Free eBook: Getting Through the Storms in Life

2 Chronicles 28; 2 Chronicles 29; 2 Chronicles 30; 2 Chronicles 31

1 Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 16 years. He didn't do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He didn't do what King David had done. 2 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel. He also made metal statues of gods that were named after Baal. 3 He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. He sacrificed his children in the fire to other gods. He followed the practices of the nations. The LORD hated those practices. He had driven out those nations to make room for the people of Israel. 4 Ahaz offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places. He also did it on the tops of hills and under every green tree. 5 So the LORD his God handed him over to the king of Aram. The men of Aram won the battle over him. They took many of his people as prisoners. They brought them to Damascus. God also handed Ahaz over to Pekah. His army wounded or killed many of the troops of Ahaz. Pekah was king of Israel. 6 In one day Pekah killed 120,000 soldiers in Judah. That's because Judah had deserted the Lord, the God of their people. Pekah was the son of Remaliah. 7 Zicri was a fighting man from Ephraim. He killed Maaseiah, Azrikam and Elkanah. Maaseiah was the king's son. Azrikam was the officer who was in charge of the palace. And Elkanah was next in command after the king. 8 The men of Israel captured 200,000 wives, sons and daughters from their relatives in Judah. They also took a large amount of goods. They carried all of it back to Samaria. 9 But a prophet of the LORD was there. His name was Oded. When the army returned to Samaria, he went out to meet them. He said to them, "The LORD is the God of your people. He burned with anger against Judah. So he handed them over to you. But you have killed them. Your anger reached all the way to heaven. 10 "Now you are planning to make the men and women of Judah and Jerusalem your slaves. But aren't you also guilty of sins against the LORD your God? 11 Listen to me! You have taken your relatives from Judah as prisoners. The LORD's anger is burning against you. So send your relatives back." 12 Then some of the leaders in Ephraim stood up to those who were returning from the war. The leaders were Azariah, Berekiah, Jehizkiah and Amasa. Azariah was the son of Jehohanan. Berekiah was the son of Meshillemoth. Jehizkiah was the son of Shallum. And Amasa was the son of Hadlai. 13 "Don't bring those prisoners here," they said. "If you do, we'll be guilty in the sight of the Lord. Do you really want to add to our sin and guilt? We're already very guilty. The LORD's anger is burning against Israel." 14 So the soldiers gave up the prisoners and the goods they had taken. They did it in front of the officials and the whole community. 15 Azariah, Berekiah, Jehizkiah and Amasa received the prisoners. From the goods that had been taken they gave clothes to all those who were naked. They gave them clothes, sandals, food, drink and healing lotion. They put all of the weak people on donkeys. They took them back to their relatives at Jericho. Then they returned to Samaria. Jericho was also known as the City of Palm Trees. 16 At that time King Ahaz sent men to the king of Assyria to get help. 17 The men of Edom had come again and attacked Judah. They had carried prisoners away. 18 At the same time the Philistines had attacked towns in the western hills and in the Negev Desert of Judah. They had captured Beth Shemesh, Aijalon and Gederoth. They had also captured Soco, Timnah and Gimzo and the villages that were around them. They had settled down in all of them. 19 The LORD had brought Judah down because of Ahaz, their king. Ahaz had stirred up the people of Judah to do evil things. He hadn't been faithful to the LORD at all. 20 Tiglath-Pileser came to Ahaz. But he gave Ahaz trouble instead of help. Tiglath-Pileser was king of Assyria. 21 Ahaz took some things from the LORD's temple. He also took some from the royal palace and from the princes. He gave all of them to the king of Assyria. But that didn't help him. 22 When King Ahaz was in trouble, he became even more unfaithful to the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus. They had won the battle over him. He thought, "The gods of the kings of Aram have helped them. So I'll sacrifice to them. Then they'll help me." But they brought him down. In fact, they brought the whole nation of Israel down. 24 Ahaz gathered together everything that belonged to God's temple. He took all of it away. He shut the doors of the LORD's temple. He set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem. 25 In every town in Judah he built high places. Sacrifices were burned there to other gods. That made the Lord, the God of his people, very angry. 26 The other events of the rule of Ahaz and all of his evil practices from beginning to end are written down. They are written in the records of the kings of Judah and Israel. 27 Ahaz joined the members of his family who had already died. His body was buried in the city of Jerusalem. But it wasn't placed in the tombs of the kings of Israel. His son Hezekiah became the next king after him.
1 Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother's name was Abijah. She was the daughter of Zechariah. 2 Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as King David had done. 3 In the first month of Hezekiah's first year as king, he opened the doors of the LORD's temple. He repaired them. 4 He brought the priests and Levites in. He gathered them together in the open area on the east side of the temple. 5 He said, "Levites, listen to me! Set yourselves apart to the Lord. Set apart the temple of the Lord. He's the God of your people. Remove anything that is 'unclean' from the temple. 6 Our people weren't faithful. They did what was evil in the sight of the LORD our God. They deserted him. They turned their faces away from the place where he lives. They turned their backs on him. 7 They also shut the doors of the temple porch. They put the lamps out. They didn't burn incense at the temple. They didn't sacrifice burnt offerings to the God of Israel there. 8 "So the LORD has become angry with Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them look so bad that everyone is shocked when they see them. They laugh at them. You can see it with your own eyes. 9 That's why our people have been killed with swords. That's why our sons and daughters and wives have become prisoners. 10 "So I'm planning to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel. Then he'll turn his burning anger away from us. 11 "My sons, don't fail to obey the Lord. He has chosen you to stand in front of him and work for him. He wants you to serve him and burn incense to him." 12 Here are the Levites who went to work. Mahath and Joel were from the family line of Kohath. Mahath was the son of Amasai. Joel was the son of Azariah. Kish and Azariah were from the family line of Merari. Kish was the son of Abdi. Azariah was the son of Jehallelel. Joah and Eden were from the family line of Gershon. Joah was the son of Zimmah. Eden was the son of Joah. 13 Shimri and Jeiel were from the family line of Elizaphan. Zechariah and Mattaniah were from the family line of Asaph. 14 Jehiel and Shimei were from the family line of Heman. Shemaiah and Uzziel were from the family line of Jeduthun. 15 All of those Levites gathered the other Levites together. They set themselves apart to the Lord. Then they went in to purify the LORD's temple. That's what the king had ordered them to do. They did what the LORD told them to. 16 The priests went into the LORD's temple to make it pure. They brought out to the temple courtyard everything that was "unclean." They had found "unclean" things in the LORD's temple. The Levites took them and carried them out to the Kidron Valley. 17 On the first day of the first month they began to set everything in the temple apart to the Lord. By the eighth day of the month they reached the LORD's porch. For eight more days they set the LORD's temple itself apart to him. They finished on the 16th day of the first month. 18 Then they went to King Hezekiah. They reported, "We've purified the whole temple of the Lord. That includes the altar for burnt offerings and all of its tools. It also includes the table for the holy bread and all of its articles. 19 We've prepared all of the articles King Ahaz had removed. We've set them apart to the Lord. Ahaz had removed them while he was king. He wasn't faithful to the Lord. The articles are now in front of the LORD's altar." 20 Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials together. They went up to the LORD's temple. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven male lambs and seven male goats with them. They sacrificed the animals as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the temple and for Judah. The king commanded the priests to offer them on the LORD's altar. The priests were from the family line of Aaron. 22 They killed the bulls. Then they sprinkled the blood on the altar. Next they killed the rams and sprinkled the blood on the altar. Then they killed the lambs and sprinkled the blood on the altar. 23 The goats for the sin offering were brought to the king and the whole community. They placed their hands on them. 24 Then the priests killed the goats. They put the blood on the altar as a sin offering. It paid for the sin of the whole nation of Israel. The king had ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for the whole nation. 25 He stationed the Levites in the LORD's temple. They had cymbals, harps and lyres. They did everything in the way King David, his prophet Gad, and the prophet Nathan had required. The LORD had given commands about all of those things through his prophets. 26 So the Levites stood ready with David's musical instruments. And the priests had their trumpets ready. 27 Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. The offering began. Singing to the LORD also began. The singing was accompanied by the trumpets and by the instruments of David. He had been king of Israel. 28 The whole community bowed down. They worshiped the Lord. At the same time the singers sang. The priests blew their trumpets. All of that continued until the burnt offering had been sacrificed. 29 So the offerings were finished. King Hezekiah got down on his knees. He worshiped the Lord. So did everyone who was with him. 30 The king and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord. They used the words of David and the prophet Asaph. They sang praises with joy. They bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord. 31 Then Hezekiah said, "You have set yourselves apart to the Lord. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to his temple." So the whole community brought sacrifices and thank offerings. Everyone who wanted to brought burnt offerings. 32 The whole community brought 70 bulls, 100 rams and 200 male lambs. They brought all of them as burnt offerings to the Lord. 33 The total number of animals that were set apart as sacrifices to the LORD was 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep and goats. 34 But there weren't enough priests to skin all of the burnt offerings. So their brother Levites helped them. They worked until the task was finished. By that time other priests had been set apart to the Lord. The Levites had been more careful than the priests when they set themselves apart. 35 There were large numbers of burnt offerings, along with the drink offerings and the fat from the friendship offerings. They were offered along with the burnt offerings. So the service of the LORD's temple was started up again. 36 Hezekiah and all of the people were filled with joy. That's because everything had been done so quickly. God had provided for his people in a wonderful way.
1 Hezekiah sent a message to all of the people of Israel and Judah. He also wrote letters to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. He invited everyone to come to the LORD's temple in Jerusalem. He wanted them to celebrate the Passover Feast in honor of the Lord. He is the God of Israel. 2 The king, his officials and the whole community in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month. 3 They hadn't been able to celebrate it at the regular time. That's because there weren't enough priests who had set themselves apart to the Lord. Also, the people hadn't gathered together in Jerusalem. 4 The plan seemed good to the king and the whole community. 5 They decided to send a message all through Israel. It was sent out from Beersheba all the way to Dan. The message invited the people to come to Jerusalem. It invited them to celebrate the Passover in honor of the Lord, the God of Israel. The Passover hadn't been celebrated by large numbers of people for a long time. It hadn't been done in keeping with what was written in the law. 6 Messengers went all through Israel and Judah. They carried letters from the king and his officials. The king had ordered them to do that. The letters said, "People of Israel, return to the Lord. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Return to him. Then he will return to you who are left in the land. You have escaped from the power of the kings of Assyria. 7 "Don't be like the rest of your people and relatives. They weren't faithful to the Lord, the God of their people. That's why he punished them. He made them look so bad that everyone was shocked when they saw them. You can see it for yourselves. 8 "Don't be stubborn. Don't be as your people were. Obey the Lord. Come to the temple. He has set it apart to himself forever. Serve the LORD your God. Then he'll turn his burning anger away from you. 9 "Suppose you return to the Lord. Then those who captured your relatives and children will be kind to them. In fact, your relatives and children will come back to this land. The LORD your God is kind and tender. He won't turn away from you if you return to him." 10 The messengers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh. They went all the way to Zebulun. But the people made fun of them. They laughed at them. 11 In spite of that, some men from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun made themselves low in the LORD's sight. They went to Jerusalem. 12 God's powerful hand helped the people of Judah. He helped them agree with one another. So they did what the king and his officials had ordered. They did what the LORD told them to do. 13 A very large crowd of people gathered together in Jerusalem. They went there to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It took place in the second month. 14 They removed the altars in Jerusalem. They cleared away the altars for burning incense. They threw all of the altars into the Kidron Valley. 15 They killed the Passover lamb on the 14th day of the second month. The priests and Levites were filled with shame. They set themselves apart to the Lord. They brought burnt offerings to his temple. 16 Then they went to their regular positions. They did it just as the Law of Moses, the man of God, required. The Levites gave the blood of the animals to the priests. The priests sprinkled it on the altar. 17 Many people in the crowd hadn't set themselves apart to the Lord. They weren't "clean." They couldn't set their lambs apart to him. So the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all of them. 18 Many people came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun. Most of them hadn't made themselves pure and clean. But they still ate the Passover meal. That was against what was written in the law. But Hezekiah prayed for them. He said, "The LORD is good. May he forgive everyone 19 who wants to worship God with all his heart. God is the Lord, the God of their people. May he forgive them even if they aren't 'clean' in keeping with the rules of the temple." 20 The LORD answered Hezekiah's prayer. He healed the people. 21 The people of Israel who were in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They celebrated for seven days with great joy. The Levites and priests sang to the LORD every day. Their singing was accompanied by musical instruments. The instruments were used to praise the Lord. 22 Hezekiah spoke words that gave hope to all of the Levites. They understood how to serve the LORD well. For the seven days of the Feast they ate the share that was given to them. They also sacrificed friendship offerings. They praised the Lord, the God of their people. 23 Then the whole community agreed to celebrate the Feast for seven more days. So for another seven days they celebrated with joy. 24 Hezekiah, the king of Judah, provided 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats for the community. The officials provided 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep and goats for them. A large number of priests set themselves apart to the Lord. 25 The entire community of Judah was filled with joy. So were the priests and Levites. And so were all of the people who had gathered together from Israel. That included the outsiders who had come from Israel. It also included those who lived in Judah. 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem. There hadn't been anything like it in Israel since the days of Solomon, the son of David. Solomon had been king of Israel. 27 The priests and Levites gave their blessing to the people. God heard them. Their prayer reached all the way to heaven. It's the holy place where he lives.
1 The Feast came to an end. The people of Israel who were in Jerusalem went out to the towns of Judah. They smashed the sacred stones. They cut down the poles that were used to worship the goddess Asherah. They destroyed the high places and the altars. They did those things all through Judah and Benjamin. They also did them in Ephraim and Manasseh. They destroyed all of the objects that were used to worship other gods. Then the people returned to their own towns and property. 2 Hezekiah put the priests and Levites in groups based on their duties. The priests sacrificed burnt offerings and friendship offerings. The Levites served the LORD by giving thanks and singing praises at the gates of his house. 3 The king gave some of his own possessions to the temple. He gave them for the morning and evening burnt offerings. He gave them for the burnt offerings for every Sabbath day. He gave them for the burnt offerings for every New Moon feast. And he gave them for the burnt offerings for every yearly appointed feast. He did it in keeping with what is written in the Law of the Lord. 4 Hezekiah gave an order to the people who were living in Jerusalem. He commanded them to give to the priests and Levites the share they owed them. Then the priests and Levites could give their full attention to the Law of the Lord. 5 The order went out. Right away the people of Israel began to give freely. They gave the first share of the harvest of their grain, fresh wine, olive oil and honey. They also gave the first share of everything else their fields produced. They brought a large amount. It was a tenth of everything. 6 The people of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah brought a tenth of their herds and flocks. They also brought a tenth of the holy things they had set apart to the LORD their God. They put them in piles. 7 They began doing it in the third month. They finished in the seventh month. 8 Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the piles. When they did, they praised the Lord. And they blessed his people Israel. 9 Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the piles. 10 The chief priest Azariah answered him. He said, "The people have been bringing their gifts to the LORD's temple. Ever since they began to bring them, we've had enough to eat. We have even had plenty to spare. That's because the LORD has blessed his people. So we have a large amount left over." Azariah was from the family line of Zadok. 11 Hezekiah gave orders to prepare storerooms in the LORD's temple. And it was done. 12 The people were faithful. They brought in their offerings, a tenth of everything they produced, and the gifts they had set apart to the Lord. The Levite Conaniah was in charge of those things. His brother Shimei was next in command after him. 13 Conaniah and his brother Shimei had directors who worked under them. Their names were Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismakiah, Mahath and Benaiah. King Hezekiah and Azariah had appointed them. Azariah was the official who was in charge of God's temple. 14 The Levite Kore guarded the East Gate. He was in charge of the offerings people chose to give to God. He handed out the offerings that were made to the Lord. He also handed out the gifts that had been set apart to the Lord. Kore was the son of Imnah. 15 Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah and Shecaniah helped Kore. They were faithful in helping him in the towns of the priests. They handed out gifts to their brother priests, group by group. They gave the gifts to young men and old men alike. 16 In addition to that, they handed out gifts to the males who were three years old or more. The names of those males were listed in their family history. All of them would enter the LORD's temple. They would carry out their duties each day. Each group did all of the different things it was supposed to do. 17 Kore and his Levite companions also handed out gifts to the priests. The priests were listed by their families in their family history. Those Levites also handed out gifts to the Levites who were 20 years old or more. Each group did all of the different things it was supposed to do. 18 Those groups included all of the little ones, the wives, and the sons and daughters of the whole community. All of them were listed in their family history. They were faithful in setting themselves apart to serve the Lord. 19 Some of the priests, who were from the family line of Aaron, lived in other towns or on farms around their towns. Men were chosen by name to hand out shares to those priests. They gave a share to every male among them. They also gave a share to everyone whose name was written down in the family history of the Levites. 20 That's what Hezekiah did all through Judah. He did what was good and right. He was faithful to the LORD his God. 21 He looked to his God. He worked for him with all his heart. That's the way he worked in everything he did to serve God's temple. He obeyed the law. He followed the LORD's commands. So he had success.
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