Daily Reading

A feed containing today's WordLive Session.
  1. Prepare

    Try to put yourself in the place of God as he sees the repeated failure of his people. How do you think he feels?

  2. Bible passage: 2 Chronicles 36:2–23

    Jehoahaz King of Judah
     2 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. 3 The king of Egypt dethroned him in Jerusalem and imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. 4 The king of Egypt made Eliakim, a brother of Jehoahaz, king over Judah and Jerusalem and changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Eliakim's brother Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt.
    Jehoiakim King of Judah
     5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God. 6 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar also took to Babylon articles from the temple of the LORD and put them in his temple there.

     8 The other events of Jehoiakim's reign, the detestable things he did and all that was found against him, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.

    Jehoiachin King of Judah
     9 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. 10 In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and brought him to Babylon, together with articles of value from the temple of the LORD, and he made Jehoiachin's uncle, Zedekiah, king over Judah and Jerusalem.
    Zedekiah King of Judah
     11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. 12 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the LORD. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God's name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the LORD, the God of Israel. 14 Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the LORD, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
    The Fall of Jerusalem
     15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God's messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the LORD's temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God's temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.

     20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.

     22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:

     23 "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
           " 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.' "

  3. Explore

    Tragic end
    The story is coming to its tragic end – except that it is not the end. Josiah met his death at the hands of Pharaoh Necho (the king of Egypt in verse 4), then the Babylonians took over and things in Judah spiralled out of control until the fall of Jerusalem in 587/6 bc.

    Always a way back
    Both Kings and Chronicles see this as a direct consequence of Judah’s rebellion and idolatry. They brought it on themselves. This was not what God had wanted – so many messengers (24:19) and such little result (v 15; see too Matthew 21:33–46). God still patiently, lovingly reaches out to those who have turned their backs on him. There is always a way back for prodigals if only they will take it (Luke 15:11–32). Judgement is always something that we bring on ourselves (John 3:18). Verse 21 underlines this; the land itself was affected and needed time to recover. Human sin has far-reaching effects.

    A new hope
    As things collapsed, the prophets (at this point, Jeremiah, as we saw yesterday) pointed to a new hope. The return from exile was a further mark of God’s grace (v 23). But the final and greatest act of grace was yet to be.

    John Grayston
  4. Respond

    Pray for any you know who have turned away from God, asking that they might come to their senses (Luke 15:17).

  5. Deeper Bible study

    This isn’t one of the most inspirational chapters in the Bible. Have you ever seen a poster or memorised a verse from 2 Chronicles 36? It’s a quick summary of four kings, all whom did what was evil eyes of the Lord. You would think one of them would have considered the lives lived by his predecessors and thought, ‘Following idols hasn’t worked; maybe we should try following the Lord’ but, alas, their evil-doing leads to the conclusion we knew was coming: the fall of Jerusalem (vs 15–23).

    How can we take something useful from a passage like this? Sometimes when reading about tragic endings in the Bible, I try to imagine how things might have been different if the characters had made different choices. So, in this case, how might Israel’s history have been different if one of these kings had humbled himself as Josiah did? 

    There’s another useful takeaway from this passage, but to appreciate it we must look at one of the Bible’s toughest themes: God’s wrath. After generations of disobedience the day of judgement has arrived: Nebuchadnezzar sacks Jerusalem and takes the people into exile. The chronicler ends his book by reminding us that God’s wrath can only be understood in the context of God’s love: notice the reference to God’s pity (v 15). This echoes Jesus’ words: ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.’ (Matt 23:37) God’s wrath is always rooted in his loving purpose. For Judah, it took 70 years to work itself out – but God never gives up on his people.

    Whitney T Kuniholm
  6. Background: The Babylonian empire

    Its location

    The ruins of the city of Babylon are situated on the Euphrates river, about 50 miles south of Baghdad. In its day this was in the northern area of Babylonia called Akkad. Earlier the location of the city of Babel was in Shinar, a centre of Nimrod’s kingdom (Genesis 10:10).

    Its literature

    Babylon first reached significant influence under Hammurabi (c1792–1750 BC), whose laws are famous. As the inheritors of the Sumerian and Akkadian heritage, it was revered for its art, literature and science.

    Babylonian was for centuries used as the common diplomatic language in the Near East. Copies of The Gilgamesh Epic about the creation of the world have been discovered not only in Egypt and Palestine but as far afield as the Hittite capital of Hattusas in northern Turkey!

    Its conquests

    Merodach Baladan persuaded Hezekiah king of Judah to support him in revolts against the Assyrians in 721 and 704 BC. These were unsuccessful. But later with the decline of Assyrian power, the Babylonians under Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar formed a new empire from what was left of the Assyrian conquests.

    Tribute and subjection were demanded from Judah as from other nations, and rebellions in 597 and 586 BC led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the people to Babylon. Ezekiel prophesied there of the return from exile and the coming of a new covenant (Ezekiel 11:16–21; 36:24–32).

    Its end

    Less than 25 years after Nebuchadnezzar’s death the Persians under Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC. The fabulous Ishtar Gate, decorated with over 200 animal images, still stands as a memorial to its greatness.

    Andrew Clark
  7. Bible in a year

    Read the Bible in a year.

    Jonah 3,4

    Revelation 11
  8. Podcast

    Listen to today's podcast on the WordLive website or subscribe to get them automatically delivered to you each day. To download upcoming episodes, visit our Soundcloud.

 

 

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