2 Kings 20:1-22:2
20 At that time, Hezekiah was deathly sick. The prophet Isaiah (Amoz’s son) went to Hezekiah.
Isaiah: This is the Eternal’s message: “This is your last chance to make your final preparations because you are not going to recover; you are going to die.”
2 Then Hezekiah faced the wall and began to pray to the Eternal.
Hezekiah: 3 Eternal One, I beg You to remember that I have lived in faithfulness and given my heart to you and have practiced goodness before Your eyes.
Hezekiah was truly distraught and wept bitterly. 4 Before Isaiah had departed from the middle court, the Eternal’s message came to him.
Eternal One: 5 Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of My people, “This is the message of the Eternal One, the God of your ancestor David: ‘I have listened to your prayer and have witnessed the tears falling down your face; therefore I am going to heal you. I want you to go to the Eternal’s temple on the third day. 6 I will add 15 years to your life, and I am also going to save you and your city from Assyria’s king. I will fight on behalf of this city in order to preserve My honor and My servant David’s honor.’”
Isaiah: 7 Fetch a lump of figs.
They placed the figs on the king’s open sore, and he was healed.
Long before the discovery of penicillin and invention of pharmaceuticals, people understand how to use natural remedies readily available. A poultice of figs—and a healthy dose of prayer—successfully heal Hezekiah’s sore. Many other plants have similar healing qualities: wild, poisonous gourds are used in small amounts as purgatives; terebinth resin, frankincense, and myrrh are common antiseptics (even though they are more popular as cosmetics); and mandrake fruit is thought to cure female infertility. While future generations might question the healing properties of plants, they are considered powerful medicines to the people in the ancient Near East.
Hezekiah (to Isaiah): 8 Should I be looking for a sign from the Eternal, a sign that tells me He is going to heal me and that it is time for me to go to the Eternal’s temple on the third day?
Isaiah: 9 Yes, this is the sign the Eternal One will give for you to know He will uphold His promise to you: will the shadow move forward 10 steps or retreat 10 steps?
Hezekiah: 10 It’s nothing special for the shadow to increase 10 steps. May the shadow retreat 10 steps.
11 The prophet Isaiah called out to the Eternal, and He caused the shadow on the stairs to retreat 10 steps down Ahaz’s stairs, which had been designed as a sundial.
12 During that period in time, Berodach-baladan, one son of Baladan, Babylon’s king, heard that Hezekiah was ill, so he sent him a gift and get-well messages. 13 After Hezekiah received the gift and the letters, he gave Berodach-baladan’s messengers a tour of his treasuries and showed them all the silver, gold, spices, oils, armor, and everything else that was in the treasure house. He left nothing out of the tour of his house and province.
Isaiah (to King Hezekiah): 14 What did those men tell you, and where did they come from?
Hezekiah: They came from a faraway land—Babylon.
Isaiah: 15 How much of your house did you show to them? What all did they see?
Hezekiah: They saw everything. I left nothing out of the tour I gave them through my treasuries.
Isaiah: 16 Listen to the Eternal’s message: 17 “A time is near when everything in your house, including everything that your ancestors have contributed until today, will be taken to Babylon. Not one item will remain in your house.” This is the Eternal’s message. 18 “A time is near when your sons, who are yet to be born, will be removed from your land and made to be eunuchs in the Babylonian king’s palace.”
Hezekiah: 19 The Eternal’s message that you relayed to me is good.
(to himself) Is it not good that peace and truth will rule while I still live?
20 Is not the rest of Hezekiah’s story—his power and his construction of the pool and the conduit to provide water for the city—documented in the book of the chronicles of Judah’s kings?[a] 21 Hezekiah left this world to sleep with his fathers. His son, Manasseh, then inherited the throne.
21 Manasseh was 12 years old when he inherited the throne. His reign in Jerusalem lasted 55 years. His mother was Hephzibah. 2 He committed evil in the Eternal’s eyes, like the abhorrent practices of those nations driven out by the Eternal before the Israelites settled in Canaan. 3 Manasseh reconstructed the high places his father, Hezekiah, had demolished. He constructed altars for Baal and crafted a sacred pole, just as Ahab the former king of Israel had done. He offered his praise to all the gods of the skies and was in service to them.
4 He constructed altars in the Eternal’s temple to foreign, pagan gods. This was the temple the Eternal had spoken of when He said, “My name will dwell in Jerusalem.” 5 He contaminated the temple by constructing altars for all the gods of the skies in both the courts in the Eternal’s temple.
6 He forced his son to go through the fire as a burnt offering, and he was trained in the dark arts of witchcraft and fortune-telling. He practiced them both. He consulted necromancers and clairvoyants. He committed many wicked acts in the Eternal’s eyes, which caused Him to boil in anger.
7 He placed a carved image of the goddess Asherah in the Eternal’s temple. It was the very temple that the Eternal had spoken of to David and to Solomon, saying, “My name will dwell in this temple in Jerusalem forever. I have handpicked it from all of Israel’s tribes. 8 If the Israelites will honor the commands and laws I have given them through Moses, then I will no longer force them to be apart from the land I promised to their ancestors. They will live peacefully within the promised land.”
9 But the Israelites kept their ears and hearts closed to the message of the Lord; and Manasseh caused them to live even more sinful lives than the wicked nations, whom the Eternal annihilated before them, had committed. 10 The Eternal One delivered His message through His servants, the prophets.
Prophets: 11 Manasseh, Judah’s king, has committed even worse atrocities than the Amorites had committed before his time, and he also inspired wickedness throughout Judah because of his idols; 12 therefore, this is the message of the Eternal One, Israel’s God: “Observe! I am going to infect Jerusalem and Judah with disaster. The ears of anyone who hears the sounds of this catastrophe will tingle! 13 I will judge the uprightness of Jerusalem by the same plumb line that I used in Samaria and by the same level I used for Ahab’s house. I will clean Jerusalem in the same manner that one cleans a dirty dish. I will wipe off the grime and flip the dish over and wipe off the underside of it as well. 14 I am going to relinquish what is left of My inheritance to the possession of their adversaries. They will be like stolen goods and booty for all their adversaries. 15 This will take place because of all the wickedness they have committed before Me and because of the anger they have caused to boil within Me since the day their ancestors were delivered by Me from Egypt until this very day.”
16 Manasseh killed countless innocent people and filled Jerusalem with their blood. And this is in addition to causing Judah to live sinful lives and committing evil in the Eternal’s eyes.
According to tradition, one of those innocent people is the prophet Isaiah. Manasseh and Isaiah have a tumultuous relation ship from the start, when Hezekiah invited Isaiah to the court to meet his sons. Isaiah prophesied then that Manasseh would be evil. After Manasseh becomes king, Isaiah tells him the temple will be destroyed. Infuriated, the king orders Isaiah’s arrest. Isaiah flees into the hills where he hides inside a cedar tree. But Manasseh’s men find him—when they are cutting the tree in half. This legend is attested to by the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews (11:37–38).
17 Is not the rest of Manasseh’s story—his wickedness and sin—documented in the book of the chronicles of Judah’s kings? 18 Manasseh left this world to sleep with his fathers and was laid to rest in his own garden, the garden of Uzza. His son, Amon, then inherited the throne.
19 Amon was 22 years old when he became king. His reign in Jerusalem lasted two years. His mother was Meshullemeth (daughter of Haruz from Jotbah). 20 He committed much wickedness in the Eternal’s eyes just as his father, Manasseh, did. 21 He walked the wicked path of his father, and he served and worshiped the same gods his father had served. 22 Amon was corrupt and abandoned the Eternal One, the God of his ancestors. He did not walk on the Eternal’s path.
23 Amon’s servants plotted behind his back and murdered him in his own house. 24 Then the people of the land slaughtered those who had plotted in secret against King Amon, and they gave the throne to Amon’s son, Josiah.
25 Is not the rest of Amon’s story—his actions and lasting legacy—documented in the book of the chronicles of Judah’s kings? 26 Amon was laid to rest in the garden of Uzza with his father. His son, Josiah, then inherited the throne.
22 Josiah was 8 years old when he inherited the throne. His reign in Jerusalem lasted 31 years. His mother was Jedidah (daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath). 2 Josiah was righteous in the Eternal’s eyes. He continually did what was right, just as his ancestor David had. He did not ever step away from the righteous path.
18 The next day, we went together to visit James, and all the elders were there with him. 19 Paul greeted them and then reported account after account of what God had done through him among the outsiders. 20 When they heard his story, they praised God.
James and the Elders: Brother, we have a problem. You can see that we have thousands of Jewish believers here, and all of them are zealous law keepers. 21 They’ve heard all kinds of rumors about you—that you teach all the Jews living among the outside nations to forget about Moses entirely, that you tell believers not to circumcise their sons, that you teach them to abandon all our customs. 22 We need to deal with this situation, since word will spread that you’re here in the city. 23 So here’s what we would like you to do. We have four men here who are fulfilling a vow. 24 Join them. Go through the rituals of purification with them. Pay for their heads to be shaved according to our ritual. That will show that the rumors are false and that you are still observing and upholding the law. 25 For the outside believers, we’ve already written in a letter our judgment on their situation: they should not eat food that has been sacrificed to idols, they should not eat meat with blood in it or meat from animals killed by strangulation, and they should abstain from all sexual misconduct.
26 Paul complied with their request. The very next day, he publicly joined the four men, completed the initial purification rites, entered the temple with them, and began the seven-day ritual purification process, after which a sacrifice would be made for each of them.
27 The seven days of purification were almost completed when some Jews from Asia recognized Paul in the temple. They grabbed him.
Asian Jews (shouting): 28 Help! Fellow Israelites! This man is an enemy of our people, our religion, our law, and this temple! He travels around the world subverting our holiest customs! He is at this moment desecrating this holy temple by bringing outsiders into this sacred place.
29 In this accusation, they were confused—they had seen Paul elsewhere in the city with Trophimus the Ephesian, and they assumed that one of his current companions was Trophimus. 30 It was too late to clarify, though, because word spread and soon a huge crowd rushed to the temple. They held Paul and dragged him from the temple and shut the doors behind them. 31 They beat Paul, and it was clear they intended to kill him. By this time, word of the uproar reached the commandant of the Roman guard assigned to Jerusalem.
32 He led a group of soldiers and officers to the scene. When the mob looked up and saw the soldiers running toward them, they stopped beating Paul. 33 The commandant took him into custody and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He conducted a preliminary interrogation—asking Paul’s name, what he had done. 34 Members of the crowd were shouting over each other, and the tribune couldn’t hear a thing, so he ordered Paul to be taken back to the barracks. 35 When they came to the steps leading down from the temple, the crowd was seething with such violence toward Paul that the soldiers had to pick him up and carry him. 36 Then the crowd followed.
Crowd: Away with him! Away with him!
If Psalm 150 is any indication, then the worship of the one True God ought to be full of life and energy. Consider what it must have looked and sounded like in those days: voices lifted, shouting for joy, trumpets blaring, stringed instruments playing, people dancing, pipes humming, tambourines keeping rhythm, cymbals crashing. There are times when worship ought to break out in joy. Is it possible that our worship is too quiet, too reserved, too structured?
1 Praise the Eternal!
Praise the True God inside His temple.
Praise Him beneath massive skies, under moonlit stars and rising sun.
2 Praise Him for His powerful acts, redeeming His people.
Praise Him for His greatness that surpasses our time and understanding.
3-4 Praise Him with the blast of trumpets high into the heavens,
and praise Him with harps and lyres
and the rhythm of the tambourines skillfully played by those who love and fear the Eternal.
Praise Him with singing and dancing;
praise Him with flutes and strings of all kinds!
5 Praise Him with crashing cymbals,
loud clashing cymbals!
6 No one should be left out;
Let every man and every beast—
every creature that has the breath of the Lord—praise the Eternal!
Praise the Eternal!
This doxology not only closes Book Five, but it also closes the entire Book of Psalms. Up until now, the songs in this book have reminded us of all the reasons we should praise God. Some songs have even commanded us to praise Him. But this closing remark takes the command to praise one step further: everything alive—humans, animals, and heaven’s creatures—must praise Him. Praise is what God created us to do; it is one of our highest purposes in life. So it is no wonder that the longest book of the Bible is purely devoted to helping us do just that.
9 Those who slack off at work
are no different from vandals.
10 The Eternal is known to be like a sturdy watchtower;
those who do right flee to Him for protection.