July 4

2 Kings 23:31–25:30

As we close the book of 2 Kings we read the heartbreaking account of Judah surrounded and conquered by Babylon, three times, the stench of death filled the land, plundered of all that was valuable, and carried away captive.

In this brief twenty-two year period, the writer covers the final four kings of Judah: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekeiah as seen in the chart below. The chapter closes with the brief stint of Gedaliah as governor.

From Haley’s Bible Handbook

Jehoahaz reigned for only three months; he did evil in the sight of the LORD. Pharaoh put him in prison and made his uncle, Eliakim king in his place, changing his name to Jehoiakim (meaning Jehovah raises up).

Jehoiakim reigned for eleven years in Judah and did evil in the sight of the LORD. The sins of King Manasseh came back to haunt the people…the LORD would not pardon them for the innocent blood that was shed. In Jehoiakim’s reign Babylon and other bands began to siege and raid Israel.

After Jehoiakim, his son Jehoiachin reigned in his place. It was during his rule that the second siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians took place. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon carried many of the Jews into captivity, none remained, except the poorest people of the land (2 Kings 24:14).

After Jehoiachin, the king of Babylon made Mattahniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah (Jehovah is righteous) (2 Kings 24:17). He would be the final king of Judah. It was during his reign that Jerusalem suffered the third and final siege of the Babylonians, a siege that leveled the land wherein the Babylonians burned down the temple and significant structures, taking all the gold, silver, and bronze away to Babylon (see Daniel 5). 

Zedekiah rebelled and suffered the consequences. During this time there was no food. We read in the book of Jeremiah and Lamentations of the devastation that took place, mothers were eating their children, and when the walls were breached, the women were ravished, and strong men slain.

2 Kings 25:21 (NKJV) “Then the king of Babylon struck them and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive from its own land.”

The king of Babylon made Gedaliah governor in the land of Judah, but even he was executed, there was no stability in the land, they lost the favor of the LORD. God’s people were being judged and would be in captivity for seventy years. 

God had clearly warned His people whom He loved.  If you have time, I highly recommend a reading of Deuteronomy 28 – there you will see the clear-cut warning of God, in detail. We read the culmination in:

Deuteronomy 28:64 (NKJV) “Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known–wood and stone.”

The Jews would be severely disciplined, but by His grace, not destroyed. We will read of their return to the land in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

I sigh deeply as I read of the unnescessary tragedies that take place in the lives of those who simply do not obey God’s Word. Judah did not learn from their brethren Israel who were carried away by the Assyrians. God warned them for 136 years after that event, but they would not completely come to God. 

O Lord, please help us to learn these critical lessons.

Acts 22:17–23:10

As Paul shares his testimony with the Jews in the temple, he does okay until he mentions the Gentiles. At that one word the Jewish mob goes mad. We read in: 

Acts 22:22, (NKJV) “And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!’”

How tragic that there was such an influential sect of Judaism who believed that the only reason the Gentiles were made, was to fuel the fires of hell – how wrong they were. They refused to listen to Paul after that one word! Their religion ruined them.

As the mob goes mad, Paul is taken away and about to be scourged in order to be examined, but he reminds them that it’s unlawful to do such a thing to a Roman citizen without due process of law. The centurion and commander are taken aback. Paul was born a Roman citizen (perhaps his father had served in the Roman army). The things we’re born into are all part of God’s plan, before time began (Jeremiah 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:8-9).

Paul, now in the Roman custody of Claudius Lysus, must stand before his accusers in order for the commander to know exactly what the charges were. So, the next day they meet with the Jewish council (Sanhedrin).

Paul’s opening statement has always blessed me because a life lived with a clean conscience is indeed a noble goal.

Acts 23:1 (NKJV) “Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

The court day was very dramatic. Paul is struck and lashes back verbally, but mistakenly (some believe this points to Paul’s problem with his vision). Paul apologizes for his violation of Scripture (Exodus 22:28) then wisely divides his accusers so that they fight each other over the issue of the resurrection. It didn’t free him, but it worked to his advantage – they were not able to condemn Paul after all – and back he goes to jail.

Sandy Adams said that, “Paul had preached to the Jew, but no one had listened. It is good to know as witnesses of Jesus we are not rewarded on commission. We are evaluated not on how many deals we close, but whether we are faithful to make the calls.”

Psalm 2:1-12

What a beautiful Psalm of the inevitable coronation of our King. The world, led by all the forces of hell will resist, but God will laugh (Psalm 2:4) and He will set His Son as King in Jerusalem (Psalm 2:6). Don’t you look forward to that day?

We must bow our knees to King Jesus. Serve Him with godly fear.

To rejoice with trembling (Psalm 2:11) might sound like an oxymoron but it accurately describes the way we tremble at God’s Word, and have joy in the blessings and benefits of obedience (Isaiah 66:5).

I love the way the Psalmist summarizes what we’re to do:

Psalm 2:12 (NKJV) “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

Have you put your trust in God’s Son? If so, you are blessed. If not, you’re still in your sins, kindling God’s anger and jugment.

Proverbs 18:13

This can be us interrupting another person before they finish their sentence (ever do that?).  Or it can be us making decisions without the necessary facts.

It’s not right. It’s not just, it’s foolish, and even shameful.

We need to listen to one another, and truly listen to the Lord before we answer and make those decisions.

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.

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