Some events from the past are tipping points, that is, if they had had a different outcome than they did, our world would be utterly and completely different, maybe unrecognizable to us. The events in the scriptures we talk about today are one of those key tipping points in history where the entire future of the world hung in the balance.
Some events from the past are tipping points, that is, if they had had a different outcome than they did, our world would be utterly and completely different, maybe unrecognizable to us. The events in the scriptures we talk about today are one of those key tipping points in history where the entire future of the world hung in the balance. We’ll talk about that earth-shaking, ancient tipping point in the world’s history today.
Hello, we’re Scot and Maurine Proctor, and this is Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast where today we will talk about the explosive events tucked into 2 Kings 17-25. The history and context of the times will give the spiritual realities discussed in this chapter vital meaning.
After the death of Solomon, about 928 BC, the kingdom that David had united split. They became the kingdom of Israel in the north, which loosely contained ten tribes, and the kingdom of Judah in the south, which was largely made up of Judah’s descendants. These two small nations were a vital land bridge, squeezed between the two major super powers of the day—Assyria and Egypt. Both Judah and Israel had certain strengths. Judah had copper and iron resources, but Israel, in the north, had better rainfall and a more fertile land. Both benefited in their position as a land bridge, meaning, they could bring in considerable wealth through trade, but unfortunately, it meant that they were often a battle zone between Egypt and Assyria, their larger neighbors.
Though, the northern kingdom of Israel and Judah in the south had come from the same origins as the Children of Israel, they were often rivals at war with each other, a condition that kept both of them weak. In the north of the twenty monarchs that ruled, every one was violent, reckless and idol-worshipping. These twenty kings came from five family dynasties, and it became common for a new king to kill all the descendants of a previous leader to assure his place.
During the two—hundred-year period from the death of Solomon until the destruction of the northern kingdom, both kingdoms experienced times of independence and times in vassal statue. Both spent some time allied with and paying tribute to Egypt and both were likewise allied or paying tribute to Assyria.
This is ironic and tragic because the Lord had told His people, as part of the covenant promise, that the promised land was theirs and that he would protect and prosper them there, as the people were true to the covenant.
This idea is familiar to our ears, because the Lord made the same covenant promise to Lehi about the promised land his family was led to. God told Lehi when they arrived in the promised land of the Americas, that “if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:7). This idea is so crucial to our understanding, that it is repeated more than 38 times, in one way or another, in the Book of Mormon.
If they had stayed their hearts upon the Lord and lived His commandments, the people in the northern kingdom, called Israel, would have had that same blessing and Assyria would have never been a threat to them. Instead, 2 Kings 17 describes the northern kingdom. “They sinned against the Lord their God” and “walked in the statutes of the heathen” and they build them “high places in all their cities” and “they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree.” “They followed vanity and became vain” and they “made them molten images”.
We hardly have a sense of what all this means, but here’s a reminder, for instance, of what a grove is. It is setting up a living tree or a tree-like pole as an object of worship as a symbol of the female or productive principle in nature. It became a place of nature worship that included gross sexual immorality.
In 2 Kings 17: 20, “we are told that the Lord 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”
Here’s how it happened. Hoshea, king of Israel in a nine-year reign, attempted to throw off the Assyrian yoke, by paying tribute to Egypt. It was a deadly and fatal mistake. The Assyrian army was vicious, the most brutal army perhaps to ever walk the earth, and their attack on the northern kingdom by Shalmaneser V in 722 BC was deadly and sure. When he died in December of that year, his successor Sargon II continued the decimation of the northern kingdom and carried away the tribes randomly to other lands and made Samaria a province of Assyria.
Assyria’s strategy was to depopulate a land and then repopulate it with other people. In that way, they believed they could quell rebellion by scattering a conquered people as slaves throughout their empire. This also meant, of course, that the ten tribes were no longer part of the promised land and came to be known to us as the “lost” 10 tribes. Where were they placed? Where did they go? Did they just become assimilated with other people? Many hidden stories are waiting to be told here. Certainly what they lost was their sense of being a covenant people. They were lost from their heritage, lost from their God, and lost from themselves.By the time Shalmaneser was finished, Israel was no more.
What makes this all especially interesting is that these tribes are our ancestors, scattered to the wind and lost. It also becomes clear why President Russell M. Nelson, would plead with us to gather Israel on both sides of the veil. The ten tribes were scattered, and now they must be gathered again.
In Russia, Wendy Watson Nelson addressed a group and asked an unusual question. She said, “I’d like to get to know you by lineage. Please stand as the name of the tribe of Israel, which declared in your patriarchal blessing is spoken.” She said, “While the women knew each other well, they didn’t know each other’s lineage. She said everyone was thrilled with what they were witnessing, feeling and being taught as each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel were announced. We were being taught about the reality of the day in which we now live,” Sister Nelson said.
In the small gathering of fewer than 100 women in Moscow, 11 of the Twelve tribes were represented, every tribe, but Levi. https://universe.byu.edu/2015/04/30/womens-conference-sister-wendy-watson-nelson/
Some of the people in that northern kingdom, of course, stayed on the land, and then intermarried with other peoples. Some were carried off never to return. In Christ’s time, the former northern kingdom was known as Samaria. This was a place much-disdained and frowned upon by the observant Jews. They considered the Samaritans a mongrel lot, who had mixed up and destroyed the gospel. When the people in Jerusalem headed north toward the Galilee, they carefully avoided walking through Samaria. You remember that when the Savior asked the woman at the well for a drink during his ministry that she was surprised that he would speak to a Samaritan.
Now, of course, after the northern kingdom was decimated by Assyria, it was clear that the southern kingdom would be next, if they in any way defied the Assyrians or did not pay them tribute money, they would vanish in history just like the northern kingdom and the ten tribes.
Fortunately, Judah had a righteous king on the throne then named Hezekiah, who was a great religious and political reformer, broke the idols of the people and initiated widespread and righteous changes. “He suppressed idolatry and reconstituted the temple services”, and he had, to advise and help him, the incomparable prophet, Isaiah. Seeing their vulnerability before the mighty Assyrian army, Hezekiah began to prepare to defend Jerusalem.
The cry that the Assyrians were coming would strike terror into every heart. When you say that one ancient country decimated and sacked another, it sounds so abstract and long ago, but let’s give you a clearer picture of what that meant. We will reference the book by Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart called The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World.
The Stewarts write, “The Assyrian army could hardly be defeated, for they were the mightiest and most brutal army in the world. That being true, there was no conceivable alternative other than to destroy a city once an order had been given, its obliteration having been determined by the Great King Sennacherib himself.”
Their kings required them to war every year to appease their gods, and they went like locusts through the world with armies of 50,000 to 200,000.
They had taken 46 cities in the land, and as they approached Lachish, the city second only to Jerusalem in importance, there was no doubt that the city was going to die. “The destruction of the city had always been as certain as the rising of the sun or the coming or the moon. Anu, the king of gods, had demanded it of them. There was no longer any choice. Victory being their sacred obligation, they could no more deny their religious duty to expand the kingdom than they could command the wind to stand still.” Victory was inevitable and resistance futile.
The Stewarts write of the Assyrians, “A captured city was usually plundered and burnt to the ground, and its site was deliberately denuded by killing its trees. The loyalty of the troops was secured by dividing a large part of the spoils among them; their bravery was ensured by the general rule of the Near East that all captives in war might be enslaved or slain. Soldiers were rewarded for every severed head they brought in from the field, so that the aftermath of a victory generally witnessed the wholesale decapitation of fallen foes. Most often the prisoners, who would have consumed much food in a long campaign, and would have constituted a danger and nuisance in the rear, were dispatched after the battle; they knelt with their backs to their captors, who beat their heads in with clubs, or cut them off with cutlasses. Scribes stood by to count the number of prisoners taken and killed by each soldier, and apportioned the booty accordingly; the king, if time permitted, presided at the slaughter. The nobles among the defeated were given more special treatment: their ears, noses, hands and feet were sliced off, or they were thrown from high towers, or they and their children were beheaded, or flayed alive, or roasted over a slow fire.
“Ashurbanipal boasts that I burned three thousand captives with fire, I left not a single one among them alive to serve as a hostage.” Another of his inscriptions reads: “These warriors who had sinned against Ashur and had plotted evil against me . . . from their hostile mouths have I torn their tongues, and I have compassed their destruction. As for the others who remained alive, I offered them as a funerary sacrifice; . . . their lacerated members have I given unto the dogs, the swine, the wolves. . . . By accomplishing these deeds I have rejoiced the heart of the great gods.” Another monarch instructs his artisans to engrave upon the bricks these claims on the admiration of posterity: “My war chariots crush men and beasts. . . . The monuments which I erect are made of human corpses from which I have cut the head and limbs. I cut off the hands of all those whom I capture alive.” Reliefs at Nineveh show men being impaled or flayed, or having their tongues torn out; one shows a king gouging out the eyes of prisoners with a lance while he holds their heads conveniently in place with a cord passed through their lips.”
The Assyrians destroyed 46 cities, and that included Lachish which was only about 36 miles from Jerusalem. There was no question where they were coming next.
About the time that Lachish was besieged, Hezekiah tried to do everything he could to prevent war. As the Assyrians began to wage war against the cities in Judah, Hezekiah tried to buy then with off with a payment of 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold. This is an astronomical number which is equal to millions of dollars. To do this he emptied the temple treasury and also stripped gold from the temple doors and pillars. But that was not going to be enough to stop the Assyrians.
Hezekiah had been preparing for an Assyrian assault for some time after the death of Sargon. He began by refortifying the city walls, including creating the Broad Wall, 23 feet wide and 25 feet high. Another, and perhaps even bigger task lay ahead. The Gihon Spring supplied water into the city. In an effort to deprive the Assyrians of water, these springs outside the city walls were blocked and a tunnel had to be created to bring that water underground into the city. How would one possibly do this, particularly in a short time frame? What happened was one of the great engineering feats of the ancient world.
Two teams began chipping a tunnel for the water out of the rock, each starting at opposite ends from each other with the goal being to bring the water from the Gihon Spring to the pool of Siloam. The curving tunnel is about 1750 feet long or about 1/3 of a mile. The miracle is that the two ends of the tunnel did meet up. How they managed this is not completely clear.
We are fascinated by Hezekiah’s tunnel, its engineering genius and the saving role it played for Jerusalem. Each year we take our tour groups in Israel to walk through that tunnel, and consider the courage it took to work so hard to save themselves and their families.
That this tunnel is both mentioned in scripture and then is right where it should be reminds us that the Old Testament is not just a series of religious stories, but also a record of real events that happened to people.
2 Kings 20:20 for instance reads, “As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?”
Or there is this in 2 Chronicles 32:2-4 “”When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to wage war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. They gathered a large group of people who blocked all the springs and the stream that flowed through the land. ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?’ they said.”
When the Assyrian army approached a city they were going to destroy, envoys stood at the city walls and demanded capitulation, threatening the citizens of Jerusalem with the same slaughter they had wreaked elsewhere. It was the ultimate terrorist situation, as the people were well aware what had happened at Lachish. We just painted a picture of the brutality of the Assyrian army to show what a truly desperate situation this was.
These Assyrian envoys spoke in the native language of the people, so they understood clearly that they were about to be destroyed. This technique to create panic and fear. Listen to the threats of the Assyrian Rabshakeh as he yells at the people of Jerusalem and particularly Hezekiah to surrender.
Listen to some of Rabshakeh’s words recorded in 2 Kings 18.
19 And Rab-shakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?
20 … Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me?
You can’t trust in an alliance with Egypt, Rabshakeh says, “for Egypt is a bruised reed,” on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him” (2 Kings 18:20).
Next, Rabshakeh gets to the key point, the idea that can shred a man or woman’s heart. He says, “You can’t trust your God.” At this moment, with an cruel army ready to attack these trembling men and women, that is the ultimate corrosion. “God is not there for you.”
This is how Rabshakeh says it, beginning in 2 Kings 29.
29 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand:
30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
31 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:
32 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The Lord will deliver us.
33 Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
34 Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand?
35 Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?
36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
The Assyrians are making this attack about God. The other gods of other nations did not save them, and neither will yours. This is a dig at their confidence, their trust in the Lord, their ability to count on Him. They also throw in another outright lie. Surrender now and we take you to a land of corn and wine. Temptations to turn against God are always designed to sound good, but they leave you blank and barren.
I like to think of this desperate moment, because every shred of evidence from this formidable army points to their triumph. How in your vulnerability could you win against this gleaming and cruel army. The pressure upon the citizens of Jerusalem was heart-stopping.
Can you really trust a God you can’t see, when what stands before you tangibly that you can see, is asking—and sometimes demanding—that you turn from your faith and turn from God? That is an acid test and one most of us have or will face in our lives.
Our pioneer forefathers, stood up against guns and mobs for their faith as they were driven from one state to another.
We also know pressure that would turn us from God. It may be simply the pressure of popular opinion that disregards you or your values as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ. Your Proclamation viewpoint on family and other issues has already put you out of step with the secular trends of the day. People will mock God, cancel you, call you foolish or worse. The adversary will try to frighten you away from your belief through punishment.
Secular trends will belittle religion and those who practice it. Even the natural man inside of you may clamor for your attention to turn away from God, with a voice that says something like this, “If God was really there for you, this prayer would have been answered. You can’t count on God.”
When you hear those voices that would pry you from your testimony, you can also hear Rabshakeh and his threats. Can you really trust God? It may not be a terrifying army from Assyria that confronts you, but you will be worked on with the same idea, “Your God will not save you.” So let’s see what Hezekiah did in this situation as described in 2 Kings 19.
“He rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord and sent servants to talk to Isaiah.” He is turning for spiritual help, and it is true that our challenges are most often met with spiritual solutions.
“And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
“Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land (vv. 6,7).
This is an assurance right from the Lord. However, Rabshakeh was not yet finished and he sent a letter to Hezekiah with the same searing lies. The squeeze continues.
10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustiest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?
Hezekiah went again to the house of the Lord and spread the letter before him, and pled again with the Lord to be spared from this Assyrian crucible. He said, “O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only” (v 19).
So Hezekiah has fortified the city, preserved their drinking water, gone to the temple, sought the prophet, and spread a letter from the Assyrians before the Lord. He has given his all to save his people.
Isaiah assures Hezekiah that he has been heard, and the Lord answers:
32 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.
34 For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
The construction of this verse is a bit strange because how can it be that when they arose in the morning, they were all dead corpses. This, of course, means that when the citizens of Jerusalem arose the next morning, 185,000 Assyrians were all dead corpses.
Think of it. The threatening army is dead in one blast and Jerusalem is safe. Who would have ever dreamed this could be possible?
For years, people have speculated about the cause of this sudden death. Some have thought that perhaps the Assyrians were stricken with the plague from the rats that undoubtedly accompanied their camp. Others have suggested tainted water or food, that they may have died of botulism. However, the Lord did this, it was done, and it should not be surprising that in the records of the Assyrians they do not record this army that is so suddenly stricken. Instead, it appears that Sennacherib just changed his mind, which could not be accurate. The Assyrians prided themselves on the cities they captured and subjugated, and we don’t see Sennacherib backing down in Assyrian history. He believed it was his religious duty to make war and sack cities.
The prism of Sennacherib, which is an ancient artifact where his history is recorded reads like this.
“As for Hezekiah the Judahite, who did not submit to my yoke: forty-six of his strong, walled cities, as well as the small towns in their area, which were without number, by leveling with battering-rams and by bringing up siege-engines, and by attacking and storming on foot, by mines, tunnels, and breeches, I besieged and took them. 200,150 people, great and small, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, cattle and sheep without number, I brought away from them and counted as spoil.”
Hezekiah did not submit to his yoke, because Hezekiah was already yoked to God and, in that case, they that be with us will always be more than they that be with them.
Now we mentioned that this event is one of history’s tipping points, as Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart remind us in their book. Once a group of historians were asked about what were the tipping points in history and “William H. McNeill, author of Rise of the West (for which he was awarded the National Book Award for History) believes the Assyrian battle for Jerusalem exceeds them all in importance. Believing that the nation of Judah was saved by an unexplained plague, and while writing for the journal and representing the historians’ collective view, Mr. McNeill states ‘Had the Assyrian army remained healthy in 701 BC, Jerusalem would probably have been capured and its people dispersed, as had happened to Samaria only 20 years before. Think of what that would mean! For without Judaism, both Christianity and Islam become inconceivable. And without these faiths, the world as we know it becomes unrecognizable: profoundly, utterly different.”
If Judah had been destroyed, think of what would have been lost. Jehovah worship, monotheism, their records, their culture, their temple practices. If Judah had been scattered as the Assyrians did, yes, our world today would be unrecognizable.
We know, of course, that a little more than 100 years later Babylon came and sacked Jerusalem, but they were very different than the Assyrians. Rather than scattering a population and destroying their religion and culture, the Jews stayed joined in Babylon and continued their practice. It was in Babylon that they compiled the scriptures and not many decades later when they returned to Jerusalem, they were eager to build a temple again. The Babylons did not erase a religion and culture as the Assyrians would have.
Now we learn in 2 Kings 20 that Isaiah told Hezekiah to set his house in order, “for thou shalt die, and not live.” Hezekiah pleads for 15 more years and he is given that gift, but it is unfortunate that in this instance, it was not such a gift to Judah, for during those last 15 years he had a son named Manasseh, who began reigning when he was only 12 years old. Tragically, he undid all of his father’s good work and spiritual reforms, taking a wrecking ball to Jehovah worship. The scriptures are precise, “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 21: 2). Remember this is not the Manasseh who is the son of Joseph of Egypt, but a Mannaseh who is the son of Hezekiah.
Manasseh did the same old stuff to support idol worship. He built high places and groves. In the temple he built altars for Baal. He even sacrificed one of his sons, “making him pass through the fire” which is a reference to the god of child sacrifice called Molech.
Next in line as king was another son, Amon, who walked in the way his father and forsook the Lord God of his fathers. He only reigned for two years before the servants in his own house conspired against him and slew him. Hezekiah had been righteous, but now two wicked kings follow him. Havoc reigned in Judah. Is there no end to this.
At last, like a breath of fresh air, Josiah is born. Beginning when he was 8 years old, he reigned 31 years in Jerusalem—and he reigned in righteousness. Hallelujah. At last. He began to repair the breaches on the temple. Here’s a nice note about that. Hilkiah the high priest gives silver unto the carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully”(2 Kings 22: 5,6,7).
While they are working on this temple, Hilkiah found a book of the law in the house of the Lord, and it was delivered to Josiah. His scribe Shaphan read it aloud to him, “And it came to pass when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. This is a striking expression of grief. Why? Because they have apparently not had the word of the Lord for a long time.
Josiah commanded the high priest, Hilkiah, “Go ye inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book to do accoding unto all that which is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13) Josiah understood how far adrift the preceding two generations had been in Judah, and cherished this word, which could right their course.
How barren we are without the scriptures. What would we do if they were suddenly thrust from us?
If we never turn to them, it is the same. Lively scripture study is what makes a lively spiritual life. We really rejoice in the scriptures.
Huldah, the prophetess, said to tell King Josiah, in 2 Kings 22: 16, 17 “
16 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the abook which the king of Judah hath read:
17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might aprovoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
But to Josiah himself, the Lord had a different message:
18 Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord…I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.”
So the king gathered the elders of Judah. And all the people, both small and great, and went up into the house of the Lord, and the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord “to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statues with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book: ( 1 Kings 23:3)
Josiah was killed in a battle in Megiddo, and the kings that followed him again “did evil in the sight of the Lord”. These included Jehoahaz, his own son. Then Egypt put Jehoiakim on the throne, who also did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Thus it went, and Babylon, Judah’s powerful neighbor was annoyed.
Several prophets came among the people and tried to warn them that they were sowing their own doom and they needed to turn back to the Lord. Among them were Daniel, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Urijah and Ezekiel. Jeremiah was thrown into a pit because people hated his message, and oh, yes, there was one Lehi, who the people in Jerusalem wanted to kill because they hated his words, but he and family were led away from the scene. This is the world Lehi knew, and the gift his posterity would give the world would be invaluable—the Book of Mormon.
That’s all for today. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this has been Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. Next week we’ll be studying Ezra 1: 3-7 and Nehemiah 2: 4-6, 8. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music that begins and ends this podcast and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins, our producer.