DAY ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO : 2 Kings 21 v. 1 – 22 v. 20; Acts 28 v. 17 – 31; Proverbs 16 v. 28 – 17 v. 4
Manasseh King of Judah – mmm, really bad king this one !!
King at the age of 12, ruling in Jerusalem for 55 years.
Son of Hezekiah and Hephzibah.
‘He did evil in the eyes of the Lord‘ – rebuilding high places his father had destroyed,
altars to Baal, Asherah poles, worshiping ‘the starry hosts’
polluting the temple courts and the temple itself with altars and Asherah poles
sacrificing his own son, consulting mediums and spiritists
‘He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking Him to anger’.
Although God had pledged to ‘put His Name’ (His divine, holy presence), in the temple, and to bless His people, ‘they did not listen. Manasseh led them astray…they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before them…’
God speaks through His prophets, warning of the destruction to come upon Judah, because of Manasseh’s sin.
‘I am going to bring such disaster…that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle…’
‘I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes out a dish…turning it upside-down’
Manasseh was also guilty of shedding ‘much innocent blood’.
All Manasseh’s deeds are written in the annals of the kings of Judah. When he died, he was buried in the palace garden, and his son, Amon, succeeded him.
Amon King of Judah – Amon continues the devastating practices of his father, Manasseh.
‘He forsook the Lord…and did not walk in the way of the Lord‘.
He becomes king at the age of 22, but only reigns for two years, when he is assassinated in the palace by his officials.
There is a rebellion in the land against the plotters, and the people make Amon’s son, Josiah, their king.
Amon’s deeds are recorded in the annals of the kings of Judah. He was buried in the palace garden.
The Book of the Law found – at eight years old, Josiah becomes king, reigning in Jerusalem for 31 years.
‘He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father, David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.’
In his eighteenth year, the king’s secretary, Shaphan, is sent to the temple. Josiah instructs him to go to the high priest, Hilkiah, and to arrange for the collection monies to be handed over to the supervising workmen repairing the temple, to pay the workmen (carpenters, builders, masons). The money is to be used to buy good materials to repair the temple.
‘They need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are acting faithfully’.
Hilkiah tells Shaphan that he has found the Book of the Law in the temple. Shaphan reads it.
When he returns to king Josiah, he takes the book with him and reads it to the king.
‘When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes, in mourning for his nation in the light of God’s word. He asked a good number of his officials to ‘enquire of the Lord’, seeking God’s guidance for their next steps.
The high priest, Hilkiah went to the prophetess, Huldah, who was married to the grandson of Harhas, ‘the keeper of the wardrobe’.
The prophetess foresees the destruction of Jerusalem and of its people, ‘because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods….’
But, to Josiah, himself, the word,
‘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, I have heard you…I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’
All this is reported back to Josiah.
Paul Preaches at Rome Under Guard – whilst in Rome, and under guard, Paul gathers the Jewish leaders together three days after arriving.
Paul appeals to them, that the Romans had found him guilty of nothing, but the Jews in Jerusalem had handed him over, and insisted that he be killed. Paul is to appeal now to Caesar, but he wants the Jews in Rome on-side.
‘It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.’
They have heard nothing of Paul – there have been no reports of him, in Rome, so they arrange a time to hear from him, to decide for themselves.
‘We want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.’
On the appointed day, Paul spoke with a larger group of Jewish leaders – all day long
‘he declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and the Prophets. Some were convinced…but others would not believe.’
As they are disagreeing with one another, and preparing to leave, Paul reminds them of the Isaiah prophecy which talks of a people who ‘will ever be hearing but never understanding; ever seeing, but never perceiving…whose heart has become calloused…’
and proclaims that God’s salvation is breaking out amongst the Gentiles.
Paul stays two years in Rome, renting his own house there.
‘Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.’
‘A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends’
‘He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity; he who purses his lips is bent on evil’
‘Grey hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained by a righteous life’
‘Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife’
‘The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart’.
Whole Life Discipleship (IMAGINE project)
Josiah’s father and grandfather were judged to be thoroughly bad kings, worshipping falsely, and misleading the people. Josiah, though their flesh and blood, is wholly different. Becoming king at such a young age, he must have had good advisors around him. When he hears the word of the Lord (the Law), he weeps for his nation, and tears his garments in mourning. He sees how far his people have drifted from their holy calling.
Paul, like Jesus, begins by appealing to the Jews in Rome, but ends this passage proclaiming that salvation is for the Gentiles too. In fact the Gentiles may have an easier time of accepting Jesus because the hearts of some of the Jewish leaders had become so hardened.
LORD, grant us tears and mourning,
as your word illuminates the state of our nation,
and of your people.
Grant us the boldness to pray,
to speak out for You,
to extend Your kingdom to all corners of our realm of influence today,
at work, at college / school, within our community,
in our homes.
Test our heart, and make us, by Your Spirit,
both bold and humble.
In Jesus’ name.