II Chronicles 30-34
We are in the Nation Stream reading from the Modern English Version.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Lord, we saw the best and the worst of kings who reigned in Jerusalem. I pray we have common sense from you to know and decipher the wrong from the right, and also the good from the best of your will for us. Amen.
[The parallel of what we read today is found in II Kings 19-22]
30 – In our reading last week Hezekiah had just gotten started in his rule. He cleansed the Temple and restored proper worship. He continues the reforms to clean up Judah. He regained independence from Assyria; stopping the payments to them. Hezekiah was on a bold endeavor sending couriers throughout the entirety of Israel and Judah so that all 12 tribes would be invited to come celebrate Passover. Judah had not celebrated Passover in well over a decade. Most all of Israel had not participated in Passover for two centuries! Some laughed at the couriers that were sent on their aggressive mission for all Hebrews to come together, and yet people did come to Jerusalem for Passover; people who had not been before. Not all was perfect for Passover, but Hezekiah encouraged people that God was pleased at the heart intent to worship God, so just come. And a marvelous Passover it was! It went for two weeks.
31 – The fervor continued past the holiday and all went together to completely smash all the false idols in Benjamin, Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh. The rejuvenation among the priests is evident as they organize the people and gather contributions as what is supposed to be happening. The amount that is gathered is impressive, very impressive. Offerings of all types came into Jerusalem. The extra was tallied and stored responsibly and the needs of all were met. Hezekiah was successful and faithful in all that he set out to do. God was pleased with the transformation in Jerusalem. The attitude in Judah brought about a whole new day.
32 – So there were treasure troves of newly accounted offerings in Jerusalem. Judah was not groveling to Assyria; paying them tribute (can we call these “bully fees”?!). And Sennacherib of Assyria must have gotten wind of this so he thinks he will go and do some harvesting of his own. Hezekiah rallies Jerusalem and they put up a defense that indicates they aren’t about to lay down for the Assyrians. Sennacherib sends a “give it up” letter to Hezekiah in Jerusalem written in Hebrew. This he hoped would get the Jews to all convene and discourage Hezekiah into surrendering to Sennacherib. Perhaps Sennacherib gets points for trickery, but it merely drove the Jewish leaders to God for a solution. That night the simplest-slaughter-ever takes place as 185,000 are visited by God’s ‘death angel’ – and they do not wake up that next morning! Sennacherib goes home to be murdered. Hezekiah’s victory, the wealth amassed in Jerusalem, the successes all went to Hezekiah’s head. He forgot to remain humble and grateful. In his last days, he spent a too much time making cities (for himself) and fraternizing with Babylonians. He could have better mentored Manasseh; the heir to the throne
33 – Manasseh comes to rule and commences upon a 55-year reign of blooded paganism that is unmatched by anyone ever. He even outdid all the pagan neighbors in their sadistic activity who were doing so perhaps because they knew no different. Manasseh was a Satanic puppet of a rodent in the worst regard – expressly because he chose to drag a nation into outer darkness even though he knew better. Nothing was beneath him. He was practically playing patty cake with the Devil. …And then the Assyrians hauled him away (with hooks) – you don’t want to know the details here! And then he repents. And then he is returned to Judah to go on a building spree and do his best to make things right – undoing the ungodliness he fomented all during his younger years. He gives it a try anyway. Then again how do you go back and gather all the feathers that were deliberately scattered during a windstorm? His son Amon follows him for a two-year reign. Amon is godless and there is no let up to the guilt he is determined to amass against himself. His servants kill him in the palace. Then all Amon’s servants are killed. Let’s face it, the atmosphere is that of a band of bums fighting over the rancid food in the bottom of a dumpster behind a greasy restaurant. Jerusalem is a ghastly mess and has been for near 60 years.
34 – Enter: some relief as Josiah takes the throne. He was a child-King at eight and ruled for 31 years. At 16 he understood that he needed to seek the Lord. At 20 he began his reforms. When he was 26 the Book of the Law is found and this gives further impetus to make the reforms thoroughly national and comprehensive best they could.Josiah was determined to completely rid the idols from the land. No King in nearly 300 years had given such effort for comprehensive reform. The words of Huldah are a sobering monolog reminding that ungodliness comes at a horrid cost -that will be paid, and that God takes our confession with repentance very seriously. Though the country of Judah had slid so far from God, Josiah had courage to right the ship. His reforms kept enemies at bay during his entire reign. The judgment prophesied upon Judah was delayed by Josiah’s godly resolve. We’ll see how his years play out next week in this portion of the nation stream.