Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king of Judah. He was a good king and did the things that God says are right just like his ancestor, King David did. He took away all the shrines and places of worship of the false gods that people had been worshiping. He trusted in the Lord so much so that there was no other king like him either before or after his time. He held on tight to the Lord and never stopped following Him and doing His commands. God was with Hezekiah and caused him to be successful everywhere he went.
Now, fourteen years after Hezekiah became king, an enemy king named Sennacherib came against Judah. Sennacherib demanded that Hezekiah pay him 11 tons of silver and 1 ton of gold. To get that much, Hezekiah had to take all the silver from the temple of the Lord and take all the gold off the doors. Even after Hezekiah paid him, Sennacherib sent one of his chief officers to give Hezekiah and the people of Judah this message:
“What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? Do you think that mere words can help you in war? Are you trusting in Egypt? Egypt is unreliable! Or are you trusting in the Lord? Do not let Hezekiah trick you into trusting the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely save us and Sennacherib will not defeat us!’ Do not listen to your, king but instead, come and make peace with me and I will take you to a better land. Do not listen to Hezekiah when he says, ‘God will save us!’ Every country we have taken over had their own god, but none of them were able to save them. What makes you think your God can deliver you out of my hand?”
Nobody answered the officer because Hezekiah told them not to. They went back to Hezekiah and told them all the things that the enemy said.
As soon as Hezekiah heard about it he went into the temple of God and mourned. Then he sent some people to Isaiah the prophet. They told Isaiah everything that happened. Then Isaiah answered, “Tell Hezekiah that this is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid. I will make Sennacherib go back to his own land and there he will die.'”
After this, the chief officer went back to talk with Sennacherib. There was a battle happening in another place and the enemy king decided to go back to his land but first sent the chief officer back to Hezekiah with another message. This time the message was:
“Do not let your God who you trust trick you by promising that your land will not be given to Sennacherib. You have heard how we have destroyed all the lands around you and none of their gods were able to help.”
When Hezekiah heard this message he went in to the temple again and placed the message before the Lord and prayed: “O Lord God, you are God alone of all the kingdoms of the earth. It is you who made the heavens and the earth. Open your ears to hear our prayer, O Lord, and open your eyes to see what Sennacherib has said to us mocking you! It is true that they destroyed the gods of those other nations because they were not gods at all but mere statues that were made by men. So now, Lord, save us please! Save us so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, and you alone, are God!”
Then Isaiah sent a message to Hezekiah to tell him that God heard his prayer. God said, “I will defend your city and I will save it for the sake of your ancestor, King David.”
That very night, the angel of the Lord went out and killed 185,000 people of Sennacherib’s army. Sennacherib went back to his home and while he was worshiping his god, his own sons killed him.
Around this time Hezekiah got sick and was going to die. Isaiah the prophet came to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Get ready, for it is time for you to die. You will not recover from this sickness.” But Hezekiah said, “O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you and been faithful with my whole heart and have done what is good in your sight!” Then Hezekiah wept and cried. Before Isaiah left, while he was leaving, the Lord told him to go back to Hezekiah and say, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you and add 15 years to your life and continue to keep you safe from your enemies.”
Soon after this, the king of Babylon sent messengers with letters and presents for Hezekiah since he knew that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them all the treasure in his house–all the silver, all the gold, all the spices, oils, and storehouses. There was not anything that Hezekiah did not show to them. But afterward, Isaiah the prophet came to Hezekiah and said, “What did those men want? Where did they come from?” And Hezekiah said, “They came all the way from Babylon!” Isaiah asked, “What did they see in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen everything. There is not anything that I did not show to them.”
Then Isaiah said, “Hear what God has to say: ‘The time is coming when everything you own and all that your ancestors have stored up until now will be carried away to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons will be taken away and made personal slaves to the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What God says is good.” Hezekiah was thinking, “At least there will be peace while I am alive.”
“Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”
When Josiah was 8 years old He became king of Judah. He did what is right in God’s sight just like his ancestor King David did. He did not turn away from doing what was right.
When Josiah was 16, he became a worshipper of God and when he was 20 he began removing all the idols from Jerusalem and Judah. He cleansed the land by breaking down all the altars that were made for false gods and removing all the priests who taught people to worship them.
When Josiah was 26, after he had cleaned up the land, he sent a group of people to go repair the temple of the Lord his God. They went throughout the land receiving donations to help. They took the money to Hilkiah the High Priest so that he could pay all the people who came to work on the temple. The men who worked were honest, and trustworthy, and they did their work faithfully.
Now, while they were working, Hilkiah found the Book of the Law of the Lord that Moses had written! So the men whom Josiah had sent went back to him and told him how all the people were working on the temple just as he had told them to. They also told him about the book that Hilkiah found and began to read it to the king.
When Josiah heard the words of the Book, he was so sad that he tore his clothing, and he told the men to go and pray to God for him and for all the people in the land because up until now the people had not been doing what God had said was right and God was angry.
So they went back and got Hilkiah and together they all went and found a prophet. The prophet told them that God was indeed angry that the people had been worshipping other Gods and doing evil things. But because Josiah had a soft heart, and was humble, and had been sad about all the things the people were doing when he heard the words of the Book that Moses had written, God said he would not bring disaster to the land while Josiah was still alive. So they came and told Josiah everything the prophet said.
Then Josiah gathered everyone in Judah together and read to them the Book of God’s Promise that had been found in the temple. And the king in turn made a promise to God to walk in His ways and keep His commandments with all his heart and all His soul. And he asked everyone else to promise as well. So for as long as Josiah was king the people did not stop following God.
There was no other king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, to do what God says is right in the Bible.
1 Samuel 15:21-22
"What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols."
"You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it. The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise."
In the days before there were kings, when Israel was still being ruled by judges, there was a famine. During this time, a man from Bethlehem which was in Judah left his home to go live in Moab for a while. He took his wife and His two sons with him. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife was Naomi. His sons were Mahlon and Chilion. The family had always lived in Bethlehem but now they were moving to the country of Moab to live there.
But Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons. Each son had married a wife from Moab. One of them was named Orpah, the other was named Ruth. After about ten years, Mahlon and Chilion also died. Naomi was left without her husband or her sons. Then she heard that the Lord came to care for His people in Israel by giving them food. So she began to leave Moab with her daughters-in-law to go back to Bethlehem in Judah.
On the way, Naomi said to Ruth and Orpah, "Go back! Both of you return to you family! May the Lord be kind to you just as you have been kind to me and my husband and sons. May the Lord give you rest and let you find new husbands." With that, Naomi kissed them and they all began to cry.
And Ruth and Orpah said, "No, we will go with you to Israel—to your people!" But Naomi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why would you want to go with me? I have no more sons to give to you as husbands. Turn back! I am too old to have a husband, and even if I did, and I gave birth to two sons tonight, would you wait until they grew up so you could marry them? Would you really want to wait for them instead of remarrying now? I am very sad for you that God has stretched out His hand against me."
Then Ruth and Orpah began to cry again. Orpah kissed Naomi and left, but Ruth held on tight to her. And Naomi said to Ruth: "You see! Orpah went back to her family and to the gods that they worship—go with her!" But Ruth said, "Please do not tell me to leave you or to stop following you. Where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people, and your God shall be my God. Where you die, I will die and wherever that is, I will be buried. May God make sure I keep this promise: that nothing shall separate us but death!
When Naomi could tell that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing else. So the two of them went on their journey
Oh give thanks to the Lord because He is good. His love, which never changes, lasts forever! Let those whom He has set free say so, those whom He has set free from trouble and brought back from faraway lands.
Some people wandered around in the desert. They were looking for a road that would take them to a city to live in, but they could not find any. They were so hungry and thirsty that their souls became weak and nearly fainted. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He walked with them, leading them on a straight road that brought them to a city to live in! Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! He fills up the empty soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Some people sat in the dark, in the shadow of death. They were prisoners, they were depressed, and in shackles of iron. This happened to them because they did not listen to God and because they rejected His advice—the advice of the Most High God. Because of this, God made their hearts sink low with weariness, and they fell down and had no one to help them. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke into pieces the chains that were holding them captive. Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! He breaks through steel doors and splits iron bars in two!
Some people were foolish because they did bad things, and because of their sins were miserable. They couldn’t stomach food anymore and were drawing near to death. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He spoke, and they were healed! God saved them from being destroyed! Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! Let them thank the Lord and sing about all the good things He does!
Some people got in ships and did business in the sea. They saw the God’s wonderful work in the deep ocean. God commanded the stormy wind and made giant waves. The waves were so high they seemed to rise up to heaven and then drop down to the bottom of the ocean. The people in the ships lost all their courage, staggered all around, and had no idea what to do. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He made the storm be still and He made the sea be quiet. They were glad when the waters were quiet and that God brought them to the place they wanted to go. Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! Let them worship Him in the congregation and sing praise to Him with all the leaders!
God makes rivers turn into a desert. He also makes springs of water into dry ground. He makes a land that could grow lots of food to be useless because those who live there do evil things. But He also turns a desert into pools of water, and dry lands into springs of water. He lets the hungry live there and make a city to live in so that they can plant fields and grow food. Because of His blessing they have abundant crops and lots of livestock.
When people are in trouble because they are doing harm to each other, God causes their leaders to be disrespected and despised and to wander around aimlessly. But He raises up the needy and blesses their families. Those who do right see this and are glad, but those who do bad have nothing to say.
Whoever is wise, let him pay attention to these things and let him think about the love of the Lord which never changes.
God told Jonah to go to a city called Nineveh and tell them that He knew about all the evil things they were doing. But instead, Jonah tried to run away to a city called Tarshish. He was trying to get away from God. To get to Tarshish, Jonah had to get in a ship in the city of Joppa and travel there by sea.
While he was on the ship, the Lord brought a great storm upon the water. The ship was almost ready to break into pieces! The men on the ship started crying out to their gods for help. And they threw all the cargo on board into the sea to help lighten the load. All the while Jonah stayed in the bottom of the boat, underneath the deck. He was sleeping there. The captain woke Jonah and said, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and cry out to your god! Maybe He will listen to you and save us so that we will not die!"
Then the men on the ship decided to try and find out why this was happening. They guessed that Jonah was the reason for the storm. So they asked him, "Why is this bad thing happening? Where are you from and what do you do?" So Jonah said, "I am from Israel and I believe in the God of Heaven who made everything." Then the men on the ship were very afraid and said to Jonah, "What have you done?" because Jonah told them that he was running away from God.
So they asked Jonah, "What do we need to do so that the sea will calm down?" Jonah said, "Pick me up and throw me into the water and the storm will go away. It is my fault that this storm has come upon us all." But even though Jonah said this, the men on the ship would not throw Jonah overboard. Instead they tried rowing harder and fought against the storm. But then they prayed to God and said, "Lord, do not punish us for doing what we are about to do because we’re doing what we think you want us to do." And after saying that they threw Jonah overboard. Immediately the storm stopped and the sea was calm. Then the men believed in God and began to fear Him.
Then the Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah spent three days and three nights in the fish’s belly.