What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, February 17, 2020):
• 2 Kings 10-16
• 2 Chronicles 2-8
• Job 40-42 ~ Ecclesiastes 1-4
Week 47. In just over two weeks (on March 4), our reading schedule will pare down to two chapters a day! We will finish up Job this week, and then leap ahead to the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Notes on 2 Kings
Jehu, the not-so-spiritual king (10.31) was used to eliminate the entire family of Ahab, and severely curtail Baal worship in Israel. Chapter ten gives us all of the grisly details.
In chapter 11, we find Athaliah, the mother of the Judean king Ahaziah, but a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and granddaughter of the massively evil Omri, former king of Israel.
King Ahaziah is wicked, and is put to death. Instead of allowing the throne to go to one of his sons, Athaliah steps in and decides to try to kill off her entire family so that she could rule (11.1). That would be a fun kingdom to live in.
The baby Joash, one of the king’s sons, is hidden away and grows up in secrecy for seven years, after which he will be introduced as the true king (11.2, 4, 21). The godly priest Jehoiada sets the stage to present him as the rightful ruler, and to do in the wicked Athaliah.
We find a very upbeat account of King Joash bringing needed reforms and restoring a semblance of godliness to Judah. We don’t read of his betrayal of Jehoida’s son following the priest’s death in the Books of the Kings.
We see another partial repentance in Israel, this time by King Jehoahaz (13.4), but there was no fundamental spiritual change going on (13.6). His son continues on in sin, and Elisha makes his final appearance in the Old Testament, where he rebukes Jehoahaz’s son Jehoash for his lack of faith.
In chapter 15, Azariah becomes the king of Judah. He is also the one we know as Uzziah, the first of four kings that will be counseled by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 1.1). Israel continues to deteriorate with a series of forgettable kings that no one has heard of. Eventually, the crown comes to Pekah, who will try to get Ahaz to ally with him in order to face off against the king of Assyria.
From Azariah/Uzziah, we go to Jotham and then Ahaz. Of the four kings that Isaiah will serve, Ahaz will be the only ungodly one. Instead of allying himself with Israel against Assyria, he actually goes to Damascus and makes an agreement with the king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser.
This involves the weaker (Judah) adopting the religious practice of the greater. Ahaz has an idolatrous altar built in Jerusalem and worships there (16.12-16). He then began to dismantle the objects of worship for Yahweh “in deference to the king of Assyria” (16.17-18).
Notes on 2 Chronicles
Solomon looks to Hiram, king of Tyre, to supply him with lavish supplies and skilled workers for the construction of the Temple, spelled out in chapter two. The Temple is built in chapter three. Details of construction, with an emphasis on the precious metals used, go on through the beginning of chapter five.
The Ark of the Covenant, the centerpiece of the Temple and of all Jewish worship, is carried into its place in the holy of holies in 5.7-10. As in the dedication of the tabernacle, the presence of God came down in a cloud that kept the priests from being able to perform their services.
Unfortunately, this is the last time in history that we know where the Ark of the Covenant is. It will apparently disappear shortly, and never be seen again. However, it will come forth at the end of the age. We may see it in our lifetime!
In chapter 6, Solomon blesses the Lord and reminds the people of God’s decision to choose Jerusalem as the center of worship, David as his man, and the Ark of the Covenant as the capstone of the entire process (6.1-11).
He then launches into an amazing prayer that will extend through the end of the rather long chapter.
In the next chapter, as the king finishes his prayer, God sends fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifices to emphasize his pleasure with the dedication process. A national celebration takes place.
Following all of this, God responds to Solomon with promises of blessings for obedience and warnings against disobedience. In this chapter, we find the well-worn verse: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (7.14).
Chapter eight details some of the early activity by the new king as he establishes himself on the throne.
Notes on Job
God continues to ream out Job while continuing to brag about his creation in chapters 40-41. Job cannot respond, overwhelmed at the presence of the Almighty. Yet in the final chapter, God has Job interceding for his friends, and restores everything to him and so much more (loss of children notwithstanding).
Notes on Ecclesiastes
This is a book that needs to be considered in its entirety in order to decipher its message. Most of it sounds meaningless and empty, but all of that is in order to build up to conclusions given at the very end.
Solomon, the writer, gives us great insight to the human condition. He is a person who had absolutely everything available to humans, in abundance and in high quality. Yet it all just left him empty.
Throughout his discourse, there are some proverb-like sayings. Make sure you read carefully and enjoy the ride. This is a wonderful book.