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Mar 8, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 67

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Exile

You punished first Israel, then Judah, with exile.  Prophets brought a message of hope: In my exile due to sin, show me the way home.

Period Preview

We have moved into the period of Exile.  To review:

By about 1050 BC Israel at last had her kingdom, but it quickly ran aground when Solomon turned his eyes from God and focused on building for himself.  His son only made things worse, precipitating a drastic split.  David’s royal kingdom of israel divided into two kingdoms:  “Judah” (two tribes in the south) and “Israel” (ten tribes to the north).  Israel’s king, Jeroboam, set up golden calves at two centers of worship to replace the Temple, appointed his own priests, and established new festivals.  Under this alternate religion, Israel quickly foundered.  About 200 years followed of apostasy, violence, Baal worship, and the like.  Despite repeated warnings from God’s prophets, there was no change.  By 722 BC the time for punishment had come.  The period of Exile  begins in the north when the people of Israel are conquered by Assyria and scattered abroad.

Judah fared somewhat better in the south, with good kings periodically calling the people back to God.  For about 350 years after Solomon, David’s dynasty held the throne in Jerusalem.  however, the people continued to fall into idol worship and failed to heed the prophets’ warnings.  Around the time that the northern kingdom fell to Assyriah, Isaiah foretold that Judah too would be punished with exile, this time to the new world power, Babylon.  This prophecy will come true starting with deportations in 605 and 597 BC and culminates in 587 BC when Judah falls to Babylon and Solomon’s Temple is destroyed.  It will be another 70 years before the people of Judah are allowed to return from their so-called “Babylonian captivity.”

The reading for this period is short:  just 2 Kings 17 (which tells of the fall and deportation of Israel) and 2 Kings 25 (which tells of the exile of Judah).  The intervening chapters, which you will also read in this section, tell how Judah fares after the conquest of the northern kingdom.  Many of the prophets write during this time:  Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Daniel and Baruch to name a few.  After you finish this 90-day initial journey through the Bible, you may want to return and read some of the prophets in context.  It will greatly enrich your understanding of the period, just as a basic familiarity with the period will help you better understand those books.

Today’s Reading

II Kings 17-20

Today’s Question

Back in the time of Abraham (and again to both Moses and David), God promised his people land, abundant life, and blessing if thy would only trust and follow him.  In 2 Kings 18:28-35, consider how Sennacherib’s “offer” to Judah compares to God’s offer.  (Sennacherib was the King of Assyria; he marched against Jerusalem after deporting the northern kingdom.)

Join the discussion below!

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  • The king of Assyria reminded me of the anti Christ individuals that have made their mark in our recent and past history. How can one egocentric man lie to people about their daily lives and if they follow him, they will prosper? How dare he! Maybe the people were looking at an individual whereas God is a spirit during this time of the bible. Who would you believe? Would you have enough faith to believe in God only, or would you

    • Oh my gosh, I have chills. I read your post earlier this morning, pnkyB4brain, and I knew I would respond to it later. Who do we believe, indeed!

      It brought to mind a conversation I was having with a coworker yesterday. I work in a doctor’s office and we were talking about the political aspects of health insurance. I’ll say no more about that subject, for now. 🙂 But I told my coworker that my husband always watched the news on FOX, MSNBC and CNN, and all three stations would have different opinions on the same subject! So how do you know who to believe?

      And just now, I heard a song on the radio that I never heard before, “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns. I thought it might be good for the talk I’ll be doing on Study for Cursillo. So I just looked up the lyrics… the last line of the song is “I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth”.
      http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/castingcrowns/voiceoftruth.html

      Pay attention to tomorrow’s readings. Satan’s voice is silky smooth as he coaxes Eve into eating of the forbidden fruit. And in the Gospel from Matthew, Jesus is tempted. “The devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, ‘All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:8-10)

      Satan tries to twist the words of the truth, but Jesus holds fast to the truth… and so must we… by knowing the Word of God.

      • Yes Marianne The people in this country are calling for a “savior” and by “savior” they mean fix the economy. They are not thinking about the moral disintegration that is rampant in this country. They make fun of leaders like Tim Tebow who even mention the name of God. As I read this I am begining to think that we are much deeper in the muck that Israel

  • The northern kingdom and southern kingdom had their prophets, but many times the people would not listen to the words of the prophets, who were trying to turn the people to the Lord. Their words were not self-serving, for they gained nothing for the prophets…yet they delivered some pretty tough messages from God to the people during these times. Yet time and time again God came to the aid of his people…and this he promised to do for Judah against the king of Assyria…which he does. I found it interesting in 2 Kings 18: 32 the Assyrian king says “until I come to take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and wine, of bread and orchards, of olives, oil and fruit syrup. Choose life, not death. Do not listen to Hezekiah, when he would seduce by saying, “The Lord will rescue us.” Versus Exodus 3:8 where God says: “”So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians,
    and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a
    land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the
    Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the
    Jebusite.”
    Just as Satan twisted the words of God in the garden of Eden, through the king of Assyria, Satan twists the words of God to lure God’s people out of their promised inheritance…notice the word formation of both: “a land of…a land flowing..” How like Satan to try and imitate the words of God…if we are not alert we can miss the message here..1. God’s words are simple and clear. 2. He brings promise and a future. Satan brings 1. distortions of God’s promises 2. Calls us to turn away from God’s law and Will for our lives. We can best fight Satan when we study God’s Word, pray daily, participate in the Sacraments, and determine to follow God by giving our whole selves to Him daily. Lord, into Your hands I give myself…I come to do Your Will this day and always. Amen.

    • I have been away from this Challenge for a couple of hours praying my usual prayers and doing the daily Mass Scripture readings when I ran across this meditation called “I AM” …I thought, “Oh, gee..a meditation on God!” So I began to listen to the speaker…It was all about how to think highly of one’s self…ie. I am good, I am perfect…etc. It took me a while to realize that here was a site that Satan was using to entice people to put themselves as their own god!! I can tell you from this experience, that it will not take long for Satan to tempt you once you decide to follow God more closely!! His tentacles are long and he hates those who choose to follow God, Lord, I put myself into Your hands…Your Will not mine today. I trust in You. Amen.

    • Just the same as today when people are seduced by listening to preachers and accepting it as being true because it sounds authoritative and comfortable, without checking facts to see if it is The Truth.

  • Here in 2Kings 18, with Jesus’ temptation in the desert, and in our lives today, the evidence points to this: THE EVIL ONE USES JUST ENOUGH TRUTH TO MAKE HIS LIES PLAUSIBLE. We must arm ourselves with the Truth – through Scripture, the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Sacraments in order to stand up to the lies that permeate our daily existence.
    Just worship me, the King of Assyria says, and I will give you land and sustenance – but it won’t be their land, will it? They will be enslaved. Have any other gods prevailed against Assyria, they are asked? – Well, of course not! There are no other gods but the LORD.
    Thank God for Hezekiah who consulted the Lord in everything, listened to the LORD through Isaiah. The Judahites had some respite. But it is really too little, too late for Judah – and as Hezekiah allowed pride to enter at the end of his life, he allowed Babylon an opportunity to covet the riches of Judah, setting into motion their eventual exile.

    • I also noticed that Hezekiah asked God for Victory not for his own glory but “that all should know the LORD is the only God.”

      • Yes – and I compare him to Solomon – so much good and beloved by God, blessed by God; yet at the end of their lives going their own way!

        • I do not see Hezekiah as any thing close to Solomon. Even though he did something incredibly naive and stupid. He did not directly disobey God (he did clean up the high places) And remember God had not granted Hezekiah the wisdom of Solomon. It was not because of Hezekiah’s immature pride that the LORD permitted the exile of Judah but because of the actions of the people. Also Hezekiah has just recovered from a life-threatening illness. I am sure he was somewhat dazed. Also he might have seen the Babylonians as a little better neighbors than the Assyrians. Very often our impulsive actions which might appear trivial do have far reaching consequences and few of have the wisdom of Solomon.

          • That’s cool. I can respect that we view things differently. I just did not think it was wise for Hezekiah to align himself with another king as opposed to God. It is always about our heart condition and undivided allegiance to God. I am not in a position to judge any of the characters in the Bible (or anywhere else), but merely speculating on their actions. So good for you for giving him the benefit of the doubt.

          • The operative word here is “wise” Hezekiah definately did not act wisely. In fact he acted very foolishly. But then would have I acted differently. The Babylonians had brought expensive gifts and I am willing to bet a lot of flattery. They may have even showed an interest in the God of the Hebrews. At no time does Hezekiah ever worship pagan gods

          • I never said he worshiped pagan gods. But do the Babylonian king and the riches represent false idols of some sort? I believe they do, just as the things people abuse today (alcohol, money, pornography, etc.) are idols, taking our attention/worship away from God.
            These threads are wonderful opportunities for us all to share our thoughts and impressions concerning the Scriptures. Applications vary from person to person, and we don’t have to agree. I certainly respect your good opinion of Hezekiah, even share a bit of it, as my original thread states. But I stand by my assessment of his actions in his last years and take it as a personal warning to try harder to remain steadfast in my trust in the Lord and set aside my material dependencies/pride.

          • Oh I certainly believe the people of today are much worse than Hezekiah, particularly our leaders. And I believe that the people of today are much worse than the people of Judah (or Israel for that matter) I see Hezekiah as being foolish more that evil. I see Solomon as becoming greedy and thus becoming bad.

          • The only person, I judge as evilly foolish is myself. In all other cases I judge actions. And yes I know St. Paul says we are not to judge ourselves.

    • In the same way, sometimes good things become idols and therefore must be destroyed. For example, if the true cross of Jesus or His actual burial cloth were to be discovered, and
      these objects became idolatrous distractions, then it would be better for those objects to be destroyed. “Although it was an interesting memorial, it must be utterly destroyed, because it presented a temptation to idolatry. Here if ever in this world was a relic of high antiquity, of undoubted authenticity, a relic which had seen its hundreds of years, about which there was no question as to its being indisputably the very serpent which Moses made; and it was moreover a relic which had formerly possessed miraculous power — for in the wilderness the
      looking at it had saved the dying. Yet it must be broken in pieces, because Israel burned incense to it.”

      God’s people must likewise be on guard against idolatry today. There are many dangers of idolatry in the modern church:·
      Making leaders idols·
      Making education an idol·
      Making human eloquence an idol·
      Making customs and habits of ministry an idol·
      Making forms of worship an idol

      • Very interesting… I read that same post elsewhere…
        BTW, it might be helpful if you mention the source when quoting others…

      • Jose, this reminds me of a situation during my final summer in – residency for my Masters in Pastoral ministry. Eight of us sat together at lunch one day, joined by a woman in the Canon Law Certificate program. We asked her about her studies and she told us she loves Canon Law and believes it to be the most important work of the Church; more valuable even than the Bible. There was a collective gasp from the group, needless to say!

        • You are right Fisher (Kerry) there is considerations to touch religious item in this modern days. I wish to say that my commentary above is based on abrupt command of Yahweh in the bible in the olden days. Today we have to consider, not only what is provided in the canon laws but also the Constitution, local laws, regulations and ordinances of the country and locality.. As to choices which is more important, Bible or Canon laws, to me our dialogue should not come to that point of one should make a choice. However, to a question as the only choice left, meaning between life and death, that is another scenario of life, that such must be stated as the only consideration, so that the question could be answered correctly.

  • Sennacherib is offering them only land. To get that land they must become his servants. I also see a parallel with the Serpent’s arguments with Eve in the garden. The delegation sent by Hezekiah did not listen to the Assyrian delegation. Hezekiah put his trust in the LORD. There is peace in his time.

  • As Barbara Ann says, Sennacherib just offers land and servitude, whilst God offers so much more. Yet Hezekiah goes for the longer-term more fulsome guaranteed offering from God, instead of the paltry secular offering. It mirrors the question that arose in my life. Do I want a comfortable life with church made easy and all about me, or would I rather take up my cross walk with the Church founded by Jesus and follow Him? I got lost on the way, but thanks to God, I chose the Church made difficult and uncomfortable, the one founded by Jesus because it leads to the ultimate reward of Heaven.

  • I have been receiving emails re this Bible Study and am really enjoying the readings and learning how all the stories fit together.

  • Today is Sunday, March 9 and I have not received my email with today’s readings. Was my email accidentally removed from your list?

  • Shame on Sennacherib and his followers for really believing that the way of life is to follow their false god and that they could also follow the word of The Lord our God. Hezekiah, like some many others really holds onto to trusting and having faith in The Lord our God, So so many times in our daily experiences of life this goes on all the time. May God continue to guide us through our trust and faith in him.

  • I read through these chapters so quickly, as though I wanted to run from the horror. I can’t believe how bad it gotten with the people turning so far away from God’s love and laws of humanity to people who worshipped augury, divination, and immolation of children. It made me sick, angry and so sad.

  • Sennacherib says will remove them to another country, but it will be as good as this. He requires them to surrender. This will not be in his power, no more than it was in that of the other gods. Infidels and heretics are very foolish thus to compare their delusions with God, and his holy religion.

  • It is people like Sennacherib that many times get listened to and get weak followers of God to do wrong in the way of the LORD. I’ve been around such individuals that seem sincere and then when least expected the ugliness of what they are all about comes out. This is frightening. Help us to stay strong against the evil doers as such by praying and seeking for signs from God to stay on track and weather the storms that he will get us through.

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