SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
2 Kings 20:1-23:25
20:1 In those days Hezekiah was stricken with a terminal illness. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz visited him and told him, “This is what the Lord has said, ‘Give your household instructions, for you are about to die; you will not get well.’” 2 He turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Please, Lord. Remember how I have served you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion, and how I have carried out your will.” Then Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Isaiah had not yet left the middle courtyard when the Lord’s message came to him, 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people: ‘This is what the Lord God of your ancestor David has said: “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I will heal you. The day after tomorrow you will go up to the Lord’s temple. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life and rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. I will shield this city for the sake of my reputation and because of my promise to David my servant.”’” 7 Isaiah ordered, “Get a fig cake.” So they did as he ordered and placed it on the ulcerated sore, and he recovered.
8 Hezekiah had said to Isaiah, “What is the confirming sign that the Lord will heal me and that I will go up to the Lord’s temple the day after tomorrow?” 9 Isaiah replied, “This is your sign from the Lord confirming that the Lord will do what he has said. Do you want the shadow to move ahead 10 steps or to go back 10 steps?” 10 Hezekiah answered, “It is easy for the shadow to lengthen 10 steps, but not for it to go back ten steps.” 11 Isaiah the prophet called out to the Lord, and the Lord made the shadow go back ten steps on the stairs of Ahaz.
12 At that time Merodach Baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent messengers with letters and a gift to Hezekiah, for he had heard that Hezekiah was ill. 13 Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them his whole storehouse, with its silver, gold, spices, and high quality olive oil, as well as his armory and everything in his treasuries. Hezekiah showed them everything in his palace and in his whole kingdom. 14 Isaiah the prophet visited King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did these men say? Where do they come from?” Hezekiah replied, “They come from the distant land of Babylon.” 15 Isaiah asked, “What have they seen in your palace?” Hezekiah replied, “They have seen everything in my palace. I showed them everything in my treasuries.” 16 Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to the Lord’s message, 17 ‘Look, a time is coming when everything in your palace and the things your ancestors have accumulated to this day will be carried away to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. 18 ‘Some of your very own descendants whom you father will be taken away and will be made eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” 19 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The Lord’s message which you have announced is appropriate.” Then he added, “At least there will be peace and stability during my lifetime.”
20 The rest of the events of Hezekiah’s reign and all his accomplishments, including how he built a pool and conduit to bring water into the city, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Judah. 21 Hezekiah passed away and his son Manasseh replaced him as king.
21:1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother was Hephzibah. 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord and committed the same horrible sins practiced by the nations whom the Lord drove out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he set up altars for Baal and made an Asherah pole just as King Ahab of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the stars in the sky and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the Lord’s temple, about which the Lord had said, “Jerusalem will be my home.” 5 In the two courtyards of the Lord’s temple he built altars for all the stars in the sky. 6 He passed his son through the fire and practiced divination and omen reading. He set up a ritual pit to conjure up underworld spirits and appointed magicians to supervise it. He did a great amount of evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 7 He put an idol of Asherah he had made in the temple, about which the Lord had said to David and to his son Solomon, “This temple in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will be my permanent home. 8 I will not make Israel again leave the land I gave to their ancestors, provided that they carefully obey all I commanded them, the whole law my servant Moses ordered them to obey.” 9 But they did not obey, and Manasseh misled them so that they sinned more than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed from before the Israelites.
10 So the Lord announced through his servants the prophets: 11 “King Manasseh of Judah has committed horrible sins. He has sinned more than the Amorites before him and has encouraged Judah to sin by worshiping his disgusting idols. 12 So this is what the Lord God of Israel has said, ‘I am about to bring disaster on Jerusalem and Judah. The news will reverberate in the ears of those who hear about it. 13 I will destroy Jerusalem the same way I did Samaria and the dynasty of Ahab. I will wipe Jerusalem clean, just as one wipes a plate on both sides. 14 I will abandon this last remaining tribe among my people and hand them over to their enemies; they will be plundered and robbed by all their enemies, 15 because they have done evil in my sight and have angered me from the time their ancestors left Egypt right up to this very day!’”
16 Furthermore Manasseh killed so many innocent people, he stained Jerusalem with their blood from end to end, in addition to encouraging Judah to sin by doing evil in the sight of the Lord.
17 The rest of the events of Manasseh’s reign and all his accomplishments, as well as the sinful acts he committed, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Judah. 18 Manasseh passed away and was buried in his palace garden, the garden of Uzzah, and his son Amon replaced him as king.
19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned for two years in Jerusalem. His mother was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz, from Jotbah. 20 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his father Manasseh had done. 21 He followed in the footsteps of his father and worshiped and bowed down to the disgusting idols that his father had worshiped. 22 He abandoned the Lord, God of his ancestors, and did not follow the Lord’s instructions. 23 Amon’s servants conspired against him and killed the king in his palace. 24 The people of the land executed all those who had conspired against King Amon, and they made his son Josiah king in his place.
25 The rest of Amon’s accomplishments are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Judah. 26 He was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzzah, and his son Josiah replaced him as king.
22:1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother was Jedidah, daughter of Adaiah, from Bozkath. 2 He did what the Lord approved and followed in his ancestor David’s footsteps; he did not deviate to the right or the left.
3 In the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, the king sent the scribe Shaphan son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, to the Lord’s temple with these orders: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him melt down the silver that has been brought by the people to the Lord’s temple and has been collected by the guards at the door. 5 Have them hand it over to the construction foremen assigned to the Lord’s temple. They in turn should pay the temple workers to repair it, 6 including craftsmen, builders, and masons, and should buy wood and chiseled stone for the repair work. 7 Do not audit the foremen who disburse the silver, for they are honest.”
8 Hilkiah the high priest informed Shaphan the scribe, “I found the scroll of the law in the Lord’s temple.” Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan and he read it. 9 Shaphan the scribe went to the king and reported, “Your servants melted down the silver in the temple and handed it over to the construction foremen assigned to the Lord’s temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” Shaphan read it out loud before the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the law scroll, he tore his clothes. 12 The king ordered Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, 13 “Go, seek an oracle from the Lord for me and the people—for all Judah. Find out about the words of this scroll that has been discovered. For the Lord’s great fury has been ignited against us, because our ancestors have not obeyed the words of this scroll by doing all that it instructs us to do.”
14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shullam son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, the supervisor of the wardrobe. (She lived in Jerusalem in the Mishneh district.) They stated their business, 15 and she said to them: “This is what the Lord God of Israel has said: ‘Say this to the man who sent you to me: 16 “This is what the Lord has said: ‘I am about to bring disaster on this place and its residents, all the things in the scroll that the king of Judah has read. 17 This will happen because they have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to other gods, angering me with all the idols they have made. My anger will ignite against this place and will not be extinguished!’” 18 Say this to the king of Judah, who sent you to seek an oracle from the Lord: “This is what the Lord God of Israel has said concerning the words you have heard: 19 ‘You displayed a sensitive spirit and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard how I intended to make this place and its residents into an appalling example of an accursed people. You tore your clothes and wept before me, and I have heard you,’ says the Lord. 20 ‘Therefore I will allow you to die and be buried in peace. You will not have to witness all the disaster I will bring on this place.’”’” Then they reported back to the king.
23:1 The king summoned all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 The king went up to the Lord’s temple, accompanied by all the people of Judah, all the residents of Jerusalem, the priests, and the prophets. All the people were there, from the youngest to the oldest. He read aloud all the words of the scroll of the covenant that had been discovered in the Lord’s temple. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant before the Lord, agreeing to follow the Lord and to obey his commandments, laws, and rules with all his heart and being, by carrying out the terms of this covenant recorded on this scroll. All the people agreed to keep the covenant.
4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the high-ranking priests, and the guards to bring out of the Lord’s temple all the items that were used in the worship of Baal, Asherah, and all the stars of the sky. The king burned them outside of Jerusalem in the terraces of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 5 He eliminated the pagan priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to offer sacrifices on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the area right around Jerusalem. (They offered sacrifices to Baal, the sun god, the moon god, the constellations, and all the stars in the sky.) 6 He removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it. He smashed it to dust and then threw the dust in the public graveyard. 7 He tore down the quarters of the male cultic prostitutes in the Lord’s temple, where women were weaving shrines for Asherah.
8 He brought all the priests from the cities of Judah and ruined the high places where the priests had offered sacrifices, from Geba to Beer Sheba. He tore down the high place of the goat idols situated at the entrance of the gate of Joshua, the city official, on the left side of the city gate. 9 (Now the priests of the high places did not go up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat unleavened cakes among their fellow priests.) 10 The king ruined Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that no one could pass his son or his daughter through the fire to Molech. 11 He removed from the entrance to the Lord’s temple the statues of horses that the kings of Judah had placed there in honor of the sun god. (They were kept near the room of Nathan Melech the eunuch, which was situated among the courtyards.) He burned up the chariots devoted to the sun god. 12 The king tore down the altars the kings of Judah had set up on the roof of Ahaz’s upper room, as well as the altars Manasseh had set up in the two courtyards of the Lord’s temple. He crushed them and threw the dust in the Kidron Valley. 13 The king ruined the high places east of Jerusalem, south of the Mount of Destruction, that King Solomon of Israel had built for the detestable Sidonian goddess Astarte, the detestable Moabite god Chemosh, and the horrible Ammonite god Milcom. 14 He smashed the sacred pillars to bits, cut down the Asherah poles, and filled those shrines with human bones.
15 He also tore down the altar in Bethel at the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who encouraged Israel to sin. He burned all the combustible items at that high place and crushed them to dust, including the Asherah pole. 16 When Josiah turned around, he saw the tombs there on the hill. So he ordered the bones from the tombs to be brought; he burned them on the altar and defiled it, just as in the Lord’s message that was announced by the prophet while Jeroboam stood by the altar during a festival. Then the king turned and saw the grave of the prophet who had foretold this. 17 He asked, “What is this grave marker I see?” The men from the city replied, “It’s the grave of the prophet who came from Judah and foretold these very things you have done to the altar of Bethel.” 18 The king said, “Leave it alone! No one must touch his bones.” So they left his bones undisturbed, as well as the bones of the Israelite prophet buried beside him.
19 Josiah also removed all the shrines on the high places in the cities of Samaria. The kings of Israel had made them and angered the Lord. He did to them what he had done to the high place in Bethel. 20 He sacrificed all the priests of the high places on the altars located there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.
21 The king ordered all the people, “Observe the Passover of the Lord your God, as prescribed in this scroll of the covenant.” 22 He issued this edict because a Passover like this had not been observed since the days of the judges who led Israel; it was neglected for the entire period of the kings of Israel and Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, such a Passover of the Lord was observed in Jerusalem.
24 Josiah also got rid of the ritual pits used to conjure up spirits, the magicians, personal idols, disgusting images, and all the detestable idols that had appeared in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem. In this way he carried out the terms of the law recorded on the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the Lord’s temple. 25 No king before or after repented before the Lord as he did, with his whole heart, soul, and being in accordance with the whole law of Moses.