FINAL FLARES

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A LIGHT TO REMEMBER

Is it getting hard to bear the darkness of these times?  As a candle burns down to its final meltdown, it flares up with a bright light before its demise.  Before we are abandoned to a long darkness we are reminded of what the light looks like.  We will remember and long for it until we rekindle the flame and the passion of our former days of enlightenment. 

This period marks the works of the great prophets, and their words will be that last flare that men will hunger for in their captivity.  Isaiah comes to encourage Israel now, and his writings will keep the embers alive long into the cold nights of spiritual winter awaiting Judah later.  We will read more of his words of encouragement in his own chapters later.

At this point Hezekiah has been informed of the threats made by the Assyrian king against Judah.

And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.  And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.  And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.  It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.  So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.  2 Kings 19:1-5

Hezekiah is humble and turns to the man of God for help.  His servants understand and go in sackcloth on their mission to Isaiah.  The prophet is ready with the encouragement of the Lord.

And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.  Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.  So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.  2 Kings 19:6-8

No fear; the hot air will be blasted.  The messenger of Assyria went home to find a war ongoing.  Although they were busied about this war, they took time to breathe out more threats to Judah.  They try to keep the fear alive to their advantage.

And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,  Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.  Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?  Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar?  Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah?  2 Kings 19:9-13

Again they claim to be greater than God.  This will not be tolerated for long though.  Hezekiah knows right were to deliver this message.  Take your troubles to the Lord and leave them there.  Don’t take care; take them to him!

And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.  And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.  LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.  Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,  And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.  Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only.  2 Kings 19:14-19

It’s true, they destroyed wooden gods.  There is a God who is alive though, and the Assyrians are about to learn the difference.  Isaiah has the answer from God that Hezekiah is waiting for.

Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.  This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.  Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.  By thy messengers thou hast reproached the LORD, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel.  I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.  Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.  Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the house tops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.  But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.  Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.  And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof.  And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.  For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.  Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.  By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.  For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.  2 Kings 19:20-34

What part of “I AM” don’t you understand?  There is a spiritual realm, and the master is the Lord.  We are not under the authority of this world.  The power of the the Lord is loose in the night again as he was among the Egyptians.

And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.  So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.  And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.  2 Kings 19:35-37

After witnessing the carnage of the living God, this king goes back to his wooden Gods.  His sons seem to know that those gods will not protect him, and they end his misery.  For those who serve the living God, great threats make great victories.

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RIGHTEOUS RESISTANCE

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RISING AND FALLING TIDES

Judah is experiencing revival while Israel is swirling around the drain.  The former ally of Judah is still an enemy to Israel, and threatens their former ally in Judah as well now.  Judah has hope in their new king.

Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.  Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.  And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.  He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.  He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.  For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.  2 Kings 18:1-6

Hezekiah was old enough to know wisdom and recognized when even the divinely ordained objects were displacing true faith.  We are not to worship the creation, but only the creator. 

And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.  He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.  And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it.  And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is in the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken.  2 Kings 18:7-10

With God’s support Hezekiah is able to regain the military advantage against the enemies of Judah.  Assyria, the former ally of Judah is now ready to try to take Judah as they had taken Israel.  While Israel had turned from God, Judah has not.

And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes:  Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.  Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.  And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.  And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king’s house.  At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.  2 Kings 18:11-16

The Assyrians had some victories over cities of Judah, so Hezekiah offers them gold tribute in return for peace.  The messengers of Assyria come to Jerusalem with their reply to his offer.

And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.  And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.  2 Kings 18:17-18

So the king’s representatives answer their call and wait to hear the news.  The Assyrians begin to challenge their confidence, their faith, and their God.

And Rabshakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?  Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me?  Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.  But if ye say unto me, We trust in the LORD our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?  Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.  How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?  Am I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.  2 Kings 18:19-25

First these messengers claim to be greater than God, and then they claim to be obeying God themselves.  A two-faced messenger is from the father of lies; Baal.  Still, they draw on fear by evoking imagery of the destruction of their brethren in Israel.  The admonition to fear not appears about a dozen times in various forms in scripture.  Fear is not of faith, and is the tool of Satan.  The ministers of Hezekiah try to diminish the influence of fear on the people by demanding to speak the Syrian language. 

Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews’ language in the ears of the people that are on the wall.  But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?  Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria:  Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand:  Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.  2 Kings 18:26-30

Now the messengers of hell openly offend everyone in their own language.  They threaten the besieged city with imagery of desperation hunger and offer food and prosperity.  They go on to demean the Lord himself. 

Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:  Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The LORD will deliver us.  Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?  Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand?  Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?  2 Kings 18:31-35

Judah is not Israel, and these people have been taught by a wise king.  They have already been instructed in how to respond to the threats of the “roaring Lion” who is roaring but only lying. 

But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not.  Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.  2 Kings 18:36-37

The answer to angry threats is best kept to silence.  The representatives report to king Hezekiah all the threats and demands of the Assyrians.  Since Hezekiah has taught them not to answer, they may be able to resist fearing the message as well.  By removing the false Gods from Judah, they have made room for revival of true faith.

Today the world is shaken by disasters in the economy and the natural realm.  Wars and rumors of wars flash across the instant news sources of our technology.  Many are threatened by crime, violence, and poverty.  Seniors retire to walled communities with security guards and patrol cars.  The storm is coming.

Can we answer the threats with the confident assurance of silence?  Are our leaders and defenders ready to lay their lives down for righteousness?  Can we stand and wait on the Lord with the absolute conviction that we will pass through the veil of death to eternal life?  Is God really greater than the spirit who is the father of lies?  Hezekiah was ready.

STIFF NECK SYNDROME

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Iraqi military leader betrays us to Iran; our "ally" stabs us in the back

 

FLASHBACK

The last study reflected on alliances.  The illustration of WWII leaders was an uncomfortable alliance that broke down into a cold war later.  Today we see the military leader we placed in Iraq in conference with military leaders of Iran…our “friend” forming alliances with our enemies.  How could Israel forget the many wars with Syria and join them against their brethren in Judah?  Judah responded with an alliance with the Assyrians that is still causing grief for Israel.  Our leaders are caught in the same pattern.

In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.  Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.  And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.  Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.  2 Kings 17:1-5

Israel was supposed to deliver tribute payments to their enemy after their defeat.  He was also discovered trying to establish an alliance with the Egyptians.  King Hoshea stopped making payments and was imprisoned by the Assyrian king.  Then the Assyrians began a military invasion while Israel was weak and leaderless. 

In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.  For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,  And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.  And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.  And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:  And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger: For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.  2 Kings 17:6-12

The Assyrians tooki Israel as prisoners, but we must remember that man is not in control.  Behind the events of our world are the powers of the spiritual realm.  What we do in our faith or unbelief will manifest results in our natural lives.  God is on the throne and he moves the powers of the earth, not our leaders or our enemies.  What part of “thou shalt not” don’t we understand?  He is God.

Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.  Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God.  And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.  And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.  And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.  2 Kings 17:13-17

Our nations still form alliances with disreputable nations because we serve false gods.  We cannot fix our leaders, but we can fix our own walk with Yeshua.  Believers go through these times with grace in spite of tribulation.  We will read about prophets, warnings, and their deliverance later.  But God will reward rebellion with darkness.

Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.  Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.  And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.  For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin.  For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;  Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.  2 Kings 17:18-23

The kingdoms of Israel have been divided since the sins of David brought the curse upon them.  God’s Grace has spared Judah from some of this grief, but they too are straying a bit now.  In our day we see Israel divided by Yeshua who is seen as Messiah or a false prophet by the Christians or the Jews.  Both houses struggle with temptation in this day, and God’s grace has kept them from harsh judgment most of the time.  The world recognizes Abraham without consensus on how to honor his God.  Even the heathen recognize the Lord, but his chosen people may miss what they can see.  God has his way of getting our attention.  The heathen king tries to place secular leaders from foreign nations over Israel with disastrous results. 

And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.  And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them.  Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.  Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.   2 Kings 17:24-27

The Assyrian king understands that there is power in the spiritual realm even if he is not surrendered to this God himself.  He sends a godly man to teach the people how to live righteously.

Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.  Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.  And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,  And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.  2 Kings 17:28-31 

The priest taught them how they should fear the Lord, but perhaps he didn’t have time to teach them how to serve God.  Or they just decided to fear God but obey their false Gods.  They didn’t know how to love God.  They still loved the way of Satan instead.  They fear God in theory but not in spirit and truth.  Isn’t that the way of all cults today?  These people made priests of the most unworthy people they could find.

So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.  They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.  Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel;  With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:  But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.  And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.  And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.  But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.  2 Kings 17:32-39

Both the carpetbagger leaders who came to rule and the people of Israel continued in their own preferred false religions.  No amount of natural or supernatural disasters will cause them to turn from their destruction.  The prophets will speak against the foreigners who come as they have against Israel. 

Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.  So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.  2 Kings 17:40-41

The Law was perfect only to prove that we are not perfect.  No religion can enforce human compliance, so human efforts are all in failure.  All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, including the chosen people of God.  We will see other views of this disaster, with glimpses of our hope.  Only God is good, and only he can save us.  Have faith in the one who has promised to show us the way.  He is coming.

ALLIANCES

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20th Century Allies

 

CHANGING GEARS

Israel has been the “bad boy” in these stories, while the kings of Judah have stayed closer to God.  Now Ahaz is taking the throne of Judah and change is coming.

In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.  Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father.  But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.  And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.  2 Kings 16:1-4

Ahaz was a young king, and chose to abandon the Lord and to behave like the kings of Israel.  He worshipped false gods and made offerings in the high places.  While he behaves in sin like the kings of Israel, the king of Israel turns on him with Syrian help.

Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.  At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.  So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.  And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.  And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.  2 Kings 16:5-9

Here the king of Judah has responded in fear of two united enemies.  Both Israel and Syria joined to attack Judah.  So his idea was to find an ally of his own in the Assyrians.  The Assyrians deliver a victory against the Syrians and slew their king.  This is the victory that Ahaz had hoped for, but it will come at a cost later.  His spiritual walk continues to stray as well.

And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.  And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.  And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.  And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar.  And he brought also the brasen altar, which was before the LORD, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of the altar.  2 Kings 16:10-14

Ahaz likes the Syrian altar better than the one made in the pattern Moses relayed to Israel.  So he moves the altar God designed out and uses the Damascus design in its place.  Then he made his own offering on the altar in the role designated for the High Priest.  He goes on with his own revisions.

And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings;  and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brasen altar shall be for me to enquire by.  Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.  And king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon the pavement of stones.  And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king’s entry without, turned he from the house of the LORD for the king of Assyria.  Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?  And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.  2 Kings 16:15-20

King Ahaz modifies the offering and the furnishings of the temple as well.  He is using the temple of the Lord, but not in the purity of its original design and intent.  These deviations do not seem to provoke God against him yet.  His passing seems peaceful enough, but his life produced little corruptions on a long downward spiral.  Judah will follow Israel down the drain shortly.

KLINGING ON

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A different kind of Messiah

 

SEE-SAW

Israel and Judah are up and down and back and forth like yo-yos.  If sin prevails the people are happy, but reform brings rebellion and assassination.  Today we elect the kind of leaders we like and complain about the results immediately.  Voters can’t manage their finances, and elect the same to run the nation.  The two nations of the Jews will be quarrelling with each other next.

In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign.  Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.  And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done;  Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.  And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the house, judging the people of the land.  And the ret of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?  2 Kings 15:1-6

The writers of the Chronicles report later that Azariah is stricken with leprosy because he sacrificed as only the priests should do.  The King James translators have again shifted the spelling of his name.  Little wonder thay may have been confused with so many kings rotating through these passages.

But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.  And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men:  And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God.  Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar.  And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him.  2 Chronicles 26:16-20

Now we switch back to the latest news from the other kingdom of Israel.  We have a new king approaching an old destiny.

So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.  In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.  And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.  And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.  This was the word of the LORD which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.  Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria.  For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.  And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.  2 Kings 15:7-15

Zachariah only got to rule for six months.  Shallum made sure the prophesy was fulfilled to the letter, but he didn’t have long to enjoy his reign as king himself.  He only got one month to reign?  Crime sure didn’t pay for him!

Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it; and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.  In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah king of Judah began Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.  And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.  And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.  And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?  2 Kings 15:16-21

Menahem bought peace and had his ten years.  But this peace would come back to trouble Israel later.  He did at least die a natural death, and his son took his place as the reigning king of sin in Israel. 

And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead.  In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.  But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king’s house, with Argob and Arieh, and with him fifty men of the Gileadites: and he killed him, and reigned in his room.  And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.  2 Kings 15:22-26

Pekah kills Pekahiah and again he gets to be the king in his place.  His sins cause Israel to suffer more at the hands of the Assyrians though.

In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.  In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.  And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.  And the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.  2 Kings 15:27-31

Now Israel has lost whole tribes to the Assyrians and they again vote with the sword.  Hoshea takes over by killing Pekah so the killer reaps what he sowed.  Israel is using a familiar form of government where the strong rule by violence.  Let’s see, what kingdom am I thinking of that runs like this?  Oh yes, the Klingon Empire of Star Trek is run this way!  At least we get a break in the news by returning to Jerusalem and Judah for an update.

In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign.  Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok.  And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done.  Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the LORD.  Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?  In those days the LORD began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah.  And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead. 2 Kings 15:232-38

Judah had a few flaws, and the Syrians and Israel became their enemies.  War was beginning to come to them again.

SIBLING RIVALRIES

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SEE-SAW

Israel and Judah are up and down and back and forth like yo-yos.  If sin prevails the people are happy, but reform brings rebellion and assassination.  Today we elect the kind of leaders we like and complain about the results immediately.  Voters can’t manage their finances, and elect the same to run the nation.  The two nations of the Jews will be quarrelling with each other next.

In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.  He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.  And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did.  Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.  2 Kings 14:1-4

Amaziah did pretty good, but not perfection yet.  Interesting that he never committed murder, and yet he is rated as being less righteous than David.  It is all about relationship; who you know, not what you know. 

And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father.  But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.  He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.  Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face.  2 Kings 14:5-8

Amaziah was firm but fair, and made progress against Judah’s enemies.  Why he wanted to see the rebellious king of Israel is unclear to me.  King Jehoash clearly did not share the old mutual admiration previous kings had shared between the kingdoms. 

And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.  Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?  But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah.  And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.  2 Kings 14:9-12

Jehoash issued a warning, but Amaziah wanted no compromise. 

And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.  And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.  Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?  And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.  2 Kings 14:13-16

Well it seems that there was some gold left in Jerusalem after all.  Jehoash took what was left but left a question.  If they hid some gold furnishings of the temple, could the Jews have kept the ark hidden from the Egyptians and the king of Israel?  Well Jehoash didn’t live long enough to go back for it anyway.

And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.  And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?  Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.  And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.  2 Kings 14:17-20

The people of Judah are beginning to experiment with the popular vote by mutiny.  They kill Amaziah but think it’s OK to place his son Azariah on the throne in his place. 

And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.  He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.  In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.  2 Kings 14:21-24

So Jeroboam the second (?) of Israel did all the misdeeds of Jeroboam the first of Israel.  He would fulfill some prophesy by the grace of God if not by his own goodness.  They get some mercy, if not total redemption.

He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.  For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.  And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.  Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?  And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.  2 Kings 14:25-29

God favors his people even in their rebellion.  His goodness exceeds our best efforts.  But we can’t continue in rebellion forever.

MERCY WITHOUT REDEMPTION

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Light of Turmoil

DECLINE

While Joash (Jehoash) of Judah is rebuilding, Jehoahaz is taking over Israel.  They continued in sin, much as our world does today.  Disasters begin to provoke some inner examination.

In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah king of Judah Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days.  And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.  (And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.  2 Kings 13:1-5

There is mercy even for the unrepentant, but not necessarily prosperity.  Jehoahaz is not leaving a legacy of greatness.

Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)  Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing.  Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?  And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead.  2 Kings 13:6-9

Another Joash?  The kings of Israel and Judah have a mutual admiration society, naming their sons after each other.  They may be as different as night and day at times, but in some ways they recognize each other as family.  They are still connected.  Joash or Jehoash continues the legacy of Israel in Samaria. 

In the thirty and seventh year of Joash king of Judah began Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin: but he walked therein.  And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, and his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?  And Joash slept with his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his throne: and Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.  2 Kings 13:10-13

The story of Joash of Israel leaves a note about a war with the king of Judah.  Since these chapters alternate between the kingdoms, we can expect an explanation in the following chapter about Judah and Amazia.  A few more details about Joash remain to be told though.

Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.  And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.  And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands.  And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.  And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.  And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.  2 Kings 13:14-19

Elisha helps Israel one last time, but he is disappointed in the low enthusiasm of Joash.  The faith of Elisha continued, even after his death. 

And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.  And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.  But Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.  And the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.  So Hazael king of Syria died; and Benhadad his son reigned in his stead.  And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities, which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.  2 Kings 13:20-25

Here comes the confusion again as the son of Johash names his son Jehoash…or Joash.  This new Joash has a little more success against the Syrians than his father Jehoahaz.  At least the English and French kings of later centuries were numbered!  Does circling the drain induce dizziness? 

Israel the northern kingdom was centered in Samaria.  They were still in rebellion against David’s sons and their allies in Jerusalem.  They refused to worship at the temple in Jerusalem and mostly denied God.  This chapter shares a moment of repentance that gave them some relief.

A friend of mine recently filmed a documentary on the Samaritans of today.  They still do not worship in Jerusalem at the temple, which made them hated by Jews in New Testament times.  Imagine how they were offended by the story of a good Samaritan who is better than his Jewish contemporaries.  But then the Jews who rejected Messiah lost the temple and have not been able to worship there either.  If only they knew that Yeshua is the temple.  The book of Revelation shows us:

And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.  Revelation 21:22

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