Consider the life you live…Consider the example you are setting…Consider the message your life speaks…Consider the direction you are pointing yourself and those who will follow after you…
How will your life impact others? What impact will your life make on others? Who will you point in the right direction so that even after you are gone, they won’t be lost and won’t be heading the wrong way?
The key is to make Jesus known! The key is to point people to Him so that they are able to know where to go and where to turn! The key is that God is their priority and they are developing a relationship with Him!
It matters and it makes a difference!
Consider what happens when people aren’t pointed in the right direction or when they are and the impact not only on a person, but on a nation…
King Ahaziah of Judah(2 Kings 8.25-29; 9.21-28)
1Some Arabs had led a raid and killed all of King Jehoram’s sons except Ahaziah, the youngest. So now the people of Jerusalem made Ahaziah king as his father’s successor. 2-3Ahaziah became king at the age of twenty-two, and he ruled in Jerusalem for one year. Ahaziah also followed the example of King Ahab’s family, since his mother Athaliah—the daughter of King Ahab and granddaughter of King Omri of Israel—gave him advice that led him into evil. 4He sinned against the Lord, because after his father’s death other members of King Ahab’s family became his advisers, and they led to his downfall. 5Following their advice, he joined King Joram of Israel in a war against King Hazael of Syria. The armies clashed at Ramoth in Gilead, and Joram was wounded in battle. 6He returned to the city of Jezreel to recover from his wounds, and Ahaziah went there to visit him. 7God used this visit to Joram to bring about Ahaziah’s downfall. While Ahaziah was there, he and Joram were confronted by a man named Jehu son of Nimshi, whom the Lord had chosen to destroy the dynasty of Ahab. 8As Jehu was carrying out God’s sentence on the dynasty, he came across a group made up of Judean leaders and of Ahaziah’s nephews that had accompanied Ahaziah on his visit. Jehu killed them all. 9A search was made for Ahaziah, and he was found hiding in Samaria. They took him to Jehu and put him to death. But they did bury his body out of respect for his grandfather King Jehoshaphat, who had done all he could to serve the Lord. No member of Ahaziah’s family was left who could rule the kingdom.
Queen Athaliah of Judah(2 Kings 11.1-3)
10As soon as King Ahaziah’s mother Athaliah learned of her son’s murder, she gave orders for all the members of the royal family of Judah to be killed. 11Ahaziah had a half sister, Jehosheba, who was married to a priest named Jehoiada. She secretly rescued one of Ahaziah’s sons, Joash, took him away from the other princes who were about to be murdered and hid him and a nurse in a bedroom at the Temple. By keeping him hidden, she saved him from death at the hands of Athaliah. 12For six years he remained there in hiding, while Athaliah ruled as queen.–from 2 Chronicles 22
The Revolt against Athaliah(2 Kings 11.4-16)
1After waiting six years Jehoiada the priest decided that it was time to take action. He made a pact with five army officers: Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zichri. 2They traveled to all the cities of Judah and brought back with them to Jerusalem the Levites and all the heads of the clans. 3They all gathered in the Temple, and there they made a covenant with Joash, the king’s son. Jehoiada said to them, “Here is the son of the late king. He is now to be king, as the Lord promised that King David’s descendants would be. 4This is what we will do. When the priests and Levites come on duty on the Sabbath, one third of them will guard the Temple gates, 5another third will guard the royal palace, and the rest will be stationed at the Foundation Gate. All the people will assemble in the Temple courtyard. 6No one is to enter the Temple buildings except the priests and the Levites who are on duty. They may enter, because they are consecrated, but the rest of the people must obey the Lord’s instructions and stay outside. 7The Levites are to stand guard around the king, with their swords drawn, and are to stay with the king wherever he goes. Anyone who tries to enter the Temple is to be killed.” 8The Levites and the people of Judah carried out Jehoiada’s instructions. The men were not dismissed when they went off duty on the Sabbath, so the commanders had available both those coming on duty and those going off. 9Jehoiada gave the officers the spears and shields that had belonged to King David and had been kept in the Temple. 10He stationed the men with drawn swords all around the front of the Temple, to protect the king. 11Then Jehoiada led Joash out, placed the crown on his head, and gave him a copy of the laws governing kingship. And so he was made king. Jehoiada the priest and his sons anointed Joash, and everyone shouted, “Long live the king!” 12Athaliah heard the people cheering for the king, so she hurried to the Temple, where the crowd had gathered. 13There she saw the new king at the Temple entrance, standing by the column reserved for kings and surrounded by the army officers and the trumpeters. All the people were shouting joyfully and blowing trumpets, and the Temple musicians with their instruments were leading the celebration. She tore her clothes in distress and shouted, “Treason! Treason!” 14Jehoiada did not want Athaliah killed in the Temple area, so he called out the army officers and said, “Take her out between the rows of guards, and kill anyone who tries to rescue her.” 15They seized her, took her to the palace, and there at the Horse Gate they killed her.
Jehoiada’s Reforms(2 Kings 11.17-20)
16The priest Jehoiada had King Joash and the people join him in making a covenant that they would be the Lord’s people. 17Then they all went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols there and killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, in front of the altars. 18Jehoiada put the priests and Levites in charge of the work of the Temple. They were to carry out the duties assigned to them by King David and to burn the sacrifices offered to the Lord in accordance with the Law of Moses. They were also in charge of the music and the celebrations. 19Jehoiada also put guards on duty at the Temple gates to keep out anyone who was ritually unclean. 20The army officers, the leading citizens, the officials, and all the rest of the people joined Jehoiada in a procession that brought the king from the Temple to the palace. They entered by the main gate, and the king took his place on the throne. 21All the people were filled with happiness, and the city was quiet, now that Athaliah had been killed.–from 2 Chronicles 23
King Joash of Judah(2 Kings 12.1-16)
1Joash became king of Judah at the age of seven, and he ruled in Jerusalem for forty years. His mother was Zibiah from the city of Beersheba. 2He did what was pleasing to the Lord as long as Jehoiada the priest was alive. 3Jehoiada chose two wives for King Joash, and they bore him sons and daughters. 4After he had been king for a while, Joash decided to have the Temple repaired. 5He ordered the priests and the Levites to go to the cities of Judah and collect from all the people enough money to make the annual repairs on the Temple. He told them to act promptly, but the Levites delayed, 6 so he called in Jehoiada, their leader, and demanded, “Why haven’t you seen to it that the Levites collect from Judah and Jerusalem the tax which Moses, the servant of the Lord, required the people to pay for support of the Tent of the Lord’s presence?” ( 7The followers of Athaliah, that corrupt woman, had damaged the Temple and had used many of the sacred objects in the worship of Baal.) 8The king ordered the Levites to make a box for contributions and to place it at the Temple gate. 9They sent word throughout Jerusalem and Judah for everyone to bring to the Lord the tax which Moses, God’s servant, had first collected in the wilderness. 10This pleased the people and their leaders, and they brought their tax money and filled the box with it. 11Every day the Levites would take the box to the royal official who was in charge of it. Whenever it was full, the royal secretary and the High Priest’s representative would take the money out and return the box to its place. And so they collected a large sum of money. 12The king and Jehoiada would give the money to those who were in charge of repairing the Temple, and they hired stonemasons, carpenters, and metalworkers to make the repairs. 13All of them worked hard, and they restored the Temple to its original condition, as solid as ever. 14When the repairs were finished, the remaining gold and silver was given to the king and Jehoiada, who used it to have bowls and other utensils made for the Temple.
Jehoiada’s Policies Are ReversedAs long as Jehoiada was alive, sacrifices were offered regularly at the Temple. 15After reaching the very old age of a hundred and thirty, he died. 16They buried him in the royal tombs in David’s City in recognition of the service he had done for the people of Israel, for God, and for the Temple. 17But once Jehoiada was dead, the leaders of Judah persuaded King Joash to listen to them instead. 18And so the people stopped worshiping in the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and began to worship idols and the images of the goddess Asherah. Their guilt for these sins brought the Lord’s anger on Judah and Jerusalem. 19The Lord sent prophets to warn them to return to him, but the people refused to listen. 20 Then the spirit of God took control of Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood where the people could see him and called out, “The Lord God asks why you have disobeyed his commands and are bringing disaster on yourselves! You abandoned him, so he has abandoned you!” 21King Joash joined in a conspiracy against Zechariah, and on the king’s orders the people stoned Zechariah in the Temple courtyard. 22The king forgot about the loyal service that Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had given him, and he had Zechariah killed. As Zechariah was dying, he called out, “May the Lord see what you are doing and punish you!”
The End of Joash’s Reign23When autumn came that year, the Syrian army attacked Judah and Jerusalem, killed all the leaders, and took large amounts of loot back to Damascus. 24The Syrian army was small, but the Lord let them defeat a much larger Judean army because the people had abandoned him, the Lord God of their ancestors. In this way King Joash was punished. 25He was severely wounded, and when the enemy withdrew, two of his officials plotted against him and killed him in his bed to avenge the murder of the son of Jehoiada the priest. He was buried in David’s City, but not in the royal tombs. ( 26Those who plotted against him were Zabad, the son of an Ammonite woman named Shimeath, and Jehozabad, the son of a Moabite woman named Shimrith.) 27The Commentary on the Book of Kings contains the stories of the sons of Joash, the prophecies spoken against him, and the record of how he rebuilt the Temple. His son Amaziah succeeded him as king.–from 2 Chronicles 24
King Amaziah of Judah(2 Kings 14.2-6)
1Amaziah became king at the age of twenty-five, and he ruled in Jerusalem for twenty-nine years. His mother was Jehoaddin from Jerusalem. 2He did what was pleasing to the Lord, but did it reluctantly. 3As soon as he was firmly in power, he executed the officials who had murdered his father. 4 He did not, however, execute their children, but followed what the Lord had commanded in the Law of Moses: “Parents are not to be put to death for crimes committed by their children, and children are not to be put to death for crimes committed by their parents; people are to be put to death only for crimes they themselves have committed.”
War against Edom(2 Kings 14.7)
5King Amaziah organized all the men of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin into army units, according to the clans they belonged to, and placed officers in command of units of a thousand and units of a hundred. This included all men twenty years of age or older, 300,000 in all. They were picked troops, ready for battle, skilled in using spears and shields. 6In addition, he hired 100,000 soldiers from Israel at a cost of about four tons of silver. 7But a prophet went to the king and said to him, “Don’t take these Israelite soldiers with you. The Lord is not with these people from the Northern Kingdom. 8You may think that they will make you stronger in battle, but it is God who has the power to give victory or defeat, and he will let your enemies defeat you.” 9Amaziah asked the prophet, “But what about all that silver I have already paid for them?” The prophet replied, “The Lord can give you back more than that!” 10So Amaziah sent the hired troops away and told them to go home. At this they went home, bitterly angry with the people of Judah. 11Amaziah summoned up his courage and led his army to Salt Valley. There they fought and killed ten thousand Edomite soldiers 12and captured another ten thousand. They took the prisoners to the top of the cliff at the city of Sela and threw them off, so that they were killed on the rocks below. 13Meanwhile the Israelite soldiers that Amaziah had not allowed to go into battle with him attacked the Judean cities between Samaria and Beth Horon, killed three thousand men, and captured quantities of loot. 14When Amaziah returned from defeating the Edomites, he brought their idols back with him, set them up, worshiped them, and burned incense to them. 15This made the Lord angry, so he sent a prophet to Amaziah. The prophet demanded, “Why have you worshiped foreign gods that could not even save their own people from your power?” 16“Since when,” Amaziah interrupted, “have we made you adviser to the king? Stop talking, or I’ll have you killed!” The prophet stopped, but not before saying, “Now I know that God has decided to destroy you because you have done all this and have ignored my advice.”
War against Israel(2 Kings 14.8-20)
17King Amaziah of Judah and his advisers plotted against Israel. He then sent a message to King Jehoash of Israel, who was the son of Jehoahaz and grandson of Jehu, challenging him to fight. 18Jehoash sent this answer to Amaziah: “Once a thorn bush in the Lebanon Mountains sent a message to a cedar: ‘Give your daughter in marriage to my son.’ A wild animal passed by and trampled the bush down. 19Now Amaziah, you boast that you have defeated the Edomites, but I advise you to stay at home. Why stir up trouble that will only bring disaster on you and your people?” 20But Amaziah refused to listen. It was God’s will for Amaziah to be defeated, because he had worshiped the Edomite idols. 21So King Jehoash of Israel went into battle against King Amaziah of Judah. They met at Beth Shemesh in Judah, 22the Judean army was defeated, and the soldiers fled to their homes. 23Jehoash captured Amaziah and took him to Jerusalem. There he tore down the city wall from Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate, a distance of two hundred yards. 24He took back to Samaria as loot all the gold and silver in the Temple, the Temple equipment guarded by the descendants of Obed Edom, and the palace treasures. He also took hostages with him. 25King Amaziah of Judah outlived King Jehoash of Israel by fifteen years. 26All the other things that Amaziah did from the beginning to the end of his reign are recorded in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27Ever since the time when he rebelled against the Lord, there had been a plot against him in Jerusalem. Finally he fled to the city of Lachish, but his enemies followed him there and killed him. 28His body was carried to Jerusalem on a horse, and he was buried in the royal tombs in David’s City.–from 2 Chronicles 25
King Uzziah of Judah(2 Kings 14.21, 22; 15.1-7)1All the people of Judah chose Amaziah’s sixteen-year-old son Uzziah to succeed his father as king. ( 2It was after the death of Amaziah that Uzziah recaptured Elath and rebuilt the city.) 3Uzziah became king at the age of sixteen, and he ruled in Jerusalem for fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. 4Following the example of his father, he did what was pleasing to the Lord. 5As long as Zechariah, his religious adviser, was living, he served the Lord faithfully, and God blessed him. 6Uzziah went to war against the Philistines. He tore down the walls of the cities of Gath, Jamnia, and Ashdod, and built fortified cities near Ashdod and in the rest of Philistia. 7God helped him defeat the Philistines, the Arabs living at Gurbaal, and the Meunites. 8The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and he became so powerful that his fame spread even to Egypt. 9Uzziah strengthened the fortifications of Jerusalem by building towers at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and where the wall turned. 10He also built fortified towers in the open country and dug many cisterns, because he had large herds of livestock in the western foothills and plains. Because he loved farming, he encouraged the people to plant vineyards in the hill country and to farm the fertile land. 11He had a large army ready for battle. Its records were kept by his secretaries Jeiel and Maaseiah under the supervision of Hananiah, a member of the king’s staff. 12The army was commanded by 2,600 officers. 13Under them were 307,500 soldiers able to fight effectively for the king against his enemies. 14Uzziah supplied the army with shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and arrows, and stones for slinging. 15In Jerusalem his inventors made equipment for shooting arrows and for throwing large stones from the towers and corners of the city wall. His fame spread everywhere, and he became very powerful because of the help he received from God.
Uzziah Is Punished for His Pride16But when King Uzziah became strong, he grew arrogant, and that led to his downfall. He defied the Lord his God by going into the Temple to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17Azariah the priest, accompanied by eighty strong and courageous priests, followed the king 18 to resist him. They said, “Uzziah! You have no right to burn incense to the Lord. Only the priests who are descended from Aaron have been consecrated to do this. Leave this holy place. You have offended the Lord God, and you no longer have his blessing.” 19Uzziah was standing there in the Temple beside the incense altar and was holding an incense burner. He became angry with the priests, and immediately a dreaded skin disease broke out on his forehead. 20Azariah and the other priests stared at the king’s forehead in horror and then forced him to leave the Temple. He hurried to get out, because the Lord had punished him. 21For the rest of his life King Uzziah was ritually unclean because of his disease. Unable to enter the Temple again, he lived in his own house, relieved of all duties, while his son Jotham governed the country. 22The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz recorded all the other things that King Uzziah did during his reign. 23 Uzziah died and was buried in the royal burial ground, but because of his disease he was not buried in the royal tombs. His son Jotham succeeded him as king.–from 2 Chronicles 26
King Jotham of Judah(2 Kings 15.32-38)
1Jotham became king at the age of twenty-five, and he ruled in Jerusalem for sixteen years. His mother was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok. 2He did what was pleasing to the Lord, just as his father had done; but unlike his father he did not sin by burning incense in the Temple. The people, however, went on sinning. 3It was Jotham who built the North Gate of the Temple and did extensive work on the city wall in the area of Jerusalem called Ophel. 4In the mountains of Judah he built cities, and in the forests he built forts and towers. 5He fought against the king of Ammon and his army and defeated them. Then he forced the Ammonites to pay him the following tribute each year for three years: four tons of silver, fifty thousand bushels of wheat, and fifty thousand bushels of barley. 6Jotham grew powerful because he faithfully obeyed the Lord his God. 7The other events of Jotham’s reign, his wars, and his policies, are all recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah. 8Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he ruled in Jerusalem for sixteen years. 9He died and was buried in David’s City and his son Ahaz succeeded him as king.–from 2 Chronicles 27
King Ahaz of Judah(2 Kings 16.1-4)
1Ahaz became king at the age of twenty, and he ruled in Jerusalem for sixteen years. He did not follow the good example of his ancestor King David; instead, he did what was not pleasing to the Lord 2and followed the example of the kings of Israel. He had metal images of Baal made, 3burned incense in Hinnom Valley, and even sacrificed his own sons as burnt offerings to idols, imitating the disgusting practice of the people whom the Lord had driven out of the land as the Israelites advanced. 4At the pagan places of worship, on the hills, and under every shady tree Ahaz offered sacrifices and burned incense.
War with Syria and Israel(2 Kings 16.5)
5-6 Because King Ahaz sinned, the Lord his God let the king of Syria defeat him and take a large number of Judeans back to Damascus as prisoners. The Lord also let the king of Israel, Pekah son of Remaliah, defeat Ahaz and kill 120,000 of the bravest Judean soldiers in one day. The Lord, the God of their ancestors, permitted this to happen, because the people of Judah had abandoned him. 7An Israelite soldier named Zichri killed King Ahaz’ son Maaseiah, the palace administrator Azrikam, and Elkanah, who was second in command to the king. 8Even though the Judeans were their own relatives, the Israelite army captured 200,000 women and children as prisoners and took them back to Samaria, along with large amounts of loot.
The Prophet Oded9A man named Oded, a prophet of the Lord, lived in the city of Samaria. He met the returning Israelite army with its Judean prisoners as it was about to enter the city, and he said, “The Lord God of your ancestors was angry with Judah and let you defeat them, but now he has heard of the vicious way you slaughtered them. 10And now you intend to make the men and women of Jerusalem and Judah your slaves. Don’t you know that you also have committed sins against the Lord your God? 11Listen to me! These prisoners are your brothers and sisters. Let them go, or the Lord will punish you in his anger.” 12Four of the leading men of the Northern Kingdom, Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai also opposed the actions of the army. 13They said, “Don’t bring those prisoners here! We have already sinned against the Lord and made him angry enough to punish us. Now you want to do something that will increase our guilt.” 14So then the army handed the prisoners and the loot over to the people and their leaders, 15and the four men were appointed to provide the prisoners with clothing from the captured loot. They gave them clothes and sandals to wear, gave them enough to eat and drink, and put olive oil on their wounds. Those who were too weak to walk were put on donkeys, and all the prisoners were taken back to Judean territory at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then the Israelites returned home to Samaria.
Ahaz Asks Assyria for Help(2 Kings 16.7-9)
16-17The Edomites began to raid Judah again and captured many prisoners, so King Ahaz asked Tiglath Pileser, the emperor of Assyria, to send help. 18At this same time the Philistines were raiding the towns in the western foothills and in southern Judah. They captured the cities of Beth Shemesh, Aijalon, and Gederoth, and the cities of Soco, Timnah, and Gimzo with their villages, and settled there permanently. 19Because King Ahaz of Judah had violated the rights of his people and had defied the Lord, the Lord brought troubles on Judah. 20The Assyrian emperor, instead of helping Ahaz, opposed him and caused him trouble. 21So Ahaz took the gold from the Temple, the palace, and the homes of the leaders of the people, and gave it to the emperor, but even this did not help.
The Sins of Ahaz22When his troubles were at their worst, that man Ahaz sinned against the Lord more than ever. 23He offered sacrifices to the gods of the Syrians, who had defeated him. He said, “The Syrian gods helped the kings of Syria, so if I sacrifice to them, they may help me too.” This brought disaster on him and on his nation. 24In addition, he took all the Temple equipment and broke it in pieces. He closed the Temple and set up altars in every part of Jerusalem. 25In every city and town in Judah he built pagan places of worship, where incense was to be burned to foreign gods. In this way he brought on himself the anger of the Lord, the God of his ancestors. 26All the other events of his reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27 King Ahaz died and was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal tombs. His son Hezekiah succeeded him as king.–from 2 Chronicles 28
King Hezekiah of Judah(2 Kings 18.1-3)1Hezekiah became king of Judah at the age of twenty-five, and he ruled in Jerusalem for twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. 2Following the example of his ancestor King David, he did what was pleasing to the Lord.
The Purification of the Temple3In the first month of the year after Hezekiah became king, he reopened the gates of the Temple and had them repaired. 4He assembled a group of priests and Levites in the east courtyard of the Temple 5and spoke to them there. He said, “You Levites are to consecrate yourselves and purify the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove from the Temple everything that defiles it. 6Our ancestors were unfaithful to the Lord our God and did what was displeasing to him. They abandoned him and turned their backs on the place where he dwells. 7They closed the doors of the Temple, let the lamps go out, and failed to burn incense or offer burnt offerings in the Temple of the God of Israel. 8Because of this the Lord has been angry with Judah and Jerusalem, and what he has done to them has shocked and frightened everyone. You know this very well. 9Our fathers were killed in battle, and our wives and children have been taken away as prisoners. 10“I have now decided to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that he will no longer be angry with us. 11My sons, do not lose any time. You are the ones that the Lord has chosen to burn incense to him and to lead the people in worshiping him.” 12-14The following Levites were there: From the clan of Kohath, Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah From the clan of Merari, Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel From the clan of Gershon, Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah From the clan of Elizaphan, Shimri and Jeuel From the clan of Asaph, Zechariah and Mattaniah From the clan of Heman, Jehuel and Shimei From the clan of Jeduthun, Shemaiah and Uzziel 15These men assembled their fellow Levites, and they all made themselves ritually clean. Then, as the king had commanded them to do, they began to make the Temple ritually clean, according to the Law of the Lord. 16The priests went inside the Temple to purify it, and they carried out into the Temple courtyard everything that was ritually unclean. From there the Levites took it all outside the city to Kidron Valley. 17The work was begun on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day they had finished it all, including the entrance room to the Temple. Then they worked for the next eight days, until the sixteenth of the month, preparing the Temple for worship.
The Temple Is Rededicated18The Levites made the following report to King Hezekiah: “We have completed the ritual purification of the whole Temple, including the altar for burnt offerings, the table for the sacred bread, and all their equipment. 19We have also brought back all the equipment which King Ahaz took away during those years he was unfaithful to God, and we have rededicated it. It is all in front of the Lord’s altar.” 20Without delay King Hezekiah assembled the leading men of the city, and together they went to the Temple. 21As an offering to take away the sins of the royal family and of the people of Judah and to purify the Temple, they took seven bulls, seven sheep, seven lambs, and seven goats. The king told the priests, who were descendants of Aaron, to offer the animals as sacrifices on the altar. 22The priests killed the bulls first, then the sheep, and then the lambs, and sprinkled the blood of each sacrifice on the altar. 23Finally they took the goats to the king and to the other worshipers, who laid their hands on them. 24Then the priests killed the goats and poured their blood on the altar as a sacrifice to take away the sin of all the people, for the king had commanded that burnt offerings and sin offerings be made for all Israel. 25The king followed the instructions that the Lord had given to King David through Gad, the king’s prophet, and through the prophet Nathan; he stationed Levites in the Temple, with harps and cymbals, 26instruments like those that King David had used. The priests also stood there with trumpets. 27Hezekiah gave the order for the burnt offering to be presented; and as the offering began, the people sang praise to the Lord, and the musicians began to play the trumpets and all the other instruments. 28Everyone who was there joined in worship, and the singing and the rest of the music continued until all the sacrifices had been burned. 29Then King Hezekiah and all the people knelt down and worshiped God. 30The king and the leaders of the nation told the Levites to sing to the Lord the songs of praise that were written by David and by Asaph the prophet. So everyone sang with great joy as they knelt and worshiped God. 31Hezekiah said to the people, “Now that you are ritually clean, bring sacrifices as offerings of thanksgiving to the Lord.” They obeyed, and some of them also voluntarily brought animals to be sacrificed as burnt offerings. 32They brought 70 bulls, 100 sheep, and 200 lambs as burnt offerings for the Lord; 33they also brought 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep as sacrifices for the people to eat. 34Since there were not enough priests to kill all these animals, the Levites helped them until the work was finished. By then more priests had made themselves ritually clean. (The Levites were more faithful in keeping ritually clean than the priests were.) 35In addition to offering the sacrifices that were burned whole, the priests were responsible for burning the fat that was offered from the sacrifices which the people ate, and for pouring out the wine that was presented with the burnt offerings. And so worship in the Temple was begun again. 36King Hezekiah and the people were happy, because God had helped them to do all this so quickly.–from 2 Chronicles 29
Preparations for Passover1-3 The people had not been able to celebrate the Passover Festival at the proper time in the first month, because not enough priests were ritually clean and not many people had assembled in Jerusalem. So King Hezekiah, his officials, and the people of Jerusalem agreed to celebrate it in the second month, and the king sent word to all the people of Israel and Judah. He took special care to send letters to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover in honor of the Lord, the God of Israel. 4The king and the people were pleased with their plan, 5so they invited all the Israelites, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, to come together in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover according to the Law, in larger numbers than ever before. 6Messengers went out at the command of the king and his officials through all Judah and Israel with the following invitation: “People of Israel, you have survived the Assyrian conquest of the land. Now return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he will return to you. 7Do not be like your ancestors and your Israelite relatives who were unfaithful to the Lord their God. As you can see, he punished them severely. 8Do not be stubborn as they were, but obey the Lord. Come to the Temple in Jerusalem, which the Lord your God has made holy forever, and worship him so that he will no longer be angry with you. 9If you return to the Lord, then those who have taken your relatives away as prisoners will take pity on them and let them come back home. The Lord your God is kind and merciful, and if you return to him, he will accept you.” 10The messengers went to every city in the territory of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far north as the tribe of Zebulun, but people laughed at them and made fun of them. 11Still, there were some from the tribes of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun who were willing to come to Jerusalem. 12God was also at work in Judah and united the people in their determination to obey his will by following the commands of the king and his officials.
Passover Is Celebrated13A great number of people gathered in Jerusalem in the second month to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 14They took all the altars that had been used in Jerusalem for offering sacrifices and burning incense and threw them into Kidron Valley. 15And on the fourteenth day of the month they killed the lambs for the Passover sacrifice. The priests and Levites who were not ritually clean became so ashamed that they dedicated themselves to the Lord, and now they could sacrifice burnt offerings in the Temple. 16They took their places in the Temple according to the instructions in the Law of Moses, the man of God. The Levites gave the blood of the sacrifices to the priests, who sprinkled it on the altar. 17Because many of the people were not ritually clean, they could not kill the Passover lambs, so the Levites did it for them and dedicated the lambs to the Lord. 18In addition, many of those who had come from the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not performed the ritual of purification, and so they were observing Passover improperly. King Hezekiah offered this prayer for them: 19“O Lord, the God of our ancestors, in your goodness forgive those who are worshiping you with all their heart, even though they are not ritually clean.” 20The Lord answered Hezekiah’s prayer; he forgave the people and did not harm them. 21For seven days the people who had gathered in Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread with great joy, and day after day the Levites and the priests praised the Lord with all their strength. 22Hezekiah praised the Levites for their skill in conducting the worship of the Lord.
A Second CelebrationAfter the seven days during which they offered sacrifices in praise of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, 23they all decided to celebrate for another seven days. So they celebrated with joy. 24King Hezekiah contributed 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for the people to kill and eat, and the officials gave them another 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. A large number of priests went through the ritual of purification. 25So everyone was happy—the people of Judah, the priests, the Levites, the people who had come from the north, and the foreigners who had settled permanently in Israel and Judah. 26The city of Jerusalem was filled with joy, because nothing like this had happened since the days of King Solomon, the son of David. 27The priests and the Levites asked the Lord’s blessing on the people. In his home in heaven God heard their prayers and accepted them.–from 2 Chronicles 30
Hezekiah Reforms Religious Life1After the festival ended, all the people of Israel went to every city in Judah and broke the stone pillars, cut down the symbols of the goddess Asherah, and destroyed the altars and the pagan places of worship. They did the same thing throughout the rest of Judah, and the territories of Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh; then they all returned home. 2King Hezekiah reestablished the organization of the priests and Levites, under which they each had specific duties. These included offering the burnt offerings and the fellowship offerings, taking part in the Temple worship, and giving praise and thanks in the various parts of the Temple. 3 From his own flocks and herds he provided animals for the burnt offerings each morning and evening, and for those offered on the Sabbath, at the New Moon Festival, and at the other festivals which are required by the Law of the Lord. 4 In addition, the king told the people of Jerusalem to bring the offerings to which the priests and the Levites were entitled, so that they could give all their time to the requirements of the Law of the Lord. 5As soon as the order was given, the people of Israel brought gifts of their finest grain, wine, olive oil, honey, and other farm produce, and they also brought the tithes of everything they had. 6All the people who lived in the cities of Judah brought tithes of their cattle and sheep, and they also brought large quantities of gifts which they dedicated to the Lord their God. 7The gifts started arriving in the third month and continued to pile up for the next four months. 8When King Hezekiah and his officials saw how much had been given, they praised the Lord and praised his people Israel. 9The king spoke to the priests and the Levites about these gifts, 10and Azariah the High Priest, a descendant of Zadok, said to him, “Since the people started bringing their gifts to the Temple, there has been enough to eat and a large surplus besides. We have all this because the Lord has blessed his people.” 11On the king’s orders they prepared storerooms in the Temple area 12and put all the gifts and tithes in them for safekeeping. They placed a Levite named Conaniah in charge and made his brother Shimei his assistant. 13Ten Levites were assigned to work under them: Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah. All this was done under the authority of King Hezekiah and Azariah the High Priest. 14Kore son of Imnah, a Levite who was chief guard at the East Gate of the Temple, was in charge of receiving the gifts offered to the Lord and of distributing them. 15In the other cities where priests lived, he was faithfully assisted in this by other Levites: Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah. They distributed the food equally to their fellow Levites according to what their duties were, 16and not by clans. They gave a share to all males thirty years of age or older who had daily responsibilities in the Temple in accordance with their positions. 17The priests were assigned their duties by clans, and the Levites twenty years of age or older were assigned theirs by work groups. 18They were all registered together with their wives, children, and other dependents, because they were required to be ready to perform their sacred duties at any time. 19Among the priests who lived in the cities assigned to Aaron’s descendants or in the pasture lands belonging to these cities, there were responsible men who distributed the food to all the males in the priestly families and to everyone who was on the rolls of the Levite clans. 20Throughout all Judah, King Hezekiah did what was right and what was pleasing to the Lord his God. 21He was successful, because everything he did for the Temple or in observance of the Law, he did in a spirit of complete loyalty and devotion to his God.–from 2 Chronicles 31
The Assyrians Threaten Jerusalem(2 Kings 18.13-37; 19.14-19, 35-37; Isaiah 36.1-22; 37.8-38)
1After these events, in which King Hezekiah served the Lord faithfully, Sennacherib, the emperor of Assyria, invaded Judah. He besieged the fortified cities and gave orders for his army to break their way through the walls. 2When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib intended to attack Jerusalem also, 3-4he and his officials decided to cut off the supply of water outside the city in order to keep the Assyrians from having any water when they got near Jerusalem. The officials led a large number of people out and stopped up all the springs, so that no more water flowed out of them. 5The king strengthened the city’s defenses by repairing the wall, building towers on it, and building an outer wall. In addition, he repaired the defenses built on the land that was filled in on the east side of the old part of Jerusalem. He also had a large number of spears and shields made. 6He placed all the men in the city under the command of army officers and had them assemble in the open square at the city gate. He said to them, 7“Be determined and confident, and don’t be afraid of the Assyrian emperor or of the army he is leading. We have more power on our side than he has on his. 8He has human power, but we have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” The people were encouraged by these words of their king. 9Some time later, while Sennacherib and his army were still at Lachish, he sent the following message to Hezekiah and the people of Judah who were with him in Jerusalem: 10“I, Sennacherib, Emperor of Assyria, ask what gives you people the confidence to remain in Jerusalem under siege. 11Hezekiah tells you that the Lord your God will save you from our power, but Hezekiah is deceiving you and will let you die of hunger and thirst. 12He is the one who destroyed the Lord’s shrines and altars and then told the people of Judah and Jerusalem to worship and burn incense at one altar only. 13Don’t you know what my ancestors and I have done to the people of other nations? Did the gods of any other nation save their people from the emperor of Assyria? 14When did any of the gods of all those countries ever save their country from us? Then what makes you think that your god can save you? 15Now don’t let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you like that. Don’t believe him! No god of any nation has ever been able to save his people from any Assyrian emperor. So certainly this god of yours can’t save you!” 16The Assyrian officials said even worse things about the Lord God and Hezekiah, the Lord’s servant. 17The letter that the emperor wrote defied the Lord, the God of Israel. It said, “The gods of the nations have not saved their people from my power, and neither will Hezekiah’s god save his people from me.” 18The officials shouted this in Hebrew in order to frighten and discourage the people of Jerusalem who were on the city wall, so that it would be easier to capture the city. 19They talked about the God of Jerusalem in the same way that they talked about the gods of the other peoples, idols made by human hands. 20Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz prayed to God and cried out to him for help. 21The Lord sent an angel that killed the soldiers and officers of the Assyrian army. So the emperor went back to Assyria disgraced. One day when he was in the temple of his god, some of his sons killed him with their swords. 22In this way the Lord rescued King Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the power of Sennacherib, the emperor of Assyria, and also from their other enemies. He let the people live in peace with all the neighboring countries. 23Many people came to Jerusalem, bringing offerings to the Lord and gifts to Hezekiah, so that from then on all the nations held Hezekiah in honor.
Hezekiah’s Illness and Pride(2 Kings 20.1-3, 12-19; Isaiah 38.1-3; 39.1-8)
24About this time King Hezekiah became sick and almost died. He prayed, and the Lord gave him a sign that he would recover. 25But Hezekiah was too proud to show gratitude for what the Lord had done for him, and Judah and Jerusalem suffered for it. 26Finally, however, Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem humbled themselves, and so the Lord did not punish the people until after Hezekiah’s death.
Hezekiah’s Wealth and Splendor27King Hezekiah became very wealthy, and everyone held him in honor. He had storerooms built for his gold, silver, precious stones, spices, shields, and other valuable objects. 28In addition, he had storehouses built for his grain, wine, and olive oil; barns for his cattle; and pens for his sheep. 29Besides all this, God gave him sheep and cattle and so much other wealth that he built many cities. 30It was King Hezekiah who blocked the outlet for Gihon Spring and channeled the water to flow through a tunnel to a point inside the walls of Jerusalem. Hezekiah succeeded in everything he did, 31and even when the Babylonian ambassadors came to inquire about the unusual event that had happened in the land, God let Hezekiah go his own way only in order to test his character.
The End of Hezekiah’s Reign(2 Kings 20.20, 21)
32Everything else that King Hezekiah did and his devotion to the Lord are recorded in The Vision of the Prophet Isaiah Son of Amoz and in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 33Hezekiah died and was buried in the upper section of the royal tombs. All the people of Judah and Jerusalem paid him great honor at his death. His son Manasseh succeeded him as king.–from 2 Chronicles 32
King Manasseh of Judah(2 Kings 21.1-9)
1Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled in Jerusalem for fifty-five years. 2 Following the disgusting practices of the nations whom the Lord had driven out of the land as his people advanced, Manasseh sinned against the Lord. 3He rebuilt the pagan places of worship that his father Hezekiah had destroyed. He built altars for the worship of Baal, made images of the goddess Asherah, and worshiped the stars. 4 He built pagan altars in the Temple, the place that the Lord had said was where he should be worshiped forever. 5In the two courtyards of the Temple he built altars for the worship of the stars. 6He sacrificed his sons in Hinnom Valley as burnt offerings. He practiced divination and magic and consulted fortunetellers and mediums. He sinned greatly against the Lord and stirred up his anger. 7 He placed an image in the Temple, the place about which God had said to David and his son Solomon: “Here in Jerusalem, in this Temple, is the place that I have chosen out of all the territory of the twelve tribes of Israel as the place where I am to be worshiped. 8And if the people of Israel will obey all my commands and keep the whole Law that my servant Moses gave them, then I will not allow them to be driven out of the land that I gave to their ancestors.” 9Manasseh led the people of Judah to commit even greater sins than those committed by the nations whom the Lord had driven out of the land as his people advanced.
Manasseh Repents10Although the Lord warned Manasseh and his people, they refused to listen. 11So the Lord let the commanders of the Assyrian army invade Judah. They captured Manasseh, stuck hooks in him, put him in chains, and took him to Babylon. 12In his suffering he became humble, turned to the Lord his God, and begged him for help. 13God accepted Manasseh’s prayer and answered it by letting him go back to Jerusalem and rule again. This convinced Manasseh that the Lord was God. 14After this, Manasseh increased the height of the outer wall on the east side of David’s City, from a point in the valley near Gihon Spring north to the Fish Gate and the area of the city called Ophel. He also stationed an army officer in command of a unit of troops in each of the fortified cities of Judah. 15He removed from the Temple the foreign gods and the image that he had placed there, and the pagan altars that were on the hill where the Temple stood and in other places in Jerusalem; he took all these things outside the city and threw them away. 16He also repaired the altar where the Lord was worshiped, and he sacrificed fellowship offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He commanded all the people of Judah to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. 17Although the people continued to offer sacrifices at other places of worship, they offered them only to the Lord.
The End of Manasseh’s Reign(2 Kings 21.17, 18)
18Everything else that Manasseh did, the prayer he made to his God, and the messages of the prophets who spoke to him in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, are all recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel. 19The king’s prayer and God’s answer to it, and an account of the sins he committed before he repented—the evil he did, the pagan places of worship and the symbols of the goddess Asherah that he made and the idols that he worshiped—are all recorded in The History of the Prophets. 20Manasseh died and was buried at the palace, and his son Amon succeeded him as king.
King Amon of Judah(2 Kings 21.19-26)
21Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled in Jerusalem for two years. 22Like his father Manasseh, he sinned against the Lord, and he worshiped the idols that his father had worshiped. 23But unlike his father, he did not become humble and turn to the Lord; he was even more sinful than his father had been. 24Amon’s officials plotted against him and assassinated him in the palace. 25The people of Judah killed Amon’s assassins and made his son Josiah king.–from 2 Chronicles 33