Saturday, September 21, 2013

Progress So far..

So far, we've completed 12 books of the Bible:
  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Leviticus
  4. Numbers
  5. Deuteronomy
  6. Joshua
  7. Judges
  8. Ruth
  9. 1 Samuel
  10. 2 Samuel
  11. 1 Kings
  12. 2 Kings
We also crossed the '10,000 verse' mark while in 2 Kings.

In terms of statistics. we are at:
36.38% of Chapters,
44.29% of Verses

2 Kings 25

Destruction of the temple in Jerusalem - Nicolas Poussin

The Fall of Jerusalem (contd...)
Nebuchadnezzar's army marched towards Jerusalem and kept the city under siege for two years. The famine inside the city became severe, and people had nothing to eat.

In the night the whole army fled throught the gate between two walls towards Arabah. The Babyloanian army overtook them and captured the king and his family. They killed the king's son, blinded his eyes and arrested him.

Later, Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem.
9 He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. 10 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. 
The temple was looted and everything was taken away. Those who served in the temple were executed.

Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah over those people who were left behind. Gedaliah was later assassinated by Nethaniah, who was of royal blood. However, all those who remained, everyone was afraid of Babylonians and fled to Egypt.

Jehoiachin Released
Jehoiachin was released from prison in the thirty seventh year of exile, The king gave him clothes, a seat at the king's table, and regular allowance as long as he lived.

This concludes our tour on the Book of 2 Kings.

2 Kings 24

Jehoiakim taken captive

Jehoiakim King of Judah (contd...)
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon invaded Judah and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. Then Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon. Babylonian,Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders swarmed the city and held seige. The king of Babylon captured everything while Jehoiakikm received no help from Egypt.

Jehoiachin King of Judah
- Son of Jehoiakim,
- Became king at age eighteen (18),
- Did evil in the eyes of the LORD,

When the Babylonian king came to Jerusalem, Jehoiachin and his family surrendered to him. After eight years of rule, he was taken prisoner by Nebuchadnezzar.
2 Kings 24:13 As the LORD had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed the treasures from the temple of the Lord and from the royal palace, and cut up the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the LORD. 14 He carried all Jerusalem into exile: all the officers and fighting men, and all the skilled workers and artisans - a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left.
Everyone including the king were taken captive to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle the king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah.

Zedekiah King of Judah
- Became king at age twenty one (21),
- Regined Jerusalem for eleven (11) years,
- Did evil in the eyes of LORD,

The Fall of Jerusalem
Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

2 Kings 23

Josiah destroys pagan gods

Josiah Renews the Covenant
The book of the Law which was discovered was read out to everyone, and the covenant was renewed. Josiah further curtailed pagan and idol worship.

  • All those articles made for Baal and Asherah were removed, 
  • The Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord was burned, 
  • Tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes from the temple of the LORD, 
  • Removed those quarters where women did weaving for Asherah, 
  • High places were desecrated, 
  • Molech's altars used to sacrifice sons and daughters were removed,
  • Burned chariots dedictated to sun,
  • Tore down altars built by Manasseh, 
  • Smashed those temples built by king Solomon for other gods, 
  • Destroyed those high places built by Jerobam, 
  • Instituted a national celebration of Passover,
  • Got rid of the mediums and spiritists,

The LORD was still angry at Judah because of Manasseh's deeds, and was going to remove Judah from His presence.

Josiah was killed in a battle against Egypt. His son Jehoahaz as the king.

Jehoahaz King of Judah
- Became king at the age of twenty three (23)
- Reigned Jerusalem three months,
- Did evil in the eyes of LORD,

The Pharaoh chained him and took him to Egypt. Huge taxes were levied upon Judah. His elder brother Jehoiakim extracted the gold and silver out of people to pay the Egyptians.

Jehoiakim King of Judah
At the age of twenty five (25), he became the king and reigned for eleven years. He continued doing evil in the eyes of the LORD.

2 Kings 22

Josiah listens to the scripture

The Book of the Law Found
Josiah became the boy-king at a young age of eight (8), when the country was in a flux, still recovering from the Assyrian invasion.

Profile of Josiah:
- An impressive king after King David,
- Did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.

King Josiah initiated a renovation project of the temple. The high priest, during the temple renovation, discovered a "Book of Law." This book was read out to the king by his secretary. Many believe this was the entire Pentateuch. When he listened to it's contents, he tore his clothes and ordered his high priest to check the authenticity of this book. The high priest went to a prophetesses and she revealed that it was indeed true. She said,
2 Kings 22:6 This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 
She concluded that since Josiah repented, he would not witness the disaster that LORD was about to bring upon Jerusalem and Judah.

2 Kings 21

Michelangelo's Hezekiah-Manasseh-Amon. Manasseh is probably the man on the right, pictured in meditative remorse, while the woman on the left is thought to be his wife, the mother of Amon and the unnamed son whom Manesseh offered as a sacrifice.

Manasseh King of Judah
- Was twelve (12) when he became king,
- Reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.
- Rebuilt thosee high places which his father Hezekiah had destroyed,
- Erected altars for Baal
- Made an Asherah pole in the temple of the LORD,
- Built altars in the temple of the Lord,
- Sacrificed his own son in the fire,
- Practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists,
- Did evil in the eyes of the LORD and aroused His anger.

2 Kings 21:12 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.

The LORD also said, "I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down."

Apart from encouraging people to commit sins, Manasseh also shed so much blood and martyred several of LORD'S prophets, who opposed his evil practices. Notably, he sawed Prophet Isaiah into two.

His son Amon succeeded as the king.

Amon King of Judah
- Became king at twenty two (22),
- Reigned in Jerusalem two years,
- Did evil in the eyes of the LORD,
- Worshiped idols like his father,

Few officials conspired and assassinated him. People then killed those who plotted against the king and murdered them. They made his son, Josiah, the king.

Remember the prophet from Judah in 1 Kings 13, who was killed by a lion? He had spoken about this Josiah.

Credits: New World Encyclopedia

Ouch - hurt my back

Hurt my back and and am struggling to sit up and type up today's post. Backache is not an easy one. Next week, I won't be travelling up to Philly - will be working from Atlanta.

The frequent question I get is, "What did you do, and why does it hurt?"

Some possible reasons are given below. As I avoid doctors and hospitals at every opportunity, am guessing one of these below diagnosis maybe accurate. Have 'Bengay' and 'Tiger-balm' as my best friends.

As far as our schedule goes, will do my best to stay on track.

Enjoy your weekend with family & friends.

A Deacon

Deacon is a ministry within the Christian Church, that is generally associated with service of some kind - which varies among theological and denominational traditions.

Biblical qualifications for a deacon:

1. Men of dignity 
Those whose reputation inside and outside the church is beyond reproach. 

2. Men of Integrity 
Those who are not double-tongued, but honest in speech. 

3. Proven Spiritual Maturity
Those who are filled with the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom; These are men who have been tested in their faith. 

4. Dedicated to His Family
One who is faithful to his wife, who serves as a good manager of his children and his own household. 

5. Temperate 
Those who are gentle in all areas of lifestyle, and who are not addicted to wine. 

6. Good Steward of Possessions
Those who are not fond of sordid gain nor greedy for money. 

7. Faithfulness to Biblical Doctrines
Those who hold on to the mystery of the faith, with a clear conscience. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

2 Kings 20

Isaiah Prophesies Hezekiah's Recovery

Hezekiah’s Illness
Hezekiah became seriously ill and was about to die. Prophet Isaiah said that he would not recover from his illness. Soon, Hezekiah wept bitterly and prayed to the LORD. Before Prophet Isaiah left the courtyard, the LORD commanded Isaiah to go back and talk to him. The LORD heard Hezekiah's prayers and added another fifteen years to his life.

Hezekiah asked for a sign and Prophet Isaiah provided him a sign. The shadow of the sun, on the dial would retrogress ten degrees back - which was possible only by the LORD.

Envoys From Babylon
When Hezekiah was healed, the king of Babylon - Marduk-Baladan sent him gifts and letters. Hezekiah then gave him a tour of his kingdom, his storehouse and all his wealth. When Prophet Isaiah heard this, he went and inquired with Hezekiah.
2 Kings 20:15 The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?”
“They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”
Then the prophet said that whatever they saw, will be taken to Babylon one day. Hezekiah's children will be taken away and serve as eunuchs.

Hezekiah just thought about peace during his own lifetime. He then died and his son Manasseh succeeded him as king.

2 Kings 19

King Hezekiah in the temple

In this chapter another heavy weight champion - Prophet Isaiah, enters the scene.

Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold
King Hezekiah tore his clothes and went to the temple of the LORD. In over two hundred fifty (250) years, this was the first time a king went to the temple to pray after king Solomon prayed there.

When prophet Isaiah was told about the incident, he comforted them. He made a prophecy
2 Kings 19:7 "Listen! When he (Sennacherib) hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword."
2 Kings 19:9 Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush, was marching out to fight against him.
In the meantime, he sent a note the Hezekiah saying that he will not be spared.

Hezekiah’s Prayer
Hezekiah spread out the note in front of the LORD. He then prayed hard for deliverance from the hands of the Assyrian kings.

Isaiah Prophesies Sennacherib’s Fall
LORD heard Hezekiah's prayer and spoke to Prophet Isaiah. This is explained in a poetic manner. Three things are explained here:
  1. The mockery towards LORD was paid by sudden and shameful retreat of Sennacherib,
  2. LORD assured Hezekiah through a sign, who was to recognize the deliverance of Jerusalem,
  3. The Assyrian would neither come into the city nor besiege it, as the LORD was sheltering it. 
One hundred eighty five thousand (185,000) men in the Assyrian camp died that night. When Sennacherib saw this, he withdrew and stayed in Ninevah. His sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and escaped. His other son, Esarhaddon, succeeded him as king.

2 Kings 18

King Hezekiah on a 17th-century painting
Hezekiah King of Judah
- Son of Ahaz,
- Was twenty-five (25) when he became the king.
- Ruled Judah for twenty-nine (29) years.
- Did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.
- Trusted in the LORD and followed Him,
- Reopened the temple which was closed by his father (2 Kings 16).
- Removed high places,
- Smashed sacred stones and cut down Asherah poles,
- Broke bronze snake built by Moses, which was still being venerated,
- Defeated Philistines and fortified city.

Incidents related to Israelites being deported to Assyria took place when Hezekiah was in his sixth year of rule. Hezekiah had not paid the tributes imposed by the Assyrian kings upon his father. He entered into a league with the Egyptians hoping they will come help him during a time of need - but they did not. In his fourteenth year, the Assyrian king, Sennacherib attacked and captured all cities of Judah. Hezekiah sent a note to Sennacherib saying, “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.”

Sennacherib asked for 10 tons of silver and 1 ton of gold. To meet this demand, Hezekiah had to scrape off gold which covered the temple doors and doorposts.

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem
Even after the tribute was paid, Sennacherib assaulted Jerusalem. The Assyrian commander spoke to the palace administrator at the city walls in Hebrew, saying,
- Not to trust Hezekiah,
- Pointed out that Hezekiah destroyed places of worship for gods,
- Indicated that Judah did not have military might, and
- Scared the people in LORD's name.

The palace administrator suggested the Assyrian commander to hold a private conversation rather than a public announcement. The Assyrian commander rejected that offer and spoke to the entire city. He further humiliated Hezekiah, and told the people not to listen to Hezekiah and to follow the Assyrians for a better living.

The palace administrator went to the king with torn clothes, and explained the situation.

2 Kings 17

Hoshea Last King of Israel
Hoshea reigned nine years and did evil in the eyes of the LORD. He had established a relationship with the Assyrian king Shalmaneser by paying him tribute year after year.

However, Shalmaneser discovered that Hoshea had become closer to the Egyptian king, and that he no longer received any tributes as before. Shalmaneser hence called him a traitor, seized Hoshea, and put him in prison. He then invaded entire Israel and deported the Israelites to Assyria.

Israel Exiled Because of Sin
All of these took place because they had sinned against the LORD, by worshiping other gods. The charge-sheet against Israelites said that, they:

  • Followed the practices of pagans, 
  • Followed practices introduced by Israelite kings, 
  • Secretly did things against the Lord, which were not right,
  • Built high places throughout their towns, 
  • Set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree,
  • Burned incense at every high place, 
  • Did wicked things that aroused the LORD'S anger. 
  • Worshiped idols, though LORD said not to. 
  • Did not listen to prophets when they said, “Turn from your evil ways." 
  • Did not trust in the LORD, 
  • Rejected the decrees and covenant made between LORD and their ancestors,  
  • Followed worthless idols and they themselves became worthless,
  • Imitated those nations around them, though LORD ordered not to.

Samaria Resettled
Now the King of Assyria brought people from Assyria and put them in towns of Samaria. These new inhabitants were constantly attacked by lions and became a trouble. They reached out to their king saying that the LORD of this land needs to be pleased and worshiped in a certain way. Therefore, a priest was sent to that land - to teach them how to worship the LORD.

They worshiped the LORD, and also had few additional gods. These additional gods were of all sorts - some even burned their children in the fire, as sacrifice. This was not at all pleasing to the LORD. He commands:
2 Kings 17:38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is He who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.

2 Kings 16

King Ahaz turns to Idols
Ahaz King of Judah

- Was twenty years old when he became king,
- Reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years.
- He did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD,
- Sacrificed his son in fire,
- Engaged in detestable practices,
- Offered sacrifices on high places,

During the reign of Ahaz, Judah plunged into the worst idolatry. Aram and Israel fought against Judah, but could not overpower them.

Ahaz used worldly wisdom, to forge alliances with Assyria by providing gifts of gold and silver from the temple of LORD and royal treasury. King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria.  He then sent home, a sketch of the altar he saw there. His men built it before king Ahaz returned home. Upon return, he offered burnt offering, grain offering, and a new offering called "drink offering" which many believe was that of wine.

He made few modifications to the LORD'S temple:
- Took away the side panels,
- Displaced the ancient brazen altar,
- Took away the Sabbath canopy,
- Removed royal entryway, in deference to king of Assyria.

Be back soon

Happy Friday!!

Got back home last night around 11:00 PM - no flight delays.

Rushing out for my Friday Bible class at 6:15 AM, and be back around 8:00.

For today's content, please check back around noon-ish. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2 Kings 15

Here is a summary of chapter 15

Azariah King of Judah
- Was sixteen years old when he became king,
- Reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years,
- He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done,
- High places were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there,
- The Lord afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died,
- Jotham the king’s son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.

Zechariah King of Israel
- Zechariah son of Jeroboam became king of Israel,
- He reigned six months,
- Did evil in the eyes of the LORD,
- Did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam,
- Shallum conspired against Zechariah,
- Shallum attacked the king in front of the people, assassinated him, and succeeded him as king.

Shallum King of Israel
- Shallum reigned one month,
- Menahem assassinated Shallum and became king.

Menahem King of Israel
- Menahem reigned for ten years,
- Did evil in the eyes of the LORD,
- Did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam,
- When Assyria attacked, he extracted money from the wealthy and gave it to Assyria.

Pekahiah King of Israel
- Pekahiah reigned two years,
- Did evil in the eyes of the LORD,
- Did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam,
- Pekah conspired and assassinated him to succeed as king.

Pekah King of Israel
- Deported people to Assyria,
- Hosea conspired against Pekahiah, assassinated him and took control.

Jotham King of Judah
- Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king,
- He reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years,
- He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,
- The high places were not removed and people offered sacrifices to pagan gods,
- Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the Lord.

2 Kings 14

Amaziah King of Judah
Amaziah was Joash's son, who ruled Judah twenty nine (29) years. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. As earlier, the pagan high places were not removed, and people continued to offer sacrifices there.

Among the highlights of his rule were that he executed those who murdered his father. He further defeated ten thousand (10,000) Edomites.

Amaziah then sent a challenge to the Israeli king, Jehoash, "Come meet me face to face."

Jehoash replied, "Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?"

Amaziah did not listen and set out for a battle against Israel. Jehoash captured Amaziah and went to Jerusalem and caused severe destruction. He then took all the plunder including gold and silver from the temple and royal palace. He even took hostages.

A conspiracy against Amaziah took place and he fled to Lachish, where he was eventually killed. His son, Azariah, who was sixteen years old became the king.

Jeroboam II King of Israel
Jeroboam ruled Israel for forty one (41) years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam. He restored boundaries of Israel. LORD showed mercy upon Israel during the time of Jeroboam II. He forged friendly relations with Judah and other neighboring countries. Israel enjoyed the most happy time and economic boom under his reign.

Unfortunately, this prosperity came together as a package with an unprecedented collapse in moral standards and wickedness.

2 Kings 13

Jehoash shooting arrow at Elisha's instructions

Jehoahaz King of Israel
Over in Israel, Jehoahaz did evil in the eyes of the LORD by following the sins of Jeroboam. The LORD was angry at Israel, and for a long time, they were under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son.

Once, Ahab had over two thousand (2,000) chariots. After those continuous attacks from Aram, they were left to a mere fifteen (15). When the kings of Aram were treating Israel very badly, Jehoazhaz reached out to the LORD and He heard him. Despite that, people did not turn away from their sins. Notably, an Asherah pole stood in Samaria.

Jehoash, King of Israel
Jehoash was son of Jehoahaz, who assumed power after Jehoahaz. Like father, he did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and followed the ways of Jeroboam.

Prophet Elisha was suffering from illness and king Jehoash went to visit him. Elisha asked Jehoash to shoot an arrow through the east window. He then asked the king to take the arrow and strike it on the ground. Elisha made a prophecy that Jehoash will defeat the king of Aram three times. Elisha was buried inside a tomb.

Once in Spring, while Israelites were burying a certain man, they saw a band of raiders attacking. They then threw the body into Elisha's tomb and ran away. The dead man touched Elisha's bones and miraculously came to life.

Jehoash defeated the king of Aram three times and recovered Israelite towns.

Who's who
Jehoahaz - son of Jehu

2 Kings 12

Joash Repairs the Temple
Joash reigned for forty years. Jehoiada, the priest instructed him and Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The high places, where pagan deities were worshiped, were not yet removed. People continued to offer sacrifices there.

After twenty three years of assuming the throne, king Joash asked Jehoiada, "“Why aren’t you repairing the damage done to the temple? Take no more money from your treasurers, but hand it over for repairing the temple.”

Few discussions followed and finally, the priests agreed not to take anymore money from the people, and they would not repair the temple themselves.
2 Kings 12:9 Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the LORD. 
All the money that came to the temple of the LORD was put in there, counted and paid towards the repair of the temple by workmen.
2 Kings 12:15 They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty
Around the same time, Hazal, king of Aram turned towards attacking Jerusalem. King Joash took all the sacred objects along with gold from temple and treasuries and donated it - to prevent a bloodshed. Hazal then withdrew from Jerusalem.

King Joash was later assassinated by his own officials. Amaziah, his son succeeded the throne.

2 Kings 11

Joash the king 
Athaliah and Joash
Athaliah, mother of Ahaziah, enforced a reign of terror. She went on to destroy the whole royal family after her son had been killed. Jehosheba took Joash from the royal family and hid him with a nurse and thus was saved. Joash remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years during the reign of Athaliah.

Jehoiada, the priest had married princess Jehosheba. He ordered tight security around the temple and anointed Joash as the king. At this time, Joash was only seven years old. When the king came out along with the people rejoicing, Athaliah learned about this and came out shouting, "Treason, treason." Jehoiada ordered her to be killed. He said, “She must not be put to death in the temple of the Lord.”
2 Kings 11:16 So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death.
Then Jehoiada made two covenants:
  1. Between the LORD and the king that they will be LORD'S people. 
  2. Between the king and the people defining mutual responsibilities 
All of Baal's priests were killed and the temple was torn down. Jehoiada then seated the king on his throne and all the people of the land rejoiced. 

Who's who
Athaliah - mother of Ahaziah
Jehosheba - daughter of King Jehoram & sister of Ahaziah,
Joash - son of Ahaziah's
Jehoiada - a priest and husband of Jehosheba

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2 Kings 10

Baal priests being killed

Ahab’s Family Killed
Ahab had seventy sons. There were many loyal followers of Ahab in the city. Jehu sent message to elders in Samaria to anoint the best son of Ahab as their heir, and then fight against him.
4 But they were terrified and said, “If two kings could not resist him, how can we?”
They sent a message back to Jehu saying that they will not appoint anyone as their king; instead Jehu could do whatever he wished. Jehu asked for the heads of Ahab's seventy sons. The elders killed all of them and packed their heads in baskets and shipped them to Jehu. Jehu then put them in two piles for display. All of Ahab's relatives were killed. Jehu also killed relatives of Ahaziah.

Jehu then met Jehonadab.
16 Jehu said, “Come with me and see my zeal for the LORD.” Then he had him ride along in his chariot.
Servants of Baal Killed
Jehu announced to the entire Israel, "“Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu will serve him much.
19 Now summon all the prophets of Baal, all his servants and all his priests. See that no one is missing, because I am going to hold a great sacrifice for Baal. Anyone who fails to come will no longer live.” 
Everyone assembled and it was crowded with fans of Baal.
22 And Jehu said to the keeper of the wardrobe, “Bring robes for all the servants of Baal.” So he brought out robes for them.
He made sure nobody serving the LORD was inside the temple. He went along with Jehonadab and posted tight security outside so that none would escape. After pretending to make a sacrifice, he ordered his officers to go kill everyone. He put and end to Baal worship in Israel. The LORD was pleased with Jehu.
30 The LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” 
Unfortunately, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam - worship of golden calf at Bethel and Dan.

Jehoahaz succeeded him as the next king.

2 Kings 9

The death of Jezebel

Jehu Anointed King of Israel
Prophet Elisha secretly sent prophet Jonah to secretly anoint Jehu, the commander of Jewish army, as the next king of Israel. After secrelty calling him into an inner room, Jonah anointed Jehu and said he will smite the house of Ahab. Jonah soon left the place after the meeting.

When Jehu came out, his friends asked him what news the prophet brought him. To this, Jehu said that he will become the next king of Israel.
13 They quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”

Jehu Kills Joram and Ahaziah
Jehu immediately went to meet king Joram at Jezreel. When a messenger was sent out to seek the immeidate arrival of Jehu, he retained him. A second messenger was sent again, who was retained as well.

When both messengers did not return, Joram and Ahaziah drove out to meet Jehu. They met at the field which belonged to Naboth (the one whom Jezebel got killed).
22 When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Jehu?”
“How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?”
23 Joram turned about and fled, calling out to Ahaziah, “Treachery, Ahaziah!”
Jehu then shot an arrow at Joram and killed him. Ahaziah tried to flee the scene. Jehu and his men wounded him, of which he died soon. 

Jezebel Killed
When Jezebel heard about these, she put on her eye makeup arranged her hair and looked out of window. When Jehu arrived, she spoke to him harshly. Jehu then had the eunuchs lift her and throw out of the window. Horses trampled her underfoot.

Jehu ordered for Jezebel's burial and he went on to eat and drink. Those who went looking for her could not find anything besides her skull, feet and hands. Dogs were devouring Jezebel's flesh. The prophecy of Elijah regarding the death of Jezebel had come true.

2 Kings 8

Elisha with the Shunammite woman

The Shunammite’s Land Restored
LORD decreed a famine in the land for seven years. Prophet Elisha informed the Shunammite woman, whose son whom he restored to life, to go stay away until famine was over. She and her family went and stayed in Philistine for seven years. When they returned, they found out that their property was illegally occupied by someone. They then went to the king to complain about this.

At this time, the king was holding a meeting with Gehazi about prophet Elisha's divine powers, and how he restored a boy to life. The king could hold a conference with a leper, with him being at a distance. When Gehazi saw the woman, he mentioned it to the king that this was the woman, whose son was restored. The king ordered his officials to restore the land of the Shunammite as it was earlier.

Hazael Murders Ben-Hadad
Ben-Hadad was seriously ill, and he heard that prophet Elisha was in Damascus. Ben-Hadad sent his most trusted man, Hazel, to inquire about his recovery, with gifts loaded upon forty camels. Elisha started weeping after meeting with Hazel. When inquired, Elisha said that Hazel will bring tremendous harm upon Israel by killing men, children, and even pregnant women. Hazel could not understand how he would do such a thing.

Prophet Elisha said that he will first murder Ben-Hadad and become the king. The next day, Hazel smothered Ben-Hadad by putting a wet cloth over his nose and mouth, and proclaimed himself the king.

Jehoram King of Judah
Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, ruled Judah for eight years. He married Ahab's daughter and did evil in the eyes of the LORD. He tried to battle the Edomites, but could not succeed. His son, Ahaziah succeeded as king of Judah.

Ahaziah King of Judah
Ahaziah, son of Jehoram, ruled Judah for one year and did evil in the eyes of LORD. He was wounded in a battle against the Arameans and stayed at Jezreel to recover.

Credits: Dwelling in the world

2 Kings 7

The Siege Lifted
After Elisha made the prophecy to king Joram, something strange took place that night. The LORD made the Syrians hear the sounds of a charging army - rolling chariots, charging cavalry and rushing troops. The Syrians were terrified and a terrible fear was cast upon them. Hearing the noise, they thought it was the Israelite king teamed up with Egyptians and Hittites to attack them. They therefore fled for their lives, abandoning their tents, horses and donkeys. Their whole camp was almost left intact.

Gehazi and his three sons had turned lepers, due to Elisha's curse. The four of them were almost about to die due to hunger caused by famine. They decided to go surrender to the Syrians, rather than dying. When they went inside, the Syrian tents were uninhabited, but contained food, water, clothes, gold and valuables. They took some and hid some for themselves. When they saw nobody in the Syrian camp, but ample food, clothing and valuables, they reported this news to the king of Israel.

King Joram thought it as a Syrian trap and sent a group of five horsemen to check it out.
15 They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king. 
When people heard this, they flocked towards the Syrian camp to gather the spoils. It reduced the price of flour and barley - thus, Elisha's prophecy came true.

The commander who had disbelieved Elisha was in charge of manning the gate. People trampled over him and he died - another prophecy of Elisha fulfilled. 

2 Kings 6

An Axehead floats
Once the company of prophets who were along with Elisha were cutting trees. One of them used an ax that was borrowed, which fell into the water. He cried out to Elisha for help. Elisha then threw a stick in the direction of the iron ax, and it came floating up.

Iron was available, but it was not as commonly available as today and hence was expensive.

Elisha Traps Blinded Arameans
Elisha was helping the king of Israel, by providing their exact location, whenever Syrian army attacked them. This infuriated the Syrian king and he sent an army to capture Elisha. By night, a large army with horses and chariots surrounded Elisha's house.

Elisha prayed to the LORD to blind their eyes. The army could not see him or recognize where they were. Elisha then offered to lead them to the man they were looking for. He then led them to Samaria, where he once again prayed to the LORD to open their eyes. When the army opened their eyes, they found themselves to be captives.

The king of Israel asked if he could kill them all, to which Elisha objected. Instead, he suggested to prepare a great feast to honor them, and send them to their master. When the army returned, they shared their experience and stopped attacking Israel for the time being.

Famine in Besieged Samaria
Ben-Hadad continued attacking Samaria was faced with severe famine and inflation. One day while the king was passing by, a woman cried out for help.
28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”
She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”
King Joram accused Elisha for the famine, felt left out by the LORD, and he personally approached Elisha's house. Elisha asked his men to shut the door. He spoke to the king that by tomorrow this time, there will be plenty of flour and barley for people.

One of the king's officers sneered at Elisha that the LORD will have to open His floodgates for such a thing to happen. Elisha responded that he will see it for himself, but will not taste it (due to his unbelief).

2 Kings 5

Naaman Healed of Leprosy
Naaman was a brave commander of the Syrian king, who became affected by leprosy. Due to this, he was unable to associate with others. His fame and wealth could not come to his rescue. One of his wife's maids urged him to go meet Elisha. Ben-Hadad wrote a special letter to the king of Israel to help Naaman.

One day, Naaman went to meet Elisha on his horses and chariots. Elisha did not come out of his house. Elisha sent a messenger and instructed Naaman to go wash in the muddy waters of river Jordan seven times. This was not acceptable to Naaman as he was not well received and there were other rivers which had cleaner water.

Naaman's servants urged him to listen to the prophet, which he finally did, and was cured of leprosy. He, along with all his attendants went to thank Elisha and offered several gifts including lands. Elisha refused all those gifts. Naaman became conscience of his own idol worship along with Ben-Hadad.

Gehazi, one of Elisha's messengers, noticed his master refusing all those gifts which Naaman had offered. He then went after Naaman and deceived him, claiming that Elisha had sent him asking for two talents of silver and two sets of clothes. Naaman happily gave them.

Upon returning home, Elisha was standing at the entrance and punished Gehazi that Naaman's leprosy would cling to him. Gehazi then turned leprous.

2 Kings 4

Woman approaching Elisha for help

The Widow's Oil 
Jezebel had annihilated several of LORD'S prophets. One such person was prophet Obadiah. The widow of prophet Obadiah came to Elisha asking for help as she and her sons could not pay the creditors.

The last thing she had in her house was a pot of oil. Elisha told her to borrow as many vessels as possible, from her neighbors. She was told to shut herself inside the house along with her boys, as this miracle was not supposed to be one of a public demonstration. She followed Elisha's instructions and poured oil into the vessel until it was full, which never ran out. She continued pouring oil into all those vessels which she had collected.

Elisha then asked her to go sell that oil and pay her debtors. The woman sold oil and supported herself and her children.

The Shunammite's son restored to life
There once lived a childless woman, who recognized the godly capabilities of Elisha. She spoke to her husband and provided room for Elisha whenever he came to the city. Her only desire was to have a child, which Elisha promised she will have by next year.

The following year, the woman had a son. When the child grew up, and when he was around five years old, he died of severe headache. The mother grieved and lay her child in he house. With her husband's permission, she went to meet Elisha at Mount Carmel.

Elisha went back immediately and prayed hard to the LORD to restore the life of this child. Eventually, the son came back to life.

This child would later become the prophet Habakuk. 

2 Kings 3

Moab Revolts
After the death of Ahaziah, his brother Joram became the king. He continued doing evil as his parents. The only notable thing he did was that he partly abolished Baal worship.

Mesha was the king of Moab, and was slaughtering those captured tribes of Israel to their god Chemosh. He did not pay those tributes which he was supposed to pay as well.  Joram approached Jehoshaphat to go team up with him to go fight Mesha. Jehoshaphat agreed and they included the king of Edom along with their team.

A drought prevailed across the land, and there was insufficient water for the army. Jehoshaphat suggested they see a LORD'S prophet and inquire the situation - they decided to bring prophet Elisha in. When prophet Elisha arrived, he rebuked Joram for idol worship and showed LORD'S kindness as well.

Prophet Elisha asked soldiers to dig trenches, which were divinely filled with water. With this, the troops were able to quench the thirst of their army.

There was no water in the land other than these trenches. The next morning as sun rose, the water seemed like blood to the enemy camp. Moab's men thought the three kings' men fought each other and this was a pool of blood. That day, Mesha's men lost terribly.

Mesha then took his firstborn son and offered as a burnt offering to Chemosh on the city wall. 

2 Kings 2

Elijah's mantle passed along to Elisha

Elijah Taken Up to Heaven
On the LORD appointed day, Elijah was taken into the heaven alive. Elijah was along with his disciple Elisha and fifty other prophets at Gilgal. When they reached the shores of river Jordan, Elijah took his cloak and hit the waters - and it parted. Elijah, Elisha and the fifty prophets walked on dry land to cross river Jordan. When Elijah asked Elisha if he could do something for him, Elisha replied saying that he wanted a double dose of Elijah's divine spirit. Elijah replied that his wish was no ordinary wish, and it would come true if LORD allowed him to witness Elijah being taken away from Elisha.

Then suddenly a fiery chariot, drawn by fiery horses appeared and separated them. Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw his master disappear and in bitter grief he rent his garments, and exclaimed: "My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its riders!"

Elijah's cloak had fallen down. Elisha took it and stuck it on waters of river Jordan - it separated and he crossed over.

Healing of the Water
In Jericho, Elisha healed the water, which was was not fit for drinking, and caused death.

Elisha Is Jeered
When Elisha was in Bethel, few young men made fun at him. They were making exorbitant profit by bringing water from out of town. When the water of Jericho was healed, they hated him for destroying their business. They also teased him as Elisha was bald headed. In those days, baldness was not common and lush hair was considered healthy. Elisha cursed them. Two bears came out and mauled forty two (42) young adults.

2 Kings 1

The Lord’s Judgment on Ahaziah
Ahaziah, Ahab's son fell through the lattice of his upper room and injured himself. He wanted to find out if he will recover from his injury, and sent a messenger to Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron.

An angel of LORD asked Elijah to intercept this messenger and give the message that Ahaziah will certainly die of this injury. When the king heard this message, he became furious that Elijah gave such a prophecy. He asked his commanders to go capture Elijah.

The first group of fifty men and commanders came to take Elijah to the prison. A fire consumed all the men. A second battalion of fifty men were again sent to go capture Elijah, and the fire consumed them again.

A third team came, but the commander was afraid of what happened earlier. He therefore obediently asked Elijah to accompany him. The Angel of LORD advised Elijah not to be afraid and go along with the commander to meet the king.
16 He told the king, “This is what the LORD says: Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”
And shortly Ahaziah died. He did not have a son of his own, and Joram, Ahab's son (Ahaziah's brother) succeeded him as the king. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

1 kings 21 - 22

Elijah meets Ahab and Jezebel - Frederic Leighton

Dear Readers,
This concludes the book of 1 Kings.

1 Kings Chapter 21
Ahab, in him mind coveted Naboth's vineyard to build a vegetable garden. Jezebel murdered Naboth to get possession of this vineyard. LORD, through prophet Elijah spoke about annihilating Ahab’s family. Ahab repented when he heard this. LORD saw Ahab's repentance and postponed his punishment.

1 Kings Chapter 22
Ahab joined forces with Jehoshaphat king of Judah, to fight Ben-Hadad. Ahab was killed by a stray arrow, and bled to death. The next two sections describe the reigns of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, who walked in the ways of the LORD, and Ahaziah king of Israel, who did evil as his parents.

-----------------------BIBLE READING------------------
WARNING: Some of the actions performed in this book are dangerous and should only be attempted by professionals familiar with the action in question.



-------------------FOOD FOR THOUGHT----------------



1 Kings 22

Ahab's death

Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab
While Ahab was the king of Israel, Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah. Ahab gave his daughter in marriage to Jehoram and forged a peaceful alliance between the two countries. Ben-Hadad had not yet returned the city of Ramoth Gilead as part of previous agreement. Ahab therefore went and met with Jehoshaphat to together go fight against Ben-Hadad.

Jehoshaphat wanted to consult with prophets prior to making such a move. Ahab of Israel consulted with his four hundred (400) prophets and all of them gave an affirmative answer. These Baal's and Asherah's prophets would always twist their answers in favor of the kings.
7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?”
Ahab, then mentioned about prophet Micaiah, who always gave unfavorable answers. Micaiah was accordingly summoned. When questioned, he made a sarcastic comment, "Attack and be victorious" (this is how verse 15 should be interpreted).

Ahab knew that Micaiah was making fun of him. and asked him firmly. To this, Micaiah said that in the upcoming battle, Israelites will be scattered and depicted Ahab's death. He also said that these prophets of Baal and Asherah are lying. One prophet slapped Micaiah on his face, and Ahab finally had him imprisoned.

Ahab Killed at Ramoth Gilead
Against the warnings of Micaiah, both kings went on to fight Ben-Hadad. In those days, if the leader of a certain side was captured or killed, the army usually fell apart. Ben-Hadad was targeting Ahab. Therefore, to deceive Ben-Hadad's men, Ahab wore the armor of a common soldier and made Jehoshaphat wear royal robes. A random arrow hit Ahab between his armor and he started bleeding severely. In the evening, the war was lost and Ahab's chariot was brought for washing, where dogs licked his blood - to fulfill Elijah's prophecy.

Jehoshaphat King of Judah
Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, like his father, Asa. He was at peace with Israel. He removed those existing male prostitutes from the land, but did not remove those "high places." Jehoram, his son succeeded him as the king.

Ahaziah, King of Israel
Ahaziah, Ahab's son, ruled only for two years. He walked in his parents' ways and did evil. He worshiped Baal and provoked the LORD.

1 Kings 21

Ahab and Jezebel meeting Elijah in Naboth's vineyard

Naboth’s Vineyard
Ahab maintained multiple palaces, and one was situated in Jezreel. Adjacent to his palace, there was a vineyard that belonged to Naboth. Ahab wanted to take possession of Naboth's vineyard and turn it into a vegetable garden. Naboth refused to give away his ancestral property in exchange for money or alternate land. Ahab became angry and depressed at this rejection. He then went and lay down in his palace without eating or drinking. Jezebel heard about this.
7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

She then forged documents using the king's seal and sent letters to the elders. In it, she asked them to hold a feast to honor Naboth, who should be seated between two wicked men. Then, the wicked men were to (falsely) testify against Naboth that he cursed LORD and the king. For this, he should be taken out of the city and stoned to death.

The elders did so, and shared the news with Jezebel. She then told Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” Ahab was excited to do so.

LORD told Elijah to go rebuke Ahab and Jezebel. "Dogs will lick the blood of Ahab, and dogs will devour Jezebel by the walls of Jezreel," Elijah said. When Ahab heard this, he put on sack clothes and mourned.

When LORD saw Ahab mourning, he postponed his punishment.

Additional Info
According to the law of Moses, at least two people should testify against someone to implement capital punishment.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

1 Kings 17 - 20

Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath by BREENBERGH, Bartholomeus 1630

King Ahab was under the evil dominion of his wife, Jezebel, who was a fanatical idol worshiper - especially that of Baal. Altars of Baal were built and regular sacrifices were offered. There were over four hundred fifty (450) prophets of Baal alone. Another four hundred (400) prophets of Asherah sat at Jezebel's table as daily guests. While entertaining the prophets of Baal and Asherah, she fiercely persecuted all of LORD'S prophet and anyone who spoke was sure to fortify his life.

This is when prophet Elijah was sent by LORD to vigorously oppose Baal worship. Elijah is another superhero of the Bible, who ascended into the heaven alive. Prophet Elijah was LORD'S representative, just like how Moses was.

1 Kings Chapter 17
Elijah went and spoke to king Ahab that there will be no rains. He then went and stayed at a widow's place. He then performed two miracles for the widow - by granting her an unlimited supply of food and healing her dead son.

1 Kings Chapter 18
Elijah held a duel with four hundred fifty prophets of Baal on top of Mount Carmel. Baal was proved to be an inefficacious deity and LORD's power consumed Elijah’s sacrifice. People then killed all those prophets of Baal. Elijah brought rains back to Israel, ending the drought. He then outran Ahab's chariot to Jezebel.

1 Kings Chapter 19
Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah. With the help of an angel, Elijah traveled to Horeb after forty days and forty nights. He then encountered the LORD. Elijah then returned to Israel and accepted Elisha as his apprentice.

1 Kings Chapter 20
After laying siege to Samaria, Ben-Hadad was defeated by Ahab’s small army. A second battle erupted and Ahab is once again victorious. Ahab was rebuked by an unnamed prophet for letting Ben-Hadad go free.

-----------------------BIBLE READING------------------
WARNING: Some of the actions performed in this book are dangerous and should only be attempted by professionals familiar with the action in question.



-------------------FOOD FOR THOUGHT----------------



Michael D Waters.,

1 Kings 20

Israelites slaughter Syrians

Ben-Hadad Attacks Samaria
Syria gathered a large army consisting of thirty three (33) kings and under the leadership of Ben-Hadad, challenged Ahab. They asked for his silver, gold, women and children. At first, Ahab obliged to give everything that belonged to him, as he felt weak and cowardly.

Ben-Hadad then provoked Ahab to war by sending a second message that was even more insolent than the first. To this, the elders of Israel rejected Ben-Hadad's demands. This led towards war between Israel and Ben-Hadad.

Ahab Defeats Ben-Hadad
A certain prophet appeared before the king and provided courage. Many believe this prophet to be Micaiah. He told Ahab to be courageous as LORD would deliver the enemies into his hands. While Ben-Hadad and other kings were getting drunk around noon-time in their tents, on the mountains, while Ahab's army made a forary - by total surprise. This confused the combined army and everyone including Ben-Hadad fled the scene.

The following Spring, Ben-Hadad attacked Ahab once again. The battle was planned on the plains of Aphek, rather than mountains. Once again, the prophet (Micaiah) came to Ahab and assured victory.
28 The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the LORD.’”
After seven days, the armies clashed and on one day, one hundred thousand (100,000) causalities were inflicted on the Syrian army. Another seventy thousand (70,000) fell under a collapsed wall.
Ben-Hadad wearing sack clothes came pleading to Ahab. Ahab felt sad and agreed on a peace treaty.

A Prophet Condemns Ahab
The prophet (Micaiah) disguised as wounded and injured went near Ahab and staged a drama. He was not happy that Ben-Hadad was left free. He then removed his disguise.
42 He said to the king, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die.Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’”

1 Kings 19

Angel provides prophet Elijah

Elijah Flees to Horeb
Ahab told Jezebel all that he witnessed at Mount Carmel, including the death of prophets of Baal. Jezebel raged with fear, and she wanted to put prophet Elijah to death. Hearing this, Elijah fled to the desert of Judah. He was too tired and so disappointed that he was willing to die. An angel appeared and provided him food and water. Elijah ate, drank and fell asleep. An angel appeared a second time and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” Elijah ate and drank and prepared for the journey - which lasted forty days. He then went and spent time in a cave.

The Cave believed to be used by Elijah for hiding. 

The Lord Appears to Elijah
Elijah complained about his sufferings to the LORD, and mourned the assassinations of LORD's prophets at the hands of Jezebel. The LORD was about to appear to Elijah outside the cave.

Elijah stood on the mountainside and the LORD manifested Himself to him. At first there was a great and strong wind that rocked the mountain, but LORD was not in the wind. Then came an earthquake, in which the LORD was not in. A fire followed the earthquake, but LORD was not in the fire even. Then Elijah heard a still, soft whisper, and he covered his face with his mantle and stood at the entrance of the cave.

LORD gave few commands to Elijah:
- To go to Damascus and anoint Hazael, as king over Syria,
- To anoint Jehu, to be king over Israel.
- To anoint Elisha, as the prophet in Elijah's place.

Elijah summons Elisha

The Call of Elisha
Prophet Elijah went and met Elisha when he was plowing in the field. In a symbolic gesture, Elijah threw his cloak around Elisha. Understanding the meaning of this, Elisha was excited and rushed home to take leave from them. He took the oxen and sacrificed them and held a feast. From then on, Elisha became Elijah's assistant.