Today's Bible Commentary

  2 KINGS Daily Bible Readings
  Commentary, Cross Reference Bible, and Bible Dictionary
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Also see Kings and Prophets Chart | 2 Kings Chart

1 KINGS | 2 Timothy | 2 KINGS | Titus-Philemon | 1 CHRONICLES

DateScripturesDaily devotional commentary
May 12: 2 Timothy
May 13: 2 Kings 1-3* War on Two Fronts, by Sween
May 14: 2 Kings 4-5* Who Will Believe Our Report?, Sween
May 15: 2 Kings 6-8* Living by Revelation, Sween - plus devotional
May 16: 2 Kings 9-10* Beheaded, Murdered, Slain for the LORD, Sween
May 17: 2 Kings 11-14* Rulers of Judah and Israel, Sween
May 18: 2 Kings 15-17* Israel Removed from Lord's Presence, Sween
May 19: 2 Kings 18-19* The Beginning of the Reign of Hezekiah, by Bowler
May 20: 2 Kings 20-23:6* When A Ruler Weeps and Prays, Sween
May 21: 2 Kings 23:7-25:30* The Fall of Judah, Sween
May 22: Titus & Philemon

War on Two Fronts
May 13 reading
2 Kings 1-3
2 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* A Wasted Life, Stedman
* Elisha, Wikipedian   More on OT Prophets
GUIDANCE: "Is there no prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD through him?" (3:11) King Jehoshaphat of Judah asked King Joram of Israel and the King of Edom, after apparent failure preparing to fight the King of Moab.
The Prophets:
On the one hand, Elijah and his servant-prophet Elisha, along with the schools of prophets in the Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho areas, were fighting in the name of, and for, the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After the failure and removal of the hereditary Levite leaders and judges had stopped fighting to cleanse the promised land of Canaanites, the LORD had raised up prophets - each called a Man of God - to speak and fight for Him. Their opponents were the kings of Israel who had been charged with leading the LORD's people and were failing. Instead, the kings of Israel had been intent upon leading their people away from the LORD to worship and inquire of local regional gods of Canaanite tradition and culture. In the eyes of the LORD, this unfaithfulness and covenant-breaking was evil.

The prophets operated in several spiritual gifts (discussed in depth later in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians) such as word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, and healing. Elijah intercepted King Ahaziah's messengers to inquire of Baal-Zebub, god of Ekron near Gath, about the king's injuries and his health. "Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub?" Elijah sent the king's messangers back to Ahaziah with news that he would die from his injuries and his insult to the LORD of his own country. Ahaziah was furious at Elijah, and sent troups to bring him. In effect Elijah said "No" by calling down fire from heaven to consume the first two groups of men sent for him. When Ahaziah sent a third group for Elijah, their captain begged Elijah, the Man of God, to have respect for his life. The angel of the LORD told Elijah to go with this captain and give the king the LORD's message in person. So Ahaziah died of his injuries and his brother Joram became king of Israel.

Elijah was not the only one known for saying "No". His servant-prophet Elisha told Elijah "No" each time the older prophet told him to stay behind as Elijah visited each school of prophets for the last time. They all knew spiritually that the LORD was going to take Elijah that same day although no one would talk of it publicly. At the Jordan River with 50 prophets witnessing at a distance, Elijah used his cloak to part the Jordan River and cross it with Elisha. As a chariot of fire with horses of fire suddenly drove between the two men, Elijah dropped his cloak, and Elisha saw a whirlwind take Elijah up to heaven. Per his request, Elisha satisfied himself and the 50 witnesses that he had received a double portion of Elijah's spirit. But this didn't mean his life always appeared to be one success after another, like healing the water at Jericho. On his way to Bethel a large local youth gang mocked and threatened Elisha until he called down a curse on them, and two bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the youths.

The Kings:
During Ahab's son Joram's reign, Israel called upon Judah and Edom to put down a rebellion by the King of Moab. At first it looked like there was no way they could succeed, but the Jehoshaphat King of Judah asked if there was not prophet of the LORD in Israel. Elisha agreed to ask the LORD for Jehoshaphat's but not his own king's sake because the three kings saw their first week out as a win for Moab (the kings couldn't find water along the route the LORD had directed them through the Desert of Edom). At his request, a harpist played for Elisha, and this time the hand of the LORD came upon him. Following the LORD's plan, the kings ordered ditches be dug in the valley. By the next morning water from Edom had filled the ditches, and the early rising soldiers of Moab saw red - and thought the ditches were filled with their enemy's blood. Coming to plunder, instead they were slaughtered and their land ruined, except for Kir Hareseth. The King of Moab publicly murdered (sacrificed) his firstborn son and heir on the city wall. What had war accomplished? It had defeated Moab's revolt and increased Moab's hated of Israel. Everyone returned to their own lands.

Kings of Israel in Samaria, continued from 1 Kings chart
* More on Kings of Israel, Wikipedia
NameFatherMotherReignedEvents, Tragedies
22 years
from Asa's 38th year
(Asa reigned 41 years)
* exceeded sins of previous kings
* married Jezebel, daughter of king of the Sidonians
* Ahab and Jezebel served and worshiped Baal
* Ahab had Jericho rebuilt despite Joshua's curse (Jos 6:26)
AhaziahAhabJezebel of Tyre2 years
from Jehoshaphat's 17th year
* continued the evil practices and leadership of his parents and ancester King Jeroboam
JoramAhabJezebel of Tyre12 years
from Jehoram's 2nd year (1:17)
and Jehoshaphat's 18th year (3:1)
* did evil in the LORD's eyes
* got rid of sacred Baal stone
* turned his people away from the LORD
* Moab rebelled
Kings of Judah in Jerusalem continued from 1 Kings chart
* More on Kings of Judah, Wikipedia
NameFatherMotherReignedEvents, Tragedies
AsaAbijahunknown41 years
from Jeroboam's 20th year through Omri's reign and 4 years of Ahab
* did right in the LORD's eyes
* eliminated idols, male shrine prostitutes
* deposed his grandmother and her Asheriah pole
* fought Baasha king of Israel
* paid Ben-Hadad of Aram in Damascus to break treaty with Baasha
* Baasha retreated leaving building supplies which Asa used
JehoshaphatAsaAzubah, daughter of Shilhi25 years
from Ahab's 4th year
Ahaziah's 2 years
first 5 yrs of Joram
king from age 35-60
* did right in the LORD's eyes
* was at peace with Israel
JehoramJehoshaphat ?

Who Will Believe Our Report?
May 14 reading
2 Kings 4-5
2 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* TorahBytes Articles
PROMISE: "How can I set this before a hundred men," his servant asked. But Elisha answered, "Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says, 'They will eat and have some left over.'" Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD." (4:43-44) Elisha and his servant Gehazi, about feeding 20 loaves of bread to 100 men
Borrowing a question from Isaiah 53:1, "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" today's reading shows examples of how Elisha used the double portion of Elijah's spirit. When Elisha made that request, Elijah had said, "You have asked a difficult thing" - not that it was possible for Elijah to give it, nor that it was a difficult thing for the LORD to do. The difficulty was that Elisha (back in chapter 2:12) saw Elijah taken into heaven by a whirlwind when the other prophets watching didn't see it. We know they didn't because they insisted on sending men to see if the Spirit of the LORD had picked Elijah up and set him down somewhere else. From then on Elisha did things that were - and still are - hard to believe. Why? Because seeing is not always believing and, as Isaiah explains, seeing and believing what Elisha did requires that the LORD reveals to us some of how He works (i.e., "the arm of the LORD"). People whose eyes aren't physically or legally blind can't always see how things are. Thank the LORD we can always ask Him to show us more! (Check Deut 29:4 - Isaiah 6:9-10 - Matthew 13:13-17)

WIDOW'S OIL - supernatural provision: Her husband had been one of the prophets of the LORD, but after he died she was destitute and the creditor was coming to take her two boys as slaves. She requested help from Elisha. He gave her unique instructions for increasing what she had (a little oil). She returned for further instructions, sold the oil, paid off the debt, and lived on the profit.

SHUNAMMITE'S SON - supernatural prophesy, knowledge, provision: She and her husband lived in Shunem. At first she fed Elisha when he came by. Later she and her husband built a small room on the roof for his visits. Elisha spoke to her through his servant, Gehazi. When Gehazi noted that she was childless, Elisha told her she would have a son in about a year. She asked not to be misled. Some years later her son died. Acknowledging that "Everything is all right" until she reached Elisha himself, clung to his feet, and mentioned her son. The LORD had hidden the boy's death from Elisha, but showed him what to do. Elisha prayed and obeyed, and the boy was resurrected in the small room on the roof at Shunem.

FOOD - supernatural protection, provision: During a famine Elisha asked for stew for all the prophets. One gathered unknown ingredients which turned out to be poisonous. Elisha fixed it. Another time 100 men had enough to eat from 20 loaves of bread, per the LORD's word through Elisha.

DISEASE - supernatural healing, knowledge, and infecting: Elisha responded to requests for help even from gentiles. Naaman, commander of the Aram army, was healed of leprosy by Elisha's relayed instructions and his servants' encouragement to follow them when Namaan was offended by the prophet's treatment of him. Namaan's healing opened his eyes to knowing the LORD of Israel. He made provisions to worship only the LORD from then on, and got advance forgiveness for future times when he had to take his master, leaning on his arm, into the temple of Rimmon and bow there. In greed, Elisha's servant Gehazi thought he knew better than his master, used the Shunammite's quote "Everything is all right" when it wasn't, and took forbidden payment from Namaan for the healing. Elisha had supernatural knowledge of what Gehazi had done, and for his greed Gehazi and his descendants became leprous forever.

This is what I see in today's reading. You may see more...

Living by Revelation
May 15 reading
2 Kings 6-8
2 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Background of Elisha - David Legge
Transformed by "revelation, not information"
PROMISE: "Elisha said, 'Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria." (7:1)
Descriptions of Elisha's miracles continue. When the company of prophets decided to build a meeting place near the Jordan River, and one of them dropped a borrowed axhead into the water by mistake, Elisha helped rescue it, by causing it to float. Once when Aram went to war with Israel, the LORD allowed Elisha to know all of the king of Aram's privately spoken plans. Israel king Joram had experienced the LORD's power in defeating king Mesha of Moab (chap 3) but wasn't willing to give up the 2 golden calves for worshipping instead of at Jerusalem. (This was the sin of Jeroboam.) The king of Aram thought he had an informant among his staff (did he question Namaan, perhaps?). But his officers blamed the leak on Elisha the prophet in Israel, getting his information they didn't know how, through the LORD Himself. So the army of Aram surrounded the town of Dothan where Elisha was staying, to capture him. Elisha's servant was terrified when he saw all of Aram's horses and chariots, but Elisha prayed so he (still Gehazi according to 8:4) could see what Elisha saw. Then the servant saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha! After Elisha asked the LORD to strike the enemy blind, he led the men to Samaria. Once the Aram army was inside Samaria before the king of Israel, Elisha prayed for their eyes to be opened so see where they were. Elisha dissuaded King Joram from killing the Arameans. Instead, he was to feed them, give them water, and return them to Aram. After this treatment and experience, Aram stopped raiding Israel and there was temporary peace again.

But in time, Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, laid seige to Samaria, and the food supply of the capital of Israel was cut off. It got so serious, some citizens were killing and eating children. King Joram was wearing sackcloth under his clothing, but rather than ask Elisha for forgiveness and help, he blamed the drought and famine on Elisha. "This disaster is from the LORD. Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?" the king reasoned. King Joram sent for Elisha while the prophet was in a meeting with the elders of Israel. Even before the messenger from the king arrived, Elisha told them what was happening and to block the door shut until the king arrived. When the king arrived, Elisha told him by the same time the next day flour and barley would be selling for normal prices again. Joram's "right hand man" said that was impossible. Elisha said that officer would see it but would never eat any of it.

Pausing a bit for some speculation, I wonder if Elisha commanded and said what he wanted done or if he only said what he heard the LORD saying in his head. Jesus indicated that it would be both ways. He said he could only do what He saw his Father doing. (John 5:19) He also said believers could speak things done ("you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matt 17:21) Did Elisha mentally see selected things going on elsewhere? Remember how he mentioned surprise about the Shunammite woman's son' condition being hidden from him. Was Elisha receiving information from the LORD via word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and/or faith?

One thing I am sure of is that chapter 7 demonstrates the contrast beween Elisha's knowledge of situations impossible for him to have naturally versus the misinformation that other people around him would use to draw their erroneous conclusions. For some reason the Aramean army camp heard something that made them run for their lives, thinking it was the Hittites and Egyptians coming to rescue Israel. Wrong. When the four lepers finally reported the empty camp to King Joram, he jumped to conclusions as well, reasoning that the Arameans were waiting outside the camp ready to spring a trap. Wrong again. By looting the empty camp of its food supplies, by the time Elisha predicted, the price of food was back to normal. In their rush to get food, the people of Samaria had trampled the king's officer to death in the city gateway, also as Elisha had predicted.

Before a seven year drought began, Elisha warned the Shunammite woman to move her family. Apparently citizens were free to move from one country to another. Her family went to Philistia. When they returned in 7 years and went to the king to beg for her house and land, the king was talking with Gehazi, Elisha's servant, about Elisha's experiences and deeds. So the woman's timing was perfect as she confirmed Gehazi's story about her son.

Elijah had been told to anoint Hazael of Aram to be king, but he hadn't done it when he was taken up in the whirlwind. Hazael came to Elisha in Damascus when Ben-Hadad, King of Aram, was sick. With the gift of (spirit of) revelation, Elisha told Hazael to tell the king he would certainly recover. But Elisha also told Hazael that in fact the king would die. As Elisha stared at Hazael, the prophet wept, seeing all the harm Hazael would do to the Israelites in days to come. And Elisha saw that Hazael would be king. So Hazael told the king he would not die of his illness, and the next day Hazael put a wet, thick cloth over the king's face until he died.

Jehoram became king during Joram's 5th year. Jehoram's son Ahaziah began his reign during the 12th year of Joram's reign.

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 9-10

Beheaded, Murdered, Slain for the LORD
May 16 reading
2 Kings 9-10
2 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* TorahBytes Articles
QUESTION: "How can there be peace," Jehu replied, "as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?" (9:22b)
The lookout for the two idolatrous kings, Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah, who was visiting the wounded Joram, recognized Jehu coming toward the town of Jezreel from the way he drove his chariot like a madman. They didn't know that Jehu had just been anointed king in private by a prophet-messenger Elisha had sent. (This act was one the LORD had given to Elijah but had been passed on to Elisha.) Jehu believed the prophecies of the LORD, and realized he was seeing some of them fulfilled as his arrow killed Joram. Ahaziah was mortally wounded, and died in Megiddo. Jehu rode on into Jezreel, where Jezebel greeted him as Zimri, a traitor, murderer, and previous king of Israel. At Jehu's call, 2 or 3 eunuchs obeyed him and threw Jezebel out the window. She was trampled by the horses, and while Jehu ate elsewhere, the Jezreel dogs devoured her. More prophecy fulfilled. More judgement from the LORD for years of evil done against Him.

In Samaria, Ahab had 70 surviving sons who were being reared not by their mother, Jezebel, but by the leading men of Samaria. When the city officials read Jehu's letter to choose one of them to be king of Israel, they instead decided not to fight Jehu. So they cut off the heads of the 70 sons and displayed them at the city gate. Jehu declared, "Not a word the LORD has spoken against the house of Ahab will fail." And within a short time all the relatives of Ahab and Ahaziah were killed.

Then Jehu determined to "serve" Baal what it deserved. Calling a great feast for the still popular idol, the priests and worshipers gathered at their temple. As they feasted, Jehu and his men slaughtered them and destroyed their temple. It was turned into a latrine. The only thing Jehu did not do was to eliminate the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan - i.e., Jeroboam's sins. In fact, with the LORD's promise of Jehu's descendants ruling Israel to the fourth generation, he was also casual about keeping the law of the LORD. So the LORD began reducing the size of Israel east of the Jordan River, using Hazael to do it.

Rulers of Judah and Israel
May 17 reading
2 Kings 11-14
2 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* If Jehoshebah Doesn't Get Him,
Athaliah Will!
, J. David Hoke
FACT: ".. in the Book of the Law of Moses where the LORD commanded, "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sins.'" (14:6, per Deut 24:16)
With her husband King Jehoram and now her son King Ahaziah both dead, Athaliah - daughter of Israel's former King Ahab and Jezebel - seized the opportunity to claim the throne of Judah for herself. Beginning her reign with terror, she quickly killed what she thought was all of her husband's and son's male relatives in the royal family. As the ruling queen, she was the only ruler of Judah not descended from King David. In fighting against the LORD through Baal, her wickedness was exceeded perhaps only by Jezebel her mother. Athaliah's daughter (step-daughter?) Jehosheba, hid her dead brother Ahaziah's infant son Joash with his nurse in the temple of the LORD by permission of her husband, chief priest Jehoiada. Whether Joash's mother survived or not isn't clear, but she was Zibiah from Beersheba. When Joash was about 7 years old, Jehoiada set into motion the plan to proclaim the heavily guarded child king from the temple. Athaliah heard the commotion she hadn't caused, and went to investigate. Joash was standing as king by the temple pillar according to previous custom. Ironically crying, "Treason!" Athaliah's attempt to get back to the palace failed, and her 6 year reign ended in swift execution.

Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and King Joash and the people, that they would be the LORD's people. The covenant he made between King Joash and the people was to destroy the former queen's counterfeit temple of Baal along with all the things of worship in it, including Mattan the priest. Then still heavily guarded King Joash led the procession from the temple of the LORD to the palace, and took his throne. The noise of his murderous grandmother Athaliah was over. This happened while Jehu was in his 7th year as king in Israel.

While Joash followed the priest Jehoiada's guidance, he did right according to the LORD God. But he never accomplished eliminating off-location sacrifices at the high places. When he was 30, he noticed that an order to repair the temple he had given the priests years before had not been done. Over the years, the priests may have tried to repair it themselves, but this wasn't working. So Jehoiada finally instituted a means of collecting money specifically for the repairs and appointed men to supervise skilled laborers - carpenters, builders, masons, stonecutters - as needed. They stopped making new articles for worship, and focused the money for repairs.

The northern country of Aram led by King Hazael continued to oppress Israel and Judah. About this time the king of Aram captured Gath, and then turned toward Jerusalem. Joash took all the sacred objects the kings of Judah had dedicated for temple use plus more gold and sent it to Hazael. So Hazael and his troops went back to Aram. Also about this time (the 23rd year of Joash's 40 year reign) King Jehu's son Jehoahaz became king of Israel. He followed the sins of worshiping golden calves in Israel - avoiding Jerusalem - so the LORD kept allowing attacks by Hazael of Aram and later his son Ben-Hadad. Eventually Jehoahaz asked the LORD for help from Aram's oppression, and he provided a deliverer. But much as a deliverer has been sent to Iraq this year to free the country from oppression, the local people didn't change their ways out of any gratitude to the deliverer or to the LORD, and help was short lived.

In Joash's 37th year as king of Judah, Jehoash followed his father Jehoahaz as king of Israel. Israel's army had nearly been destroyed, and the prophet Elisha was suffering from the illness of which he would die. Jehoash went to Elisha, and said what Elisha had said to Elijah years before: "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" (2:12 and 13:14b) Elisha had actually seen them, but perhaps Jehoash was only quoting him. Elisha had Jehoash do some things with arrows, and unbeknownst to the king, his actions determined future successes and failures with Aram's army.

After Elisha died and was buried, another man was being buried near his grave when Moabite raiders came at the funeral party. When the body was quickly thrown into Elisha's tomb, it touched Elisha's bones, and came back to life.

When Hazael of Aram died after oppressing Israel for years, his son Ben-Hadad was not the warrior he had been. Jehoash recaptured some of what Hazael had taken from his father, Jehoahaz.

Jehoash was in his 2nd year as king of Israel when Joash's 25 year old son Amaziah came to the throne of Judah. His mother was Jehoaddin from Jerusalem so both parents were faithful to the LORD. And he followed his father's example, doing right by the LORD except for allowing the high places to remain for off-site worship. He executed his father's assassins, but not their sons - obeying the Law of Moses. The LORD gave him victory over 10,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. Then he wanted to fight Israel, but Jehoash called him arrogant over his Edom victory. Amaziah insisted, so Jehoash attacked and defeated Judah. Jehoash broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate, looted the temple and royal palace, and took Amaziah captive along with other hostages. But Amaziah had survived Jehoahaz by 15 years when he was assasinated in Lachish. 2 Chronicles 25 indicates he was murdered because he got hooked on worshipping idols he brought back from Edom.

During the 15th year of Amaziah's reign, Jeroboam II became king of Israel and ruled in Samaria 41 years. Even though Jeroboam did evil before the LORD, the LORD let him restore some of the land of Israel and help the suffering people. Jonah the prophet to Assyria lived during the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel.

Israel Removed from Lord's Presence
May 18 reading
2 Kings 15-17
2 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* The Politics of God and
the Politics of Man
, Ellul
Key to Success: "Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets." (17:13b)
In Israel
King Jeroboam was in the 27th year of his reign
In Judah
Sixteen year old Azariah (Uzziah) became king, following his father, Amaziah
He reigned 52 years in Jerusalem
His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem (a believer)
Didn't remove the high places
Had leprosy and lived separatedly
His son, Jotham governed from the palace
Zechariah followed his father as king
He reigned 6 months; assassinated by Shallum
This fullfilled the LORD's word to Jeru that his descendants would rule to the 4th generation
- In Azariah's 38th year as king
Terrorist kings:
Shallum became king for a month
Menahem assassinated and followed him as king
reigned 10 years
Taxed Israel to pay Pul king of Assyria to leave

- in Uzziah's 39th year
- in Uzziah's 39th year
Pekahiah followed his father and reigned 2 years- in Uzziah's 50th year
Pekah assassinated Pekahiah and reigned 20 years
Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, took many of the people of Israel to Assyria
- in Uzziah's 52nd year
in the 2nd year of Pekah -Jotham followed his father as king
He was 25, and reigned 16 years
His mother was Jerusha, a believer
He rebuilt part of the temple
Rezin, king of Aram, and Pekah of Israel fought against him
in the 17th year of Pekah -Ahaz followed his father as king
He was 20, and reigned 16 years
He followed Israel's practices, even sacrificing his son in the fire
When Aram and Israel attacked, Ahaz asked Assyria for an alliance
Ahaz made Uriah the priest change the contents and altar in the temple of the LORD to be like what he saw in Damascus
Hoshea assassinated Pekah and reigned 9 years
in Hoshea's 3rd year -
Hoshea achieved a new level of evil for Israel kings
He paid tribute to Shalmaneser king of Assyria, turned traitor and stopped paying, then paid tribute to So, king of Egypt. The Assyrian king jailed Hoshea, invaded Israel, laid siege to Samaria for 3 years until he captured it. The people of Israel were deported to Assyria.
- in Ahaz's 12th year
Hezekiah followed his father Ahaz as king
Chapter 17 lists all the reasons the LORD finally stopped warning Israel about their disobedience and rejection of Him. He had had enough, and using the Assyrians, removed Israel from His presence. Judah remained in the promised land, but they had not been immune to the evil influences of Israel.

The King of Assyria repopulated the Israelite cities with people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, north and northeast nearer the Euphrates. These gentiles were attacked by lions, and assumed there was a god of the area that wasn't getting something it required. The King ordered one of the Israelite priests to return to Bethel to teach the immigrants how to worship the LORD God. One did, but the people added their own gods to the mix and refused to worship the LORD exclusively. They weren't interested in either making or living by a covenant with Him.

The Beginning of the Reign of Hezekiah
May 19 reading
2 Kings 18-19
2 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* The Assyrian Period, Hooker
* Lachish then and now
PRAYER: And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: "O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth." (19:15)
Special thanks to Mike Bowler, author of Bowler Blogs, for writing today's commentary.
Here is the beginning of one of the most faithful kings of Judah: Hezekiah, son of Ahaz. The continuing three chapters (18-20) show how important his reign was. He was twenty-five when he began his reign, and reigned as sole ruler over the course of twenty-nine years. He promoted a large scale revival (see II Chr. 29:3- 31:21 for a better version). He continually fought against idols people had against the Lord, including godly symbols that turned into idols.

Ahaz was a vessel of Assyria, but Hezekiah rebelled and broke with Assyria. Since Sargon II was preoccupied with affairs on Assyria's eastern borders he was able to achieve this. Sennacherib, king of Assyria invaded Judah to enforce the commitment Ahaz made. Hezekiah quickly admitted the mistake he made and offered whatever Sennacherib wanted in return for withdrawing his troops from Judah. Hezekiah had to pay roughly eleven tons of silver and about a ton of gold, stripping the temple of all it was worth. The field commander tried to rip apart Judah and weaken Hezekiah's defense by frightening and demoralizing the general populace. Evidence suggests that Hezekiah's court demanded that the field commander speak in the Syrian language, the "professional" language of the time. However, as a blow to Hezekiah's wishes, he spoke blasphemy in Hebrew so all of the Jewish populace could understand what he was saying about their king and their God.

Hezekiah "rent [or tore] his clothes" and put on "sackcloth." Basically, he brought himself in humility before God. He suggested to the people that God may rebuke Assyria for the way in which they spoke about Him. He brought the message of God to them. He told them the Lord said not to be afraid of the words spoken against them and their God. Sennacherib sent a letter saying not to be deceived by God when He says that Assyria will not defeat Judah for no god has been able to defeat Assyria yet. Hezekiah spread the letter before the Lord to all of Judah. His prayer in 2 Kings 19: 14-19 included four basic points: 1. He recognized God as soverign and as Creator. 2. Assyria had defied God. 3. Though Assyria beat the other "gods," they were not gods, but man-made objects, and they had never fought the One True God before. 4. He asked God to defend Judah once again and prove to the world who was really the only true God.

Isaiah then sent a message to Hezekiah from God, saying that God heard his prayer concerning Assyria. God promised not to even let Assyrian troops into Judah. He promised to defend Judah for His own sake and for the late King David's sake. Just as the Lord had promised, He defended Judah. That night the angel of the LORD went out and killed 185,000 Assyrian men. The king fled to Ninevah, where his sons put him to death, and his innocent son Esarhaddon succeeded him as king.

LACHISH - Area land routes and other maps | Lachish and archaeology: * * *

When A Ruler Weeps and Prays
May 20 reading
2 Kings 20-23:6
2 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Hezekiah: Repentance, Lemon
* Extreme Times Demand Deep Faith, Robinson
Promise: "Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken ... and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence .... Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place." The word of the LORD through the prophetess Huldah for King Josiah. (22:19-20)
Judah's king Hezekiah was about 39 years old, and he was dying from an infection - a boil - which the LORD, through the prophet Isaiah, said would be fatal. His response? "Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." He prayed and wept in secret. The LORD responded quickly, sending Isaiah back to tell the king the LORD would heal him. More than that, the LORD understood Hezekiah's concerns beyond his health. The LORD would add 15 years to Hezekiah's life, deliver him and Jerusalem from the arrogant king of Assyria, and defend the city for both the LORD's sake and for his servant David. In three days Hezekiah would be well enough to go worship at the temple of the LORD. Isaiah ordered a poultice of figs for the boil, and Hezekiah asked for a sign to prove the promises were from the LORD. The sun's shadow went backwards 10 steps. The king was convinced.

Soon the son of the king of Babylon came to offer his now unnecessary condolences about Hezekiah's illness. In another example of one's actions determining or demonstrating what will happen in the future (remember Jehoash striking the ground with arrows in 13:18?) Hezekiah showed the messengers from Babylon ALL of his wealth and treasures. Afterwards Isaiah told the king the LORD said that ALL these treasures would be carried off to Babylon including some of his descendants, who would become eunuchs in the king of Babylon's palace. Hezekiah was glad it wouldn't happen during his lifetime.

Three years after Hezekiah was healed, his son Manasseh was born to him and Hephzibah. Manasseh was a disobedient rebel of a son, and when - at age 12 - his father died and he became king, Manasseh did all he could to undo the good his father had done in Judah. There was definitely a spiritual battle going on in Judah between good and evil in the kings. Manasseh rebuilt the high places, altars to Baal, an Asherah pole, and idols. He did all he could to lead his people away from the LORD God and into sorcery, divination, mediums, spiritists, and astology. I get the idea he did more than WISH on stars. He also worshipped them and paid close attention to his horoscope and astrological sign. It could even be that speculative "beings from outer space" (starry hosts?) were being worshipped. Any weeping and praying to the LORD while this king reigned came from his own people. Manasseh terrorized and murdered many innocent people. His evil surpassed that of the Amorites, and because of him Jerusalem's destruction and Judah's future were sealed. And he reigned 55 long years. His son, King Amon, was assassinated after reigning 2 years with the same evil intent, and was buried near his father.

The boy king Josiah was 8 years old when he began to reign, and for some reason - the influence of his mother, Jedidah from Bozkath? - Josiah had a zeal for the LORD that resembled King David's. During temple repairs re-organized by the king, Hilkiah, the high priest, found the Book of the Law that had been hidden for generations, as though the only treasure there was gold. Josiah's secretary started reading the Book of the Law to him, and he tore his robes in mourning how much had been lost in ignoring it. No wonder the LORD was angry at Judah! Josiah ordered an immediate inquiry of the LORD, and the men went to the prophetess Huldah. Disaster was coming because Judah had forsaken the LORD in favor of other gods. Had they mistaken loving patience for apathy? No more. But Josiah's responsive heart and humble attitude toward the LORD would be rewarded. So Josiah called a meeting at the temple and read the Book of the Covenant aloud, renewing the covenant. The people pledged agreement, and Josiah began an intensive cleaning of all the articles of evil worship.

Up until now it seemed that the high places were supported by the people of Judah and Israel. 2 Kings 23:5 reveals that all the kings had participated in high places worship by appointing which pagen priests would serve there for Baal, the sun, the moon, the constaelations, the starry hosts.

"Josiah's reforms follow the Scriptural principle that repentance for specific sins is essential to true revival. Whenever genuine repentance occurs, specific sins will be identified, false brothers and sisters expelled, worldly practices forsaken and godly standards restored. Any talk of the need for revival and repentance in the churches without specifying what must be changed indicates that the commitment to real change in people's hearts and lifestyles is lacking." (Donald Stamps, The Full Life Study Bible)

The Fall of Judah
May 21 reading
2 Kings 23:7-25:30
2 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* History of Nebuchadnezzar
* Fall of Judah, interactive map
FACT: "Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did - with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. Nevertheless..." (23:25-26a)
King Josiah's clean-up and destruction of anything for any god but the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob continued. In fact, he was more thorough than any previous king except David. After cleaning up Judah, including what had been assigned to Simeon, Josiah cleaned up Bethel in the land of Benjamin and Samaria, former capital of Israel. While in Bethel, Josiah fulfilled a prophecy from 1 Kings 13 when a prophet tricked a man of God to his death. So as Josiah defiled altars for idol worship high places with the bones of dead people, he left the bones of the prophet and the man of God alone.

Now that the king and high priest had rediscovered the Torah, in his 18th year as king, Josiah instructed and ordered the people to celebrate Passover to the LORD God. The last time Passover had been celebrated was during the time of the judges, so even King David hadn't participated in the Passover. Everything the Book of the Covenant instructed, Josiah did to fulfill the requirements of the law. Josiah turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. And the LORD noticed and heard Josiah. The problem was that the LORD was so angry at the extreme offenses of Josiah's grandfather, Manasseh, that Judah had already been condemned to impending punishment in exile. The revival of high priest Hilkiah and king Josiah was notable and vital for all who participated in it, but the LORD is in control and men make their choices. Josiah had been promised that he would be buried in peace (22:20). He died at Megiddo (aka Armegiddon) while fighting Pharaoh Neco of Egypt who was on his way to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. But he was buried in peace after his servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb.

Josiah's son Jehoahaz became king of Judah that was now under Egypt's control with heavy levies to pay. King Jehoahaz was jailed at Riblah in Hamath so he couldn't reign from Jerusalem. His reign lasted 3 months, and he did not love the LORD. Perhaps he saw the disasters on Judah resulting from his father's love of the LORD rather than from Manasseh's hatred of Him. At any rate, Pharaoh Neco sent Jehoahaz to Egypt to die, and replaced him with his older brother, Eliakim, as king before changing his name to Jehoiakim. He ruled 11 oppressive years in Jerusalem, paying taxes to Egypt and becoming a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon after being invaded. After 3 years, he rebelled against Babylon, and the LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiders against Judah. Jehoiakim killed innocent people, and the LORD was removing Judah's evil from His presence. Egypt's newly won territories were taken over by Babylon. Jehoiachin replaced his father as king of Judah and the 18 year old ruled 3 months. He had no love for the LORD, and surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon almost 8 years, and was exiled to Babylon. The Babylonian king appointed Jehoiachin's 21 year old uncle Mattaniah king in Jerusalem, and renamed him Zedekiah. Almost all of Jerusalem was marched away to exile in Babylon except for the poorest people in Judah. Zedekiah stayed in Jerusalem as king there for 11 years until he rebelled. The resulting seige of Babylon against Jerusalem ended with the king captured and taken to Babylon where he saw his sons killed before his eyes were put out. The Babylonians burned and destroyed the temple of the LORD, the royal palace, and most houses and buildings. All the treasure of the temple and all the people except the poorest were taken to Babylon. Eventually the man left to oversee the poor people left in Judah to take care of the vineyards and fields was assasinated. The remaining people fled to Egypt. After 37 years in exile, Jehoiachin, king of Judah, Babylon's new king, Evil-Merodach, released him from prison and treated him with greater favor than any of the other kings exiled in Babylon.

Tomorrow's Reading: Titus 1-3 and Philemon 1 with Devotion Commentary
* Reading schedule for the rest of the year

Devotional by Lee Huang, author of The Musings of an Urban Christian blog

2 Kings 6:15-17

6:15 Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"
16 So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
17 Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Main point: No matter how overwhelmed and under-resourced we might feel in our urban ministries, there are always more with us than against us.

There have been numerous times in my life as an urban disciple that I have felt like the disciples with five loaves, two fish, and 5,000 hungry bellies to feed; or like Elisha's servant in 2 Kings 6, when he was surrounded by an army of angry soldiers, horses, and chariots. I recall one incident a few years back when I felt outnumbered and outresourced in my fight for a young man named Steve.

This particular day, I went down to the corner grocery store to buy something to eat. Steve was there in line. Steve was barely thirteen, and lived near my office. He'd helped out at a couple of special events we had hosted, and he impressed me with his work ethic and quiet enthusiasm.

We said hello, and he walked up to me with a pained expression on his face. "Mr. Lee, I need a job." I knew how much kids his age wanted spending money, and how hard jobs were to come by for teens in our neighborhood. In a flash, I wondered if he also needed the money to help support his family. "OK, come over after school tomorrow and I'll help you put together a resume and let's call around and see if we can't get you an interview." But I was skeptical that I knew anyone willing to hire a thirteen-year-old kid.

There was a look of desperation on Steve's face. "You don't understand, Mr. Lee, I really need a job." I'm not normally able to read between the lines or discern what's going on from a facial expression. But, as if by divine anointing, I understood immediately what was going on for Steve. I knew right away that he had been approached by drug dealers in the neighborhood to do some work for them and to make a fast buck. I could tell he didn't want to go this way, that he wanted to make his money the honest way, but that he didn't see any other way to make the money he needed, for whatever reason.

In that moment, a little part of me died. Because I knew that I could bust my tail combing my rolodex for employers who might hire a thirteen-year-old kid, and I could spend my whole afternoon helping that thirteen-year-old kid cobble together some semblance of a professional resume. And I still wouldn't be able to compete with a drug dealer willing to drop a C-note to some kid who was willing to serve as a lookout for him for a few hours. If the prophet Elisha had been right next to me, I might just have said, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"

Instead, I looked painfully at Steve, and he at me. And I knew we were thinking the same thing: there was nothing I could do to help him. I don't think I ever saw Steve come around my way again. Sometimes, I wonder what he's up to, if he's OK. And sometimes, I don't want to think about it too much, for fear of where my mind might wander.

Do you ever get the sense that you're outnumbered? There are never enough people to do the work that needs to be done in your city. There are too many drug dealers, too many bad influences in the lives of the youth you work with, too many spiritual forces and strongholds that seem way too engrained to beat.

But we aren't outnumbered. Like the people of God in the Bible, we might have our setbacks, but eventually we will get to the Promised Land, eventually the way of good wins, and eventually evil will get eternally defeated. Until that glorious day, may we see the others that are with us that make us not outnumbered. And may we pray for others to see, like Elijah prayed for his servant.

Take action:

* Read Tony Campolo's The Kingdom of God is a Party. It is a heartfelt reminder that to labor for God is to have access to divine abundance, not human scarcity.
* Consider whether your perspective is that you are outnumbered or that you outnumber your enemy, whether you are serving out of your scarcity or out of God's abundance.
* Ask God to help you to see how it is that you are not outnumbered in the city, and to help you to help others to see this as well.
* Meet with others regularly, that together you might seek to live in the abundance and victory of outnumbering the enemy in the city.

Copyright by Lee Huang, author

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