the laws to obtain abortion kept without change (or even augmented), or whether to benefit that class of business men and women who desire to keep a larger portion of the money that they earn, the bottom line on a politician’s promise is to change the law.

And speaking of the law…

Over these past few years I’ve been up to my ears in Old Testament law and history. My ladies’ Sunday school class has studied (in-depth) the rise and fall of Israel from their inception, all the way to their judgment and exile. God gave them many, many laws to follow, all of which were for their benefit. Unfortunately, they managed to follow only a very few.

God’s first command to Israel was: “You shall have no other gods before me.  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them… Exodus 20:3-5a esv

Well, Israel fell into idol worship, and not only did they carve images and bow down to them, but they served and prayed to these images as well. And the service required to worship these idols was horrific. Many Israelite children were given in sacrifice (burned to death) in order to satisfy the idols their parents had carved for themselves.

God said to Israel, through the prophet Jeremiah: 30 “For the sons of Judah have done evil in my sight, declares the Lord. They have set their detestable things in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. 31 And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. Jeremiah 7:30-31 esv

God didn’t give a command (law) requiring child sacrifice, and in the end Israel and Judah were exiled and judged, in part, because of what they’d done to their children. Had they followed God’s good law, things would have been vastly different for them.

Which brings me back to these politicians who promise to change the law…

As I was thinking about this the other day it occurred to me that when God sought to reach humanity He didn’t start revising His perfect law. Instead, He set about to change hearts. He sent His only Son to minister and die for us so that our hearts would be changed in His goodness.

When the church in the Book of Acts starting living for the glory of Jesus Christ, 42 they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 esv

…with glad and generous hearts…

God, through the extravagant gift of Jesus Christ, changed the hearts of the people. Their possessions became irrelevant; fellowship took a center role in their community. They aided the impoverished, they reached out to the lost, and they won a reputation of grace. They praised their God, and He added to their congregations. They operated with glad and generous hearts, and they, in turn, were able to change the hearts of many. What a beautiful cycle.

God promised, through the prophet Ezekiel, And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 esv

That new Spirit comes from a belief in our beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who promised to send the Comforter. The church in Acts renounced their sin and turned from their deceitful ways. They believed that Jesus had died for them and was resurrected for them, and they became brand new creations.

Beloved, it’s not about changing laws in order to make things better in this nation – more than anything we should seek to change the hearts of the people most near us. Whatever one can do, that he/she should do. Can you pray for someone who is suffering? Can you share a meal? Can you give a ride? Can you give some of your clothing? Can you pay a medical bill? Can you pay the rent? What can you do?

And, to be clear, I’m not advocating skipping the ballot box. I believe it’s an awesome privilege as well as a duty to vote. Whatever political platform lines up with my Biblical belief, that’s the way I lean.

But in the meantime, let us set out to change hearts instead of laws. Laws will always be broken, even the Laws of God Almighty. But when God changes a heart, it will change forever.

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 esv

© 2016, Ta`Mara Hanscom

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Unit # 6 Kings & Prophets – # 11 The Sons of Josiah Part I – Shallum & Eliakim

neo-babylonian-empireOf all the kings of Judah, only Josiah had 3 sons who sat on the throne at Jerusalem.

After all of Josiah’s victory and revival there in Jerusalem, he neglects to ask the Lord how he should proceed in one matter of war – when Pharaoh Neco goes up to help the Assyrians at Carchemish.

The Babylonian Kingdom is all over the Assyrians. Babylon had nearly completed their dominance over the region, but the Assyrians and the Egyptians wanted out from under Babylonian rule.

Josiah’s great grandfather, Hezekiah, had made a treaty with the Babylonians so he rides out to fight Neco, defending his Babylonian ally, but he only makes it as far as Megiddo.

21 But he [meaning Neco] sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” 22 Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. 23 And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” 24 So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. And he died…2nd Chronicles 35:21-24a esv

Ahab did the very same thing (1st Kings 22). Right before Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, are about to go to war against Syria for the land at Ramoth-gilead, the prophet Micaiah prophesies that it’s in this battle Ahab will fall. So, hoping to avoid injury and/or death, Ahab disguises himself – and he loses his life.

With king Josiah gone, Jerusalem goes from revival to a full-blown panic. The people take Josiah’s youngest son Shallum and anoint him king of Judah. His name becomes Jehoahaz, and he is of a mindset against Egypt. This could be perhaps why his older brother, Eliakim, is passed over for the throne by the people. Because, as events unfold it certainly appears that Eliakim desired an alliance with Egypt, instead of Babylon – whom had been a long-time friend of Judah. An alliance with Babylon would make Judah enemies of Egypt.

It can’t be ignored that Jehoahaz reinstitutes idol worship in Judah. 32 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done. 2nd Kings 23:32 esv

He was a rebellious punk, but he was the man chosen by the people – who, honestly, weren’t really that interested in a revival. As we’ve previously studied, they were plotting to go back to idol worship during Josiah’s revival, and they were making their plans right in the Temple of the Lord!

According to the Babylonian Chronicle Neco’s campaign to the north lasted three months (July- Sept., 609 B.C.), and the Babylonians beat him badly. Nebuchadnezzar (who at the time was the crown prince of Babylon and commander of the Babylonian army) couldn’t stick around to finish off Neco because he received word that his father had died. Quickly, he had to return to Babylon in order to secure the throne.

So Neco survived, and according to 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles, Neco then dealt with Jehoahaz – the anti-Egypt ruler, who’s in treaty with Babylon, who’s just beat the pants off Egypt – on his way back to Egypt. …Pharaoh Neco put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem…2nd Kings 23:33a esv

In all my research, I could not find out for certain what Jehoahaz is doing in Riblah, where he is dethroned and hauled away to prison in Egypt. Riblah was Neco’s military headquarters at the time, so I’m going to take a guess that Jehoahaz is there to continue the fight against Neco, on Babylon’s behalf, hoping to overcome him in his weakened state.

Neco isn’t going to stand for that. At the first chance, he grabs the king, has him thrown in prison, and puts the eldest living son of Josiah on the throne in Jerusalem. Eliakim’s name is changed to Jehoiakim, and in doing this Neco establishes authority over all of Judah. Jehoiakim is, evidently, pro-Egyptian alliance. (And that fact will be revealed in the book of Jeremiah) He punishes the people of Judah (the ones who’d put his little brother, Shallum, on the throne ahead of him) with heavy taxation in order to support Neco’s ongoing war with Babylon.

The prophet, Jeremiah, is watching all of this go on in his country, and God gives him message after message to relate to the newest king, and his subjects.

Along with gloom, doom and despair, Jeremiah’s sermon at the Temple conveys a clear message of hope from the Lord:

It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds. Jeremiah 26:3 esv God will always forgive, if only they would listen and turn from their evil.

At this point, Egypt and Assyria have forged an alliance against the ever-growing kingdom of Babylon. Neco is rebuilding his military presence, creating a stronghold in the contested area of Carchemish, and Jehoiakim, being Neco’s ally, is probably helping him. God, through Jeremiah, is warning them of a disaster just around the corner – and it started with Carchemish.

From what I’ve been able to figure out in the history of Jeremiah, is that in the 4th year of Jehoiakim, the Babylonians beat Neco again in Charchemish. And they beat him so bad that he retreated back into Egypt. According to the Babylonian Chronicle, Nebuchadnezzar was hot on his tail and continued to war with Egypt at their border.

The reduced nation of Judah was right in the middle of this war – and they were a vassal state for Egypt, which meant that they had to support Neco.

God warns Judah, through Jeremiah, that it’s only a matter of time before Babylon invades – and what’s left of Judah will go into captivity and serve Nebuchadnezzar for 70 years. Jeremiah is very specific about this impending doom – unless they repent. God will always forgive.

Well, the leadership there in Jerusalem doesn’t care for what Jeremiah has to say. He’s almost executed for his first sermon at the Temple. And somewhere along the line, he’s banned (restricted niv1984) from the Temple and the court because of his messages.

But Jeremiah, ever faithful to his God, is not about to shut up about Judah’s dire circumstances. So, at the request and direction of the Lord, he writes a letter to God’s people.

In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” Jeremiah 36:1-3 esv

This scroll then would have contained the prophecies of about 23 years. Everything that Jeremiah has prophesied up until this point, even including everything he said to Josiah, is going down on this scroll.

2…spoken to you against Israel and Judah…

Israel refers to the ten tribes in captivity, and God intends for this scroll to be sent to them. Judah refers to the two tribes that are about to be taken into captivity, and God intends for the scroll to be read to them.

 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord that he had spoken to him. And Jeremiah ordered Baruch, saying, “I am banned from going to the house of the Lord, so you are to go, and on a day of fasting in the hearing of all the people in the Lord’s house you shall read the words of the Lord from the scroll that you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the men of Judah who come out of their cities. It may be that their plea for mercy will come before the Lord, and that every one will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people.” Jeremiah 36:4-7 esv

6…on a day of fasting…

This is unusual. It shows that the leadership in Jerusalem knows that something is wrong and they have to call out to God for help – and it’s obvious that they want help. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown explains:

An extraordinary fast, in the ninth month (whereas the fast on the great day of atonement was on the tenth day of the seventh month, Lev. 16:29 Lev. 23:27-32), appointed to avert the impending calamity, when it was feared Nebuchadnezzar, having in the year before (that is, the fourth of Jehoiakim), smitten Pharaoh-Necho at Carchemish, would attack Judea, as the ally of Egypt (2Ki 23:34, 35). The fast was likely to be an occasion on which Jeremiah would find the Jews more softened, as well as a larger number of them met together.

—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

But, it isn’t until about a year later that they finally call for the fast. In the meantime, Nebuchadnezzar is still fighting Neco on their back porch – and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. 2nd Kings 24:1 esv

Nebuchadnezzar has gotten into Judah! And he’s even taken some of the hierarchy captive. This was probably when Daniel and his friends were carried off.

Judah is now a vassal state of Babylon instead of Egypt when Jeremiah’s scroll is finally read in the hearing of the princes and officials of Judah, and all of the people.

16 When they heard all the words, they turned one to another in fear. And they said to Baruch, “We must report all these words to the king.” 17 Then they asked Baruch, “Tell us, please, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?” 18 Baruch answered them, “He dictated all these words to me, while I wrote them with ink on the scroll.” 19 Then the officials said to Baruch, “Go and hide, you and Jeremiah, and let no one know where you are.” Jeremiah 36:16-19 esv

Our king has killed for less, you guys need to hide, and you need to keep it a secret.

Jehoiakim’s heart is so hard that he cannot even consider repenting, even though the Babylonians have already taken citizens out of Judah, and they’re taxing the daylights out of the ones remaining. You’d think that all of the catastrophe that had befallen Jehoiakim’s people would have softened him up a bit.

20 So they went into the court to the king, having put the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the secretary, and they reported all the words to the king. 21 Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the secretary. And Jehudi read it to the king and all the officials who stood beside the king. 22 It was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, and there was a fire burning in the fire pot before him. 23 As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. 24 Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments. 25 Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son and Seraiah the son of Azriel and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the secretary and Jeremiah the prophet, but the Lord hid them. Jeremiah 36:20-26 esv

26…the Lord hid them.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown cross-referenced that verse with these:

19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,     which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you,     in the sight of the children of mankind! 20 In the cover of your presence you hide them     from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter     from the strife of tongues. Psalm 31:19-20 esv

God hid them and kept them safe for His work.

But as I was thinking about the king mutilating and burning God’s Word, a portion of Romans came to mind:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28:32 esv

Doesn’t that sound just like what we’re learning about the Judean leadership of Jeremiah’s day? The king and all of his servants were not afraid – though the princes of the court (Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah) were obviously freaking out, urging the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen. No wonder God told Jeremiah not to pray for them (Jeremiah 7:16).

We see the same thing in our day and age. People so disrespect our God’s Word that they attempt to cut it off from anybody that it might do some good! The Bible has been thrown out of public service, into the same place that unborn babies have been discarded. Like Jehoiakim, who had undoubtedly burned alive his own children, and then mutilated and burned the Word of God, our own society does the same – and they give approval to those who practice these things.

27 Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words that Baruch wrote at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 28 “Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. 29 And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Thus says the Lord, You have burned this scroll, saying, “Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cut off from it man and beast?” 30 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: He shall have none to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. 31 And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity. I will bring upon them and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and upon the people of Judah all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, but they would not hear.’”

32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them. Jeremiah 36:27-32 esv

So not only was God’s Word restored, but more was added – including a specific judgment against the king himself. The king doesn’t care. He thinks that not only does he not have to listen to God, but he can rise above even the powerful Babylonian forces. In fact, during Jehoiakim’s reign, the Babylonian Chronicle reports that Nebuchadnezzar suffered a weakening of his military while fighting Neco at Egypt’s border. Scholars theorize that Jehoiakim attempted to take advantage of the situation in hopes of freeing Judah from Babylonian rule.

In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servants the prophets. Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the Lord, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord would not pardon. Now the rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place. And the king of Egypt did not come again out of his land, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates. 2nd Kings 24:1-7 esv

2nd Chronicles adds a little bit of information to all that happened to Jehoiakim: 6…Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon … bound him in chains to take him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried part of the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon and put them in his palace in Babylon. 2nd Chronicles 36:6-7 esv

Jehoiakim slept with his fathers (2nd Kings)   and … bound him in chains to take him to Babylon…(2nd Chronicles)

The two accounts make it a little confusing as to what exactly happened to the king, except that he died in Jerusalem so, to me, it looks perhaps as if Jehoiakim died before Nebuchadnezzar could take him to Babylon. However, the Babylonian king loots Jerusalem, including the Temple. I find it interesting that Nebuchadnezzar takes only part of the vessels of the house of the Lord. Why didn’t he take all of them? Like, for instance, what happened to the ark of God? Did that go to Babylon, or were they not able to remove it?

Remember when the Philistines captured the ark and had possession of it (1st Samuel 4-5)? They put the ark in their temple, near their god, Dagon, and it wound up face down with its head and hands broken off. Furthermore, Philistines themselves were afflicted with tumors.

I can’t imagine then that God would allow His ark to be taken into the hands of the king of Babylon.

Josiah had the ark returned to the Temple of the Lord, and that’s the last mention of the ark in our Old Testament. It’s not mentioned again until Revelation when John sees it: 19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple…Revelation 11:19 esv

My personal theory is that God took the ark to heaven – because within it was His covenant, and both old and what would become our new covenant then were together in heaven until Jesus came.

Along with the other treasures of the temple, Babylon took some more of Judah’s citizens captive. Among them were, more than likely, a young priest named Ezekiel.

Jehoiakim’s son, Jehoiachin, is on the throne now, but he won’t be for long.

©2016, Ta`Mara Hanscom

# 11 – The Sons of Josiah Part I – Shallum & Eliakim – Narrative WP

Worksheet for April 24, 2016 # 12 – Worksheet

This is part of our continuing series:

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Unit # 6 Kings & Prophets – # 10 – A Catalyst

I apologize for having not posted these lessons until now. Thank you for your patience.

Kings & Prophets Cover… Jesse [was] the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh…Matthew 1:6-10 esv

Just as I started to study for this particular lesson I began reading the book of Matthew during my personal time with the Lord…and as I read through the genealogy of Jesus, I had to smile. I know all the players now! I didn’t used to. In fact, before, when I’d read the book of Matthew, I’d just skip over that part because I couldn’t pronounce all the names. Besides, it was boring. What could these names ever possibly mean to me? But, now, as I read through the list again, I see the glaring omissions of several of the kings of Judah, and even one wicked queen.

If you’ve hung on with me in this series (Rebuilding the Temple), which we started in September of 2013, then you know exactly what I’m talking about here, because we’ve all come to learn these players together. Each one of them played a major role in the unfolding of God’s sacred history with Israel – and us.

In the genealogy that I just listed I zeroed in on only the kings, though we did start with Adam and Eve, and I ended with Manasseh because he is a catalyst in the line of events that will eventually lead to Judah’s exile.

My Webster’s Desktop defines catalyst:

…an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.

After all Manasseh’s father, Hezekiah had been through, and all the reformation that he led, you’d think he would have been the catalyst for Judah. Unfortunately, his righteous influence on the people of Judah was short-lived. Once wicked Manasseh ascended the throne, evil prevailed.

What I hope to learn from Manasseh is that our words, actions and examples leave indelible marks on those who watch and listen to us.

Jesus said, 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 esv

Words mean a whole lot more than we give them credit.

Manasseh’s reign is both the longest and the most wicked in all of Judah and Israel. The narratives in 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles give a vivid picture of how Manasseh governed Judah. He reinstituted idol worship, even going so far as to rebuild the high places that his own father had torn down. He reintroduced the worship of Baal and Asherah (from the family of Ahab), and he established reverence for the stars (perhaps something he picked up from his grandfather Ahaz?) He used witchcraft and consulted with mediums. He even went so far as to sacrifice his own son.

Manasseh was much like Ahaz in that he never met an idol he didn’t like.

10 And the Lord said by his servants the prophets, 11 “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, 12 therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 2nd Kings 21:10-12 esv

God’s servants the prophets, in verse 10, were probably Nahum and for sure Isaiah – though there may have been unnamed prophets ministering as well.

An unnamed prophet records this statement in 2nd Kings:

13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 2nd Kings 21:13 esv

Nahum would not have been a threat to Manasseh and Judah, as he was preaching destruction against Assyria. Assyria was still large and in charge of their region, including Babylon – which Hezekiah had a treaty.

On the other hand, the prophet Isaiah may have incensed wicked King Manasseh with the prophecy of the plumb line of verse 13. And I think it’s Isaiah’s prophecy being referenced in those verses from 2nd Kings because of what I found in his book:

14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers,     who rule this people in Jerusalem!

Manasseh being the current ruler.

15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,

This would be human sacrifice, which the king was into.

    and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through     it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge,     and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;… 17 And I will make justice the line,     and righteousness the plumb line; Isaiah 28:14-17 esv

This speaks back to verse 13 in 2nd Kings 21 above.

Isaiah’s message was aimed straight at Jerusalem’s leadership, and that was Manasseh. Skip down to verse 16 with me.

16 Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he made Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 2nd Kings 21:16 esv

This innocent blood would not only be the blood of child sacrifice, but it indicates righteous blood as well – perhaps the blood of righteous prophets. Josephus wrote that Manasseh ordered daily executions. And, according to the Assumption of Isaiah, Manasseh had the prophet Isaiah sawn in two. The writer of Hebrews spoke of the prophets,

…Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two…Hebrews 11:35b-37a esv

What a horrible picture it paints for Judah in Manasseh’s time.

1Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. 12 And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. 2nd Chronicles 33:11-13 esv

Though Manasseh was born after Hezekiah’s reforms, trials and repentance, he must have had a thorough knowledge of his father’s faith because when his distress gets bad enough Manasseh repents to his God (see verse 12). Hezekiah’s words of God and his faith in a holy Creator left a mark on Manasseh, so much so that it brought him to conversion there in the prison, and for that God brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom.

And once he gets home to Jerusalem he tries to undo the damage that he’s done, but it’s too late. His words and faithlessness had already left a permanent mark on his son, Amon. As soon as Manasseh passes away and Amon, takes over leadership, he goes right back into idolatry and evil.

The wicked reign of Amon is described in only eight verses in the book of 2nd Kings, and four verses in the book of 2nd Chronicles. But look with me for a second at a portion of the account in 2nd Kings 21:

23 And the servants of Amon conspired against him and put the king to death in his house.

Amon’s father Manasseh had just recently led a revival and reformation in the land. Could it be perhaps that these same servants, who had served Manasseh, were drawn into a revival with their king? And when his son reinstitutes idol worship, these faithful servants rise up and kill him intending to maintain the revival. If that’s truly how it was, then Manasseh’s good words left a mark as well. But there’s more to the story…

 24 But the people of the land struck down all those who had conspired against King Amon, and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place.

Keep in mind that Josiah is only eight years old here. Perhaps (big PERHAPS here) the people of the land, Judah’s citizens, weren’t as sold on repentance and revival as Manasseh and his servants. Perhaps they liked the way Amon was running the kingdom, and they killed these servants in fear of what they might teach young Josiah.

 …26 And he was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza… 2nd Kings 21:23-26 esv

Amon is buried, with his father, in the garden of a leper – recall King Uzziah had been stricken with leprosy because of his irreverence in the temple of the Lord. 2nd Chronicles 33:23 niv 1984 gives us another clue: …unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord; Amon increased his guilt. And I cannot help but wonder if it’s Amon’s irreverence that lands him in the garden of a leper, remembered in the sacred record for all eternity.

We will be held to account for every careless word.

Josiah is only eight years old when he comes into his kingdom, and we know he’s going to be a good king right away: For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images. 2nd Chronicles 34:3 esv

The young king was only 16 years old then when he began to seek the Lord, and then only 20 when he started reformation. Also, Jeremiah is called by God just a year later: …the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. Jeremiah 1:2 esv

Jeremiah has the same relationship with King Josiah as had Isaiah with King Hezekiah.

Jeremiah and Josiah may have been boys together, and Jeremiah was possibly involved in the conversion of King Josiah.

As soon as the young king begins to seek out the Lord, he realizes that Judah is in big trouble with her idolatry, and so he starts to tear down phony altars and high places.

…in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images. And they chopped down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and he cut down the incense altars that stood above them. And he broke in pieces the Asherim and the carved and the metal images, and he made dust of them and scattered it over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 34:3-5 esv

If you recall, when we were studying the division of the kingdom and the idolatry of Jeroboam, a man of God came to Bethel and prophesied Josiah by name.

That prophecy was fulfilled at this same time that Josiah began his reformation.

15 Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. 16 And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. 17 Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.” 18 And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria. 19 And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the Lord to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel. 20 And he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem. 2nd Kings 23:15-20 esv

The account in 2nd Chronicles says that Josiah went to the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, and as far as Naphtali, in their ruins all around…2nd Chronicles 34:6 esv

Apparently, Assyria during this time period had started to lose ground in what had once been the Northern Kingdom because Josiah was allowed to tear down those altars from within the ruins.

When he gets back to Jerusalem, he starts to make repairs to the temple of the Lord – and that’s when there’s a startling discovery.

14 While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given through Moses. 15 Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan.

I love how Hilkiah refers to it as the Book of the Law. Notice that as we read on.

 16 Shaphan brought the book to the king, and further reported to the king, “All that was committed to your servants they are doing. 17 They have emptied out the money that was found in the house of the Lord and have given it into the hand of the overseers and the workmen.” 18 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it before the king.

To Shaphan it is just a book, nothing any different from any other book.

19 And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. 2nd Chronicles 34:14-19 esv

Words mean something – especially God’s words.

Up until now, King Josiah has been hammering out a physical revival. He’s going through a lot of outward changes in his kingdom, probably hoping to rally all of Israel into a revival. But, upon hearing the words of the Lord, Josiah is deeply convicted.

Tearing of one’s clothing was a sign of deep grief in our Old Testament, but also one of repentance.

Josiah heard God’s word and immediately he has to inquire of the Lord. It’s been a long time since a king has inquired of the Lord. But the small delegation is sent over to Huldah, the wife of Shallum (who might have been the uncle of Jeremiah) and she doesn’t have very good news for them.

24 Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book that was read before the king of Judah. 25 Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore my wrath will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched. 26 But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, 27 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 28 Behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place and its inhabitants.’” And they brought back word to the king. 2nd Chronicles 34:24-28 esv

And what’s really remarkable is that when the king hears that judgment is inevitable for his kingdom, he renews the covenant with the Lord, and he does this with whatever remnant is available from the Northern Kingdom. This is a spiritual revival.

32 Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin join in it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. 33 And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. 2nd Chronicles 34:32-33 esv

Notice how he made them to join in, and then he made them serve the Lord their God.

Make no mistake, Josiah is sold-out for the Lord his God, but there were those within the kingdom who would have just as well left everything the way it was.

Even after the extravagant Passover, the account in 2nd Kings 23:26-27 niv 1984 says: 26Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him in anger. 27So the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘There shall my Name be’ ”

Why is this? With so much outward repentance the Lord always forgives. He even forgave Manasseh for his wickedness. Why bring him up now?

The answer was revealed to Jeremiah.

Again the Lord said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. Jeremiah 11:9-10 esv

There were those in Judah, and even in Jerusalem, who were conspiring – the Hebrew word there comes from a word meaning treason. They were plotting in secret behind the king’s back to overthrow the righteous system of government and to then go back to the way it was before Josiah – when good ole Amon was ruling, before those pesky servants did away with him.

And after all that, Josiah decides to go out to fight the king of Egypt – because Judah still has a treaty with Babylon – and he’s mortally wounded in battle.

Huldah was right, however, in that Josiah would die in peacetime. It was peaceful there in Judah. There was no war or destruction. Josiah had to go looking for it, and he gets himself killed.

Words mean more than we could ever imagine, therefore we must be very careful with them.

Manasseh thought he could reverse everything he’d said and done in front of Judah, but his fifty-five year reign ruined them. Even the great revival of his grandson could not lead them into permanent repentance. His words and actions became the final undoing of Judah.

Manasseh was a catalyst of evil. We must always guard our own words and ways, purposing to be a different sort of catalyst – catalysts of revival and reverence for the Lord.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1st Corinthians 15:10 esv

Devoted to the Lord, immersed in His Word daily – that should be our goal as women of God!

© 2016, Ta`Mara Hanscom

# 10 – A Catalyst – Narrative WP

Worksheet for class on April 17, 2016 # 11 – Worksheet

This is part of our continuing series:

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His First Act As King – A Victory Message

© Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary

© Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary

Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.

13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Exodus 12:3, 13, 14 esv

Besides being a memorial day or a day of remembrance (as Matthew Henry called it) that first Passover was also prophetic of our deliverance from the bondage of sin and wickedness.

The lamb, of course, is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. It must be without blemish. Our Lord Jesus was perfect in every way – even declared innocent by Pontus Pilate at His trial. (John 18:38) And one of the thieves crucified next to Him declared Him innocent as well. (Luke 23:41)

In His perfection He obeyed God’s laws and festivals – including the memorial of the Passover.

In the homework, we looked at the Gospels to see how Jesus celebrated the Passover, which was His last supper with His disciples. There are some significant things within that last supper that point to our eternity with Him.

The blessing of having four Gospels is that what may have been overlooked in one narrative, has been brought to light in another – and through this we can bring the event to its fullest revelation.

Multiple accounts of the same event, such as we’ve found in the Kings, Chronicles, and the Prophets, is a beautiful mystery in our Scriptures, and one that I enjoy immensely.

After the Passover supper, 36 …Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” Matthew 26:36-38 esv

That terminology is not unique to Matthew’s account. Mark makes a similar report: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” Mark 14:34 esv

So after the Passover supper, after Jesus has basically foretold them that a new Passover remembrance is about to be instituted, Jesus asks them to watch with Him.

Go back to the account of the first Passover in Exodus 12:

40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts [the NIV will say divisions, the NKJV will say armies, but the word translated from the Hebrew is hosts] of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. Exodus 12:40-42 esv

…all the hosts of the Lord…

hosts = Transliteration: ṣābāʾ

Phonetic Pronunciation:tsaw-baw’

—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

It comes from tseba’ah, tseb-aw-aw’, which means: a mass of persons (or figurative things), especially organized for war (an army).

—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

The Commander of the Lord’s Army, who is Christ Himself, was watching with His heavenly host to bring the Israelites out of slavery and bondage.

But now, cloaked in flesh, Jesus watches. And He asks the disciples to watch with Him. This will be an entirely different Passover – this is one of those things we see happen in the Old Testament, and Jesus takes it into the New Testament and turns it completely upside down. He knows that He is nearly ready to bring humanity out of the slavery and bondage to sin, but unlike the Old Testament account of the Passover, wherein God took the firstborn of the wicked (i.e. Pharaoh’s house, etc), mankind itself (the wicked) will take the Firstborn of God. And the event will overcome the devil and death itself!

And as we begin to look a little closer into that event, I want you to be aware of one thing in the last supper account of Luke that Jesus says that’s not recorded in the other Gospels, and I need to put this in your mind before we go any further:

18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Luke 22:18 esv

That statement made by Jesus is unique to Luke’s account. The other accounts talk about new wine, and a new feast, so it really got me to thinking and praying about it – especially as I recalled a portion of the Gospel of John. Turn with me to John 19.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:28-30 esv

Jesus received the sour wine…

This is the second time that Jesus was offered the sour wine. The first time (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23) He refused it.

This is not the new wine that we studied in the homework, and that He spoke of not drinking until He was drinking it new in the Kingdom of God.

This was a fermented wine, mixed with spices and myrrh, and it was used to alleviate the suffering of the crucified. Jesus refused it the first time because He hadn’t accomplished everything yet.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel,     it is not for kings to drink wine,     or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed     and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,     and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty     and remember their misery no more. Proverbs 31:4-7 esv

Jesus Christ is a King, and He refused the wine so that He would experience fully how humanity was suffering under the affliction and misery of sin.

And then, at the very end of His suffering, Matthew, Mark and John all report that Jesus finally receives the wine…but He said that He wouldn’t drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.

I want to suggest here that the Kingdom of God came right there at the cross, at that very moment. It certainly didn’t look like a King ascending the Throne in the eyes of the earthly realm, but I can assure you that it appeared immeasurably different in the Divine Realm.

Look with me into the Throne Room in Revelation:

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll     and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God… Revelation 5:1-9a esv

The word translated ransomed in the ESV, is better translated purchased in the 1984 NIV.

And that’s what it looked like that day in heaven when Christ took His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. And He was the only one who could do it. He declared Himself a victor when He said, It is finished. His first act as King was to purchase us with His blood.

The phrase It is finished, is actually one word in the Greek – and it’s really interesting. My Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary tells me that the word is teleō, which means:

finish, fulfill, accomplish or pay.

It’s spelled differently in my Fire Bible: tetelastai.

This word is used only two times in our New Testament – both times in the Gospel of John, and both times at the cross.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished…John 19:28 esv

He knew the Kingdom of God had come, He received the wine, and He paid for us with His blood.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Matthew 27:51a esv

The separation between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was gone. It was flung open by the Great High Priest of Jesus Christ, Who opened it with the perfect blood of the Lamb who was slain… 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him… Colossians 1:20-22 esv

Above reproach – I like that! I am holy in His sight, and I can boldly approach the Most Holy Place.

And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:51b-54 esv

They were thinking, what have we done?! This was the Son of God, and now we’ve killed him!

Go back to Revelation with me:

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Revelation 12:7-11 esv

While the Earthly realm was standing there with Jesus’ dead Body, wondering what on earth they’d done, seeing certain defeat in His death, the Divine realm watched in awe as their King disarmed the powers and authorities, and made them a public spectacle by triumphing over them with His cross! Colossians 2:15 niv 1984

Satan and his minions were humiliated in their weakness and hideous wickedness. The King said It is finished, and it was.

It just does not get any better than that!

Especially if you know the rest of the story…

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. John 20:1-12 esv

Turn with me to Exodus 25

17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. Exodus 25:17-22 esv

You know what happened on that mercy seat once a year? I’m glad you asked!

On the annual Day of Atonement, both the bull’s blood (that made atonement, or “sin covering,” for the high priest and his family) and the goat’s blood (that served as an offering for the sins of the entire nation) were sprinkled on the atonement cover, or mercy seat, as an offering to God. The earthly atonement cover was a type—a prophetic symbol—of the heavenly “throne of grace” which believers can now approach because of Christ’s shed blood in order to receive mercy and help for all their needs…

Fire Bible © 2014 by Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC

And there Jesus had lain, with an angel at his feet, and an angel at his head, watching over Him until it was time for Him to rise from the dead. Our mercy seat, sprinkled with the blood of a King. He had told the people, early on in His ministry, that He’d come to fulfill the Law – and He did. That mercy seat in Exodus was not only patterned from what God had shown Moses on the mountain (Hebrews 8:5), but it was foretelling us of how the Law within its ark would be fulfilled.

Two angels, two heavenly witnesses, kneeling in awe and reverence over Jesus’ Body, watching Him ever so closely until it was time, and then the life came back into His Body, and walked out of the tomb. They got up off of their knees and had a seat, perhaps contemplating the enormity of what they’d witnessed, perhaps knowing that Mary was on her way to take a look at the place where her beloved Savior had lain, and…

13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” John 20:13-16a esv

A lot of people question why Mary didn’t recognize her Savior, and as my husband and I contemplated that we came to the conclusion that she was probably hysterical at the horrible circumstances of not being able to anoint Jesus’ Body. She was probably crying so hard that she couldn’t see through her tears and she didn’t recognize Him until she heard His voice.

Among many other truths, that spoke into my heart: Jesus can even reach a hysterical woman. I needed to know that.

We serve a risen King; a real King, on a real Throne, and He knows us by name. Not only that, but our Warrior Savior, as powerful, just and mighty as He is, is as well filled with tenderness and compassion when it comes to our needs. Mary needed to know where He was, and He made sure to reveal to her first (before all the other disciples, even His own mother) what had happened to Him.

Before He departed the earth, He said to His followers:

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. Luke 24:44-53 esv

And to this account, the apostle Luke adds something to his letter in Acts:

10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11 esv

This is far from over. He’s coming back for us! Let Him find us faithful and intentional as we seek out His glorious mysteries in the Scriptures that He so lovingly left behind.

That we would continually bring Him glory in all that we do, say, and teach as we wait for Him to return in the same way as he went into heaven.

© 2016, Ta`Mara Hanscom

Because of the Easter Holiday we won’t meet again until April 10, 2016.

Worksheet to prepare for class on April 10, 2016. # 10 Catalyst – Worksheet

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Ladies Sunday School

Kings & Prophets CoverFor Sunday school this week (Sunday, March 20, 2016) we will be taking a break from our Old Testament History.  Here is a worksheet to prepare: His First Act as King Worksheet

Because of Easter, there will be no Sunday School until April 10, 2016.

Due to the time change last week, we had extremely low class turn-out, so we’ll do Catalyst on April 10, 2016.  I will hand out worksheets on Sunday for prep.

Hope to see you this week!

 

 

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Unit 6 Kings & Prophets – # 9 Hezekiah Part III – Victory Through Wisdom

Kings & Prophets CoverIn many respects, with what we’ve studied so far about King Hezekiah, it appears that he was just born a really good, God-fearing man. He reformed Judah and he saved the country from a pagan invasion.

However, the Holy Spirit, through the Scriptures, is now getting ready to tell us the rest of the story. In order to get to the place where he had all that victory Hezekiah had to traverse some really dark spiritual roads.

I thought about teaching this lesson first, in a chronological order – because we’ve been doing things that way, but then I came across what George Williams wrote about this out-of-order episode:

This is designed, because the purpose of the Bible is not to record historic facts, though the record of the facts is infallible, but to teach spiritual lessons. So is it here; and the lesson is both sweet and humbling. It is sweet, because it reveals the grace that hastens immediately to place before the reader the precious faith which Hezekiah had in God in days of darkness and fear—a faith that called forth…praise…; humbling, because the Holy Spirit does not fail to go back and record the weakness, and folly, and self-will of the king prior to these days of trust and victory.

—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary

My own history is much the same. There was a lot of weakness and folly for many years – and even after God has proven Himself faithful I can still have the tendency to be fearful and weak and filled with pride. But as the years go by, He grows me by proving Himself over and over again.

The Scriptural account begins:

24 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death, and he prayed to the Lord, and he answered him and gave him a sign. 2nd Chronicles 32:24 esv

In those days….refers back to the victory of the previous chapters. In those days when Hezekiah was reforming Judah – before he turned back the Assyrian forces – this is when he became sick.  And the king’s illness was so severe that Isaiah came to him and told him to get his house in order because he was going to die.

Hezekiah, naturally, was devastated and the Scriptures tell us that he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord (2nd Kings 20:2; Isaiah 38:2) meaning that he turned away from Isaiah and faced only the Lord. His prayer indicates that he was more concerned for his country than himself at that moment. And it looks to me as if he’s in the middle of the reformation and he desires to continue that work for the Lord. Also, one thing that some of my commentaries pointed out that I didn’t catch was that when Hezekiah’s son takes over he’s only twelve years old. This would mean that there’s a possibility that Hezekiah doesn’t have anyone to sit on the throne when he dies. And when God answers Hezekiah’s prayer, He says that He’s doing it for the sake of His servant David. Remember, God promised David that he would always have a descendant on the throne in Jerusalem:

…the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 2nd Samuel 7:11b-12 esv

And God never breaks a promise, so it’s actually part of a promise that He made to David that gets Hezekiah another 15 years in Jerusalem.

Isaiah tells the king that he will be healed within 3 days, and that he’ll be going up to the temple of the Lord.

Hezekiah wants a sign from God that this will all happen – and this is where it got really interesting for me because Hezekiah’s father (Ahaz) had denied himself the benefit of a sign from God. Yet Hezekiah boldly asks for a sign.

There is a huge chasm between unbelievers and believers. God promised Ahaz victory over the Northern Kingdom and their alliance with the Syrians, and to back up His holy promise, He says to Ahaz, 11 “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” Isaiah 7:11-12 esv

In other words, I’m not interested in seeing your glory today, Lord. So self righteous. So filled with false humility.

The son of King Ahaz, King Hezekiah, was quite the opposite. He very boldly designated what his sign should be.

The prophet Isaiah puts the question to Hezekiah (and it’s only found in the account in 2nd Kings 20) “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?” 10 And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.” 11 And Isaiah the prophet called to the Lord, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz. 2nd Kings 20:9-11 esv

These steps are, more than likely, a sundial. The Hebrew word that is translated steps is better translated degrees. And since it’s referred to as belonging to Ahaz, it was probably imported by Ahaz from Babylon. If you recall, Ahaz fell into some serious idolatry toward the end of his life. The Babylonians worshiped the sun, among other heavenly bodies, so it makes sense that Ahaz would get ahold of a sundial and put it somewhere very prominent in his court. And this mechanism of steps/degrees, judging from the narrative in our Scriptures, was big enough that Isaiah could see it from King Hezekiah’s quarters. So perhaps it was just outside of the palace, but in plain distance from the king’s room.

So the Lord brought back the shadow ten steps, and this wasn’t the first time God had done something like this.

When Joshua and Israel were in the midst of a great battle with 5 wicked kings and their forces all around them,

…Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,     and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,     until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel. Joshua 10:12-14 esv

And this is what God does for Hezekiah. He pushes back the sun, and it’s obviously well noted in the region that the sun moved in the wrong direction that day.

James wrote that:

15 … the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:15-16 esv

And the power of Hezekiah’s prayer to a faithful, holy God did a mighty work that even the pagans stood up and took notice of.

Look at 2nd Chronicles 32:31a esv 31 And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land…

The Babylonians worshiped the sun so they would notice any irregularities, and I don’t think it’s a stretch they connected the sun’s irregularity to Hezekiah’s healing. 2nd Kings records that they knew about his illness. And when they come to Jerusalem, they’ve got letters and a present with them. The Babylonians, at that time, wanted to get out from under Assyrian control, and they’re perceiving here that Hezekiah has something going on over in Judah that is so powerful it moved the sun – and that’s what brought the Babylonians over to see him.

God oftentimes uses us to attract the unbeliever, because it’s His holy desire that all should be saved and that none would perish. (1st Peter 3:9)

In Genesis 26, there is a similar situation between Isaac and Abimelech.

Because of a famine, Isaac winds up in Gerar and he is exorbitantly blessed with wealth and possessions – so much so that the Philistines envied him, and stopped up the wells that Abraham’s servants had dug. And the jealousy and envy finally gets so bad that Abimelech comes to Isaac and says Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.

So Isaac moves on into the Valley of Gerar, digs up the wells, and the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen over the water rights.

So Isaac digs another well, and everybody quarrels over that one also, so Isaac moves again, digs another well, and there was no quarreling this time 22…So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.

26 When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, 27 Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” 28 They said, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.” Genesis 26:22-29 esv

Unbelievers know when the Lord’s hand is on us, and sometimes it draws them very near to us, which is what is going on not only with Abimelech, but with the Babylonians who’d come to see Hezekiah.

Part of Hezekiah’s hymn to the Lord in Isaiah reads,

17 Behold, it was for my welfare     that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life     from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins     behind your back. Isaiah 38:17 esv

Hezekiah knows that this sickness that afflicted him nearly to death has a purpose in his life, Behold, it was for my welfare. But I don’t think he knows exactly the purpose, but if we go back to 2nd Chronicles 32:31, the last part of the verse adds this: God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart. 2nd Chronicles 32:31b esv

God knew what was in Hezekiah’s heart, but He wanted Hezekiah to know it too.

At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. Isaiah 39:1esv

25 But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud…2nd Chronicles 32:25a esv

And Hezekiah welcomed them [the princes of Babylon] gladly. And he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. Isaiah 39:1-2 esv

The message of congratulation to Hezekiah, was, in all likelihood, accompanied with proposals for a defensive alliance against their common Assyrian enemy. The king of Judah, flattered with this honor, showed the ambassadors all his treasures, his armory and warlike stores; and his motive for this was evidently that the Babylonian deputies might be the more induced to prize his friendship.

—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Ain’t I awesome? Don’t I have great weapons? Look at my wealth!

Where in any of that did Hezekiah proclaim the good work of God in his life? It’s almost as if Hezekiah had forgotten the physical healing work of God on his body! All of the sudden, he befriends the world (the Babylonians) wooing them with his possessions – and he never once testifies concerning God’s glory in the matter.

And Isaiah has a word about this:

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Isaiah 39:5-7 esv

God didn’t intend a treaty with this worldly power – but for Hezekiah to testify to them about the glory of God in his life.

These own sons, who will come from you, meaning children that haven’t been born yet to Hezekiah, this is Daniel and his companions. They were eunuchs in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar. This prophecy was made 70-100 years before Babylon would be Judah’s major threat, not Assyria as they were during that time. What will be even more remarkable about that is that Daniel and the other princes who are made to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court will remain steadfastly faithful to God – like their forefather, Hezekiah.

 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.” Isaiah 39:8 esv

And as we’ve studied, Hezekiah wound up attempting to bribe the king of Assyria with the treasures of his kingdom in order to get him to withdraw. (2nd Kings 18:13-16)

Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem. 26 But Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. 2nd Chronicles 32:25b-26 esv

Could this be that portion of Isaiah 10:5-12 that we looked at last week? That God did use His hand of wrath, but when His work was finished in Jerusalem, He destroyed Sennacherib because of his mouth? And then I wonder if God got rid of the treasures that Hezekiah had boasted about to the Babylonians in order to prove Himself omniscient when Sennacherib is struck down in his land by the sword of his own flesh and blood?

And then Hezekiah continued with the reformation, he and the entire nation humbled themselves, and the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them until after the life of Hezekiah.

The prophet, Micah’s, ministry ended here, but probably not without one last warning before King Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, took over the throne.

Though Micah preached during Hezekiah’s revival and reformation, God had revealed to the prophet that there was going to be backsliding. Not only that, but that the backsliding would most certainly come to an end.

Micah prophesies that people will want to come to Jerusalem to hear the word of the Lord:

It shall come to pass in the latter days     that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains,     and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it,     and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,     to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways     and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Micah 4:1-2 esv

And I couldn’t help but recall the great commission, from the lips of Jesus Himself:

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:44-47 esv

As we continue to read the prophets, let us be forever mindful that they wrote specifically about Jesus and all that He would do for us. Sometimes it seems to be crazy and mixed up, but it all has relevance. It was all written about Jesus, but it was for us to discover the great treasures He’s hidden for each and every one of us within our Scriptures.

33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments; and His paths beyond tracing out. 34Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? 35Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? 36For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36 niv 1984

Jesus opened the minds of the disciples to understand the Scriptures – not meaning just the New Testament, but rather all of the Scriptures, especially the Law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms.

If we are His disciples, He will open our minds as well, and we’ll see great things perhaps hidden from the rest of the world, but saved back for us as a personal revelation between Master and student.

© 2016 Ta`Mara Hanscom

*****Please note:

The attribution of Proverbs 25:1 identifies a collection of proverbs (Proverbs 25-29) which was copies by “the men of Hezekiah king of Judah.” Perhaps some of the sayings connected with Solomon’s name were copied and preserved for future generations. The reference to the “men of Hezekiah” may reflect Hezekiah’s support of the sages who collected and copied the earlier proverbs. —The Chronological Study Bible © 2008 by Thomas Nelson

# 9 – Hezekiah – Part III – Narrative WP

Worksheet to prepare for class on Sunday, March 13 # 10 Catalyst – Worksheet

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Unit 6 Kings & Prophets # 8 – Hezekiah Part II – Attack!

Kings & Prophets Cover20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.

1After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself. 2nd Chronicles 31:20-21; 32:1 esv

Doesn’t that just figure? When we are doing all that is good and right and faithful – a big ole bully shows up on our doorstep.

As I was studying this portion of our Scriptures, I couldn’t help but think of Paul.

From the moment that he’s called, the apostle, Paul, is faithful and obedient. In the book of Acts, Luke writes about Paul’s obedience and then him being bullied. It’s one of my favorite accounts of Paul. I put a portion of the account on your hand-out last week, but we didn’t read through it. We’re going to read the entirety of that account today.

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. Acts 14:8-18 esv

Paul and Barnabas have quite a fight on their hands, but I love the parallel in this account about Paul, and the account of King Hezekiah in 2nd Kings. Paul, like King Hezekiah, is diligent in his teaching not to worship idols and phony gods. He continually gives God glory for the miracles that the people are seeing, and reminds them that God is the one Who is blessing them with their rain and food and gladness.

Paul is being obedient to the ways and commands of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he’s prospering in healings and miracles – just as Hezekiah was obedient to bring Judah back into a right relationship with God Almighty, and he prospered.

And just like King Hezekiah, who winds up with the Assyrian king parked on his doorstep, look at what happens to Paul:

19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Acts 14:19-23 esv

Now, King Hezekiah doesn’t react with this much obedience…Initially, the king takes a wrong turn:

14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; withdraw from me. Whatever you impose on me I will bear.” And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16 At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord and from the doorposts that Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria. 2nd Kings 18:14-16 esv

Remember, King Hezekiah had rebelled from the king of Assyria, refusing to pay the tribute – and Hezekiah was blessed for his obedience in that. But now, faced with war, Hezekiah panics and offers the king of Assyria anything so that he will withdraw.

Paul doesn’t do this. He doesn’t attempt to bribe the crowd, and obviously he doesn’t try to get away because they are so successful in stoning him that they think he’s dead and they drag him out of the city.

I couldn’t help but notice, however, a glaring difference in Hezekiah’s situation, versus Paul’s. While Paul had disciples gathering about him at the time of his bullying, it appears that King Hezekiah had no one…and what a difference it made. While Paul was revived, King Hezekiah caved.

King Hezekiah had led the reforms in Judah, and I believe that he worked closely with Isaiah, but it doesn’t mention in the Scriptures up to this point who was his mentor or leader, or even with whom he had fellowship. Even the prophet Isaiah doesn’t appear to have had interaction with the king until the time of the Assyrian invasion (Isaiah 36-39).

I think, for whatever reason, Hezekiah was on his own for a short time here, and I think that’s what made him falter and hand over the bribe to the king of Assyria.

I think it’s illustrative of when we fall out of fellowship with other Christians we are at our highest risk of compromising our faith.

On the day of Pentecost, when believers were given the Holy Spirit, something else started that brought the people into not only a fellowship with God Almighty, but into a right fellowship with each other:

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. Acts 2:42-43 esv

Through their intense fellowship, which involved teaching and eating together, they developed an awe for their Lord, and the Holy Spirit manifested a power among them that couldn’t be explained by anything else besides God’s glory.

Hebrews warns us: Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1 esv

Hezekiah had drifted, obviously, but it’s a short-lived drift. And I can’t help but wonder if the people of Jerusalem saw their king floundering, and it caused them to instantly gather around him:

And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and intended to fight against Jerusalem, he planned with his officers and his mighty men to stop the water of the springs that were outside the city; and they helped him. A great many people were gathered, and they stopped all the springs and the brook that flowed through the land ,saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” 2nd Chronicles 32:2-4 esv

Why should we allow our enemy to be refreshed at our expense?

Think about that for a second…Why should we allow our enemy to be refreshed at our expense? That’s not God’s intention – nor should it be ours.

Here’s an example of God’s intention toward our enemy, which in this case was Israel’s physical enemy of Pharaoh and his armies. This is part of Moses’ song after they were all swallowed up in the Red Sea:

Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,     your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;     you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble. At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;     the floods stood up in a heap;     the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,     I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.     I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’ 15:6-9 esv

But God said, No you won’t… 10 You blew with your wind; the sea covered them;     they sank like lead in the mighty waters. Exodus 15:10 esv

That’s God’s intentions for our enemy, which, on this side of the Cross, isn’t physical anymore – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 esv. It’s a spiritual battle against the devil and his minions.

When we go into battle together, with one purpose, for instance to stop the refreshment of our enemy, look at what can happen to us:

He set to work resolutely and built up all the wall that was broken down and raised towers upon it, and outside it he built another wall, and he strengthened the Millo in the city of David. He also made weapons and shields in abundance. And he set combat commanders over the people and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke encouragingly to them, saying, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are 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 took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. 2nd Chronicles 32:5-8 esv

So now that Hezekiah and his people have had this tremendous victory of heart, this revitalization of their spirit, so to speak, Sennacherib decides to try to take them down with his unholy mouth.

Has anybody else ever experienced that? And how discouraging it can be without my brothers and sisters of the faith surrounding me with truth.

Sennacherib sends his officials over to the wall guarding Jerusalem with express instructions to harass the Jews, and specifically their faith. It’s ironic, because this is the place where Isaiah warned Hezekiah’s father Ahaz not to make an alliance with Assyria.

The Assyrian officials speak Hebrew during their harassment, so the guards on the wall know exactly what they’re saying.

First they mock King Hezekiah – basically, he’s an idiot with no strategy, and you people will never survive.

Secondly, they mock Hezekiah’s alliance with Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! 2nd Kings 18:21a niv 1984

Remember, this is how Israel came to be exiled by Assyria – they’d tried to make an alliance with Egypt, and the Rabshakeh reminds Judah that they will be wounded if they lean on their weak partner, Egypt.

Thirdly, they mock God Almighty. They discount His power and ability to deliver the Jews, saying that Hezekiah’s torn down all His high places anyway. They don’t have anywhere to worship!

I cannot help but wonder if those listening on the wall remembered their revival and why they’d torn down the high places in the first place. It was to return to pure worship and have a closer communion with the God who was mighty to save.

But, in the account in 2nd Kings, after denying the power of the Living God, Sennacherib’s officials claim that it was the Lord who ordered Assyria to invade Judah anyway, so they might as well give up.

This guy has some contradictions! How can Sennacherib believe that God doesn’t have the power to deliver Judah, yet believe also that this same God told him to invade?

I think Sennacherib was familiar with Isaiah’s prophecy:

Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger;     the staff in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him,     and against the people of my wrath I command him… Isaiah 10:5-6a esv

So just like all other unbelievers, who know a little bit of Scripture, Sennacherib hauls out this reference, thinking that he’s the rod of God’s anger, and beats the Jews over the head with it.

But just like all other unbelievers, by taking Isaiah’s prophecy out of context, Sennacherib couldn’t have been more wrong. He should have listened just a little bit further to Isaiah, and he would have heard this warning:

12 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. Isaiah 10:12 esv

The people on the wall remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.” 2nd Kings 18:36 niv 1984

Sometimes it’s best to just let ’em finish. There was no “saving” Sennacherib’s officials. They would not be won over to the side of the one and only God Almighty, and that was obvious in the folly they displayed.

I often times remain silent when I come under this kind of harassment. Past situations have taught me that there is no saving this kind of a bully. Their minds are already made up.

So, after all this, Hezekiah’s officials go to see the king, with their clothes torn, and they tell him everything. When Hezekiah heard the report, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord. 2nd Kings 19:1 niv 1984 He’s scared to death, but he takes the matter directly to the Lord. Meanwhile, he sends his officials to see Isaiah, and Isaiah sends this message back:

“Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’” 2nd Kings 19:6-7 esv

Reported next in our Scriptures is this report or rumor that Sennacherib receives about Egypt marching out to fight against him. So what it looks like to me is that he relocates to fight Egypt, but he sends his officials back to Jerusalem with a hateful letter, reassuring Hezekiah that he’s going down and that his God cannot save him.

Hezekiah takes the letter to the temple of the Lord and spreads it out before the Lord.

O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 2nd Kings 19:15-16 esv

Sennacherib just couldn’t put down that shovel. He dug his hole deeper and deeper.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7 niv 1984

And all the terror, devastation and destruction that Sennacherib had brought upon the Jews was going to come straight back on him. He was getting ready to reap exactly what he’d sown.

17 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire… 2nd Kings 19:17-18a esv

Sometimes the enemy’s threats have a little bit of truth in them. And it gets used to intimidate us. Truly, those nations that Sennacherib had referenced in his letter did go down in a pile of rubble, and their gods cast into the fire, however

…they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed.  2nd Kings 19:18b esv

Those phony gods could never have saved those people! That was the overriding truth of the matter, and that’s why they wound up in the fire!

19 So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.” 2nd Kings 19:19esv

For your glory, O, Lord, show this mocking unbeliever who really has the power and strength to save His people.

20 Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. 22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. 23 And many brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem and precious things to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations from that time onward. 2nd Chronicles 32:20-23 esv

This angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers, is identified as the Angel of the Lord in the parallel account in 2nd Kings 19:35. A reference that I forgot to give you in your homework about further identification of this Angel, can be found in the book of Joshua.

13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:13-15 esv

It’s Christ. He fought for Hezekiah, and He fights for us now.

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1st Peter 4:12-13 esv

Rejoice as we suffer in a trial – because Jesus isn’t far away from revealing His glory!

© 2016, Ta`Mara Hanscom

# 8 – Hezekiah – Part II – Attack Narrative WP

Worksheet to prepare for class on February 28, 2016 # 9 – Hezekiah – Part III – Worksheet

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