Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
French Countryside near Bannalec

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 28, 2 Kgs 20-22

Today's readings are 2 Kings 20-22.

Although 2 Kgs 20 follows, 2 Kings 20:1-11 occurs immediately before God supernaturally delivers Jerusalem from Sennacherib, king of Assyria in 2 Kgs 19. It is the key to why Hezekiah, king of Judah, turns to the Lord for help when the attack occurs (Isaiah’s chapters 36-38 show the chronology).

Hezekiah becomes ill, and Isaiah tells him he is going to die. When Hezekiah cries out to the Lord, God shows grace and gives him another fifteen years of life (2 Kgs 20:6). Hezekiah learns a valuable lesson in this; he can trust God with his life. In just a short while, this will encourage him to trust God with the fate of his city and his people.

The victory goes to Hezekiah's head. He brags to the envoys the king of Babylon sends, showing them the riches of his treasury and the temple (2 Kgs 20:12-13). Apparently, even godly kings can become victims of their own pride! Now, the Babylonians are acutely aware of the riches of Israel! Isaiah tells Hezekiah this was a mistake. While God has promised peace to Hezekiah for his remaining days, his sons will pay the price for his pride. They and the treasures shown to the Babylonians will be carried away to Babylon (2 Kgs 20:14-18). Hezekiah’s response is enigmatic. It may well be that he hears good news and bad in Isaiah’s prophecy. The good news is that he will have a son and there will be peace as long as Isaiah lives. The bad news is that Isaiah knows when he will die (in fifteen years) and after he’s gone, his son will be taken into captivity.

How often have we seen this scenario where the sins of one man have a long-term effect on those around him and those that come after him?

2 Kings 21:1-9 picks up with the reign of Manasseh, Hezekiah's son. Manasseh is an evil king, doing evil and leading the people into idolatry. God sends prophets to condemn Manasseh and warn the people. Of course, Hezekiah was warned by Isaiah well ahead of time as well, but Manasseh is well-deserving of the condemnation Isaiah’s prophecy held (2 Kgs 21:10-18).

Amon is the next king, another evil one. He is assassinated, and his son Josiah takes his place (2 Kgs 21:19-26).

Judah's slide has begun. Hezekiah, a good and godly king, fell victim to his own pride. Isaiah prophesied that there would be long-term consequences for his stumble. God remains faithful to the promise He gave Hezekiah but those who follow him turn against God and begin to do evil.

Hezekiah could easily have assumed there were no consequences for his sin merely because he did not immediately suffer any. The word of God told him differently. Nonetheless, Hezekiah did not repent. As a matter of fact, he took the position of "If it doesn't harm me, it doesn't matter." Read 2 Kings 20:19 carefully. Hezekiah has already learned that contrite repentance will bring God's grace. But he doesn't repent. Apparently, he has become self-absorbed and seems to lack compassion on those who will follow him.

Seeing the long-term impact Hezekiah's sin has should teach us two lessons.
1.  Even the best and most godly of us should be diligent to avoid becoming victims of our own pride.
2. We should never take God's grace for granted nor think that because the consequences of sin are not immediate, there are none.

In 2 Kings 22:1-2, Josiah takes over after evil king Amon dies. Josiah is a good king. But, the word of God has been so neglected most people in the kingdom have not heard it. It is found and read, and King Josiah mourns that the Jews have not been faithful (2 Kgs 22;3-11). God uses a woman, Huldah, to prophecy to Josiah (2 Kings 22:12-20). She tells him God will judge the people but will have mercy on King Josiah for his humble and godly nature. 

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