The Sons of Josiah & The First Captivity; 2nd Chronicles 36:1-8

2nd Chronicles 36 records the final years of the Kingdom of Judah. Throughout the previous century the great reforming Kings, Hezekiah and Josiah, had stayed the hand of God’s wrath and thereby prevented their nation being swallowed up by the larger empires in the east. But these days of revival and reform were at an end. The removal of Josiah heralded a dark and foreboding future.

This study will focus upon the sons of Josiah, Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, who succeeded their very great father on the throne of David.

The Three Month King; 2nd Chronicles 36:1-4

After Josiah’s remains were laid to rest the people chose Jehoahaz as their next monarch. His reign was short lived, extending only as far as three months. The real difficulty lay in the historic context. In defeating Judah and killing King Josiah the government of the land now came under the influence of Egypt. Pharoah – Necho would not permit a King to reign who was not of his choosing. Therefore the Egyptians responded with a two-fold action:

1: A tribute was imposed upon Judah turning the territory into a vassal state.

2: Jehoahaz was removed from the throne and his brother Jehoiakim was appointed as King.

Judah had now effectively lost her freedom and independence. A larger power was in control.

This incident is a reminder that the world, inspired by Satan, wishes to control the thinking of the Church, removing our freedom and independence. In democratic nations, such as our own, this is being achieved by stealthful, yet aggressive secularism which attempts to bully us into thinking and acting like the world in terms of our worldview, our philopsohy, our family values, our views on sexuality and abortion and in every other way where the Scriptures are being undermined.

The Name Change; 2nd Chronicles 36:4

It is significant that Jehoiakim received his name from the Egyptians, therefore losing the name Eliakim that his father Josiah had called him. Giving their appointed King a name, was a way in which authority was imposed. It represented a removal of culture and identity and an acceptance of influence. Daniel and his three friends were each given new names by the Babylonians when they entered the palace of Nebuchdnezzar. This practice, it appears, was a established custom among ancient eastern kings.

As Christians we possess a new name and a new identity in that we are now the children of God where once we were characterised as the children of wrath. The new name that we possess designates our character as those who possess the divine nature, who walk in the light and who pursue godliness. The children of wrath on the other hand are dominated by the god of this world and the forces of darkness.

Satan wants to remove our Christian identity, he longs that we would be like the children of this world, he hates the name that God has given to us.

For more than three hundred years a sucession of Roman Emperors attempted to remove the identity of Christians by perescution. One of their tactics was to persecute anyone who would not offer sacrifices to the Roman gods. Sadly some apostasised and turned back but hundreds of thousands refused and suffered horribly. Like Moses they prized the riches of Christ so highly they were willing to suffer reporach with the people of God than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Let us hold onto with firm grasp our Christian identity and not allow it to be stolen from us.

The Rebellion Against God; 2nd Chronicles 36:5

I don’t believe there was an ungodly King in Scripture who had the teaching and opportunity that Jehoiakim had. As well as being the son of Josiah (Judah’s greatest reforming King) his people were exposed, throughout his eleven years on the throne to the teaching of Jeremiah, one of God’s most most faithful prophets.

Jermeiah’s prophecy has several references to Jehoiakim and the messages preached in Jerusalem during his tenure:

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the LORD, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’s house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings. And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth. So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.

Jeremiah 26:1-7

Jehoakim, however, was a man, more interested in earning poltical favour with the great empires and emperors who domninated the middle east and north Africa, that he was in pleasing God. There are leaders like him, who care little for God but they care a lot about their own popularity, prestige and power. Jehoiakim regarded the truth of God as an irrelevance and the servants of God as dangerous men, subversive to the state because of their messages of sin and repentance.

There are two recorded actions of Jehoiakim in the book of Jeremiah which highlight the truth of 2nd Chronicles 36:5, “he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord”.

The first regards his murder of Urijah the prophet.

And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah: And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt; And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.

Jeremiah 26:20-24

The second incident pertains to Jehoiakim’s destruction of the Word of God, which Jeremiah had sent to him:

So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words. Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them. But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them.

Jeremiah 36:21-26

The contrast with his father could not have been more acute. Josiah found the Scriptures, which, when he read he rent his garments with fear because he understood that judgement was coming. His son took the scroll, ripping it with a knife and burning it; these actions did not cause him a thought.

We see something of this arrogance towards God’s truth today across our nation. The church is despised, the preaching of truth is mocked and the Bible is treated with contempt, all serving to highlight our ripeness for judgement.

The Coming Judgement; 2nd Chronicles 36:6-8

Immediately after describing Jehoiakim as a man who did evil in the sight of the Lord, the historian relates that Nebuchnezzar came up against him. Obviously the Holy Spirit is drawing a parallel between the two. His sin is followed by judgement.

We have already described Jehoiakim as a politically astute man; he was most adept at surviving by forming the alliances he needed to help him cling onto power. The parallel passage in 2nd Kings records that he served the King of Egypt paying him tribute after which he spent three years serving Babylon (2nd Kings 23:35-24:1).

Jehoiakim then attempted to seek some form of autonomy which the Babylonians viewed as rebellion. Obviously serving these foreign powers was dissatisifying, just as serving the world will never provide lasting happiness. The time was now right for the sword of judgement to fall. The writer of the Kings is quite clear that the judgement came because of the sins of Jehoiakims’ great grandfather, Mansseh:

And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon.

2nd Kings 24:2-4

We should take note that the Lord will not forget the shedding of innocent blood. There will always be a pay day for sin, especially the crime of murder.

We should weigh that thought carefully in the light of the millions of unborn babies deprived of life becuase of legislation permitting and promoting the act of abortion. Such facts should make us tremble for the future of our nation!

But in a more generalised, but still specific, manner we are reminded that where individuals, terrorist organisations or national governments take innocent life, God will deal with these crimes in His time.

But Nebuchadnezzar too was a murderer, his Kingdom would one day crumble because judgement is woven into the fabric of world history. But in his case, he was raised up to judge God’s people for the crime of taking innocent blood. God permits evil to triumph, he permits bloody men and women to preside over nations as a judgement. These are sobering facts. Divine justice never fails.

The decadent west today pontificates about Putin’s war crimes while they themselves have tolerated and promoted the slaughter of innocent lives and have abandoned Biblical morality. The decadent west, Putin’s Russia and China’s soulless communism are all facing the wrath of God and may in fact become instruments of wrath upon each other in a great international cataclysm. But God’s truth will continue and will be vindicated.

We are aware, that judgement is coming to the world; but let us pray that there will be a sufficient remnant in our generation to stay the hand of wrath, that God would remember mercy but mercy by its nature is undeserving. We cast ourselves upon Him today!

In Jehoakim’s day godly people suffered with the wicked. Daniel was taken to Babylon and Jeremiah continued to minister in Jeruslalem. God continued to have a purpose for His servants even in such times. Whatever these times hold for us, let us endeavour to know His will that we might be complete in the fulfilling of God’s purposes.

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