2 Kings: In Judah: Azariah son of Amaziah began to reign when he was sixteen years old. He reigned for fifty-two years though he was a leper for many of those years. He did right in the eyes of the Lord but didn’t get rid of the high places. His son, Jotham, governed while he had leprosy.
In Israel: Zechariah, son of Jeroboam, reigned in Israel for six months. He did evil just like his fathers. Ibleam killed him and took over. Zechariah was the fourth generation of Jehu and fulfilled the prophecy that his descendants would reign for four generations.
Shallum reigned in Samaria one month.
Menahem killed him and took over. He performed atrocities against those opposed to him. He reigned ten years. He did evil in the sight of the Lord. He paid Pul, king of Assyria to stay in power and taxed he people to pay for it.
Pekahiah, Menahem’s son reigned in Israel next. He lasted two years and did evil in God’s sight.
Pekah, captain of the guard, killed Pekahiah and reigned in Israel twenty years doing evil in the sight of the Lord. During that time, the king of Assyria took several cities from Naphtali and carried captives to Assyria.
Hoshea killed Pekah and took over.
Back in Judah: Jotham began to reign when he was twenty-five. He reigned sixteen years. He did right in the eyes of the Lord but the high places were still there. Resin the king of Syria and Peka of Israel came against Judah during Jotham’s reign.
Ahaz, Jotham’s son took over after Jotham died. He was twenty years old and reigned for sixteen years. He didn’t do right and even sacrificed his son. Resin the king of Syria and Peka of Israel besieged Jerusalem but couldn’t take it. Ahaz took silver and gold from the temple and sent it to the king of Assyria to help him. Assyria went to Damascus, killed Resin.
Ahaz went to Damascus to meet the king of Assyria. There he saw the altar in Damascus so he had it copied and built before the temple. He told the priest to offer all sacrifices on it and move the bronze altar to the side. Ahaz would only use the bronze altar to inquire of the Lord.
Ahaz also modified the temple and the sea putting in on a stone instead of the bronze oxen. He did this to please the king of Assyria. Ahaz died and his son, Hezekiah took over.
Psalm: It is good and fitting to praise the Lord. He builds up Jerusalem and gathers outcasts. He is powerful and his understanding is incomparable as evidenced by the stars, yet he lifts the humble and breaks the wicked.
Give thanks to him because he provides for rain and takes care of animals. He is pleased with those who fear him and hope in his love. Jerusalem is to praise him because he has blessed it with children, peace, and food. He controls the weather. He has given his word to Israel and not to other nations.
Proverbs: A person may talk a lot, like deep waters but wisdom in those words are only a small part like a brook. Don’t cater to the wicked or pervert justice for the righteous.
Acts: In Ephesus, seven itinerant Jewish exorcist tried to cast a demon out of man by the name of Jesus and Paul. The demon-possessed man beat them up. The whole community heard about it and Jesus’ name was extolled. Many became believers and brought all their magic books together and publicly burned them.
Paul decided to move on intending to go to Jerusalem and then on to Rome. Before he left, Demetrius who made a living making images of Artemis, incited a riot claiming Paul was going to wreck his and other craftsmen’s business. He also said Paul’s teaching would defame Artemis. The city was in confusion and they went into the theater chanting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.” They dragged some of Paul’s companions into the theater. Paul want to go in and speak, but his friends kept him back.
There was a lot of confusion and the town clerk finally quieted them down. He told them everyone knew how great Artemis was and that they were keepers of the sacred stone that fell from the sky. Since no one could deny this, Demetrius should go to court if he has a problem with Paul. He then dismissed the assembly.
What Stood Out
2 Kings: “He took away the Sabbath canopy that had been built at the temple and removed the royal entryway outside the temple of the Lord, in deference to the king of Assyria” (2 Kings 16:18 NIV).
Psalm: “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names” (Ps 147:4).
Proverbs: “The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook” (Prov 18:4).
Acts: “But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’” (Acts 19:15).
2 Kings: Ahaz was one of the most abominable kings of Judah. He sacrificed his son. This kind of abomination is so bad that the Lord says it had not even entered his mind (Jer 7:31). Since God is omniscient, he knew that this would happen, but he used this hyperbole to emphasize how bad this sin is. Of course, the Lord would not put up with that so he brought Syria and even Israel against Judah. Then Ahaz stole the treasures from the temple to buy the king of Assyria. Though that worked, it also put him in debt to the Assyrian king. To please the king, Ahaz copied his altar for sacrifices and used it instead of the Lord’s altar. He modified the temple and the sea to please the king of Assyria. He was totally subjected to the Assyrian way of worship and it seems it was his delight to do so. Ahaz was also presumptuous. He believed that even with all his sins, he could still inquire of the Lord by using the Lord’s bronze altar to hear God’s answers.
When we are deep in sin, we will do just about anything to keep doing it. We will go against everything that is right. You can read in the newspapers (internet now days) about seemingly normal people looking for hired killers to knock off a spouse so they can get what they want. In the midst of this sinfulness, they still think they can pray and hear God’s answers. They may be getting guidance, but it isn’t from the Lord.
Psalm: We have many reasons to praise and give thanks to the Lord. This Psalm lists several of them. His awesomeness in creation is one thing the Psalmist reveals. God determines the number of the stars and he names them. When we stop to consider how many stars there are in the universe, we usually ask astronomers to make an estimate of what only God knows. We have problems estimating because the very first problem is even knowing how big the universe is. Some scientists think it is infinite, which is impossible based on this Psalm, God has numbered them. Other scientist think there may be more than one universe, which also seems implausible if God made the universe and has named all the stars. However, David Kornreich estimated the number of stars by estimating that there are ten trillion galaxies with an average of one billion stars per galaxy. The gives us and estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars.
Try to imagine how many stars that is. We can’t even begin to understand numbers that big, much less that many stars. So what does that say about God? It means his mind must be infinite. It means his power must be infinite. Yet the Psalm also says he loves those who fear him. That means his love must be infinite to care for one so small as one of us in comparison to his great creation. Yes, we should praise him and thank him.
Proverbs: Some people talk nonstop. Somewhere in all their talking, there may be choice words of wisdom, but they are often hard to find because of all the other stuff they are saying. A person of wisdom will utter words that are refreshing and clear, like a bubbling brook.
Acts: This episode where seven Jewish exorcists tried to cast a demon out of a man reveals that the spiritual world it much more complex that we can ever imagine. These seven sons of Sceva had obviously been casting out demons for some time. How they did it is unknow but they weren’t alone. Jesus refers to this as if it may have been a common practice (Matt 12:27). He also knew that there would be people who would be successful in casting out demons in his name, but they would not be true Christians (Matt 7:22-23). Why these demons would respond to these people is beyond me.
However, when these men tried to use the name of Jesus and Paul to cast out a demon, they were thoroughly beaten by the possessed man. The results reveal the reason it happened this way. Fear fell on everyone in Ephesus and the name of Jesus was suddenly held in high respect. There is a connection between this incident and people confessing and giving up their magic practices. They realized that their magic is only possible because of demons enabling their spells. When the demon possessed man said he knew of both Jesus and Paul, it revealed that the spiritual world knows and understands things that we wouldn’t normally know. That is why all methods of trying to lean about future events or other magical spell, voodoo, and such are strictly forbidden by God in the Old Testament (Deut 18:10-13; 1 Sam 15:23; Isa 8:17, 19:3).
If we want to exalt the name of Jesus, we will have nothing to do with any of these things. If we do, then we are opening ourselves up for demonic influences.
It is easy to slip into sin and not even recognize it. I need to make sure that I don’t do things that are an abomination to the Lord. That means more than just observing the externals of what Jesus commanded but discerning why the Lord has said different things in the Bible. That means understanding things like demons are the source of magic. It means exalting Jesus above all other things in my life.