Posts Tagged 'Idolatry'

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“.)

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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.

2 Kings Chapter 16

Israel and Judah had passed through the hands of many kings. Israel was typically led by those who were wicked and idolatrous. Judah was typically led by those who were trying to be good, but did not help the people to turn fully to the Lord. In Israel, Pekah ruled in wickedness, as the kings before him. A fair amount of the Israelite people had been captured and taken to Assyria. Meanwhile, Jotham ruled in Judah, and had done those things that were good in the sight of God. When he died, his son Ahaz became king. At this time, Pekah joined with Rezin, king of Syria, to go up against Judah.

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

Ahaz began to rule during the seventeenth year of Pekah’s reign in Israel. He was twenty years old at the time, and he reigned for sixteen years. Unlike his father, Ahaz did not rule in righteousness. He reigned in wickedness and idolatry, going so far as to sacrifice his own son to false gods, as was done to Baal. He used the high places that had been left by the kings before him, and performed sacrifices and made offerings there and all over Judah. This depth of idolatry, was the type that existed in the nations that the Israelites cast out, when Moses and Joshua led them into the promised land.

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

Ahaz was beseiged by Rezin and Pekah, but they were unable to capture Judah. Elath was again taken from Judah by the Syrians, and the Jews were forced out of that area. Ahaz turned to Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, in hopes of being saved from his enemies. The Assyrians had already showed strength against Israel and had taken much of the people away, as mentioned above. Ahaz gave all the treasures of the temple and king’s house, and gave it as a gift to the king of Assyria, who decided to save Judah. Paying another country for help in times of war, was a normal thing. In a political sense, it meant that the Assyrians would have an allegiance from Judah, if not more. The Assyrians went against Damascaus, captured it and took the people to a place called Kir. They also killed Rezin.

10 And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.
11 And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.
12 And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.
13 And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar.
14 And he brought also the brasen altar, which was before the Lord, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of the altar.
15 And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brasen altar shall be for me to inquire by.
16 Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.

Ahaz went to meet the Assyrian king in Damascus, and seeing the altar their, decided he wanted to make a new altar in Judah. He sent a description to Urijah the priest, who built a new altar for Ahaz. Ahaz returned, saw the new altar and made an offering upon it. King Ahaz made the sacrifice himself, unlike the traditions of the past in which the priests made the sacrifices. Ahaz moved the brazen altar of the temple. Then he gave a commandment to Urijah to make offerings on the new, great altar, and he changed the way that sacrifices were made in the temple, reserving the brazen altar for his own use.

17 And king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stones.
18 And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king’s entry without, turned he from the house of the Lord for the king of Assyria.

Then, Ahaz destroyed the brazen sea on the oxen, and he changed the things that had been built for the sabbath and king’s entrance. This brazen sea, would have been the baptismal font of the temple of Solomon, like those built in modern-day temples.

19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
20 And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.

When Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah became king of Judah.

The adversary had a great hold upon the heart of Ahaz. This was a man who was saved by a powerful leader of a powerful nation. Then, when he went to see the king of Assyria, he saw the traditions of those who were more powerful then he was. He may have wanted greater power himself and coveted the same kind of things he saw. Because Ahaz was a powerful man himself, he was able to have what he wanted. A bigger altar and a more grand display when making sacrifices, was not going to bring Ahaz the true strength that he needed to be his greatest potential. Ahaz can be an example to us, for what we should not allow to happen in our lives. Seeing the traditions of those who are more powerful, may cause the prideful to seek after those traditions in order to be more powerful. In effect, turning away from God and what is right to seek after the honors of men. This is not the source of true power. Long-lasting power, even the eternal power of God, can only be given by God and only according to the faithfulness of the righteous. Ahaz might have been able to experience what he felt was great and satisfying, in making the changes to traditions and destroying things of the temple as they were, but that experience would have been fleeting. If we choose to follow after Christ and live his gospel now, even though it is without a lot of earthly honor or reward, we will have the greater reward eternally. This is what our loving Father in Heaven desires for all of His children.

This chapter causes me to reflect on lessons learned about dependence upon the arm of the flesh to be saved. In this instance, Ahaz was able to be rescued by Assyria, but at what cost? He gave great amounts of money, which was normal to do and really didn’t matter in the long run. The greater cost was that of becoming indebted to another country for that rescue. In our own lives, we cannot rely on the strength of men to continually be there for us. Men will eventually fail, but God does not and will not ever fail us. If we are in need, and are humble, we can turn to God and with faith, he will be our strength. Help may not come immediately, which can be seen all throughout the scriptures, but with patience and hope in the Lord, it will eventually come. Ahaz must have had the records of the kings before him. I wonder if there had been some knowledge of times long past to him, which showed that miracles happened to those who depended on the God of Israel. I can only guess that he would have looked at these miracles as legends and turned to what he could see was there for him physically in his own life. Yet, the stories of the bible are real history of men on earth. Ahaz did exist and he did depend on men and false gods. We can know that these things are true and that God is there for us, waiting to bless us for our faith, through sincere prayer and the choice to live faithful to the commandments. I am grateful for the blessings that I have received those times that I have turned to the Lord, rather than depending first on the wisdom and strength of men.

2 Kings Chapter 15

This section of the bible is appropriately named the books of kings, as the list of the kings of the people of Israel continues. Jeroboam was the son of Joash (Jehoash), who became the king of Israel. The previous chapter teaches that he did evil and was a wicked, idolatrous leader. When he died, his son Zachariah became the king. Meanwhile in Judah, during the first portion of the reign of Jeroboam, Amaziah ruled. He was described as a king who ruled in righteousness, but some of his actions brought the destruction and capture of much of Jerusalem. When he died, his young son, Azariah, became king of Judah. The list of the kings continues:

1 In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign.
2 Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done;
4 Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.

Azariah ruled from the age of sixteen, for fifty-two years. He ruled in righteousness, though he never removed the places where the people continued to make sacrifices and offerings.

5 And the Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the house, judging the people of the land.
6 And the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
7 So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.

The king became a leper and remained that until his death. While he lived in a separated place, his son Jotham, was acting as the judge of the land. Azariah died and Jotham became the king of Judah.

8 In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months.
9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
10 And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.
11 And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
12 This was the word of the Lord which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.

During the reign of Azariah, Zachariah became king of Israel. He ruled in wickedness and idolatry. A man named Shallum conspired against him and killed him. Shallum became king of Israel. This was fulfillment of the words of the prophet given to Jehu. Jehu was the man, who had destroyed the house of Ahab and all that was connected to the following of Baal. Because he had done this, the Lord had promised him that his family would rule for four generations (see 2 Kings 10:30).

13 Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria.
14 For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.
15 And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

At some point after Jotham was king in Judah, Uzziah (Azariah) became king. Uzziah had ruled for thirty-nine years, when Shallum became king of Israel. He was king for a month and was killed by Menahem, who then became king himself.

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

Menahem attacked Tiphsah and all its borders, because they did not serve him. He killed every pregnant woman there. Menahem was a wicked and idolatrous king, who led for ten years. The Assyrians came against Israel, and Menahem gave money the king of the Assyrians, that he could retain the kingdom of Israel. The king of Assyria took the money and left Israel. This would not be the last of them seeing the Assyrians come against them.

21 And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
22 And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead.

Menahem died and left the kingdom to his son, Pekahiah.

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

When Azariah had been king in Judah, for fifty years, Pekahiah became king in Israel. He was king for two years, continuing the traditions of his father in wicked, idolatrous leadership. His captains son, Pekah, conspired against him and killed him in the palace. Pekah became king.

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

Pekah became king during the fifty-second year of Azariah’s reign in Judah. He was king for twenty years. He was an idolatrous king who ruled in wickedness. The Assyrians began to carry away Israelites from several cities, captive to Assyria. A man named Hoshea conspired against Pekah and killed him. He became king during the reign of Jotham in Judah.

32 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign.
33 Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok.
34 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done.
35 Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the Lord.

Jotham was king at the age of twenty-five, and he ruled for sixteen years. He was a righteous king, as his father. However, he also did not remove those places where the people made sacrifices and offerings. Jotham did, however, add a higher gate to the temple.

36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
37 In those days the Lord began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah.
38 And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.

Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Remaliah, king of Israel, began to stand against Judah. Jotham died and his son Ahaz became king of Judah. A bit of the story of Ahaz and Isaiah and how they dealt with Rezin and Pekah at this time, has been recorded in other scriptures (see Isaiah 7). The portion found in this record, continues in the next chapter. This is important to understanding the time when Israel was scattered.

This chapter is a list of kings who ruled in wickedness in Israel and those who ruled in righteousness in Judah. Nothing good is recorded of those who ruled in wickedness and followed after the evil, idolatrous ways of their fathers. All that seems to be written here of them, was death and destruction. While those who tried to rule in righteousness, seemed to have been blessed to rule for longer. The Israelite nation, both the northern and southern kingdom, were under attack by other nations, because they had not lived to be worthy of the promises of protection given to those who had first entered the promised land and were a covenant people of the Lord.

When we make covenants and strive to keep them completely, the Lord cannot hold back the blessings that are part of that promise. The covenant people of Israel, had been promised peace and safety. They had been promised to be a mighty nation, even the mightiest among nations. When they followed after righteousness, they were blessed with peace and prosperity in great abundance. Covenant, commandment-keeping people today, are promised with prosperity, and the perfect peace that can only come through the companionship of the Spirit of God. But, we must be vigilant in living the commandments to their fullest. We must put aside all that is wicked and evil in our lives. The people of Judah were led in righteousness, but not fully. There remained those things that could easily lead them away from God, because the high places were not removed from the land. Because they held back their full commitment to God, they were not blessed with the protection they truly needed. God will not force man to follow Him and He will justly allow for men to receive the consequences of their choices.

2 Kings Chapter 14

Joash had been raised to be the king of Judah, through the words of the high priest, Jehoiada. He had ruled in righteousness and had also made repairs the temple. When his servants killed him, his son, Amaziah became the king. This chapter begins with the rule of Amaziah.

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

While Joash was king in Israel, Amaziah began to rule in Judah. He reigned for twenty-nine years, or until he was almost fifty-five years old. Like his father, he did those things that were right by the Lord. However, he continued to allow the people of Judah to make sacrifices and offerings in the high places.

5 And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father.
6 But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
7 He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.

When Amaziah became king, he immediately killed the servants who had killed his father. This was not against the law of Moses, which taught that those who murdered another, were to be sentenced to death by the family of the victim. And seeing as the law of Moses, does not call for the children of murderers to be killed for the crime of their fathers, Amaziah did nothing to their children. While we generally do not judge who is worthy of being sentenced to death, those of the LDS faith, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do believe in living by this second principle. In Article of Faith 1:2, it reads, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” No one should punish a child for the sins of their father. Likewise, no parent should be punished for the sin of their child. We all will be judged independent of one another.

Amaziah went to war with Edom and took Selah, the capital city, renaming it Joktheel. Edom was the land of the children of Esau, or the kindred of the Israelites. Since, there is no record here of a reason for the fight, this may not have been a victory for Judah, that looked good in the eyes of the people of Israel, even though their had been times of fighting with them in the past.

8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face.
9 And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.
10 Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?
11 But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah.
12 And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.
13 And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
14 And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.

Amaziah sent messengers to the king of Israel, Jehoash, to tell him that they meet one another. This seems to have been a call to fight him. The reply of Jehoash, was that Amaziah had fought with Edom and gloried in hurting them. He felt that Amaziah was taking unnecessary pride in his victory. Furthermore, he said that he should stay in Judah, so that no harm would come to him and therefore bring the destruction of Judah. Amaziah did not want to listen to the words of Jehoash, so Jehoash went to Beth-shemesh in Judah. Jehoash made war against Judah, and the men of Judah fled. Jehoash took Amaziah to Jerusalem, broke down the walls, took the treasures found in the temple and the king’s house, took hostages, and then went back to Samaria.

15 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.

After much fighting with Amaziah, Jehoash died and his son, Jeroboam ruled in Israel.

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

Amaziah outlived Jehoash, for another fifteen years, even with the loss that had come to Judah. A conspiracy was led against him in Jerusalem, so he feld. Men followed after him and killed him in Lachish.

21 And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.
22 He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.

Azariah, the sixteen-year-old son of Amaziah, became the king of Judah. After the king had died, Azariah restored to Judah a town in Edom called Elath.

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.
24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher.
26 For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.
27 And the Lord said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

Jeroboam was king for forty-one years in Israel. He was not a righteous king, but did evil and was idolatrous, as the kings before him had been. He regained the borders of Israel according to prophecies by Jonah, the prophet. Israel stood alone, but the Lord would not let them be completely destroyed. Rather, the Lord allowed them to be saved by Jeroboam.

28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.

Jeroboam did things like recovering Damascus and Hamath. He was mighty and fought wars. After forty-one years, he died and his son Zachariah became king of Israel.

This chapter does not include much in the way of positive experiences for the people of Israel or Judah. The continuous blessings of peace and prosperity were not found, because they were not consistently following after good men or righteous leaders. The Israelite people were becoming ripe for destruction. The Lord had promised that the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would continue and would bless the earth, so complete and utter destruction was not coming to them. There would be times of being saved, even when their hearts were not completely turned to Him. But much destruction would come. We will come to see that the promises to their fathers did not mean they would be blessed with lives that were free from war, destruction, and bondage. Likewise, we may have moments of being saved and preserved, even blessed by God, in our lives, but if we do not follow after those things that are good and lead us to Christ, we will be setting ourselves up for our own failure and destruction in ways both physical and spiritual.

2 Kings Chapter 13

Jehu ruled in Israel during the reign of Joash in Judah. When Jehu died, his son, Jehoahaz, began to rule in Israel. Each of these ruled the nation, while Elisha was the prophet. Jehu had not ruled in the same wickedness of the kings before him, but he still worshipped other gods and did not follow after the ways of the Lord. This chapter continues the story of those who ruled in Israel in the days of Elisha.

1 In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah king of Judah Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

When Joash had ruled for twenty-three years, Jehoahaz became king of Israel. He was king for seventeen years, and ruled in wickedness. He continued to lead the people with idolatry, as the kings before him.

3 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael, all their days.
4 And Jehoahaz besought the Lord, and the Lord hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.
5 (And the Lord gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.
6 Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)
7 Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing.

As promised, the Israelites were not protected in their wickedness, and the Lord allowed for them to fall into the hands of the Syrians under both Hazael and Ben-hadad, the kings. Then, when they were being destroyed by their enemies, Jehoahaz began to see what was happening to his people, and turned to the Lord and hearkened to Him. Israel was eventually delivered from the Syrians and returned to their normal lives, which included continuing to live with idolatry and the like. But at this time the Israelites were left with very little in order to protect themselves against their enemies, because of the oppression and destruction by the Syrians.

Sometimes men become so engrossed in their own wickedness, that God has a need to bring them down into humility. Then blessings can be given to them, as with Jehoahaz, who turned to the Lord when destruction was upon his people. In Alma 32:13, we read, “And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.” But the book of Alma teaches us also, that it would be better to become humble on our own and not wait to be compelled by God. In that same chapter we read, “And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word? Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty. Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.” (Alma 32:14-16) Greater blessings come to those who seek God before the difficulties become too hard to bear.

8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
9 And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead.

Jehoahaz died and his son, Joash began to rule in Israel.

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

Joash or Jehoash ruled for sixteen years. He continued the line of unrighteous leadership in Israel. During his reign, he fought against Amaziah of Judah. After sixteen years of being king, he died and his son Jeroboam became king of Israel.

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

Elisha became sick and was near death. Joash of Israel, went to see him and cried over him. Elisha told Joash to get a bow and arrow. He did and Elisha told him to put his hand on the bow. Then Elisha put his hands on the hands of Joash as they held the bow. Elisha told him to open the east window. When he did, Elisha told him to shoot. He did this, and then Elisha prophesied that the people would be delivered from Syria by the hand of the Lord. Elisha told Joash to hit the ground, which he did three times and then stopped. Elisha told him that he should have done it five or six times, because now he would only be able to smite Syria three times. If he had hit the ground as many as five or six times, he would have been able to consume Syria.

20 And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.
21 And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.

Elisha died. The Moabites began to invade the land of Israel as the year ended. There was who had died. As he was being buried, a band of men were seen. Those who were burying the man, threw the body into the sepulchre of Elisha. When the dead man’s body touched the bones of Elisha, he came back to life. That is a witness to the power of God that had been with Elisha, that even his dead body held the power to raise a man.

22 But Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.
23 And the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.
24 So Hazael king of Syria died; and Ben-hadad his son reigned in his stead.
25 And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael the cities, which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.

Hazael continued to oppress Israel during the reign of Jehoahaz, but the Lord continued to keep the Israelites from destruction, because of the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Hazael of Syria died. His son, Ben-hadad, became king, and Jehoash was able to regain the lands taken by the Syrians. Joash or Jehoash was able to beat Ben-hadad three times in order to get the Israelite cities back.

Again, it can be seen in this chapter, that unrighteous rulers lead their people in unrighteousness. Those who willing choose to be disobedient to the laws of God, are not blessed with His protection against their enemies. Rather, the disobedient are allowed to fall into the hands of their enemies. This is so that they might be brought back to a remembrance of God, and also because the blessing of protection is reserved for the faithful.

2 Kings Chapter 11

The destruction of the house of Ahab had occurred in Israel, following the death of Joram at the hand of Jehu. When Joram had been killed, Jehu had also killed Ahaziah, king of Judah. Ahaziah had married the daughter of Ahab, and had led in the wicked ways of his father-in-law. This chapter details what happened in Judah, after his death.

1 And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.
2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain.
3 And he was with her hid in the house of the Lord six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land.

The mother of Ahaziah, Athaliah, learned of the death of her son, and took it upon herself to destroy all the children of Ahaziah and destroyed them. Her decision to destroy the children of the king, would not have been a big shock for someone who chose to follow Baal, because one of the wicked acts was to sacrifice their children. All but one of the children of Ahaziah was destroyed, because Ahaziah’s sister, Jehosheba, took one of the sons and hid him from Athaliah. That son was Joash. Joash was taken to the temple as an infant, and hidden for six years while Athaliah ruled over Judah.

4 And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the Lord, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the Lord, and shewed them the king’s son.
5 And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you that enter in on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king’s house;
6 And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard: so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down.
7 And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath, even they shall keep the watch of the house of the Lord about the king.
8 And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand: and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain: and be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he cometh in.
9 And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.
10 And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give king David’s spears and shields, that were in the temple of the Lord.
11 And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.
12 And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.

During the seventh year, Jehoiada, the high priest, sent for the rulers and captains of the land. He had them come to the temple, where he made a covenant with them. Once they had made an oath to him, he revealed the king’s son, Joash. Then, he told them what they were to do at this point. Part of them were assigned to watch the king’s house, others were to stand at the gate of Sur and still others were to go to the gate behind the guard. They were to make sure that the house of the king would remain intact. Others were to watch over the temple and protect the king with weapons. Anyone who came to close, was to be killed. They were to guard him wherever he went. The men did as they were told to do, and reported back to Jehoida. The men were armed with the weapons of king David, which were found in the temple. Then, once a guard was set around Joash, Jehoida crowned him and anointed him as the king. Those who witnessed this, cheered for the king.

13 And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the Lord.
14 And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason.
15 But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the Lord.
16 And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king’s house: and there was she slain.

Athaliah heard and went to the temple. She saw king Joash, standing as the king would, with princes, trumpeters, and people of Judah, rejoicing. Athaliah tore her clothes and claimed this act as treason. Jehoiada commanded that she be removed, and anyone that followed after her was to be killed. She was not to be killed while in the temple. The men took her out of the temple to the king’s house and killed her there.

17 And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord’s people; between the king also and the people.
18 And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the Lord.
19 And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down the king from the house of the Lord, and came by the way of the gate of the guard to the king’s house. And he sat on the throne of the kings.
20 And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet: and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king’s house.
21 Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign.

A covenant was made between the Lord and the king and the people, to be the Lord’s people. Also, a covenant was made between the king and the people. The people broke down the house of Baal, including the altars and idols. The priest of Baal was killed. Jehoiada appointed officers over the temple. Then, the king was brought down from the temple to the king’s house and he sat on the throne. The people rejoiced and there was peace. This was all done when Joash was seven years old.

Here was a moment in ancient Israel, when both kingdoms had destroyed all the evil things associated with Baal. In the kingdom of Israel, they still worshipped false gods, but in Judah, they returned to worshipping the Lord. Covenants were made with the Lord. While the scriptures say that Israel was made to suffer at the hand of their enemies, Judah had quiet. The Lord was there for the entire nation of Israel, but only in Judah, did the people receive Him and accept Him as their God. Because of this, Judah was able to be blessed with quiet, which I think means they were at peace. When we choose to make covenants with the Lord, we allow Him the opportunity to bless our own lives with peace and quiet.


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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