II Chronicles 1:14 Some Trust in Chariots
Originally in the Hebrew canon the two books of Chronicles were together as one. In our Bible they divide at the death of King David and the ascension of King Solomon. We essentially covered this time period about nine and a half months ago based on my rate of doing two each week. (For the historian this means they were done approximately in July of 2008). In I Kings Solomon “sat upon the throne of David his father” in chapter 2, verse 12 and the narrative there runs thru chapter 11. Here we have nine chapters containing pretty much the same material but not always in the same order.
An excellent example of a difference in order may be noted as we approach our present chapter for here at its close (14-17) we have, in almost one hundred percent accuracy, the same words as appear near the close of the I Kings passage (10:26-29).
The person who wishes to study and perhaps try to harmonize these two major sections of Holy Scripture will notice that there are important portions that appear in one and not the other. For example, the story of Solomon’s wisdom when he suggested that a contested baby be divided with a sword as a solution to a problem that had arisen between two mothers (I Kings 3:16-28) does not appear in Chronicles, nor does the long distasteful account of Solomon’s idolatrous practice (11:1-9).
The reader will probably remember that one of the three prohibitions by Jehovah to Israel regarding their king had to do with multiplying horses from Egypt. Solomon violated all three (Deut.17:16-17) but for now let us consider this one. Horses were used as an important weapon in warfare and Egypt particularly excelled in this wartime exigency. He obviously felt the need of using this means to establish and maintain his authoritative position and his strategy involved the development of chariot cities (v.14- see also 8:6 & 9:25). All of this in absolute violation of God’s word.
In fact, Solomon was so in love with his strategery that he could not refrain from applying the imagery to his sweetheart (SS.1:9).
Could Solomon have accomplished his mission without Egyptian innovation? Certainly, and so could Billy Graham without his expedient measures. Disobedience has its price and a glorious king suffered an inglorious finale (I Chr.28:9 & I K. 11:1-9). See Psalms 20:7!
II Chronicles 2:7 Send Me a Man
A certain preacher years ago stopped periodically at a rural meeting house. This day as he approached on horseback an old lady was rinsing wool in the stream by her house. She remembered his last visit several months past but when questioned as to his message she admitted she had forgotten it. “What sense is it to come here,” he asked, “if you do not remember what I preach?” The lady quickly replied, “you see this wool, sir. Not much water remains in it, but it cleans well as it passes through.”
Now, I doubt you remember the devotional on I Kings 7 so I should remind you that there were two Hirams (Huram). One was the king of Tyre and the second was an artificer with the same name.
What a man was this Hiram whose mother was somehow cross-tribed with Naphtali and Dan and his father a man of Tyre.
Solomon had indicated to the Tyrelian monarch that he needed the expertise of the Sidonian woodcutters (I K.5:6) and now he asks for their best craftsman (v.7). He wanted someone who could work equally well with gold, silver or brass, knew fabric, an engraver and Hiram found him just the man, his very namesake and a gifted man he was!
It makes us think of the fact that in this dispensation another temple is being put together to be a dwelling place for the Sovereign God of the universe and what gifted saints are serving Him in the building of His house. I recently heard of a brother who is reaching guerrilla soldiers in Columbia, South America. He has developed his own radio stations, bounces a.m. waves off of the ionosphere into the mountain hideouts, flies his own plane into such areas at night and parachute drops pre-tuned radios into the treetops, turned on with gospel music and preaching booming out of them. I have friends who are using dental skills to open wide avenues of witness and others who fly regularly to remote regions to do workshops with natives who are helping to translate the Word of God into their language. God has an army of precious Hirams.
II Chronicles 3:8 The Most Holy House
Chapters 3&4 of II Chronicles are very similar to, though they do not compare word for word with, I Kings 6 & 7. I have spent several hours carefully comparing the two passages and my conclusion is that it is well that we have both accounts since additional material is found in each that is not in the other. Having the two accounts, however, does create some problems since often the statistics do not agree. Most are not aware of these because they only read, not study, the text, thus never compare the two. Do not let these trouble you as the commentators usually have plausible explanations and if they don’t, we can be certain God does if we will be at all interested in asking Him when we see Him.
It is interesting, as one would compare, to note that the inner part of the sanctuary is frequently referred to in Kings as the oracle but here as “the most holy house.” 3:8 here and 6:20 there definitely are referring to the same part of the temple which was cubical in shape, though one dimension is omitted here. (The Hebrew word translated oracle in II Sam. 16:23 is a different word and generally means word.)
Solomon retained the shape of the most holy house enlarging it by ten cubits from the tabernacle in the wilderness which doubled its size to 30 feet cubed. Strikingly, he enlarged most of the furnishings as we shall see in the next chapter making, for example, the brazen altar as large as the whole room containing the relatively tiny ark of the covenant which, of course, he did not tamper with though his cherubim towered massively above it (v.13).
The ark which David had already brought to Jerusalem, Solomon transferred ceremoniously (5:2-5) to the Holy of holies (oracle). One wonders what eventually became of the old brazen altar on which Solomon had offered 1000 burnt offerings at Gibeon the night God had appeared to him endowing him with his great wisdom (1:5&6).
We might have thought, did we not have this chapter, that the entrance to the oracle had been changed from a vail to olive wood doors (I K. 6:31&32) except for verse 14 in our present chapter which indicates that the vail had been retained. (Later also in Herod’s temple, Matt.27:5, at which time it was destroyed by Jehovah.)
Praise God, heaven’s door is open wide, let us boldly come (Heb.4:16).
II Chronicles 4:19 Last But Not Least
Most meateaters are sufficiently acquainted with the furnishings of the tabernacle to not need reminding but I will do it anyway. The ark, spoken of in our last chapter and the cherubim, which once were attached to it but probably were removed to make it more mobile, were all that were seen in the ancient Holy of holies or Holiest of all.
In the Holy place were the lampstand with its seven branches, the table of shewbread and the golden altar of incense before the vail. (Spell veil in the N.T. – K.J.V.) In the courtyard were the laver and the brazen altar (order - from God to man.)
We may wonder if David would have approved Solomon’s innovation. He was not content with just one measly little laver, oh no, he made one large enough to hold twenty-six thousand seven hundred and sixty gallons (though when seen in I K.7:26 it was only two-thirds full) and which rested on the backs of twelve brazen oxen, three facing outward toward each point of the compass.
He also made ten smaller lavers, each holding about 357 gallons, placing five on one side of the court and five on the other. These were for washing the sacrifices, the big one “was for the priests to wash in.” They must have had stairs and a walkway to reach it. The same goes for the giant brazen altar which he made.
Where the tabernacle had one set of candlesticks, placed on the left, Solomon made ten and put five on each side. The same went for the table.
Now, something has been forgotten, hasn’t it? Let’s see, what could it be? I think we find it in verse 19 (also I K.7:48).
Nothing is said about enlarging the golden altar which I think is just as well. We also do not know where it was placed but we hope it stood before the vail as always and that the fragrance of its incense permeated the atmosphere of the Holy place and that the priests came out with the special odor on their clothes.
In this day when big somehow translates as better and the many have supplanted the few it is good to know that the One represented by the Ark has not changed and the place of prayer is still available.
II Chronicles 5:13 In One Accord
It may be remembered that most of what is found in this chapter is being repeated almost word for word from I Kings 8 and in fact also most of our next chapter (6). There may be a book in which the attempt has been made to harmonize these passages but at this point I am aware of none. In most cases a Bible with center column references will help, but there is no indication of where differences occur.
For example, with your Bible open to this present chapter you will find that the first verse compares with I Kings 7:51; verses 2-11a with I Kings 8:1-10; the latter part of verse 13 with I Kings 8:10 and verse 14 with I Kings 8:11. From this you will readily see that a section of chapter 5 from the middle of verse 11 to near the end of verse 13 is fresh material (part of this is parenthetical).
If this is confusing, and it will be if hurriedly done, just remember that while there is certainly value in repetition, we might assume that there could be special value in the new material being introduced by the Holy Spirit in these Chronicles passages, hence time is taken to point it out. It is the observance of such things that separates meateaters from milk drinkers, the few who study from those who merely read.
Now, for a few minutes, let us think about what the Holy Spirit tells us that seemingly almost gets left out. When the priests came out (v.11) and the cloud went in (v.13), God’s choir was singing and praising Him with a mighty chorus. Those of Asaph’s family, Heman’s and Jeduthun’s sons and brothers were there (I Chr.25:1-31), the cymbals were crashing, the psalteries and harps were sounding and along with everything else there were one hundred twenty trumpeters holding forth. I think the important emphasis is that when the musicians and singers were all “as one,” it was then that the Shekinah glory filled the house and it makes me think of the coming of the Holy Spirit into the church on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1.
“O give thanks unto the LORD for he is good because his mercy endureth for ever.” (Ps.118:1).
II Chronicles 6:29 The Lifting of Holy Hands
If, dear reader, you have access to what we have written on I Kings 8:38, may I suggest that this might be a good time to compare verse 29 of today’s chapter to see how the Holy Spirit occasionally enlarges upon His own words helping us to understand, as here, a bit more concerning His working.
You will note that both here and in I Kings 8 there are listed seven specific drastic situations which are outlined by Solomon as occasions when God’s people might come to, or face, the temple to pray and implore His intervention. The example cited above indicates slightly different wording which makes the time spent in comparing most rewarding.
I will point out the verses where each of the seven begins. They are: #1, verse 22; #2, verse 24; #3, verse 26; #4, verse 28; # 5, verse 32; #6, verse 34 and #7, verse 36. You may wish, in turn, to match these with the corresponding passages in I Kings 8.
In reading F.B. Meyer’s comments on today’s chapter in his “Our Daily Homily” I noted that when he points out the parallel thoughts in verses 26 & 27, “when thou dost afflict them” and “when thou hast taught them the good way,” the wording of the Chronicles version seems to me to be clearer than that of Kings. (Another good reason to make the comparison.)
One last example will suffice, perhaps, to show the value of comparing the two texts. The Kings text also seems a bit clearer in #1 (v.32), in the KJV, when it says to condemn the wicked to bring his way upon his head. I will leave it for you to check the variant reading.
Reviewing these seven separate supplications should encourage us to pray for revival in our own time and place. Returning to the beginning of today’s thought and the text, I like the words of the Kings passage when it speaks of the plague of our own hearts. May the blessed Holy Spirit Who inspired these words – help us to look within as we lift our hands (vs.12,13 & 29) towards God’s throne in earnest supplication for revival first in our own hearts, in our own church and hopefully, perhaps, even in our own land. I Timothy 2:8 (compare also Jabez’s prayer in I Chr.4:10).
II Chronicles 7:2 The Glory of the LORD
It would be well to start reading this chapter by referring back to verses forty-one and forty-two of chapter six understanding that these are not found in I Kings so it is fresh material as is the opening portion of our present chapter.
It is indeed fascinating that such a tremendous event as is recorded in 7:1-3 is not mentioned in I Kings but I think it points up the apparent difference in the emphasis of these two books. There is much more of an attempt to glorify Jehovah in Chronicles and nowhere more than the spectacular account given here. Let the reader be very much aware that he treads on holy ground and be confident that there is no repetition here – we “have not passed this way heretofore” (Joshua 3:4).
Let us join the children of Israel in worship of Jehovah as again they praise Him with the words “for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” It was at the moment, as we recently observed, when as the trumpeters and singers were as one in praising Him that the temple Solomon had built was filled with a cloud and these words had been uttered (5:13). Again, as at that time, the priest could not enter the house of the LORD because of the glory of the LORD.
If there is even the slightest sense of monotony at the rehearsing of these lengthy Solomonic chapters it is blasted asunder by the spectacular appearance of Jehovah (Lev.9:4, 23 &24) in a burst of fire from heaven which if it compared at all with the enormity of the new brazen altar must have dwarfed the similar display of His power when the heavenly thunder bolts consumed Elijah’s offering on Mount Carmel (I Kings 18:38).
The whole burnt offering was the first and highest type of sacrifice (Lev.1:3), a sweet savor offering which primarily represented the offering of the body of the Lord Jesus on Calvary in the excellency and perfections of His obedience. The consuming fire from heaven speaks of God’s acceptance of His sacrifice and, in turn, our acceptance in the Beloved anticipating our reasonable response as indicated in Romans 12:1. There can be no true worship apart from this and explains the lack of heavenly fire in our service.
II Chronicles 8:16 The Temple Perfected
Can we slip back for a moment to the previous chapter and to a portion of Scripture that is well known but upon which we were unable to comment earlier. Verses thirteen and fourteen are special and are not found in I Kings nine where this second appearance of Jehovah to Solomon is also recorded. Both accounts should be read to get the full message (I K.9:2-9 and II Chr.7:12-22). Note that there is a time lapse between 7:10 and 7:11 here in Chronicles and that there is connection between 7:11 and 8:16, this latter being the text upon which I would like to speak today.
Going back, however, to 7:14 we have this wonderful prayer promise to Israel “if my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” The interpretation of this passage demands that this be seen as given specifically to Israel, but we may apply the principles to ourselves. We cannot expect that the promise of blessing upon the land extends to our own country as this would violate an important rule of interpretation, however there is nothing to stop God from graciously answering if He so chooses, should we make that application.
We come now to verse 16 where it is recorded that Solomon finished the work of building the temple and we find these special words, “So the house of the LORD was perfected.” Obviously, to further strengthen the argument above, the interpretation in clearly related to a physical temple but application can certainly be made to both the church and to ourselves personally. The word “perfect” in both Hebrew and Greek carries the sense of being complete.
Solomon finished the task that he was given to do but unfortunately, as glorious as it was, in a few years it was destroyed never to be rebuilt on that order and magnitude again. That being said, we hasten to remind ourselves that a “greater than Solomon” has come and has built a temple, a spiritual house of which He Himself is the chief corner stone. (Eph.2:20-22).
In John 17:23 our Lord Jesus prayed that we might be made perfect in a oneness that is this temple about which Paul spoke and in Hebrews 10:14 we find that, in effect, through His sacrifice, He has perfected us forever.
II Chronicles 9:23 Wisdom in His Heart
The Queen of Sheba was one of the great many monarchs the whole world over who “sought the presence” of King Solomon. In I Kings 10:24 it is said that “all the earth” came to him to hear his wisdom “that God had put in his heart.” Obviously not everyone came but here we see that it was actually the rulers who came.
With what a spectacular sight were they greeted as they were ushered into the presence of Israel’s great king, bringing “every man his present.” Seated on a splendid throne of ivory which was overlaid with gold, they would ascend the six steps to lay them at his feet. He had chosen as symbolism of his royalty, a pride of golden lions, twelve of them on the sides of these steps and we are told that there was nothing in any kingdom in the world that approached such grandeur.
These earthly kings sought the presence of this one who surpassed all others in his great wisdom and they came to hear it for themselves. As the famous queen declared “I heard in mine own land of thine acts and of thy wisdom” and when she stood in his presence she was completely overwhelmed and forced to declare that it was all by far greater than what she had been told.
Of course, the important point of all of this wealth and wisdom was the fact that it was God Himself that had done all of this for Solomon (v.23); it is He Who had made him wiser than all men in answer to his prayer when He appeared to him in a dream at Gibeon and told him, “wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee and I will give thee riches and wealth and honor such as none of the kings that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (1:12).
And may we ever praise our great and wonderful God Whose beautiful and glorious Son is “greater than Solomon,” yea far more exceedingly great and where do we get the wisdom to reject Darwin and embrace Creationism for which we are treated by the world as fools? By grace we sought our Magnificent God and He has imparted Christ to us, His mind and all His wealth. Hallelujah! (I Cor.1:26-31).
II Chronicles 10:15 Unfathomable
Let us begin our devotional study today by thinking about a man whose very life was an unfathomable mystery. Reading a sketch recently about William Cowper left me with a sense of bewilderment. I had known about his collaboration with John Newton in the production of a hymnal for Newton’s church at Olney, England, a leather bound copy of which I treasure in my library (1796). Thinking that these two men must have enjoyed much good fellowship together, I was surprised to learn that, due to Cowper’s extreme depression, he seldom if ever attended services. He tried numerous times to commit suicide. How could such a man write these wonderful words?
God Moves in a Mysterious Way
God moves in mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.
Deep in the unfathomable mines of neverfailing skill, He treasures up His bright designs, and works His sovereign will.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour: The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan His work in vain: God is His own interpreter, And He
will make it plain.
In our text today we have an unusual Hebrew word as part of a phrase “ the cause was of God” (v.15). Strong’s lexicon says it means turn of affairs and in my center column reference it says wheeling about. The verse has to do with the way God worked out everything, particularly relating to Rehoboam’s handling of political matters after his father’s death. It made me think of the unfathomable way God brings His sovereign will to pass without interfering with man’s will. Perhaps we could paraphrase and say that God turned things around and made them come out the way He wanted.
I am inclined to agree with John Gill who thinks that the young men lied about Solomon’s treatment of his people. In 8:9 it specifically stated that he did not make servants of Israelites and one would think that with his great wealth he would not have needed to tax them heavily.
Anyway, it has given me an opportunity to bring to your attention the words of a great old hymn. I am sure that He still performs His wonders in mysterious ways and we await the day when our Interpreter will make it all so plain to us.
II Chronicles 11:1 Rehoboam
Material on Rehoboam is found in two places in I Kings. Chapter 12 where today’s opening story is found (see author’s comments) and ch.14:21-31. To Rehoboam’s credit he took Shemaiah’s advice. Jehovah made it clear that “this thing is done of me” and they had better not try to straighten the dog’s hind leg.
Also, I think we can give more credit where it is due in the strategic arms control program which Rehoboam instituted as he fortified fifteen Judaic cities. If he would not be allowed to be aggressively involved against Jeroboam he could at least build up his defenses and there appears to be no objection to this plan.
It had been the policy of the previous administration to establish spiritual outposts throughout the entire country. These were manned by Levites whose responsibility was to teach the Word of God and represent Him. In their place Jeroboam ordained priests of “the lowest of the people which were not of the sons of Levi”(I Kings 12:31). In addition he added further insults, namely two golden calves carefully placed to make worship of them more convenient than a trek up the temple Mount of Zion. To top off this sacerdotal travesty out “of his own heart”he devised a feast in the eighth month to take the place of the one ordained by Jehovah on the seventh month. Interestingly here in our text (v.15) the word devils is used (literally satyrs) but also translated by the same word in Deut.32:17. There certainly is no doubt about where these ideas came from. (See also Psalm 106:34-41).
In I Cor.10:20 idolatry is correlated to the worship of devils and of course all fellowship with those who did such things was thoroughly discountenanced . Anything that displaces the Word of God in our church services today may be suspected as coming from the same source. Satan thoroughly hates the Bible and we might well check up and see what means he is using to even keep meateaters away from it.
Finally, though he comes honestly by it as a son of Solomon, we can have nothing but disrespect for a man who “desired many wives.”
II Chronicles 12:7 Some Deliverance
In today’s Scripture portion, we continue the story of Rehoboam and we particularly note a feature of this book. It is the writer’s design to exalt Jehovah whenever he can and we see it much more often than in the parallel passages in Kings.
Compare, for example, the two accounts of Egypt’s Jerusalem campaign. In I Kings 14:25&26 there is just the barest account whereas here in II Chronicles 12 not only do we have a much more detailed story but we are given the reason why Israel’s enemy was allowed to triumph over them.
We were told back in chapter eleven that for the first few years the southern kingdom, apparently strengthened spiritually by the sudden infusion of the whole Levite population, “walked in the way of David and Solomon” (v.17). But, as so often is the case when everything looked like it was going his way, Rehoboam “got a bit too big for his britches” as they say and he forsook God’s ways and “all Israel with him.” (Why the term Israel is used here and in verse six I don’t know except perhaps they just hadn’t gotten used to distinguishing Judah yet).
Anyway, we are clearly told that for such failure, that is because they had transgressed against the LORD, He had brought Shishek of Egypt against them. That was the bad news.
The good news is that things were still operating the way they should and so there was a faithful prophet, Shemaiah, who told it like it was, the leadership humbled themselves, God recognized it and gave them deliverance.
That is, to a degree, for He allowed Shishek to take away the shields of gold that Solomon had made and ever after when the people saw the copper shields during the changing of the guard they were to be reminded of their folly.
I can imagine that those soldiers who remembered the beautiful golden shields probably grumbled when they had to clean the green scum off those replacements (center column says they were copper) but perhaps for a time it helped everyone to remember to be obedient.
Some marriages made on the wrong side of II Cor. 6: 14 may become tarnished at times and require a bit more work to keep them shining.
II Chronicles 13:12 Our Captain
Now we come to the best reason for there being dual historical records in Kings and Chronicles and that is the fact that in most cases one is more extensive and complete than the other. We have an excellent example in these two chapters, 13 and 14.
This whole chapter, for example, is given over to the history of the reign of Abijah and is quite positive whereas the brief record in I Kings 15 is only 8 verses and very negative. I have underlined four places here where Jehovah is specifically given glory, typical of our author’s emphasis. They are verse 12, verse 16, 18 and 20.
Abijah himself comes across as quite a strong character and he is credited with a great and rather lengthy speech in which he rebukes Jeroboam and warns him that when he fights against Judah he is fighting against God Himself and he cannot possibly prosper. This is a great statement of faith seeing his own army is outnumbered two to one. In spite of the odds and as a reward for relying on God, He delivered the enemy into the hand of Judah and 5/8ths of Israel’s valiant men were destroyed. It does not say how many of Judah died in the battle, if any. It must have been quite special to have taken Bethel which was the location of one of Jeroboam’s false altars and the scene of a great spiritual overthrow (I Kings 13).
Here it is recorded that Jeroboam died as a direct result of God’s judgement (v.20).
It was right of Abijah to recognize that the LORD was their captain (v.12) and we are reminded of the scene back in Joshua 5:14 where it is said (KJV) that God not Joshua was the Captain of the host of the LORD. Many times we are reminded in this book that the battle is the LORD’s, not the least of which is 20:15 when Jehoshaphat made his great statement. We have his story coming up soon, for he is this man’s grandson. The Lord Jesus is our Captain and He is Victor. Praise the Lord.
II Chronicles 14:13 Very Much Spoil
As mentioned earlier, the story, so briefly told, of Asa in I K.15 is expanded here in Chronicles. Whereas there were 17 verses about him there, here the author expends 48 verses taking up three chapters of our text. Asa was classified as a good king and it suits the purpose for this book to emphasize that he did that which was “right is the eyes of his God” (v.2). Actually, we will see that though this was generally the case, there were several black marks against him, so I guess it is comparatively speaking. One good thing mentioned in the Kings passage but not here is the fact that he “took away the Sodomites out of the land.” Also he removed the idols that his fathers had made but that is mentioned here as well. Something else he did which was very courageous is the removal of his grandmother Maachah from being queen but this is getting ahead of ourselves a bit (15:16 and I K.15:13). Mothers and fathers continue to be called such even to the succeeding generation.
The really great thing to be mentioned in this chapter is Asa’s prayer. It certainly deserves to be classified as one of the great prayers of the Bible and occurred when Judah was being confronted by a huge Ethiopian army. It was common in that day as well as this for Israelites to be severely outnumbered but it was exactly in those circumstances when God’s victories were the most spectacular.
“In thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee” (v.11). With such words Asa cried unto the LORD his God and it simply says, “so the LORD smote the Ethiopian.” So, He did it again, and again, and again and would still be doing it today for Israel if they had the same faith that Asa exhibited that day.
The exciting result of many such battles was the “exceeding much spoil” that they carried away. Our spoil is the treasure laid up in heaven every time we cry and God answers us.
II Chronicles 15:15 “The LORD Gave Them Rest”
We may wonder a bit at the heart and soul dedication which occurred in Israel during Asa’s reign. It certainly seems rash to us and especially when we compare it to the lukewarmness of the average Christian in our circles these days. We might say that this death penalty is pretty drastic, but as I thought about it, it occurred to me that it is the very thing that we face when we consider total commitment to Christ. Of course the difference is obviously in the fact that God in no way forces submission upon us but makes it entirely our choice. “I beseech you, etc.” (Rom.12:1).
This is, however, an excellent reminder of the fact that it is required of us that we “take up the cross” and unless we do, we cannot be His disciples (Lk.14:27). The cross is the place of death so the requirement is indeed death to self that we might live entirely unto Him. Isn’t it true that Paul taught that we who live for God are “delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake” in order that His life might be manifested in us (II Cor.4:11)? So, I guess that it is pretty clear in the New Testament that we who are willing to be completely sold out to our God do so under so complete a commitment that it is very much like a death sentence, so much so that once embraced we may say with Paul “I am crucified with Christ.”
It should be noted that the Israelite is seen in this circumstance to be embracing his position gladly “with shouting and the blast of trumpets.” Let us who have so much more cause for rejoicing, who have, in a sense done as they, having “sworn with all their heart and sought him with their whole desire,” know that He will be found of us (v.15) and we shall be found in Him (Phil.3:9).
It is even said of these devotees that “the LORD gave them rest” and is it not true that the child of God who surrenders his whole life to God in such a wholehearted way finds a rest that the one who wanders in the wilderness of a self-centered life never knows (Heb.4:11-19)?
P.S. The third month (v.10) was the one that had the feast of Pentecost in it.
II Chronicles 16:9 “The Eyes of The LORD”
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro.....” etc.
It is out of a very sad story that these words fraught with such promise come to us. Those who are apt to quote its words seldom finish the verse. “Herein thou hast done foolishly; therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.”
Asa was for the most part a good king but like so many heroes of the Old Testament he finished rather badly. It had been said of him that “he did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God” (14:2) and that “the heart of Asa was perfect all his days” (15:17). I remember that, in contrasting these words with events in this chapter, Dr. John Whitcomb called this an example of “bifocal approach to the Kings of Judah” citing 15:17 as “God’s perspective and 16:7 as our perspective.” I do not exactly understand what he was saying, I merely point it out.
Where Asa did “ foolishly” was relying upon the king of Syria instead of the LORD (v.7). He added insult to injury by his treatment of the prophet who told him the truth and, he showed his drift away from God by not turning to Him in his time of trouble.
It may be that these failures are recorded to show us the importance of the difference between aging saints under the law and under grace. As O.T. saints grew older, their flesh grew more and more corrupt and they could not offset it by dealing with it as we can. For us the flesh is dead (positionally- Rom.8:10) and we can reckon it so (6:11). They could not “through the spirit...mortify the deeds of the body” like we can. It is hard for us to imagine how difficult it would be without the indwelling Holy Spirit’s ministry.
To return to the opening lines, what a wonderful promise we have knowing that for us as well as them and today as well as then, “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth to shew himself strong in the behalf of ....” us.
Let us not fail to keep our hearts right with our Wonderful Heavenly Father.
II Chronicles 17:9 “They Taught in Judah”
It is not news to most of us that good times and good national leadership go hand in hand with exposure to God’s Word.
It is also not accidental that liberal politics spring up when the populace gets lax in relation to dedication to sound Biblical teachings. Liberalism cannot flourish when men of faith abound because it is man- centered and all its hopes and endeavors are rooted in evolution and governmental control. Studies in the utterly senseless philosophies from which it springs indicate its demonic and Satanic origin hence the blind zeal to keep trying failed policies like socialism and communism. The gospel of good works and human effort is the only way the unregenerate know, if the righteousness and the ways of God are abandoned.
How did the dark ages come about except through a Roman system that all but totally abandoned the revelation of truth and how did man finally come out of that period except through the invention of the printing press and the resultant distribution of the Word of God?
England and America prior to the Great Awakening in 1740 were in deep moral depression. The effect of German rationalism on both American politics and religion has brought us once again to a spiritual crisis. Will God deliver us or is this our nation’s final eclipse?
In this chapter we see the important features essential to a revival. A man who is a strong leader who walks in the ways of David, priests who teach the Word and the fear of the LORD falling upon our land. May it be so.
“Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
II Chronicles 18:31 “ The LORD Helped Him”
Again we have an instance where our chapter here in Chronicles is almost exactly like the historical account in I Kings 22. It is rather a lengthy story and you may be tempted not to read it, but I urge you to do so. There is so much compromise and so little warning against it coming from our pulpits that it would be well for every child of God to meditate upon this passage. Jehoshaphat, like Billy Graham, was a good man but God did not approve of his evil alliance with the ungodly Ahab and how can the latter hope to escape His reprimand (II Chron.19:2)?
It is my habit when writing on a repetitious passage such as this, to look for thoughts found here that were not found in the former and we are especially rewarded today. It is important to note that this innovative material being introduced is in keeping with what we see as an emphasis in these redundant pages, attention being drawn to God’s sovereign intervention. Of course this story is in itself an excellent example of such, but in today’s text an additional reference to it is to be found.
In both accounts we read that Jehoshaphat cried out when the enemy began to surround him thinking he was Israel’s king because of his royal attire but in this one it specifically states that “the LORD helped him and God moved them to depart from him.” So we clearly see that though God was not happy with his spirit of compromise yet it was not his crying out that saved his life but the direct intervention of a gracious God.
There is a little poem I have seen on a plaque and I know not the source, but here it is: “Yesterday He helped me, Today He did the same, How long shall this continue? Forever, praise His name!” I think also of the wonderful verse, “ I have laid help upon One that is mighty” (Ps.89:19). And it reminds me of how mighty Boaz helped poor Ruth. How many times He has helped me, I shall not ever know until I reach Heaven. But then....
II Chronicles 19:2 God’s Wrath upon Jehoshaphat
In this book we have four wonderful chapters all about Jehoshaphat and we have already done two of them. I especially look forward to the fourth one which is the most exciting of all! But before we get there we must acknowledge the fact that, as with most Bible characters, there is a dark area in his life with which we must deal. It is important to remind ourselves, however, that it is these failures on the part of God’s servants that teach us numerous lessons! First, we remember that in this early dispensation of time, though grace was present, the Holy Spirit’s ministry was necessarily limited (John 8:39). A chosen vessel might know God’s gracious ministrations but overflow, as we can know it, must, in Jehoshaphat’s day, wait many long years ere Jesus’ death and resurrection would make it possible.
Another factor, and this is a good thing, the recording of serious flaws of character tends to strengthen the doctrine of biblical inspiration. Secular writers usually omit their faults. Also, we can, as we have indicated, learn much from the failures of those we meet on the sacred page and here is no exception. It is only hoped that we might profit from the good king’s lapse.
What did Jehoshaphat do that was so wrong? Read it and weep! Jehu, God’s man of the hour nailed him squarely in verse two. Should he join affinity (18:2) with one such as Ahab, even if he was an in-law (his son was married to Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah), who was a terrible outlaw in God’s eyes? No, Jehoshaphat obviously was expected to know better.
It is safe to say that Jehovah hates it when we compromise His holiness for any reason. To join affinity with unbelieving ministers in an evangelistic campaign is a modern equivalent. As a friend of mine used to observe, “there is no right way to do anything wrong.”
Jehoshaphat must have justified his actions in his own mind, but God clearly differed with his carnal thinking and told him so in no uncertain terms!
II Chronicles 20:20 Believe His Prophets
What did Jehu, Jahaziel and Eliezer have in common (asks the trivia question)? The answer to this supposed question might be: first, they are all prophets about which little is known; secondly, they all three prophesied before the great and good king, Jehoshaphat. But there the similarity ceased. To see how, let us imagine a fictitious meeting of a bunch of prophets at the Muddytown Bible Conference. These three find themselves seated together at lunch time and are comparing notes. The son of the illustrious Hanani, a seer of an earlier day (II Chron.16:7) tells the story of how he was chosen by Jehovah to deliver such a message to Jehoshaphat as well might have landed him in prison where his father once languished (and might still be languishing for all we know).
After Jehu finished, Eliezer takes his turn, wondering perhaps at the strange behavior of Jehoshaphat that he was commissioned to reprove especially in view of his fellow prophet’s experience, “My message was also a strong reproof, for Jehoshaphat again formed an alliance that was against God’s will resulting in the wrecking of several of his ships en route to Tarshish. I think he learned his lesson, however, because later when Ahaziah, king of Israel, wanted to send some of his men, with those of the king of Judah, on a repeat voyage, Jehoshaphat refused” (I K.22:49- John Gill’s view).
“Well, brethren, those are great stories, but I think I have you both beat – wait til you hear this one!” With that Jahaziel proceeded to tell them a story which, if his ancestor Asaph were alive he would certainly have made into a song. It told of three kings who came against Jehoshaphat and of God’s prophetic message to him promising a great victory over them. As God’s people went into battle they were told they needed not to fight, but, rather, to sing the praises of Jehovah and to worship the beauty of holiness. Jehoshaphat himself declared “Believe in the LORD your God so shall ye be established, believe his prophets so shall ye prosper” (v.20).
How did it all end? The three kings got in a fight and destroyed each other and there was so much spoil that it took three days to gather it.
The prophets agreed that the positive note in the latter’s story caused it to far out weigh the negative ones they had told and we agree, we like it better too.
II Chronicles 21: 18 The LORD Smote Him
It is fascinating to discover internal evidence in Chronicles that serves to accentuate the author’s purpose in rehearsing the history of this period, it having been covered already in the books of Samuel and Kings.
Assuming that you have read the chapter (and I sincerely hope you have - remember, it is God’s Word that is inspired, not mine), let me ask a question. What important Biblical character’s name surprisingly pops up here? The fact is that, given the outstanding importance of this figure, the real surprise, as we think about it, is why he is only mentioned once in this book and his equally famous protege’ is never referred to at all!
Obviously, whatever motivated the author to omit the narratives of two of the most exciting prophetic ministries in the whole Bible, the probable overriding factor was that the Holy Spirit had already given them more exposure than all but a few of the writing prophets and He had other things that He wanted to cover.
Remember, those prophets were primarily sent to witness to the apostate northern kingdom and the chronicler is not much interested in that phase of Israel’s history. He is forced, however, due to the necessary inclusion of narrative important to Judah, to include the name of one of the most infamous of the northern kings, Ahab, because Judah’s king Jehoram had married Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter (v.6) and though not mentioned by name until the next chapter, her story is necessary in the introduction of one of Judah’s greatest kings, Joash.
Getting back a minute to Jehoram, it was an unfortunate preoccupation with tradition that Jehoshaphat had made his first born son king when many of his brethren were apparently better than he (v.13). His wickedness like that of his in-laws (II Kings 8:27) brought him to a sorry end. Not all, but certainly some sickness is due to sin as the graphic description of his intestinal disease served to emphasize.
II Chronicles 22:7 Ahaziah’s Destruction Was of God
By the way, in case you missed it, the answer to the question in the comments on the previous chapter, was Elijah and one more thing, I think this is the only instance where it was recorded that he wrote anything.
Then too, there is here more reference to the northern kingdom Israel but only, it would seem, in order to introduce the wicked queen Athaliah. She it was who took over the throne of Judah after her son’s death.
Did you notice the emphasis on Jehovah’s sovereignty? It was because Jehoram had forsaken the LORD that Edom and Libnah revolted from Judah and it was the LORD Who smote him with the incurable disease. Do we suppose that this is simply a manner of speaking? Oh no, it is the design of the author and the Holy Spirit to draw attention to our great and powerful God’s divine intervention.
In the identical vein we now see the same thing being said of Ahaziah, Jehoram’s youngest son. Ahaziah only got to reign for one year before God’s terminator, Jehu son of Nimshi cut him off with the back swing of his sword of judgement on the house of Ahab. It was “of God”, though on the surface it was the result (v.7) of his neighborly call on his sick uncle who had been wounded in a battle with the Syrian king Hazael. He might have been spared had he not been caught compromising as he was, but he was only running true to form as he had been trained in wickedness by his mother Athaliah (22:3). (You may have to read this a couple of times to get it figured out, but that won’t hurt you a bit and it’s worth it!)
As I have mentioned often before, it helps a bit to realize that many men had two names. For example, in v.17 of chapter 21 it says that Jehoahaz was the youngest of Jehoram’s sons and then in 22:1 it says that Ahaziah his youngest son was made king for all of his older siblings had been slain. The commentators agree that this is the same man with two names - and to make it even worse he is called Azariah in verse six. That is three different names for the same person. Now
that can be confusing! God will be pleased if you try hard to get it – after all, it is His Word and He always has His reasons. Someday.....
(Go to the devotional on II Kings 11:4 to read about Jehoshabeath).
II Chronicles 23:21 Athaliah Slain
“Good riddance to bad rubbish” is an old saying that certainly could be said once Athaliah was off the scene. If the people rejoiced because they had a new king (v.20) it was at least partially because the previous one had been slain for Athaliah, spawned by Ahab and Jezebel, was certainly one of the most wicked women ever to live on God’s earth. In the previous chapter we read about how she attempted to destroy her grandchildren and any who might claim a right to Judah’s throne. Only one survived and he, of course, was sovereignly spared that the “royal seed” might not be cut off (22:10) or else the remainder of the Bible could not be written for God’s Word would have been all wrong about David having an heir upon his throne and God’s character would have been severely compromised (v.3).
Go back to II Samuel 7 and read Nathan’s prophesy (4-17) about the seed of David which would proceed out of his bowels being established forever. In Psalm 132:11 it was sung that, “the LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne” and in Luke 1:32 & 33 the angel Gabriel said to Mary about her virgin born Son, Jesus, “the LORD God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” In order for Jesus to be related to David there must, of necessity, be an unbroken line genealogically tying them together. Satan’s strategy was no doubt at work in using Athaliah to annihilate the “royal seed.”
It is significant that here again God has those through whom He triumphs. Jehoiada the priest succeeded in gathering a great host which would be loyal to the interests of Jehovah and these successfully anointed Joash to be the next king.
Let us make a “covenant with the King” (v.3) that the King’s Son shall reign in our hearts and that our flesh may be reckoned as dead as the wicked queen at the horse gate (v.15), yea verily as dead to sin as was our Lord Jesus on Golgotha.
II Chronicles 24:22 He Looked and He Required
I sincerely wish that such a great story as was begun in our last chapter (23) did not have to end on such a sorry note, but such things occur often in the Old Testament and remind us that these were but men and when the source of their strength dried up which was outward and lacked the heart penetration such as comes to us in the deep work of the Holy Spirit in our present dispensation, they failed big time.
Jehoida was a great influence in the life of the young king and in all the days wherein the priest instructed him (II K.12:2) things went well. The repair of the LORD’s house which Athaliah had left in shambles (v.7) was certainly a good work.
Death reigns in these pages of history and the time came for Jehoida to “go the way of all flesh.” It was a sad day for the nation and how quickly the depravity of man was felt (v.18). It is difficult to imagine the ingratitude of Joash when at his commandment the voice of conscience in the person of Zechariah, Jehoida’s son, was stilled by an unjust stoning in the very court of the LORD.
Somehow this faithful prophet managed to use his dying breath to speak the words recorded here in verse 22 “The LORD look upon it and require it.” Though the Hebrew word here is usually translated “seek”or “enquire,” there is one place where the words “diligent inquisition” are used and it is in a significant passage which I suggest you might read, viz. Deut.19:16-21 for certainly the innocent blood spilled here needed Jehovah’s diligent inquisition and even as this passage closes with the words “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” so did His enquiry into this case result in a terrible judgement upon Joash. God delivered a great host of his soldiers into the hands of a small company of Syrians, he suffered “great diseases,” his own servants conspired against him and slew him in his bed and they buried him not in the sepulcher of the kings. This was all because the LORD did look upon what he had done and wrought the required justice of the law.
Isn’t it a thing to be wondered at that we do not receive what we deserve but that Jesus bore it all (I Peter 2:24)!
II Chronicles 25:9 He is Able
Verse 25 of this chapter is what I call a “bookend.” Bookends help to keep the books straight and things in order. By examining them carefully and comparing figures we learn that for a period of two years there were two kings named Joash reigning at that same time, one in Judah and the other in Israel (II K.14:1). (The northern king Joash was also referred to as Jehoash – compare II K.13:10 &12, much the same as Joshua was also called Jehoshua). Reading the account of this same period in II Kings 13 & 14 plus referring to the devotionals on those chapters will help in getting the historic picture.
Here we have an interesting story about how a nameless prophet talked the king (Amaziah) out of a compromising situation. He had hired 100,000 soldiers of the apostate northern kingdom (Israel) supposing that such a force would greatly enhance his own army of 300,000 “choice men” (5 & 6). The faithful prophet warned him that if he used this means of compromise he would lose the battle because Jehovah was not with those Ephramites.
Amaziah lamented about the loss of the vast sum with which he had hired these troops but the prophet reminded him that his strength lay in obeying God Who, he said, “ hath power to help or cast down.” Anyway, the prophet told him, “the LORD is able to give thee much more than this.”
Being thus dismissed, the mercenaries were exceedingly angry and took out their wrath on several cities, ravaging and spoiling them (v.13). In this it was clearly apparent that they had no heart for a godly cause.
Later, it might even be such an incident as this that would motivate Zerubbabel to deny the “adversaries” the privilege of helping God’s people build the temple, a decision with much the same result (Ezra 4:1-3).
A “mixed multitude” (Num.11:4) is never an asset and we must always remember to obey II Cor.6:17 if we want our Father’s blessing.
It is upon such stories as the one found in this chapter and such Scripture as referred to here that the clear Biblical doctrine of separation is based.
II Chronicles 26:1 King Uzziah
As indicated when writing on the passage relating to Uzziah in II Kings, the material there (15:1-7) about this king of Judah is amazingly brief but here we find an entire chapter dedicated to his story.
One outstanding fact about him is that he began his reign as a teenager (16) and reigned longer than either Saul, David, or Solomon, a period of 52 years.
Some other interesting points are these: both his mother and the preceding king’s mother (Ahaziah) were ladies who lived in Jerusalem (v.3); both he and his father were acknowledged as doing some good though they both failed God in their latter days; and both were ministered to by faithful prophets. It is interesting that the prophet in this story is named Zechariah which is the same name as Jehoida the faithful high priest’s son who had been killed by Uzziah’s grandfather Joash. Of course, neither of these are the writing prophet Zechariah who wrote in the post-exilic period 300 years later.
Another prophet whose name is associated with Uzziah is that of Isaiah, who came on the scene near the end of his reign. You will recall the familiar words “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isa.6:1).
Unfortunately, Uzziah is best known by the fact that, though he accomplished many good things and “as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper, once he became strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction” for he trespassed upon the priest’s office and as a result became a leper until the day of his death.
While we must avoid the sin of pride, I think one of the most important lessons to learn from all of these kings is the sad dispensational truth that they did not have what God has graciously given us, the very life of our Lord Jesus indwelling our bodies. We have been made both kings and priests. He helps us marvelously until we are strong, true, but we have His strength yea, His very life, which sadly, they never had in perpetuity. Praise Him for your position in Christ!
II Chronicles 27:1 Jotham (Jehovah is Perfect)
Little is really known about this king. There is but a brief notice of him in I Kings 15:32-38 whereas here a whole chapter, though short, is assigned to him. It is said that he was well named for in the Hebrew, Jotham means “Jehovah is perfect.” Specifically it is pointed out here (v.2) that he embraced the good in his father’s example but avoided Uzziah’s particular sin of intruding into the priest’s office.
We note the fact that in spite of the good leadership of the king and obviously the great influence of several prophets (Isaiah 1:1: Hosea 1:1 and Micah 1:1) who ministered during Jotham’s reign, the majority of the people were bent on their path of corruption. It will not be long before that compulsion will lead them into captivity in Babylon.
As is indicated in the previous chapter, Jotham was thrust into the position of helping his leprous father in ruling the nation (26:21). We are not told how long this lasted, but one commentator, Lighfoot, believes that Uzziah’s condition occurred near the end of his reign.
Have you wondered, as I have, at the frequency of parental failure in the lives of so many of the kings? We shall see it again in our next chapter as we view the story of Ahaz. We are happy to see Jotham turning out better than most, however, but saddened at his failure to provide a better influence upon his son. This is another great blessing and difference for which we are grateful in our present dispensation, that is, the consistency of godly families among Christian leaders. So many missionaries and Christian workers come from families where parents have been enabled to pass along their vision to the next generation.
We are thankful for verse six in today’s text. Perhaps true to his name Jotham believed that Jehovah was perfect and that it was through exalting Him that he “became mighty.” He directed or established his ways acknowledging Jehovah as his God. “As for God, His way is perfect” (Ps.18:30) and as for us, our way had better be or else! (Matthew 5:48)
II Chronicles 28:19 Judah, Brought Low and Made Naked
How, oh how shall we handle such a chapter as we now have before us? The wickedness of this man, Ahaz, stands out the more in bold relief because of the goodness of Jehovah that bore testimony against him within his family. Certainly at twenty years of age, when he began to reign, he must have been somewhat aware of the godly example of his father Jotham who had become mighty because “he prepared his ways before the LORD his God” (27:6). Having a grandfather who had become a leper as a direct judgement by Jehovah is no small factor, we would think. Furthermore, his wife Abijah, apparently the daughter of the man (Zechariah) who had exerted such influence on his grandfather, obviously now was involved in the spiritual training of their son, Hezekiah. This latter individual who will occupy the next four chapters of II Chronicles and who from the very first month of his reign after his father’s death began to clean up the spiritual chaos he left behind surely must have, at twenty- five, been some kind of testimony to his wicked dad.
So, it was certainly in spite of family influences that Ahaz “made Judah naked and transgressed sore against the LORD” (v.19). But not only this, think of the external evidence. It was to Ahaz that the prophet Isaiah was sent (Isa.7:3-16) with the good news that his enemies the Syrians and the northern Israeli apostates would both be destroyed and proof of this would be the birth of Immanuel (7:14). (Take time to study this passage.)
Finally, added to everything else, the significant ministry of the prophet Obed in being the instrument God would use to bring about the return of 200,000 women and children plus much spoil, was spectacular to say the least (vs.9-15)!
If you go back to II Kings 16 and read the devotional you will see something of the evil influence of the false priest Urijah. One bad apple can cause a great deal of damage! Those who walk in the counsel of the ungodly are like so much chaff which the wind driveth away. Ahaz, unfortunately, illustrates the chaff– but let us persevere we shall soon be in the presence of a tree planted by the river of God - and we shall soon forget him who was unworthy to be buried in the “sepulchers of the kings”
II Chronicles 29:5 Filthiness in The Holy Place
We have reached a high point in Scripture, perhaps though seeming higher than it actually was in view of the depth of depravity the southern kingdom, Judah, had reached under their recently deceased king, Ahaz.
Like a breath of fresh air the coming into power of Hezekiah brings a revival atmosphere. G. Campbell Morgan says of him that “among all the reformers he was perhaps the most remarkable.” He agrees that the human instrumentality for this may have been his mother, Abi. Edersheim (Bible History) on this chapter says, “In general, the sacred text describes Hezekiah as unequaled in religious earnestness and in conformity to the Divine law by any even of the pious kings that had preceded, or who succeeded him.”
We have commented already when in I Kings 18 where three chapters are devoted to his story that it was unusual that there is so little mention of this great revival which here takes up three of the four chapters dedicated to Hezekiah’s reign. We suspect that this is due to the Holy Spirit’s superintendence.
The revival is well worth studying as a pattern that reveals God’s way of working whether in a nation, the Church or even in the life of a believer. I think perhaps the greatest reason why revivals such as were periodically the norm in churches in the early 1800's are no longer a part of our thinking today is because of the lack of concern about filthiness in the Holy Place (v.5). Oh that a leader like this man might appear somewhere in this world to direct such a movement as occurred at this time in Judah!
Television is the Ahaz of our day. The leadership tends to be negligent (v.11) and idolatry (31:1) is rampant.
What great joy there was when there was yieldedness (30:8). The song of the LORD will be a different sound than is heard coming from many churches, I’m afraid (v.27). Blessed are they which do hunger....
II Chronicles 30:5 As It Was Written
The account of the revival under King Hezekiah is continued in this chapter with details regarding the keeping of the Passover feast, the like of which had not been held in Jerusalem since the time of Solomon (v.26).
Usually the Passover was held in the first month but when special circumstances prevailed, it was permissible to postpone it (Num.9:11) which they did because, due to the suddenness (29:36), the priests were not sufficiently prepared.
An invitation was despatched to all of the tribes despite the schism that prevailed between Judah and the northern kingdom. Some responded but most scornfully rejected Hezekiah’s magnanimity (v.10).
Jerusalem was polluted with false altars where, during the reign of Ahaz, incense had been offered. These were destroyed and cast into the town ditch (Kidron - Trapp). Day by day there was loud music by which the LORD was praised and everyone was having such a good time they decided to go seven days longer than the time prescribed (v.23). Hezekiah was very involved, encouraging (v.22), admonishing (v.8), praying (v.18) and providing (v.24) in order that everything be done correctly.
Certain key words and phrases scattered throughout this chapter make it real special in a devotional sense. Things were done as written. Those who had been estranged from the worship of Jehovah humbled themselves when they were admonished to yield themselves unto the LORD and “enter into his sanctuary.” In Judah the hand of God gave them one heart.
Because of Hezekiah’s leadership and example the Levites who “taught the good knowledge of the LORD” made confession and the priests in great number sanctified themselves. There was gladness and great joy in Jerusalem and prayer came up to God’s holy dwelling even unto heaven! A formula for success.
II Chronicles 31:1 “Brake the Images in Pieces”
We are told that in England prior to the Great Evangelical Awakening a lady needed to be escorted on the streets of London by two men each carrying weapons. After the revival she could walk safely alone. Things change when God comes down in power! In Wales the miners had to get new mules to work in the coal mines because the old ones wouldn’t work without being cursed at. During the Reformation the walls of the great Canterbury Cathedral were whitewashed to destroy the Roman Catholic emphasis and throughout Europe religious artifacts were defaced or destroyed.
Is such an iconoclastic spirit pleasing to God? Would it have been better to preserve the idols as a part of history? Apparently, as our present chapter indicates, the participants in the great revival under Hezekiah didn’t think so. In fact, along with the works he did personally which was “right in the sight of the LORD” (II Kings 18:4), he destroyed an ancient artifact that had figured prominently in Israel’s religious history, the brazen serpent (Num.21:9) for the “children of Israel did burn incense to it.” Actually, this aspect of the revival was about all the author of Kings saw fit to mention.
It was a refreshing result of the spiritual awaking under Hezekiah that the people zealously followed his example and instead of going everywhere preaching the gospel as later the church was instructed to do, they went everywhere destroying images, cutting down groves and throwing down altars and we can’t help but believe that Jehovah was highly pleased with their actions.
In I Thess. 1:9 the new converts turned to God from idols. Have we also not torn a few idols from our hearts and cast them away in glorious victory? Yes, yes, as Vondel would say.
II Chronicles 32:8 Resting in Him Who Fights our Battles
Do you remember when Elisha’s young servant was assured of the fact that the forces of righteousness far outweighed those of the wicked one which at Dothan were arrayed against the prophet? In that story (II K. 6:16) it was clearly revealed how real those forces were whereas here we are merely reminded that “there be more with us than with him.” The visible “arm of flesh” was extremely formidable, of this there is no doubt. Sennacharib and the whole Assyrian army was certainly a force to be reckoned with as is indicated in the threats leveled against Israel at this time but Hezekiah’s comfortable words assured the people and especially the captains of war (v.6) that Jehovah would fight their battles.
There we were actually given a glimpse of the “horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” and in the companion verses to our present chapter (II K.19:35 & Isaiah 37:36) we are treated to a demonstration of how true were his words as we revel in the mighty power of the angel of the LORD! We might also think of that great day when Jehoshaphat led Israel into battle (II Chr.20:17- 30).
Surely as believers today we can take great comfort in knowing that God has “laid help on One Who is mighty” (Ps.89:19) and He gives us the same assurance that He will also fight our battles. Let us rest in these words as the people rested in those of Hezekiah’s (v.8). See also Psalm 37:7.
Sadly we must close our few days of enjoyment that we have spent thinking about the goodness (v.32) of King Hezekiah by focusing briefly on his failures, which were serious. The fact that they are mentioned in holy writ testifies to the divine origin of our wonderful record, praise God! Like so many of the more godly kings, Hezekiah succumbed to pride but thankfully he repented (vs.25 & 26). Also, don’t miss the fact of how Jehovah tried his heart in “the business of the ambassadors” from Babylon. It is in the matter of biblical separation that we too will be tried. May we not fail.
II Chronicles 33:12 He Humbled Himself
May I suggest, if you have a copy, that you refer to the devotional on Manassah in II Kings 21. In that passage nothing was mentioned about his repentance which obviously was a dramatic event to say the least.
Since Manassah’s father Hezekiah was granted a fifteen year extension of life in answer to his prayer (Isa.38:5), this also resulted in the opportunity for this one to be born about whom it has often been thought that it might have been better if he had never seen the light of day. Had he been as an “infant which never saw light,” it would have meant that one more wicked person in this old world of sin would not have added to its trouble (Job 4:16 & 17). This wicked king seduced Israel to do more wickedly than the nations which God had destroyed before them when He brought them into Canaan (I Kings 21:9).
On the other hand, who can gainsay Jehovah by suggesting for a moment that His ways are not perfect (Ps.18:30). As certainly as Rahab, who too was a repentant sinner, the name of Manassah must appear in the record of the Messiah’s birth (Matt.1:10) along with his godly father and his godless son.
The psalmist made the statement,“before I was afflicted I went astray” (Ps.119:67), a circumstance that has been the case of many a repentant sinner. In this instance, God’s dealings with Manassah proved successful and how grateful we are to find these words in this gloomy chapter and of such a ghastly character, that “he humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (v.12).
We have read of so many of the kings who started well but ended poorly that we are greatly blessed to read of this one of whom the reverse is true! He prayed, he cast away the idols and altars to false gods, he repaired and sacrificed on the altar of the LORD. What sweet words are these against such a backdrop!
And where would you and I be today apart from God’s amazing grace? Where, oh where....?
II Chronicles 34:25 “They Have Forsaken Me”
Edersheim in his Bible History suggests that what takes place here is not a revival as such among the people but rather an awakening of the conscience of the king. It was different in Hezekiah’s reforms for there the people were much more involved (31:1). Later, as we shall see in our next chapter, there was certainly wide participation in the great Passover feast (35:18) but it does seem that, beginning during the twelfth year of his reign, the reforms were primarily carried out by Josiah himself (v.3).
It was in the thirteenth year of young Josiah’s reign that Jeremiah the prophet was called to serve (Jer.1:2) though Jehovah had earlier set him apart for this task even before his birth (v.5).
Huldah, the faithful prophetess, bore witness as did Jeremiah that the people had certainly forsaken the LORD (v.25) and as he said, it was as if they had chosen empty and broken cisterns in preference to Him Who was, in comparison, a Fountain of living water (running water). This was what, in effect, brought the fulfillment of the curses that were threatened in the book of the law which was so recently found in the temple. It is Edersheim who also suggests that it was probably hidden there by pious hands during the recent declension under Manassah and his son Amon.
When Josiah heard those profound curses from Deut.28:45 and following, he was shaken and well he might be, for destruction of the nation was clearly foretold. (Note how many times the word destroyed is used in 20 verses.)
As the last of the chapter here indicates there was considerable repentance on the part of the people, but it was not enough to long forestall the destruction that was so soon to come (36:17).
America needs to rediscover the Book, but it may also be too late.
II Chronicles 35:3 “The Levites That Taught”
The Levites were special people and they make me think of the pastors that the Lord has given to the church. Here it is said that they “taught all Israel” and as such their function was certainly very much like our pastors that are teaching us. We should be very thankful for them and should hold them up in prayer constantly.
We will do them a disservice, however, if we exalt them too highly for they are not called to be better than others. Here it is said of them that they “were holy unto the LORD.” The word holy speaks of being “set apart”, in other words it refers to their calling. It is clear that God wants all of His people to be like Him whatever the dispensation in which we find ourselves (I Peter 1:16). In this sense it means morally pure (unmixed with evil).
Having said that, we must not minimize the fact that each of us is instructed “to bear our own burden” (responsibility - Gal.6:5), and a pastor has a great responsibility that has been given to him by his Lord. We note this especially in Paul’s words to Timothy as he instructs him to be “an example of the believers” (I Tim. 4:12-16). He is given as a gift to the church as a pastor-teacher with the responsibility to perfect the saint “til we all come....” (Eph.4:13).
Prophetically, it was spoken of Levi (Deut.33:8-11) that he would need to put his family second as he taught Israel to pray and yield to Jehovah (incense and burnt sacrifice on the altar). Let us not rise against him lest we be smitten through the loins. Can we apply this? Dare we not?
Pray for your pastor - perhaps in the words of Malachi spoken of Levi (2:6), that the law of truth be in his mouth, that he would walk with God in peace and equity and that he would turn many away from iniquity.
Think of him as “the messenger of the LORD of hosts” (v.7).
II Chronicles 36:21 “Until The Land Had Enjoyed Her Sabbaths”
To get a more complete picture of what is happening to the southern kingdom of Judah at this time, one should read the last two chapters of II Kings. Jehovah had a plan to use the nation Babylon to chastise His people and as we have seen in the previous chapter, even as good as Josiah was, he was not allowed to interfere but rather lost his life because he couldn’t accept that God would speak to him through the heathen king Pharoah-necho (35:22).
This chapter is a bridge that is over seventy years long. It spans all the way from the reign of Josiah to the events that we will soon read about in the book of Ezra. Strangely, Josiah’s two sons Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim reigned 3 months and eleven years respectively and so did his two grandsons Jehoichin and Zedekiah, give or take a few days.
Eventually Nebuchadnezzar carried Judah “away out of their land” (II Kings 25:21) and completely destroyed Jerusalem along with Solomon’s fabulous temple, taking vast amounts of treasure to Babylon. Though there was no king like Josiah “who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul” (II Kings 23:25) and though there was never a Passover like he kept (II Chron.35:18) “the wrath of the LORD arose against his people til there was no remedy” (v.16) and did so primarily due to the sins of Manassah and the innocent blood he shed “which the LORD would not pardon” (II K.24:3 &4 and Jer.15:4).
There is another important factor relating to the Babylonian Captivity that we must not overlook. We see it in verse twenty- one. God had been keeping track of all the Sabbaths Israel had stolen from Him over the last 490 years and they equaled a total of 70. So He caused Jeremiah to prophesy a 70 year captivity (Jer.25:12) and it is this that Daniel read about (Dan.9:2) which started him praying (v.3) and which started God answering by stirring up the Persian king Cyrus to make his important proclamation.
“As for God, His way is perfect” (Ps.18:30). His timing too!