Introduction: Have you ever read a novel which jumps all over the
place? Each chapter leaps to a different person instead of telling
the story in order? Our lessons have been like that. So, let’s get
our bearings. Israel(the ten tribes in the North)is dead. Judah (the
Southern Kingdom) is staggering towards destruction. Our lessons
this week and next give us the final chapters in the history of
Judah. The last time we studied Judah it was doing well under King
Hezekiah. Remember (2 Kings 19) King Sennacherib of Assyria marched
on Judah with an army of over 185,000 men. Hezekiah turned to God
and God sent an angel that destroyed Sennecherib’s army. Let’s pick
up our study from there!

  1. Hezekiah’s Last Days

    1. Read 2 Kings 20:1-3. Have you ever heard those words from
      a doctor? Have you ever scared yourself into thinking
      (wrongly, it turned out) that you were dying?

      1. How did you react to thoughts of your own death?

      2. Were your reactions like those of Hezekiah?

    2. Read 2 Kings 20:4-6. Now, tell me how you feel if you are

      1. What does this little story say about our God?

      2. God knew Hezekiah’s good (and bad) works before this.
        How could Hezekiah change God’s mind in the space of
        a few minutes?

    3. Read 2 Kings 20:7. We now find out Isaiah is a medical
      doctor! Why did Isaiah have to treat Hezekiah with a
      poultice if God said he was going to live another 15

      1. Is there a lesson for us today when we are faced with
        terrible illness? (Faith in God and medical treatment
        seem to be God’s formula for healing.)

    4. The Bible goes on to tell us that God gave Hezekiah a sign
      that He would heal him. That sign was that the shadow the
      sun cast would go backwards instead of forwards (2 Kings
      20:8-11). The son of the King of Babylon heard of
      Hezekiah’s illness and healing, and the “scientists” of
      Babylon apparently observed the sun changing directions (2
      Chronicles 32:31), so Babylon sent some messengers with a
      gift and the instructions to find out what was going on
      with Hezekiah and his God. Hezekiah was feeling so good
      about his recovery and the interest of the Babylonians
      that he decided to show these messengers all the wealth of
      his country. Let’s read 2 Kings 20:15-18. Was Hezekiah’s
      “show and tell” a big mistake?

    5. Read 2 Kings 20:19. What kind of guy is Hezekiah? This
      certainly gives us a window into his character!

  2. Manasseh

    1. Read 2 Kings 21:1-3. Manasseh is 12 years old when he
      assumes the throne after his father’s (Hezekiah’s) death.
      Was he born before or after Hezekiah’s terrible illness?

      1. Let’s consider this a minute. Hezekiah is going to
        die. He pleads with God, who, within just a few
        minutes, seems to change His mind and gives Hezekiah
        15 more years. During these extra 15 years the seeds
        for the ultimate destruction of Judah are planted and
        Hezekiah’s evil successor is born. Should God have
        taken a few more minutes to consider Hezekiah’s plea?
        (No, we are not going to assume that “reflection”
        improves God’s thinking.)

        1. If we do not assume God could have benefitted
          from further reflection, what is there to
          conclude? (The powerful message that I find is
          that God listens to us, that He cares for us,
          and that He is merciful to us.)

          1. Can you find any other lesson here? (Don’t
            beg God to change His mind!)

        2. There has always been a great tension in my mind
          on the issue of asking God for a miracle and
          God’s will. Sometimes I fear that saying “Your
          will be done” reflects a lack of faith that God
          will do it. How could you ever “test” your faith
          or your God if you are willing to accept any
          result? Why even ask God if He is going to do
          His will anyway? On the other hand, if your
          faith and your request can change the course of
          history, is it a smart idea to ask God for a
          “course correction?” (This story shows two
          things. First, that our faith can cause God to
          change the course of history. On the other hand,
          if we really have faith in God’s judgment, we
          are only going to ask “in His will.”)

    2. Let’s switch over the account in 2 Chronicles. Read 2
      Chronicles 33:6-7, 9. Just how bad a King was Manasseh?
      (God prominently mentions his sin of child sacrifice, his
      spiritualism and his desecration of the temple. Verse 9
      ends with the note of irony that “God’s people” were worse
      than “the world.” )

      1. Is it important to be ( 1 Peter 2:9 KJV) a “peculiar
        people?” (When I was a kid, this “peculiar people”
        statement was often made to me. When I was a teen, I
        generally agreed that some of my fellow believers
        were, indeed, “peculiar.” I was generally given the
        “peculiar people” admonition when it came to dressing
        like “the world.” The heart of this message, as
        shown by the condition of Judah, is not an “external”
        matter, but a matter of the heart. Worshiping God
        only, obeying His commands, not sacrificing our
        children to “other gods,” these are at the heart of
        being a “people belonging to God”( 1 Peter 2:9 NIV).)

    3. Read 2 Chronicles 33:10-11. First God spoke to His people
      about their sin. They were too dumb (or arrogant) to pay
      attention to the word of God, so then they got the “hook
      in the nose” treatment. What lesson is here for us today?

      1. Have you personally been to the “hook in the nose”
        school of education?

    4. Read 2 Chronicles 33:12-13. Does God put a hook in our
      nose because He wants to hurt us?

      1. What lesson do we learn, again, about God’s mercy?

    5. Read 2 Chronicles 33:15-16. How did the “hook in the
      nose” episode turn out for Manasseh? (Although this was
      painful and humiliating, it changed the course of his
      life. It appears that his life from that point on
      exhibited a good relationship with God. I say “appears”
      because the account in 2 Kings 21 does not mention
      Manasseh’s rehabilitation.)

      1. Have you noticed that the evil in a person’s life
        generally overshadows the good? (When I was young, my
        parents spoke of a minister who, after leading a
        church for 20 years, ran off with “another woman.”
        All of his years of ministry were wiped away in this
        one misdeed. That may account for 2 Kings not
        mentioning the good end to Manasseh’s life.)

  3. Josiah

    1. Manasseh had an evil son, King Amon, who was killed in a
      palace coup after only two years in office. Then a
      counter-coup put Josiah, King Amon’s son on the throne.
      Let’s read about Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34:1-2. I
      certainly believe in not turning “left,” why not turn

      1. Is “middle of the road” a Biblical concept? Or, is
        that the problem that plagued the kings of Israel –
        they took the compromising “middle road” that
        worshiped the true God and other gods together? (I am
        not certain what is meant here in this text, but I
        have observed over the years a tendency for “new
        converts” to go to extremes. I have a good friend who
        was out of the church for years. Now he is a church
        leader, but he is caught up in elevating “extra-Biblical,” writings over the Bible. I think there is
        danger in this.)

    2. In 2 Chronicles 34:3-7 we find that Josiah, when he turned
      16 years old, began to destroy all the Baals and the other
      idols and even ground them to powder. Read 2 Chronicles
      34:8. We have previously discussed that sin is progressive
      in nature. What do you think about righteousness – is it
      also progressive in nature? (Josiah is on a roll to turn
      his nation back to God! I think that righteousness, like
      sin, is progressive. We are either walking towards or away
      from God every day.)

    3. The work on repairing the temple continued. The money for
      paying the workers was kept in the temple. Let’s read 2
      Chronicles 34:14-15 to find out what remarkable thing
      happened when the High Priest went into the temple to get
      money to pay the workers. What was found? (The Book of
      the Law. Wycliffe suggests this was probably the official
      scroll of the Pentateuch, which was usually kept by the
      side of the ark. See Deuteronomy 31:24-26. Moses’
      writings, the first five books of the Old Testament, are
      referred to as the “Pentateuch.”)

      1. How do you think it got lost? (I think it was hidden
        by a priest because he feared one of the evil kings
        of the past would destroy the Bible if he found it.)

      2. Is there a principle of spiritual life reflected in
        this find? (Yes, as we do God’s will and seek to walk
        more closely with Him, He will give us a greater
        revelation of His will.)

    4. Friend, our God cares about us and wants us to draw closer
      to Him. Are you willing to trust God and walk with Him?

  4. Next Week: The Curtain Falls on the Southern Kingdom.