Three Judean Kings

Photo by Mike B: https://www.pexels.com/photo/boy-wearing-crown-statue-189528/

Rarely do we as Christians today go into the Old Testament. Oh, we refer to Psalm 23 during funerals, and some read the Proverbs and Psalms for devotionals. But few go into the less known books. Tonight we’re going to go into 2 Chronicles Chapter 28, and examine the lives of three Judean Kings.

King Ahaz Was An Evil Ruler

The first is King Ahaz, a terribly wicked man. The name “Ahaz” means “He Who Grasps”, and that is a great name for this wicked man.

Ahaz grasped for darkness and evil, and
embraced it with all his heart.

2 Chronicles 28:2-4 … {Ahaz} made also molten images for Baalim. 3 Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. 4 He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.

Because Ahaz did evil and led Israel to do evil, “the LORD his God delivered Ahaz into the hand of the King of Syria” (2 Chronicles 28:5). “Ahaz was also delivered into the hand of the King of Israel (Northern Israel)”, who killed many citizens. Southern Israel or Judah lost 120,000 “valiant men” in one day on the battlefield – a horrendous loss. The Bible says:

2 Chronicles 28:19 … the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of {Southern} Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord.

Ahaz would not repent and return to the Lord. Rather than admit his sin, Ahaz tried to build an alliance with Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria. Ahaz robbed the Temple of God (verse 21), and instead of turning to the Lord our God he adopted the gods of his enemies.

2 Chronicles 28:23-24 For {Ahaz} sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. 24 And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem.

Ahaz robbed the Temple, taking away all furnishings, altars, and equipment used to worship God. Then Ahaz locked the doors of the Temple so no one could enter in and worship the Lord, and offered Israel false altars made for false gods to worship. Throughout Jerusalem – previously known as the City of God’s Temple – Ahaz established altars to false gods. Not satisfied with this, we are told:

2 Chronicles 28:25 And in every several city of Judah {Ahaz} made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers.

Israel was in a terrible place. A civil war between Northern and Southern Israel caused the nation to divide, and caused the Temple to be forsaken by those in the North. False gods were worshiped throughout Israel, and there were plenty of places to worship the darkness, but no places for the light. But our God is in control. “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore” (Psalm 125:2). Ahaz had one redeeming quality.

Ahaz had a son named Hezekiah.

Hezekiah Was A Righteous Man

Hezekiah’s name meant “Jehovah Is My Strength”. King Hezekiah was the most spiritual king since King David. 2 Kings 18:5 tells us “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him”. When Hezekiah ascended the throne, the first thing he did was to re-open the Temple and recall the priests:

2 Chronicles 29:3-8 {Hezekiah} in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the Lord, and repaired them. 4 And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, 5 And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. 6 For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs. 7 Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel. 8 Wherefore the wrath of the Lord was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes.

Hezekiah did not try to make a treat with any human king to bring peace to his land. Instead of this, Hezekiah sought a treaty with God our Father. He restored the priests and the Levites (the priest’s helpers) to their posts, and restored the Temple to how it should have been. Hezekiah ruled in a right manner. He told the Levites, “sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place”. In other words, He demanded that the priests and Levites do their own jobs. They were to cleanse God’s Temple, though Hezekiah would support them in their work. Hezekiah told them:

2 Chronicles 29:10-11 Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. 11 My sons, be not now negligent: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense.

Hezekiah as King did his job, and demanded that the priests and Levites do theirs. The priests and Levites did as Hezekiah ordered. The Bible says they sanctified the house of the Lord in eight days” (2 Chronicles 29:17). As the Temple was cleansed, Hezekiah decided that he would be the first to offer sacrifice unto God. We read:

2 Chronicles 29:20-21 Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the Lord. 21 And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah.

Hezekiah did not worship God behind closed doors, but gave an example for all in his worship. Jesus said:

Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

When Hezekiah went to the Temple, he carried the rulers of the city with him. As Hezekiah offered sacrifices, he lifted up the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah.

  • The Kingdom of God: Though Israel was divided by civil war into North and South, Hezekiah remembered his brothers and sisters that he was estranged from. Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Other kings emphasized Judah above a united Israel. Hezekiah realized that – until there is unity among God’s people and in God’s Kingdom – there will be only limited power against the darkness.
  • The Sanctuary: The Apostle said,The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God...When God’s people meet to worship God, they are to “worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). This is what is pleasing to God. Hezekiah’s worship is not just for show – but because he loves “the Lord his God with all his heart(Deuteronomy 13:3; Joshua 22:5).
  • And for Judah: Hezekiah offered sacrifice and prayer for his own direct community.

Hezekiah led Judah in a revival. We read:

2 Chronicles 29:27-29 And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. 28 And all the congregation worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshiped.

Hezekiah started the sacrifices, but the people followed. We read in

2 Chronicles 29:32 And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the Lord.

The King started the ball rolling, but as he honored God, God moved the hearts of the people. They had a revival in Judah! We are told in:

2 Chronicles 29:36 And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.

The Benson Commentary notes:

That God had prepared the people — Had changed their hearts by His Almighty Spirit. For it was plain His hand was in it, both because so many of those who, in the last reign, had doted on the idolatrous altars, were now so much in love with God’s altar; and because the thing was done suddenly; was brought about in so little time, and with little or no opposition. Those that go about the work of God in faith, and with resolution, will often find there is not that difficulty in it which they had apprehended. Only let magistrates and ministers do their parts toward the reforming of a land, and then let them trust God to do His, and ascribe to Him the glory of what is done.”

Hezekiah did his part, and God did His part. When we trust in God and do that which is pleasing to Him, we will find that He Himself will be in the work, aiding and blessing us. I cannot do much – but I can do my part. The Scripture says:

Philippians 1:27 (ESV) Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, … standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…

God is always in our midst when we gather together to honor Him in one accord. Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). As God was so visibly in the Temple, Hezekiah decided to act as a mediator between Northern Israel and Southern Israel. We read:

2 Chronicles 30:1-2 Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto the Lord God of Israel. 2 For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month.

The Feast of the Passover was a time when Israel remembered how God brought them out of Egyptian slavery, and made them a mighty nation unto God. The Passover was a time before Israel had civil war. So King Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah – that’s Northern and Southern Israel – that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover. Hezekiah sent out a rider with a message, calling all of Israel to come together and worship the Passover as a unified people. Hezekiah begged the people to repent:

2 Chronicles 30:7-9 And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. 8 Now be ye not stiff necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. 9 For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.

Hezekiah begged every Israeli to yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. Did Northern Israel repent? No. We are told in

2 Chronicles 30:10 “they laughed them to scorn, and mocked {the messengers}”

Northern Israel rejected the posts, and sealed their doom. But Judah – or Southern Israel –

2 Chronicles 30:14 … arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron.

The false gods and altars to these gods were burned, and their ashes scattered in the brook Kidron. The Matthew Henry Commentary notes:

The godly kings of Judah had burnt and destroyed the idols they found at the brook {Kidron}; Asa, 2 Chronicles 15:16; Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 30:14; Josiah, 2 Kings 23:4,6. Into that brook the abominable things were cast. Christ, being now made sin for us, that he might abolish it and take it away, began his passion by the same brook.”

Kidron is the place where idols are burned and scattered. As the people pursued God in love, the Bible tells us that:

2 Chronicles 30:27 … their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.

While we cherish sin and hide it in our hearts, God will not hear our prayers. But when we repent, and do the things that are pleasing to Him, He will hear and bless us.

2 Chronicles 31:20-21 … thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God. 21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.

Hezekiah and Judah prospered because he did as Jesus said:

Matthew 6:33-34 (ESV) … seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

When you put God first, you will always last!

Will God Forgive The Most Wicked Sinner?

Hezekiah made some errors in his time as King of Judah. At times he was lifted up with pride (2 Chronicles 32:24-26). But Hezekiah loved the Lord, and led the people of Judah into loving the Lord. Hezekiah had a son named Manasseh. Manasseh would be the longest reigning Judean King, and also the most wicked. We read:

2 Chronicles 33:1-4 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: 2 But did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. 3 For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4 Also he built altars in the house of the Lord, whereof the Lord had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.

Manasseh brought back Canaanite worship, and taught the people to worship all the host of heaven, and serve them. The followers of Yahweh believed that God Himself created the stars, the moon, and the sun, but the Canaanites believed that these bodies were actually “gods and goddesses”. Under Manasseh, Judah was taught to worship Molech (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-4; Deuteronomy 18:10; Jeremiah 7:31; 32:35), to practice witchcraft (Deuteronomy 18:10), and to worship idols. Just as Ahaz defiled the Temple, Manasseh defiled the Temple. He built altars to false gods and goddesses inside the Temple, and closed up God’s altars.

2 Chronicles 33:6 {Manasseh} caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom

Manasseh sacrificed his own sons to the false gods, burning their bodies as an offering to Molech. This infuriated God. Our Lord loves children, and demanded that children be allowed to come to Him (Matthew 19:14). God cursed Judah for this horrible practice, saying through the Prophet:

Jeremiah 19:3-5 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 4 Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, 5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind..

It is horrible to sacrifice a child – but much more horrible to sacrifice your OWN child. Manasseh did this profane thing more than once. In fact, the Bible says:

2 Chronicles 33:9-10 .. Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. 10 And the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.

God called out to Manasseh and Judah, and sent prophets to speak to them, but they would not hear. So God brought trials into Manasseh’s Kingdom. We read:

2 Chronicles 33:11 … the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.

Our God controls the nations. He controls the world. When His people will not listen to Him, God can and does bring in trials and tribulations to break our pride and willfulness. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word.

The Army of Assyria attacked Judah, and took Manasseh captive. The Bible says the Manasseh was among the thorns, and bound with fetters. As a young boy, mama used to have us go out to the blackberry patch and pick fruit for a cobbler (mama could make the best cobbler!). I, my brother and sister would go out and pick (as well as eat) as many ripe blackberries we could. I remember one time I reached out over the patch, trying to get to a good cluster of berries, when I lost my balance and fell into the blackberries. Those tiny thorns pierced my bare legs and arms, my face, everything that was uncovered. It was horrible.

God had Manasseh drug through the blackberry patch. Prideful Manasseh was bound like a slave, and marched through the streets of Babylon, shown off as one might show off a prize cow. Why did God do this?

Because God loves everyone, even the most wicked. And God calls whosoever will to come to Him in faith. Pastor Jeremy Linneman of Trinity Community Church (Columbia, Missouri) writes:

Suffering … is absolutely painful. It feels like death; we can hardly bear it. And yet if faced with faith and endured in the presence of God, suffering shapes us, refines us, prepares us, purifies us, beautifies us. Suffering matures people. In the gospel, suffering takes evil and pain and turns it back on itself; through suffering we overcome evil and pain. Out of darkness comes light, and out of death comes new life.”

The painful humiliation that Manasseh went through got his attention, where the prophets could not. The Bible says:

2 Chronicles 33:12-13 when {Manasseh} was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto {God}: and {God} was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought {Manasseh} again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.

Manasseh’s life changed. The shock and pain of being captured caused Manasseh to humble himself before God, and to repent of his sinful ways. How genuine was the change? It was truthful, a real change of heart. There are some who, when tried, they will turn to God with crocodile tears. But once the pain passes, they go back to their old ways.

Not Manasseh. This evil man repented. We read:

2 Chronicles 33:14-16 Now after this {Manasseh} built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. 15 And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the Lord, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. 16 And he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel.

Manasseh did a complete 180 degree turn around in his life. He began to follow the Lord, and commanded Judah to follow the Lord. I have had people tell me, “I don’t know if God would ever forgive me”. If God forgave Manasseh, He will forgive anyone … as long as we repent and turn to Him for mercy. Our God is a loving and merciful Lord. As the devotional “Today In The Word” notes:

Manasseh’s life teaches us that forgiveness is not limited by the amount of sin in our past, but by our eagerness to repent and change our future. How far does God need to go to get your attention? Only humility and repentance stand between you and God’s forgiveness.”

May God continue to reach lives through the wonder of His Word. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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