Week 16: 2 Kings 18-25; Isaiah 1-17
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2 Kings brings to a close the history of the Jewish people being a fully sovereign nation. While they will return to live in the land in the future, they would almost never be fully independent but would instead be part of a larger empire — as described in the book of Daniel. Before the curtain closes on Judah, they are blessed with two truly good Kings — Hezekiah and Josiah.
Hezekiah restores and repairs the Temple, removes idols from it and Judah and even celebrates the Passover for the first time in many years. Hezekiah even extends an invitation to the remnant in Israel to join the celebration in Jerusalem. Despite all of the good he does Jerusalem is besieged by Assyria but God rewards Hezekiah’s faithfulness by miraculously delivering the people. God also heals him from a life-threatening illness and extends his life by 15 years. Unfortunately, Hezekiah falls victim to pride and shows visitors from Babylon all the treasures of the nation. Through the prophet Isaiah, God tells Hezekiah that Babylon will return and take it all away in the future.
Hezekiah’s son Manasseh is as evil as his father was good. Manasseh reinstated the pagan practices and defiled the temple. Josiah followed Manasseh and cleansed both Judah and Israel of all pagan altars and religious practices. While renovating the temple, a copy of the Torah was found, read to Josiah and read to the people. The king and his subjects committed to keeping God’s covenant. While this brought about blessings for the people, God had already committed to the future judgment of the nation and that would not change. Pray that as a nation we have not passed the point where He has committed to judging our country.
After Josiah died, there were a series of evil kings, leading to the nation being taken into exile in Babylon. 2 Kings ends with kindness being shown to the captive king of Judah. After 70 years, God will cause Cyrus the ruler of Babylon to let the people return to the land, rebuild the temple and the wall around Jerusalem.
We now skip several books ahead in your Bible to Isaiah. The reading plan next moves to the prophets that spoke prior to the exile, then to the wisdom literature, the prophets that spoke during the exile, the events of the return from exile and then the prophets that spoke after the return.
Isaiah is the longest of the prophetic books. It discusses: why the people were exiled; how God can use pagan nations to judge his people; how God will ultimately judge those He uses to punish His people. He also gives several Messianic prophecies (e.g. Chapter 4, branch; Chapter 7, Immanuel; Chapter 8, rock and stone; Chapter 9, child is born and son is given). He proclaims that Messiah is for both Jew and gentile — Isaiah 49. We are even given a glimpse of the fall of Satan. Read Isaiah, carefully and prayerfully — it will bless you greatly.