April 29, 2007
II Kings 23-25
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- And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Bethel.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.
- Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, 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.
- 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.
- 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 Bethel.
- 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.
- 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 Bethel.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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;
- But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
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- In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him.
- And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets.
- Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;
- And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon.
- Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
- So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.
- And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.
- Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
- And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.
- At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.
- And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it.
- And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.
- And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said.
- And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.
- And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.
- And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.
- And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
- Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
- And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.
- For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
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- And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.
- And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
- And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land.
- And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king's garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain.
- And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him.
- So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him.
- And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.
- And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
- And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire.
- And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.
- Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away.
- But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.
- And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the LORD, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.
- And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.
- And the firepans, and the bowls, and such things as were of gold, in gold, and of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away.
- The two pillars, one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of the LORD; the brass of all these vessels was without weight.
- The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the chapiter upon it was brass: and the height of the chapiter three cubits; and the wreathen work, and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work.
- And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:
- And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the king's presence, which were found in the city, and the principal scribe of the host, which mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city:
- And Nebuzaradan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah:
- And the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land.
- And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler.
- And when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, there came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Careah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.
- And Gedaliah sware to them, and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon; and it shall be well with you.
- But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah.
- And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldees.
- And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
- And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;
- And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.
- And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.
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Thought for the day:
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II Kings 22:8 Hilkiah the high priest discovered the Book of the Law while repairs were being done to the House of the Lord. He brought the Book to Josiah the king. Josiah, having read the Words of the Covenant that God had established with His people Israel, rent his clothes and set out to find exactly what it was that God wanted them to do. He realized both the sinfulness of the land, and also the punishment that God had said that He would inflict upon those who rebelled against Him. In response to Josiah's godly sorrow, the Lord said,
"Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard [thee]," (
II Kings 22:19).
The first lesson that we learn here is the importance of confession. As soon as Josiah clearly saw the sinfulness of his land, he repented of it. Even as king, he was willing to humble himself before the Lord in a public display of his unworthiness. The end result of this was that God promised to bless Josiah in spite of the wickedness of the nation as a whole. Even when others do wrong, we must choose to do right. I may not be responsible for everyone else's actions, but I can be accountable for my own. Often we fail to follow the Lord's directives because it seems that no one else is willing to do so, and we question whether it is worth it for us to step out alone. After all, what can one man accomplish by himself? Yet God promised that he would spare Josiah from the chastening that was going to plague Judah because he humbled himself. Don't make spiritual decisions based upon what others may or may not do. Simply do what God says.
When we come to
chapter 23, we see Josiah as he dealt with the nation concerning their collective sinfulness. He gathered the elders of the nation together, and they in turn brought all the inhabitants of Judah up to the Temple. When they arrived, Josiah read to them everything that was contained in the book of the covenant. Here we see the authority that Josiah used to bring about spiritual change. He did not do it with his own eloquence; he did it with the Word of God. How vital it is that we remember that we have no strength within ourselves. Our talents and words are ineffective without the power of the Lord.
Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that it is the Word of God that is "quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword".
Romans 10:17 tells us that "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." If the Scriptures can not produce appropriate behavior, nothing can.
After reading the covenant, Josiah makes his own covenant. He determined that he, and those he governed, would
"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."
This is the proper response to the Word of God. Once we know what it says, we must determine that we will put it into action, and that we will then attempt to get those who follow us to obey it as well. Josiah does not follow the philosophy of "do as I say, not as I do". He publicly repents, and he publicly commits himself to God, and he publicly challenges Judah to join with him. The Scriptures record that they did follow him in the covenant. Then, the entire nation performs what the Lord had asked them to do. Idols were destroyed and the high places were knocked down. False priests were executed. The sodomites were removed. Even the bones of pagan leaders were exhumed and burned. Having removed the wicked things, Josiah begins to institute righteous things such as the passover feast. For having removed evil and exalted good, the Bible says of Josiah,
"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 (vs. 25).
There is one sad note to this entire passage. In
verse 26 the Bible states,
"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."
Great changes were made, but it was too late. God honors repentance, yet the law of sowing and reaping still exists in the Scriptures. God blessed Josiah, and he did not bear the wrath of God. But Judah, which had for so long followed paganism and ignored God, was going to have to suffer the consequences for their past decisions. May we never get into the predicament that Judah did. When we sin, we need to confess and repent immediately so that God will not be forced to deal with us harshly as He did with them.
Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery