August 25, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Kings 21-25.
Background: II Kings 16-20.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Manasseh: After King Hezekiah died, his son Manasseh reigned in his place, beginning at age 12 and reigning for 55 years, which would be the longest reign in the history of the kingdom of Judah. For all the reform that Hezekiah his father had done, Manasseh went the opposite direction, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord and bringing back all the abominations that his father had torn down. He erected the altars once again for Baal and made an Asherah, burned his son in the abominable practice of the nations around them (see Leviticus 18:21) and dealt in witchcraft. Manasseh did much evil in the sight of the Lord, being compared to Ahab (see I Kings 16-22). He provoked the Lord to anger and the prophets of the Lord prophesied against Manasseh specifically (see Jeremiah 15:4), warning Judah that the Lord was going to bring great destruction upon them because of their wickedness. Though there had been great reform in Judah, it only took one generation to bring the reform to ruin. Manasseh had kindled the wrath of the Lord against Judah, causing them to sin, in such a way that even the later reforms of Josiah (see chapter 23) would not turn away the wrath of the Lord. Ultimately the Lord would bring Babylon against Judah to take them into captivity for their transgression (see chapter 25). Manasseh died and his son Amon reigned in his place.
2. Amon: Beginning at age 22, Amon would only reign for two years over Judah before he was assassinated by his servants. He too did what has evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh did. He served and worshiped idols and forsook the Lord God of Israel. After he was assassinated, Josiah his son reigned in his place.
The beginning of Josiah’s reign- repair and the book of the Law: Josiah was very young when he began to reign over Judah, starting at only eight years old. He would reign for 31 years and bring about great reform to Judah, perhaps even rivaling the reform of Hezekiah (see II Chronicles 29-31). This chapter deals with the first part of Josiah’s reign, where he orders the repair of the temple in much the same way as Jehoash did in chapter 12. As Hilkiah the high priest, he found the book of the law and it was taken to Josiah and read before him. Apparently Judah had strayed so much that they had not even heard the law of the Lord, for when it was read before Josiah, he tore his clothes and sent to inquire of the Lord concerning the words found in the book and the wrath that had been kindled against Judah. Huldah the prophetess responded with the word from the Lord that affirmed the words found in the book and the wrath that was kindled against Judah. The Lord was not going to turn away His wrath from His people because of the great evil they had committed before him. However, it is important to note that even though the wrath of the Lord was not turned away, Josiah did find favor in the sight of the Lord because of his penitent heart and humility, and the Lord said He would not bring about this destruction in the days of Josiah. He had heard Josiah’s weeping before Him, and He had answered.
1. Josiah’s reforms: After finding the book of the Law in the previous chapter, Josiah here puts into place major reforms in the land of Judah. First he assembled all the people of Jerusalem together with the priests and prophets and made a covenant with the Lord to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul. Then he removed the vessels that were used in worship to false gods such as Baal and the Asherah from the temple of the Lord and burned them outside of Jerusalem. He removed the priests that had been appointed to worship the false gods, and then burnt the Asherah and beat it to dust outside of Jerusalem. He tore down the house of the cult prostitutes, defiled the high places and defiled Topheth,in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, so that no one would sacrifice their children to Molech, an abominable practice in the sight of the Lord (see Leviticus 18:21). He tore down all the places of false worship, deposed the priests and broke the idols. He took the bones out of the tombs on the mount, of the time of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and burned them on the altar just as the word of the Lord and been told through the man of God from Judah (see I Kings 13). The words of the prophet who cried against Jeroboam’s altar are fulfilled here. After removing the false worship, Josiah reinstated the passover which was supposed to be kept by the children of Israel as a memorial before the Lord throughout their generations (see Exodus 12), but had been forgotten about. Josiah turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul, following all the words that had been given to Moses, but still the wrath of the Lord was not turned away because of all the evil that Manasseh had done. Josiah was killed by the king of Egypt, Pharaoh Neco, and Jehoahaz his son reigned in his place.
2. Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim: After the death of Josiah, Jehoahaz reigned in his father’s place, but would only reign for three months before Pharaoh Neco put him in bonds. During these three months, he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, even after the great example that was set by his father. Neco placed Eliakim the son of Josiah on the throne in place of his brother and renamed him Jehoiakim. Pharaoh Neco also taxed the people of the land, exacting them of their silver and gold. Jehoiakim would reign for 11 years, doing evil in the sight of the Lord.
The downward spiral of Jerusalem: As Jehoiakim reigned over judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against him and made him his servant for three years. This was a precursor to the captivity that the Lord was bringing on Judah at the hand of Babylon because of the evil that they had done. Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, and the Lord send bands of the enemies of Judah against them to destroy them. Jehoiakim died and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place as Babylon grew in power, overtaking Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates. Jehoiachin too did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He would only reign for three months before Nebuchadnezzar would besiege Jerusalem and Jehoiachin would give himself into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar carried away all the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the kings house, as foretold in Jeremiah 20:5, and also the officials, mighty men of valor, craftsmen and smiths, leaving only the poorest people of the land. He placed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Mattaniah, on the throne of Judah and changed his name to Zedekiah. Zedekiah would reign for eleven years, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He would rebel against the king of Babylon.
The fall and captivity of Judah: When Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the king of Babylon came against Jerusalem and besieged it from the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign (beginning in the tenth month) until the eleventh year. Just four months into the siege, there was a severe famine in the land, as no resources could go in our out. The devastation was great, as described in Lamentations 4, and when a breach was made in the wall and the king of Judah was chased and captured. He was brought to Babylon, where his sons were slaughtered before his eyes and his eyes were put out. He was kept in captivity in Babylon and the people would soon be taken into exile as well. The Chaldeans would plunder Jerusalem after they brought destruction upon them, carrying off the silver and gold that was in the house of the Lord. Gedaliah the son of Ahikam was placed as governor over the remaining people in the land and they were told to serve the king of Babylon that it may be well with them. But Gedaliah was struck down in the seventh month and all the people of the land fled to Egypt out of fear of the Chaldeans. The wrath of the Lord had finally been poured out on His people Judah just as had been prophesied about by His prophets, and Judah had been taken into captivity. After thirty seven years of exile for Judah, Jehoiachin was released from his imprisonment by Evil-merodach king of Babylon, and he ate with the kings who were with him in Babylon at the king’s table for the rest of his life.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 90-92.
Walk in wisdom.