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2 Kings 24:1 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:57 mins 48 secs

Three Evil Kings; The Faithfulness of God. 2 Kings 24:1

 

We are going to look at three evil kings in the kingdom of Judah and the self-destruction of the nation. We will see how the nation comes under divine discipline and destroys itself because of their rejection of God. That is the foundational issue; they violate the first of the Ten Commandments, of keeping loyalty to the Lord God alone and have become deeply immersed in false religion and idolatry. From generation to generation we see God's patience with them as He constantly in His love seeks to bring them back to Him. We have seen time and again  where there have been periods where the nation has returned to God and have been led by leaders who have desired to cleanse the nation of the sins of idolatry only to be followed by another king who leads the people back into various forms of perversion and idolatry. We see that through their decision to reject God, through their exercise of personal responsible volition, they choose against God, they seek to put their focus, their priorities, their love and affection in something in the creation, something other than God. So now God is going to be faithful to His promise in the Mosaic Law to bring judgment on the nation and to finally remove them from the land of promise,

 

What we see in this section of 2 Kings, chapter 23, is a focus on three evil kings. Josiah had two sons through two different wives. There was Jehoahaz who will reign for only three months and he once again turns the people back to idolatry and to evil. He is replaced by his half-brother Jehoiakim who reigned for eleven years. He continues the policy of spiritual apostasy from God, rebellion against God. In Israel idolatry was in essence treason because it was a theocracy and God was the ruler of Israel. Evil against God is always defined as starting with a rejection of God as the ultimate starting point in the focal point of the nation's thinking. He is rejected, something else is put in His place, the people no longer worship God and put Him as the highest priority and they worship something else. Jekoiakim continues the decline and it will be in the midst of his reign in 605 BC that they will experience the first invasion of the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. When he dies he is replaced by his son Jehoiachin who, again, reigns only three months in 598 BC. This begins to set us up for the destruction of Jerusalem, the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah and their entrance into the Babylonian captivity. 

 

We see a summary statement in 2 Kings 23:3-4 NASB "The LORD sent against him bands of Chaldeans, bands of Arameans, bands of Moabites, and bands of Ammonites. So He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken through His servants the prophets. Surely at the command of the LORD it came upon Judah, to remove {them} from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood which he shed, for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; and the LORD would not forgive." These traditional enemies of Israel now have been strengthened and they are invading the land. This is part of the fourth cycle of divine discipline that God had promised in Leviticus chapter twenty-six, the invasion by foreign powers. God sent them; He is the one who was behind bringing this suffering and discipline upon the southern kingdom of Judah because they had rejected Him. So because of the violation of the individual mandates of the Mosaic Law to execute righteousness and justice, to stand up for the widows, the orphans, for those who were poor, for those who were dealt injustice, they are condemned. The shedding of innocent blood is a reference to child sacrifice and it is all based on their worship of other things than God.

 

In 640 BC Josiah becomes the king of Judah. He brings a restoration of the Law into the land. He replaces two evil kings, Manasseh and Amon, even though at the end of Manasseh's reign there is a partial return to the Law he doesn't live long enough and so there isn't a complete restoration in the land. Amon ruled for less than two years and he is replaced by Josiah. In 633 BC, seven years later, Ashur-bani-pal died, the last great ruler of the Assyrian empire. From that point on Assyria goes into serious decline. She is ruled by a series of incompetent rulers and begins to crumble from the inside. In 630 when Josiah is eighteen years old a copy of the Torah is rediscovered in the temple. He reads the Torah to the people and they are rebuked by the Word of God and turn from their idolatry back to God and there is a cleansing in the nation and it has a period of prosperity which is the last segment of divine grace before judgment. God always deals with us in grace before judgment, giving us that last opportunity to turn back to Him in obedience.

 

Then in 626 things on the international scene changed. There is an important principle here and that is that we ought to be aware of what is happening internationally; not just in terms of the Old Testament and the nations there but even today, because God is the overlord of history, the one who is working out His plans and purposes. We may not always understand precisely how the international dynamics are affected by God's plan and how they are going to bring about His ultimate plan but we know that when we see the massive shifts and movements in history and realignment of power that this is under the oversight of God. He is bringing about His will so that divine viewpoint gives us an understanding that God is the one who is in charge, even though things may look chaotic and as if there is no hope. A principle that we learn from all of this is that spiritual decisions of a people, of a nation, affect their economics, their politics, their military; we can't separate the physical dynamics of the culture from their spiritual orientation.

 

So what happens internationally is that Assyria which has been the dominant power for over one hundred years begins to crumble. Whenever there is the crumbling of one empire there is always another power that moves into that vacuum, and that takes place in 626 when Nabopolassar executes a rebellion against Assyria and Babylon becomes independent of Assyria and he begins to attack the Assyrian army. In 612 the Babylonians destroyed Nineveh and the Assyrians were forced to move their capital west to Horan. Two years later they are defeated soundly and finally by the Babylonians. Following that when the Assyrian army is falling back towards Carchemish Pharaoh Necho begins to move up from the south to support Assyria against the Babylonians. At Megiddo he is met by Josiah. Nobody knows why Josiah became involved. Even though Pharaoh Necho tried to dissuade him, as is described in 2 Chronicles 35:21, 22, Josiah would not turn away from him and was killed at Megiddo.

 

After this Pharaoh Necho moves north to Riblah. But what happens at the death of the king of Judah is that he is going to be replaced by his son Jehoahaz who is seen by the people of the southern kingdom of Judah as being a strong anti-Egyptian leader. Those in Judah make Jehoahaz the king but this the person that Necho wants to be king and so Jehoahaz is only going to last for three months before he will be imprisoned by Pharaoh Necho and eventually taken to Egypt where he will die in prison. Then we see this gradual decline and deterioration set in in the house of David.

 

After Josiah was shot he is removed from the battlefield. 2 Chronicles 35:25 NASB "Then Jeremiah chanted a lament for Josiah. And all the male and female singers speak about Josiah in their lamentations to this day. And they made them an ordinance in Israel; behold, they are also written in the Lamentations." Lamentations is a great picture into an understanding of how believers should handle crises and disaster that comes from divine discipline. Even though God brings discipline He is faithful. Lamentations 3:22, 23 NASB "The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. {They} are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."

That brings us up to the description of the next king, Jehoahaz. 2 Kings 23:31 NASB "Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah." He is basically a 90-day disaster. He reigns only three months. He returns the nation to the patterns of evil as seen in the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh. [32] "He did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done." He is brought under discipline by God, imprisoned by Pharaoh Necho and taken to Egypt where he will die a horrible death. After he is imprisoned Pharoah Necho will impose a tribute on the nation for having put Jehoahaz in power. [33] "Pharaoh Neco imprisoned him at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a fine of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold." A talent was equal to 3000 shekels (Approx. 75-1/2 pounds, about $208,000 in today's value of silver). This was back when money actually had value. There are a number of scholars who believe that somehow there is a textual variant here because in some ancient translations it is read as either ten talents of gold or 100 talents of gold, which would be more in keeping they believe with the amount of silver. It would have been a burdensome fine placed upon the nation.

Riblah is an area of strategic value, a strategic point and an area where later on Nebuchadnezzar would form up his armies, a place to which Zedekiah will be taken and his sons executed before his eyes.

2 Kings 23:34 Pharaoh NASB "Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away and brought {him} to Egypt, and he died there." He changes his name. Eliakim means my God established and Jehoiakim means Yahweh established; a shift from El or the generic word for God to the first syllable in Yahweh for the personal name of God. The fact that he changes his name is not of theological significance to the change in name, it is showing that Pharaoh Necho is exercising his dom9inance over the southern kingdom of Judah and he has the right not only to put the person he wants in to power but also to name him.

2 Kings 23:35 NASB "So Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land in order to give the money at the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land, each according to his valuation, to give it to Pharaoh Neco." There is an annual tribute that had to be paid to the overlord because Judah is now seen as a vassal or servant nation to Egypt at the beginning of Jehoiakim's rule. Now the wealth of the nation is hemorrhaging as it is taken down to Egypt. The principle we learn here again: Bad spiritual decisions lead to economic disaster. How we view ultimate reality affects decisions we make with regard to law, with regard to money and investments. The decisions that are made in the halls of power reflect the worldview of the leaders. And the worldview of the leader is no different from the worldview of the people, and so when the culture or civilization has turned its back on God, when it has become mired in cultural relativism that paganism always produces then this always has these negative consequences. The details of this are spelled out in the book of Leviticus as well as in Deuteronomy.

2 Kings 23:36 NASB "Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name {was} Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. [37] He did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done." He increases and continues the evil of his brother Jehoahaz. Initially at the beginning of his reign he is under the dominion of Egypt and he continues to pay tribute to Egypt, but after 605 as the Babylonians had defeated the Egyptians at the Battle of Carchemish then he has to pay tribute to Babylon. After three years of paying tribute to Babylon he recognizes how this is destroying his country economically and so he attempted to revolt against Nebuchadnezzar, which just brought on the wrath of the Babylonian empire and Nebuchadnezzar invaded the country. So God, we are told, intensifies the military invasions. The other nations surrounding Israel have grown in power and strength but Israel has lost physical power, economic strength and military strength, because at the core of their culture they have lost the strength that comes from their relation ship with God. Now God has allowed this to work itself out in terms of its normal consequences that God has built into the framework of reality. So the spiritual decisions have physical consequences in terms of politics, in terms of law, in terms of economics.

Whenever we leave a righteous external standard, e.g. in monetary things, then what replaces it is simply some sort of relativistic standard that is grounded only on the experience of man. The result of that is always injustice. And this is the real issue that is going on at this time in Israel's history. The indictment that God brings against the southern kingdom of Judah is an indictment first because they have left their love for God, they have violated the first two commandments in the Ten Commandments and they have committed treason against God, He is not the only focus of their worship. Secondly, as a result of that unrighteousness or injustice has entered into the land. 

Then we come to the final statement regarding what God is doing. 2 Kings 23:3-4 NASB "The LORD sent against him bands of Chaldeans, bands of Arameans, bands of Moabites, and bands of Ammonites." As Israel has become weak the enemies began to pick off all of the things of value in the southern kingdom of Judah. And yet God is behind it, this is the divine interpretation of history. It is not just that they became weak and these other nations moved into the vacuum of power, it is that God is orchestrating these events. There is a spiritual reality that goes beyond the physical reality. We can't just measure these things in terms of empiricism, in terms of the study of economic laws, military laws and strategy or political laws. There is a spiritual reality that takes place that is the ultimate causation in human history. If Israel had been positive to God, obedient to God, then that would have changed the scenario. So God sends these armies against Judah to destroy it and this He has warned about, according to His servants the prophets.

If we want to understand the dynamics of the background of this then we should look at Jeremiah chapter twenty-two. By this time Jeremiah is the primary prophet in the southern kingdom of Judah and he brings his warning of judgment, his specific divine viewpoint analysis against the kingdom of Judah, and we read this in Jeremiah 22. It is in this chapter that we see a summary of the indictment against the son of Josiah.

Jeremiah 22:1 NASB "Thus says the LORD, 'Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word [2] and say, 'Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, who sits on David's throne, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates.'" So he is addressing the ruler of Judah, the one who is responsible for the nation before God. [3] "Thus says the LORD, 'Do justice and righteousness…" When a nation is walking with integrity  before God then there is justice and righteousness in the course of law. The people are treated according to the standards of the Mosaic Law. They are to love their neighbor, remember, as they love themselves. But once they put themselves above their neighbor then the neighbors will be the ones who will be the victims of injustice. They will be treated poorly, they will be treated with injustice within the courts of law, there will be false witnesses in the courts of law, and this ultimately will lead to a degradation of justice in the nation. This is what is described in the following verses. "… and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of {his} oppressor. Also do not mistreat {or} do violence to the stranger [non-Jew living in the land], the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place." That is, the life of the children that were offered to idols. So the command to the king is to make sure that justice prevails in the land and in the courts.

The warning is given. Jeremiah 22:4 NASB "For if you men will indeed perform this thing, then kings will enter the gates of this house, sitting in David's place on his throne, riding in chariots and on horses, {even the king} himself and his servants and his people." In other words, God has promising ongoing blessing to the house of David if righteousness characterizes their reign. [5] "But if you will not obey these words, I swear by Myself," declares the LORD, "that this house [dynasty of David] will become a desolation." [6] For thus says the LORD concerning the house of the king of Judah: 'You are {like} Gilead to Me, {Like} the summit of Lebanon; Yet most assuredly I will make you like a wilderness, {Like} cities which are not inhabited.'" Gilead and Lebanon were two areas that were covered with forests in the ancient world. He is referring to these as the source of the wealth that was displayed in the palace of the king. [7] "For I will set apart destroyers against you, Each with his weapons; And they will cut down your choicest cedars And throw {them} on the fire. [8] Many nations will pass by this city; and they will say to one another, 'Why has the LORD done thus to this great city?'" That is the point. God is not bringing judgment upon the nation for its own sake. What is at stake is the glory of God and the faithfulness to His Word and to His promises.

In the Mosaic Law God said: "If you will obey me I will bless this nation in phenomenal ways, and all the peoples of the nations will come by and say, 'What is this nation? Why is are they so great? Why are they so blessed?' And the answer will be, "Because of the Lord their God.'" But this is the reverse of that now because they are under divine discipline and God says that what will happen now after the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple people will come by and say, Why has the Lord done this to this great city? Jeremiah 22:9 NASB "Then they will answer, 'Because they forsook the covenant of the LORD their God and bowed down to other gods and served them.'"

What we see God doing here is taking these events that occurred in history and giving us the spiritual dimension behind them, and showing that the blessing is to support His glory and to recognize His grace and goodness and to glorify God, but the destruction is the result of violating God's will, the result of disobeying the law, so that the judgment itself is a sign of God's faithfulness, of His righteous character. So righteousness and love produce both blessing and, when there is a violation of God's standard, judgment. 

Jeremiah 22:10 NASB "Do not weep for the dead [Josiah] or mourn for him, {But} weep continually for the one who goes away [Jehoahaz]; For he will never return Or see his native land. [11] For thus says the LORD in regard to Shallum [Jehoahaz] the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who became king in the place of Josiah his father, who went forth from this place, 'He will never return there; [12] but in the place where they led him captive, there he will die and not see this land again.'"

The heart of the matter. Jeremiah 22:13 NASB "Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness…" Woe is always used as a pronouncement of judgment by God. There is judgment coming to the person who builds his house, his life, the power base of his dynasty on unrighteousness, i.e. the violation of God's absolute standards. "… And his upper rooms without justice, Who uses his neighbor's services without pay And does not give him his wages." This recognizes the legitimacy of the worker who works for an honest wage. But when there is inflation that destroys honest money it destroys the legitimacy of the value of the payment for wages. This legitimizes the fact that a person has a right to work and earn a just return for his work, and when a government takes away from that then this is unrighteousness.  [14] "Who says, 'I will build myself a roomy house With spacious upper rooms, And cut out its windows, Paneling {it} with cedar and painting {it} bright red.'" This is the expanse of government at the expense of the people. Because the government is not a wealth producer, the role of government is to preserve the integrity of the nation, to protect it from the incursion of foreign enemies, and to protect it from criminality within. This is the function of government under the divine viewpoint teaching of Scripture. It is not the role of government to provide equal results from people's labor.

Jeremiah 22:15 NASB "Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink And do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him." When the law was implemented there was blessing, justice and righteousness, and it was well with him; he was blessed; the nation was blessed. [16] "He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?" Declares the LORD." So justice in the land is based on an external standard other than just the viewpoint of the majority. [17] "But your eyes and your heart Are {intent} only upon your own dishonest gain, And on shedding innocent blood And on practicing oppression and extortion." Always the flaw in human government is that government seeks to aggrandize itself and increase its own power base and to become the tyrant and the ruler of the people. The true nature of liberty as the founding fathers understood it, and as we should understand it, is not the freedom to do what we want to do but it is freedom from government; it is freedom  from the incursion and the overreaching power of government going beyond its divinely ordained limits. When the government sets its heart on increasing its own power and size then this always takes away from the liberty, the freedom, the responsibility of the people. 

What is said in the Mosaic Law: Leviticus 19:15 NASB "You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly." This is a standard of righteousness. Just because someone is poor it may make us feel better emotionally to give them a helping hand but compassion does not have its place in the courtroom. You don't take into account the fact that a person is poor, a person is needy; neither do you take into account the fact that a person is wealthy or a person has power. This is what true justice is. You weigh each situation on its own merits and not on the basis of the position of the individual in a society. The Torah in this one verse does away with the whole concept of social justice that has as its father Marxist philosophy. This is not what we are to do. We are not to pay attention to the fact that this is a poor person or that this person comes from needy circumstances. We are not to take into account either that they are wealthy. We are to ignore those factors, they do not have anything to do with the case at hand.

Exodus 23:1 NASB "You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness." The problem is that when we slip away from divine absolutes we no longer have a sure and certain framework for defining what is right and what is wrong. Who is it then who defines what is right and what is wrong? Either it is the creator God who is outside of the system or it is the people within the system, and once you make the people the final arbiter of what is right and what is wrong then you've laid the foundation for injustice and moral relativism. This is seen in the next verse.

Exodus 23:2 NASB "You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert {justice;}" In other words, don't make judgments in the courts according to the majority view of the people. The majority view of the people do not determine what is right or wrong, what is righteous or what is unrighteous; there must be an external standard.

But when we live in a society that has rejected the law, that has rejected as we have in our world today the external standards of Scripture, then there is nothing left than to be in the fluid state of always changing what is right and what is wrong, and then the judges begin to rule on the basis of their personal opinion and on their personal taste, and this leads us even further into cultural destruction. Exodus 23:2 recognizes the principle that the multitudes are not the source of the standards. Just because the emotions of the crowd support one particular verdict does not mean that that is a righteous verdict. The verdict must be made on the basis of law, and there have been numerous decisions where the popular opinion, the politically correct view, has influenced the judge and the jury and justice has been perverted. This happens more and more.

Exodus 23:3 NASB "nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute." Just because he is poor and lacks anything does not mean that the courtroom is the place to somehow resolve the fact that he is poor. Partiality to the poor might seem noble but its result is injustice. Sentimentalism can be as evil as tyranny in its consequences. We cannot assume that the poor or the rich are necessarily right; sin is no respecter of persons. When we take into account a person's social standing we cannot let some relativistic artificial standard such as social justice become the standard for governing the decisions of the poor. 

Exodus 23:6 NASB "You shall not pervert the justice {due} to your needy {brother} in his dispute." You shall not pay attention to his position, to his own personal economic standing. [7] "Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty. [8] You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just. [9] You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you {also} were strangers in the land of Egypt." In other words, in Exodus chapter twenty-three we have the standards of righteousness. The indictment against Jehoiakim is that they have perverted the standard of justice in the Mosaic Law and so God is going to bring about the judgment that He promised in the Mosaic Law.

Leviticus 26:43 NASB "For the land will be abandoned by them, and will make up for its sabbaths while it is made desolate without them. They, meanwhile, will be making amends for their iniquity, because they rejected My ordinances and their soul abhorred My statutes." This is the fifth stage of discipline. If the nation continues in unfaithfulness and unrighteousness to God then God will remove them from the land that He promised them and that land will be left desolate because of their guilt. "They rejected my ordinances and their soul abhorred my statutes." That is the ultimate issue in our personal lives and it is the ultimate issue in history. But verse 44 always holds out hope: NASB "Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God." The passage goes on to promise that God will indeed restore them and that grace is always available. It doesn't matter how we fail or what we have done, what matters is that we can always turn to God and His grace for salvation and for recovery from sin, for God's grace always holds out the offer of hope and the offer of recovery.

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