Day 213 (Aug. 1): Josiah renews covenant with God, Josiah rids region of pagan worship, Josiah reenstates Passover, Nahum speaks of God’s anger toward Ninevah, the fall of Ninevah, judgment of Ninevah

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Kings 23:1-20

2 Chronicles 34:29-33

2 Kings 23:21-28

2 Chronicles 35:1-19

Nahum 1-3:19

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 23:18): Who was the “old prophet” from Samaria?

A. He was unnamed, but he was the man of God described in 1 Kings 13 who warned King Jereboam about Josiah’s actions.  He was also the man who foolishly ate the meal with the other “old prophet” when God had told him to take no food in Samaria and he was killed by a lion on the road the next day.  The story there describes the man’s burial marking the spot that Josiah recognized and asked about.

Q. (2 Kings 23:19-20): Wow, don’t mess with Josiah!  I don’t like the idea of burning any human.  I know he was trying to erase any signs of idol worship.  I would have thought that Josiah could have tried to convince the priests to lay down their beliefs and turn to God.  But, maybe Josiah didn’t want any trace left, giving the priests a chance to start up the pagan worship in hiding.  Would God be pleased with Josiah burning these priests?

A. He’s not burning the priests.  He is killing them (bad enough I know, but this is righteous vengeance against pagan worship that was destroying Judah), and once they are buried, he is burning other human remains (bones) over their graves to desecrate them.

Q. (2 Chronicles 34:29-33): Sounds great, but we know it won’t last long because of all the prophecies that Judah will be destroyed.  You’re going to say wait and see, right?

A. Eventually.  There’s still a lot to happen, which we will see unfold in Jeremiah.

Q. (2 Kings 23:25): As far as Bible characters or heroes — I hate to use those words because it makes the Bible sound like fiction — we don’t here about Josiah much at all.  We hear mostly about David and Solomon.  Is this because Josiah doesn’t have a lot written about him?  David and Solomon were in a lot more stories and authored text.

A. Honestly I don’t have a great answer for that.  It is possible that Josiah doesn’t get much “press” because his kingdom is so much smaller than David or Solomon’s (i.e. just little Judah), or also because he is “sandwiched” between such evil men, that his good efforts become less noticed.  Part of the issue is probably that his reforms won’t last.

Q. (2 Kings 23:26-27): Why isn’t God seeing Josiah seriously trying to turn the Israelites back to Him?

A. Good question, probably because they won’t last.  Remember yesterday what God promised: you (Josiah) will be spared seeing this happen, but the city will not; it is too late.

Q. (2 Chronicles 35:7): I’ve commented on this before.  It’s still hard to imagine this many animals being sacrificed.  Was the number to allow for the number of people that needed to be fed, or was the number for the sacrifice of giving up livestock?

A. It should be based upon the number of livestock, but there is no way to know exactly.

Q. (Nahum 2:1-2): I am so confused.  I didn’t see where Judah had definitely been destroyed.  Was it in Jeremiah 6:22-30?  It’s hard to tell where the prophets are prophesying the future and narrating actual events.  I didn’t think it had happened yet because Josiah was turning to God.  I guess Hilkiah found the scrolls after the destruction of Judah?

A. You are right, but the things we read about in Jeremiah come later (i.e. they haven’t happened yet in our reading timeline).  What this refers to is Assyria’s encroachment into Judah that we read about in 2 Kings 18, where we saw the messenger of the king come and threaten the people.  But the conquest was not completed: Jerusalem withstood the threat, though other cities in Judah did not.  That is what the destruction of Judah refers to: Assyria’s efforts to conquer the nation of Judah (including Jerusalem, its capital) that were turned away by God’s intervention on Judah’s behalf.

Q. (Nahum 2:1-13): Do we know who destroyed Ninevah?  God said he would destroy their family lines.  We see this in v. 13 where the young men are killed in battle?

A. Yes, Ninevah, as capital of Assyria, is conquered in 612 BC by a combined force of Babylon and another nation called Medes, both of which will play a large role in the next phase of Israel’s history: the captivity.

Q. (Nahum 3:5): I don’t know if this was funny then, but it is now.

A. This would have been the most common method of publicly shaming a prostitute or adulteress, but I can see how the humor might be seen.

Q. The difference between the destruction of Judah and Ninevah is that God is Israel’s leader and redeemer.  He will bring them back.  Ninevah doesn’t have God.

A. Yes, but it will be a very painful process, that will take nearly a hundred years to walk through.

Day 171 (June 20): Amaziah rules in Judah, end of Jehoash’s reign in Israel, Jeroboam II takes over Israel, Amaziah ends reign in Judah, Uzziah sits on Judah’s throne, Uzziah’s pride leads to downfall, Jonah runs from God, Jonah prayed for salvation, Jonah treks to Ninevah, Jonah angered at God’s mercy

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Kings 14:1-14

2 Chronicles 25:1-24

2 Kings 13:12-13

2 Kings 14:15-16

2 Kings 14:23-27

2 Chronicles 25:25-28

2 Kings 14:17-22

2 Kings 15:1-5

2 Chronicles 26:1-21

Jonah 1-4

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 14:1-4): Why did the Judeans (is that what we call them now) kill one king just to put his son on the throne?

A. I don’t know exactly, perhaps they thought the son would be better than his father.

Q. (14:5-6): But, this law does not apply to the kings because we have read many times where God’s punishment for a king’s sins will follow his descendants for many generations.

A. You’ve already noted the distinction.  To have mercy or not on the next generation is God’s decision, and He may do as He pleases, but that doesn’t mean that we as people should seek to make the same judgment.

Q. (14:11-14): I am interested to know what the purpose behind this battle was and how it shapes the future of Israel.  Neither king was fully loyal to the Lord.  Joash of Israel plundered Jerusalem and raided the Temple.

A. The version from Chronicles makes the meaning a bit more clear: Joash’s victory is the result of Amaziah’s ambition and bragging as king.  God uses the Israelites to put Amaziah in his place.

Q. (14:15): I was going to ask the same question, “Why would a king adopt the gods of a kingdom that he just defeated?”

A. Not very smart, is it?

Q. (2 Kings 13:12-13, 14:15-16): This is the same information two places in 2 Kings. Is this a typo or different authors or what?  I know, it’s no big deal.  It just stands out.

A. It does stand out, but I don’t have any particular understanding as to why it is in there twice.

Q. (14:23): I guess although Jeroboam did not follow the Lord, he must have been a renowned king in the people’s eyes because so many kings followed his direction and here this king, Jeroboam II, is named after him?

A. Yes.  He brought freedom (as the people saw it) to Israel, and allowed them to break the yoke of the “cruel” rule of David and his descendents.

Q. (14:24, 27): Verse 24 says that Jeroboam was evil.  Then, v. 27 says that God will use him to save Israel.  Just wait, right?

A. Yep.

O. (15:3): This sounds like a broken record that the kings did good in the eyes of the Lord but did not destroy all of the false gods/idols.  I wanna say, someone just do it.  But, when you see the size of the armies (2 Chronicles 26:3) that they can muster, it must be a huge community.  And, to govern such a huge place would be very difficult.  Some of these shrines may have been hidden.  Still, it sounds like God expected them to be destroyed, no matter what.  If God is trying to establish a nation that follows Him and is like no other, then He would not want any other gods in his territory.  He has and would give them anything, if they would just follow Him.  Which, like us, is the best thing to do and will make us the happiest.  But, all of the distractions and temptations really make us question the security we have built up for ourselves.  So, those temptations make it hard to completely convert to God.  But, it’s what we are called to do and it is the right choice — really, the only choice, the way I see it.

O. (2 Chronicles 26:18-20): Don’t mess with God!

Q. (Jonah 1:17): Like many of the stories in the Bible, this one seems a little far-fetched.  But, we know it’s true.  We know from reading God’s word, that what He says is true.  So, for Jonah, what a ride!  Any idea where Jonah came from?  He just pops out of nowhere.

A. Well, as we’ve mentioned, the Bible doesn’t feel the need to fill in all of the details that we would want.  This story stands alone as one of 12 Minor Prophets (so named for the length of their story, not because they weren’t important).  But, we do get some information on Jonah, including where he came from, you just have to be able to decipher it from the text.  Our reading from 2 Kings 14:25 notes that Jonah was from Gath-Hepher, which was in Zebulun, part of the Northern Kingdom.  This means that Jonah was most likely a member of that tribe.

Q. (Jonah 3:5): Why burlap?  I think of itchy feed sacks.

A. Just like when the Israelites do it, when the citizens of Nineveh put on burlap, they are making a public display of their mourning and repentence.

Q. (Jonah 3:10-4-11): So, tell me if I have this right.  The people of Ninevah changed their ways and God was feeling sympathetic to them.  Thus, Jonah was concerned that God would change his mind and not bring destruction to Ninevah.  And, Jonah was worried about looking like a fool after proclaiming such destruction and then it doesn’t happen?  Will we learn the outcome of this?

A. Well, you’re partly right.  Jonah considered the citizens of Ninevah to be his enemies, and he did not want to proclaim a call to repentance, but not because he thought that he would look bad; it was because he was afraid that God might actually grant it!  Jonah had no interest in sharing God’s mercy with this other nation.  He wanted them destroyed!

One of the themes that the writer of Jonah (possibly Jonah himself, we can’t be sure) brings to our attention is the fact that the non-Jews in this story (the sailors, the Ninevites) act in a much more respectable way than the only Jew — Jonah!  Jonah acts in a petty and childish way, while the other characters are much more responsive to the Word of God than Jonah is.  This is a powerful conviction by the writer: the Jews are failing to be the light to the Gentiles that God has always expected them to be.  Part of their problem, as 2 Kings has told us over and over and over, is that they worship other gods while ignoring the one who gave them their Promised Land.  The Jews are counting on God’s mercy for them, but, as Jonah is doing here, they fail to see that God’s mercy extends to all people, not just to the ones He chose.  His mercy actually angers them!  Think about the great irony of that statement in light of everything we have been reading about Israel and Judah’s unfaithfulness.  Jonah is, in my opinion, one of the greatest writings of the OT for its biting commentary on the way that the Jews were abusing the very love and mercy of God that they were constantly dependent upon.