The Fall of Israel and Judah

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2 Kings 11-13, 2 Chr 23-24 & Joel

Here Come the Prophets--but no one listens

Athaliah seizes power in Judah and kills all her own grandchildren. True story. She misses one though, due to some heroics by a gal named Jehosheba. That boy, Joash, eventually becomes king. He starts well but ends very poorly. Even Jesus calls him out 800 years later!


We say goodbye to Elisha and hello to the books of the prophets. This takes to a whole new level of understanding Scripture. You don’t want to miss this. We start with the book of Joel. He introduces the concept of “The Day of the Lord” and provides a thumbnail sketch we can use as a template to understand all the rest of the prophets.

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2 Kings 14, 2 Chr 25 and Jonah

Israel's on the Brink so God sends Jonah

 

Israel gets Jeroboam version 2, and he's as bad as his namesake. You'd think the Lord would come down hard, right? The problem is--Israel's borders have shrunk so much it's in danger of disappearing altogether. So either the Lord will let Israel be wiped out or he'll have to let this wicked king be a victor in battle. What will the Lord choose?

 

We know one thing for sure--the Lord's gonna send a prophet. And guess who it is this week? Jonah! Yay! This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Jonah is sent to both Jeroboam and to Assyria. Crazy! This week is a ton of fun.

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2 Kings 15, 2 Chr 26 & Amos

Amos: The Not-A-Prophet

Amos isn’t a prophet--nobody in his family is a prophet--but the Lord takes him from Judah and sends him to Israel to proclaim the coming disasters about to overtake Israel, Judah, and all the surrounding nations. 

 

As long as he speaks against Israel’s enemies he is welcome company, but as soon as he starts calling Israel out, he is quickly given the boot. 

 

In this revealing class, we look at the difference between the Lord’s grievances against the foreign nations and his grievances against Israel and Judah. We’ll think about what the Lord says he wants instead of sacrifices and praise songs. And we’ll consider the “plumb line” Amos saw. What might that be, and does it have significance for us today?

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2 Kings 16, 2 Chr 26 & Isaiah 1-4

Isaiah and a Peek at the End Times

 

King Uzziah of Judah is pretty proud of himself. Judah is thriving under his economic leadership. So he figures he should be more important than anyone, including the priests. He shows up with incense and crashes the Holy Place in the Temple. Hmmm...I wonder what could go wrong here?

 

Israel is in complete turmoil as the kingdom changes hands three times in seven months.

 

Into all this chaos, the Lord sends Isaiah. We take a peek at future events so we have a good frame of reference for understanding Isaiah's messages.

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2 Kings 15-16, 2 Chr 27-28
& Isaiah 6-8, 17, 57

War on All Sides--so what does that have to do with Jesus?

What if you were attacked on all sides simultaneously? And what if the Lord showed up and said, “Don’t worry. I will protect you. Let me prove it to you.”

That’s an offer you jump at, right? But the King of Judah turns to the King of Assyria for help instead. Say, what? You think Assyria is going to protect you, when they are already poised to crush you?

It's like asking the fox to protect the hen house.The results are disastrous for both Israel and Judah. Thousands of Israelites are deported to far-flung places across the Assyrian Empire.

Don’t miss the discussion and additional whiteboard session in the second half where we dive into Isaiah’s “A virgin shall conceive” and find out it doesn’t mean what we thought it did!

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2 Kings 17, 2 Chr 28,
Isaiah 9 & 50, Hosea & Micah

The Last King of Israel

 

The Lord’s going to take one more shot at saving Israel, and it’s going to be a dramatic one. This time, he doesn’t just have the prophet speak the words...the Lord has him act them out.

 

Israel, the Lord’s chosen wife whom the Lord has wooed and protected and fed and cherished, has been hopelessly unfaithful for their entire marriage. She’s run away with idols every chance she’s gotten.

 

So as shocking as it is, it should be no surprise that the Lord wants Hosea to act out the “state of the marriage.” The Lord tells Hosea to find a prostitute to marry--specifically one Hosea is 100% sure will be unfaithful to him.

 

Meanwhile, in Judah, the prophet Micah adds another prophetic voice, calling both kingdoms to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

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2 Kings 18:1-12, 2 Chr 29-31
& Isaiah 14 (v24-end), 18-20

Hezekiah Becomes King - The First Passover, Again

When Ahaz dies, his son Hezekiah becomes king and immediately tosses all the idols out of the Temple. He calls for a renewed devotion to YHWH. Frankly, he’s looking for all the help he can get to avoid being conquered by the Assyrians. But this first effort is a comedy of errors.

 

Will Hezekiah decide to hedge his bets by forming an alliance with Egypt? Things get pretty dicey, and the Lord calls on Isaiah to step up in a graphic way. This lesson needs to come with a warning label.

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2 Kings 18-21, 2 Chr 32-33,
Isaiah 36-39, 49-53

The King of Assyria Defies God

 

Despite Isaiah going naked in warning, Hezekiah still turns to Egypt for help. Assyria pounces and Hezekiah quickly realizes his mistake.

But then the King of Assyria dares to disparage YHWH, the God of Israel. He dares to say YHWH cannot be trusted. And so, YHWH shows up. Hah!

Later, after a miraculous 15-yr life extension, Hezekiah dies and his 12 year old son Manasseh becomes king. Manasseh is a disaster. He does it all--worshipping idols, bringing them into the Temple, sacrificing his own son. He ends up a captive in Babylon where he finds...YHWH?

We finish up with a look at the four “Servant Songs” in Isaiah, especially Ch 49 which is typically taken out of context.

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2 Kings 22:1-2, 2 Chr 34:1-3,
Zephaniah & Isaiah 1-6

A Cauldron from the North

After Manasseh’s death and the assassination of the next guy in line, 8 yo Josiah comes to the throne. He follows the Lord wholeheartedly his whole life. He destroys all the idols in Judah and even whatever he can find in what used to be Israel. He destroys high places, desecrates idol altars--the whole nine yards.

 

But it’s pretty much only Josiah. The people show up and say the words, but their hearts are not in it. They want their idols back.

 

And so, the Lord sends the next great prophet--Jeremiah--who will stick with the kings of Judah until the bitter end. He sees a cauldron from the north ready to flood Judah with disaster. Jeremiah is a young, introverted man and his “call story” is one of the most dramatic in the Bible.

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2 Kings 22-23, 2 Chr 34-45,
Isaiah 7-12 & 14-17

Gung-ho for God

 

When the Book of the Law is found in the Temple and is read to King Josiah, he knows the nation is in deep trouble. He goes on a rampage cleansing all of Judah, Jerusalem, the Temple and even what used to be Israel of all the idols and high places and shrines.

 

Then he orders a grand Passover celebration. The problem is that it’s a top-down reform. It definitely does not reach the hearts of the people. The Lord has Jeremiah stand at the gates of the Temple and then at every gate into Jerusalem and urge the people to repent and turn to the Lord. 

 

The Lord tells Jeremiah to stop bothering to intercede for the people. The Lord will relent only if the people themselves turn to him with their whole hearts.

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2 Ki 24, 2 Chr 36,
Lamentations, Nahum & Habakkuk, 
Jer 18-20, 25-26, 36, 45, 35, 13

Jeremiah is Accused of Treason

Jeremiah is a persistent, annoying thorn in the side of the new king, Jehoiakim, and his officials. And since Jeremiah sets up his soap box in the Temple precincts, it’s not long before the priests and false prophets are out to get him.

 

Things get dicey when they accuse Jeremiah of treason. The Lord saves Jeremiah and his faithful scribe, Baruch, but he has no mercy on wicked King Jehoiakim. After Jehoiakim’s death, his son Jehoiachin reigns only 3 months before being taken captive to Babylon along with all the ruling and upper classes.

 

We close with the famous story of Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as they learn to navigate Babylonian language and culture.

 

If you stay for the discussion afterwards, we talk about a very helpful way to know whether (and how) to respond to evil in the world.

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Jeremiah 30-31, 24, 47-51, 27-29
Daniel 2

King Nebuchadnezzar has a Dream

 

The sages and mages of Babylon cannot tell the king his dream nor can they interpret it, so the enraged king orders them all killed as frauds. And that includes any wise-men-in-training like Daniel and his friends.
Daniel and his friends beseech the Lord God for mercy, and God gives Daniel both the dream and its meaning. This means all lives are saved and Daniel gets a big promotion.

Meanwhile in Judah, Jeremiah is still trying to make an impression on the hard-hearted, stubborn leaders. He wears a wooden yoke and gets into a confrontation with a more politically correct prophet.

Letters and envoys are swapped between Judah and Babylon, with Jeremiah right in the middle of it all.
 

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Ezekiel 1-9

Ezekiel Sees Visions

One of the young priests in exile in Babylon is called by God to warn the people of Jerusalem of impending disaster. Which is kind of weird--Ezekiel does all sorts of object lessons there in Babylon, and his antics all have to be transmitted back to Jerusalem by mail and messenger.

 

Isaiah had to go naked for 3 years and Hosea had to marry a woman he knew would be unfaithful, so you know Ezekiel is in for a rough ride. This week we hear his “call story” and follow along as he acts out the events bearing down on Jerusalem.

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Ezekiel 10-23, 25-36,
Jeremiah 21-23, 32-34, 37-38

The Glory of the Lord Leaves the Temple

 

The end is near. All who grieve Jerusalem’s evil have been marked with God’s mark on their foreheads. The rest, the Lord says, will be pursued by plague, famine, and sword. In Eze 23 we meet Oholah and Oholibah and see how God views Israel and Judah in this moment in history.

 

And now, Ezekiel sees the Glory of the Lord depart from the Temple. It is a view of what is happening spiritually. The physical events are yet to come.

 

Zedekiah rebels against Babylon and allies with Egypt. Big mistake. Nebuchadnezzar sets out with his armies and then comes to a fork in the road--and finds a sign that Ezekiel put there. In the midst of all this turmoil, Jeremiah is arrested and thrown in prison.

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The Fall of Jerusalem

God's Precious City Falls

The Babylonian siege lasts about 2 ½ years. The food supply in Jerusalem completely runs out. When the attention of the Babylonians is momentarily distracted, the Lord has Jeremiah buy a field as a sign of hope and promise that the Lord’s people will one day be gathered back home.

 

When all hope is lost, King Zedekiah and his soldiers sneak out through a hole in the wall but are caught by the Babylonians. Things do not end well for Zedekiah. 

 

Most of the people are taken into captivity to Babylon, leaving only a tiny staff supporting Gedeliah, the governor set up by the Babylonians. Gedeliah is quickly assassinated, and in fear for their lives, the few remaining Jews flee to Egypt, taking Jeremiah and Baruch with them.

We cover the last chapter in 2 Kings and in 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah 32-33, 39-44, 52 and Ezekiel 24 and all the “woe” chapters: Jeremiah 46-49 and Ezekiel 25-32 & 35.