Hezekiah Organizes the Priesthood
31 And when all this was finished, all Israel who were found in the cities of Judah went out and shattered the stone pillars, cut down the Asherahs, and destroyed the high places and the altars from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh to the very last one. Then all the Israelites returned, each to his own property and to their cities.
2 And Hezekiah appointed working groups of the priests and the Levites, each according to their divisions, according to the service for priests and Levites, for burnt offerings, for peace offerings, to serve, to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the camps of Yahweh. 3 And the gift of the king was out of his own possessions for the burnt offerings—the burnt offerings for the morning and the evening and for Sabbaths, new moon festivals, and appointed feasts, as is written in the law of Yahweh. 4 Then he said to the people, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to give a gift for the priests and the Levites, so that they might be strong in the law of Yahweh. 5 And the word spread. The Israelites gave abundantly from the firstfruits of grain, new wine, olive oil, honey, and all kinds of grains from the field. And they brought tithes of everything in abundance. 6 Then the people of Israel and Judah who were living in the cities of Judah, they also brought a tithe of cattle and sheep and a tithe of consecrated objects to Yahweh their God. And they gave heaps upon heaps. 7 In the third month the heaps began to pile up, and in the seventh month they ceased. 8 When Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed Yahweh and his people Israel. 9 And Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. 10 And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, saying, “Since the offerings began to be brought to the house of Yahweh, we have eaten and been satisfied, and have much to spare, for Yahweh has blessed his people. Now see this abundant remainder!”
11 And Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of Yahweh, and they were prepared. 12 Then they brought the offerings and tithes and holy objects faithfully. And over them as leader was Conaniah the Levite. And Shimei his brother was second in rank. 13 And Jehiel, Azaziah, Nathan, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were chief officers under the hand of Conaniah and Shimei, his brother, by appointment of King Hezekiah. And Azaraiah was leader of the house of God. 14 Now Kore the son of Imlah, the Levite, the gatekeeper of the east gate was over the freewill offerings of God, to give offerings to Yahweh and the most holy things. 15 And at his hand were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah in the cities of the priests and entrusted to give to their brothers by working groups, according to the eldest to the youngest, 16 besides their enrollment by genealogy, to males from three years old and above, to all who came into the house of Yahweh, as each day required for their service in their posts according to their working groups. 17 And the enrollment of the priests was according to the house of their fathers, and the Levites, from twenty years old and above, according to their posts by their working groups. 18 And they were enrolled with all their little ones, their wives, their sons, and their daughters for the whole assembly because of their faithfulness. And they sanctified themselves in holiness. 19 And for the descendants of Aaron, the priests, who were in the fields of the pasturelands of their cities, in each and every one of their cities were men who were designated by name to give shares to every male among the priests and to everyone enrolled among the Levites.
20 And Hezekiah did according to this throughout all Judah. And he did what is good and what is right and what is faithful before Yahweh his God. 21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God or with respect to the law and the commandment to seek his God, he did with all his heart, and he prospered.
Sennacherib’s Invasion of Judah
32 After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib the king of Assyria came, and he came against Judah. And he encamped against the fortified cities and planned to break them down for himself. 2 When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that his face was set for battle against Jerusalem, 3 he took counsel with his commanders and his mighty warriors to block off the waters of the springs that came from outside the city, and they helped him. 4 Then many people were gathered, and they blocked off all the springs and the river that flowed through the midst of the land, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” 5 Then he strengthened himself and built up all the walls that were broken down, and raised towers upon them and another wall outside. And he strengthened the Millo of the city of David and made much weaponry and small shields. 6 And he appointed commanders for battle over the people and gathered them to himself into the public square of the gate of the city. And he spoke to their hearts, saying, 7 “Be strong! Be courageous! Do not fear and do not be dismayed before the king of Assyria and before all the crowd that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is the arm of flesh, and with us is Yahweh our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence with the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah.
9 After this Sennacherib the king of Assyria sent his servants to Jerusalem (now he and all his armies with him were against Lachish) to Hezekiah king of Judah and to all of Judah that was in Jerusalem, saying, 10 “Thus says Sennacherib the king of Assyria: ‘On what are you relying that you are dwelling in siege works in Jerusalem? 11 Is not Hezekiah urging you to give you up to die by starvation and thirst, saying, “Yahweh our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria”? 12 Has not Hezekiah himself removed his high places and his altars and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, saying, “You must bow down before one altar and upon it you must make offerings”? 13 Do you not know what I have done, I and my ancestors, to all the peoples of the lands? Were the gods of the nations of all the lands at all able to save their land from my hand? 14 Who among all the gods of those nations whom my ancestors utterly destroyed was able to save his people from my hand, that your God will be able to save you from my hand? 15 So now, do not let Hezekiah deceive you. Do not let him urge you according to this. Do not put trust in him, for no god of any nation and kingdom has been able to save his people from my hand and from the hand of my ancestors. Surely then your God will not save you from my hand!’ ”
16 And still more his servants said against Yahweh God and against Hezekiah his servant. 17 And he wrote letters to treat Yahweh the God of Israel with contempt and spoke against him, saying, “As the gods of the nations of the earth who did not save their people from my hand, so likewise the God of Hezekiah will not save his people from my hand.” 18 Then they called with a great voice in Judean to the people of Jerusalem who were upon the wall to frighten them and terrify them, so that they could take the city captive. 19 And they spoke about the God of Jerusalem as about the gods of the peoples of the earth, the works of the hands of humankind.
Yahweh’s Deliverance of Jerusalem
20 Then King Hezekiah and Isaiah the son of Amoz, the prophet, prayed concerning this. And they cried to the heavens. 21 Then Yahweh sent an angel, and he destroyed every mighty warrior of strength, commander, and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. And he returned with shamed face to his land and went into the house of his god. And some of the offspring of his loins fell upon him there with the sword. 22 So Yahweh saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria, and from the hand of all their enemies, and gave them rest all around. 23 And many brought tribute to Yahweh, to Jerusalem, and precious things to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the eyes of all the nations thereafter.
The Rest of Hezekiah’s Reign
24 In those days Hezekiah fell ill unto death, and he prayed to Yahweh. And he answered him and gave him a sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not reciprocate according to the benefit placed upon him, because his heart became proud. So wrath was upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem. 26 But Hezekiah humbled himself with respect to the arrogance of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of Yahweh did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
27 And Hezekiah had very much wealth and honor, and he made storehouses for himself for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, small shields, and all sorts of desirable objects; 28 and storage buildings for the yield of grain, new wine, and olive oil; and animal stalls for all kinds of animals, and animals and herds for animal stalls. 29 And he made cities for himself, and livestock of sheep and abundant cattle, for God had given to him very abundant possessions. 30 And this same Hezekiah blocked off the flow of the waters of the upper Gihon, and directed them down the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. 31 And thus in the matter of the envoys of the commanders of Babylon who had been sent to him to seek the sign that had happened in the land, God forsook him, to test him and to know all that was in his heart.
32 Now the remainder of the words of Hezekiah and his loyal love, behold, they are written in the visions of Isaiah the son of Amoz, the prophet, upon the scroll of the kings of Judah and Israel. 33 And Hezekiah slept with his ancestors, and they buried him in the upper part of the burial sites of the descendants of David. And all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honor at his death. And Manasseh his son became king in his place.
Do Not Love the World
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 16 because everything that is in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance of material possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.
16 The trees of Yahweh drink their fill,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted,
17 where birds make their nest.
The stork has its home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.
19 He made the moon for appointed times;
the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the animals of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions are roaring for the prey
and seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they gather together
and lie down in their dens.
23 Humankind goes out to its work,
and to its labor until evening.
24 How many are your works, O Yahweh;
all of them you have done in wisdom.
The earth is full of your creatures.
25 This is the great and wide sea,
in which are moving animals without number,
living things small and great.
26 There the ships sail.
Leviathan is there that you formed to play with.
27 They all wait for you
to give them their food at the proper time.
28 You give to them; they gather it.
You open your hand, they are filled with what is good.
29 You hide your face, they are terrified.
You take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30 You send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of Yahweh endure forever.
May Yahweh be glad in his works,
32 the one who looks at the earth and it quakes,
and touches the mountains and they smoke.
33 I will sing to Yahweh throughout my life;
I will sing praise to my God while I remain alive.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him.
I will be glad in Yahweh.
35 Let sinners perish completely from the earth,
and the wicked not remain alive.
Bless Yahweh, O my soul.
“If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you! For it is better for you that one of your limbs be destroyed than your whole body go into hell” (Matt 5:30).
We might struggle to relate to this outspoken Jesus; we prefer gracious Jesus, offering us a pardon from sin through His sacrifice. We like friendly, loving Jesus, who wraps His arms around us even when we act disgracefully. Jesus is all of these things, but He is also very serious about sin.
One of the most tragic trends in church history is the increasingly casual attitude toward sin. We so badly want people to receive God’s grace that we’ve stopped expecting others—and ourselves—to fight against sin. Yet Jesus knew that fighting sin was necessary. In Matthew 5:30, He is not suggesting that we can be sinless by our own merit; salvation comes solely from the free grace He offers through His death. Jesus is telling us that we must rip sin out of our lives. Doing so is how we experience heaven on this earth that is, at times, nothing short of a hell. Jesus is building on what He knew about idolatry and the need for it to be completely abolished.
When the Israelites were confronted with their idolatry, they ripped it out of their lives: “All Israel … went out and shattered the stone pillars, cut down the Asherahs, and destroyed the high places and the altars from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh to the very last one” (2 Chr 31:1). We must do the same. What are we idolizing? What is causing us to sin? We need to rip that idol out or rip that arm off. Otherwise our sins will continue to torment us and prevent us from knowing God.
John the evangelist perhaps put it best: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because everything that is in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance of material possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:15–17).
Let’s allow the things that are passing away to be destroyed so we can embrace what is eternal.
What sins do you need to remove from your life? How can you do away with the things that are causing you temptation?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.