What we are reading this week:
• 2 Kings 17-23
• 2 Chronicles 9-15
• Ecclesiastes 5-11
Week 48. We move closer to the end!
Notes on 2 Kings
We come to the end of the kings of Israel, the northern kingdom, in chapter 17. Hoshea would be the last. There is a long commentary given in this chapter on why the time had now come, and why God needed to lower the boom.
Then beginning in verse 24 we are told of how the king of Assyria intermingled the Israelites with the people of Assyria. This would create the mixed breed which would turn into the Samaritans.
As the races were mixed, so was their faith. See verse 32 - 33. This was the intent of the Assyrians, and absolutely the last thing God wanted to see.
We find good king Hezekiah sitting on the throne in Judah, the southern kingdom, beginning in chapter 18. He was one of the best— perhaps the best—of all the kings, and my personal favorite Old Testament character. See 18.5-6.
The same Assyrians who successfully took down the northern Kingdom were unsuccessful against Hezekiah and Judah because of Hezekiah’s great faith. Even though there is a new king in Assyria, Sennacherib, he is as evil and powerful as those who preceded him. Yet he could not overcome the power of God that sustained Hezekiah and Judah.
Sennacherib felt the news tightening around his neck back home in verses 9 – 10. Yet still he uttered even more threatening words against Judah and Hezekiah, knowing he was on a short leash, time wise. Hezekiah prayed and Isaiah promised deliverance. At the very end of chapter 19 we see that the Lord took care of Sennacherib and the Assyrians without a single arrow or casualty on Judah’s part. After all this success, like so many before him, Hezekiah became spiritually vulnerable and made the only real mistake of his life in chapter twenty. Unfortunately, this set up the reign of his son Manasseh, his exact opposite, who would become one of the worst kings in Judah’s history, with an extensively long and violent reign of over 50 years. Manasseh became king at only twelve years old (21.1), which was during the 15 years that were added onto Hezekiah’s life after his desperate prayer in chapter 20. Manasseh son Amon became king of Judah and only served 2 years. His son Josiah would become a very godly king, desperate to restore true worship to Yahweh. The Book of the Law was found during his tenure, which shows you just how badly things had become in Judah. The Word of God had disappeared, and no one seems to have noticed.
At the end of chapter 22 God promises Josiah a peaceful death, but the disaster upon Judah has been decreed will still come. There is nothing that will stop it at this point.
Showing his high character, even after this devastating pronouncement by the Lord, we read in chapter 23 that Josiah did everything he could to bring restoration of true worship to Judah.
Following his death, Josiah’s sons start playing revolving throne. Egypt and Babylon both get involved in king-making and replacing. The time of Judah was winding down quickly. Notes on 2 Chronicles The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon in chapter 9. We read about Solomon splendor, and Israel reaches her very peak of prosperity and security in this chapter. Solomon dies peacefully at the end of the chapter.
His one known descendant, Rehoboam, takes the throne and immediately creates a church split.
In chapter eleven, Rehoboam decides to use his army against the north to try to force the country back together, but the word from the Lord told him that this was not going to work. He actually responds positively to the word of God and goes back home without fighting .
There was spiritual life in Judah, the southern Kingdom, but not so much in the north. All of the priests and Levites had moved down to Jerusalem and Judah because they had been rejected in the north. Those with spiritual life followed the Levites to Jerusalem (11.13-16).
However, once Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he abandoned the law the Lord (12.1). So the Lord immediately sent Egypt against him. Because of this assault, Rehoboam humbled himself, and God delivered Judah, but not without the king of Egypt carrying off treasures from the Temple of the Lord and from the royal palace (12.9).
Following the death of Rehoboam, his son Abijah became king in Judah. He went to war against Jeroboam and Israel to the north.
He confronted Jeroboam and Israel with the way they had driven out the priests of the Lord and how they had not forsaken the Lord themselves in Judah. In spite of a clever military move on Jeroboam’s part, God intervened and routed the Israelite army.
We find Asa the new king of Judah in chapter 14. He began removing the articles of worship to the bad gods in 14.3-6. God gave him rest from war.
Asa continued to follow the Lord faithfully, and we see in chapter 15 that he continued to take down altars and idols. We also see that many more people moved down from the northern Kingdom to the southern when they saw that the Lord his God was with him (15.9).
Asa even went so far as to remove his grandmother from her position as queen mother because of her idol worship. See 15. 16.
Notes on Ecclesiastes
In chapter five, Solomon seems to soften up a little in his harsh criticism of all of the things of life. He also commends the one who comes into wealth and possessions when he pursues faithful stewardship, noting that this is a gift from God and that can lead to gladness of heart.
In the next chapter, however, he mentions the fact that some receive all the things their heart desires, yet are kept by God from enjoying them. He falls back into the “meaningless” ditch once again.
The value of children in that culture (and representative of most cultures throughout history, but certainly not ours) is demonstrated in 6.3.
Chapter seven reads like the Book of Proverbs. Solomon writes chapter eight from his perspective as king. He transitions from topic to topic, but again comes back to the idea that we can find fulfillment and joy in the work of our hands.
He then expands the parameters a bit in chapter nine by saying to “enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life God has given you under the Sun.” So even in this he leaves a dark cloud hanging.
He then speaks of the place of the dead, and we see the absence of expectation of resurrection that permeates much of the Old Testament.
Chapter ten once again looks like a typical chapter in Proverbs.
The good king finally comes down to his conclusions at the very end of chapter eleven and into the beginning of twelve: “Do as you please and have fun and follow your heart’s desires and do whatever you want... but be aware that you are going to have to answer to God for your life!”
He will finish the thought and offer his final conclusions next week in chapter twelve, the final one.