Archive for the ‘2 Kings 18’ Tag

Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 21, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Golden Rule

Above:   The Golden Rule, by Norman Rockwell

Image in the Public Domain

The Golden Rule

OCTOBER 3, 2019

OCTOBER 4, 2019

OCTOBER 5, 2019

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The Collect:

Benevolent, merciful God:

When we are empty, fill us.

When we are weak in faith, strengthen us.

When we are cold in love, warm us,

that we may love our neighbors and

serve them for the sake of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 49

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 18:1-8, 28-36 (Thursday)

2 Kings 19:8-20, 35-37 (Friday)

Isaiah 7:1-9 (Saturday)

Psalm 37:1-9 (All Days)

Revelation 2:8-11 (Thursday)

Revelation 2:12-29 (Friday)

Matthew 20:29-34 (Saturday)

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Put your trust in the LORD and do good;

dwell in the land and feed on its riches.

–Psalm 37:3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The readings for these three days tell of the mercy–pity, even–of God.  In 2 Kings and Isaiah God delivers the Kingdom of Judah from threats.  The core message of Revelation is to remain faithful during persecution, for God will win in the end.  Finally, Jesus takes pity on two blind men and heals them in Matthew 20.

On the other side of mercy one finds judgment.  The Kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians in 2 Kings 17 and 2 Chronicles 32.  The Kingdom of Judah went on to fall to the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire in 2 Kings 25 and 2 Chronicles 36.  The fall of Babylon (the Roman Empire) in Revelation was bad news for those who had profited from cooperation with the violent and economically exploitative institutions thereof (read Chapter 18).

In an ideal world all would be peace and love.  We do not live in an ideal world, obviously.  Certain oppressors will insist on oppressing.  Some of them will even invoke God (as they understand God) to justify their own excuse.  Good news for the oppressed, then, will necessarily entail bad news for the oppressors.  The irony of the situation is that oppressors.  The irony of the situation is that oppressors hurt themselves also, for whatever they do to others, they do to themselves.  That is a cosmic law which more than one religion recognizes.  Only victims are present, then, and some victims are also victimizers.

Loving our neighbors is much better, is it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, ABBOT OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF JOHN JAMES MOMENT, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF LUCY ELIZABETH GEORGINA WHITMORE, BRITISH HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/the-golden-rule-2/

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Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 18, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Shalmaneser V

Above:   Shalmaneser V

Image in the Public Domain

Attachments and Idolatry

SEPTEMBER 9, 2019

SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

SEPTEMBER 11, 2019

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The Collect:

Direct us, O Lord God, in all our doings by your continual help,

that all our works, begun, continued, and ended in you,

may glorify your holy name; and finally, by your mercy,

bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 47

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 17:24-41 (Monday)

2 Kings 18:9-18 (Tuesday)

2 Kings 18:19-25; 19:1-7 (Wednesday)

Psalm 101 (All Days)

1 Timothy 3:14-4:5 (Monday)

1 Timothy 4:6-16 (Tuesday)

Luke 18:18-30 (Wednesday)

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Those who in secret slander their neighbors I will destroy;

those who have a haughty look and a proud heart I cannot abide.

My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me,

and only those who lead a blameless life shall be my servants.

Those who act deceitfully shall not dwell in my house,

and those who tell lies shall not continue in my sight.

I will soon destroy all the wicked in the land,

that I may root out all evildoers from the city of the LORD.

–Psalm 101:5-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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That depiction of God is consistent with the one in 2 Kings 17:25, in which, after the fall of the Kingdom of Israel to kill the Assyrians, God sent lions to kill some of the godless settlers.  That story troubles me, for, although I do not mistake God for a divine warm fuzzy, I do not confuse God for a vengeful thug either.

The emphasis in the composite pericope from 2 Kings, however, is on King Hezekiah of Judah (reigned 727/715-698/687 B.C.E.) and the predicament of his realm.  Judah had to pay tribute to Assyria, after all.  Furthermore, Rabshakeh, the envoy of King Shalmaneser V of Assyria (reigned 727-722 B.C.E.), blasphemed, claiming that God was on the side of Assyria and that the people should disregard Hezekiah, who advised trusting in God for deliverance.  In 2 Kings 19 God saved Judah from Assyrian forces.

We should trust in God, laying aside our attachments to fear, political power, military might, false teaching, and wealth, among other things.  In that list the only inherently negative item is false teaching.  Fear can save one’s life and protect one’s health, but it can also lead to violence, hatred, bigotry, and insensitivity to human needs.  Wealth is morally neutral, but how one relates to it is not.  The same principle applies to political power and military might.

Each of us has attachments which distract from God.  These attachments are therefore idols in so far as they distract from God.  We might not need to abstain from certain behaviors or goods to get closer to God, but we do need at least to redefine our relationships to them.  That is difficult, but it is possible via grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/attachments-and-idolatry/

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Week of Proper 10: Friday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  King Hezekiah with the Prophet Isaiah

The Mercy of Flexibility

JULY 20, 2018

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Isaiah 38:1-6, 21 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

In those days Hezekiah fell dangerously ill.  The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him,

Thus said the LORD:  Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die; you will not get well.

Thereupon Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD.

Please, O LORD, he said, remember how I have walked before You sincerely and wholeheartedly, and have done what is pleasing to You.

And Hezekiah wept profusely.

Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah:

Go and tell Hezekiah:  Thus said the LORD, the God of your father David:  I have heard your prayer, and I have seen your tears.  I hereby add fifteen years to your life.  I will also rescue  you and this city from the hands of the king of Assyria.  I will protect this city.

…Isaiah said,

Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the rash, and he will recover….

Psalm 6 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger,

do not punish me in your wrath.

2  Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak;

heal me, LORD, for my bones are racked.

3  My spirit shakes with terror;

how long, O LORD, how long?

4  Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;

save me for your mercy’s sake?

5  For in death no one remembers you;

and who will give you thanks in the grave?

6  I grow weary because of my groaning;

every night I drench my bed

and flood my couch with tears.

7  My eyes are wasted with grief

and worn away because of all my enemies.

8  Depart from me, all evildoers,

for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

9  The LORD has heard my supplication;

the LORD accepts my prayer.

10  All my enemies shall be confounded and quake with fear;

they shall turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

Matthew 12:1-8 (An American Translation):

At that same time Jesus walked through the wheat fields, and his disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of wheat and eat them.  But the Pharisees saw it and said to him,

Look!  Your disciples are doing something which it is against the Law to do on the Sabbath!

But he said to them,

Did you ever read what David did, when he and his companions were hungry?  How is it that he went into the House of God and that they ate the Presentation Loaves which it is against the Law for him and his companions to eat, or for anyone except the priests?  Or did you ever read in the Law how the priests in the Temple are not guilty when they break the Sabbath?  But I tell you, there is something greater than  the Temple here!  But if you knew what the saying means, ‘It is mercy, not sacrifice, that I care for,’ you would not have condemned  men who are not guilty.  For the Son of Man is master of the Sabbath.

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The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 10:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/week-of-proper-10-friday-year-1/

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King Hezekiah of Judah received much positive press in the Bible.  He “did what was pleasing to the LORD,” “abolished the shrines and smashed the pillars and cut down the sacred post.”  (2 Kings 18:3-4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures)  And, in the words of 2 Kings 18:5-6 (also from TANAKH), Hezekiah

trusted only in the LORD the God of Israel; there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those before him.  He clung to the LORD; he did not turn away from hallowing Him, but kept the commandments that the LORD had given to Moses.

So “the LORD was always with him.”  (2 Kings 18:7a, TANAKH)

This day’s reading from Isaiah 38 occurs in the context of 2 Kings 20, to which it bears many similarities.  In Isaiah 38 we read of God giving the king advance notice of his impending death, Hezekiah weeping “profusely,” and God extending the king’s life by fifteen years.  Back in 2 Kings 20, God then tells Hezekiah of the impending Babylonian Exile, to which Hezekiah says to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.”  At least safety was assured for his time, he thought.  (2 Kings 20:19)

What are we supposed to make of this story?  I have checked some sources, and what follows is some of what I found.  The note in The Jewish Study Bible reads,

Contrition accompanied by prayer can effect a change in God’s decision.

The Orthodox Study Bible quotes Saint John Cassian (circa 360-circa 435):

What can be clearer than this proof that out of consideration for mercy and goodness the Lord would rather break His word, and instead of the prearranged limit of death, extend the life of him who prayed for fifteen years, rather than be found inexorable because of His unchangeable decree?

The NIV Study Bible note affirms both the sovereignty of God and the appropriateness of prayer.  The New Interpreter’s Bible stresses the connection between the well-being of Hezekiah and that of his realm, for God delivered both of them from the Assyrian king, a blasphemer.

Thus Hezekiah’s personal recovery is the working out of God’s will in microcosm.  (Volume III, page 271)

Now I bring the reading from Matthew 12 into consideration.  (If you, O reader, follow the the link to the Year 1 counterpart to this post, you will find more details about that lesson.)  Jesus says in Matthew 12:1-8 that God desires mercy, not sacrifice.  In so doing he quotes Hosea 6:6.  Keeping the Sabbath, or Lord says, ought not to entail involuntary hunger.  Spiritual “purity” is not holiness when it imposes needless physical hardships on others.

Putting these two readings together and pondering their meanings leads to a beautiful lesson.  Mercy is a greater virtue than rigid consistency.  God modeled this lesson with regard to Hezekiah, and Jesus demonstrated it relative to Sabbath laws and the need to eat properly each day.  People and their needs matter far more than abstract rules.

Here is a lesson which is applicable in many circumstances in daily life.  I strive to live according to it in my work as a teacher.  (I hope that I succeed more often than I fail.)  Being a decent human being (in my case, as a Christian, for Jesus and the glory of God) is preferable to acting like an inflexible person who quotes syllabus provisions in a lawyer-like fashion while students suffer unnecessarily.  Grace is a wondrous gift; may we extend it to others without pretending that no rules mean anything and that there are no consequences for misdeeds.  This is the balance I must strike:  respecting the efforts of pupils who obey the rules while not treating every error as if it is a proper cause of catastrophe.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/the-mercy-of-flexibility/

Week of Proper 7: Tuesday, Year 2   2 comments

Above:  King Hezekiah and the Prophet Isaiah

A Time for Introspection

JUNE 26, 2018

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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2 Kings 19:9-36 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

But the [king of Assyria] learned that king Tirhakah of Nubia had come out to fight him; so he again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,

Tell this to King Hezekiah of Judah:  Do not let your God, on whom you are relying, mislead you into thinking that Jerusalem will not be delivered into the hands of the king of Assyria.  You yourself have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, how they have annihilated them; and can you escape?  Were the nations that my predecessors destroyed–Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the Bethedenites in Telassar–saved by their gods?  where is the king of Hamath?  And the king of Arpad?  And the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?

Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it.  Hezekiah then went up to the House of the LORD and spread out before the LORD.  And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD and said,

O LORD of Hosts, Enthroned on the Cherubim!  You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth.  You made the heavens and the earth.  O LORD, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see.  Hear the words that Sennacherib has sent to blaspheme the living God!  True, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have annihilated the nations and their lands, and have committed their gods to the flames and have destroyed them; for they are not gods, but man’s handiwork of wood and stone.  But now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hands, and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that You alone, O LORD, are God.

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah:

Thus said the LORD, the God of Israel:  I have heard the prayer you have offered to Me concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria.  This is what the word of the LORD has spoken concerning him:

Fair Maiden Zion despises you,

She mocks at you;

Fair Jerusalem shakes

Her head at you.

Whom have you blasphemed and reviled?

Against whom made loud your voice

And haughtily raised your eyes?

Against the Holy One of Israel!

Through your envoys you have blasphemed my Lord.

Because you thought,

“Thanks to my vast chariotry,

It is I who have climbed the highest mountain,

To the remotest parts of Lebanon,

And have cut down its loftiest cedars,

Its choicest cypresses,

And have reached its remotest lodge,

Its densest forest.”

It is I who have drawn and drunk the waters of strangers;

I have dried up with the soles of my feet

All the streams of Egypt.

Have you not heard? Of old

I planned that very thing,

I designed it long ago,

And now I have fulfilled it.

And it has come to pass,

Laying waste fortified towns

In desolate heaps.

Their inhabitants are helpless,

Dismayed and shamed.

They were but grass of the field

And green herbage,

Grass of the roofs that is blasted

Before the standing grain.

I know your stayings

And your goings and comings,

And how you raged against Me.

Because you have raged against Me,

And your tumult has reached My ears,

I will place My hook in your nose

And My bit between your jaws;

And I will make you go back by the road

By which you came.

And this is the sign for you:  This year you eat what grows of itself, and the next year what springs from that; and in the third year, sow and reap, and plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  And the survivors of the House of Judah that have escaped shall regenerate its stock below and produce boughs from above.

For a remnant shall come forth from Jerusalem,

Survivors from Mount Zion.

The zeal of the LORD of Hosts

Shall bring this to pass.

Assuredly, thus said the said the LORD concerning the king of Assyria:

He shall not enter this city;

He shall not shoot an arrow at it,

Or advance upon it with a shield,

Or pile up a siege mound against it.

He shall go back

By the way he came;

He shall not enter this city

–declares the LORD.

I shall protect and save this city for My sake,

And for the sake of My servant David.

That night an angel of the LORD went out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp, and the following morning they were all dead corpses.

So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and retreated, and stayed in Nineveh.  While he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sarezer struck him down with the sword.  They fled to the land of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon succeeded him as king.

Psalm 48 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

2 Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

Behold, the kings of the earth assembled

and marched forward together.

5 They looked and were astonished;

they retreated and fled in terror.

Trembling seized them there;

they writhed like a woman in childbirth,

like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.

As we have heard, so have we seen,

in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God;

God has established her for ever.

8 We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,

in the midst of your temple.

Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end;

your right hand is full of justice.

10 Let Mount Zion be glad

in the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments.

11 Make the circuit of Zion;

walk round about her;

count the number of her towers.

12 Consider well her bulwarks;

examine her strongholds;

that you may tell those who come after.

13 This God is our God for ever and ever;

he shall be our guide for ever more.

Matthew 7:6, 12-14 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Do not give what is sacred to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet and turn and tear you in pieces….Therefore you must always treat other people as you would like them to have them treat you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Go in at the narrow gate.  For the road that leads to destruction is broad and spacious, and there are many who go in by it.  But the gate is narrow the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few that find it.

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The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 7:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/week-of-proper-7-tuesday-year-1/

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

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The Canadian Anglican Lectionary has skipped ahead.  So here is a summary of what you, O reader, have missed:

2 Kings 17 continues by condemning Judah.

The Assyrians resettled Israel, where religious syncretism became commonplace.

King Hezekiah (reigned 727/715-698/687 B.C.E. according to The Jewish Study Bible–dates are uncertain), son of Ahaz, reigned for 29 years.  He abolished shrines and smashed pillars.  The text tells us that

He trusted only in the LORD, the God of Israel; there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those before him. (18:5)

That catches us up to the point of Chapter 19, in which God delivers Judah from an Assyrian invasion.  It is a happy ending for Hezekiah and his kingdom, yet we readers know that, later in 2 Kings, Babylonians will destroy the city.

The books of Samuel and Kings are not primarily historical, and their authors did not pretend that they were.  Indeed, my academic study of history has taught me that objective history is like the Loch Ness Monster; one hears much about it yet hard evidence does not exist.  Two historians can write about the same topic, agree factually, and arrive at different conclusions.  I can think of a few examples of this quite quickly.

The books of Samuel and Kings are theological works using the past to demonstrate certain points.  Among those points is this:  Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.  We ought not overgeneralize, for the fact of national collapse does not necessarily indicate divine judgment any more than national success indicates divine approval.

But the editors of the final version of Samuel-Kings worked in the context of return from the exile of Judah.  They, like historians at any time, understood the past in the context of their present day.  These editors applied spiritual retrospection to their cultural and national past.

You, O reader, might wonder, “What is the devotional value of this day’s reading from 2 Kings?”  Here is my answer:  Each of us needs, as an individual, to reflect on our relationship with God over time.  What has been right with it?  What has been wrong with it?  And we also need to do the same collectively.  The collective might be a family, a couple, a book group, a Bible study group, or a religious congregation or commune.  After all, the focus in these readings has been collective, not individual, except when the narrator has been discussing monarchs and prophets.  And, when we have prayerfully identified our weak spots, what is the best way to strengthen them?

KRT