Hezekiah Purifies the Temple (2 Chronicles 29)

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2 Chronicles 29

Perhaps there is hope after all. Now in full control, King Hezekiah will accomplish the most far-reaching religious reforms since the days of Jehoshaphat. As you will read today and next week, he works primarily through the Levites (who have more zeal than do the priests). And in a grand gesture of brotherhood, Hezekiah will offer to include the people of the northern tribes in Passover celebrations. Most will refuse the invitation, but some will join in the spiritual renewal.

1. What is your favorite speed sport?

  • car racing
  • downhill skiing
  • horse racing
  • sailing
  • ice hockey

2. Which of the following most needs to be cleaned out right now?

  • your garage
  • your purse or billfold
  • your clothes closet
  • your vehicle
  • your refrigerator

3. Your first official act as president or prime minister of your country would be . . .?

4. How is King Hezekiah introduced to the reader in verses 1 and 2? Given his father’s reign (Ahaz), why is this introduction significant?

5. What actions did Hezekiah take in the very first month of his reign? Why did he take these seemingly hasty actions? What does this say about Hezekiah’s priorities as king?

6. How did the Levites and priests respond to Hezekiah’s orders? Why do you think they were so eager to follow the king’s directions?

7. After the Temple has been purified, it needed to be rededicated to the Lord. What role did each of the following play in that rededication: the city officials? the priests? the Levites? the whole assembly? the king? In which of these roles would you have felt most comfortable?

8. What is the “order of worship” in verses 27 – 31 for the rededication ceremony? Why is each part important for worship?

9. What was the response of the people to the reopening of the Temple? What problem did this cause? The remedy? Who is being indirectly criticized for lack of leadership here?

10. In the final analysis, who was really responsible for reopening the Temple? Why is this important for us?

11. What do you learn from this chapter about Hezekiah’s character? His leadership? Is there anything you see in him that you would like in your own life?

12. Hezekiah seems to link “right worship” with God’s blessing. Do you agree? What evidence would you give from your own life, pro or con?

13. What is God leading you to rededicate to Him? How might these elements of the rededication service outlined here be reflected in what you do? Why not do so right now?

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Another Prophecy Against Babylon (Isaiah 13:1 – 14:2)

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Isaiah 13:1 – 14:2

1. What was the most dramatic, or true-to-life war movie you ever saw? How did it affect you as you watched it?

2. What warring nation in real life gets your “Evil Empire” award and why?

3. Why might God lead Isaiah to pronounce judgment upon all these nations (including Babylon) if only Judah (and not the nations themselves) would have heard them? What does this say about Judah’s tendency to trust in alliances with lesser nations for protection against greater enemies?

4. Since Babylon was not the dominant world power until a century after this prophecy in chapters 13 and 14, what does this city symbolize that is timeless and bigger than itself (Isaiah 13:5, 9, 11)? What characterizes this Babylon (Isaiah 13:11, 19; Isaiah 14:13, 14)?

5. What is the “Day of the Lord” like for Babylon (Isaiah 13:6, 9 ; see also Isaiah 2:11, 17, 20)? What poetic and cosmic images in Isaiah 13:4 – 16 graphically communicate its power to you?

6. What should the Judeans have learned about God from this prophecy against such a powerful nation?

7. The Medes (Isaiah 13:17), from what is today part of Iran, had a reputation as fighters even in the days of the Assyrian dominance. How will they be used as God’s agents against Babylon (an event which happened, definitively, in 539 B. C.)? What is the ultimate destiny of any endeavor built upon human pride (Isaiah 13:19 – 22)?

8. What is the positive side and real purpose of this judgment (Isaiah 14:1, 2)? What is the basis for God acting on Israel’s behalf (Isaiah 12:1; Isaiah 40:1, 2)? On the Gentiles’ behalf? Why do you think this imagery of tables turned actually means (Isaiah 13:2; see also chapter 2:3, 4; chapter 11:11 and chapter 19:24, 25)?

9. Where in our culture (and in your life) do you see the attitudes typified by Babylon? What do you learn about God’s response to these attitudes from this prophecy?

10. What parallels do you see between the destruction of Babylon and the judgment God will bring upon the whole earth in the last days (see Revelation 6:12, 13; 18:2) where “Babylon” represents human pride?

11. Babylon stood for wealth, refined culture and political power. What 20th/21st century culture holds these values as the most important ones? How have you seen these values blind people of the reality of God’s values such as truth, justice and love? How are you experiencing the tension between this dual set of values today?

12. What helps keep God’s values primary? In what area is that especially hard for you right now?

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A Prophecy Against the Philistines (Isaiah 14:28 – 32)

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Isaiah 14:28 – 32

1. What experience have you had with snakes?

2. One tradition says Ahaz died in 715 B. C., when Assyria’s control was weak and Philistia rebelled. What will result from this revolt (verses 29, 30b, 31)?

3. Philistia wanted Judah as an ally against Assyria. Why would this message against Philistia be given to Judah? Where should Judah look for safety (verses 30a, 32)?

4. What alliances (getting in with the “right” people, hoarding wealth, etc.) might keep you from fully trusting God? What does this prophecy tell you about those alliances?

Additional Comments:

For those of us in the United States of America, it is Memorial Day. May we all make a special effort to remember the servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice throughout our nation’s history.

With the death of Ahaz, Judah has a final opportunity for spiritual renewal. Hezekiah will do what he can to revive Judah, but Isaiah already knows the ultimate outcome and continues to prophesy against the nations who either have brought, or will bring, suffering to God’s people. In today’s text, the Philistines are judged.

Babylonia in particular is singled out because of it is the nation which will carry Judah away into captivity in just a few years. Isaiah predicts that Babylon itself will be conquered by the Medo-Persian empire, a fact to which history will later attest.

Judgment/prophecy against Babylon and the reforms of King Hezekiah are coming up this week and next week.

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