TODAY’S READING: II CHRONICLES 32-36
OVERVIEW: Assyria invades Judah; Hezekiah’s death; Manasseh’s reign; Amon’s reign; Josiah’s reign; the Book of the Law is found; the reigns of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah; the fall of Jerusalem; Judah is taken into Babylonian captivity; the decree of Cyrus to rebuild the Temple.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Our closing commentary concerning Hezekiah in yesterday’s reading was, “What a guy!” That is further reiterated in today’s reading. The character of Hezekiah made manifest through the incredible decisions and reforms he made during his reign was a rare commodity in the kings of Judah and Israel. As we have seen with every king, however, God allowed each of them to be tested. In chapter 32, Hezekiah faces a major test as he gets word that Sennacherib, the wicked king of Assyria, with his ferocious army “purposed to fight against Jerusalem” (32:2). When faced with similar dilemmas, so many other kings we have read about resorted to the arm of the flesh for help, and/or contracting the help of pagan kings and nations. Note the incredible surrender of Hezekiah to the Lordship of Jehovah, and his absolute confidence and complete trust in the Lord’s strength for victory in the battle. My, my, my, do we 21st century Christians need to learn from Hezekiah’s example! When fac!
ed with the threat of Sennacherib’s army, Hezekiah didn’t freak out, or kick into panic mode in any way! Rather, he spoke “comfortably” to the people of Judah, saying, “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” (32:7-8a). Wow! What strength! What faith! What dependence! What trust! And notice the response of the people: “And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (32:8b).
Note also that this great demonstration of faith didn’t cause Satan (i.e. Sennacherib) to roll over or shut up. Actually, it caused him to run his blasphemous mouth even more! He sought to intimidate the people saying, “Yeah, yeah, all the other countries that I’ve humiliated and obliterated thought their god was going to deliver them out of my hand too, and you see where it got them! And you’re going to be no different!”
Verses 9-18 of chapter 32 let us know that Satan (i.e. Sennacherib) used every opportunity and available means to continuously seek to destroy the people’s confidence in Hezekiah’s leadership and Jehovah’s lordship. But he was barking up the wrong tree! I love verse 19: “And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man.” Sennacherib was successful in defeating those gods, because they were man-made gods. Now he was coming against the God who made man! Hezekiah and Isaiah join their hearts together in prayer to THAT God, and the rest is history! God turned loose an angel, and buddy, that was it! The battle was over just that quick. Verse 21 says that loudmouth Sennacherib “returned with shame of face to his own land.” (For those of you who are acquainted with Asian and Middle Eastern culture, you understand that that “shamed face” thing is monumental!) It was so monumental that when h!
e did get home, his own sons slew him with their swords (32:31)!
Hezekiah is faced with another test (32:24-26), and briefly allows his pride to cause him to sin against God. In great Romans 7 fashion, however, he immediately humbles himself before the Lord.
After his death, his son Manasseh comes to the throne. His reign was even more wicked than that of Ahaz, if you can imagine! He gets the prize for not only having the longest reign in Judah (55 years), but for having the most evil reign! The list of sins he was involved in and led the people into is horrendous (33:3-8). Verse 9 of chapter 33 takes the cake! It says, “So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, (and catch this!!!) and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.” For those who have a family member/co-worker/neighbor, etc. that you can think is just too far gone to ever turn to God, let the remainder of Manasseh’s story in chapter 33 fill you with hope and revive your prayers for them!
A great revival takes place in chapter 34 under the reign of one of the greatest kings, Josiah. Time and space will not allow to highlight this incredible young man, but read chapter 34 slowly and carefully taking note of a guy who was doing the best he could with what he knew of the Lord, and then watch what happens when he gets the Word of God in his hands (and ears!). Excuse the grammar, but may he be we! Note what is said of him in II Kings 23:25!
The last four kings of Judah – Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, were all evil, and led the nation spiraling downward to its disastrous end morally, politically, and spiritually. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and his army finally break through the north wall of Judah, killing anyone and everyone in sight, regardless of their age (36:17). They remove all of the vessels out of the Temple, break down the walls of the city, and burn the Temple to the ground (36:18-19). Those who weren’t killed in the massacre were taken into captivity (they would remain there for 70 years).
While in captivity, Babylon was conquered by Persia, which led to the great proclamation of Cyrus, their king in 36:22-23.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
Through the messengers of God who were rejected by His people – II Chron. 36:15-16 (Isa. 53:3; John 1:11; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 20:17).