The Kings Of Israel

THE KINGS OF ISRAEL
BY DAVID ETTINGER

Whether an emperor, king, or president, the actions and behavior of leaders are placed on pedestals, visible for all the world to see. And, all too often, the actions of leaders are reflected in the people they lead. This is especially true in the Bible. For there is no other volume of work where both the strengths and weaknesses, the accomplishments and failures, of history’s most famous people are so vividly and poignantly recorded. The Bible has withstood all efforts to destroy it and continues to stand before us as a testament to the best and worst man has to offer.

The chronicles of the kings of Israel are a provocative example of this. Nowhere else in the Bible have individuals been given so much opportunity by God to lead His people, to shepherd them in a way that would lead them to a greater relationship with their Creator. More often than not, however, those kings failed miserably in their divine assignments.

After the nation was divided into two parts–North (Samaria) and South (Judah–following the death of King Solomon, the northern kingdom was not blessed with a single righteous king. Judah, on the other hand, was gifted with several. However, the southern kingdom had its share of sinful kings who sought to do the will of nonexistent pagan gods rather than of the Most High (Dan. 4:34), who brought Israel into existence.

It is these southern kingdom monarchs following King Solomon on whom we will focus, as their stories stand recorded before us. As God’s universal Church, it is our responsibility to learn all we can from the kings of Judah, to emulate their spiritual victories and to eschew their moral failures.

REHOBOAM

THEME: Blind ambition can prove spiritually fatal.

LESSON: When seeking advise, consult with those who know God’s Word and live by it.

KEY VERSE: “But he [Rehoboam] forsook the counsel which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men that were brought up with him” (2 Chr. 10:8).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise” (Prov. 12:15).

TRACK RECORD: Perhaps no other king in history had inherited as much as Rehoboam. His father Solomon had spent his 40-year reign over the entire nation of Israel by building extensively. Under Solomon’s supervision, the magnificent. Temple of the Lord was constructed, as well as the king’s palace and numerous store cities and fortifications. Previous to Solomon’s reign, Rehoboam’s grandfather, King David, had established Israel as a military power among the world’s nations, establishing peace on every side for his descendants to inherit Rehohonm at 41, was no child when he became king. Upon his ascension to the throne, the people, led by a servant of Solomon, named Jeroboam, made only one request of the new monarch. “Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore ease thou somewhat the grievous servitude of thy father, and his heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve thee” (2 Chr. 10:4).

Given the opportunity to win the people to himself, Rehoboam sought the advice of his father’s counselors who urged him to grant the people’s wishes. However, whether because of trappings of power or the need to emerge from behind his ancestor’s long shadows, Rehoboam rejected the sages’ advice and sought counsel from the friends with whom he had grown up. The new king got the answer he was looking for. “Thus shalt thou answer the people that spake unto thee…. For whereas my father put a heavy yoke upon you, I will put more to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (2 Chr. 10:10-11).

That was all Jeroboam and the Israelites needed to hear. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel (Judah and Benjamin excluded) rebelled against the king of Judah and formed their own kingdom — with Jeroboam as their ruler–and remained l in rebellion until Samaria was taken into ‘ captivity by Assyria.

APPLICATION: As Christians, advice from those who are spiritually sound is nothing less than a gift from God. Let us not allow pride to cloud the wise counsel we are fortunate enough to receive.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “And he [Rehoboam] did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD” (2 Chr. 12:14).

ABIJAH

THEME: It’s one thing to talk the talk but walking the walk is another matter.

LESSON: What we do carries more weight than what we say.

KEY VERSE: “And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD” (2 Chr. 13:14).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which say?” (Lk. 6:46).

TRACK RECORD: Abijah, Rehoboam’s son, became king in place of his father. Of note in his three-year reign was his encounter on the battlefield with Jeroboam. Before the battle began, Abijah tried to stave it off with words. “Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David” (2 Chr. 13:5, 8).

Though Abijah sounded regal and like true man of God, he was no more than a resounding gong, because he did not worship the Lord. Like many uncommitted Christians today, Abijah simply called upon God during a time of need. Meanwhile, as our key verse indicates, while Abijah was orating, Jeroboam’s army surrounded him in an ambush. Eventually, the Lord gave Abijah the victory, but only to preserve the promise made to King David.

APPLICATION: It is not enough to merely call on the name of the Lord, we r also must do as He says.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “And he [Abijah] walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father” (I Ki. 15:3).

ASA

THEME: Failing to finish the race.

LESSON: The Christian life is a race. Let us run it to the finish

KEY VERSE: “The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be d of you, but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you ” (2 Chr. 15:2).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain” (I Cur 9:24).

TRACK RECORD: Asa spent the first 35 years of his 41-year~reign doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord (1 Ki. 15:11). However, in the 36th year the king suffered a lapse of faith which robbed him of his fellowship with the Lord. Asa, who through God’s help had conquered all his enemies, was attacked by King Baasha of Israel. However, instead of calling upon the Lord for help, Asa entered into a treaty with Ben-hadad, king of Syria. Asa won a military victory by siding with Ben-hadad. However, his spurning of God cost him much more. “Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, . . . Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars” (2 Chr. 16:7, 9).

From that time forth, Asa turned against God and even went so far as to oppress his own people. He then contracted a painful disease in his feet and still did not seek the Lord. Tragically, after following the Lord for most of his life, Asa died in misery because his heart turned cold in his old age.

APPLICATION: As Christians, we must daily confess our love for our Savior and guard vehemently against the hardening of our hearts.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD” (2 Chr. 16:12).

JEHOSHAPHAT

THEME: Do not be unequally yoked. LESSON: Compromise could have disastrous effects.

KEY VERSE: “Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab” (2 Chr. 18:1).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14).

TRACK RECORD: Among the king’s many accomplishments, Jehoshaphat sought to follow the Lord (2 Chr. 17:4); a removed the pagan high places (v. 6); had the Law of God taught to the towns of Judah (v. 7-10); and appointed Levites and priests to administer the Law (19:8). However, for unexplained reasons, he aligned himself with vile King Ahab of the northern kingdom and his wife Jezebel.

Worst of all, he accepted Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah, as a wife for his son Jehoram, an alliance that would bring deadly consequences.

Even though Jehoshaphat served God to the end of his life, his lack of judgment and propensity for compromise stained his otherwise glorious reign.

APPLICATION: As Christians, we must bring every aspect of our lives under God’s control and authority. Otherwise, we can hinder our walk greatly and suffer consequences God never intended for us to experience.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD” (2 Chr. 19:2).

JEHORAM & AHAZIAH

THEME: The deadly consequences of willing sin.

LESSON: When we set ourselves up against God, nothing but disaster will result.

KEY VERSE: “And he [Jehoram] walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD” (2 Chr. 21:6).

VERSE TO KEMEMBEK: “And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk Like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust and their flesh as the dung” (Zeph. 1:l7)

TRACK RECORD: Jehoram reigned eight years over Judah and, according to Scripture, not a single good thing came out of it. He began his reign wickedly–killing all his brothers in order that no one would be able to threaten his authority. . Politically, it was during Jehoram’s reign that Edom, a vassal of Israel, broke away: from the subjugation of the kingdom. Spiritually, Jehoram undid the good work of his predecessor, making “high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto” (2 Chr. 21:11). Because of his extensive sins, Jehoram was subject to brutal judgment; he was struck with a disease of the bowels, which eventually led to the need for his bowels to be removed. Furthermore, God roused the Philistines, Arabs, and Ethiopians against Judah. Jehoram died wretchedly, in great pain, and with his people facing enemies from every side.

It was evident that Jehoram’s son, Ahaziah, learned nothing from his father’s miserable example. The son of Athaliah, and grandson of Ahab and I Jezebel, lasted only one year as Judah’s ruler and repeated many of his father’s sins. He sided with King Joram of Israel, and was eventually killed by Jehu who was commissioned by God to destroy the family of Ahab. When Ahaziah’s mother Athaliah, saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy all of her grandsons save one–Joash–who ruled the land for the next six years.

The lesson from both of these kings is clear–evil is a choice–and those who practice it will suffer great consequences.

APPLICATION: The same holds true for the Christian. The sin we commit is our own decision. Though God forgives those who confess their sins–and we must never take for granted His wonderful – mercies in doing so–the consequences often remain long after forgiveness has come.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “So the house s of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom” (2 Chr. 22:9).

JOASH

THEME: We must live for God and not for men.

LESSON: Though men and women of God may greatly influence us, our faith and devotion must be to God alone.

KEY VERSE: “And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chr: 24:2 – emphasis added).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits” (Ps. 103:2 – emphasis added).

TRACK RECORD: Joash was saved the LORD God of their fathers, older sister Jehoshabeath and her husband, Jehoiada the priest. When Joash was seven, he was made king, and Athaliah was put to death. Joash would remain king for the next 40 years. So long as Jehoiada lived, Joash was at his best. He set his heart on repairing the Temple that had long been neglected by his predecessors and resolutely did so. However, the turning point in Joash’s reign–and his life– came when Jehoiada died. Without the good priest’s counsel, Joash went astray. “Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. . . And they left the house of (2 Chr. 24:17-18). In fact, so great was Joash’s rebellion, that he ordered the stoning death of Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah, who had confronted him about his sin. Joash died from the hands of his own servants who sought revenge for Zechariah’s death.

It was clear that Joash’s heart was devoted more to Jehoiada than to God. When Jehoiada was no longer in the picture, the king’s true allegiances emerged.

APPLICATION: Christians, too, must be careful not to magnify their spiritual leaders, be it pastors, teachers, or those who disciple them. For when these men fall, so do those who revere them. God and God alone is to be magnified, revered, and worshiped.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you” (2 Chr. 24:20).

It was clear that Joash’s heart was devoted more to Jehoiada than to God. When Jehoiada was no longer in the picture, the king’s true allegiances emerged.

AMAZIAH & UZZIAH

THEME: Pride leads to destruction.

LESSON: Whenever we puff ourselves up because of earthly accomplishments, a spiritual fall is sure to follow.

KEY VERSE: “And he [Amaziah] did that which was right in the sight of
The LORD, but not with a perfect heart” (2 Chr. 25:2 – emphasis added).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD” (Prov. 16:5).

TRACK RECORD: Amaziah, who reigned 29 years, was a good administrator. He strengthened his military and led it to a rousing victory over renegade Edom. However, it was that very victory which led to his downfall. His confidence sky high from the win on the battlefield, Amaziah challenged the northern kingdom of Israel. Its king, Joash (not the same Joash as Judah’s previous monarch), advised against it, but Amaziah would not be deterred. Because of the king’s foolish actions, Judah suffered a humiliating defeat as King Joash broke down a large part of the wall of Jerusalem and took all the gold and silver out of the Temple. However, Amaziah’s downfall came before this defeat. “Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them” (2 Chr. 25:14).

Amazingly, Uzziah followed in his father’s footsteps. Like his father, Uzziah, who reigned for 52 long years, he was a great administrator and politician. He defeated the Philistines in battle and subjugated the Ammonites. He fortified Jerusalem as well as the desert areas. His army was well trained, and well armed. Above all, “his name spread far abroad” (2 Chr. 26:15). However, like his father, Uzziah turned prideful. “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction” (2 Chr. 26:16). He took it upon himself to burn incense in the Temple, a duty reserved only for the priests. As a result, God struck the king with leprosy, and it stayed with him the rest of his life.

APPLICATION: As Christians, we must always watch ourselves during times of either earthly or spiritual accomplishments. The tendency is usually to build ourselves up in our own strength instead of remembering that without God we are nothing, and it is He who gives us our gifts and our strength.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several [separate] house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD” (2 Chr. 26:21).

JOTHAM

THEME: Let others see God through your life.

LESSON: Don’t hide your light under a bushel. KEY VERSE: “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD . . . And the people did yet corruptly” (2 Chr 27:2).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 5:16).

TRACK RECORD: According to the short account of Jotham’s 16-year reign, the king did just about everything right. He did extensive rebuilding on the Temple walls and built towns, forts, and towers. Militarily, he defeated the Ammonites in battle “So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God” (2 Chr. 27:6). Despite all this, in 16 years he was still unable to have a positive spiritual effect on his people.

APPLICATION: There are many Christians today who live “good” and “right” lives, yet very few people actually know that they are Christians. It is imperative in this dark world that we back our good actions with verbal testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “So Jotham be came mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God” (2 Chr. 27:6).

AHAZ

THEME: The destructive power of sin.

LESSON: Wickedness against God can have tragic effects on those around us.

KEY VERSE: “Ahaz . . . did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father: For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim” (2 Chr. 28:1-2).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “. . . sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” Gen. 4:7).

TRACK RECORD: For 16 years Ahaz was the epitome of evil. Among his many misdeeds, Ahaz not only sacrificed to idols, he also sacrificed his own son– perhaps the height of pagan abominations. As a result, Ahaz was handed over to the Syrians, and many of his subjects were taken captive to Damascus. Despite this, Ahaz still did not repent. As he continued to sin, his people continued to suffer. In one day 120,000 of his soldiers were slaughtered by Pekah, king of Israel. Following the carnage, Pekah gathered 200,000 people from Judah and was intent on enslaving them before a prophet stepped in and stopped him. Despite the intervention and his own inability to lead and protect his people, Ahaz still refused to repent. Eventually, Ahaz aligned himself with Assyria and began to worship their gods. He also profaned the Temple of the Lord by bringing in pagan altars and removed the altars of God, provoking the Lord to anger. His unabashed sin nearly destroyed his people, and he did nothing to stop it.

For Christians, Ahaz is hardly an example to learn from, but one principle can be salvaged from this wicked king’s reign and that is sin’s effect on those around us. Ahaz’s sin spread like cancer to his people.

APPLICATION: When we as Christians sin, often that sin can have ill effects on our families, those we fellowship with, and those we work with. Sometimes it takes hard work to curb the sin in our lives, but it is a work well worth doing.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD” (2 Chr. 28:22).

HEZEKIAH

THEME: Letting God work through you.

LESSON: God will use you greatly if you are obedient to His will and
Word.

KEY VERSE: “And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered ” (2 Chr. 31:21).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all shine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Dt. 6:5).

TRACK RECORD: Hezekiah’s track record is just as impressive as his father Ahaz’s was ignominious. Hezekiah re paired the damage caused to the Temple by his father; inspired his people to seek and serve the Lord; celebrated the Passover something that hadn’t been done in generations; and brought peace–for a time–to his people. Yet, despite this, Israel was still attacked by the fierce Assyrian army which had just defeated the northern kingdom and carried it off into captivity. But unlike so many kings before him Hezekiah did not panic when his country was under siege by making a treaty with a pagan nation. Instead, Hezekiah humbly sought the Lord first and solely: “Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his [Assyria’s] hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only” (2 Ki. 19:19). Hezekiah’s prayer is an amazing one. When most of us pray out of distress, we seek only deliverance. However, Hezekiah sought deliverance on the basis that God would be glorified. Even in the most dire circumstance of his life, Hezekiah still sought God’s glory first. And God responded mightily, slaying 180,000 Assyrian troops that very night.

Just as Ahaz’s sin nearly enslaved his people, so Hezekiah’s righteousness redeemed his.

APPLICATION: For the Christian, seeking God’s glory should always come first, even in our most distressing times. What blessing can be ours if, like Hezekiah, we would only seek the Lord in all we do and let Him do His will through us.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death” (2 Chr. 32:33).

MANASSEH

THEME: It is never too late to get right before God.

LESSON: Don’t wait until we’ve destroyed ourselves and everything around us to put away our sin.

KEY VERSE: “And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbler himself greatly before the God of his fathers ” (2 Chr. 33:12).
VERSE TO REMEMBER: “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Dt. 4:29).

TRACK RECORD: It’s hard to believe that someone as righteous as Hezekiah could turn out a son as evil as Manasseh. The wicked monarch reigned longer than any other king in Israel’s historyÄ55 years. Among his transgressions–and there were many–was Manasseh’s blatant worship of idols and his practice of pagan rituals. “And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witch-craft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger” (2 Chr. 33:6). When God’s patience had run out, he sent the Assyrians to punish Jerusalem. They put a hook in Manasseh’s nose and bound him in bronze shackles and carried him off to prison in Babylon.

And it was sometime in his dank and dreary cell that he came to his senses and called upon the Lord, “and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God” (2 Chr. 33:13). Manasseh displayed his conversion by instituting repairs to the city wall and ridding the city of foreign gods. However, the damage to the people was too great to repair, for Manasseh’s sins were recalled years later during the righteous reign of his grandson Josiah: “Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal” (2 Ki. 23:26).

APPLICATION: Too often Christians take liberties with the grace of God. That He will forgive our sins when we truly repent of them is no excuse to sin at anytime. Though Manasseh did come to know the Lord, he brought down an entire people until he did. As Christians, let us deal with our sin as soon as possible and spare those around us of the consequences.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Chr. 33:9).

AMON

THEME: Often, time simply runs out.

LESSON: Don’t put off repentance.

KEY VERSE: “And [Amonl humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more” (2 Chr 33:23).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “Behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 cor. 6:2).

TRACK RECORD: Little is said of the vile king who reigned just two years, but what is said speaks volumes. “He did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father . . . but . . . trespassed more and more” (2 Chr. 33:22-23). That Amon is linked to his father in the magnitude of his sin is indeed a blaring condemnation of his life. That he continued to add to it is almost unimaginable. If Amon had any thoughts of repenting as his father had done, his plans were cut short when his own officials conspired against him and assassinated him.

APPLICATION: To Christians who are living out of God’s will, allow this rephrasing of the above-mentioned verse from 2 Corinthians: “Behold, now is the day of repentance.”

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house” (2 Chr. 33:24).

JOSIAH

THEME Serving God wholeheartedly can save altitude.

LESSON! When you serve God without compromise or turning, you bring blessing to everyone around you.

KEY VERSE: “For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father” (2 chr. 34:3).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mat. 3:10).

TRACK RECORD: Josiah descending from the loins of Amon is every bit as improbable as Manasseh descending from the loins of Hezekiah. For as wicked as his father and grandfather were, Josiah was exceedingly righteous. The monarch who reigned for 31 years was responsible for tearing down the altars of the Baals; smashing the Asherah poles; purifying and repairing the Temple; finding the Book of the Law, reading it to the people and making a covenant to observe it; and removing the idols from all the land over which he held dominion, far exceeding the borders of Jerusalem and Judah. Josiah also celebrated the Passover, something not done in Israel since the time of Hezekiah. More than anything, however, Josiah, like Hezekiah, brought salvation to his people. After finding the Book of the Law, Josiah sent his officials to consult with the prophetess Huldah, who delivered this message: “Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place . . . [But] Because shine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God . . . Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace” (2 Chr. 34:24, 27-28).

The kingdom of Judah would survive almost 23 years following the death of Josiah, allowing that much more time for repentance to be sought by those who had the heart to do so. Had it not been for the righteous acts of Josiah, Judah could well have been judged and sent to captivity much earlier than it was.

APPLICATION: The Christian should never be dismayed by living a right life before God, but at times seeing no fruit result. For just as sin spreads and destroys, so righteousness permeates and saturates those associated with it.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH “Because shine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself . . . and weep before me; I have even heard thee also” (2 Chr. 34:27).

JEHOAHAZ, ELIAKIM, JEHOIACHIN, & ZEDEKIAH

THEME: Choosing what is wrong.

LESSON: Sin is not something thrust upon us, but, ultimately, something we choose to do.

KEY VERSES: “But he [Zedekiah] stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel. Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem” (2 Chr. 36:13-14).

VERSE TO REMEMBER: “The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth” {Ps. 34:16).

TRACK RECORD: Perhaps no other kings in Israel’s history had the opportunity to do good as did these four monarchs who reigned a total of almost 23 years. Three of them were sons of Josiah, and the fourth (Jehoiachin) was his grandson. However, none of them took Josiah’s lead. The commentary on the second king of the foursome, Eliakim (renamed Jehoiakim), was evil in the sight of the LORD his God” (2 Chr. 36:5). At last God’s patience had run out with his people, and He sent Nebuchadnezzar to carry the people to captivity in Babylon. Though they had the shining example of the revered Josiah to emulate, the kings obstinately refused, thus bringing on the final downfall of their people.

APPLICATION: As Christians, we must not allow sinful pride or desire to turn us away from following the godly examples of the men and women that the Lord has brought into each of our lives. We can do no better than strive to live according to how these men and women of God have shown us.

SPIRITUAL EPITAPH: “But they [Israel] mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (2Chr. 36:16).

CONCLUSION

One cannot but be struck with a sense of sadness when reading about the fall of Israel leading up to the Babylonian captivity. Until the Lord built His Church, perhaps no people on earth had been so blessed as the children of Israel to have communion with the God who breathed the world into existence. The kings who were given the privilege of leading that people had the chance to shepherd them in the ways of the Sovereign of the Universe. Some succeeded as gloriously–however, most failed miserably.

Today, Christians have a magnificent opportunity to live for our Lord and show the world that there is just one God–the Lord, one Spirit–the Holy, and only one Savior–the Lord Jesus Christ. May we be faithful in the work which He has given us to do.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY ZION’S FIRE, MAY’JUNE 1998, PAGES 10-18. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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