2 Kings 20:1–22:2
What would you do if a modern-day Isaiah the prophet came to you and told you that it was time to die, so get your house in order? Some of you might say, “Yay,” and rejoice at your homecoming. Others of you might do what Hezekiah did, He prayed for more years. He turned his face toward the wall and wept bitterly. I have mixed emotions on this. My first inclination is to yield to the word of the prophet (God) for He knows best – and leave it be. But I have to admit, there’s that part of me that’s wants to live, for my family and for more time on this side of time, to serve the Lord. In New Testament times, Paul the Apostle was in that same predicament:
Philippians 1:23-24 (NKJV) “For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”
God granted Hezekiah his request and even made the sun move BACKWARD so that the sundial moved ten degrees – it was a sign for Hezekiah. Nothing’s too hard for the LORD.
There are those who believe that this trial was taking place during the Assyrian siege (2 Kings 20:6) and that may be the case. It is also possible that this all happened after the siege and God gave Isaiah a general word, that the LORD would protect them from their archenemy, Assyria, something understandably heavy on Hezekiah’s heart.
The next world power after the Assyrians would be the Babylonians. In Hezekiah’s day Babylon was not at all top-gun. The king of Judah was under the impression that this was a friendly little nation, far, far away. Hezekiah gave them a tour of the kingdom – there was nothing they had that he didn’t show them. Was he “showing off?” Isaiah came to inform him that the day would come when Babylon would carry everything away from Jerusalem…including their children. Hezekiah reveals his humanity by classifying this as good news, since it wasn’t going to happen during his lifetime.
After Hezekiah, his son Manasseh is crowned king. Manasseh is twelve years old when he sits on the throne, so some Bible teachers say that if Hezekiah would have yielded to God’s perfect will in the timing of his death, Manasseh would never have been born, which would have been good for the nation. Manasseh was the worst king the southern kingdom of Judah ever had. To make matters worse – he reigned the longest of all the kings, fifty-five years!
Manasseh served many other gods, including Baal and Asherah. He even put their altars in the Temple of the LORD! Another god he served was Molech – he sacrificed his children by passing them through the fire (2 Kings 21:6 – an ancient form of abortion). Manasseh did more evil than the nations God had removed prior to Israel’s inheritance of the land.
2 Kings 21:10–12 (NKJV) “And the LORD spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, 11 ‘Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), 12 therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle.’’”
We don’t have the complete story here in 2 Kings, but 2 Chronicles tells us that Manasseh was actually captured and carried away by the Assyrians, but God showed him mercy and allowed him to return to the land and even his crown. This mercy of the LORD led him to salvation, then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God (2 Chronicles 33:10-12). Wow!
After Manasseh, his son Amon reigned for 2 years. He was murdered and the Davidic dynasty was attacked. But of course, God would keep His gracious promise to David and the conspirators were executed. Next the son of Amon, Josiah was crowned king, although he was only eight years-old. He would go on to be a good king as he is assessed in:
2 Kings 22:2 (NKJV) “And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.”
Do you ever wonder how God will summarize your life? I do. “At the end of the day,” that’s all that matters (Luke 19:17; 1 Corinthians 4:3-5).
When Paul finally arrives in Jerusalem, he shares in detail the amazing work God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry, and when they heard it, they glorified the LORD (Acts 21:20). We should probably do a little more “reporting” on the things that God is doing. It encourages the church and glorifies God.
God was working effectively among the Gentiles, but the work among the Jews was having a hard time getting over that “hump.” There were Jews in Jerusalem who were believing what the church had to share, but they were also zealous for the law (do you see a red flag in that? I do).
So the leaders encourage Paul to sponsor some Jewish men in Jewish practices, so that the Jews of that area will know that Paul is not anti-law (sounds a bit too Jewish to me). Paul was willing to comply.
Sandy Adams commented, “Paul refused to force the law on Gentiles. But Jews were free to observe rituals out of respect, as long as the law was not made a requirement for righteousness.”
Although Paul complied, the truth is, a stand had to be made. If it weren’t for Paul, the Christian faith may have just ended up as a branch of Judaism, or a Jewish sect. In all reality Christianity is a completion of Judaism. It’s the fulfillment of the law in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks God Paul had the faith and courage to stand strong for the Truth of the pure Gospel.
Did their little “Jewish” plan work? No. Apparently Paul had done too much “damage” to their religious rules and regulations; they were old wineskins who sought to kill him. The soldiers saved him from the mob, but he was arrested by the Roman authorities. He would spend the next five years in chains. His dream would come true, he would go to Rome, just a tad differently than he’d hoped. Paul would travel as a prisoner of the state, and a prisoner of Christ. No worry though…it’s all part of God’s plan.
In this final Psalm in the Jewish hymnal we touch on some different facets of praise.
Of course we can praise God anywhere, but two wonderful places to praise God corporately are in His sanctuary on earth (where the congregation is gathered) and in His sanctuary in heaven (some translations say “Mighty heaven”). I love our times of worship in church, but I must admit, I do look forward to praising God in heaven.
We praise God for what He’s done and who He is. His mighty acts include creation, the new creation, and of course redemption (the cross and resurrection). His mighty acts are the wonderful things God has done for us all our lives, and the things He continues to do for us each and every day! How great Thou art!
We praise God with all the instruments God has given us. It’s wonderful to travel the world to see and hear the different forms of praise and worship. Drums and dance galore, percussion, piano, keyboards, saxophones, trumpets, orchestras, guitars (acoustic and electric) even the clashing of cymbals can be celebrations of praise. Although there are a plethora of instruments that vary in worship, the one instrument required of a is that of the heart (Ephesians 5:19).
Everyone who has breath…let everything that has breath praise the LORD. With that breath we sing, we speak, and we live for God.
V. 9 – A recurring theme in the book of Proverbs is that God wants us to work hard!
Maybe we’ve heard this often, but I wonder if we know how evil laziness is?
We’ve got work to do, it’s all for God; people are counting on us, our employer, our family, our church, but some want to skate, they hate hard work. This passage reveals that the slothful worker is related to (is a brother to) him who is a great destroyer…that’s the devil himself!
V. 10 – God has a personal name, YaHWeH (Exodus 6:1-3), and we can run to Him for salvation and safety, just like a fortress or strong tower. It’s important that the God we run to is the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In the New Testament the Second Person of the Trinity becomes the mediator between God and man. His name is Jesus, and we can run to Him who has the Name above all names (Proverbs 30:4; Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12; Hebrews 6:18).
And then there are the many names God has given Himself in the Bible, we might call them titles. Do you need a Healer? A Shepherd? A Rock? God Almighty? God Most High? The God who sees? The God of peace? Did you know there are 949 names or titles of God in the Bible? As you read through…you can claim every name.
Click HERE to check out an article on the 949 names of God in the Bible.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.