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NOTIONS CONCERNING GOD CONTAINED IN THE REMAINING
HISTORICAL BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
The Books of the Kings and the Chronicles. The notions concerning God contained in the Historical Books of the Old Testament are very inferior to those found in some of the writings of the Prophets : for in the former Jehovah is invariably portrayed from the contracted and one-sided point of view, namely, his relation to his own people.
The religious history of the Jewish people, from the time of Moses to the period of the Babylonian exile, presents a series of vacillations between the worship of Jehovah, and that of the Gods of the surrounding nations. The people always wish to serve that God, who they think will render them the most powerful assistance and protection : and the succour which they cannot obtain from one God, they seek to procure from another. They are of the same opinion with Ahaz.
“ He sacrificed unto the Gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the Gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me.”—2 Chronicles xxviii. 23.
Representations of God. The representations given of God in these Books are generally those of a merely national-God—the God of the Hebrews—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“ Ye children of Israel, turn again unto Jehovah the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant
of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.
2 Chron. xxx. 6 and 7. Numerous quotations might, if necessary, be brought forward.
In the kingdom of Israel Jehovah, like the Egyptian God Apis, is worshipped under the figure of a calf. Two golden calves, one in Bethel and the other in Dan represent the God who brought the Israelites up out of the land of Egypt. The setting up of these calves was the sin of Jeroboam, which the kings who succeeded him departed not from following after, and against which the prophets were so zealous.
Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.”
1 Kings xii. 28-30. The popular belief was not the belief of the enlightened among the Hebrews. Their sages and prophets worshipped but one God-Jehovah. Some traces of a monotheistic faith are consequently met with in these Books.
Elijah came unto all the people and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If Jehovah be God follow him: but if
Baal then follow him.”—1 Kings xviii. 21.
• O Jehovah God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven?
2 Chron. xxiii. 16. Naaman is made to say
Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth but Israel.”--2 Kings v. 15.
“Hezekiah prayed before Jehovah, and said, O Jehovah, God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Jehovah bow down thine eas,
and hear: open Jehovah thine eyes and see: and hear the
living God.”—2 Kings xix. 15, 16.
“I saw Jehovah sitting on his throne, and all the hosts of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left."
Character and Attributes of God. The attributes of power and might, glory and majesty, so frequently mentioned as the characteristics of God in the Psalms, are ascribed to Jehovah by David in the Book of the Chronicles.
“Thine, O Jehovah, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine ; thine is the kingdom, O Jehovah, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.”—
2 Chron. xxix. 11, 12. Jehovah is omniscient, and all things are under his control.
“But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.”
2 Kings xix. 27, 28. To his own people Jehovah is gracious and merciful, because of the covenant he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“ And Jehovah was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet."
2 Kings xiii. 23. “ For Jehovah saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel. And Jehovah said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven : but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash."
2 Kings xiv, 26, 27.
Jehovah is provoked to anger and jealousy by the worship of other gods.
“And Judah did evil in the sight of Jehovah, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done.".
1 Kings xiv. 22. “And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of Jehovah to provoke him to anger. Therefore Jehovah was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. Also Judah kept not the commandments of Jehovah their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And Jehovah rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.”— 2 Kings xvii. 17-20. Jehovah is very vindictive. The instances of his vengeance are very numerous ; the most striking perhaps is that related in Chronicles; where, in his wrath against Ahaziah, for having sent to inquire of the god of Ekron whether he should recover from disease, Jehovah not only causes the king to die, but he sends his fire from heaven to consume the two captains and their two bands of fifty each, who were sent by Ahaziah to Elijah.
“And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties : therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight.”—2 Kings i. 13, 14. Humility before God, fasting, and the wearing of sackcloth will turn away the anger of Jehovah, and secure his favour.
“And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. And the word of Jehovah came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me ? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.”—1 Kings xxi. 27-29.
Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that
the wrath of Jehovah came not upon them in the days of Heze-
Government and Providence of God. The historical writers of the Old Testament never fail to consider everything that happens as the work of Jehovah. They do not inquire or decide whether or not he employs intermediate means: without troubling themselves on this point, they refer all events to his continually interfering providence. It is difficult to select from examples which are so numerous, and occupy so large a share of their entire writings.
It is Jehovah who commands the ten tribes to revolt from Rehoboam.
“ Thus saith Jehovah, ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel : return every man to his house ; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of Jehovah, and returned to depart, according to the word of Jehovah."-1 Kings xii. 24. Jehovah excites terror in the enemy's army, and thus puts it to flight.
" Jehovah had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host : and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.”
2 Kings vii. 6, 7. He delivers his people into the hands of foreign powers.
" And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael, all their days."
—2 Kings xiii. 3. He raises up enemies against Judah.
“In those days Jehovah began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah.
2 Kings xv. 37. When the king of Assyria brings men from Babylon, and places them in the cities of Samaria, in the place of the children of Israel, Jehovah sends lions among them to slay them, because they do not worship “the God of the land.”