July 19, 2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48

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18 In the third year of Israel’s King Hoshea son of Elah, Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi[a] daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the high places, shattered the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for until then the Israelites were burning incense to it. It was called Nehushtan.[b]

Hezekiah relied on the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. He remained faithful to the Lord and did not turn from following him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses.

The Lord was with him, and wherever he went he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its borders, from watchtower to fortified city.

Review of Israel’s Fall

In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Israel’s King Hoshea son of Elah, Assyria’s King Shalmaneser marched against Samaria and besieged it. 10 The Assyrians captured it at the end of three years. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Israel’s King Hoshea, Samaria was captured. 11 The king of Assyria deported the Israelites to Assyria and put them in Halah, along the Habor (Gozan’s river), and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not listen to the Lord their God but violated his covenant—all he had commanded Moses the servant of the Lord. They did not listen, and they did not obey.

Sennacherib’s Invasion

13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Assyria’s King Sennacherib attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 So King Hezekiah of Judah sent word to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong; withdraw from me. Whatever you demand from me, I will pay.” The king of Assyria demanded eleven tons[c] of silver and one ton[d] of gold from King Hezekiah of Judah. 15 So Hezekiah gave him all the silver found in the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the king’s palace.

16 At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the Lord’s sanctuary and from the doorposts he had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria.

17 Then the king of Assyria sent the field marshal, the chief of staff, and his royal spokesman, along with a massive army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They advanced and came to Jerusalem, and[e] they took their position by the aqueduct of the upper pool, by the road to the Launderer’s Field. 18 They called for the king, but Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebnah the court secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the court historian, came out to them.

The Royal Spokesman’s Speech

19 Then the royal spokesman said to them, “Tell Hezekiah this is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: ‘What are you relying on?[f] 20 You think mere words are strategy and strength for war. Who are you now relying on so that you have rebelled against me? 21 Now look, you are relying on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff that will pierce the hand of anyone who grabs it and leans on it. This is what Pharaoh king of Egypt is to all who rely on him. 22 Suppose you say to me, “We rely on the Lord our God.” Isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You must worship at this altar in Jerusalem”?’

23 “So now, make a bargain with my master the king of Assyria. I’ll give you two thousand horses if you’re able to supply riders for them! 24 How then can you drive back a single officer among the least of my master’s servants? How can you rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 25 Now, have I attacked this place to destroy it without the Lord’s approval? The Lord said to me, ‘Attack this land and destroy it.’”

26 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebnah, and Joah said to the royal spokesman, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak with us in Hebrew[g] within earshot of the people on the wall.”

27 But the royal spokesman said to them, “Has my master sent me to speak these words only to your master and to you? Hasn’t he also sent me to the men who sit on the wall, destined with you to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?”

28 The royal spokesman stood and called out loudly in Hebrew: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 This is what the king says: ‘Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you; he can’t rescue you from my power. 30 Don’t let Hezekiah persuade you to rely on the Lord by saying, “Certainly the Lord will rescue us! This city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.”’

31 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for this is what the king of Assyria says: ‘Make peace[h] with me and surrender to me. Then each of you may eat from his own vine and his own fig tree, and each may drink water from his own cistern 32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey—so that you may live and not die. But don’t listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, “The Lord will rescue us.” 33 Has any of the gods of the nations ever rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?[i] Have they rescued Samaria from my power? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands has rescued his land from my power? So will the Lord rescue Jerusalem from my power?’”

36 But the people kept silent; they did not answer him at all, for the king’s command was, “Don’t answer him.” 37 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the court historian, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and reported to him the words of the royal spokesman.

2 Chronicles 29-31

29 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah[a] daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestor David had done.

In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the Lord’s temple and repaired them. Then he brought in the priests and Levites and gathered them in the eastern public square. He said to them, “Hear me, Levites. Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove everything impure from the holy place. For our ancestors were unfaithful and did what is evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned him, turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place, and turned their backs on him.[b] They also closed the doors of the portico, extinguished the lamps, did not burn incense, and did not offer burnt offerings in the holy place of the God of Israel. Therefore, the wrath of the Lord was on Judah and Jerusalem, and he made them an object of terror, horror, and mockery,[c] as you see with your own eyes. Our fathers fell by the sword, and our sons, our daughters, and our wives are in captivity because of this. 10 It is in my heart now to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel so that his burning anger may turn away from us. 11 My sons, don’t be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to serve him, and to be his ministers and burners of incense.”

Cleansing the Temple

12 Then the Levites stood up:

Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah from the Kohathites;

Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel from the Merarites;

Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah from the Gershonites;

13 Shimri and Jeuel from the Elizaphanites;

Zechariah and Mattaniah from the Asaphites;

14 Jehiel[d] and Shimei from the Hemanites;

Shemaiah and Uzziel from the Jeduthunites.

15 They gathered their brothers together, consecrated themselves, and went according to the king’s command by the words of the Lord to cleanse the Lord’s temple.

16 The priests went to the entrance of the Lord’s temple to cleanse it. They took all the unclean things they found in the Lord’s sanctuary to the courtyard of the Lord’s temple. Then the Levites received them and took them outside to the Kidron Valley. 17 They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the portico of the Lord’s temple. They consecrated the Lord’s temple for eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished.

18 Then they went inside to King Hezekiah and said, “We have cleansed the whole temple of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the rows of the Bread of the Presence and all its utensils. 19 We have set up and consecrated all the utensils that King Ahaz rejected during his reign when he became unfaithful. They are in front of the altar of the Lord.”

Renewal of Temple Worship

20 King Hezekiah got up early, gathered the city officials, and went to the Lord’s temple. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the sanctuary, and for Judah. Then he told the descendants of Aaron, the priests, to offer them on the altar of the Lord. 22 So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests received the blood and splattered it on the altar. They slaughtered the rams and splattered the blood on the altar. They slaughtered the lambs and splattered the blood on the altar. 23 Then they brought the goats for the sin offering right into the presence of the king and the congregation, who laid their hands on them. 24 The priests slaughtered the goats and put their blood on the altar for a sin offering, to make atonement for all Israel, for the king said that the burnt offering and sin offering were for all Israel.

25 Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the Lord’s temple with cymbals, harps, and lyres according to the command of David, Gad the king’s seer, and the prophet Nathan. For the command was from the Lord through his prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.

27 Then Hezekiah ordered that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. When the burnt offerings began, the song of the Lord and the trumpets began, accompanied by the instruments of King David of Israel. 28 The whole assembly was worshiping, singing the song, and blowing the trumpets—all this continued until the burnt offering was completed. 29 When the burnt offerings were completed, the king and all those present with him bowed down and worshiped. 30 Then King Hezekiah and the officials told the Levites to sing praise to the Lord in the words of David and of the seer Asaph. So they sang praises with rejoicing and knelt low and worshiped.

31 Hezekiah concluded, “Now you are consecrated[e] to the Lord. Come near and bring sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings to the Lord’s temple.” So the congregation brought sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings, and all those with willing hearts brought burnt offerings. 32 The number of burnt offerings the congregation brought was seventy bulls, one hundred rams, and two hundred lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the Lord. 33 Six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep and goats were consecrated.

34 However, since there were not enough priests, they weren’t able to skin all the burnt offerings, so their Levite brothers helped them until the work was finished and until the priests consecrated themselves. For the Levites were more conscientious[f] to consecrate themselves than the priests were. 35 Furthermore, the burnt offerings were abundant, along with the fat of the fellowship offerings and with the drink offerings for the burnt offering.

So the service of the Lord’s temple was established. 36 Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over how God had prepared the people, for it had come about suddenly.

Celebration of the Passover

30 Then Hezekiah sent word throughout all Israel and Judah, and he also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh to come to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem to observe the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. For the king and his officials and the entire congregation in Jerusalem decided to observe the Passover of the Lord in the second month, because they were not able to observe it at the appropriate time. Not enough of the priests had consecrated themselves, and the people hadn’t been gathered together in Jerusalem. The proposal pleased the king and the congregation, so they affirmed the proposal and spread the message throughout all Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, to come to observe the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel in Jerusalem, for they hadn’t observed it often,[g] as prescribed.[h]

So the couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the hand of the king and his officials, and according to the king’s command, saying, “Israelites, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel so that he may return to those of you who remain, who have escaped the grasp of the kings of Assyria. Don’t be like your ancestors and your brothers who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors so that he made them an object of horror as you yourselves see. Don’t become obstinate[i] now like your ancestors did. Give your allegiance[j] to the Lord, and come to his sanctuary that he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God so that he may turn his burning anger away from you, for when you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will receive mercy in the presence of their captors and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful; he will not turn his face away from you if you return to him.”

10 The couriers traveled from city to city in the land of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun, but the inhabitants[k] laughed at them and mocked them. 11 But some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 Also, the power of God was at work in Judah to unite them[l] to carry out the command of the king and his officials by the word of the Lord.

13 A very large assembly of people was gathered in Jerusalem to observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the second month. 14 They proceeded to take away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they took away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley. 15 They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and Levites were ashamed, and they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the Lord’s temple. 16 They stood at their prescribed posts, according to the law of Moses, the man of God. The priests splattered the blood received from the Levites, 17 for there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves, and so the Levites were in charge of slaughtering the Passover lambs for every unclean person to consecrate the lambs to the Lord. 18 A large number of the people—many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun—were ritually unclean, yet they had eaten the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah had interceded for them, saying, “May the good Lord provide atonement on behalf of 19 whoever sets his whole heart on seeking God, the Lord, the God of his ancestors, even though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” 20 So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. 21 The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread seven days with great joy, and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day after day with loud instruments. 22 Then Hezekiah encouraged[m] all the Levites who performed skillfully before the Lord. They ate at the appointed festival for seven days, sacrificing fellowship offerings and giving thanks to the Lord, the God of their ancestors.

23 The whole congregation decided to observe seven more days, so they observed seven days with joy, 24 for King Hezekiah of Judah contributed one thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep for the congregation. Also, the officials contributed one thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep for the congregation, and many priests consecrated themselves. 25 Then the whole assembly of Judah with the priests and Levites, the whole assembly that came from Israel, the resident aliens who came from the land of Israel, and those who were living in Judah, rejoiced. 26 There was great rejoicing in Jerusalem, for nothing like this was known since the days of Solomon son of David, the king of Israel.

27 Then the priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, and their prayer came into his holy dwelling place in heaven.

Removal of Idolatry

31 When all this was completed, all Israel who had attended went out to the cities of Judah and broke up the sacred pillars, chopped down the Asherah poles, and tore down the high places and altars throughout Judah and Benjamin, as well as in Ephraim and Manasseh, to the last one.[n] Then all the Israelites returned to their cities, each to his own possession.

Offerings for Levites

Hezekiah reestablished the divisions of the priests and Levites for the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, for ministry, for giving thanks, and for praise in the gates of the camp of the Lord, each division corresponding to his service among the priests and Levites. The king contributed[o] from his own possessions for the regular morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings of the Sabbaths, of the New Moons, and of the appointed feasts, as written in the law of the Lord. He told the people who lived in Jerusalem to give a contribution for the priests and Levites so that they could devote their energy to the law of the Lord. When the word spread, the Israelites gave liberally of the best of the grain, new wine, fresh oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field, and they brought in an abundance, a tenth of everything. As for the Israelites and Judahites who lived in the cities of Judah, they also brought a tenth of the herds and flocks, and a tenth of the dedicated things that were consecrated to the Lord their God. They gathered them into large piles. In the third month they began building up the piles, and they finished in the seventh month. When Hezekiah and his officials came and viewed the piles, they blessed the Lord and his people Israel.

Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the piles. 10 The chief priest Azariah, of the household of Zadok, answered him, “Since they began bringing the offering to the Lord’s temple, we have been eating and are satisfied and there is plenty left over because the Lord has blessed his people; this abundance is what is left over.”

11 Hezekiah told them to prepare chambers in the Lord’s temple, and they prepared them. 12 The offering, the tenth, and the dedicated things were brought faithfully. Conaniah the Levite was the officer in charge of them, and his brother Shimei was second. 13 Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were deputies under the authority of Conaniah and his brother Shimei by appointment of King Hezekiah and of Azariah the chief official of God’s temple.

14 Kore son of Imnah the Levite, the keeper of the East Gate, was over the freewill offerings to God to distribute the contribution to the Lord and the consecrated things. 15 Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah in the cities of the priests were to distribute it faithfully under his authority to their brothers by divisions, whether large or small. 16 In addition, they distributed it to males registered by genealogy three[p] years old and above; to all who would enter the Lord’s temple for their daily duty, for their service in their responsibilities according to their divisions. 17 They distributed also to those recorded by genealogy of the priests by their ancestral families[q] and the Levites twenty years old and above, by their responsibilities in their divisions; 18 to those registered by genealogy—with all their dependents, wives, sons, and daughters—of the whole assembly (for they had faithfully consecrated themselves as holy); 19 and to the descendants of Aaron, the priests, in the common fields of their cities, in each and every city. There were men who were registered by name to distribute a portion to every male among the priests and to every Levite recorded by genealogy.

20 Hezekiah did this throughout all Judah. He did what was good and upright and true before the Lord his God. 21 He was diligent in every deed that he began in the service of God’s temple, in the instruction and the commands, in order to seek his God, and he prospered.

Psalm 48

A song. A psalm of the sons of Korah.

The Lord is great and highly praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, rising splendidly,
is the joy of the whole earth.
Mount Zion—the summit of Zaphon—
is the city of the great King.
God is known as a stronghold
in its citadels.

Look! The kings assembled;
they advanced together.
They looked and froze with fear;
they fled in terror.
Trembling seized them there,
agony like that of a woman in labor,
as you wrecked the ships of Tarshish
with the east wind.

Just as we heard, so we have seen
in the city of the Lord of Armies,
in the city of our God;
God will establish it forever.Selah

God, within your temple,
we contemplate your faithful love.
10 Like your name, God, so your praise
reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with justice.
11 Mount Zion is glad.
Judah’s villages[a] rejoice
because of your judgments.

12 Go around Zion, encircle it;
count its towers,
13 note its ramparts; tour its citadels
so that you can tell a future generation:
14 “This God, our God forever and ever—
he will always lead us.”[b]

I love Psalm 48 and how it speaks of God’s greatness and man’s smallness. The kings of the earth fear and tremble and freeze in fear when they see God. May we see God today for who He is. May we seem him as the great, majestic and holy one that He is. Take God out of the box you have placed Him in and see Him in all of His splendor and majesty. Remember, God is big enough to conquer and handle anything you may be facing today.

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