Today our passages are 2 Kings 22:3–23:30; Acts 21:37–22:16; Psalm 1:1-6; and Proverbs 18:11-12. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.
2 Kings 22:3-23:30 (Contemporary English Version)
Hilkiah Finds The Book of God's Law
(2 Chronicles 34.8-28)3After Josiah had been king for eighteen years, he told Shaphan, [a] one of his highest officials: Go to the LORD's temple 4and ask Hilkiah the high priest to collect from the guards all the money that the people have donated. 5Have Hilkiah give it to the men supervising the repairs to the temple. They can use some of the money to pay 6the workers, and with the rest of it they can buy wood and stone for the repair work. 7They are honest, so we won't ask them to keep track of the money. 8While Shaphan was at the temple, Hilkiah handed him a book and said, "Look what I found here in the temple--The Book of God's Law."
Shaphan read it, 9then went back to Josiah and reported, "Your officials collected the money in the temple and gave it to the men supervising the repairs. 10But there's something else, Your Majesty. The priest Hilkiah gave me this book." Then Shaphan read it out loud.
11When Josiah heard what was in The Book of God's Law, he tore his clothes in sorrow. 12At once he called together Hilkiah, Shaphan, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, and his own servant Asaiah. He said, 13"The LORD must be furious with me and everyone else in Judah, because our ancestors did not obey the laws written in this book. Go find out what the LORD wants us to do."
14The five men left right away and went to talk with Huldah the prophet. Her husband was Shallum, [b] who was in charge of the king's clothes. Huldah lived in the northern part of Jerusalem, and when they met in her home, 15she said: You were sent here by King Josiah, and this is what the LORD God of Israel says to him: 16"Josiah, I am the LORD! And I will see to it that this country and everyone living in it will be destroyed. It will happen just as this book says. 17The people of Judah have rejected me. They have offered sacrifices to foreign gods and have worshiped their own idols. I cannot stand it any longer. I am furious.
18"Josiah, listen to what I am going to do. 19I noticed how sad you were when you read that this country and its people would be completely wiped out. You even tore your clothes in sorrow, and I heard you cry. 20So I will let you die in peace, before I destroy this place."
The men left and took Huldah's answer back to Josiah.
2 Kings 23
Josiah Reads The Book of God's Law
(2 Chronicles 34.29-33)1King Josiah called together the older leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2Then he went to the LORD's temple, together with the people of Judah and Jerusalem, the priests, and the prophets. Finally, when everybody was there, he read aloud The Book of God's Law [c] that had been found in the temple. 3After Josiah had finished reading, he stood by one of the columns. He asked the people to promise in the LORD's name to faithfully obey the LORD and to follow his commands. The people agreed to do everything written in the book.
Josiah Follows the Teachings of God's Law
(2 Chronicles 34.3-7)4Josiah told Hilkiah the priest, the assistant priests, and the guards at the temple door to go into the temple and bring out the things used to worship Baal, Asherah, and the stars. Josiah had these things burned in Kidron Valley just outside Jerusalem, and he had the ashes carried away to the town of Bethel. 5Josiah also got rid of the pagan priests at the local shrines in Judah and around Jerusalem. These were the men that the kings of Judah had appointed to offer sacrifices to Baal and to the sun, moon, and stars. 6Josiah had the sacred pole [d] for Asherah brought out of the temple and taken to Kidron Valley, where it was burned. He then had its ashes ground into dust and scattered over the public cemetery there. 7He had the buildings torn down where the male prostitutes [e] lived next to the temple, and where the women wove sacred robes [f] for the idol of Asherah. 8In almost every town in Judah, priests had been offering sacrifices to the LORD at local shrines. [g] Josiah brought these priests to Jerusalem and had their shrines made unfit for worship--every shrine from Geba just north of Jerusalem to Beersheba in the south. He even tore down the shrine at Beersheba that was just to the left of Joshua Gate, which was named after the highest official of the city. 9Those local priests could not serve at the LORD's altar in Jerusalem, but they were allowed to eat sacred bread, [h] just like the priests from Jerusalem. 10Josiah sent some men to Hinnom Valley just outside Jerusalem with orders to make the altar there unfit for worship. That way, people could no longer use it for sacrificing their children to the god Molech. 11He also got rid of the horses that the kings of Judah used in their ceremonies to worship the sun, and he destroyed the chariots along with them. The horses had been kept near the entrance to the LORD's temple, in a courtyard [i] close to where an official named Nathan-Melech lived. 12Some of the kings of Judah, especially Manasseh, had built altars in the two courts of the temple and in the room that Ahaz had built on the palace roof. Josiah had these altars torn down and smashed to pieces, and he had the pieces thrown into Kidron Valley, just outside Jerusalem. 13After that, he closed down the shrines that Solomon had built east of Jerusalem and south of Spoil Hill to honor Astarte the disgusting goddess of Sidon, Chemosh the disgusting god of Moab, and Milcom the disgusting god of Ammon. [j] 14He tore down the stone images of foreign gods and cut down the sacred pole used in the worship of Asherah. Then he had the whole area covered with human bones. [k] 15But Josiah was not finished yet. At Bethel he destroyed the shrine and the altar that Jeroboam son of Nebat had built and that had caused the Israelites to sin. Josiah had the shrine and the Asherah pole burned and ground into dust. 16As he looked around, he saw graves on the hillside. He had the bones in them dug up and burned on the altar, so that it could no longer be used. This happened just as God's prophet had said when Jeroboam was standing at the altar, celebrating a festival. [l] Then Josiah saw the grave of the prophet who had said this would happen 17and he asked, [m] "Whose grave is that?" Some people who lived nearby answered, "It belongs to the prophet from Judah who told what would happen to this altar."
18Josiah replied, "Then leave it alone. Don't dig up his bones." So they did not disturb his bones or the bones of the old prophet from Israel who had also been buried there. [n] 19Some of the Israelite kings had made the LORD angry by building pagan shrines all over Israel. So Josiah sent troops to destroy these shrines just as he had done to the one in Bethel. 20He killed the priests who served at them and burned their bones on the altars.
After all that, Josiah went back to Jerusalem.
Josiah and the People of Judah Celebrate Passover
(2 Chronicles 35.1-19)21Josiah told the people of Judah, "Celebrate Passover in honor of the LORD your God, just as it says in The Book of God's Law." [o] 22This festival had not been celebrated in this way since kings ruled Israel and Judah. 23But in Josiah's eighteenth year as king of Judah, everyone came to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.
The LORD Is Still Angry at the People of Judah24Josiah got rid of every disgusting person and thing in Judah and Jerusalem--including magicians, fortunetellers, and idols. He did his best to obey every law written in the book that the priest Hilkiah found in the LORD's temple. 25No other king before or after Josiah tried as hard as he did to obey the Law of Moses. 26But the LORD was still furious with the people of Judah because Manasseh had done so many things to make him angry. 27The LORD said, "I will desert the people of Judah, just as I deserted the people of Israel. I will reject Jerusalem, even though I chose it to be mine. And I will abandon this temple built to honor me."
Josiah Dies in Battle
(2 Chronicles 35.20--36.1)28Everything else Josiah did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 29During Josiah's rule, King Neco of Egypt led his army north to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. Josiah led his troops north to fight Neco, but when they met in battle at Megiddo, Josiah was killed. [p] 30A few of Josiah's servants put his body in a chariot and took it back to Jerusalem, where they buried it in his own tomb. Then the people of Judah found his son Jehoahaz and poured olive oil on his head to show that he was their new king.
- 2 Kings 22:3 Shaphan: Hebrew "Shaphan son of Azaliah son of Meshullam."
- 2 Kings 22:14 Shallum: Hebrew "Shallum son of Tikvah son of Harhas."
- 2 Kings 23:2 The Book of God's Law: The Hebrew text has "The Book of God's Agreement," which is the same as "The Book of God's Law" in 22.8,11. In traditional translations this is called "The Book of the Covenant."
- 2 Kings 23:6 sacred pole: See the note at 13.6,7.
- 2 Kings 23:7 male prostitutes: Young men or boys sometimes served as prostitutes in the worship of Canaanite gods, but the LORD had forbidden the people of Israel and Judah to worship in this way (see Deuteronomy 23.17,18).
- 2 Kings 23:7 sacred robes: Or "coverings."
- 2 Kings 23:8 local shrines: See the note at 12.3.
- 2 Kings 23:9 sacred bread: The Hebrew text has "thin bread," which may be either the pieces of thin bread made without yeast to be eaten during the Passover Festival (see verses 21-23) or the baked flour used in sacrifices to give thanks to the LORD (see Leviticus 2.4,5).
- 2 Kings 23:11 in a courtyard: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 2 Kings 23:13 the shrines. . . Ammon: See 1 Kings 11.5-7.
- 2 Kings 23:14 Then he. . . human bones: This made the whole area unfit for the worship of any god.
- 2 Kings 23:16 just. . . festival: See 1 Kings 13.1,2.
- 2 Kings 23:17 said when Jeroboam. . . asked: One ancient translation; Hebrew "said. 17 Then Josiah asked."
- 2 Kings 23:18 old prophet. . . there: See 1 Kings 13.11-32.
- 2 Kings 23:21 The Book of God's Law: See the note at verse 2.
- 2 Kings 23:29 killed: At this time, King Neco of Egypt (609-595 B.C.) was fighting on the side of the Assyrians. He marched north to fight the Babylonian army and help Assyria keep control of its land. Since Josiah considered Assyria an enemy, he set out to stop Neco and the Egyptian troops.
Acts 21:37-22:16 (Contemporary English Version)
Paul Speaks to the Crowd37When Paul was about to be taken into the fortress, he asked the commander, "Can I say something to you?" "How do you know Greek?" the commander asked. 38"Aren't you that Egyptian who started a riot not long ago and led four thousand terrorists into the desert?"
39"No!" Paul replied. "I am a Jew from Tarsus, an important city in Cilicia. Please let me speak to the crowd."
40The commander told him he could speak, so Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people. When they were quiet, he spoke to them in Aramaic:
Acts 221"My friends and leaders of our nation, listen as I explain what happened!" 2When the crowd heard Paul speak to them in Aramaic, they became even quieter. Then Paul said: 3I am a Jew, born and raised in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia. I was a student of Gamaliel and was taught to follow every single law of our ancestors. In fact, I was just as eager to obey God as any of you are today.
4I made trouble for everyone who followed the Lord's Way, [a] and I even had some of them killed. I had others arrested and put in jail. I didn't care if they were men or women. 5The high priest and all the council members can tell you that this is true. They even gave me letters to the Jewish leaders in Damascus, so that I could arrest people there and bring them to Jerusalem to be punished. 6One day about noon I was getting close to Damascus, when a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking, "Saul, Saul, why are you so cruel to me?"
8"Who are you?" I answered.
The Lord replied, "I am Jesus from Nazareth! I am the one you are so cruel to." 9The men who were traveling with me saw the light, but did not hear the voice.
10I asked, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"
Then he told me, "Get up and go to Damascus. When you get there, you will be told what to do." 11The light had been so bright that I couldn't see. And the other men had to lead me by the hand to Damascus.
12In that city there was a man named Ananias, who faithfully obeyed the Law of Moses and was well liked by all the Jewish people living there. 13He came to me and said, "Saul, my friend, you can now see again!"
At once I could see. 14Then Ananias told me, "The God that our ancestors worshiped has chosen you to know what he wants done. He has chosen you to see the One Who Obeys God [b] and to hear his voice. 15You must tell everyone what you have seen and heard. 16What are you waiting for? Get up! Be baptized, and wash away your sins by praying to the Lord."
Psalm 1:1-6 (Contemporary English Version)
The Way to Happiness1God blesses those people who refuse evil advice
and won't follow sinners
or join in sneering at God.
2Instead, the Law of the LORD
makes them happy,
and they think about it
day and night.
3They are like trees
growing beside a stream,
trees that produce
fruit in season
and always have leaves.
Those people succeed
in everything they do.
4That isn't true of those
who are evil,
because they are like straw
blown by the wind.
5Sinners won't have an excuse
on the day of judgment,
and they won't have a place
with the people of God.
6The LORD protects everyone
who follows him,
but the wicked follow a road
that leads to ruin.
Proverbs 18:11-12 (Contemporary English Version)
Thought for the Day
American politician and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865, Abraham Lincoln wrote, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
A Joke for Today
Whispering firmly, the minister said, "Denounce the devil! Let him know how little you think of his evil."
The dying man said nothing.
The minister repeated his order. Still the dying man said nothing.
The minister asked, "Why do you refuse to denounce the devil and his evil?"
The dying man said, "Until I know where I'm heading, I don't think I ought to aggravate anybody."