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2 Chronicles 33-36

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We are continuing our study of 2 Chronicles in chapter 33. We talked about King Hezekiah last week. What kind of king was he: good or bad? He is characterized by the writer of Chronicles as a good king. This is not to say that he didn’t have any faults. He certainly did, but in general, he was a good king who made many reforms in Judah and did well in his treatment of the temple and the priesthood, which was one of the many reasons why so much time is spent on Hezekiah.
As we get into chapter 33, we will see the theme that we studied last week continue in chapters 33: Manasseh contrasts the king who he followed. With that being the case, we can probably guess what kind of king Manasseh was. Hezekiah, his father was a good king, so Manasseh will be a bad king.
Just remembering where we are picking up in the order of the kings, we talked about Hezekiah last week. What kind of king was he: good or bad? He is characterized by the writer of Chronicles as a good king. THis is not to say that he didn’t have any faults. He certainly did, but in general, he was a good king who made many reforms in Judah and did well in his treatment of the temple and the priesthood, which was one of the many reasons why so much time is spent on Hezekiah.
Although this theme continues, there is another theme that ties together chapters 33-36: repentance of the kings. Emphasis is put on whether or not these kings repented when they were confronted with either God’s word or with his judgments.
Although there is another theme that arises many times in chapters 33-36 in regards to the next three kings we will study in these chapters: repentance of the kings.
Three kings and humble repentance ()
Manasseh (33:1–20) Manasseh’s unparalleled evil (33:1–9) Manasseh’s repentance and God’s favor (33:10–20) Amon is unrepentant (33:21–25) Josiah (34:1–36:1) Josiah seeks God faithfully (34:1–7) Josiah repents over God’s word (34:8–33) Josiah celebrates the Passover (35:1–19) Josiah’s death (35:20–36:1) Four kings and the end of a kingdom () The fall of Jehoahaz (36:2–4) The fall of Jehoiakim (36:5–8) The fall of Jehoiachin (36:9–10) The fall of Zedekiah and of the kingdom (36:11–20) Beginning to rebuild God’s house (36:21–23)
Manasseh (33:1–20)
Manasseh’s unparalleled evil (33:1–9)
Manasseh’s repentance and God’s favor (33:10–20)
Amon is unrepentant (33:21–25)
Josiah (34:1–36:1)
Josiah seeks God faithfully (34:1–7)
Josiah repents over God’s word (34:8–33)
Josiah celebrates the Passover (35:1–19)
Josiah’s death (35:20–36:1)
Four kings and the end of a kingdom ()
The fall of Jehoahaz (36:2–4)
The fall of Jehoiakim (36:5–8)
The fall of Jehoiachin (36:9–10)
The fall of Zedekiah and of the kingdom (36:11–20)
Beginning to rebuild God’s house ()
33:1-20 Manasseh
Just when you thought things could not get worse than the reign of Ahaz (who we studied in ch28), a king comes to the throne who surpasses him. Manasseh comes to the throne and reigns for 55 years, making him the king who reigned the longest in Judah.
Verses 1-9 give us a detailed account of the evil that Manasseh did during his reign. He imitates many of the things that his grandfather Ahaz did. He walked in the ways of the Canaanites who the LORD drove out of the promised land for the Israelites. In verse 9, we are told that not only Manasseh did these things, but he also led the people to act like the Canaanites. They even surpassed the evil of the Canaanites (v9). Manasseh sacrificed his sons in the fire. He also worshipped other gods on the high places and worshipped Baal as Ahaz did.
He also worshipped other gods on the high places and worshipped Baal as Ahaz did.
Just as Ahaz, he sacrificed his sons in the fire. He also worshipped other gods on the high places and worshipped Baal as Ahaz did.
He also reversed the work/reforms of his father Hezekiah. He rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah tore down, as well as the altars to the Baals and the Asherah poles.
His evil also surpassed his grandfather Ahaz. Ahaz had shut down the temple and built altars to idols all throughout the city, but Manasseh, he defiled the temple:
In verses 4&5, he built altars in the courtyards of the temple, some of them in order to worship the host of heaven - the sun, moon, and stars;
In verse he put an idol that he worshipped IN THE TEMPLE!!
A lot of emphasis is put on Manasseh’s treatment of the temple, reminding us of the promises that God made to David and Solomon regarding the temple. God promised to put His name in this house forever as long as the people were careful to follow the laws that He gave to Moses. If they did this, he would never remove them from the land.
So with Manasseh’s sin, we are starting to see “the handwriting on the wall.” his desecration of the temple is ultimately going to lead to god’s people being removed from the land.
Manasseh Repents
In verses 10-20, the Chronicler’s account of Manasseh’s reign departs from the narrative of by including the unusual story of Manasseh’s capture and imprisonment by the Assyrians because he would not listen to the LORD’s calls to repentance.
He would not listen to the word of the LORD, but when he was in affliction, we have a surprising twist to the story. Unlike his grandfather Ahaz, his heart did not harden more by the judgments the LORD brought. Manasseh REPENTED!!!
We have a surprising twist to the story.
12 And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. (, ESV)
Upon his return Manasseh repaired the temple and renewed proper worship (33:14–17), removing the idol he had put in the temple and its courtyards.
The Chronicler’s account of Manasseh’s reign departs from the narrative of by including the unusual story of Manasseh’s imprisonment in Assyria. During this exile, he repented and God answered by returning him to Jerusalem (33:10–13). Upon his return Manasseh repaired the temple and renewed proper worship (33:14–17).
Manasseh’s sins ultimately contributed to the exile. Even though he did repent at the end of his reign, the legacy that he left was not a good one. The evil he practiced before His repentance would have lasting consequences for Judah. In spite of his repentance and the reforms of his grandson Josiah, the LORD does not remove the judgments that he promised to bring to Judah:
26 Still the Lord did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him. 27 And the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.” (, ESV)
APPLICATION
God is willing and able to forgive even those who are the most evil. If he forgave Saul of Tarsus and the wicked king Manasseh when they came to repentance, there is not a reason for us to think that God would be unwilling to forgive us if we come to repentance, no matter how terrible we think our sin is.
As long as we are alive, there is the possibility of repentance
We need to remember that we will leave a legacy, and it can be good or bad. Unfortunately, we can be remembered for the negative things that we do, whether we like it or not.
33:21-25 Amon
The successor to Manasseh was Amon. Only five verses are dedicated to Amon. The Chronicler had no words of commendation for him. The main point that is made about Amon is that he did not repent and humble himself before the LORD like his father, Manasseh, had done. Amon followed the former ways of his father instead of the latter ways.
Amon’s reign closes when he is assassinated by his servants.
Josiah
In contrast to his father, Amon, Josiah proved to be a good king over the people of Judah (640–609 B.C.). He was the last such, sad to say; but he was also no of their greatest (v.2) kings outside of David and Solomon. Josiah instituted the most thorough of all the reforms recorded in the Old Testament. His reforms kept the nation alive, extending the period of time Judah was allowed to stay in the land before they went into captivity.
Josiah reigned for thirty-one years, and his following in the steps of David is highlighted. He followed David’s ways and sought the God of David.
Josiah’s Religious Reforms (34:3-7)
Josiah reigned for thirty-one years and walked in the way of the Lord as David had done (34:1–2, 33; ).
Verse 3 indicates that religious reform began in Josiah’s eighth year, a full decade before the discovery of the Book of the Law in the temple. Josiah purged the land of idolatry and the high places built by previous kings.
His removal of idolatry even extended to northern towns as well as Judah, indicating that Josiah’s rule was expanding into the old Northern Kingdom without Assyria’s interference.
Josiah purged the land of idolatry and the high places built by previous kings. His removal of idolatry even extended to northern towns as well as Judah, indicating that Josiah’s rule was expanding into the old Northern Kingdom without Assyria’s interference.
Temple Repairs & Recovery of the Book of the Law (34:8-33)
Ten years later, work began on repairing the temple. Hezekiah had repaired the doors during his reign, but the last restoration of the temple, according to the Chronicles account, was done at the time of Joash (approx. 200 years earlier).
The Levites received money from the rulers and common people to work on the temple (34:8–13). Probably the most well known part of Josiah’s reign is what happened as they were working. As the Levites worked, the high priest Hilkiah found a copy of the Book of the Law (also called “Book of the Covenant,” 34:30). The Book seems to have become misplaced during the apostate reigns of Manasseh and Amon.
“The Book” seems to have become misplaced during the apostate administrations of the previous kings, Manasseh and Amon
Upon hearing the book read, Josiah was remorseful. He tore his robes, and he feared the Lord’s wrath. This may have been the first time that Josiah understood how the Lord viewed the evil done in the reigns before his. He now understood that the LORD’s anger burned against His people because of the unfaithfulness of the prior kings. He understandably feared what the law said, not only about God’s judgments that would come against his people, but also against the king who is ruling the people (). So Josiah wanted to know where the nation stood with the LORD. He sent men to find a prophet of the LORD.
21 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.” (, ESV)
The prophetess Huldah declared that the Lord would destroy Judah but preserve Josiah’s reign because of his humble repentance.
Josiah led the people in a great covenant renewal ceremony (34:29–33). He gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem, as well as the people. He read the words of the book of the law to the people and dedicated Himself to obeying God’s laws. He also required that all the people keep the laws of God also.
Josiah’s Passover Observance
The celebration of the Passover and the week of Unleavened Bread followed the reforms of Hezekiah (chap. 30) and Josiah. Chronicles, because of its interest in religious matters, spends more time on this event than the account in 2 Kings.
Celebration of Passover and the week of Unleavened Bread followed the reforms of Hezekiah (chap. 30) and Josiah. Chronicles, because of its interest in religious matters, elaborated on the few verses given to it in .
The celebration occurred in the appropriate month, unlike Hezekiah’s Passover renewal (30:15). To worship the Lord properly the Levites and priests consecrated themselves and then prepared the sacrifices in behalf of the people (35:1–9). The Levites functioned in their proper order in accordance with the Book of Moses. Typical of the Chronicler, he also included the role of the musical groups David appointed.
18 No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (, ESV)
Josiah’s reforms culminated with the Passover observed in the same year as the finding of the Book of the Law (35:10–19).
Josiah’s Final Days (35:20-27)
The Chronicler clarified the events of Josiah’s death at the battle of Megiddo, where Pharaoh Neco defeated him. Neco was marching through Jezreel to assist the Assyrians, who were pinned down by the Babylonians at Carchemish (North Syria). Ironically, Josiah, whose reign was remembered for its righteousness, died because he failed to adhere to the Lord’s command (35:22). The prophet Jeremiah (not mentioned in Kings) lamented in song the death of Josiah (35:25–27).
APPLICATIONS:
Don’t discount what young people are able to do! Even at the age of 16, Josiah devoted himself to the LORD. At age 20, he began leading the people in cleansing the land of idolatry. So don’t be afraid to challenge younger people to serve the LORD. They are often capable of so much more than we give them credit for, and they often will live up to the standard that we set for them.
The Final Kings
The Chronicler gives a brief account of Judah’s last kings compared to other accounts (compare ; ), so we are not going to spend a lot of time on them either.
Jehoahaz reigned after his father Josiah, but he was removed from the throne after only three months by Pharaoh Neco. Nothing is said about his morality or his rule, but the fact that his reign did not last long probably goes to show the readers that his reign was not pleasing to the LORD.
He was replaced by a another son of Josiah, Jehoiakim (or Eliakim). He did what was evil before the LORD, and His reign ended when Nebuchadnezzar came, bound him in chains, and carried him into captivity in Babylon.
King Jehoiachin followed Jehoiakim. His reign did not last long. He was quickly supplanted with the puppet king Zedekiah (36:11-14), whose rebellion led to Jerusalem’s final demise in 586 B.C..
The Chronicler sums up the reason why they needed to be judged by the LORD:
14 All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem. 15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy. (, ESV)
14 All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem. 15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy. (, ESV)
THE RETURN
Writing almost two centuries after Kings, the Chronicler (36:20–21) included in his story the return of the exiles, adding that Jeremiah predicted this (; ). The Chronicler commented that the land had its sabbath rest as the law required (compare ), for the seventy years from the ruin of the temple (586 B.C.) to its rebuilding (516 B.C.).
Hopefully the exiles who returned would take to heart this final sermon. The LORD has shown them in this book how to be successful and faithful as His followers. They needed to remember the promises made to David and the commandments given to them in the Law. They still have hope in spite of the sin of their ancestors because God keeps His promises. Their return came by the will of the LORD. The rebuilding of Judah, Jerusalem, and the temple was being provided for by the LORD. Now they needed to obey the LORD as they awaiting their coming King.
Hopefully the exiles who returned would take to heart this final sermon.
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