Good Morning, Siblings! I just LOVE reading the Word with my brothers and sisters. Isn’t the Father so good to bring us all together like this?
Today’s readings are 2 Chronicles 32-34
We begin our reading today with setting up to stage an attack on Jerusalem. King Hezekiah sets the model of leadership here. He keeps His focus and sets about fortifying the city and encouraging His people to remain strong and steadfast in their faith that YHWH will deliver them.
6 And he set combat commanders over the people and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke encouragingly to them, saying, 7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 32:6-8
Thousands of years later, that statement emboldens and encourages me!
The King of Assyria Blasphemes YHWH
The King of Assyria no doubt understood that the strength of Israel rested in their unwavering faith in YHWH. Now listen, anytime the world sees our unwavering faith, this shakes them. It disturbs their demons. The logical thing would be for them to dig deeper into the source of our hope and to reach for that for themselves. But when folks lean on their own understanding, wisdom eludes them and so, inevitably, they set out to try to weaken our faith. That is important for you to know – the world is actively trying to weaken your faith. They will chip away at it bit by bit using whatever tools they deem the most effective. This is an inescapable fact. And so we simply must be working with the Father each day because while they chip away with pick axes, He has entire construction crews building a fortress around us! For those who find their strength in YHWH, He will always build up faster than the world can tear down.
Now in this case, YHWH and Hezekiah had already been at work building the people up. So when Sennacherib came at them with these statements, they did not waver. Sennacherib’s strategically lobbed arrows of blasphemy would inevitably turn and pierce his own armor.
12 Has not this same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, “Before one altar you shall worship, and on it you shall burn your sacrifices”? 13 Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to deliver their lands out of my hand? 14 Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? 15 Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!’”
16 And his servants said still more against the Lord God and against his servant Hezekiah. 17 And he wrote letters to cast contempt on the Lord, the God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, “Like the gods of the nations of the lands who have not delivered their people from my hands, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver his people from my hand.” 2 Chronicles 32:12-17
Summary : We’ve defeated people who had tons of gods and none of them could save them, now you think this one God is going to be able to save you from us!
But here is the key sentence to all of this and this is what the people knew that Sennacherib did not:
And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men’s hands. 2 Chronicles 32:19
The Assyrians did not know who they spoke of. But YHWH’s people did.
And now we have the “then” part of an “if/then” relationship taking place. This “then” statement, begins with “So” and the “So” is in response to the faithfulness of Hezekiah and his people.
22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. -2 Chronicles 32:22
2 Chronicles 33 brings us Manasseh’s actively leading his people astray (2 Chronicles 33:9) even after he had been instructed to be careful to keep all of God’s wonderful teachings and statutes (2 Chronicles 33:8).
It is always bad for anyone to lead someone astray from God’s teachings but for a leader, there is even greater responsibility and punishment for doing so.
This brings to mind what our Messiah said in Matthew 5:19 with regards to the commandments: “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Let’s camp here a minute. The least of the commandments. Let us focus on the ten. Which do you consider not quite as important as others? If you felt shock that I would even ask that question, welcome to the club. However, that is exactly how we treat them today – as multiple choice. And we, in our own wisdom, determine some to be more or less important than others. So either way you fall on that, Messiah is condemning whoever relaxes what we consider to be the least of the commandments – and teaches others to do the same. Teaches – that is an active verb, it is not passive. It is intentional. How do we do that? How do we teach people to relax the commandments? By our example. Often, by our very words.
“We don’t have to do that anymore…”
“That’s not how we do it nowadays…”
“Our church does it this way instead…”
Y’all, I’ve been told all of these, and this one, too: “I know that God says we have to do that but I talked to a Pastor and he said we didn’t have to…” I actually have that statement in my email inbox. I’ll never forget reading that line. And seriously, we can always find someone to tell us what we want to hear if we ask enough people. You’ll find a way or you’ll find an excuse.
And then this: I am YHWH. I do not change. Malachi 3:6
That statement is seared into my soul. It is an assurance, a promise, a foundation we can always rely on. How many times have we heard that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever? And yet, we act as if He has changed.
I am YHWH. I do not change.
(Again, please don’t take a verse. At the very least go read before and after the verse I just shared but even better, read the whole chapter. Whenever someone gives you a verse, take a chapter)
So now we have Manasseh actively teaching his people to go against the commandments of God. Now we know what Messiah thinks about that. I’m sure we can guess what the Father thinks of it.
However, we see a wonderful rarity in 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 when Manasseh humbles himself and repents of his lifetime of sin. So often in our readings, we’ve read about people who served God and fumbled it in the end game, at the end of their lives (such as Solomon), so it is very encouraging to see someone step up to the plate in their end game and repent, turning to obey YHWH instead.
Still, we have to be ever mindful of what a great man of God Solomon was earlier in his life and how badly he fell in the end. We must be mindful that we are certainly no better than he was and are just as, if not more, susceptible to going astray as he was. We have to constantly be seeking the Father, praying for and giving thanks for the blessing of His correction and His loving teachings and statutes that teach us how to live according to His wisdom.
Y’all, if you’ve read the Bible all the way through before you probably feel the joy in your soul at the prospect of reading about Josiah, just as we did with Hezekiah.
Let’s read 2 Chronicles 34:1-2 together:
34 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
I want you to think back on how many times we’ve read this statement made about a king and how many times we’ve read the opposite of this statement being said about a king.
Now, imagine that is your name in the text. Make it something like this:
<Your name> was _ years old when he/she came to follow YHWH. And he/she did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David, and did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Y’all, that is the sentence I want my name to be found in.
You’ll note that Josiah was 8 years old when he became king. No doubt he had guardians training him and making decisions in his place until he was of age. However, note what happens when he is sixteen. 2 Chronicles 34:3 tells us “For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father…” What happened immediately after that? He took action to remove all that didn’t honor YHWH.
Now here is the thing, at this point, the book of the law (Torah) had been lost. Josiah was seeking after YHWH to the best of his ability with the knowledge that he had available to him. And once he knew better, he did better…
2 Chronicles 34:19-21 shows us the book of the law (the Torah) being found. (the Hebrew on interlinear tells us the word being used is Torah, the first five books of the Bible). It is read to Josiah and he immediately recognizes that they have not been living according to YHWH’s law and he sets about repenting. Now, in our time, many others in this situation would say “Oh but we’ve done it this way our whole lives, it’s good enough.” But Josiah responded differently. 2 Chronicles 34:27 tells us that his heart was tender towards the Father and he humbled himself when he realized he and his people were in the wrong. He then set about doing better.
Y’all, this is my story. I feel such a kinship to Josiah. I had a heart for the Father from a young age. I loved Him, I truly did. I set about to follow Him to the best of my ability. I did what everyone told me was the “right” thing to do. I did the best I could. And then I discovered the whole book, realized how much I had missed, humbled myself, and He took my hand. Every step has been taken in His grace.
31 And the king stood in his place 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 his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. 2 Chronicles 34:31
This is my covenant, too.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!