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2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27; Romans 13:1-14; Psalms 23:1-6; Proverbs 20:11 (Good News Translation)

2 Chronicles 26-28

King Uzziah of Judah

26 All the people of Judah chose Amaziah's sixteen-year-old son Uzziah to succeed his father as king. (It was after the death of Amaziah that Uzziah recaptured Elath and rebuilt the city.)

Uzziah became king at the age of sixteen, and he ruled in Jerusalem for fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. Following the example of his father, he did what was pleasing to the Lord. As long as Zechariah, his religious adviser, was living, he served the Lord faithfully, and God blessed him.

Uzziah went to war against the Philistines. He tore down the walls of the cities of Gath, Jamnia, and Ashdod, and built fortified cities near Ashdod and in the rest of Philistia. God helped him defeat the Philistines, the Arabs living at Gurbaal, and the Meunites. The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and he became so powerful that his fame spread even to Egypt.

Uzziah strengthened the fortifications of Jerusalem by building towers at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and where the wall turned. 10 He also built fortified towers in the open country and dug many cisterns, because he had large herds of livestock in the western foothills and plains. Because he loved farming, he encouraged the people to plant vineyards in the hill country and to farm the fertile land.

11 He had a large army ready for battle. Its records were kept by his secretaries Jeiel and Maaseiah under the supervision of Hananiah, a member of the king's staff. 12 The army was commanded by 2,600 officers. 13 Under them were 307,500 soldiers able to fight effectively for the king against his enemies. 14 Uzziah supplied the army with shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and arrows, and stones for slinging. 15 In Jerusalem his inventors made equipment for shooting arrows and for throwing large stones from the towers and corners of the city wall. His fame spread everywhere, and he became very powerful because of the help he received from God.

Uzziah Is Punished for His Pride

16 But when King Uzziah became strong, he grew arrogant, and that led to his downfall. He defied the Lord his God by going into the Temple to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 Azariah the priest, accompanied by eighty strong and courageous priests, followed the king 18 to resist him. They said, “Uzziah! You have no right to burn incense to the Lord. Only the priests who are descended from Aaron have been consecrated to do this. Leave this holy place. You have offended the Lord God, and you no longer have his blessing.”

19 Uzziah was standing there in the Temple beside the incense altar and was holding an incense burner. He became angry with the priests, and immediately a dreaded skin disease broke out on his forehead. 20 Azariah and the other priests stared at the king's forehead in horror and then forced him to leave the Temple. He hurried to get out, because the Lord had punished him.

21 For the rest of his life King Uzziah was ritually unclean because of his disease. Unable to enter the Temple again, he lived in his own house, relieved of all duties, while his son Jotham governed the country.

22 The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz recorded all the other things that King Uzziah did during his reign. 23 Uzziah died and was buried in the royal burial ground, but because of his disease he was not buried in the royal tombs. His son Jotham succeeded him as king.

King Jotham of Judah

27 Jotham became king at the age of twenty-five, and he ruled in Jerusalem for sixteen years. His mother was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok. He did what was pleasing to the Lord, just as his father had done; but unlike his father he did not sin by burning incense[a] in the Temple. The people, however, went on sinning.

It was Jotham who built the North Gate of the Temple and did extensive work on the city wall in the area of Jerusalem called Ophel. In the mountains of Judah he built cities, and in the forests he built forts and towers. He fought against the king of Ammon and his army and defeated them. Then he forced the Ammonites to pay him the following tribute each year for three years: four tons of silver, fifty thousand bushels of wheat, and fifty thousand bushels of barley. Jotham grew powerful because he faithfully obeyed the Lord his God. The other events of Jotham's reign, his wars, and his policies, are all recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah.

Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he ruled in Jerusalem for sixteen years. He died and was buried in David's City and his son Ahaz succeeded him as king.

King Ahaz of Judah

28 Ahaz became king at the age of twenty, and he ruled in Jerusalem for sixteen years. He did not follow the good example of his ancestor King David; instead, he did what was not pleasing to the Lord and followed the example of the kings of Israel. He had metal images of Baal made, burned incense in Hinnom Valley, and even sacrificed his own sons as burnt offerings to idols, imitating the disgusting practice of the people whom the Lord had driven out of the land as the Israelites advanced. At the pagan places of worship, on the hills, and under every shady tree Ahaz offered sacrifices and burned incense.

War with Syria and Israel

5-6 Because King Ahaz sinned, the Lord his God let the king of Syria defeat him and take a large number of Judeans back to Damascus as prisoners. The Lord also let the king of Israel, Pekah son of Remaliah, defeat Ahaz and kill 120,000 of the bravest Judean soldiers in one day. The Lord, the God of their ancestors, permitted this to happen, because the people of Judah had abandoned him. An Israelite soldier named Zichri killed King Ahaz' son Maaseiah, the palace administrator Azrikam, and Elkanah, who was second in command to the king. Even though the Judeans were their own relatives, the Israelite army captured 200,000 women and children as prisoners and took them back to Samaria, along with large amounts of loot.

The Prophet Oded

A man named Oded, a prophet of the Lord, lived in the city of Samaria. He met the returning Israelite army with its Judean prisoners as it was about to enter the city, and he said, “The Lord God of your ancestors was angry with Judah and let you defeat them, but now he has heard of the vicious way you slaughtered them. 10 And now you intend to make the men and women of Jerusalem and Judah your slaves. Don't you know that you also have committed sins against the Lord your God? 11 Listen to me! These prisoners are your brothers and sisters. Let them go, or the Lord will punish you in his anger.”

12 Four of the leading men of the Northern Kingdom, Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai also opposed the actions of the army. 13 They said, “Don't bring those prisoners here! We have already sinned against the Lord and made him angry enough to punish us. Now you want to do something that will increase our guilt.” 14 So then the army handed the prisoners and the loot over to the people and their leaders, 15 and the four men were appointed to provide the prisoners with clothing from the captured loot. They gave them clothes and sandals to wear, gave them enough to eat and drink, and put olive oil on their wounds. Those who were too weak to walk were put on donkeys, and all the prisoners were taken back to Judean territory at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then the Israelites returned home to Samaria.

Ahaz Asks Assyria for Help

16-17 The Edomites began to raid Judah again and captured many prisoners, so King Ahaz asked Tiglath Pileser, the emperor of Assyria, to send help. 18 At this same time the Philistines were raiding the towns in the western foothills and in southern Judah. They captured the cities of Beth Shemesh, Aijalon, and Gederoth, and the cities of Soco, Timnah, and Gimzo with their villages, and settled there permanently. 19 Because King Ahaz of Judah had violated the rights of his people and had defied the Lord, the Lord brought troubles on Judah. 20 The Assyrian emperor, instead of helping Ahaz, opposed him and caused him trouble. 21 So Ahaz took the gold from the Temple, the palace, and the homes of the leaders of the people, and gave it to the emperor, but even this did not help.

The Sins of Ahaz

22 When his troubles were at their worst, that man Ahaz sinned against the Lord more than ever. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of the Syrians, who had defeated him. He said, “The Syrian gods helped the kings of Syria, so if I sacrifice to them, they may help me too.” This brought disaster on him and on his nation. 24 In addition, he took all the Temple equipment and broke it in pieces. He closed the Temple and set up altars in every part of Jerusalem. 25 In every city and town in Judah he built pagan places of worship, where incense was to be burned to foreign gods. In this way he brought on himself the anger of the Lord, the God of his ancestors.

26 All the other events of his reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27 King Ahaz died and was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal tombs. His son Hezekiah succeeded him as king.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Chronicles 27:2 he did not sin by burning incense; or he did not take part in the worship.
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Romans 13

Duties toward State Authorities

13 Everyone must obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God's permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgment on himself. For rulers are not to be feared by those who do good, but by those who do evil. Would you like to be unafraid of those in authority? Then do what is good, and they will praise you, because they are God's servants working for your own good. But if you do evil, then be afraid of them, because their power to punish is real. They are God's servants and carry out God's punishment on those who do evil. For this reason you must obey the authorities—not just because of God's punishment, but also as a matter of conscience.

That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties. Pay, then, what you owe them; pay them your personal and property taxes, and show respect and honor for them all.

Duties toward One Another

Be under obligation to no one—the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery; do not commit murder; do not steal; do not desire what belongs to someone else”—all these, and any others besides, are summed up in the one command, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 10 If you love others, you will never do them wrong; to love, then, is to obey the whole Law.

11 You must do this, because you know that the time has come for you to wake up from your sleep. For the moment when we will be saved is closer now than it was when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over, day is almost here. Let us stop doing the things that belong to the dark, and let us take up weapons for fighting in the light. 13 Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day—no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy. 14 But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires.

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Psalm 23

The Lord Our Shepherd[a]

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in fields of green grass
    and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.
He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
    as he has promised.
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
    I will not be afraid, Lord,
    for you are with me.
Your shepherd's rod and staff protect me.

You prepare a banquet for me,
    where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
    and fill my cup to the brim.
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
    and your house will be my home as long as I live.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 23:1 HEBREW TITLE: A psalm by David.
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Proverbs 20:11

11 Even children show what they are by what they do; you can tell if they are honest and good.

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