Posts Tagged 'Idolatry'

2 Chronicles Chapter 24

Joash, the son of Ahaziah, was made the king of Judah. He had been saved by his aunt, Jehoshabeath, when he was just a baby. She took him and hid him in the temple. He was in hiding for six years before he was anointed by the high priest, Jehoiada. This chapter begins:

1 Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Zibiah of Beer-sheba.
2 And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.
3 And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and daughters.

As a child of seven years old, he became the king. He was a righteous ruler in the days of Jehoiada. Joash married two wives and had children. He would end up ruling for forty years.

4 And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the Lord.
5 And he gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to them, Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that ye hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened it not.
6 And the king called for Jehoiada the chief, and said unto him, Why hast thou not required of the Levites to bring in out of Judah and out of Jerusalem the collection, according to the commandment of Moses the servant of the Lord, and of the congregation of Israel, for the tabernacle of witness?
7 For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord did they bestow upon Baalim.
8 And at the king’s commandment they made a chest, and set it without at the gate of the house of the Lord.
9 And they made a proclamation through Judah and Jerusalem, to bring in to the Lord the collection that Moses the servant of God laid upon Israel in the wilderness.
10 And all the princes and all the people rejoiced, and brought in, and cast into the chest, until they had made an end.
11 Now it came to pass, that at what time the chest was brought unto the king’s office by the hand of the Levites, and when they saw that there was much money, the king’s scribe and the high priest’s officer came and emptied the chest, and took it, and carried it to his place again. Thus they did day by day, and gathered money in abundance.
12 And the king and Jehoiada gave it to such as did the work of the service of the house of the Lord, and hired masons and carpenters to repair the house of the Lord, and also such as wrought iron and brass to mend the house of the Lord.
13 So the workmen wrought, and the work was perfected by them, and they set the house of God in his state, and strengthened it.
14 And when they had finished it, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada, whereof were made vessels for the house of the Lord, even vessels to minister, and to offer withal, and spoons, and vessels of gold and silver. And they offered burnt offerings in the house of the Lord continually all the days of Jehoiada.

At some point during his reign, Joash decided that he would do work to repair the temple. This was due to the fact that, in the years while Athaliah had lived in Jerusalem, she had brought the wickedness of idolatry. Her children had destroyed the temple of the Lord and had taken things from it as tribute to her false god. Therefore, Joash gave a command for the Levites to go out to the people and collect the money needed to do this work. They did not follow his command and Joash asked Jehoiada why he had not required the contributions (atonement money) from the people of Judah, as had been laid out with Moses for the tabernacle. Under the direction of the king, they made a collection box and placed it just outside of the temple. Then, they sent a proclamation through the land, that all were to bring the collection to the temple as was laid out in the law of Moses. The leaders and people rejoiced, and brought their collection to the temple. When the box was full, the Levites took it inside. It was then emptied and returned to the collection location daily. The money was then used to pay those who did the work to repair the temple and strengthen it. They used the remaining money to make new vessels for the work of the Lord to be done in the temple. The burnt offerings were continued all the days of Jehoiada. (see also 2 Kings 12)

15 But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old was he when he died.
16 And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house.
17 Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them.
18 And they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.
19 Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the Lord; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.
20 And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you.
21 And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord.
22 Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The Lord look upon it, and require it.

Eventually, Jehoiada died in his old age of 130. He was given the honor of being buried with the kings in the city of David, because he had done so much good in his service to God and Israel. Afterwards, the leaders in Judah came to Joash and honored him, so he heard what they had to say. They turned from the Lord and his temple, and instead fell into idolatry. As a result, the wrath of God came upon the kingdom of Judah. Prophets were sent to call them to repentance, but the leaders in Judah would not hearken to them. Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest and a prophet, spoke by the spirit. He told them that as they had turned from God, God had forsaken them. This was fulfillment of the message from the Lord to Asa, a previous king of Judah. “The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2) Sadly, Joash took no thought of Zechariah being the son of Jehoiada, who had kept him safe and done so much good for him. Rather, Joash and his princes were angry with the prophet, rejected him and his words, and stoned Zechariah in the temple court at the command of Joash. At his death, Zechariah said the Lord saw this act and would require it, which was possibly to mean that the Lord would take vengeance upon them or judge them for his death.

23 And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus.
24 For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the Lord delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash.
25 And when they were departed from him, (for they left him in great diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died: and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings.
26 And these are they that conspired against him; Zabad the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith a Moabitess.

Later that year, the Syrian army came against Judah and destroyed all the wicked leaders. They took the spoil of their victory to the king of Damascus. The Lord had allowed the Syrians to have victory, because the leaders of Judah had turned away from Him. When the Syrians left, Joash was sick or injured badly and his servants made a plan against him, to kill him. They did this because he had killed the sons of Jehoiada. Joash was killed as he lay in his bed and for his burial he was not given the honor of being placed in the sepulchers of the kings. Those who went against him were Zabad (Jozachar) and Jehozabad.

If the words of Zechariah were to mean that the Lord would take vengence upon those wicked leaders for his death, then those words were in fact fulfilled. They were not protected from their enemies, as they would have been if they were leading in righteousness. The Lord had forsaken them as they had turned their worship to false gods and false traditions.

27 Now concerning his sons, and the greatness of the burdens laid upon him, and the repairing of the house of God, behold, they are written in the story of the book of the kings. And Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.

More of the story of Joash was recorded in the book of the kings. Joash had a son named Amaziah, who was the next to reign in Judah.

It is a wonder, what the princes or leaders of Judah would have said to Joash, that persuaded him to stop being a good and righteous king for Judah. Somehow, they pushed him into changing his ways and without the good influence of Jehoiada, Joash gave in and became a wicked man. He is yet another example of a leader of the people of God, who was quick to forget the Lord and suffered for his wicked ways. When we choose to turn away from God, we also allow ourselves to fall prey to the dangers of the world. Our own destruction may not be as dramatic as physical enemies coming in and killing us, but the destruction still remains. In fact, one might say that the result today would be far worse, because the longer we have to make choices against our own knowledge of right and wrong, the greater the condemnation will be when we face God at our day of judgement. The only way to avoid this greater condemnation, is to remain firm in our faith and put our complete trust in God.

2 Chronicles Chapter 22

Jehoram ruled Judah in wickedness. He brought an end to the continued protection they had from the Lord and was also cursed to die of sickness, which he did. Most of his family was destroyed or taken by their enemies and his only son remaining was his youngest, Jehoahaz (also known as Ahaziah or Azariah) This chapter begins with his reign.

1 And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead: for the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp had slain all the eldest. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah reigned.
2 Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.
3 He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.
4 Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab: for they were his counsellors after the death of his father to his destruction.

Ahaziah was made the king of Judah, because he was the only heir remaining. He only reigned for one year. He ruled as his father had, after the ways of Ahab, the former wicked king of Israel. His mother (a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, whom Jehoram had married) along with the house of Ahab, were his counsellors and persuaded him in his wickedness.

5 He walked also after their counsel, and went with Jehoram the son of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth-gilead: and the Syrians smote Joram.
6 And he returned to be healed in Jezreel because of the wounds which were given him at Ramah, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria. And Azariah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Jehoram the son of Ahab at Jezreel, because he was sick.
7 And the destruction of Ahaziah was of God by coming to Joram: for when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the Lord had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab.
8 And it came to pass, that, when Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah, that ministered to Ahaziah, he slew them.
9 And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the Lord with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.

Ahaziah joined Jehoram (Joram) of Israel (son of Ahab and also uncle to Ahaziah), and went to war against the Syrians. The Syrians wanted to take Ramoth-Gilead. Jehoram was injured while fighting Hazael, king of Syria, and was taken to Jezreel (his captial city) to heal from his wounds. Ahaziah went to visit Jehoram. In traveling to Jehoram, Ahaziah brought upon himself his own destruction. He went against Jehu, who had been anointed to destroy the house of Ahab. (Jehu was the captain of the host, annointed by a prophet and given a promise that he would destroy the house of Ahab because Jezebel had killed the prophets of the Lord and become ruler of the people.) Jehu found the princes and family of Ahaziah, which served him, and he killed them. Then he went to find Ahaziah. Those on the side of Jehu, caught Ahaziah as he was hiding in Samaria, and brought him to Jehu. He was killed and buried (showing some honor, because he was the grandson of Jehoshaphat, who had served in righteousness), leaving no one to rule in Judah. (see also 2 Kings 9)

10 But when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.
11 But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, (for she was the sister of Ahaziah,) hid him from Athaliah, so that she slew him not.
12 And he was with them hid in the house of God six years: and Athaliah reigned over the land.

When his mother learned of his death, she went and destroyed all the royal seed (children) of house of Judah. Jehoshabeath (Jehosheba), the daughter of Jehoram (also Ahaziah’s half-sister and wife of Jehoiada the high priest), hid one of the sons of Ahaziah, who was named Joash. Athaliah did not find him and so was unable to kill him. He was hidden in the temple for six years. Meanwhile, Athaliah became the ruler of Judah.

It is hard to believe sometimes, that people could live so deep in wickedness, that they would kill in order to have power (or that in their power, they would see the need to kill others like this). These are the kinds of stories in the scriptures that would seem hard to understand and believe, if not for some of the things that happen in our modern times. There are people who cannot see the wickedness in destroying innocent lives. The adversary is so cunning and deceiving, he can blind the mind to the precious nature of life itself. Athaliah, like her son Ahaziah, was not a righteous ruler for Judah.

Study of this chapter, is a reminder of why the Lord commanded the Israelites not to marry outside of their faith. His stated purpose for this, was that those of the other nations would be a stumbling block to the people of the Lord. The traditions of others would cause the Israelites to fall away from their faith and become a wicked people. Those of the northern kingdom of Israel, allowed this to happen when they made alliances with those outside of their faith. It led them to follow after false gods and fall into great wickedness, as was the case with Ahab who married Jezebel. When Jehoram became king of Judah, he made an alliance with Ahab and he married his daughter, Athaliah. When he did this, he invited the traditions of Ahab and Jezebel into Judah through their daughter. This was an invitation to turn from the Lord to following after false gods and to taking part in wickedness. How does this apply today, when we are not given this specific commandment. It is important for people, who are striving to be God’s people today and follow after Christ, to stand firm in their faith. We are to live in the world, influencing others with the light of Christ in us and loving others as He loves them. However, we must be watchful, there is a point at which we must make sure that we are not living of the world. We cannot afford to allow the ways of the world to influence us into turning away from God and His goodness. Because of this, it is vitally important to live worthy of the influence of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will help us to discern which situations with others would be a danger to our spiritual safety. The Holy Ghost has helped me with this in my own life. It has not been easy to step away from relationships that would potentially be a stumbling block for my spiritual progress, but I can look back now and see the great blessing it has been to follow after the inspiration of the Spirit in this way.

2 Chronicles Chapter 17

The kingdom of Judah had been ruled by Asa, the great-grandson of King Solomon. After a struggle to remain faithful to the Lord, Asa fell away, and shortly afterwards, he died. Just before this time, the kingdom of Israel was ruled by Baasha, who did not rule in righteousness. The record of the children of Israel in Judah continues with the following:

1 And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel.
2 And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim, which Asa his father had taken.
3 And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;
4 But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.
5 Therefore the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance.
6 And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.

The next king of Judah, was Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa. He worked to build up defenses against Israel. He set armies in the fortressed cities and more troops throughout the land. This included the parts of Ephraim, that had been taken by Asa during his reign. Jehoshaphat led in righteousness, and as a result, he had the Lord on his side. He did not seek after other gods (Baalim), as those in the land of Israel and other nations, but sought to keep the commandments of the Lord. The Lord supported Jehoshaphat and his kingdom. The people of Judah honored their king with many gifts and honors. Because he was devoted to the Lord, Jehoshaphat removed the places of worship of other gods, that had been left in the land by Asa.

7 Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, even to Ben-hail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah.
8 And with them he sent Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests.
9 And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.

Moreover, Levites and priests were sent by the king, to the leaders throughout the land of Judah. Among them was Shemaiah, who was a prophet possibly. They were to teach the law from the book of the law of the Lord, to the people.

10 And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat.
11 Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats.

The nations around Judah did not come against Jehoshaphat, because of the fear of the Lord that fell upon them. The Philistines, in part, even brought Jehoshaphat gifts and tributes. Additionally, he was given several thousand flocks of rams and goats by the Arabians.

12 And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.
13 And he had much business in the cities of Judah: and the men of war, mighty men of valour, were in Jerusalem.
14 And these are the numbers of them according to the house of their fathers: Of Judah, the captains of thousands; Adnah the chief, and with him mighty men of valour three hundred thousand.
15 And next to him was Jehohanan the captain, and with him two hundred and fourscore thousand.
16 And next him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself unto the Lord; and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valour.
17 And of Benjamin; Eliada a mighty man of valour, and with him armed men with bow and shield two hundred thousand.
18 And next him was Jehozabad, and with him an hundred and fourscore thousand ready prepared for the war.
19 These waited on the king, beside those whom the king put in the fenced cities throughout all Judah.

Judah prospered greatly under the rule of Jehoshaphat. Fortifications (castles) and cities were built, business thrived, and mighty men of war made up the army in Jerusalem. In that army, there were 300,000 men of Judah who served under Adnah; 280,000 men under Jehohanan; and 200,000 under Amasiah, who served the Lord. Eliada of Benjamin, led 200,000 bowmen, and Jehozabad led 180,000 men, as well. All of these men served the king in his army, along with the guards who were placed in the cities of Judah.

When Asa had ruled, the prophet had said, “The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you (2 Chronicles 15:2).” Seeking after the Lord, following his commandments, and teaching others of him and his ways, will always bring blessings to life. Jehoshaphat was turned to the Lord and is a good example of how we should commit ourselves fully to God. We learn from him that righteousness brings prosperity. It may not always look like material things or the way the world views prosperity, as it does here in this chapter. However, God desires to bless us both physically and spiritually. When we do his will, He is bound to bless us and be with us.

2 Chronicles Chapter 15

Asa was the king of Judah, and he led the people in righteousness. Some of the idolatrous symbols and locations in their land, had been destroyed under his leadership. The consequence of their faith in the Lord, had been blessings of victory in battle, peace and prosperity. This chapter continues the story of Asa and his people.

1 And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.
3 Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.
4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
5 And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.
6 And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.
7 Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
8 And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord.
9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.
10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
11 And they offered unto the Lord the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
13 That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
14 And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about.

Azariah was inspired to give a message from the Lord to Asa and his people. It was a reminder that the Lord would be with their people as long as they remained faithful to him, but if they were to turn from Him, the Lord would no longer be with them. The children of Israel had waivered in their faith throughout the years. When they remembered Him during times of difficulty, turning back to the Lord, He was there for them. They lived in times of difficulty and adversity because God allowed these things to come upon them when they did not follow after Him. However, the Lord promised Asa that he would reward them if they remained strong and continued to do good works.

The concept of seeking the Lord is found often in the scriptures. When Moses gave the children of Israel the commandments, he taught, “But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29). When Paul taught the people of Athens, he said, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:27). Seeking after the Lord is to actively look for Him in our lives and put ourselves in places and situations where we can recognize Him. It is reading the scriptures to learn of him. It is attending church to hear his words taught. It is praying daily for his help. It is going to the temple to feel His Spirit. It is looking for the evidences of His presence, power, and creation in all the world. It is living the commandments, even if we don’t fully understand why, because we have faith that He is real, He loves us, and He is our Lord. The promise is that if we seek Him, we will find Him. Verse 15 teaches that after seeking, the people did find the Lord. This promise is as much true for us today, as it was for those in the time of Asa. He is waiting to show us He cares for us personally, to guide us and to teach us, and to bless us with countless blessings that will help us on our path home to Him.

This message is also found in the words of a favorite song I learned as a child:

Seek the Lord Early

I’ll seek the Lord early while in my youth,
And he will help me to know the truth.
I’ll search the scriptures and find him there,
Then go to our Father in fervent prayer.
I’ll seek the Lord early, and I’ll obey
His living prophets in all they say.
I’ll keep his commandments; his love will abound.
I will seek the Lord early, and he will be found.
(Joanne Bushman Doxey, 1932–.)

Asa was encouraged by the words of this prophecy. The chapter says, he took courage, which shows that this was not a simple task for him. It could have angered people, causing divisions and acts against him as king. No matter the difficulties, Asa heard the words of the prophet and as a result, he sought to remove all the symbols of idolatry in the land and to renew the altar of the Lord at the temple. His example of following the counsel of the prophet is a good one for us today. There are times when the words of our modern prophets may seem hard to follow. For whatever reason that may be, we can also take courage. The words of the prophets of God, are the words of God. If we follow them and work through all the difficulties and challenges that may come as a result of it, we will be blessed to become better and grow closer to the Lord.

Many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon, had come to Judah because they saw that the Lord was with them. During his fifteenth year, Asa called together all the children of Israel in the land, and they gathered in Jerusalem. They gave offerings to the Lord, and made a covenant with the Lord, to seek after Him with their whole heart and soul. They committed with the Lord, that any who would not do this, would be destroyed. They celebrated over their new promise to the Lord, and the Lord blessed them with peace in the land.

16 And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.
17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.

Asa kept his covenants with strict obedience. His mother (grandmother) had participated in idolatrous behavior when placing an idol in one of the groves, so Asa had her removed from being queen and destroyed her idol.

18 And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
19 And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.

The items dedicated to the Lord, were gathered into the temple. Judah had peace until Asa was in the 35th year of his reign. (see also 1 Kings 15:9-15)

The people of the southern kingdom were living righteously enough to cause others to want to be among them. Those from the northern kingdom who wanted God in their lives, moved from the lands of their inheritance to Jerusalem, which is an act of faith and commitment to the Lord. To have the presence of God in life, should be the desire of any disciple of Christ. In the time of Asa, God’s presence was represented by the house of the Lord among a covenant people. When Christ appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he blessed them with the spirit of God (the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost), which was to be their constant companion. Since that time, the covenant people of the Lord have had the presence of God with them wherever they may be, so long as they remain faithful to the Lord. This is a great blessing and makes it possible for the covenant people of the Lord to be among all the nations of the earth rather than gathered in one place as they were in Judah.

The covenants they made were significant and required strict obedience to receive the promised blessings from God. In order to keep them, they were willing to destroy those who were unfaithful. In our time, this act may seem extreme and beyond our understanding, but in the times of the law of Moses, God had established that this was the only way to keep his people faithful. When they chose not to follow this part of the law, they gave into temptations from influences that were not righteous and fell away. How we live our covenants today may not seem quite so extreme, but the significance to God is the same and should be to us. We should have the faith and courage to get rid of anything and everything in our lives that would draw us away from God and the blessings of the spirit. This means doing those things that our necessary and right, to remove them from us completely. That could mean removing all things related to a bad habit, disassociating from certain people who are a bad influence on us, relocating to a place that is better for us, or things such as these. I have had to make hard choices in my personal life related to this, in order to commit myself more fully to the Lord and to be able to have the influence of the spirit in my life more. It is never easy. Sometimes it is very painful in one way or another, but for me, these sacrifices have brought the greatest blessings and a change of heart that could not have happened otherwise. I am very grateful for my covenants and the way they have shaped my life. I am even more grateful for the gift of the spirit in my life. It is a treasure and worth the greatest efforts to continue to have it.

2 Chronicles Chapter 11

The kingdom of Israel followed after Jeroboam, when Rehoboam refused to ease their burdens. Rehoboam had fled back to Jerusalem from the city of Shechem, where he had become the king of the nation. The children of Israel were divided at this point, between the two leaders, which was a fulfillment of prophecy. The story of the division continues as follows:

1 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam.
2 But the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
3 Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,
4 Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me. And they obeyed the words of the Lord, and returned from going against Jeroboam.

Upon his arrival at Jerusalem, Rehoboam gathered the armies of Judah and Benjamin to fight against Israel and regain his kingdom. He had an army of 180,000 fighters. Shemaiah, a man of God, received a revelation from the Lord to go to King Rehoboam and tell him he was not to go against the rest of Israel in battle. The division of the kingdom was according to the will of the Lord and was to be let alone. Rehoboam and his men followed this command and returned to their homes. (see also 1 Kings 12)

It would not have made sense to lose men in any unnecessary fighting, because Israel would have become a weaker people with a civil war. As they destroyed one another, their enemies from without would have been able to conquer them. Rehoboam knew about the prophecy that told of the division between the ten tribes and the two he would be left to rule. He should have thought better of the choice he made as to how he would rule the nation, but lost the ten tribes through his decision to be a harsh ruler. At this point, he was left to live with the consequences promised by the Lord.

5 And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah.
6 He built even Beth-lehem, and Etam, and Tekoa,
7 And Beth-zur, and Shoco, and Adullam,
8 And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph,
9 And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah,
10 And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities.
11 And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.
12 And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.

Instead of going after the right to rule the entire kingdom of Israel, Rehoboam turned his attention to strengthen Jerusalem. He built up many areas of defense and walled cities throughout the land of Benjamin and Judah. He fortified their strong holds, so that they would be exceedingly strong. The cities included some like Bethlehem, where the Savior would once day be born; Gath, the former Philistine city conquered by David; Lachish, which had been an Amorite city when the Israelites first came into the land; and Hebron, which was the city David had ruled from before Jerusalem. Rehoboam ruled over the people of the tribes and lands of Judah and Benjamin.

13 And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.
14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the Lord:
15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.
16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers.
17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.

The Levites and priests of Israel, left their homes and belongings, and gathered to the land of Judah. They had taken sides with Rehoboam in Judah, because Jeroboam was no longer allowing them to perform their duties as priests of the Lord. These duties had mainly been to serve in the temple located in Jerusalem. Moreover, Jeroboam, who no longer had the temple in his midst, ordained his own priests for the places of worship in Israel. These false priests led the people of Israel into apostasy. Jeroboam made idols for his people to worship. However, those who desired to follow after God, left Israel and went to Jerusalem to worship and make sacrifices to the Lord. These people were a strength to Judah and Rehoboam for three years, while they followed after the ways of David and Solomon. (see 1 Kings 12 for more information)

18 And Rehoboam took him Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David to wife, and Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse;
19 Which bare him children; Jeush, and Shamariah, and Zaham.
20 And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith.
21 And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)
22 And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the chief, to be ruler among his brethren: for he thought to make him king.
23 And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his children throughout all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fenced city: and he gave them victual in abundance. And he desired many wives.

Rehoboam began to marry several women, as his father had done, because he sought after many wives. He married Mahalath and Abihail, who had children named Jeush, Shamaria, and Zaham. Then, he married Maachah and they had children named Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. Maachah was the daughter of Absalom, the son of David who had conspired against his father and died. She was his favorite wife out of the eighteen wives and 60 concubines he eventually had. Rehoboam had 28 sons and 60 daughters in total. His son Abijah was made the leader of the children, because Rehoboam intended on making him the future king. In wisdom, Rehoboam sent his sons to rule over all the strongholds of Benjamin and Judah. They were provided for in abundance for their service to their father and king.

Freedom to worship as they please, is so important to people of faith. Jeroboam was concerned to lose the support of his people in the lands of Israel, so he tried to stop them from going to Jerusalem to worship as they pleased. He also built idols to give his people something they could worship, since he was taking their access to the temple from them. He quickly led the people of the ten tribes away from God and their covenants with Him. Meanwhile, those who lived in the lands of Benjamin and Judah, continued to have the opportunity to worship the Lord in his temple and with the proper authority of the priesthood. They had access the ability to make the commanded sacrifices and keep their covenants regularly. This must have been such a blessing to them and surely it strengthened the land as well. Times such as those in this chapter, as well as in our current day with all that is going on in the world, cause a deepening of the faith for some or an opportunity for many to choose to follow after the world. Those of the ten tribes quickly turned to the practices of the nations that surrounded them, because of their situation. In our own day, we must decide if we will be like those who chose to leave the world and draw closer to God and our covenants with him, or if we will follow after the ways of the world and forsake the Lord.

2 Kings Chapter 23

Josiah was a righteous king of Judah. He had worked to repair the temple and in doing so, the book of the law had been found. He read the book and then mourned for the weakness of those who had come before and the future of his people because of their wickedness. He prayed about the book, and because of his faith, Josiah would be blessed with peace in his own life. This chapter continues to tell of how he led the people.

1 And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
2 And the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.

Josiah gathered the elders, the men of Judah, and the people of Jerusalem, including priests, prophets, and people of all walks of life. He read all the words of the book of the law, or the book of the covenant. This was the book that had been found in the temple, which had caused him to go to the Lord in mourning. The king could have read the words for himself and chosen to lead the people according to that, but he took it a step further when he invited the people of the land to share in coming to a knowledge of the word of the Lord. This was good, because it gave the people a chance to choose for themselves from their own understanding, whether they would want to follow the law or live as they had been living.

3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

Then, Josiah made covenants to the Lord, to be faithful, obedient to the commandments with all the heart and soul, and to perform all the rites and ordinances of the covenants in the book. The people agreed to the covenants.

4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el.
5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.
6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.
7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city.

Josiah commanded for all the items in the temple and around it, that were devoted to the worship of Baal and any other gods, to be removed from the temple. They were taken outside of Jerusalem to fields where they were burned. The ashes were then carried away to Bethel. The king, destroyed (or put down) the wicked or false priests, who had been ordained to serve in the idolatrous temples around the land of Judah, including those who served Baal and other gods. He removed the idol found in the temple and had it burned and ground into powder outside of Jerusalem. The powder was cast on the graves of their children, possibly all those who were sacrificed to that very idol. He destroyed the places where the sodomites were doing wicked acts, removed all the wicked priests in the land of Judah, and defiled their places of worship.

9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.
10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
11 And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
12 And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.
14 And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.

Those priests that were removed, did not go to the temple in Jerusalem, but returned to their own people, as was part of the law of Moses. Josiah destroyed Topheth, which was the place of burning, or where the people sacrificed their own children to false gods. This sacrificing of children with fire, was strictly forbidden in the law of Moses. He took the chariots away, that were used to worship the sun, and he burned them. He destroyed the altars in the kings house, or on the roofs of the houses, as well as those in the temple. He ground them down and tossed the dust into a brook. Then, he destroyed the places of worship around Jerusalem and destroyed the wicked men there.

15 Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
16 And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.
17 Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el.
18 And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.
19 And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el.
20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.

Josiah continued to destroy all things related to idolatry in Bethel, which had been built by Jeroboam because Jerusalem had been too far for them to go to comfortably for their worship. He burned the place of worship and its grove. He burned the bones of the dead, found in the sepulchres, upon the altar. He saw a specific sepulchre and asked who was buried there. The men of Bethel told him it was the sepulcre of the man of God from Judah, who had prophesied of the things that Josiah had done to the altar (see 1 Kings 13). The prophecy had been fulfilled. Josiah commanded the men to leave the bones of the prophet, so none of the men touched them. The places of worship in Samaria were taken away, just as the place in Bethel. All the wicked priests were destroyed as well. Then, Josiah returned to Jerusalem.

21 And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
22 Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;
23 But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the Lord in Jerusalem.

The king gave a commandment that the people were to observe the passover, as they were commanded in the law of Moses. There had not been one observed like this, in all the days since the first time of the judges in Israel. This passover was observed in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign (see 2 Chronicles 35 for more on this observance of the passover).

24 Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.
25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Josiah continued to follow all the laws in the book of the law, by getting rid of any involved in witchcraft and sorcery that were discovered in all the land of Judah (see Deuteronomy 18). No other king in the land of Israel, had completely given himself to following after the law of Moses.

It is amazing to be described like this in the history of the kings of Israel. Josiah was like no other king because he was loyal to the Lord, trusted Him, and stood up for those things which he knew to be true. His choices to cleanse all of Judah, were bold and courageous. He is an example of “standing up and being all in“, not wavering in his faith, and being a force for good in the lives of those under his influence.

26 Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.
27 And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.
28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

However, Manasseh had done such wickedness and the people with him, especially with sacrificing so many lives to his evil ways, that the Lord would still hold the people of Judah accountable for their actions. Judah would be scattered, just as Israel had been scattered, including all that were in the city of Jerusalem. The temple had been desecrated by wicked acts, and the Lord would no longer be among the people there.

29 In his days Pharaoh-nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
30 And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead.

Egypt came up against the Assyrains, and Josiah went against him. Josiah was killed in Megiddo and was taken back to Jerusalem and buried there (see also 2 Chronicles 35). Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah, was anointed king by the people.

31 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
32 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.
33 And Pharaoh-nechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.
34 And Pharaoh-nechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.
35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaoh-nechoh.

At the age of 23, Jehoahaz began his reign in Jerusalem. He only reigned in wickedness for three months, then Pharoah-nechoh took him captive and made the land of Judah subject to Egypt. Judah had to pay Egypt 100 silver talents and a talent of god. Pharoah made Eliakim the king instead and calld him Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken into Egypt and died there (see also 2 Chronicles 36). Jehoiakim paid tribute to Egypt by taxing the people.

36 Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.
37 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.

Jehoiakim reigned for 11 years in Jerusalem, from the age of 25 to about 36. He led the people in wickedness. Sadly, all the work that Josiah had done, to help the people return to righteousness, was quickly undone by two unrighteous kings that followed after him. This is a testimony and a witness to me, of the importance of heeding the warnings and preparing ourselves to withstand temptations in our own lives. The Lord had warned the children of Israel, that any amount of idolatry, would bring their entire nation down to destruction. Over a short amount of time, some of the people chose to allow other nations to influence them and turned to the wickedness of idolatry. Once the temptation had been allowed to be a part of the land, it was nearly impossible to go back to following strictly after the Lord. Josiah worked hard to bring as many back to following the commandments as possible, but even his own sons were not willing to continue in righteousness. There are warnings that have been given in our own time. We need to heed the warnings of modern-day prophets, so that we may avoid temptations, remain safe spiritually, and have the kind of peace that Josiah was able to have in his life. (A good talk on warnings in our time, as it relates to our children is “Watching with All Perseverance“.)

2 Kings Chapter 21

Hezekiah, was the king of Judah in a time when most of the land of Israel was taken over by other nations. Hezekiah had ruled in righteousness and had the blessing of the Lord’s protection for himself and the people of Jerusalem. At one point, he allowed himself to give into the temptation to be prideful and showed all his treasures to the Babylonians. In response, the Lord promised Hezekiah that the people of Judah would be taken captive into Babylon. These things would effect his descendants in the days of his sons. When Hezekiah died, his son, Manasseh, became king. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzi-bah.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.
3 For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
4 And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.
5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.
6 And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
7 And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:
8 Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.
9 But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel.

At the age of twelve, Manasseh became king. He ruled until he was about 67 years old, or for about 55 years. He did not follow after the ways of his father, who had destroyed all the idols and repaired the temple of the Lord. Instead, he followed after the ways of many others who had ruled before Hezekiah, building the temples, altars and groves for other gods. He also built other altars within the temple of the Lord, which were designed to worship other gods there. He sacrificed his own sons and did all manner of wickedness associated with idolatry. He placed an idol in the temple, in the sacred place where great promises had been made to the faithful kings of the land, such as David and Solomon. He desecrated the Holy temple of the Lord. Manasseh led the people into greater evil than even the heathen nations that were found in the land before the children of Israel arrived there. (see also 2 Chronicles 33)

It is hard to think that the son of one who had lived so righteously, would live so wickedly. His father had only been an influence in his life for twelve years, he was young and I am sure that there were still many people who were wicked, who were able to influence his impressionable mind. It all would come down to his individual agency, or the kinds of choices he made, because of the influences he had. This teaches how important it is to influence our youth for good. Our youth will one day become those who lead the world. All future generations will be influenced by our children and their choices. We can make a difference in the future, by being the right kind of examples and giving our youth the tools they need to make good choices for themselves.

10 And the Lord spake by his servants the prophets, saying,
11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:
12 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.
13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of
Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.
14 And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies;
15 Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.
16 Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

Prophets were called by God, to speak to the people. The prophecy and word of the Lord, was that Manasseh had done greater wickedness than all those before him and had caused Judah to do these things along with him. Because of this, a great evil would come upon all of Judah and those who heard the prophecy would feel their ears tingle, a witness of its truth. The people of Judah would be destroyed and forsaken, delivered into the hand of their enemies to be killed or made slaves. The Lord also said that Manasseh had shed so much innocent blood, that it filled Jerusalem. A lot of blood can be shed by one man in a reign of 55 years.

17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and all that he did, and his sin that he sinned, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
18 And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.

These were not all of the acts of Manasseh, but more were recorded. Manasseh died and his son, Amon, became the king.

19 Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah.
20 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh did.
21 And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them:
22 And he forsook the Lord God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the Lord.

Amon reigned from the age of 22 to 24, continuing in the wickedness of his father. He did not follow after God, but chose to follow after idols and continue to lead the people in idolatry.

23 And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the king in his own house.
24 And the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.
25 Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
26 And he was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza: and Josiah his son reigned in his stead.

His servants conspired against him and killed him. The people of Jerusalem killed those who had conspired against the king and then made Josiah, the son of Amon, the king.

This chapter causes me to think about the Lord’s timing. There had been many years now, in which great wickedness had been allowed to continue, even after the first prophecy of the destruction of the people of Jerusalem and Judah. In their great wickedness, I am sure they would not have believed it was ever going to happen, since they had been allowed to continue to live as they were. But, how often do the wicked believe in the prophecies of the Lord? Nevertheless, the Lord has always done things at the time that was right for his purpose. His purpose being to allow the greatest number of souls to be redeemed as possible, in order to have eternal life. Moses 1:39 reads, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” The prophets seem to have been proclaiming a warning call, giving the people of Jerusalem every opportunity to repent and return to the Lord. Likewise, there was also going to be a day when a Savior would come, and the timing of their destruction would influence the lives of all the generations that would someday come from these wicked and idolatrous people. The word of this prophecy would eventually be fulfilled , and only those who heeded the word of the Lord, would be able to avoid destruction. We can learn about at least one group who avoided this specific time of destruction in The Book of Mormon (see 2 Kings 24 and 1 Nephi 1). Recognizing this, should help us to see that we have the opportunity to heed the warnings of the prophets as well. Will we follow after the world and be led to destruction, or will we follow after the prophets and avoid it?

2 Kings Chapter 19

Hezekiah was a righteous king of Judah, who lived at the time when the children of Israel were scattered and the tribe of Judah was nearly all that was left of them in the promise land. He had worked to remove all the idols found in the temples of the land. The Assyrians had captured much of the land surrounding Jerusalem, and were prepared to fight to take the capital from Hezekiah and the Jews. Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, had sent men to speak with Hezekiah and his people: to convince the Jews that they could not rely on Hezekiah or the God they believed in. The servants of Hezekiah represented him at the meeting place, and were not moved by their enemies words. Likewise, the Jews that were present did not listen to their words. The story continues with the following:

1 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.
2 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.
3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.
4 It may be the Lord thy God will hear all the words of Rab-shakeh, 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.
5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.

Hezekiah went to the temple in morning and decided to send his servants and the elders to find the prophet Isaiah. Hezekiah wanted to know how to save the people of Jerusalem because they were too weak to bear the burden in front of them. They asked Isaiah to plead to God in their behalf.

6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
7 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.

Isaiah told them to return to Hezekiah and tell him that the Lord told him not to fear the words of the Assyrians that were blasphemous to God. The Lord told him that the leader of the Assyrians would be caught up in a blast, which is something that comes like a windstorm, and hear a rumor which would cause him to leave and return to Assyria. In Assyria, Sennacherib would die.

8 So Rab-shakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.
9 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,
10 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.
11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?
12 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?
13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah?

When Rabshakeh, the servant and messenger of Sennacherib, returned to his king, he had left Lachish and was at war against Libnah. Tirhakah of Ethiopia, was heard to be coming against him to fight, so he sent messengers to Hezekiah. Again, the message was that they would be deceived by God it they were led to believe that He would save them from the Assyrians who had captured so much of the surrounding lands. The kings of those lands had been unable to defeat the Assyrians.

Rabshakeh and his master, Sennacherib, did not know the Lord. Had they known God, they would have known that the Lord is a living God of truth. God is not a liar or a deceiver. Those who live in faith, know this to be an eternal truth. God could not be God, if there was any deceit in Him. The reason those other nations were unable to defeat the Assyrians, was because their gods were not real gods. Their gods were false and fake idols, made only because men had been influenced by the adversary to find another source to turn to, instead of the true God of men.

14 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.
15 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.
16 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.
17 Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,
18 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.
19 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.

Hezekiah received the word of Sennacherib and after reading it, went to the temple to pray. He placed the letter before the Lord, before the mercy seat of God, praying that the Lord would hear the words that Sennacherib had spoken against God. Hezekiah realized that the words in the letter about all the other nations, was in fact truth. The lands had been destroyed and their false gods were cast into the fire. This was because they were not gods, but just wooden and stone idols made by men. He prayed for deliverance from the Assyrians, so that the nations would see and know that the Lord was the only God.

20 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.
21 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.
22 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.
23 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.
24 I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.
25 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.
26 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 housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.

The prophet Isaiah sent word to Hezekiah, which told him the word of the Lord. The Lord had heard his prayer against Sennacherib. Prophecy was then given by Isaiah, which said that Sennacherib had spoken against God. Sennacherib had used his messengers to boast proudly of the victories he had in the land: bringing his army into the land, destroying the mountains and forests, drying up the rivers, besieging cities. But the Lord had been the creator of these things in ancient times, not the Assyrians. The people had been weak and destroyed before their time.

This brings to mind the importance of going to the temple because it is a house of prayer. Hezekiah knew this communication with the Lord was needed and so he took his plea to the temple. What would it have been like, to have had a prophet tell him that his prayer was heard, and specifically what that prayer was about? It is something of wonder. It was a blessing because of the faith of Hezekiah and evidence that the words that followed were the words of the Lord. This answer was of great importance to the preserving of the Jews, and so, the answer came through the prophet.

27 But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.
28 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.
29 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.
30 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.
31 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.
32 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.
33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.
34 For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

The Lord knew the Assyrians. He knew when they went in and out of their home. He knew the rage they had against the Lord. The Lord would reign them in and turn the Assyrians around back to where they came from. As a sign that He was the Lord, He said that they would harvest and eat food for three years. The people of Judah who had escaped, would build themselves up again. A remnant of the people of Jerusalem would escape with the zeal of the Lord. The king of Assyria would not enter their city, or even come against it with arrow or shield. Rather, he would return the way he came. The Lord would defend the city of Jerusalem for his purposes and for the promise made to David.

35 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.
36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
37 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.

The word of the Lord was then fulfilled, when that night, an angel went to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 soldiers. This was the ‘blast’ sent upon the Assyrians. When Sennacherib and his army woke the next morning, they saw the dead and went back to their homes. Defeated by the Lord, Sennacherib went to Nineveh, and as he was worshipping in the temple of his god, Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him. They escaped to Armenia and his other son, Esarhaddon became the king of Assyria. In studying the history of ancient civilizations, including Assyria. I have read about this miracle that saved the people of Jerusalem and destroyed so many of the Assyrian army. It is interesting to see records of history show the effects on the world, of an event recorded in the bible.

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord. He was able to be saved, because he had devoted himself to following after the commandments of the Lord. He was a righteous king and he knew to pray to the Lord for help, and to turn to the prophet for guidance. His people and city were protected by the hand of the Lord, without any of his people doing anything. This was a witness of the strength and power of the Lord in behalf of the faithful. The prayer of the faithful in our day, will not go unheard. If we follow after the example of Hezekiah, keeping the commandments, improving our lives, then turning to prayer and the words of the prophets in our times of difficulty, the Lord will hear our prayers. Blessings will come to the faithful followers of the Lord.

2 Kings Chapter 18

Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and king of Judah. His father Ahaz, had not been a righteous leader for Judah. He had made an agreement with the king of Assyria in exchange for protection from Judah’s enemies of Syria and Israel. Judah then began to pay tribute to Assyria. Then, Ahaz changed the temple altar and the sacrifices to be like those he had seen when he visited Assyria. This chapter tells of the reign of Hezekiah.

1 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.
2 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.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.

Hezekiah began to rule, while Hoshea was king of Israel. Hezekiah would rule from the age of 25 until he was about 54 years old. He ruled in righteousness in Judah.

4 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.
5 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.
6 For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.
7 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.
8 He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

King Hezekiah was the first in a long line of kings, to destroy the places of worship that had been built all over Jerusalem, that were not the temple of the Lord. The idols and groves of other gods, were broken down, including the brass serpent that Moses had made for the Israelites, Nehushtan, because it had become an idol to the people. He was a man and king who trusted in the Lord like no other king in Judah. He lived the law of Moses and as it says in verse 6, he clave to the Lord. The word clave, or cleave, in this case, is to hold fast and be strongly attatched to. This may mean that Hezekiah made binding covenants with the Lord and followed after the Law of Moses with strict obedience to keep those covenants. Since, he was a devout follower of the Lord, he received blessings of the presence of the Lord and prosperity. While, his father had made agreements to serve the king of Assyria, Hezekiah rebelled against it and no longer served him. He fought with the Philistines as well. He would not be bound to other nations and his motivation may have been that he was bound to God first.

9 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.
10 And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken.
11 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:
12 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.

Four years into his reign, Shalmaneser of Assyria besieged Samaria in Israel. After three years, he captured Samaria and took the people captive into Assyria. This was done, because they were a wicked and rebellious people, who turned against the Lord and His commandments.

13 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.
14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have
offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.
15 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.
16 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.

Fourteen years into the reign of Hezekiah, the next king of Assyria, Sennacherib, captured the outer cities of Judah. Hezekiah sent word to Sennacherib in Lachish, saying that Hezekiah would give what he asked of him if he would abandon his quest to capture all of Judah. Sennacherib demanded three hundred talents of silver and thirty of gold. Hezekiah gathered them from the temple and the king’s treasury, including the gold of the temple doors and pillars. He gave these treasures to the king of Assyria. Here would be a test of the character of Hezekiah. The question was, how far was he willing to go now that his life, city and people were being threatened. What would Hezekiah do in leading his people, and would he honor his integrity by turning to God?

17 And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rab-shakeh 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.
18 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.

Perhaps, the treasures were not enough, because Tartan, Rabsaris, and Rabshakeh, along with a great host of Assyria, were sent to challenge Hezekiah and Jerusalem. The stopped near the upper pool, and called for Hezekiah. Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah went out to meet them.

19 And Rab-shakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?
20 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?
21 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.
22 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?
23 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.
24 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?
25 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.

Rabshakeh told them what they should say to king Hezekiah. He spoke for King Sennacherib and asked them who they trusted so much to give them counsel and strength, that they were willing to rebel against the king of Assyria. Rabshakeh told them that trusting in the Pharaoh of Egypt was like depending on a reed that would hurt them as soon as they leaned on it. This was probably said, because Egypt was where the Jews had turned to in the past, or because it was the only other place they could turn to for help in the eyes of the Assyrians. Rabshakeh told them that they could not say they trusted in the Lord, when their king, Hezekiah, had removed all the high places of worship, leaving only the altar in Jerusalem. Of course Rabshakeh and the Assyrians did not know that the Lord would prefer that there be only one altar used to worship Him. Rabshakeh told them to give the pledges to the king of Assyria and trust in them, surrendering to Assyria rather then turn and trust in Egypt. He was ready to destroy Jerusalem, and felt he was inspired to do so.

26 Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rab-shakeh, 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.
27 But Rab-shakeh 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?

The men of Hezekiah told him to speak to them in the language of the Syrians, which they understood, but would not be understood by the Jews that were nearby. Rabshakeh responded by saying that he had been sent by the king to speak to the men who were there, and that they all would be condemned to their destruction along with the men that Hezekiah had sent there to speak for him.

28 Then Rab-shakeh 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:
29 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand:
30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
31 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:
32 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.
33 Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
34 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?
35 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?

Rabshakeh raised his voice and stood so more of the people would hear him. He spoke for the king of Assyria, telling them not to trust Hezekiah. He said that they would not be able to be saved by their king. He claimed that they should not let Hezekiah persuade them to trust in the Lord to deliver them and their city from the Assyrians. Instead, the king of Assyria offered them to join him with the promise to be free to remain in their own land and live their lives as normal, so long as they offered tribute to him. This was at least until the king would take them to a new land that he claimed would be like their land, where they would live under his leadership and live and not die. Then Rabshakeh boasted of his king, saying that the Lord had not delivered any land out of the hand of his master. They had taken many lands already, and none of their gods had been able to save them. He suggested that if others had not been delivered, the Lord would not use His power or perhaps even have the power to deliver them.

36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
37 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 Rab-shakeh.

None of the Jews spoke to Rabshakeh, but followed the command of King Hezekiah, which was not to answer. The three men returned to Hezekiah with their clothing rent, and told Hezekiah the things that Rabshakeh had spoken. (Note: This story can also be found in Isaiah 36.)

Rabshakeh, who was representative of the Assyrians at this moment in time, spoke boldly in his words against Hezekiah, and more importantly, against the Lord. He was blasphemous in his words, assuming to know the Lord and what He would do. He tried to convince the people that they should not believe in the Lord, but the people of Jerusalem were obedient to their king. Hezekiah knew the history of their people. They were the covenant people of the Lord. The Lord had delivered His people time and time again, without the strength of men, but with the power of God. There is more to this story that we can read in 2 Chronicles 32. In verses 7 and 8 we read, “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be 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 rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” The next chapter will tell what Hezekiah chose to do once his servants had told him what had been said.

The message here, which can be found throughout the scriptures, is one of where we should place our trust. The world would have men put the trust in “the arm of the flesh”, or in the strength of men. It would have us depend on the wisdom of the world, because of things that we may have the ability to see and do not need to believe. It would have us feel secure in the physical strength of men to overcome our battles, over the unknown strength of some being who is unknown to world. The scriptures, however, teach us to always put our trust in the Lord. Even with all the good intents of mankind, there is no mortal who is perfect and no person who perfectly knows what specific thing will bring peace to our hearts or bring us individual happiness and joy. The only being who can be trusted perfectly is the Lord. Moreover, God is the only being with the power to overcome everything that we will ever face in this life. Men will fail, but the Lord will not ever fail. This is why we need to become people of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and then to remain people of faith, trusting in the arm of God.

2 Kings Chapter 17

Israel had a king named Pekah, who began his rule while Azariah was king in Judah. Shortly after Pekah became king, Jotham began to rule in Judah. This lasted well over a decade, when Jotham died and Ahaz became king of Judah. Then, a man named Hoshea conspired against Pekah, killed him, and became the king of Israel. This chapter begins at this point in the history of Israel.

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.

Ahaz had ruled in Judah for twelve years, when Hoshea became king of Israel. He only ruled for nine years. He was not a righteous leaders, but ruled in ways that went against the ways of the Lord. However, he was not as bad as some who had been kings before him.

3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.
4 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.

The Assyrians came against Israel, led by Shalmaneser. Hoshea allowed Israel to become servants to the Assyrians, and paid tribute to their king. Shalmaneser found out that Hoshea had sent messengers to Egypt, but had not brought tribute to him in Assyria as he had done each year, so Shalmaneser had Hoshea captured and put in prison.

5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
6 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.

Shalmaneser went throughout Israel and besieged the capital of Samaria for three years. Then, he captured it and carried the people of Samaria into Assyria, to places like Halah, Habor and the cities of the Medes.

7 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,
8 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.
9 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.
10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
11 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:
12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

The Israelites had sinned against God, even though He had saved them from the Egyptians. They chose to fear other gods, such as Baal, before they feared the Lord, becoming like those other nations who had been in the promised land before they lived there. The nations that their ancestors had worked hard to destroy from out of the land, under the direction of God. The Israelite people had done much wickedness in secret, and had built temples in each city, where they made sacrifices and offerings to their made-up gods. They built idols to worship and placed them all through the land. The Lord had commanded the Israelites not to do these wicked, idolatrous things.

13 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.
14 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.
15 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.
16 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.
17 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.
18 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.

Many prophets and seers were raised in Israel, to testify the word of the Lord against them and against Judah. The Isarelites were called to repent and return to following the commandments of God. The people would not hearken to the prophets, and they rejected them. They would not believe their words, and many generations in turn, refused to turn away from wickedness. They became a vain people, following after the traditions of the other nations around them. The Israelites made idols to worship Baal, including two calves in one high place. They had done this, so that it was convenient for people, who were far away from the temple, to worship often. There they built a grove or a place to worship where many acts of evil were committed in the name of Baal. This included the act of sacrificing their own children. They also used divination and enchantments. All these things caused the Lord to be provoked to anger against them. Because of these things, the Lord had them removed from the land of promise, leaving only the tribe of Judah. This was the main part of the scattering of the ten tribes of Israel.

19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.
20 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.
21 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.
22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;
23 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.

Ahaz ruled in great wickedness, and when he died, his son, Hezekiah, became ruler of Judah. The people of Judah were then a wicked people, who created their own laws to live by. As a result, the Lord rejected them along with Israel. Over the course of time, and because they had allowed the influence of evil to cause them to walk in sin, the Israelite nation was left to the hands of enemy nations, and God allowed them, specifically the ten tribes, to be carried captive into Assyria.

24 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.
25 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.
26 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.
27 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.
28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.

The Assyrian king placed men from several foreign cities, in Samaria and the land of the Isarelites. As a side note, I have studied some of the practices of ancient times and one of them was to take a conquered people and remove them from their own land to an unknown place. When the kings did this, some believed it would cause the people to become more loyal to them, since they would not have any comforts or anything familiar to fall back on. They would need to rely on the government to know what to do in their new life. This act would also lower the chances for rebellion, because a conquered people were not left to gather together and rise up against an unwanted leader. So, the Assyrian king removed the Israelites from their familiar lands and from the common society and they became servants of a new land and king. Then, the king took others from different places and put them together in Samaria, creating a new society of people who were more likely to be loyal to him and easier to manage or control.

The foreigners were not a god-fearing people, and were not acceptable to the Lord, so He sent lions into the land and some of the men were killed. The people told the king that those who were there did not know the ways of the God of the land, so they were being killed by lions. The king commanded that an Israelite priest be returned to Israel, or Samaria, to live there and teach the people about the Lord. They did as he commanded, and the priest lived in Beth-el.

29 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.
30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,
31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
32 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.
33 They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
34 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;
35 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:
36 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.
37 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.
38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
39 But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
41 So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Nevertheless, these people were from many nations who had their own gods, so they used the high places to worship their gods. Each group of people followed after their own traditions of worship, even including human sacrifices. They learned to fear the Lord as well, but they did not worship Him alone, much like the people who had already been carried away from the land. Their manner of worship and their lifestyles became a mixture of all types and continued from generation to generation in a land where the Lord had made covenants with the people of Israel. They lived according to their own interpretations of what God wanted, and therefore were never fully committed to following the Lord. The Lord has given men strict commandments in order to provide safety and assurance of greater blessings to come. When we pick and choose which commandments we will keep, or begin to put our own interpretations into those commandments, we forfeit that safety and assurance in favor of our own wisdom and the consequences will follow.

Sadly, the people of the Lord had forgotten Him and turned to false gods and unholy acts in the name of those gods. Nonetheless, the Lord had not forgotten them and had given them chances time and time again, to repent and return to righteousness. They did not, and so the Lord allowed them to deal with the consequences of their choices. The ten tribes of Israel were scattered among foreign lands and another people were placed in the land that had been promised to the faithful people of the Lord. We are also given the opportunity to be the Lord’s people. Those who are faithful today, can receive promises of God by making covenants, just as the Israelites had done. If we have made covenants with God, we have a need to remember Him. We will face the same challenges of the temptation towards idolatry in our own lives, though we may not recognize the things we choose as gods. Anytime we willfully turn from the Lord in an effort to worship something else, or raise something else to a place above the Lord, we are in fact doing what the Israelites did in ancient times. The adversary knows this and is working hard to draw us away with all types of distractions and temptations. If we can remember the Lord, especially when faced with temptation, we will be blessed beyond anything we can imagine. If we make choices to turn from the Lord, without repentance, we will deal with the consequences of our choices, and be scattered. To keep the Lord in our remembrance, the modern prophets and apostles have taught us that we need to pray, study the scriptures, repent, attend church and partake of the sacrament to renew our covenants with the Lord, and serve those in need. I am so grateful for the blessings of remembrance. I know that if we have a remembrance of the Lord and the things that He has done for us, especially that of the Atonement, we will not be put in bondage and scattered like the Israelites, but will have freedom and the blessings of eternity.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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