December 1, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Chronicles 33-36.
Background: II Chronicles 29-32.
Concepts and Connections.
Manasseh and Amon: The beginning and ending of this chapter is very similar to II Kings 21:1-9 and II Kings 21:19-24, respectively. The difference we find in Chronicles about Manasseh’s reign is a record of his prayer and humbling himself before the Lord. We see that Manasseh did what was evil in the sight of the Lord from the beginning of his days, undoing basically all the reform that Hezekiah his father had brought about, even doing more evil than the nations that the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. He and the people paid no attention to the Lord’s words or prophets, and the Lord’s anger was kindled against him and He began to punish him by the hand of the king of Assyria. However, when Manasseh was in distress, we see here that he humbled himself before the Lord and prayed to Him, recognizing that the Lord was God. After this, he actually brings about some significant reforms throughout Judah, though the people would still sacrifice on the high places instead of the Lord’s chosen place (see Deuteronomy 12), though they were worshipping the Lord only. We also see that the Lord was moved by his entreaty and repentance, though we are not told what exactly happened as a result of this. His son who would reign after him, however, would not humble himself before the Lord as Manasseh did, but rather continued to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
Josiah: For notes on this chapter, see II Kings 22-23. The record here tells the same story, but in a slightly different order and with some supplemental details such as Josiah’s early purging of the false gods in Judah and specific names of Levites who were set in service to the Lord.
The end of Josiah: Josiah’s reform continues on into this chapter as we see him keep the passover here in Jerusalem, apparently in a way that was even more grand than Hezekiah’s restitution of the passover (see II Chronicles 30). He calls the Levites to return the ark of the covenant to its proper place in the house of the Lord and take their positions according to their father’s houses as David had prescribed for the ministry to the Lord (see I Chronicles 23-26). Josiah contributed 30,000 goats and 3,000 bulls for offerings for the people and his officials gave even more willingly. They carried out the passover as it is written in the Law and kept the feast of unleavened bread for seven days. There were singers and gate keepers in service, all done in accordance with the command of David. It is said that a passover like this one had not been kept since the days of Samuel. After the passover, Josiah makes a mistake in warfare, as Neco, king of Egypt, tries to get Josiah not to fight with him, for he was not fighting with Judah, but Josiah doesn’t listen. Rather, he disguises himself and goes into battle, gets wounded and eventually dies from this wound. It seems as though a little pride had gone to Josiah’s head, and it was his downfall. A lament was made over Josiah (see Lamentations 4:20), and all Judah mourned.
The fall of Judah: In this chapter we get a rather concise version of the decline and fall of Judah in its last days. A parallel reading can be found in II Kings 24-25. After Josiah died, Jehohaz his son reigned in Jerusalem for three months until the king of Egypt deposed him and set Eliakim his brother (changing his name to Jehoiakim) to reign in his place. Eliakim did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and we see the first siege of Jerusalem by Babylon at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, just as was prophesied by the prophets. Jehoiachin reigned in the place of his father for three months and also did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. The second siege of Jerusalem is found here, as Nebuchadnezzar brought Jehoiachin to Babylon and set Zedekiah his brother as king. Zedekiah also did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, polluting the house of the Lord, and would not listen to the messengers that the Lord sent to him. They mocked His prophets and the wrath of God was finally unleashed on Judah and Jerusalem, just as was prophesied, as the Chaldeans came and fully captured and burned Jerusalem. Judah was taken into exile into Babylon and would remain in captivity for 70 years until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, a time period of captivity that Jeremiah had prophesied (see Jeremiah 25:8-14). The fall of Judah had come. The final verses of this chapter record Cyrus’ (king of Persia) proclamation to the Jews that they go back to their home and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of heaven. This proclamation is recorded again in the very beginning of the book of Ezra.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 129-131.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.