Saturday, October 5, 2013

Nehemiah 6

Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem
Further opposition to the building
This chapter continues on those oppositions. When people went back to work, so did the enemies of Jerusalem. The attacks were aimed on the leader - Nehemiah.

The enemies used guile and invited Nehemiah four times to meet with them. All four times Nehemiah said, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

The fifth time, Nehemiah received an open letter with slanderous accusations that he was plotting to attack them. At the end of the accusation, there was another invitation, "Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”
Nehemiah 6:8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
Shemaiah, a false prophet was hiding inside his own house. When Nehemiah went to meet him, Shemaiah urged Nehemiah to go hide in the Temple. Nehemiah, apparaently was not afraid to point out that he was not going to the temple. Nehemiah also figured out that Shemaiah was a liar.

The construction of the wall was completed in fifty two (52) days.

Opposition to the Completed Wall
When news got out that the construction was completed, enemies were afraid. Several compromising nobles tried hard for Nehemiah to accept the enemy. He had a work to complete, and he did it.



--------------Additional Info 1
City Walls
Old City walls of Jerusalem

--------------Additional Info 2
Obstacles
If anyone ever decides to follow the LORD, be sure to meet the enemy - Satan. He steps in with his snares of temptation aimed at those spiritual leaders. Further, Satan uses slander terms such as, "It is reported," "They say," "I have heard," etc.

Finally, a word of caution - Satan is most dangerous, when he disguises himself and appears to us as one of our own friends!


Nehemiah 5

Nehemiah helps poor

Nehemiah Helps the Poor
Burning issues took center stage. Strife among the Jews caused a split between them. There was was a famine in the land, and people where low on cash. They had hardly anything to eat and construction work came to a grinding halt. The rich had lend the poor money on interest and this angered Nehemiah.
Nehemiah 5:6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.
He then called for a large meeting and accused the rich of taking advantage of the situation, by charging interest. They agreed to the conditions set forth, and took an oath to honor it.

Being the governor, Nehemiah received lots of food from the King, which he used to feed the hungry.






Nehemiah 4

Nehemiah's crew fighting the opposition

Opposition to the Rebuilding
The enemies of Jerusalem were greatly incensed at the news of the city walls being rebuilt. Their first weapon of opposition was ridicule - a weapon used by those filled with jealousy. Nehemiah did not allow his men to fall into Satan's trap by picking up a fight against the enemies who were showering insults. He instead continued his prayers and carried on with the work.
Nehemiah 4:6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
The next step in discouragement was by using force. The enemies conspired and came to fight. To handle this threat, Nehemiah strengthened the prayers and also set a watch.
Nehemiah 4:9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
In the third step, enemy used the tactic of discouragement and complaining, which arose from within. The tactic that Nehemiah used was not to pay attention to these complaints. He continued construction, praying and watching.

Fourth step in opposition is inflicting fear. There was rumor that the enemies would come attack anytime. Nehemiah tacked this folly by handing his workers with weapon in one hand and tool in the other. Half his men were armed with weapons and on guard. He also encouraged them with the presence of the LORD and to fight for their families and homes. Orders were given to assemble at the sound of trumpet if required. Everyone stayed alert.

In a nutshell, Nehemiah prepared against the opposition by inspiring them to have:
- a focused mind,
- a praying heart,
- a watchful eye, and
- a listening ear.








Additional Reading
The best example of a mocker is the Satan himself - in Luke 22:63, 23:35-37. 

Nehemiah 3

Nehemiah building the wall

Builders of the Wall
This chapter lists those who worked on the project. Spiritual leaders took the lead in building the wall. There were a variety of workers such as:
- Priests,
- Rulers,
- Women,
- Craftsmen,
- Jews from other cities

Various gates that were repaired:
- The sheep gate,
- The fish gate,
- The old gate,
- The valley gate,
- The dung gate,
- The gate of fountain,
- The water gate,
- The horse gate,
- The east gate,
- The gate Miphkad

Nehemiah 2


Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem
Nobody was supposed to enter the King's presence with a sad face. When the king noticed Nehemiah being sad, he inquired the situation. Nehemiah confessed it was due to the sad state of his ancestor's city, which was burned down. With the King's permission and backing, Nehemiah set out to Jerusalem. The enemies of Jerusalem learned about this plan, and were disturbed.

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls
Then Nehemiah made a secret trip to Jerusalem, which took him three months. In the night, he went and carefully examined the extend of damage which affected the gates and walls. Then, he estimated the effort required to rebuild it.

Nehemiah discussed this matter with the Jews and shared his motive of rebuilding the wall.
Nehemiah 2:17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.”

The enemies of Jerusalem came by, mocked and ridiculed them. Nehemiah told them they had no share in this reconstruction project and ignored their scorn.

Nehemiah 1


Nehemiah’s Prayer
The year was 445 BC and LORD was looking for someone to restore safety and order in Jerusalem. At the time when Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of the King of Persia, wrote this book, Jerusalem was in a deplorable condition.
Nehemiah 1:3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Day and night, he wept and prayed for four months, confessing his sins as well as his people's sins. He also submitted himself for the work of the LORD.



------------------------Additional Reading
The following Psalms portray the picture of a shameful city:
Psalms 79
Psalms 122
Psalms 137

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ezra 10

The foreign women

The People’s Confession of Sin
A large crowd gathered around Ezra was weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God. They too wept bitterly.

One of them said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us." He made a motion to send away all those women back, along with their children.
Ezra 10:5 So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath.
Even then, Ezra mourned unfaithfulness of the exiles.  He then sent out a proclamation for every Israelite to gather in three days.
Ezra 10:10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. 11 Now honor[a] the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”
12 The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say.
It was rainy season and the people asked for some time to settle this matter. Ezra then appointed leaders over men to carry out the action plan.

Those Guilty of Intermarriage
This section outlines those who married foreign women. This is somewhat a shameful list - their wives were not willing to convert to Jewish religion.

A Root Cause Analysis performed on why these Jewish men were inclined towards marrying women from pagan culture leads us to Malachi chapter 2. It seems due to the hardships of exile, Jewish women had lost their beauty and they aged before their time. Jewish men were attracted towards the external beauty of pagen women even though they were unwilling to accept Jewish faith.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ezra 9

Ezra praying

Ezra’s Prayer About Intermarriage
Ezra discovered that with the help of leaders and elders, people have started intermarrying Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. He was alarmed to learn that the detestable practices of the heathen were being followed by his people.

When he heard this, he tore his garments in public and sat like a dumb fellow till the time of evening sacrifice.

During the evening sacrifice, he fell on his knees, confessed and prayed to the the LORD, “I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens."

The LORD had sent the people into exile due to their detestable practices, and the people were once again repeating them.

Ezra 8

Return from captivity

List of the Family Heads Returning With Ezra
This section lists the names of those families who joined Ezra in that hazardous journey.

The Return to Jerusalem
Levites had to go to educate the people, but many opted not to. Ezra had a tough time drafting many to go with him by undertaking a fast - he knew that only LORD could provide for their journey. Ezra admitted that he was ashamed to go ask the king for military help as he proclaimed that LORD'S hand was with them.

Ezra entrusted the gold, silver and valuable articled with twelve leading priests and gave them the responsibility of guarding them against bandits and robbers. With the help of the LORD, they arrived safely and handed over the valuables into temple treasury. Later, they offered sacrifices and thanked the LORD.

The king's decree was handed over to the governor and his provisions were provided.


Ezra 7

Ezra reads the law

Ezra Comes to Jerusalem
After all these events, Ezra, one of the descendants of Aaron came to Jerusalem from Babylon. Ezra was well versed with the scripture and was a teacher.

Ezra had requested permission from the king to go to Jerusalem and to provide spiritual guidance to people. It took four months to complete the journey of a thousand miles.

King Artaxerxes’ Letter to Ezra
The king issued a letter to Ezra, the priest, giving authority to take as many Jews who were willing to go to Jerusalem. He also opened up the treasury and provided valuables. No taxes were imposed upon them. Ezra was tasked with establishing religious worship and justice in the land. For this, an expense account was opened where Ezra could freely ask whatever he wanted.

Towards the end of this chapter, Ezra praises the hand of LORD that was with him, who extended favor for him.

Ezra 6

Darius issuing a decree to continue construction

The Decree of Darius
King Darius of Persia ordered a thorough search and a scroll containing the decree issues by king Cyrus was discovered. In this decree, it was documented that the Jews were supposed to rebuild their temple and the Persian king would finance the project.

To this decree, King Darius added his own decree that Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates should not interfere in the construction and instead should fully finance the project and provide all necessary support. Anyone obstructing the construction was ordered to be impaled.

Completion and Dedication of the Temple
With the governor's encouragement, the temple work was completed. Though the building was not as grandiose as King Solomon's temple, it was dedicated to the LORD.
Ezra 6:16 Then the people of Israel - the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles -  celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.
The Passover
Those who returned from exile changed their detestable ways and sought the presence of the LORD. They were ceremonially clean while observing the Passover.
Ezra 6:19 On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover.

Ezra 5


Tattenai’s Letter to Darius
The word of LORD was proclaimed by two prophets - Haggai and Zechariah, that the work will resume.
Ezra 5:2 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Joshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.
At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates questioned who provided the authority to rebuild the temple. After learning the details, he drafted a letter to Darius.

In his letter, he indicated that the material and labor was supplied rightly from the royal treasury in the first year of Cyrus. He also indicated that a search could be conducted to investigate this matter.



Ezra 4


Opposition to the Rebuilding
There is always one person who does not want LORD'S work to prosper - none other than our enemy, Satan. He creeps in wherever there is positive construction, and tries to destroy it.

The enemies of Judah, the Samaritans came and said, “Let us help you build the temple." But Joshua and Zerubbabel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God."

Hearing this, they bribed the officials, discouraged them and worked against frustrating their plans.

Later Opposition Under Xerxes and Artaxerxes
A false accusation was written against people of Judah to stop the construction, by influencing the king. The letter had a combination of truth and lies - hence it has to be drafted under the influence of Satan. The language was skillfully crafted to sound as if they supported the king.

The king commanded to stop the work until further notice. It was discontinued for fifteen years, until the second year of Darius.







Ezra 3

Rebuilding the Altar
Rebuilding the Altar
The first priority was to rebuild the altar. The exiles trusted in the LORD and obeyed him. Joshua, the priest and Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, who was a royal descendant led the people to establish sacrifices.

The sacrifices were made in the seventh month, during the month of the feast of Tabernacle.

Rebuilding the Temple
The Persian king gave support both moral and financial to rebuild the temple. Masons, carpenters and other skilled workers were brought in from Sidon and Tyre. Timber was brought in from Lebanon. Then in the second month of second year, work of the temple began.

There were mixed reaction among the people. Many praised the LORD saying, “He is good; His love toward Israel endures forever.”
Ezra 3:12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.
Those who were fortunate to stand at the very site over half a century ago, wept aloud because they knew the splendor and glory of the first temple of Solomon could never be matched.




Ezra 2

The return of the exiles

The List of the Exiles Who Returned
This chapter outlines the Jews who returned to Jerusalem.

The registry is organized in parts
- Leaders,
- Certain families,
- Certain towns,
- The priests,
- The Levites,
- Temple helpers,
- Solomon's servants,
- Those without genealogy.

The total number was 49,897. All twelve tribes were represented. The priests offered twelve male goats for the twelve tribes.

Now, many Jews settled down in Babylon and had no intention to return. They were comfortable with the material benefit and security and abandoned the promised land of their forefathers and stayed back.



Ezra 1

Jews return to Jerusalem

Cyrus Helps the Exiles to Return
Even before the great ruler Cyrus was born, an amazing prophecy was made about him by Isaiah in chapters 44 and 45.

Cyrus conquered Babylon and treated the prisoners of war differently. He encouraged the Jews to return to their land and build their temple. He made a proclamation regarding this.

Hearts of the people were moved and they were encouraged to go back and rebuild the temple. Cyrus even returned those valuables including gold and silver which was looted from Solomon's temple which was placed in their temple of gods.
Ezra 1:11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

Introduction to Ezra and Nehemiah


Introduction
We read from the Kings and Chronicles that Babylonians deported several people between 606 BC and 586 BC.

Ezra and Nehemiah tell the same story - return of the Jews to Jerusalem, and rebuilding the temple. Therefore, the two are essentially one book in the Hebrew Bible.

Daniel and Ezekiel were among those who were deported. Prophet Jeremiah, in his writings predicted a seventy year captivity.

The book of Esther fits into this period as well, along with books of prophets Haggai and Zechariah.

Chronology of events
BC 606 Babylon began invasion and deportation
BC 587 Jerusalem fell completely to the enemy
BC 539 Babylon fell to the Persian Empire
BC 538 Cyrus permitted Jews to return and about 50,000 returned.
BC 535 Temple construction began, but was stopped
BC 520 Work of Temple started again
BC 515 Temple constructed completed and dedicated
BC 476 Esther became the queen of Persia
BC 458 Ezra traveled to Jerusalem

About Ezra
Ezra was a patriotic and Godly Jew, who was also a priest. He studied the scripture regularly and was a man of prayer. Ezra means 'help'. Ezra had immense faith in the LORD. He was willing to undertake a dangerous journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. He did this without any military escort.

About Nehemiah
Nehemiah was a layman and was not of royal or priestly lineage. He was an officer in the King's court. The priest during that time was Joshua, and the two prophets were Haggai and Zechariah.

Prayer
It was during their time in exile Jews realized the importance of prayers. Regular and family prayers originated during that time. They prayed in unison at a specific time.




Who is your father


A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope he doesn't come over here." But sure enough, the man did come over to their table.

"Where are you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice.

"Oklahoma," they answered.

"Great to have you here in Tennessee," the stranger said. "What do you do for a living?"

"I teach at a seminary," he replied.

"Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a really great story for you."

And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great ... Just what I need ... another preacher story!"

The man started, "See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, ’Hey boy, Who’s your daddy?’ Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, ’Who’s your daddy?’

He would hide at recess and lunchtime from other students. He would avoid going in to stores because that question hurt him so bad.

"When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, ’Who’s your daddy?’ But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.

Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, Son, who’s your daddy?

The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, ’Who’s your daddy?’

"This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy ... "Wait a minute! I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God. "

With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, "Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it."

"With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, ’Who’s your Daddy?’ he’d just tell them, ’I’m a Child of God.’"

The distinguished! gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn’t that a great story?"

The professor responded that it really was a great story!

As the man turned to leave, he said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!" And he walked away.

The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over & asked her, "Do you know who that man was who just left that was sitting at our table?"

The waitress grinned and said, "Of course. Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper. He’s the former governor of Tennessee!"

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2 Chronicles 36

King Solomon's Temple Destroyed 
Jehoahaz King of Judah
- Son of Josiah,
- King of Egypt dethoroned him,
- King of Egypt imposed heavy taxes,
- Had a short reign of three months,
- Egyptian king crowned his brother Jehoiakim.

Jehoiakim King of Judah
- Reigned eleven years,
- Did evil in the sight of LORD,
- Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took him captive,
- The articles of temple were taken away as well.

Jehoiachin King of Judah
- Son of Jehoiachin,
- Reigned almost 100 days,
- Did evil in the eyes of LORD,
- Nebuchadnezzar took him and valuables from Temple,
- Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah, his uncle the king.

Zedekiah King of Judah
- Twenty one when he became king,
- Reigned eleven years,
- Did evil in the eyes of LORD,
- Rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar,
- People became unfaithful to LORD.

The Fall of Jerusalem
The LORD was angry and He handed them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. The people of Judah did not give heed to any of the advice from Prophets.
2 Chronicles 36:16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.
- Babylonian king murdered men, women and children, and elders,
- Temple treasures were lookted,
- Temple of the LORD was burned down, bringing down the great temple of king Solomon to ruins.
- Those who survived were take captive to Babylon.

They captivity lasted for seventy years.

Only the land of Israel enjoyed the Sabbath. It is interesting to note that the land was never given a Sabbath for the past 490 years. Now, it would receive a Sabbath for seventy years - which was mathematically accurate.

When the Persian king took control, he announced a decree in his first year:
2 Chronicles 36:23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the LORD their God be with them.’”

2 Chronicles 35

Josiah hit by an arrow

Josiah Celebrates the Passover
Large scale planning and preparation works were underway in order to conduct the Passover celebration as per the law of Moses.

- Priests were assigned duties,
- Ark was put back in the right place,
- Elaborate security measures were in place at the gates,
- Singers were assigned as part of communal worship.

The king was very generous in providing thirty thousand lambs or goats and three thousand cattle for the people. The Passover meal was prepared in accordance with the law and the Passover itself was called remarkable due to:

- Elaborate preparations,
- Magnitude of celebrations,
- Participation of people from Israel and Judah,
- Observance of the law of Moses.

The Death of Josiah
In a war between Assyrians and Egyptians, Josiah politically supported the Assyrian side. He had no reason to participate in the war, and indulged in it against the counsel of the Egyptian King. He was wounded in the battle by and arrow, and later bled to death.



2 Chronicles 34


Josiah’s Reforms
Josiah's Profile;
- Was eight when he became king,
- Reigned thirty one years,
- Did what was right in the sight of LORD,
- Abolished high places, Asherah poles and idols.

He undertook the repair work of temple and restored it.

During the progression of temple construction work, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses. He handed it over to the Secretary, Shaphan, and later informed the king. Shaphan then read it out to the King. When Josiah heard all that was written, he tore his robes and asked Shaphan to go inquire about the LORD.

2 Chronicles 34:24 ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people - all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah. 25 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all that their hands have made, my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.’

However, the LORD would not bring disaster during the time of Josiah.

The king renewed the covenant with the people to follow the LORD with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant.

2 Chronicles 33


Manasseh King of Judah
- Was twelve when he became king,
- Reigned fifty five years,
- Did evil in the eyes of the LORD,
- Erected Baals and Asherah poles,
- Sacrificed his own children in fire,

Manasseh paid no attention to the LORD'S words. The king of Assyria took Manasseh prisoner. At that time, he humbled and prayed to the LORD. Now, he removed all those idols and restored the altar of the LORD.

His son Amnon succeeded him as king.

Amon King of Judah
- Twenty two when he became king,
- Reigned two years,
- Sacrificed and worshiped all idols made by Manasseh,
- Did not humble before the LORD,
- Was assassinated by his officials,
- Son, Josiah was later made king.

2 Chronicles 32


Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem
Sennacherib, king of Assyria came and encamped outside the fortified cities of Judah and laid a siege. Jerusalem depended on water from two springs and Hezekiah made modifications within the city to maintain a secure water supply. Hezekiah motivated his people saying that the LORD was with them and therefore do not be dismayed.

At this time, Sennacherib sent some of his commanders to the city gates of Jerusalem and leashed out a psychological warfare. The commanders gave a speech that was aimed to destroy their faith in the LORD.

Hezekiah turned to the LORD and prayed for help.
2 Chronicles 32:21 And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons, his own flesh and blood, cut him down with the sword.
Hezekiah’s Pride, Success and Death
When Hezekiah became ill, he prayed to the LORD, who answered him. Pride made him not to respond to those favors received, and the LORD was angry at him. He later repented and he was forgiven.




2 Chronicles 31


Contributions for Worship
After attending the passover, the spirituality of those attended had increased. They followed Hezekiah's lead in destroying all idols in the city and the movement caught up. Some of this influence was visible in Israel as well.

Hezekiah then appointed priests to support regular work at the Temple. People were asked to bring in tithe and it was so abundant that it took four months just to receive all those gifts. The generous gifts from the people were properly managed under the supervision of the Levites.
2 Chronicles 31:20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. 











2 Chronicles 30

Hezekiah's passover celebration

Hezekiah Celebrates the Passover
Invitation letters were sent out to the entire Israel and Judah to come celebrate the Passover - to remember the deliverance of LORD. In this case, the passover was celebrated in the second month (versus the first). There were special provisions in the law of Moses to extend the passover, and in this case it was due to the cleansing of the Temple.

Many tribes treated the invitation letter as they would today - the northerners mocked and laughed at the invite to celebrate Passover; they were having fun at their idol worship. Regardless, some showed up.

The city was cleansed of all idol and pagan worship. At the Passover celebration, the gathering was one of the largest. Several who came to take part in the passover did not purify themselves, and attended the ceremony without any seriousness.
2 Chronicles 30:18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone."
The Levites managed the situation and had to do lot of work. Hezekiah spoke encouragingly of the Levites. They celebrated for seven days.

People rejoiced in the festivities.
2 Chronicles 30:26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.











Tuesday, October 1, 2013

2 Chronicles 29

Hezekiah Restores Temple Service

Hezekiah Purifies the Temple
- Became king at twenty-five,
- Reigned Jerusalem twenty-nine years,
- Did what was right in the eyes of the LORD,
- Repaired the temple of the LORD,

Hezekiah was serious about turning the entire nation to the LORD. A massive cleansing project was underway. The Levite priests went into the temple and purified it.

He then went to the temple and offered sacrifices.
2 Chronicles 29:29 When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him knelt down and worshiped. 
People willingly brought gifts for the LORD. The offerings were in abundance. The service at the temple was reestablished.

.

2 Chronicles 28

King Ahaz

Ahaz King of Judah
- Became king at the age of twenty
- Reigned sixteen years,
- followed the Baals,
- Sacrificed his children in fire,

The king of Israel inflicted heavy loses upon him - one hundred and twenty thousand (120,000) in one day. They took captives from Judah two hundred thousand (200,000) women, and children, along with a great deal of plunder.

A prophet of the LORD called Oded, asked the Israelite army to return all the prisoners due to LORD'S anger. So the soldiers gave up the prisoners and plunder and treated them with respect. During his time of trouble, he sought help from Syria, but they gave him trouble instead of help.

During tough times, he became even more unfaithful to the LORD and sacrificed at the idols. This raised the anger of the LORD.



2 Chronicles 27


Jotham, King of Judah
- Became king at twenty six,
- Reigned sixteen years,
- Did what was right in the eyes of the LORD,

Jotham did not enter the temple of the LORD to burn offerings like his father, Uzziah. However, he did some reconstruction on the temple. The people continued with their corrupt practices.

He waged war against the Ammonites and conquered them, and made them pay tributes.
2 Chronicles 27:6 Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD, his God.

2 Chronicles 26

Uzziah in the Temple

Uzziah King of Judah
- Became king at age of sixteen,
- Reigned fifty two years,
- Did what was right in the eyes of LORD,
- Sought LORD during days of Zechariah,

Uzziah had a well trained army, and the LORD helped him win over Philistines and Arabs. The Ammonites brought him tributes every year. Much energy was spent upon military welfare.

Ultimately, pride led to his downfall. He later became unfaithful to the LORD and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense. The Levites objected his actions, but he became angry. While he was raging in their presence, a leprosy broke out on his head. He continued to have leprosy until the day of his death.



2 Chronicles 25


Amaziah King of Judah
- Became king at the age of twenty five,
- Reigned twenty-nine years,
- Did what was right in the eyes of LORD,
- Was not devoted to LORD wholeheartedly.

He had three hundred thousand (300,000) men fit for miliatary service. He then hired one hundred thousand (100,000) men from Israel.
2 Chronicles 25:7 But a man of God came to him and said, “Your Majesty, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the LORD is not with Israel—not with any of the people of Ephraim. 8 Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overthrow.”
Amaziah dismissed the Israeli army based on the advice and won couple of battles. When he slaughtered the Edomites, he brought back their gods and worshiped them. The LORD was furious at this action and decided to destroy him.

Later, Amaziah provoked the Jehoash, king of Israel and wanted wanted to engage in a battle against them. Jehoash captured Amaziah and looted all his wealth from the temple and palace. Amaziah had fled to Lachish, one of the first cities to embrace idoltory. He was killed over there.










2 Chronicles 24

Joash takes care of LORD'S Temple

Joash Repairs the Temple
At the age of seven, Joash ascended the throne and rule for forty years. As long as Jehoiada was there to monitor and advice him, Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.

Joash decided to restore the temple of the LORD and summoned Jehoiada the construction work. The taxes that were due to the temple were collected and the money was used for restoration purpose. A large sum of money was collected and used for restoration, and all prescribed rituals were conducted as required. Jehoiada lived till the age of one hundred thirty.

The Wickedness of Joash
After the death of Jehoiada, Joash abandoned the temple of the LORD and worshiped idols. Jehoiada's son, Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and came prophesying and criticizing the king. Both leaders and common people did not like this. They conspired to murder Zechariah and stoned him to death in the temple of the LORD. While Zechariah lay there dying, he said, "“May the LORD see this and call you to account.”

Within one year, the Syrians invaded Judah and left Joash injured. One of his officials, Zabad, conspired against him and killed him in his own bed.


2 Chronicles 23

Athaliah being captured

Jehoiada became courageous after six years. He made a covenant with his commanders and made a bold move to crown the king's son. Meanwhile, Athaliah was ruling the kingdom and everyone believed there was none eligible to rule the land.

Securing the temple with armed men, Jehoiada gave strict orders to kill anyone who enters the temple. He then brought out the king's son and revealed him to the nation, so that the young boy was well received. Soon, the king's son was anointed and crowned as the king. Jubiliant cheers went out loud, and everyone cheered, "Long live the king."

When Athaliah heard the noise, she came running out and was surprised to see the new king standing there. Jehoiada commanded the troops to seize her and kill her, which they did. Then all the people went to Baal's temple and tore it down, and killed the priest.

Levites were handed the responsibility of the LORD'S temple and gatekeepers were stationed at the gate to maintain sanctity. 

2 Chronicles 22

Athaliah

Ahaziah King of Judah
Ahaziah was the only one who survived the massacre. He had a brief reign of one year, with the support from his mother. His mother, Athaliah, guided him to rule the country wickedly. Athaliah, one of those 'bad girls' of the Bible, was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel of Israel and also Jehoram's wife.

The close alliance of Ahaziah with the northern kingdom of Joram prompted a war against Syria. In that war, Joram was wounded. Ahaziah went to meet Joram and was held in the hands of Jehu, who was executing judgement in Ahab's house. When Jehu's men saw Ahaziah, they put him to death.

Athaliah and Joash
When news of her son's death reached Athaliah, she stared killing everyone in the royal family. She then proceeded to rule the land. Jehosheba, king Jehoram's daughter, took Joash, son of Ahaziah and hid him, so that Athaliah could not kill him. Jehosheba was the wife of priest Jehoiada and Joash remained hidden in the Temple of the LORD for six years. 

2 Chronicles 21


Jehoram King of Judah
Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. Jehoram his firstborn son succeeded as the king, while his brothers received many gifts of gold and silver along with articles of value.

Jehoram put all his brothers to the sword along with few other officials and established his throne. He followed the ways of Ahab, and did evil in the eyes of the LORD.

When Edom rebelled against Judah, Jehoram went there. He was surrounded by Edomites, but escaped in the night.

Prophet Elijah sent him a letter narrating all the evil he did, and warned him,
2 Chronicles 21:14 "So now the Lord is about to strike your people, your sons, your wives and everything that is yours, with a heavy blow. 15 You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out."
The Philistines and the Arabs attacked Jehoram.
2 Chronicles 21:17 They attacked Judah, invaded it and carried off all the goods found in the king’s palace, together with his sons and wives. Not a son was left to him except Ahaziah, the youngest.
After that, the LORD inflicted an incurable disease upon Jehoram and he died of pain. 

Welcome October 2013

Calendula

 
Opal                                       Pink tourmaline

Welcome October 2013!

Birthstones: Pink tourmaline and opal.
Zodiac sign: Libra (until October 22) and Scorpio (October 23 onwards).
Birth flower: Calendula.

Notables:
Breast cancer awareness month
NBA generally starts during the last week
Oktoberfest
Columbus Day - 14th
Halloween - 31st
Pumpkin festival

Monday, September 30, 2013

2 Chronicles 20

Jehoshaphat Praying

Jehoshaphat Defeats Moab and Ammon
The Moabites and Ammonites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. He then gathered the entire nation together and offered a fasting. He sought the help of the LORD. As a representative of the entire nation, he cried out to the LORD saying, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

The LORD answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer. The Holy Spirit came upon Jahaziel and he said, "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s."

Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 20:22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
All the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem.

The End of Jehoshaphat’s Reign
He reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years,
He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD,
He made an alliance with Ahaziah, the wicked king of Israel.

Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.”

His ships wrecked and were unable to set sail.



2 Chronicles 19

Army of Judges

Jehoshaphat returned to Jerusalem, he was reproved by Jehu , the son of Hanani, who issued warnings to his father, Asa.

Jehoshaphat Appoints Judges
He tried to clean out his kingdom by appointing judges in the land and gave them strict instructions.
2 Chronicles 19:6 He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. 
In Jerusalem, he set up the courts.
2 Chronicles 19:9 He gave them these orders: “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the LORD. 

2 Chronicles 18

Ahab at war

Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab
Jehoshaphat forged alliance with Ahab of Israel. They were planning together to go to war against Ramoth Gilead.

All of Baal's prophets encouraged them to go for the war. Jehoshaphat wanted to check with a prophet of the LORD. Prophet Micaiah was brought in, and he at first gave a favorable answer. Ahab realized that Micaiah was not serious. When asked firmly, he said that those prophets of Baal are lying and this war will mark the death of Ahab. Micaiah was imprisoned in the end.

Ahab killed at Ramoth Gilead
The two kings went to war ignoring the warnings of Micaiah. In the war, Ahab wore the armor of a common soldier and he 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 died due to blood-loss.


2 Chronicles 17

Jehoshaphat on throne

Jehoshaphat King of Judah
Asa's son, Jehoshaphat, walked in the ways of the LORD and strengthened himself against Israel. The LORD blessed him by establishing his kingdom. Jehoshaphat removed those high places used for idolatry purposes.

Jehoshaphat brought spiritual strength to his kingdom. He sent Levites to teach the scripture within Judah.  

His neighbors were afraid to attack him. The Philistines brought him gifts, and the Arabs brought him flocks.

2 Chronicles 16


Asa’s Last Years
The king of Israel held seige of Judah. At this time, Asa reached out to the king of Syria, rather than the LORD. He took out gold and silver from the treasuries of the LORD and presented it to the Syrian king. Hearning the news of Syrian king, the Israelites loosened their grip over Judah.

Hanani, a prophet came to Asa and rebuked him for his actions saying, "You have done a foolish thing."

Asa did not like this, and he imprisoned the prophet. Later, Asa had a disease in his leg and he did not ask the help of the LORD, instead took the help of the physicians*.

For the most part (except for his end), Asa was considered a righteous king.





*Physicians pretended to expel diseases with the aid of mystic arts, or by using charms.




2 Chronicles 15


Asa's Reform
Azariah was a lesser known prophet in Judah. The Holy Spirit came upon him and he went and spoke to Asa. He conveyed the message that the LORD was with Asa and encouraged him to be strong and not to give up.

Asa removed all those detestable altars from the land. He did maintenance work in the Temple of the LORD. After assembling the entire crowd, he forced everyone to enter into a covenant to seek the LORD.
2 Chronicles 15:13 All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.
Asa deposed his grandmother Maakah, from her role of queen-mother as she was a big fan of Asherah.


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2 Chronicles 14

Asa destroys the idols

Asa King of Judah
Asa was a good king in the eyes of the LORD.

His profile:
- Removed foreign altars
- Smashed down sacred stones and cut down Asherah poles,
- Land was at peace,
- Built fortified cities of Judah,

Zerah the Cushite marched out against them.
2 Chronicles 14:11 Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. LORD, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”
The LORD stuck down those Cushites. They were crushed and finanlly fled. Asa's army returned to Jerusalem with a large amount of plunder.

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2 Chronicles 13


Abijah King of Judah
A war broke out between Abijah of Judah, and Jeroboam of Israel. Abijah had four hundred thousand (400,000) men while Jeroboam had eight hundred thousand (800,000) men.

Abijah shouted out, "God is with us, He is our leader." They trusted in the LORD and reached for help. 
2 Chronicles 13:16 The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. 17 Abijah and his troops inflicted heavy losses on them, so that there were five hundred thousand casualties among Israel’s able men. 18 The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
Jeroboam never gained strength during the reign of Abijah.




-------------------- Note:
2 Chronicles 13:2 and 2 Chronicles 11:20 does not add up. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2 Chronicles 12

Rehoboam
Shishak Attacks Jerusalem
Once Rehoboam's kingship was established, he abandoned the LORD. The king of Egypt, Shishak attacked Israel.
2 Chronicles 12:9 When Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem, he carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including the gold shields Solomon had made. 
Rehoboam had some goodness left in him, and he humbled himself. Hence the LORD did not destroy him entirely.

He reigned seventeen years and did not seek the LORD in his heart.   

2 Chronicles 11

Rehoboam

Rehoboam mustered the tribes of Judah and Benjamin a hundred and eighty thousand (180,000) able young men to go fight against Jeroboam. The word of LORD was not in favor of Rehoboam and he turned back without attacking them.

Rehoboam Fortifies Judah
After the death of king Solomon, the country was torn into two - Israel (Northern) and Judah (Southern). As with any split, birds of same feather flock together. Jeroboam was heavily favored by those interested in revelry and idolatry.  Those godly people of the northern kingdom migrated to southern kingdom.

Levites made up the majority of this migrants, and this migration continued for several years. Jeroboam favored Baal, erected two high places and appointed priests for the deomns and calf idols.

For three years, the southern kingdom walked in the ways of the LORD.

Rehoboam’s Family
He had eighteen wives and sixty concubines.
Mahalath, daughter of Jerimoth,
Maakah, daughter of Absalom was his favorite wife*
His favor extended to her son Abijah as he was appointed crown prince




*In Chronicles 13 this is not documented correctly. Some mix up there.





2 Chronicles 10

Rehoboam rejects council


Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam
Rehoboam, King Solomon's son was made king over all of Israel. Jeroboam who fled from King Solomon's presence lived in Egypt. He came back and requested Rehoboam to reduce the tax burden imposed by Solomon.

Despite all that wisdom and 1,000 wives King Solomon possessed, Rehoboam is the only son who is mentioned by name. Unfortunately, he turns out to be an utter foolish descendant. Rather than listening to the advice of elders, he listened to his friends and rejected that of the elders.

We see the absence of LORD'S wisdom here. Rehoboam answered harshly to Jeroboam and the elders. As a result, Jeroboam along with many elders mounted a revolt against Rehoboam, and the house of David.






---------------Additional Info
King Solomon's future
Future generation is always a concern for everyone. Same was the situation with King Solomon and he documented it in Ecclesiastes 2:18-19.

2 Chronicles 9

Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon

The Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon
When the Queen of Sheba heard about king Solomon, she arrived with a great caravan and talked with him about all she had on her mind. King Solomon answered all her questions.
2 Chronicles 9:3 When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built, 4 the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed.
The queen envied those who were 'lucky' to spend time near and around king Solomon.
2 Chronicles 9:7 How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!
The queen also admired the LORD of king Solomon.

When it was time to return, she presented him with large amounts of gold and spices - things which were never seen in Judah. In return, king Solomon presented her with more gifts that she brought him.

There are numerous stories about the meeting of these two great minds.

Solomon's Splendor
In a single statement, King Solomon's splendor surpassed all the kings of earth in riches and wisdom.

His throne was a masterpiece:
- had six steps, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne;
- there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat,
- two lions stood beside the armrests.
- twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps;
- nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom.

This throne has gone missing and nobody knows where it is now. It is speculated to be somewhere in Italy.

Solomon's Death
The good and wise king turned bad - under the influence of his numerous wives. After reigning forty years, he died and was buried along with his ancestors.

2 Chronicles 8


Solomon’s Other Activities
This chapter narrates the dominion of king Solomon. He raised forced labor of all those non-Israelites from neighboring conquered nations.

He married the Pharaoh's daughter, but did not bring the Egyptian princess to his abode in the City of David. He instead built a suitable palace for her and her heathen maid servants to occupy.

The people of Israel were not good at sea. However, king Solomon made a bold move by venturing into the sea along with his friend - king of Tyre. The joint team traveled to Ophir to bring back gold.

Many believe Ophir is situated somewhere in India.