Series: Thru the Bible
***Video is HERE***
Israel’s last kings before their Last King
Thru the Bible: 2Kings 23:31-25:30; 2Chron. 36:1-23
Tonight is going to be a little unique in that we are finishing up our long trek through 1Samuel through 2Kings & 2Choronicles. Also, I am handing out a chart on which is a preliminary list of the kings over the Jews during their time in the Promised land along with the prophets ministries which corresponded to each king’s reign.
I REALLY wanted to read the prophecies which corresponded to each of these kings as we were going along through these books (and some of sometimes we did that a little) but to do that, you would have had to keep to many mental balls in the air at one time and it would have made my study and prep time MUCH more difficult, so I opted to do it this way. Though now in retrospect I am having regrets about that decision.
So tonight to make it clearer to you just how rich and detailed is the information we have regarding the events we have so far covered – when you overlay on top of them the prophecies they were hearing at the same time and thus their culpability for their wrong doing – it paints not only a clearer picture of what happened, but it also offers us a deeper and richer understanding of the workings of God.
- He is the One working in each individual heart.
- He is the One going ahead of us and causing certain people to be born and raise them to power in order to maintain justice and steer hearts towards loyalty.
- He is the One who influences the hearts of Israel’s kings.
- He is the One Who influences the hearts of the kings surrounding Israel
- He is the One who speaks faithfully to His people through His prophets.
…and He is doing ALL of this – ALL at the same time!
So the actual full picture is much greater than what we have learned so far.
It is like when we learn of the things going on behind the scenes of political decisions, years after they happen. At the time, all we knew, made certain decisions look perplexing, but when we understand those things which could not be made public knowledge at the time, we gain a perspective that gives us something approaching “the whole story”.
So turn with me to 2Kings 23:31…
Kings Jehoahaz and Eliakim
“(31) Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king; he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah.”
You may or may not remember that the great Prophet Jeremiah, who was the son of Hilkiah the priest (Jer. 1:1-6) had his ministry during this time period of Israel’s history.
King Josiah, who we just had the privilege of studying last week, had married Hamutal, Jeremiah’s daughter.
One of the things which helps to clarify this is the rather extensive list of genealogies we had to struggle through the pronunciation of in the first few chapters of 1Choronicles (and by we I mean me).
Jeremiah’s ministry spanned somewhere between approxiamtely 626-586 B.C.
His name is difficult to tack down the meaning of but it could mean either “the Lord raises up” or “the Lord loosens,” either of which fits his task-to prophesy the rising and/or falling of nations.
His message was pivotal both for their time and ours. Many Christians just cannot seem to wrap their head around the notion that God would bring His people into judgment or that He would literally raise up and appoint a pagan king to rule over them…but such was the message God had placed into Jeremiah’s mouth to His rebellious people.
In the book of Jeremiah, his prophecies to Judah, warning and encouraging them to submit to God’s servant Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. He prophesied the Lord’s word under Josiah on through the debacle of Jehoiakim’s reign and Zedekiah’s reign, the last king of Judah.
We are going to read a small snippet of what Israel and these last few kings knew and heard from Jeremiah before we read what they did. I am hoping this approach will offer you a greater perspective of what was actually going on and WHY these kings were as responsible and culpable for their wayward actions. They were acting in rebellion against things they had been warned about.
“(1) This is the word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah (which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon). (2) The prophet Jeremiah spoke concerning all the people of Judah and all the residents of Jerusalem as follows: (3) “From the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until this very day–23 years–the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken to you time and time again, but you have not obeyed. (4) The LORD sent all His servants the prophets to you time and time again, but you have not obeyed or even paid attention. (5) He announced, ‘Turn, each of you, from your evil way of life and from your evil deeds. Live in the land the LORD gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. (6) Do not follow other gods to serve them and to worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger by the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm. (7) “‘But you would not obey Me’–this is the LORD’s declaration–‘in order that you might provoke Me to anger by the work of your hands and bring disaster on yourselves.’ (8) “Therefore, this is what the LORD of Hosts says: ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, (9) I am going to send for all the families of the north’–this is the LORD’s declaration–‘and send for My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will bring them against this land, against its residents, and against all these surrounding nations, and I will completely destroy them and make them a desolation, a derision, and ruins forever. (10) I will eliminate the sound of joy and gladness from them–the voice of the bridegroom and the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. (11) This whole land will become a desolate ruin, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years. (12) When the 70 years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation’–this is the LORD’s declaration–‘the land of the Chaldeans, for their guilt, and I will make it a ruin forever. (13) I will bring on that land all My words I have spoken against it, all that is written in this book that Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. (14) For many nations and great kings will enslave them, and I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.'”
If we were to keep reading in this chapter the Pharaoh is mentioned, Persia (Elam), Babylon, Aram, Moab, Ammon and more…all of which you will see mentioned in these accounts in Kings and Chronicles.
Now we will continue on in the historical record afforded us in Kings and Chronicles and then circle back around to Jeremiah as we close.
“(32) He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight just as his ancestors had done.
(33) Pharaoh Neco imprisoned him at Riblah in the land of Hamath to keep him from reigning in Jerusalem, and he imposed on the land a fine of 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold.”
“(34) Then Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Jehoahaz and went to Egypt, and he died there.”
“(35) So Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but at Pharaoh’s command he taxed the land to give the money. He exacted the silver and the gold from the people of the land, each man according to his valuation, to give it to Pharaoh Neco. (36) Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king; he reigned 11 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah; she was from Rumah. (37) He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight just as his ancestors had done.”
“(1) During his reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him.
(2) The LORD sent Chaldean, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiders against Jehoiakim. He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD He had spoken through His servants the prophets. (3) This happened to Israel only at the LORD’s command to remove them from His sight. It was because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all he had done, (4) and also because of all the innocent blood he had shed. He had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not forgive.
(5) The rest of the events of Jehoiakim’s reign, along with all his accomplishments, are written about in the Historical Record of Judah’s Kings. (6) Jehoiakim rested with his fathers, and his son Jehoiachin became king in his place. (7) Now the king of Egypt did not march out of his land again, for the king of Babylon took everything that belonged to the king of Egypt, from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River.”
“(1) Then the common people took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and made him king in Jerusalem in place of his father.
(2) Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king; he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
(3) The king of Egypt deposed him in Jerusalem and fined the land 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold. (4) Then Neco king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took his brother Jehoahaz and brought him to Egypt.
(5) Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king; he reigned 11 years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God.
(6) Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him in bronze shackles to take him to Babylon.
(7) Also Nebuchadnezzar took some of the utensils of the LORD’s temple to Babylon and put them in his temple in Babylon.
(8) The rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim, the detestable things he did, and what was found against him, are written about in the Book of Israel’s Kings. His brother Jehoiachin became king in his place.”
Kings Jehoiachin & Zedekiah
“(9) Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he became king; he reigned three months and 10 days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight.
(10) In the spring Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and brought him to Babylon along with the valuable utensils of the LORD’s temple. Then he made Jehoiachin’s brother Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.
(11) Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king; he reigned 11 years in Jerusalem.
(12) He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet at the LORD’s command.
(13) He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear allegiance by God. He became obstinate and hardened his heart against returning to the LORD God of Israel.
(14) All the leaders of the priests and the people multiplied their unfaithful deeds, imitating all the detestable practices of the nations, and they defiled the LORD’s temple that He had consecrated in Jerusalem. (15) But the LORD God of their ancestors sent word against them by the hand of his messengers, sending them time and time again, for He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. (16) But they kept ridiculing God’s messengers, despising His words, and scoffing at His prophets, until the LORD’s wrath was so stirred up against His people that there was no remedy.
(17) So He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their choice young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary. He had no pity on young man and virgin or elderly and aged; He handed them all over to him. (18) He took everything to Babylon–all the articles of God’s temple, large and small, the treasures of the LORD’s temple, and the treasures of the king and his officials.
(19) Then the Chaldeans burned God’s temple. They tore down Jerusalem’s wall, burned down all its palaces, and destroyed all its valuable utensils.
(20) Those who escaped from the sword he deported to Babylon, and they became servants to him and his sons until the rise of the Persian kingdom.
(21) This fulfilled the word of the LORD through Jeremiah and the land enjoyed its Sabbath rest all the days of the desolation until 70 years were fulfilled.
(22) In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the LORD spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled.
The LORD put it into the mind of King Cyrus of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and also to put it in writing: (23) This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a temple at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever among you of His people may go up, and may the LORD his God be with him.”
“(8) Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he became king; he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem.
(9) He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight as his father had done. (10) At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched up to Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.
(11) Then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it.
(12) Jehoiachin king of Judah, along with his mother, his servants, his commanders, and his officials, surrendered to the king of Babylon. So the king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign. (13) He also carried off from there all the treasures of the LORD’s temple and the treasures of the king’s palace, and he cut into pieces all the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the LORD’s sanctuary, just as God had predicted. (14) Then he deported all Jerusalem and all the commanders and all the fighting men, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and metalsmiths. Except for the poorest people of the land, nobody remained.”
Because we JUST covered this in 2Kings 20 with King Hezekiah you probably remember this prediction given him by Isaiah the Prophet. Let’s read it…
“(12) At that time Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a gift to Hezekiah since he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. (13) Hezekiah gave them a hearing and showed them his whole treasure house–the silver, the gold, the spices, and the precious oil–and his armory, and everything that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his palace and in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. (14) Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did these men say, and where did they come to you from?” Hezekiah replied, “They came from a distant country, from Babylon.” (15) Isaiah asked, “What have they seen in your palace?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen everything in my palace. There isn’t anything in my treasuries that I didn’t show them.” (16) Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: (17) ‘The time will certainly come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until this day will be carried off to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the LORD. (18) ‘Some of your descendants who come from you will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.'”
“(15) Nebuchadnezzar deported Jehoiachin to Babylon. Also, he took the king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the leading men of the land into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. (16) The king of Babylon also brought captive into Babylon all 7,000 fighting men and 1,000 craftsmen and metalsmiths–all strong and fit for war.
(17) Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah.
(18) Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king; he reigned 11 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah.
(19) Zedekiah did what was evil in the LORD’s sight just as Jehoiakim had done.
(20) Because of the LORD’s anger, it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that He finally banished them from His presence.
Then, Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.”
“(1) In the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem with his entire army. They laid siege to the city and built a siege wall against it all around.
(2) The city was under siege until King Zedekiah’s eleventh year. (3) By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that the people of the land had no food.
(4) Then the city was broken into, and all the warriors fled by night by way of the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, even though the Chaldeans surrounded the city. As the king made his way along the route to the Arabah, (5) the Chaldean army pursued him and overtook him in the plains of Jericho.
Zedekiah’s entire army was scattered from him.
(6) The Chaldeans seized the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him.
(7) They slaughtered Zedekiah’s sons before his eyes. Finally, the king of Babylon blinded Zedekiah, bound him in bronze chains, and took him to Babylon.
(8) On the seventh day of the fifth month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guards, a servant of the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem.
(9) He burned the LORD’s temple, the king’s palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem; he burned down all the great houses. (10) The whole Chaldean army with the commander of the guards tore down the walls surrounding Jerusalem. (11) Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guards, deported the rest of the people who were left in the city, the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the population. (12) But the commander of the guards left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and farmers.
(13) Now the Chaldeans broke into pieces the bronze pillars of the LORD’s temple, the water carts, and the bronze reservoir, which were in the LORD’s temple, and carried the bronze to Babylon. (14) They also took the pots, the shovels, the wick trimmers, the dishes, and all the bronze articles used in temple service. (15) The commander of the guards took away the firepans and the sprinkling basins–whatever was gold or silver.
(16) As for the two pillars, the one reservoir, and the water carts that Solomon had made for the LORD’s temple, the weight of the bronze of all these articles was beyond measure.
(17) One pillar was 27 feet tall and had a bronze capital on top of it. [1Kings 7:15] The capital, encircled by a grating and pomegranates of bronze, stood five feet high. The second pillar was the same, with its own grating. (18) The commander of the guards also took away Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest of the second rank, and the three doorkeepers.
(19) From the city he took a court official who had been appointed over the warriors; five trusted royal aides found in the city; the secretary of the commander of the army, who enlisted the people of the land for military duty; and 60 men from the common people who were found within the city.
(20) Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guards, took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. (21) The king of Babylon put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah went into exile from its land.”
Jeremiah’s friend governs Judah
“(22) Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, over the rest of the people he left in the land of Judah. (23) When all the commanders of the armies–they and their men–heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. The commanders included Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite–they and their men.
(24) Gedaliah swore an oath to them and their men, assuring them, “Don’t be afraid of the servants of the Chaldeans. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well for you.”
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown on this event…
Gedaliah was Jeremiah’s friend (Jer. 26:24), and having, by the prophet’s counsel, probably fled from the city as abandoned of God, he surrendered himself to the conqueror (Jer. 38:2,17), and being promoted to the government of Judea, fixed his provincial court at Mizpeh. He was well qualified to surmount the difficulties of ruling at such a crisis. Many of the fugitive Jews, as well as the soldiers of Zedekiah who had accompanied the king in his flight to the plains of Jericho, left their retreats (Jer. 40:11, 12) and flocked around the governor; who having counseled them to submit, promised them on complying with this condition, security on oath that they would retain their possessions and enjoy the produce of their land (Jer. 40:9).
“(25) In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with 10 men and struck down Gedaliah, and he died. Also, they killed the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah.
(26) Then all the people, from the youngest to the oldest, and the commanders of the army, left and went to Egypt, for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.”
You see the Chaldean’s had mounted a resistance movement against King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and so they viewed and despised Gedaliah as a collaborator and traitor.
Jehoiachin Released from Prison
“(27) On the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month of the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Judah’s King Jehoiachin, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year he became king, pardoned King Jehoiachin of Judah and released him from prison.
(28) He spoke kindly to him and set his throne over the thrones of the kings who were with him in Babylon. (29) So Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes, and he dined regularly in the presence of the king of Babylon for the rest of his life. (30) As for his allowance, a regular allowance was given to him by the king, a portion for each day, for the rest of his life.”
This last portion reads nearly identical to the account given in Jeremiah 52:31-34.
Jeremiah’s ministry continued in an environment of hostility against him. He was regularly harassed and threatened by Judah and their leaders as well as by false prophets, such as Hananiah (Jer. 26-28).
Jeremiah had counseled and prophesied submission to Babylon, which is why his friend Gedaliah encouraged it.
Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet for many reasons, not least of which was his charge to pronounce God’s judgment on the people and nations for breaking covenant with God.
Jer. 11:1-23, “(1) This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: (2) “Listen to the words of this covenant, and tell them to the men of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem. (3) You must tell them: This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Let a curse be on the man who does not obey the words of this covenant, (4) which I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron furnace. I declared: ‘Obey Me, and do everything that I command you, and you will be My people, and I will be your God,’ (5) in order to establish the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is today.” I answered, “Amen, LORD.” (6) The LORD said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Obey the words of this covenant and carry them out. (7) For I strongly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt until today, warning them time and time again: Obey My voice. (8) Yet they would not obey or pay attention; each one followed the stubbornness of his evil heart. So I brought on them all the curses of this covenant, because they had not done what I commanded them to do.” (9) The LORD said to me, “A conspiracy has been discovered among the men of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem. (10) They have returned to the sins of their ancestors who refused to obey My words and have followed other gods to worship them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah broke My covenant I made with their ancestors. (11) “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I am about to bring on them disaster that they cannot escape. They will cry out to Me, but I will not hear them. (12) Then the cities of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods they have been burning incense to, but they certainly will not save them in their time of disaster. (13) Your gods are indeed as numerous as your cities, Judah, and the altars you have set up to Shame–altars to burn incense to Baal–as numerous as the streets of Jerusalem. (14) “As for you, do not pray for these people. Do not raise up a cry or a prayer on their behalf, for I will not be listening when they call out to Me at the time of their disaster. (15) What right does My beloved have to be in My house, having carried out so many evil schemes? Can holy meat prevent your disaster so you can rejoice? (16) The LORD named you a flourishing olive tree, beautiful with well-formed fruit. He has set fire to it, and its branches are consumed with a great roaring sound. (17) “The LORD of Hosts who planted you has decreed disaster against you, because of the harm the house of Israel and the house of Judah brought on themselves, provoking Me to anger by burning incense to Baal.”
Jeremiah here digresses to notice the attempt on his life plotted by his townsmen of Anathoth. He had no suspicion of it, until the Lord revealed it to him as is recorded here and in the following chapter 12 verse 6.
“(18) The LORD informed me, so I knew. Then You helped me to see their deeds, (19) for I was like a docile lamb led to slaughter. I didn’t know that they had devised plots against me: “Let’s destroy the tree with its fruit; let’s cut him off from the land of the living so that his name will no longer be remembered.” (20) But, LORD of Hosts, who judges righteously, who tests heart and mind, let me see Your vengeance on them, for I have presented my case to You. (21) Therefore, here is what the LORD says concerning the people of Anathoth who want to take your life. They warn, “You must not prophesy in the name of the LORD, or you will certainly die at our hand.” (22) Therefore, this is what the LORD of Hosts says: “I am about to punish them. The young men will die by the sword; their sons and daughters will die by famine. (23) They will have no remnant, for I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.”
Though all of this disaster was prophesied and accomplished, God gave Jeremiah the honor to decreeing future hope for Israel in the establishment of a New Covenant which we have referenced many times over the years as fulfilled in Romans 2:15.
Jer. 31:31-34, “Look, the days are coming”–this is the LORD’s declaration–“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (32) This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt–a covenant they broke even though I had married them”–the LORD’s declaration. (33) “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”–the LORD’s declaration. “I will place My law within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. (34) No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying: Know the LORD, for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them”–the LORD’s declaration. “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.”
Jeremiah describes the seventy-year exile they would undergo, but also of their glorious return in Jeremiah 25, part of which we read at the beginning tonight.
Jeremiah poured out oracles of judgment on the nations (Jer. 46-52), but he counseled Israel to circumcise their hearts (Jer. 4:4) to the Lord. His prophecies went unheeded. So he went into a forced exile of his own in Egypt, where he uttered some concluding prophecies recorded in Jer. 42-44.
Again, the time period of Jeremiah’s ministry was approximately 626-586 B.C. a period of about 40 years.
Greater Israel’s earlier deportation to Assyria took place between 734-724 BC.
Judah’s 70 year exile to Babylon began about 120 years later in approximately 608BC and lasted until about 538BC. (though some believe it was from 586BC to 516BC).
We will be doing a great deal of correlating all of this as we go forward!
Next week we will probably have a bit of an overview/review of these six books.
Then we will have a short break in which we will have a topic driven message or two by your requests then we will have a few game nights to solidify all we have learned from 1Samuel – 2Choronicles.
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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