Through The Bible Wednesday 06-06-18 Devotions
Hezekiah Rules in Judah
18 Hezekiah son of Ahaz began to rule over Judah in the third year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah,[a] the daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done. 4 He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan.[b]
5 Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. 6 He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. 7 So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did. He revolted against the king of Assyria and refused to pay him tribute. 8 He also conquered the Philistines as far distant as Gaza and its territory, from their smallest outpost to their largest walled city.
9 During the fourth year of Hezekiah’s reign, which was the seventh year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked the city of Samaria and began a siege against it. 10 Three years later, during the sixth year of King Hezekiah’s reign and the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel, Samaria fell. 11 At that time the king of Assyria exiled the Israelites to Assyria and placed them in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 12 For they refused to listen to the Lord their God and obey him. Instead, they violated his covenant—all the laws that Moses the Lord’s servant had commanded them to obey.
Assyria Invades Judah
13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign,[c] King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them. 14 King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only withdraw.” The king of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold.[d] 15 To gather this amount, King Hezekiah used all the silver stored in the Temple of the Lord and in the palace treasury. 16 Hezekiah even stripped the gold from the doors of the Lord’s Temple and from the doorposts he had overlaid with gold, and he gave it all to the Assyrian king.
17 Nevertheless, the king of Assyria sent his commander in chief, his field commander, and his chief of staff[e] from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.[f] 18 They summoned King Hezekiah, but the king sent these officials to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian.
Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem
19 Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah:
“This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? 20 Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me? 21 On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!
22 “But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?
23 “I’ll tell you what! Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them! 24 With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers? 25 What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’”
26 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew,[g] for the people on the wall will hear.”
27 But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.”
28 Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! 29 This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you from my power. 30 Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’
31 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. 32 Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards, olive groves and honey. Choose life instead of death!
“Don’t listen to Hezekiah when he tries to mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ 33 Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? 34 What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? 35 What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?”
36 But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, “Do not answer him.”
37 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian, went back to Hezekiah. They tore their clothes in despair, and they went in to see the king and told him what the Assyrian chief of staff had said.
Hezekiah Seeks the Lord’s Help
19 When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord. 2 And he sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, all dressed in burlap, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what King Hezekiah says: Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby. 4 But perhaps the Lord your God has heard the Assyrian chief of staff,[h] sent by the king to defy the living God, and will punish him for his words. Oh, pray for those of us who are left!”
5 After King Hezekiah’s officials delivered the king’s message to Isaiah, 6 the prophet replied, “Say to your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. 7 Listen! I myself will move against him,[i] and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’”
8 Meanwhile, the Assyrian chief of staff left Jerusalem and went to consult the king of Assyria, who had left Lachish and was attacking Libnah.
9 Soon afterward King Sennacherib received word that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia[j] was leading an army to fight against him. Before leaving to meet the attack, he sent messengers back to Hezekiah in Jerusalem with this message:
10 “This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. 11 You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? 12 Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all! 13 What happened to the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad? What happened to the kings of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”
14 After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. 16 Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.
17 “It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. 18 And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. 19 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”
Isaiah Predicts Judah’s Deliverance
20 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer about King Sennacherib of Assyria. 21 And the Lord has spoken this word against him:
“The virgin daughter of Zion
despises you and laughs at you.
The daughter of Jerusalem
shakes her head in derision as you flee.
22 “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing?
Against whom did you raise your voice?
At whom did you look with such haughty eyes?
It was the Holy One of Israel!
23 By your messengers you have defied the Lord.
You have said, ‘With my many chariots
I have conquered the highest mountains—
yes, the remotest peaks of Lebanon.
I have cut down its tallest cedars
and its finest cypress trees.
I have reached its farthest corners
and explored its deepest forests.
24 I have dug wells in many foreign lands
and refreshed myself with their water.
With the sole of my foot
I stopped up all the rivers of Egypt!’
25 “But have you not heard?
I decided this long ago.
Long ago I planned it,
and now I am making it happen.
I planned for you to crush fortified cities
into heaps of rubble.
26 That is why their people have so little power
and are so frightened and confused.
They are as weak as grass,
as easily trampled as tender green shoots.
They are like grass sprouting on a housetop,
scorched before it can grow lush and tall.
27 “But I know you well—
where you stay
and when you come and go.
I know the way you have raged against me.
28 And because of your raging against me
and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth.
I will make you return
by the same road on which you came.”
29 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Here is the proof that what I say is true:
“This year you will eat only what grows up by itself,
and next year you will eat what springs up from that.
But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them;
you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit.
30 And you who are left in Judah,
who have escaped the ravages of the siege,
will put roots down in your own soil
and will grow up and flourish.
31 For a remnant of my people will spread out from Jerusalem,
a group of survivors from Mount Zion.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies[k] will make this happen!
32 “And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:
“His armies will not enter Jerusalem.
They will not even shoot an arrow at it.
They will not march outside its gates with their shields
nor build banks of earth against its walls.
33 The king will return to his own country
by the same road on which he came.
He will not enter this city,
says the Lord.
34 For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David,
I will defend this city and protect it.”
35 That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians[l] woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. 36 Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.
37 One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons[m] Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.
18:2 As in parallel text at 2 Chr 29:1; Hebrew reads Abi, a variant spelling of Abijah.
18:4 Nehushtan sounds like the Hebrew terms that mean “snake,” “bronze,” and “unclean thing.”
18:13 The fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign was 701 B.c.
18:14 Hebrew 300 talents [10 metric tons] of silver and 30 talents [1 metric ton] of gold.
18:17a Or the rabshakeh; also in 18:19, 26, 27, 28, 37.
18:17b Or bleached.
18:26 Hebrew in the dialect of Judah; also in 18:28.
19:4 Or the rabshakeh; also in 19:8.
19:7 Hebrew I will put a spirit in him.
19:9 Hebrew of Cush.
19:31 As in Greek and Syriac versions, Latin Vulgate, and an alternate reading of the Masoretic Text (see also Isa 37:32); the other alternate reads the Lord.
19:35 Hebrew When they.
19:37 As in Greek version and an alternate reading of the Masoretic Text (see also Isa 37:38); the other alternate reading lacks his sons.
A psalm of David.
1 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
6 The Lord gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
7 He revealed his character to Moses
and his deeds to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
15 Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
17 But the love of the Lord remains forever
with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children
18 of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments!
19 The Lord has made the heavens his throne;
from there he rules over everything.
20 Praise the Lord, you angels,
you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
listening for each of his commands.
21 Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels
who serve him and do his will!
22 Praise the Lord, everything he has created,
everything in all his kingdom.
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
Paul Appears before Felix
24 Five days later Ananias, the high priest, arrived with some of the Jewish elders and the lawyer[a] Tertullus, to present their case against Paul to the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented the charges against Paul in the following address to the governor:
“You have provided a long period of peace for us Jews and with foresight have enacted reforms for us. 3 For all of this, Your Excellency, we are very grateful to you. 4 But I don’t want to bore you, so please give me your attention for only a moment. 5 We have found this man to be a troublemaker who is constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes. 6 Furthermore, he was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him.[b] 8 You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself.” 9 Then the other Jews chimed in, declaring that everything Tertullus said was true.
10 The governor then motioned for Paul to speak. Paul said, “I know, sir, that you have been a judge of Jewish affairs for many years, so I gladly present my defense before you. 11 You can quickly discover that I arrived in Jerusalem no more than twelve days ago to worship at the Temple. 12 My accusers never found me arguing with anyone in the Temple, nor stirring up a riot in any synagogue or on the streets of the city. 13 These men cannot prove the things they accuse me of doing.
14 “But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a cult. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets. 15 I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.
17 “After several years away, I returned to Jerusalem with money to aid my people and to offer sacrifices to God. 18 My accusers saw me in the Temple as I was completing a purification ceremony. There was no crowd around me and no rioting. 19 But some Jews from the province of Asia were there—and they ought to be here to bring charges if they have anything against me! 20 Ask these men here what crime the Jewish high council[c] found me guilty of, 21 except for the one time I shouted out, ‘I am on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead!’”
22 At that point Felix, who was quite familiar with the Way, adjourned the hearing and said, “Wait until Lysias, the garrison commander, arrives. Then I will decide the case.” 23 He ordered an officer[d] to keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs.
24 A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.” 26 He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him.
27 After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.
24:1 Greek some elders and an orator.
24:6 Some manuscripts add an expanded conclusion to verse 6, all of verse 7, and an additional phrase in verse 8: We would have judged him by our law, 7 but Lysias, the commander of the garrison, came and violently took him away from us, 8 commanding his accusers to come before you.
24:20 Greek Sanhedrin.
24:23 Greek a centurion.
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2 When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
4 The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
9 Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.
11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Thursday, June 07, 2018