Why Will Ye Die? Turn Yourselves & Live

Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles which begins with a united nation and kingdom of Israel during the days of Solomon and continues through to the days of a divided kingdom of Israel and Judah and the kings which sat upon the thrones therein up until the time of captivity. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters thirty-three through thirty-six of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular passage of Scripture you will find the narrative of Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah having drawn to a close and the days of the reign of his son beginning. I have to admit that as I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about two distinct realities which are found within the history and narrative of the kings which reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah from the city of Jerusalem. As you read the words which are found in the Old Testament books of First and Second Kings, as well as the book of Second Chronicles you will find that there were essentially three different patterns surrounding the kings which sat upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem. This would be completely and utterly independent from the kings which sat upon the throne within the northern kingdom of Israel. The history and narrative of the northern kingdom of Israel is one that presents us with the tremendous reality that from the time of Jeroboam son of Nebat all the way through the days of the reign of the final king that would rule over the northern kingdom of Israel—Hoshea—there was not a single righteous king that would sit upon the throne. There would be a king that would carry out a work of the LORD in the midst of the land—namely, Jehu, who was given the tremendous assignment of completely and utterly destroying the house of Ahab king of Israel. Moreover, it would be this Jehu who would not only destroy the house of Ahab from the midst of the earth, but it would also be Jehu who would cut off Baal worship from the midst of the land. Even more than this, we find Jehu as being the instrument of the LORD to once and for all bring to ruin and destruction the evil, idolatrous and wicked queen Jezebel who would rule beside her husband Ahab in the midst of the land. The history and narrative of the northern kingdom of Israel is one that has very little good in it in terms of those kings which sat upon the throne of David, and if you study the Scripture you will find that there were four distinct houses that would rule as king over the northern kingdom of Israel which the LORD would utterly destroy and bring to ruin—the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, the house of Baasha, the house of Ahab, and the house of Jehu. Throughout and during their entire time of existence as their own kingdom in the midst of the land there was not a single righteous king that would sit upon the throne, for each and every king would not only transgress against the command of the LORD, but would also lead the children of Israel into sin and idolatry as well.

When you read and study the history and narrative of the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah, however, you will find that there was this mixture of those kings which did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and those kings which would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. From the time of Rehoboam son of Solomon who would sit upon the throne of David in Jerusalem all the way through the days of Zedekiah the final king who would sit upon the throne we find this undeniable mixture of kings which did that which was right in the sight of the LORD as did David their father, while there were other kings which did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. What truly intrigues me when you read and consider the words which are written and recorded within the Old Testament books of First and Second Kings, as well as the book of Second Chronicles, you will find that there were essentially three distinct patterns of fathers and sons which surrounded the throne in the midst of the southern kingdom of Judah. The more you read and the more you study the narrative of the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah, the more you will encounter that one such pattern which surrounded the throne was those kings who would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and who would not only do what was right in the sight of the LORD, but would also beget and bring up a son who would also do what was right in the sight of the LORD. There were fathers who sat upon the throne of David in Jerusalem who did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and who begat at least one son who would not only do what was right in the sight of the LORD, but who would rule and reign as king over the kingdom upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem. With that being said, however, there is a second pattern that is found within the history and narrative of the kings—namely, a righteous king who did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and yet they would beget a son who would not only sit on the throne, but who would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. With that being said, there is a third pattern that surrounds the kings of Judah, which is evil kings who would do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and yet they would beget a son who would do what was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of their life, and while they sat upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem.

Perhaps one of the greatest realities surrounding the history and narrative of the kings which ruled and reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah is when you think about and consider the fact that the throne would essentially be a narrative of fathers and sons who would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of the kingdom. From the time of David the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, the southern kingdom of Judah would be ruled, would be reigned over, and would be governed by a member of the house of David and a son of David who would sit upon the throne. There are two distinct realities surrounding the narrative of David the king of Israel, which help set the stage for the history and narrative of the sons who would reign as kings upon and from the throne which David himself sat upon. The first reality and principle which must be understood is that which was written and expressed during the days of Saul king of Israel—namely, that in the process of the LORD rending the kingdom out of the hand of Saul, and rejecting Saul as being king over the nation of Israel, He would seek and search out a man after His own heart. Even when the LORD sent Samuel to the house of Jesse the Bethlehmite to anoint for and unto the LORD the next king of Israel you will find the LORD having to correct Samuel’s thinking, for when Samuel saw Jesse’s eldest son he thought that it would surely be that one whom the LORD had chosen to be the next king over Israel. Almost immediately the LORD spoke unto the prophet Samuel and not only declared unto him that He had refused him, but also declared unto him that the LORD does not see as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, while the LORD looks on the heart. Essentially, that which the living God was speaking unto the prophet Samuel during this time was that while the first king of Israel—Saul son of Kish of Benjamin—was chosen based on his outward appearance and based on his physical statute, the LORD would not choose the next king based on outward appearance. When it came to selecting the next king that would rule and reign over the nation and kingdom of Israel, the living and eternal God would be looking for a man after His own heart. It’s both necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for it brings us face to face with something I am absolutely convinced directly touches and directly impacts the reality which surrounds the throne of David that would be present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.

As I sit here this morning and think about the statement which the LORD made concerning His seeking and searching after a man after His own heart—of course I can’t help but see and view that statement through two different lenses. On the one hand I see and view this statement through the lens that the LORD was looking for and searching out a man who passionately pursued His heart, and did so through worship, through praise, through prayer, and through communion and fellowship with Him. On the other hand, I see and view this statement through the lens of the LORD looking for a man whose heart was similar in nature to that of His own. On the one hand we find this statement as potentially being one about pursuit, while on the other hand we find this statement as potentially being one about nature. In all reality, I cannot truly tell which of the two lenses this statement was made through the prophet Samuel unto Saul son of Kish, and I can’t help but think about the fact that it might very well be possible that this statement must be viewed through both lenses at the same time. When the LORD emphatically declared that He was looking for a man after His own heart, I would dare say the LORD was looking for a man whose heart was not only similar to His in nature, but one who also passionately pursued His heart with reckless abandon. It would be this reality of the heart that would manifest itself when Samuel was at the house of Jesse the Bethlehemite, for the LORD had to reveal unto Samuel that He does not see as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. It’s important for us to recognize and understand this, for when the LORD was going to choose the next king of Israel, He would not do it as had previously been done when the king would have been chosen and anointed based on his outward and physical appearance. Instead, the LORD would choose the next king of Israel based on the condition and nature of the heart that was within him—namely, the fact that the next king of Israel would be a man after His own heart. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for I am convinced there is an additional truth and mystery that is contained within this particular reality—namely, that the LORD wasn’t merely looking for a single man after God’s own heart who would rule and reign as king over the nation of Israel, but rather men after His own heart who would rule and reign as king.

If you continue reading the narrative surrounding the life of David as king over the nation and kingdom of Israel you will find it written concerning David that when he would have built a house for the glory, the honor, the fame, and the name of the living God, the LORD would declare unto him that he would not be the one who would build a house for and unto Him. Although the LORD would make known unto David through writing with His hand upon him the pattern of the Temple, it would be David’s son Solomon who would build the house and sanctuary of the LORD. While it was true the LORD declared unto David that he would not be the one to build the house and sanctuary unto the LORD, He would go on to emphatically declare unto David that He would make of and for him a great house in the midst of the nation and kingdom of Israel, and there would not fail to be one of his sons which would sit upon the throne in the midst of the land. The LORD emphatically declared unto David that He would raise up for David a house in the midst of the earth—a house that would rule and reign as king over the nation and kingdom of Israel from the throne upon which David sat upon. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for when we take the time to consider this in light of the statement and declaration the LORD made that He was looking for a man after His own heart, we must understand that the LORD was not only looking for a man after His own heart, but men who were after His own heart. Furthermore, when the LORD declared unto David that He would build for him a house in the midst of the earth, He was declaring unto him that He would build for him and make from him a house of men that would be after His own heart. This reality must be recognized and understood, for when you read and study the history and narrative of the kings which would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem, you will find that David would be the plum line for which the lives of those kings would be measured during the days of their reign as king. Perhaps one of the most important things we must recognize and understand is that the LORD never declared that He was looking for a king after His own heart, but a man after His own heart, for it was not the king that made the man, but it was the man that made the king. If the man was after God’s own heart then the king would be a man after God’s own heart. If the man was not after God’s own heart, then the king would therefore not be a man after God’s own heart. Please catch and please hold on to this, for it will help you truly understand that which is written and recorded concerning the narrative of the kings of Judah which would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem.

There is not a doubt in my mind that when you read and study the narrative of the kings which would sit upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem that it was never the king which made the man, but it was the man which made the king. What’s more, is that when you read and study the narrative of the kings which would sit upon the throne of David their father in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, you will find that they would either do that which was right in the sight of the LORD as did David their father, or they would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD as the kings of Israel did, and perhaps even as their own biological father had done during the days of their reign as king over the nation and kingdom of Judah. When we read and consider the narrative of the kings which would rule and reign upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, we must recognize and understand that the living and eternal God was in fact looking for a single man who would be after His own heart, but perhaps even more than that, the LORD would be looking to bring forth and produce from that man a generation of sons who would become men after the heart of God. This reality must be carefully understood, for when you read the history and the narrative of the kings of Judah which would sit upon the throne, you will find that it wasn’t so much a history of kings which sat upon the throne, but rather men who ruled as kings—men who had a decision to make whether or not they would be a man after God’s own heart as was David their father. You cannot read the history and narrative of the kings of Judah without thinking about and considering the absolutely incredible reality that regardless of whether or not they did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, or whether they did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, their lives and their hearts would be measured by the plum line which was the life of David. It was indeed true that the LORD was looking for a man after His own heart, however, it must also be recognized and understood that the LORD was looking for a generation of men who were after His own heart. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the LORD wasn’t merely looking for a single man after His own heart which would sit upon the throne of David, but would be looking for a generation of men which were after His own heart. If the man was after the heart of the living God than the king himself would be after the heart of God. If, however, the man was not after the heart of God than the king which sat upon the throne of David would not be a man after God’s own heart.

With all of this being said, it is truly astonishing and remarkable to read the history and narrative of the kings which sat upon the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and consider the fact that not only was there an apparent mixture of those kings which did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and those kings which would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but the throne was essentially a narrative of fathers and sons, and what type of man would sit upon the throne, what type of father would sit upon the throne, and what type of son would proceed forth from that man and that father. The narrative of the kings which sat upon the throne of David in Jerusalem is actually quite captivating when you take the time to consider it, for there were those kings which would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and who would beget sons which would do what was right in the sight of the LORD, while there were kings that would do what was right in the sight of the LORD, and yet would beget sons that would not do what was right in the sight of the LORD. Moreover, there was a third pattern concerning the kings which sat upon the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem—namely, that it was possible for a king which did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and yet a righteous king who would do what was right in the sight of the LORD would be brought forth from them. Consider the fact that this reality would indeed be seen within and during the days of the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah, for during the days of Isaiah the prophet we would witness Uzziah the king of Judah which was a man who would do what was right in the sight of the LORD, and who would beget Jotham who would do what was right in the sight of the LORD, and would rule upon the throne of David in the place of his father. Despite the fact that Jotham would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD, he would be succeeded by his son Ahaz who would do that which evil in the sight of the LORD, and would greatly transgress against the commandment of the LORD. What’s more, is that although Ahaz would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, he would be succeeded by his son Hezekiah who would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and whose heart would be like that of David his father—not only in obedience before the LORD, but also concerning worship and the sanctuary of the living God. We aren’t sure if the prophet Isaiah would live to see the days of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, but we know from Scripture that Manasseh would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.

One of the greatest realities which surrounds the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem was that while it was essentially a history and narrative of fathers and sons who would sit upon the throne in the midst of the city, it would also be a narrative of two additional and two distinct realities. On the one hand you will find certain kings that would tear down what their fathers had built and set up in the midst of the land, while on the other hand there would be certain kings that would build back up what their fathers had torn down. As much as the narrative of the kings which sat upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem was one which was about fathers and sons and men who were either after the heart of God or weren’t after the heart of God, it was also a history and narrative of kings and men who would be directly influenced by the generation of their fathers. As you read and study the history and narrative of the kings which sat upon the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem you will find that there were those righteous kings who would tear down what their father had built and set up in the midst of the land in terms of idolatrous and pagan worship, while there were those evil and wicked kings who would rebuild that which their fathers had torn down, and would set up the idolatrous and pagan worship once more in the midst of the land. As you begin reading with and from the opening verse of the thirty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles you will find that Manasseh son of Hezekiah would not only do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, but he would also build again and rebuild that which his father Hezekiah had torn down and destroyed. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for this reality would have direct implications on the future of the southern kingdom of Judah and its existence in the midst of the earth. What we find and read concerning Manasseh is not only a king which would do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, but also a king who would rebuild what his father had torn down and destroyed, and who would do more to provoke the LORD to anger than did any of the kings which were before him. In order to truly understand the history and narrative of the kings which would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem it’s important to recognize and understand that the narrative of account of their lives would not only be governed by whether or not they would be a man after God’s own heart, but also what they would do during the days of their reign as king over the nation and kingdom of Judah. Manasseh would be a man who would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD—a man who would not only do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, but also a man who would rebuild that which his father Hezekiah had destroyed, and who would do more to provoke the LORD God to anger than any of the kings which were before him.

As you study the history and narrative of Manasseh king of Judah you will find that his life was essentially a narrative of two different realities, for on the one hand we find Manasseh the man who would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and who would provoke the LORD to anger and jealousy, while on the other hand we find Manasseh the man who humbled himself before and in the sight of the LORD, and who as a result of his humility, the LORD would restore him to his place in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and the land of Judah. Essentially the narrative of Manasseh king of Judah would be one that would be characterized by his doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, his rebuilding that which his own father had torn down and destroyed, and his doing more to provoke the LORD to anger than would any of his fathers who would go before him. As a direct result of the evil which Manasseh would do in the midst of the land the LORD would allow him to be bound and carried away captive into Babylon where he would remain as a captive—that is, until he humbled himself before and in the sight of the LORD. If there is one thing that is so absolutely remarkable and astonishing concerning the narrative of Manasseh king of Judah, it’s that while his story and his narrative would begin with his doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and his provoking the LORD to anger and jealousy, it would not conclude that way, for in his captivity and in his bondage Manasseh would humble himself before and in the sight of the LORD—a reality which would be much like that of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It is at this juncture where I feel it is not only necessary to draw and call your attention to the narrative of Manasseh king of Judah, but also the narrative of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and how the LORD would bring him low and would humble him through exile and banishment. Consider if you will the words which are found and written in Scripture concerning these two kings—one who would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem, and one who would sit upon the throne in Babylon:

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: but did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD> And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wiazars: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, IN this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:1-9).

“And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and he was untreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him against to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD He was God. Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compasses about Ophel, and raised it up a very great heigh, and put captains of war in all the fence cities of Judah. And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. Nevertheless the people did sacrificed still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. His prayer also, and how God was I treated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead” (2 Chronicles 33:10-20).

“Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all the people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! And how mighty are his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream. Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying, O Betlteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the vision so my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation therefore. Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the night thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: the leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; he cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get way from under it, and the fowls from his branches: nevertheless leave the s trump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee” (Danial 4:1-18).

“Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lor, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight therefor to all the earth; whose leaves were Fria, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, evern with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him; This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots: thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility” (Daniel 4:19-28).

“All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellers and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase” (Daniel 4:29-37).

It’s interesting to read each of these narratives and passages found within the Old Testament books of Second Chronicles, as well as the prophetic book of Daniel, for here we have two distinct kings who each found themselves contending with the eternal King of kings, and the eternal Lord of lords. The more I read and consider the words which are found within these passages the more I come face to face with the tremendous reality that each of these kings found themselves—not only contending with their own pride and transgression before the LORD, but they would also find themselves contending with the eternal God who ruled and reigned over all kings and kingdoms within the earth. In the case and narrative of Manasseh it was his idolatry and his wickedness in the sight of the living God that caused him to be abased and brought low, and in the case and narrative of Nebuchadnezzar it was his pride, his arrogance, and his boasting before the LORD. Each of these narratives deal with and describe two distinct kings within two different kingdoms, and yet both kings found themselves contending with the eternal King who ruled and reigned over all kingdoms and all kings of the earth. What I find to be so absolutely incredible when reading these words is when you think about and consider the fact that idolatry has always and will always cause men and women to contend with the eternal King and the most High God. Idolatry has always positioned men and women in a place where they have to contend with the living and eternal God because it causes one’s heart to be divided before the living God. In a similar fashion, pride, arrogance and boasting position men and women to contend with the living God, and it was Nebuchadnezzar’s pride that was especially treacherous before the LORD—particularly when you consider his pride and arrogance in direct relation to the prophetic word which Isaiah declared concerning the king of Babylon, as well as the prophetic word which Ezekiel declared concerning the prince of Tyre. In order to truly understand why and how the pride and arrogance of Nebuchadnezzar was so treacherous and dangerous before the living and eternal God, it is necessary to consider the words which are written and recorded in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, as well as the twenty-eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel. Consider if you will the words found in each of these passages which not only describes the pride, the arrogance, the boasting, and the self-exaltation of men within the earth, but also something far more sinister and treacherous which was found in Lucifer who dared exalt himself above the eternal God, and who dared elevate his own throne above that of the living God:

“And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and form the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve, that thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! The golden city ceased! The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the scepter of the rulers. He who smote the people in warmth with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us. Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols:the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, the son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, and in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake the kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned. Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land” (Isaiah 14:3-21).

“The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the LORD God; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I set in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God: behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee: with thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: by thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches: therefore thus saith the LORD God; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? But thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the LORD God. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more” (Ezekiel 28:1-19).

When you read the words which are written and recorded within these passages of Scripture you will come face to face with a pride, an arrogance, a boasting, a rebellion that predated Nebuchadnezzar, and predated any earthly king which sat upon a throne established by men. The words found and recorded within these chapters bring us face to face with the pride and arrogance that was found within the heart of Lucifer who was the anointed cherub who walked in the midst of the stones of fire. What makes these words so incredibly powerful is that they show and reveal unto us the tremendous spirit that was behind the pride and arrogance that was found within the heart of Nebuchadnezzar, but also the tremendous idolatry and wickedness that was found within the heart of Manasseh. I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that what begins with idolatry and wickedness within the heart of Manasseh would ultimately and eventually result in his being taken into captivity and spending a period of time in exile in the midst of Babylon. It would be during his time in Babylon that he would humble himself greatly before the God of His fathers, that he would pray unto the living God and seek His face. What’s more, is that when you read the words which are written and recorded in the narrative of Manasseh, you will find that the LORD was intreated of Manasseh, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem and into his kingdom. Notice if you will that it was then that Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. What we must also realize and recognize concerning Manasseh is that not only did he beseech the LORD while he was in affliction, not only did he humble himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him, but upon returning to Jerusalem he would take away all the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, as well as all the altars which he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. Moreover, Manasseh would also repair the altar of the LORD, and would sacrifice upon it peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. This is truly important for us to recognize and understand, for through these words not only do we see the humility of Manasseh in the midst of the land of Babylon, but we also see the actions of Manasseh in the land of Judah. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this reality, for it is in direct alignment—not only with the words which Solomon prayed before the LORD when dedicating the Temple, and not only the words which the LORD spoke unto Solomon that same night, but also the words of the prayer which Daniel would pray while in the midst of the strange and foreign land. Consider if you will the prayer which Solomon prayed before the LORD concerning those who would entreat the LORD their God while in a foreign place, as well as the response of the LORD to Solomon, and the prayer which Daniel prayed before the LORD his God in that foreign place:

“And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication fore thee in this house; then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest them and to their fathers. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if thy pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance. If there be a dearth in the land, if there be a pestilence, if there be blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillars; if their enemies besiege them in the cities of their land, whatsoever sore or whatsoever sickness there be: then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, When every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house: then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto everything man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men) that they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers. Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name’s sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house; then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name. If thy people go out to war against their enemies by the way that thou shalt send them, and they pray unto theee toward this city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name; then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. If thy sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; if they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant” (2 Chronicles 6:24-42).

“Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD, and the king’s house: and all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the LORD, and in his own house, he prosperously effected. And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (2 Chronicles 7:11-16).

“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the LORD GOD, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O LORD, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: neither have we harkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, to all the people of the land. O LORD, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of vices, as at this days; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O LORD, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the LORD our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him; neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey they voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we mighty turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the veil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. And now, O LORD our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast go teen thee renown, at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O LORD< according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are becoming a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the LORD’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies. O LORD, hear; O LORD, forgive; O LORD, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name” (Daniel 9:1-19).

It’s worth noting the words which Solomon prayed before the LORD at the dedication of the Temple, for when praying before the LORD Solomon specifically asked the LORD that if His people were captive in a strange and foreign land, and if they humbled themselves, and prayed, and turned from their wicked ways, then would the LORD hear from heaven. It should be pointed out that when the LORD spoke to Solomon in response to his prayer, He emphatically declared that if His people which were called by His name would humble themselves, and pray, seek his face, and turn from their wicked ways, then would He hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land. Notice the essential prerequisites that are found within this verse, as not only does the LORD mention humility, and not only does the LORD mention prayer and seeking His face, but the LORD also mentions turning from their wicked ways. In all reality—and if we are being honest with ourselves—we must wholeheartedly admit that the great need which Manasseh faced when he found himself in captivity was not only humility, but also prayer and seeking the face of God. What makes the narrative of Manasseh so incredibly intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that while in captivity and while in his affliction Manasseh would humble himself, would pray, and would seek the face of God, and in response to his humility and prayer, the LORD would bring him back into Jerusalem, and would restore the kingdom unto him. What makes this even more intriguing is when you think about the fact that Manasseh is the only king in the books of First and Second Kings, as well as the book of Second Chronicles who actually had the kingdom and throne restored to him. IF you read and study the history of the kings which reigned over the people of God from the time of Saul until the time of both the Assyrian captivity, as well as the Babylonian captivity, you will find that Manasseh was perhaps the only king who was removed from the kingdom, had the kingdom removed from his hand, and would not only be brought back to the kingdom, but would also be given the kingdom once more. One of the first things you notice about Manasseh within this passage of Scripture is that he reigned over Judah from Jerusalem for fifty-five years, which was three years longer than even Uzziah reigned. This is quite astonishing and remarkable when you think about and consider it, for there were a number of kings who had the kingdom ripped from their hands and never restored—Saul, Jeroboam, Baasha, Ahab, Jehu, and now we have Manasseh.

What is truly intriguing and captivating about this reality is that during the reigns of the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel the LORD would not only the kingdom from specific kings, but he would also destroy the house of that king as well. The LORD would not only remove the kingdom from the hands of Saul, from the hands of Jeroboam son of Nebat, from the hands of Baasha, from the hands of Ahab, and from the hands of Jehu, but He would also destroy the house which those kings represented. The only difference in all of Scripture is in the house of David, for although the LORD would rend ten tribes from the house of David during the days of Rehoboam, He would leave two tribes under the control and dominion of the house of David. This is in direct alignment with the prophetic word the LORD spoke unto David concerning an everlasting house that would be built from his flesh, and that his sons would sit upon his throne in the midst of the people of God. Despite the fact that the LORD declared unto Solomon that He would rend the kingdom out of his hands during the days of his son Solomon, He would not rend the kingdom entirely out of his hands, but would leave the tribes of Benjamin and Judah under the dominion of the throne of David. What we find within the narrative of Manasseh is not only the preservation of the house of David according to the prophetic word spoken unto David, but we also find the restoration of Manasseh to the throne and kingdom in direct response to the humility he exercised while in captivity and affliction. It’s worth noting concerning Manasseh that it was while in captivity and while in affliction he humbled himself and besought the LORD through prayer, yet his humility would actually translate into actions. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is not whether we are humbling ourselves alone, but whether or not we are turning from our wicked ways. What we see within the narrative of Manasseh king of Judah is that he humbled himself in the midst of his affliction, he prayed and entreated the living God while in captivity, and when he was actually restored to the land of Judah, and when he was restored to the kingdom, he turned from his wicked ways. Through Manasseh we see a powerful picture a king who thoroughly amended his ways after humbling himself before the LORD, and while in captivity, crying out to the LORD in prayer and supplication. Through the narrative of Manasseh we find one who was cast into captivity as a direct result of his sin, transgression and iniquity, and in the midst of that captivity he humbled himself. It’s worth noting that as a captive he humbled himself, and as a free man he turned from his wicked ways. In other words, his repentance wasn’t merely through humility and prayer alone, but through a full, complete and thorough amending of his ways. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely astonishing reality, for what we find in the narrative and life of Manasseh is a truly powerful picture of one who was willing to humble himself before the LORD, and through prayer would beseech the living and eternal God.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I can’t help but be reminded of the words which were written and recorded in the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel. If you turn and direct your attention to the words within this chapter you will find the LORD powerfully declaring that the soul which sins shall die, but also declaring that the soul which repents shall indeed live before the living and eternal God. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded within the eighteenth chapter of this prophetic book of Ezekiel beginning with the first verse:

“The word of the LORd came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye yes this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the LORD God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’ s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, and hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; he that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the LORD God. If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things, and that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife, hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? He shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, that hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden his pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, that hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live. As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity. Yet say he, Why? Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statures, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? Saith the LORD God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, The way of the LORD is not equal. Hear no, O house of Israel; is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal? When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the LORD is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? Are not your ways unequal? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the LORD God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the LORD God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye” (Ezekiel 18:1-32).

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