What we are reading this week (beginning Friday, February 17, 2023):
• 2 Kings 10-16
• Job 40-42 ~ Ecclesiastes 1-4
• 2 Chronicles 3-9
There are only two more full weeks (this week included) of three-chapter-a-day reading. We will soon be down to two-a-day’s, and then one-a-day’s and actually finish up on week 51. There is a lot of time to catch up if you are behind, but anywhere close.
Notes on 2 Kings
Jehu, the not-so-spiritual king of Israel (10.31) was used by God 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 eleven, we find Athaliah, the mother of the Judean king Ahaziah, but a daughter of wicked Ahab and Jezebel and granddaughter of the massively evil Omri, former king of Israel. She looks for an opportunity for herself to assume power in Judah. King Ahaziah is wicked, and is put to death. Instead of allowing the throne to go to one of his sons, his mother Athaliah steps in and decides to try to kill off her entire family so that she could rule (11.1). That would have been a fun kingdom to live in, had she succeeded. 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. He pulls it off magnificently (11.4-20). The wicked Athaliah is put to death, and Joash assumes the crown and the throne… at all of seven years of age (11.21). Jehoiada will train him up, and lead the nation himself righteously in the meantime. In chapter twelve, we find a very upbeat account of the now older King Joash bringing needed reforms and restoring a semblance of godliness to Judah. We don’t read of his terribly betrayal of Jehoiada’s son following the priest’s death in the Books of the Kings (see 2 Chronicles 24.17-22 for the tragic details). We see another partial repentance in Israel, this time led by King Jehoahaz (13.4), but there was no fundamental spiritual change going on (13.6). His son Jehoash continues on in sin, and the prophet Elisha makes his final appearance in the Old Testament, where he rebukes Jehoahaz’s son for his lack of faith. In chapter fifteen, Azariah becomes the king of Judah. He is also the one we also know as Uzziah, the first of four kings that will be counseled by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 1.1). In the meantime, the northern kingdom of 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 practices of the greater. Ahaz has an idolatrous altar, based on the Assyrian’s, 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 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).
A challenge to the mantra of scoffers, skeptics, and critics of God in 40.8: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” And 41.11: “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” After confronting Job, he rebukes his three friends in 42.8-9. To their credit, the reprimanded trio submit to the God’s instruction to them (42.9). Absolutely nothing is said about Elihu, whose words took up six chapters right at the end (32-37).
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. If we lose sight of the big picture, we can take some of these verses out of context and build a really nihilistic theology. 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. God gave him everything a man could possibly want: Security, wealth, celebrity, knowledge, success, friends, women, food, meaningful work (2.1-11). Yet it all just left him empty. God also gave him extreme wisdom. This book is his reflections on how all of those immense benefits affect the soul. His opening salvo is that it is all “utterly meaningless” (1.2, 2.11). And so it came to be that he, the guy with literally everything, “hated life” (2.17).
However, as he continues to reflect, he begins to see some possible satisfaction in the simplicity of food, drink, and work (2.24 and 3.13, 22). But then he goes off in 4.3 and says that the person who has never been born has an advantage over all of us.
Throughout his discourse, there are some proverb-like sayings. Make sure you read carefully and enjoy the ride. This is a wonderful book.
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 (last week). 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 in such power that it kept the priests from being able to perform their services. Unfortunately, this is the very last time in history that we know for certain where the Ark of the Covenant would be. It apparently disappeared shortly after this, and was never to be seen again. However, it will be coming forth at the end of the age. We may see it in our lifetime! In chapter six, Solomon blesses the Lord and reminds the people of God’s decision to choose Jerusalem as the center of worship, David as his man (his family to remain on the throne), and the Ark of the Covenant as the capstone of the entire process (6.1-11). Solomon then launches into an amazing prayer that will extend through the end of the rather long chapter. In chapter seven, as the king finishes his prayer, God sends fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifices to emphasize his pleasure with the dedication process (7.1). 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.
The Queen of Sheba visits King Solomon in chapter nine and is overwhelmed by the splendor of his kingdom and his wisdom. The reports she had heard prepared her to encounter a magnificent kingdom, but it still fell far short of the reality (9.5-6).
Solomon reigns in peace for forty years. He dies at the end of chapter nine, and the throne is assigned to his wayward son Rehoboam. The glory days of Israel are about to come to a very abrupt end.