Monthly Archives: May 2014

1 Chronicles 2 – Descendents of Abraham and Judah

Unknown1 Chronicles 2 – Descendents of Abraham and Judah

A. Descendents of Abraham.

1. (1-2) The descendents of Abraham through Israel.

These were the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

a. These were the sons of Israel: The line of the patriarchs began with Abraham, and was passed down to Isaac (and not Ishmael) and then to Jacob/Israel (and not to Esau). Yet with the sons of Israel, all the sons were chosen as inheritors of the covenant.

b. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher: These twelve sons of Israel actually became 13 tribes of Israel, because two tribes came from Joseph (Manasseh and Ephraim).

i. “The order of names follows Genesis 35:23-26, with one exception. Dan is expected after Benjamin, and no convincing reason has been put forward for the change (cf. also Exodus 1:2-4). A different order is used in the following chapters.” (Selman)

2. (3-17) The descendents of Judah to the family of Jesse, the father of David.

The sons of Judah were Er, Onan, and Shelah. These three were born to him by the daughter of Shua, the Canaanitess. Er, the firstborn of Judah, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; so He killed him. And Tamar, his daughter-in-law, bore him Perez and Zerah. All the sons of Judah were five. The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. The sons of Zerah were Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Dara; five of them in all. The son of Carmi was Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the accursed thing. The son of Ethan was Azariah. Also the sons of Hezron who were born to him were Jerahmeel, Ram, and Chelubai. Ram begot Amminadab, and Amminadab begot Nahshon, leader of the children of Judah; Nahshon begot Salma, and Salma begot Boaz; Boaz begot Obed, and Obed begot Jesse; Jesse begot Eliab his firstborn, Abinadab the second, Shimea the third, Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, and David the seventh. Now their sisters were Zeruiah and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah were Abishai, Joab, and Asahel; three. Abigail bore Amasa; and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmaelite.

a. The sons of Judah: There were twelve sons of Israel, and thirteen tribes from those twelve sons. Yet the tribe of Judah received first attention from the Chronicler.

i. “Judah heads the tribal genealogies, and receives more extensive treatment than any other tribe. The reason for this special prominence is to be found in the central position of David’s line (2:10-17; 3:1-24).” (Selman)

ii. “But while our Chronicler lists all twelve of the sons of Israel-Jacob, his attention quickly focuses on Judah (2:3), the description of whose tribe occupies the next two and one-half chapters.” (Payne)

b. Er, the firstborn of Judah, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; so He killed him: This listing of the line of Judah also includes those with a darker testimony of life, including Er, Onan, Tamar, and Achar (also known as Achan in Joshua 7:24-26).

i. “Achan was also guilty of ‘unfaithfulness’, a key term in Chronicles . . . This word has the nuance of depriving God of his due, and is Chronicles’ favourite explanation for the disaster of the exile.” (Selman)

c. Jesse begot . . . David the seventh: This section of genealogy deals with the line of Judah to David, the founder of the Davidic dynasty that ruled over Israel and Judah.

i. Abishai, Joab, Asahel, and Amasa: “The genealogies of these four warriors, made famous under their half-uncle David (cf. 2 Samuel 2:18-19; 19:13), are not drawn from 2 Samuel 2:18 and 17:25; but apart from this later passage, we would not have known that their mothers, Zeruiah and Abigail, were step-daughters of Jesse, born to David’s mother by her presumably earlier marriage to Nahash.” (Payne)

B. Other descendents of the tribe of Judah.

1. (18-24) The family of Hezron, a grandson of Judah.

Caleb the son of Hezron had children by Azubah, his wife, and by Jerioth. Now these were her sons: Jesher, Shobab, and Ardon. When Azubah died, Caleb took Ephrath as his wife, who bore him Hur. And Hur begot Uri, and Uri begot Bezalel. Now afterward Hezron went in to the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead, whom he married when he was sixty years old; and she bore him Segub. Segub begot Jair, who had twenty-three cities in the land of Gilead. (Geshur and Syria took from them the towns of Jair, with Kenath and its towns; sixty towns.) All these belonged to the sons of Machir the father of Gilead. After Hezron died in Caleb Ephrathah, Hezron’s wife Abijah bore him Ashhur the father of Tekoa.

a. Caleb the son of Hezron: This traces a side-line in the tribe of Judah, separate from the line that culminated in David.

i. “In practice, the otherwise unknown Caleb son of Hezron is probably distinct from Caleb, a Kenizzite and son of Jephunneh, who is frequently said to have ‘followed the LORD wholeheartedly’ (e.g. Numbers 14:24; 32:12; Joshua 14:6, 13-14).” (Selman) Caleb the Kenizzite seems to be mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:15-16.

b. Jesher, Shobab, and Ardon: These obscure names connected with the tribe of Judah are listed for an important general reason. Most of the returning exiles in the general time Chronicles was written were connected to the tribe of Judah.

i. “The land that was occupied by the Jews who had returned from the Babylonian exile consisted primarily of the tribal territories of Judah and Benjamin. Also, the people who make up Ezra’s community were largely from these same two tribes (Ezra 1:5; 10:9).” (Payne)

2. (25-41) The family of Jerahmeel, a great-grandson of Judah.

The sons of Jerahmeel, the firstborn of Hezron, were Ram, the firstborn, and Bunah, Oren, Ozem, and Ahijah. Jerahmeel had another wife, whose name was Atarah; she was the mother of Onam. The sons of Ram, the firstborn of Jerahmeel, were Maaz, Jamin, and Eker. The sons of Onam were Shammai and Jada. The sons of Shammai were Nadab and Abishur. And the name of the wife of Abishur was Abihail, and she bore him Ahban and Molid. The sons of Nadab were Seled and Appaim; Seled died without children. The son of Appaim was Ishi, the son of Ishi was Sheshan, and Sheshan’s child was Ahlai. The sons of Jada, the brother of Shammai, were Jether and Jonathan; Jether died without children. The sons of Jonathan were Peleth and Zaza. These were the sons of Jerahmeel. Now Sheshan had no sons, only daughters. And Sheshan had an Egyptian servant whose name was Jarha. Sheshan gave his daughter to Jarha his servant as wife, and she bore him Attai. Attai begot Nathan, and Nathan begot Zabad; Zabad begot Ephlal, and Ephlal begot Obed; Obed begot Jehu, and Jehu begot Azariah; Azariah begot Helez, and Helez begot Eleasah; Eleasah begot Sismai, and Sismai begot Shallum; Shallum begot Jekamiah, and Jekamiah begot Elishama.

a. The sons of Jerahmeel: This traces a side-line in the tribe of Judah, separate from the line that culminated in David.

3. (42-55) The family of Caleb, a great-grandson of Judah.

The descendants of Caleb the brother of Jerahmeel were Mesha, his firstborn, who was the father of Ziph, and the sons of Mareshah the father of Hebron. The sons of Hebron were Korah, Tappuah, Rekem, and Shema. Shema begot Raham the father of Jorkoam, and Rekem begot Shammai. And the son of Shammai was Maon, and Maon was the father of Beth Zur. Ephah, Caleb’s concubine, bore Haran, Moza, and Gazez; and Haran begot Gazez. And the sons of Jahdai were Regem, Jotham, Geshan, Pelet, Ephah, and Shaaph. Maachah, Caleb’s concubine, bore Sheber and Tirhanah. She also bore Shaaph the father of Madmannah, Sheva the father of Machbenah and the father of Gibea. And the daughter of Caleb was Achsah. These were the descendants of Caleb: The sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah, were Shobal the father of Kirjath Jearim, Salma the father of Bethlehem, and Hareph the father of Beth Gader. And Shobal the father of Kirjath Jearim had descendants: Haroeh, and half of the families of Manuhoth. The families of Kirjath Jearim were the Ithrites, the Puthites, the Shumathites, and the Mishraites. From these came the Zorathites and the Eshtaolites. The sons of Salma were Bethlehem, the Netophathites, Atroth Beth Joab, half of the Manahethites, and the Zorites. And the families of the scribes who dwelt at Jabez were the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and the Suchathites. These were the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.

a. The descendants of Caleb: This traces another side-line in the tribe of Judah, separate from the line that culminated in David.

i. “Caleb’s ‘daughter’ Acsah was only a distant descendant of Caleb the son of Hezron, though she was an immediate daughter of Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the faithful spy (listed in 4:15). She is remembered as the bride of Othniel, the first of the judges (Judges 3:9-11), having been promised to him for his conquest of Debir (Joshua 15:15-19; Judges 1:11-15).” (Payne)

b. These are the Kenites: “The Kenites were originally a foreign people (Genesis 15:19), some of whom, by marriage or adoption, became incorporated into the tribe of Judah.” (Payne)

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1 Chronicles 1 – From Adam to Abraham

Unknown1 Chronicles 1 – From Adam to Abraham

A. From Adam to Abraham.

1. (1-4) From Adam to the Sons of Noah.

Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

a. Adam, Seth, Enosh: The opening verse of the Books of Chronicles indicates something of their focus. We know that Adam and Eve actually had three sons by name (Genesis 4:1-2, 4:25) plus many other unnamed sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4). Yet in this first verse we read nothing of Cain or Abel; only of Seth. This indicates that the Chronicler was inspired by God to make a selective genealogy for a specific purpose.

i. The Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally one book, and focus historically on King David and his dynasty after him. The actual history begins with the death of Saul, but the stage is set with these genealogical tables. The story continues until the return of the exiles from the Babylonian captivity, leading many to think that the Books were written by Ezra or at least in his time.

ii. “Since Chronicles appears to be the work of an individual writer, who was a Levitical leaders, some identification with Ezra the priest and scribe (Ezra 7:1-6) appears possible from the outset.” (Payne)

iii. We can imagine the importance of these genealogical lists for the returning exiles. The message of the continuity of God’s work through the generations was important for them, as well as helping them to affirm their own place in that flow of God’s work through the ages.

iv. “The principle design of the writer appears to have been this: to point out, from the public registers, which were still preserved, what had been the state of the different families previously to the captivity, that at their return they might enter on and repossess their respective inheritances. He enters particularly into the functions, genealogies, families, and orders of the priests and Levites; and this was peculiarly necessary after the return from the captivity, to the end that the worship of God might be conducted in the same was as before, and the by the proper legitimate persons.” (Clarke)

v. “These books of the CHRONICLES are not the same which are so called, 1 Kings 14:19, and elsewhere, (because some passages said to be there mentioned are not found here,) but other books, and written by other persons, and for other ends.” (Poole)

vi. “It was not in fact until the fourth century that A.D. that Jerome, the famous Bible translator, first applied the term ‘Chronicle’ to these books. . . . The mediating influence came from Luther, whose German title, Die Chronika, passed into English with Bible translations proliferated during the Reformation period.” (Selman)

b. Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: This father and his three sons – each survivors of the flood – became the basis for the nations in the post-flood world.

i. The span from Adam to Noah and his sons is common to all humanity. This first chapter is “A summary of the ‘generations’ of Genesis, from Adam to Edom/Esau, shows that all the nations were God’s creation and therefore part of his special purpose for Israel.” (Selman)

2. (5-7) The descendents of Japheth, the son of Noah.

The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Diphath, and Togarmah. The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshishah, Kittim, and Rodanim.

a. The sons of Japheth: It is commonly supposed that “The seven sons of Japheth founded the people of Europe and northern Asia.” (Payne)

· From Javan came Greek Ionia
· From Gomer came the ancient Cimmerians of the Russian plains
· From Madai came the Medes and Persians of Iran
· From Tubal and Meshech came the inhabitants of the Turkish plateau

b. Kittim, and Rodanim: These are respectively the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes.

3. (8-16) The descendents of Ham, the son of Noah.

The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raama, and Sabtecha. The sons of Raama were Sheba and Dedan. Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and the Caphtorim). Canaan begot Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth; the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite.

a. Ham: The descendants of Ham are the peoples who populated Africa and the Far East.

b. Cush: Apparently, this family divided into two branches early. Some founded Babylon (notably, Nimrod) and others founded Ethiopia.

i. Clarke cites an early Jewish Targum regarding Nimrod, who began to be a mighty one on the earth: “He began to be bold in sin, a murderer of the innocent, and a rebel before the Lord.”

c. Mizraim: This is another way the Bible refers to Egypt. Put refers to Libya, the region of North Africa west of Egypt. Canaan refers to the peoples who originally settled the land we today think of as Israel and its surrounding regions.

i. From whom came the Philistines: “The Hamitic Philistines were ‘sea peoples’ before settling in Palestine, coming from the Casluhim, who were of Egyptian origin but are related to the Minoan culture of Caphtor (Crete) and the southern coast of Asia Minor.” (Payne)

4. (17-27) The descendents of Shem, the son of Noah.

The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, Aram, Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech. Arphaxad begot Shelah, and Shelah begot Eber. To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Ebal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, and Abram, who is Abraham.

a. The sons of Shem: From Shem came Elam, who was an ancestor to the Persian peoples; Asshur, who was the father of the Assyrians; Lud was father to the Lydians who lived for a time in Asia Minor; and Aram was father to the Arameans, who we also know as the Syrians. Arphaxad was the ancestor to Abram and the Hebrews.

i. Significantly, these included the nations from under which the people of Israel were largely exiled (the Persians). As the Chronicler includes lists this sweeping panorama of all the nations as a part of God’s plan, it assured Israel that they were still part of this plan and so were the nations to whom they had been exiled.

b. Uz: Later, a region in Arabia was named after this son of Aram.
Job came from the land of Uz (Job 1:1).

i. “Uz gave the name of the home of the patriarch Job (Job 1:1), who may thus have been an early Edomite descendant of Esau (cf. Lamentations 4:21).” (Payne)

ii. Some think that Jobab is another name for Job, but their names are actually quite different in the Hebrew. “Supposed by some to be the same as Job, whose book forms a part of the canon of Scripture. But in their names there is no similarity.” (Clarke)

c. And Shelah begot Eber: “The name Eber forms the root of ‘Hebrew’; but this patriarch was the ancestor not only of Abraham (v. 27), but also of a number of other unsettled people, know in ancient history as Habiru or Apiru.” (Payne)

d. Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided: This seems to refer to the dividing of the nations at the tower of Babel described in Genesis 11:1-9.

B. The sons of Abraham and their descendents to David.

1. (28) The sons of Abraham.

The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael.

a. Isaac: This was the son of promise and the covenant, whose birth was announced in Genesis 17 and 18 and whose life is recorded in Genesis 21-27.

b. Ishmael: This was the son born of Hagar, blessed as a son of Abraham but not an heir to the promise or the covenant (Genesis 16 and 21).

2. (29-31) The descendents of Abraham through Ishmael.

These are their genealogies: The firstborn of Ishmael was Nebajoth; then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael.

a. These were the sons of Ishmael: God promised to make a great nation through Ishmael (Genesis 21:18). These descendants were the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise, ultimately fulfilled in the Arabic peoples.

3. (32-33) The descendents of Abraham through Keturah.

Now the sons born to Keturah, Abraham’s concubine, were Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. The sons of Jokshan were Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

a. All these were the children of Keturah: This was the second wife of Abraham, taken after the death of Sarah (Genesis 25:1-4).

4. (34-42) The descendents of Abraham through Issac’s son Esau.

And Abraham begot Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel. The sons of Esau were Eliphaz, Reuel, Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zephi, Gatam, and Kenaz; and by Timna, Amalek. The sons of Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. The sons of Seir were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. And the sons of Lotan were Hori and Homam; Lotan’s sister was Timna. The sons of Shobal were Alian, Manahath, Ebal, Shephi, and Onam. The sons of Zibeon were Ajah and Anah. The son of Anah was Dishon. The sons of Dishon were Hamran, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. The sons of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan, and Jaakan. The sons of Dishan were Uz and Aran.

a. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel: Of these two sons, only Israel was chosen as the son of the promise and the heir of the covenant of Abraham. Nevertheless, the sons of Esau still were important to God and had a place in His eternal plan.

5. (43-54) The Kings and Chiefs of Edom

Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before a king reigned over the children of Israel: Bela the son of Beor, and the name of his city was Dinhabah. And when Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. When Jobab died, Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. And when Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who attacked Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his place. The name of his city was Avith. When Hadad died, Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. And when Samlah died, Saul of Rehoboth-by-the-River reigned in his place. When Saul died, Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. And when Baal-Hanan died, Hadad reigned in his place; and the name of his city was Pai. His wife’s name was Mehetabel the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab. Hadad died also. And the chiefs of Edom were Chief Timnah, Chief Aliah, Chief Jetheth, Chief Aholibamah, Chief Elah, Chief Pinon, Chief Kenaz, Chief Teman, Chief Mibzar, Chief Magdiel, and Chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom.

a. These were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before a king reigned over the children of Israel: It seems that the kings of Edom came into power before the kings of Israel. In this, the Chronicler reminds the reader that God’s ways have their own timing and wisdom; a timing and wisdom which is sometimes apparent and sometimes not.

i. This list of the kings of Edom shows that Esau was indeed a blessed man (Genesis 33:8-16, Genesis 36), though he was rejected as the inheritor of the covenant of Abraham.

b. Bela . . . Jobab . . . Zerah . . . Husham: The steady repetition of the names may seem to be an irrelevant blur to the modern reader, but they have an important place in God’s plan of the ages. If nothing else, they demonstrate the reality of prior generations and our connection to both them and God’s broader plan – just as a walk through a graveyard can speak the same things to us.

i. “This is an ancient graveyard. The names of past generations who were born and died, who loved and suffered, who stormed and fought through the world, are engraven on these solid slabs. But there is no inscription to record their worth or demerit. Just names, and nothing more.” (Meyer)

c. These were the chiefs of Edom: The chapter closes without a mention of the name of God in the entire chapter. Yet, as the Chronicler mentions these men as quoting from the sacred history of Genesis, God is the unspoken main character in the entire sweeping drama.

i. “This chapter has therefore become a panoramic view of God’s dealings with humanity in both creation and redemption. God’s name does not actually appear, of course, but his activity is visible everywhere to the discerning reader.” (Selman)

ii. We see God almost everywhere in this chapter:

· We see God calling out for Adam, hiding in his shame.
· We see God blessing the birth of Seth, providing a son to replace on murdered and the other a murderer.
· We see God walking with Enoch.
· We see God calling to Noah and shutting the door of the ark.
· We see God speaking to the sons of Noah and making His covenant with them.
· We see God as the Most High, dividing an inheritance to the nations (Deuteronomy 32:8).
· We see God dividing the earth at the tower of Babel in the days of Peleg.
· We see God choosing a Babylonian from an idol worshipping family named Abraham.
· We see God stopping the sacrificial knife held over a surrendered Isaac.
· We see God orchestrating the choice of Israel over his brother Esau, despite all fleshly efforts of man to do otherwise.
· We see God blessing Esau and his descendants, as He promised to do.

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2 KINGS 25 THE TOTAL CAPTIVITY OF JUDAH

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2 KINGS 25 THE TOTAL CAPTIVITY OF JUDAH

(vv.1-21)

In the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign Nebuchadnezzar came and besieged Jerusalem, building a wall around it. Jeremiah told Zedekiah, by the word of the Lord, that if he would surrender to the king of Babylon, he would live and the city would not be burned with fire, but if he would not surrender the city would be burned and he (Zedekiah) would not escape (Jeremiah 38:17-18), but because of Zedekiah’s fear of the Jews he would not surrender.

The siege continued for one and a half years, till the 11th year of Zedekiah’s reign (v.2). Their supply of food was exhausted (v.3) and also at that time the city was broken through. But instead of surrendering to the king of Babylon, all the men of war and Zedekiah sought to escape at night by way of a gate between two walls (v.4). How did they expect to escape when the army of the Chaldeans surrounded the city? At least, Zedekiah and his sons were caught, though others of his men were scattered from him (v.5).

Zedekiah, being captured, was taken to Riblah where his sons were killed before his eyes, then his own eyes were put out (v.7). How solemn a judgment for a king of Judah! But it is typical of Israel’s eyes being blinded at the present time because of unbelief (Romans 11:7-8), a spiritual blindness that has continued through history from the time of their dispersal among the Gentiles.

Nebuchadnezzar seems to have had no more hope that Judah would be subject to him, so he had Nebuzaradan. his servant go to Jerusalem and burn the house of the Lord, the king’s house and all the houses of the officials (v.9). He realised the Jews must have no centre of gathering, and thus the temple, so magnificently built in the time of Solomon, was destroyed by fire. What is there in Christendom that would answer to this? God’s true Centre in the Church is Christ Himself. But is this realised today in the professing church? Rather, Satan has succeeded in blotting out the clear recognition of Christ as God’s one Centre, with the resulting confusion of many sects and denominations striving against each other.

Besides this the army of the Chaldeans broke down the walls of Jerusalem all around, so that the city would have no protection from marauders (v.10). Thus today, in the professing church, the wall of separation has been broken down, so that unbelievers have easily come in to work havoc.

Also, the rest of the people in the city, as well as those who surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar, were carried away captive to Babylon (v.11). The devastation was complete, and since that time there has not been another king of Israel, though Herod, an Edomite, was called king in Matthew 2:1 and another Herod followed him (Acts 12:1). These were not of Israel, but were mere vassals of Caesar.

However, the captain of the guard left some of the poor of the land as vinedressers and farmers. It is possible, since they had taken so many away captive, that they brought some aliens in to replace them, as was the case among the ten tribes when they were so decimated by the King of Assyria (ch.17:24), but no mention is made of this here.

Evidently verses 13-17 refer to what took place before Nebuzaradan burned the temple. The bronze pillars and the bronze sea were broken in pieces to be taken to Babylon. Besides this the firepans, basins and things of solid gold and solid silver were also taken (vv.14-15). The bronze of the many articles was so great in quantity as to be beyond measure (v.16). All these things were God’s property and are symbolical of what can only be properly appropriated by faith, but in being taken to Babylon, (which means ‘confusion”), they were placed in connection with idol worship. Today also false religion has appropriated for itself what really belongs to God and uses it for its own unholy profit.

Verse 19 then Lists a number of men whom the captain of the guard found in the City, Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the second priest, three doorkeepers, an officer in charge of the men of war, five men of the king’s close associates, the chief recruiting officer of the army and sixty others who were found in the city. Nebuzaradan took all of these captive and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah (v.20). None of them were allowed to live, but all were put to death by Nebuchadnezzar’s order (v.21). This completed the captivity of Judah and the desolation of Jerusalem.

Though no king was allowed to rule over Judah, it was necessary that some form of government should be kept in control of the country, so Nebuzaradan appointed a man who was a descendant of the kings, Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, to be governor of the people who were left in the land (v.22).

When it became known that Gedaliah had been appointed as Governor, officers of the armies and their men who had scattered from Judah came to Mizpah, where Gedaliah resided. Among these were some prominent men, specially Ishmael and Johanan (v.23). Gedaliah was purposed to remain in the land and to be subject to the king of Babylon, and he took an oath to this affect before these men, requiring them also to serve Nebuchadnezzar. This was the wise thing to do, for God had brought them down and rebellion would have been rebellion against God. Thus too in Christendom, because of the sad failure in testimony, God has allowed confusion (the meaning of Babylon) to take possession of the church publicly, and it is only right that we bow to the shame of our confusion, not expecting ever to return to the bright Pentecostal days of the Church.

This is a principle that is too frequently ignored, or even refused, by believers of the present day, for it is popular to accept the world’s attitude that we should fight for our own rights. Therefore those who realise they should bow to the government of God are considered weaklings. Some proudly think that by their heroic efforts they are going to bring in another Pentecost, and in fighting for this cause, they will sadly persuade themselves they are really accomplishing something when their work is manifestly only a poor imitation of the early days of the Church.

It is important to consider that Gedaliah required an oath from the number of prominent men who came to him, that they would dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon. It was God who had put them in that position because of Judah’s previous guilt, and faith could only bow to it.

Jeremiah 40:1-16; Jeremiah 41:1-18 furnishes an enlarged history of events at this time, a passage well worth considering if we are to have our thoughts rightly formed. Johanan, whose name means “Jehovah is gracious giver” had clear discernment that Ishmael was a traitor and had come with the intention of killing Gedaliah. He warned Gedaliah against Ishmael, but Gedaliah did not believe him. Gedaliah, being governor, symbolises the government of God, and Johanan, God’s grace. Ishmael reminds us of the son of the bondwoman, Hagar (Genesis 16:1-16), and he pictures the legal covenant (Galatians 4:21-25). Can legal minded men be depended on to be subject to God’s government? No indeed! If one claims to be keeping the law, he deceives himself and he will not hesitate to deceive others too. In fact, like Ishmael, he will destroy true government. Johanan (grace) was a true friend of government (Gedaliah), but sadly Gedaliah was deceived by Ishmael, who could agree to a covenant then very soon break it and murder the governor he had come to serve!

In the seventh month, just two months after Jerusalem had been burned (vv.8-9), Ishmael came with ten men (reminding us of the ten commandments) and killed Gedaliah and those who were with him, at Mizpah (v.25). This murder took place immediately after Ishmael had deceitfully eaten with Gedaliah (Jeremiah 41:1-2). In fact, on the second day after this happened, there were 80 men who came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria with desire to meet with Gedaliah. Ishmael met them, weeping, and guided them into the city, where Ishmael and his men killed them except for ten men who bribed Ishmael to let them live (Jeremiah 41:4-7).

Verse 26 (of 2 Kings 25:1-30) speaks of all those people who had come to Gedaliah deciding to go to Egypt because of fear of the Chaldeans, or Babylonians. Again, Jeremiah furnishes more information about this. Johanan and others with him asked Jeremiah to enquire of the Lord as to what they ought to do now that Gedaliah was gone (Jeremiah 42:1-3). This should not have been difficult, for they had accepted the oath of Gedaliah to remain in the land. Now they told Jeremiah that whatever the Lord said, they would obey. However, when Jeremiah told them the Lord clearly declared that they would be blessed if they remained in the land under the domination of Babylon, he also told them they had been hypocritical in saying they would obey the Lord, for they had already decided they would go to Egypt and were only hoping that God would confirm this. Therefore they would suffer more in Egypt than they expected to in Israel (Jer 42:52). The result was that they did just what Jeremiah told them they would, yet accused him of speaking falsely in the name of the Lord (Jeremiah 43:1-3).

JEHOIACHIN RELEASED, BUT NOT RESTORED

(v.27-30)

Jehoiachin (Coniah) remained a captive for 37 years in Babylon, and then a new king, Evil-Merodach, decided to release him, speaking kindly to him and giving him a place of dignity above other kings who had evidently been also brought to Babylon (vv.27-28). We are not told why he showed this favour to Jehoiachin, but this is a striking picture of grace shown to one who has long been in shame and disrepute. Is it not a foreshadowing of the eventual recovery of the nation Israel from their long history of disobedience to God? This was not because Jehoiachin was worthy of grace, but rather that the grace was solely from the kindness of the king of Babylon, just as Israel will be brought back from misery and bondage by the sovereign work of God in grace toward them.

No longer did Jehoiachin wear prison garments, but was given provision of food “before the king” all the days of his life. Thus he was a subject of both mercy and grace, for mercy is compassion shown to one in need, while grace freely gives abundant provision to satisfy every need and much more. A regular allowance was given him for each day as long as he lived. He was not restored to his place as king of Judah, nor will any men of Coniah’s descendants ever reign as king, but they will rejoice in recognising the Lord Jesus as the true King of all Israel and they will be greatly blessed all the days of their life.

We have surely seen in these books of Kings the clear proof that no man is worthy to hold authority over men. This is not only true of the many kings who were ungodly and rebellious, but also of those who were the most faithful and devoted. In fact, not one of all the kings of Judah and of Israel enjoyed a really bright end to his reign. Contrast this with the brightness of the end of Paul’s history (2 Timothy 4:6-8), a lowly servant of God in prison! Only the Lord Jesus is worthy of supreme authority, He who is “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Thus, though the books of the kings are full of sorrow and failure, they end with a bright promise of great blessing for Israel. How good indeed is our great God!

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2 KINGS CHAPTER 24

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2 KINGS CHAPTER 24

Verses 1-20
Pharaoh was not able to maintain his dominance over Judah, however, not that Judah was able to break it, but because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon displaced Pharaoh and took his place in making Jehoiakim his servant (v.24). For three years Jehoiakim remained subject to Nebuchadnezzar, then rebelled (v.1), not because of faith in the living God, but because he would not bow to the governmental results of his sin.

Since Jehoiakim decided that he would not bow to the governmental results of his evil ways, the Lord sent against him bands of marauders from four different nations (v.2). This concentration of troubles for Jehoiakim should certainly have humbled his heart before God, but we read of no change in the character of the man.

Judah was gradually being reduced to nothing in the days of Jehoiakim. In 2 Chronicles 36:5-6 we read that he was taken in fetters to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Evidently he died there after his 11 year reign (v.6). Yet Judah remained for a time still having its own government, for Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim, reigned for a brief three months (vv.6-8). But the king of Egypt did not come back to Judah, for Nebuchadnezzar had proven himself superior to Egypt’s power, having taken control of the land Egypt had formerly subdued.

JEHOIACHIN’S REIGN AND CAPTIVITY

(vv.8-12)

Jehoiachin (also called Coniah) was only 18 years of age when he reigned for three months, but this was time enough to prove his evil character, following the course of his father, evidently in idol worship (vv.8-9). Jehoiachin took the wise course of surrendering to Babylon and, with his servants, was taken prisoner (v.12).

As well as taking Jehoiachin, his family and officials captive, Nebuchadnezzar took away all the treasures of the house of God and the treasures of the king’s house, cutting in pieces the articles of gold that Solomon had made in the house of the Lord, evidently to more easily transport them to Babylon (v.13). This fulfilled the word of the Lord to Hezekiah by Isaiah in chapter 20:16-18.

More than this, Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive all the captains and mighty men of valour, numbering 10,000 (v.14) and all the craftsmen and smiths, one thousand (v.16). Only the poorest of the people remained, for Nebuchadnezzar wanted to make sure that Jerusalem would become incapable of ever rising to prominence again.

Jeremiah 22:24-30 speaks most solemnly about the judgment of God upon Jehoiachin, who is also called Jeconiah or Coniah. “Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol, a vessel wherein is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, and cast into a land which they do not know? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord: Write this man childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days, for none of his descendants shall prosper sitting oil the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.”

Though Jeconiah is included in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 1:11-12, yet none of his actual descendants ever ruled in Judah. and the Lord Jesus was not the actual descendant of Jeconiah, for He was born of the virgin Mary. Matthew 1:1-25 is confined to the official line, coming down to Joseph, rather than having any connection with the actual tine which is given in Luke 3:23-38. There, Joseph is called “the son of Heli” (v.23) where it manifestly means “son-in-law,” for Matthew 2:18 says that “Jacob begot Joseph,” Therefore Luke records the genealogy of Mary.

ZEDEKIAH MADE KING IN JUDAH

(vv.17-20)

However, Jerusalem’s destruction was not yet complete. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah , the uncle of Jehoiachin, as king in Judah (v.17). His name was Mattaniah, but changed to Zedekiah by Nebuchadnezzar, who thus emphasised his authority over him. Zedekiah was 21 years old and reigned 11 years in Jerusalem, but practised the same evil that Jehoiachin had, dishonouring God by idol worship (v.19). Jeremiah 37:1-21; Jeremiah 38:1-28; Jeremiah 39:1-18 records the history of Zedekiah’s reign, showing the utter weakness of the man, yet his stubborn persistence in evil. He foolishly rebelled against the king of Babylon in spite of Jeremiah’s warnings to him.

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2 KINGS 23 JOSIAH’S COVENANT AND JUDGMENT OF IDOLATRY

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2 KINGS 23 JOSIAH’S COVENANT AND JUDGMENT OF IDOLATRY

(vv.1-20)

Being king in Judah and therefore the representative of all the people, Josiah realised his responsibility of involving them all in hearing the Word of God. Beginning with the elders, he called the people to the house of the Lord. Thus, elders, priests, prophets and the common people were gathered (vv.1-2). There Josiah himself read all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which would include the five books of Moses.

The king then made a covenant before the Lord to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments, testimonies and statutes with all his heart and soul, and to perform all that was written in the book. All the people also agreed to this covenant (v.3).

Making such promises was not forbidden under law, though Israel’s many broken covenants should have warned Josiah that Judah would do no better in the future than they had done in the past. When the Lord Jesus came, however, He publicly declared, “Again, you have heard that it was said of those of old, You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord. But I say to you, do not swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne: nor by earth, for it is His footstool, nor by Jerusalem. for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your Yes be “Yes” and your No, “No”. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:33-37).

The Lord Jesus can swear by God’s name, for His word cannot be broken, but Israel’s history has proven to us that, no other human can be trusted to perform his vows or promises. This was ratified in the case of the covenant Josiah and Israel made, for Jehoahaz the son of Josiah led Israel back into the same idolatry they were delivered from in Josiah’s day.

However, at this time there was energy of faith, predominantly in the case of Josiah, to get rid of the idolatry introduced by Josiah’s fathers, Manasseh and Amon. Josiah gave orders to Hilkijah the high priest and priests under him as well as to the doorkeepers to bring out of the temple all the articles that were made for Baal and Asherah and other false gods. These were taken outside of Jerusalem and burned (v.4).

But there was much more to do in cleansing Judah from the overflowing tide of idolatry that had invaded the land. Josiah removed the idolatrous priests from the high places in the cities of Judah, and all those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon and to the constellations of stars in the whole heaven (v.5). Judah had multiplied her gods beyond measure. A wooden image had been put in the house of the Lord, just as many churches introduce images that look nice but are an insult to the Lord Jesus. Josiah burned the image at the brook Kidron and threw the ashes on graves (v.6), signifying that the idolatry was worthy only of the corruption of death.

Josiah broke down the houses of the Sodomites (v.7 JND trans.) that were in the house of the Lord where the women wove hangings for the wooden image. How bold had wickedness become to thus invade the house of the Lord!

Josiah, in firm decision for the Lord, brought all the priests from the cities of Judah and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, thus rendering the places unusable, from Geba to Beersheba, not a short distance (v.8). Other high places also he broke down.

The priests of the high places were thus dispossessed of their occupation, but did not come up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem. They evidently had no energy of faith to change completely from their accustomed idolatry, but they ate unleavened bread among their brethren (v.9). Was this not an attempt to cover their sin by a show of religious zeal? For the unleavened bread symbolises a separation from evil, but the show apart from the reality of separation is hypocrisy.

Josiah also defiled Topheth, where idolaters practised the offering of their children to Molech by fire (v.10). How can people feel that they are spiritually zealous in carrying out such abominable practices? But they are totally deceived by Satan. Also there were horses and chariots dedicated to the sun at the entrance to the house of God. Josiah removed the horses and burned the chariots (v.11).

On the roof there were altars made by the kings of Judah, certainly an insult to God whose altar outside and that inside the temple both spoke of Christ. Other altars expose men’s desire to have other gods. Beside these Manasseh had made altars in the two courts of the house of the Lord. All of these Josiah broke down and pulverised, throwing their dust into the brook Kidron (v.12).

Other high places east of Jerusalem and south of the Mount of Olives Josiah also defiled. It is called the mount of Corruption because Solomon had corrupted it by building high places for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites (v.13). We can well imagine people objecting to Josiah, saying that these were long established high places and had the dignity of King Solomon’s approval. But Josiah was concerned about God’s approval and what offended God must be destroyed. Josiah also broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images and filled their places with the bones of men (v.14). This may refer to those who defended the idolatry and suffered death for this.

Bethel, only 12 miles from Jerusalem, had been taken by Jereboam in his rebellion against Rehoboam, but of course the ten tribes had no authority left in Israel, so Josiah broke down the altar and the high place that Jereboam had introduced, crushing the high place to powder and burning the wooden image there (v.15). There also he saw graves on the mountain, evidently graves of those who had been engaged in the worship at the high place. He had the bones taken from the graves and burned on the altar. This was a fulfilment of the prophecy of the man of God who had come to Jereboam when he was at his idolatrous attar (1 Kings 13:1-2).

Seeing another gravestone, he asked about the person buried there, and was told this was the grave of the man of God who had prophesied of what Josiah had just done (v.17). So his grave was left unmolested. This involved too the bones of the prophet who lived in Bethel, but whom we are told here had come from Samaria (ch.18), for he had buried the first prophet in his own grave and told his sons to bury him there also (1 Kings 13:11-32).

Josiah’s purging of the land extended to all the cities of Samaria from which he took away all the shrines of the high places introduced by the kings of Israel (the ten tribes). He executed all the priests of the high places and defiled their altars by burning men’s bones on them (v.20). Thus, as far as it was possible, Josiah completely cleansed the land of Israel from their idolatry. We would likely expect the faith of this young king to so influence his son that he would follow his father’s steps, but sadly Jehoahaz reverted to the same evil the previous kings of Judah had been guilty of (vv.31-52).

THE PASSOVER KEPT

But Josiah’s energy was not limited to getting rid of evil. The positive character of his faith is seen beautifully in verses 21-23. He commanded all the people to keep the Passover to the Lord according to God’s directions in the Book of the Covenant. The Passover was in remembrance of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, and looked forward to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on Calvary.

It is most striking that such a Passover had never been held in Israel throughout all the history of the kings of Israel or of Judah. Not even that in Hezekiah’s time (2 Chronicles 30:1-27) could compare with this one carried out by Josiah. Though in Kings there are only three verses referring to the Passover, it is more fully described in 2 Chronicles 35:1-19. At this time Josiah was only 26 years old, yet it was his own energy of faith that initiated this wonderful Passover and carried it out in obedience to the word of God. This illustrates the fact that a young man may be a faithful example to believers, as Timothy, a young man, was told to be (1 Timothy 4:12).

UNUSUAL FAITH DID NOT AVERT GOD’S JUDGMENT

(vv.24-27)

Verse 24 tells us how fully Josiah removed every form of idolatrous practice in Judah and Jerusalem, banishing all who consulted with mediums and spiritists, and not only public idols, but household idols, for he wanted nothing allowed to continue that was forbidden by the book Hilkijah had found in the house of the Lord.

It is therefore a wonderful commendation given him in verse 25. No king before him or after him had turned to the Lord so fully with all his soul and with all his might as did Josiah.

Yet God had told Josiah that His wrath had been aroused against Judah because of all their iniquity and that wrath would not be quenched. This is repeated in verse 26. The Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath against Judah. Josiah’s faithfulness had only delayed the judgment during his own reign. Even though Manasseh had been converted in his later years, the evil he had been guilty of was enormous, and Judah had been greatly defiled by this. Though God’s grace may triumph over man’s sin to save him from eternal judgment, yet God’s government requires the judgment of whatever evil has been done. Therefore God would remove Judah from their land, just as He had allowed Israel to be removed. Jerusalem, God’s centre, and God’s house in Jerusalem would be cast off, in spite of God’s name having been established there.

JOSIAH’S SAD DEATH

Much more is written in the Book of Chronicles concerning the good reign of Josiah, but it is tragically sad that the end of his reign was not so bright as were the years before. Why was Josiah not content with his having honoured the Lord in those relationships in which God had placed him? It seems that he thought that since God had used him in great blessing to His people, the Jews, then God would also back him up in intervening in the disputes of other nations. If Pharaoh Necho had been coming to fight against Judah, Josiah would have had proper cause to go to war, but this was not the case. Perhaps he had not read Proverbs 26:17, “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears.” 2 Chronicles 35:21 quotes the warning of Pharaoh Necho to Josiah, not to interfere, but in spite of this Josiah persisted stubbornly, even disguising himself (2 Chronicles 35:22).

But his disguise did no good. The only person we hear of as dying in that battle was Josiah himself. God was acting behind the scenes, and He would not allow his otherwise faithful servant to get away with this unseemly conduct. He was killed at Megiddo, and his body taken by chariot back to Jerusalem, a long distance, and buried there. Chronicles tells us that all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him (2 Chronicles 35:24). He died at the early age of 39 years. His son Jehoahaz was then anointed king in Judah.

THE BRIEF REIGN OF JEHOAHAZ

(vv.31-33)

Jehoahaz, at 23 years of age, reigned only 3 months. In that brief time he followed the evil that Manasseh and Amon had done (v.32), a sad contrast to the godliness of his father. Evidently also Josiah’s assault against Pharaoh Necho had only drawn the ire of Pharaoh against Judah, and Pharaoh found Judah so vulnerable that he took Jehoahaz captive, putting him in prison at Riblah in the land Hamath and imposing a tribute on the land of 100 talents of silver and one talent of gold (v.33). Thus, though Israel had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt, Egypt came after them to Canaan to put them in bondage again!

Yet Judah was allowed to have a king, but a king of Pharaoh’s choice (v.34). Eliakim was also a son of Josiah, but evidently one easier for Pharaoh to handle. Pharaoh changed his name to Jehoiakim. When Pharaoh returned to Egypt he took Jehoahaz with him, and Jehoahaz died there. He had become king at age 23, reigning only three months, so he was a younger brother of Eliakim, who was 25 when he took the throne. It was the people who made Jehoahaz king, no doubt because they preferred him to his older brother. But Pharaoh reversed the people’s decision.

JEHOIAKIM’S EVIL REIGN

(23:35 to 24:6)

Having been appointed by Pharaoh as king over Judah, Jehoiakim was evidently fully subservient to Pharaoh, taxing the people of the land to pay the tribute of gold and silver that Pharaoh required (v.35). But he was not at all subservient to the Lord, rather he engaged in the same evil his fathers had done, Amon, Manasseh, etc., which involved the worship of idols and the oppression of the people.

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2 KING 22 JOSIAH’S GOOD REIGN

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2 KING 22 JOSIAH’S GOOD REIGN

(22:1 – 23:30)

From Josiah’s beginning to reign at eight years of age, his reign was faithful and godly, for he walked in the ways of David, the first of Israel’s godly kings (v.2), just as we today should gain our instructions from the first days of Christianity rather than from men who have followed through the years. How much more important is the teaching of the apostles whom the Lord appointed than that of Martin Luther, J.N. Darby or any other outstanding man of history.

2 Chronicles 34:3-7 tells us what is not recorded in 2 Kings, that in the eighth year of Josiah’s reign, at age 16, he began to seek the God of his father David, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places and idolatrous images, making a clean sweep of every element of idolatry, even burning the bones of the idolatrous priests on their altars. In fact, he went beyond Judah in his zeal for the honour of God, doing the same in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali. He did this in spite of the fact that these tribes were under Assyrian bondage and people from other nations had been introduced among them. Thus, at age 20, the faith of Josiah was remarkably energetic.

Chapter 22 of 2 Kings then begins with the record of Josiah’s initiative in repairing the house of God, which took place in his 18th year, the age of 26 (v.3). He had sent messengers to Manasseh and Ephraim, as well as Judah and Benjamin, to collect money for the purpose of repairing the house, which had lapsed into a degraded state through the abuse of Josiah’s father and grandfather (2 Chronicles 34:8-9).

Now Josiah sends Shaphan the scribe to ask Hilkijah the high priest to count the money they had received and give it to those doing the work, who were overseers in the house of the Lord, – to carpenters, builders and masons – to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house (vv.4-6). But, interestingly, they were not required to give any accounting of the way the money was spent, for they were depended on to deal faithfully. This is a lovely characteristic of a true revival among the people of God, not a humanly planned revival, though it did begin with the godly exercise of the young king, whose faith proved an effective example to others.

THE BOOK OF THE LAW DISCOVERED

(vv.8-20)

Though God had commanded in Deuteronomy 17:18-19 that the king of Israel was to write a copy of the law for himself and learn it well, Josiah did not even know that such a book existed. No doubt Manasseh and Amon had ignored God’s Word completely, so that when Hilkijah the high priest found the book of the law in the house of God, it was a total surprise to him and to Josiah. Certainly the high priest should have known the law, but the faith of Josiah was required to wake up the high priest. It is true in our day too, when there is genuine concern about the house of God, the Church, this will lead us to the Word of God.

When Shaphan the scribe read the Word of God to the king, Josiah was painfully shocked and tore his clothes (vv.10-11). For this was a message far more serious and solemn than he had ever expected. He commanded five of his servants, including the high priest and the scribe, to inquire of the Lord concerning the law and its warning of judgment against the very evils that Josiah had inherited from his fathers. For the scriptures plainly declared the wrath of God against the disobedience of which he knew his fathers were guilty (vv.12-13).

To ask about the book that so affected King Josiah, his servants went to a prophetess, Huldah, who lived in Jerusalem (v.14). It is sad that there were no male prophets to consult. At times of a low condition amongst God’s people, because of a sad faithlessness among men, the Lord will use a woman in the way a man would normally be used. Deborah is another example of this (Judges 4:1-4).

Huldah was a faithful woman who told Josiah’s servants the plain, uncompromising truth from God: “Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants – all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read – because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands. Therefore my wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched” (vv.16-17). Huldah simply confirmed what Josiah had read in scripture, that a dreadful judgment would fall on Jerusalem, expressing the fierce anger of the Lord against their wickedness.

However, Huldah’s prophecy also held some measure of comfort for Josiah. Because his heart was tender, and therefore he had humbled himself before the Lord when he heard the Word of God, he had torn his clothes in self-judgment and had wept before the Lord, the Lord had taken full account of his repentance (vv.18-20). For this reason the Lord assured Josiah that he himself would be taken away by death before the time of Judah’s solemn calamity. This may remind us of Isaiah 57:1, “The righteous perish, and no man takes it to heart: merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from the evil.” How often thus does God take away a godly person before some great trouble that would be most painful for him to witness!

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2 KINGS 21 MANASSEH’S WICKED REIGN

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2 KINGS 21 MANASSEH’S WICKED REIGN

(vv.1-18)

Manasseh was 12 years old when he began to reign, therefore he was born three years after Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery. But in contrast to his father, he was the most wicked king to ever reign over Judah. We may well wonder what his mother Hephzibah was like. His reign was a long one, – 55 years, – but he followed the example of the ungodly nations whom the Lord had dispossessed to give Israel the land (v.2). He rebuilt the high places that his father had destroyed, he made a wooden image and worshiped all the constellations of the heavens, the sun, moon and stars. He also built idolatrous altars in the house of the Lord and in the two courts of the house (vv.4-5).

Besides this, he made his son pass through the fire (offering him to the god Molech), practised soothsaying and witchcraft and consulted with spiritists and mediums. Thus he committed himself wholly to the gross wickedness of the idolatry of the nations, even setting a carved image of Asherah in the house of the Lord, the house which the Lord had chosen as His centre in Israel. In doing this his desire was to keep Israel from wandering from the Lord and being scattered (v.8)! How foolish an attitude, for Israel’s preservation was dependent on their being careful to obey the commandments of the Lord as given through Moses.

But Manasseh showed utter contempt for God in the way he treated God’s temple. He so seduced the people that they paid no attention to God’s commands, but practised worse evil than the ungodly nations whom God had destroyed so that Israel could take the land (v.9).

The Lord therefore spoke by the prophets (not only by one prophet), declaring with awful solemnity that because Manasseh had engaged in greater wickedness than the Amorites and had caused Judah to sin with his idols, therefore the Lord would bring such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of all who heard of it would tingle. This judgment of Jerusalem would be no less severe than that of Samaria and the house of Ahab, Jerusalem being wiped clean as a dish when wiped and turned upside down. Supposing Manasseh did reign for 55 years (v.1), that made no difference to the certainty of God’s judgment. God’s patience is too often mistaken for indulgence or indifference, but the longer He shows patience, the more awesome and terrible we can expect His judgment to be.

What contrast would this be to the preserving, protecting care of God over Hezekiah when he was attacked! God would forsake the remnant of His inheritance, the small number who had first proven faithful to Him but had turned away in foolish subjugation to the folly of their wilful king (v.14). Their enemies would defeat and plunder them because of their evil in provoking God to anger from the time of their deliverance from Egypt and throughout their history.

Added to this guilt in the case of Manasseh was his cruelty in shedding much innocent blood. Thus, violence accompanied his corruption. It is usually true that when one becomes corrupt in his attitude toward God, he will become violent toward others.

This book of Kings says nothing about the repentance of Manasseh, which 1 Chronicles 33:12-13 records, for Kings deals mainly with the matter of responsibility, while Chronicles emphasises the grace of God. There we learn that Manasseh was taken captive by Assyria and imprisoned in Babylon. In his affliction he humbled himself and turned to the Lord, so that his character was changed for the last short time of his life. It is amazing that one so wicked would be brought to genuine repentance, but the grace of God is able to save the most guilty. Sad to say, however, it is an exceptional case, for one who has lived a totally wicked life has so hardened himself against God that he will not give up his rebellion. No doubt, however, Manasseh owed a great deal to the godliness of his father, and though it took long to break him down, yet the training of earliest years eventually had its effect.

When his 55 year reign was finished, he died and was buried in the garden of his own house, and his son Amon became king. How sad that a long reign of 55 years produced really nothing but evil, so that though Manasseh will be in heaven, nearly all of his life’s work wilt be burned up.

AMON’S SHORT REIGN

(vv.19-26)

Amon was 22 years old when taking the throne of Judah, and reigned only for two years, in sharp contrast to the 55 years of his father’s reign. He followed his father’s example of wickedness, but with no repentance such as his father showed (vv.20-21). He did have the advantage of knowing of his father’s repentance, but this had no effect on him. The Lord evidently knew that two years was sufficient for Amon to repent. But nothing is said of him to his credit. He walked in cold refusal of the ways of God, choosing idols instead, and his own servants conspired against him and killed him in his own house (vv.22-23). How sad an end for one who had a godly grandfather!

However, Amon’s servants were not able to take control of the government. The people of the land intervened and executed the servants responsible for Amon’s death. This appears to be the energy of faith, for they made sure that one of the true line of David took the throne (v.24), even though he (Josiah) was only eight years old.

Other acts of Amon were evidently written in a book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah, but not in the scriptural book of Chronicles, for nothing more is said there than in this book of Kings. But his burial was honourable, for he was of the line of David.

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