2Kings 22-25

Sunday Evening Bible Study

September 22, 2002

Introduction

We've been looking at the reigns of the various kings of Israel.

We are now in the home stretch, with the last of the good kings, Josiah.

He becomes king when he is eight years old, after his father had been assassinated (2Ki.21:24; 22:1).

It wasn’t until he was sixteen years old that he came to know the Lord:

(2 Chr 34:3 KJV)  For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.

When he was twenty, in his 12th year, he began to clean up the country of idolatry.

2Kings 22

:1-2 Josiah reigns in Judah

:1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign,

JosiahYo’shiyah – “whom Jehovah heals”

:2 he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD,

rightyashar – straight, upright, correct, right

:3-7  Temple Restoration begins

:3  in the eighteenth year of king Josiah,

He's now 26 years old.

:3  Shaphan

Shaphan = "rock badger"

As you read through the Bible over and over, you come across things that kind of connect to each other and you wonder.

For me, this name is one of those "connections".  As I came across it, it kind of rang a bell in my head.

This is the first time chronologically in Scripture that the name "Shaphan" is found.

Only here and in the parallel passage in 2Chronicles is it used to describe a specific individual who is the subject of attention.

But in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, there are several people that come up, who are all descendants of "Shaphan", possibly this guy.

You can check them out when you read through those books. (Jer. 26:24; 29:3; 36:10; 39:14; Eze. 8:11)
One of them was a man who rescued Jeremiah from people who wanted him dead:
Jer 26:24  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. (AV)
We're going to see him later in this chapter.
One of these descendants even is appointed the temporary governor over the land by Nebuchadnezzar.
2Ki 25:22 ¶ And [as for] the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler. (AV)
He was Shaphan's grandson, by Ahikam.
Another one was a man who was sensitive enough to the Lord to realize that Jeremiah was really speaking for the Lord, and called everybody's attention to it:
Jer 36:11  When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD, (AV) ...

Shaphan is one of those people that you don't pay much attention to, but he seems to have a large influence behind the scenes.

Lesson:

What seems insignificant to us is important to the Lord.

Actually, I have to be honest with you, that Shaphan back in Josiah's day was probably known as a very important person.
Yet to us, we hardly bother with him, we pass right over him.
But he was an important part of God's plan back in Josiah's time.
He was a scribe - a person trained in writing skills and used to record events and decisions.  During the Exile in Babylon educated scribes apparently became the experts in God's written word, copying, preserving, and teaching it (like Ezra).
He was a part of the temple restoration.
He also raised a family that would impact many other lives (especially Jeremiah's!)

:4  Hilkiah the high priest,

Some say that this isn't the same guy, but there's another Hilkiah who is the father of Jeremiah:

Jer 1:1  The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that [were] in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: (AV)

Anathoth was one of the cities that had been given to the priests to live in from the tribe of Benjamin, and was only 2 1/3 miles northeast of Jerusalem.

Interesting ...

:4  the keepers of the door

Sometimes these "keepers" are looked upon as guards at the temple.

The Hebrew word here (shamar) actually means "to keep, guard"

:5  to repair the breaches of the house,

The temple had been greatly neglected and needed repair.

:7  no reckoning made with them …because they dealt faithfully.

Because these workmen had such a good reputation, there were no audits or reports required of how they spent the money on the temple.

Lesson:

Faithfulness has it's rewards.

The word used in our verse is:
'emuwnah - firmness, fidelity, steadfastness, steadiness

from  'emuwn - faithfulness, trusting

which is from  'aman - to support, confirm, be faithful.

... and this word is found in ...

Among other things, David tells of the qualifications of those who would like to go to work for him:
(Psa 101:6 KJV)  Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

I was thinking about how that would make a great item for a description of a job qualification at church - "faithfulness".

I think it's also one of God's job qualifications.

Hang in there!

Sometimes we get to wondering what good it's doing being the "faithful" employee.
"But it's not doing any good, nobody notices what I'm doing ..."
(Col 3:22-25 KJV)  Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: {23} And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; {24} Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. {25} But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

God sees. And that's what's really important.

:8-20 The Book is found

:8  I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD.

The book of the law refers to the writings of Moses, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).

Some feel that because of the wording in the parallel passage, that this might have actually been Moses' own copy of the Law:

2Ch 34:14  And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD [given] by Moses. (AV)

Some have suggested that this was a copy of the Law that was kept in the Holy of Holies, according to:

(Deu 31:25-26 KJV)  That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, {26} Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

It is thought that during the reign of Manasseh, all the copies of the Scriptures had been destroyed, except for this one copy, possibly hidden by someone in the temple.

As Hilkiah's crew has begun the restoration work, someone comes across the hidden Scriptures.

Wouldn't it be sad if we were a church that was so far removed from God's Word, that it somehow got lost in all the garbage?

Lesson

Rediscovering God’s Word.

:10  Shaphan read it before the king.

I wonder how much he read.

I think he at least read Lev. 26 or Deut. 28.

That's where God's promises of judgment are given to the people if they don't obey His laws.

:11  he rent his clothes.

Josiah is so terrified with the promises of judgment in the book, that he goes into mourning, tearing his clothes.

:13  Go ye, inquire of the LORD for me,

Josiah wants to know just how bad a situation they're really in.

:13  for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us

Josiah understands just how serious it is.

Perhaps Shaphan read to him where God promised judgment if the people would not turn to Him:

(Lev 26:31-33 KJV)  And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. {32} And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. {33} And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.

Lesson:

God's Word produces action.

If you had been in Josiah's place, seeing the idolatry that your father and grandfather had done, watching the wickedness in the land around you, how would you have responded?
Josiah realized that some changes needed to be made, and they needed to be made right away.

:14  Huldah the prophetess,

Huldah = "weasel"

Huldah isn't the only woman that God had spoken.

There was Miriam (Ex.15), and Deborah (Judg.5).

Why didn't they go to consult Jeremiah or Zephaniah?

We don't know.

Perhaps their ministries weren't yet completely established.
Jeremiah had only been prophesying for 5 years.
Perhaps they were out of town (Jeremiah may have been in Anathoth???)
Perhaps Huldah was older with a more established reputation.

Lesson:

God can speak through women too!

The evangelist Philip had some interesting girls:
Ac 21:9  And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. (AV)
Joel prophesied about the end times:

Joe 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (AV)

I think we would draw a line at a woman being a pastor-teacher, according to 1Tim.2:12 ... (that's another study ...)
(1Ti 2:12  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.) 

:16  Behold, I will bring evil upon this place,

God is going to keep His promise and bring judgment on the nation.

:19-20 Because thine heart was tender,

tenderrakak – to be tender, be soft, be weak; to be timid, be fearful; to be softened, be penitent; soft like wax, impressionable.

thou hast humbled thyselfkana‘– to be humble, be humbled, be subdued, be brought down, be low, be under, be brought into subjection

Lesson

A tender heart

God pays attentions to hearts that are tender towards Him.
David wrote:
Ps 51:17  The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (AV)

:20  gathered into thy grave in peace;

Even though Josiah would die in a battle, it was a battle with Egypt, and it wasn't one that God had led him into because of judgment.

It was a battle he got himself.

The overall judgments that God would bring on Judah would not occur in Josiah's lifetime.

:20  thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.

Nebuchadnezzar's first attack came four years after Josiah's death.

You kind of get the idea that Josiah kind of postponed God's judgment because of his heart, his actions, and his prayers.

2Kings 23

:1-14 Reforms begin

:2  he read in their ears all the words of the book

This might have been done because God specifically commands the kings to be one of those who was most familiar with God's Word:

Deut. 17:18-20  And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19  And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20  That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

I think this is a wonderful example for all of us who find ourselves in positions of leadership, even as a leader in our homes.

Lesson:

Lead with God’s Word.

Are you the one in your home who is the most familiar with God’s Word?
I think it starts with us as parents, keeping in God's Word daily ourselves.
I think we ought to be reading God’s Word with and to our kids.
It's too easy to get busy with our own projects, or just let them sit and watch TV.
Illustration:
The Christian home is the seedbed from which springs personal piety and much of the vitality of both church and state. Richard Baxter discovered this truth in a very practical way.  As a young preacher he was called to a large parish composed primarily of people who seemed more interested in their social status than in understanding and obeying the Word of God.
Baxter was disturbed by the spiritual coldness of his parishioners and found his work extremely difficult.  After much prayer and heart- searching to know the will of God, the young pastor was confident that he had received the answer.  "I believe the way to save the church and this community," he said to a friend, "is to establish family altars in the homes of my members."  He spent the next three years in visitation, earnestly pleading with his people to set aside a time each day for prayer and Bible study.
Soon his congregation began to catch fire with a new zeal for God. Those who rededicated their homes exerted such a strong spiritual influence that his church was revived and was being filled with sturdy saints and receptive hearts.  His ministry became increasingly effective because many of his people had followed the example of the patriarch Joshua who declared unequivocally, "...as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

:3  the king stood by a pillar

This is just what kings do.  This is where the kings would stand for important occasions or announcements (2Ki.11:14)

:3  all the people stood to the covenant.

This is their way of agreeing to obey the covenant.

We are told:

2Ch 34:33  And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that [pertained] to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, [even] to serve the LORD their God. [And] all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers. (AV)

Josiah brought about a kind of reformation among the people.

But BEWARE!

Lesson:

Outward reforms don't always tell what's going on inside.

During Josiah's time, the nation got rid of lots of idolatry, it had to, it was the law of the land.
Josiah would rule for 13 more years from this point until his death (he ruled for 31 years, this is his 18th year ...)
But after Josiah was gone, the people went back to what they REALLY wanted to do.
The prophet Jeremiah tells us that after Josiah died, the people simply went back to their evil ways because that’s what they wanted to do all along (Jer. 26).
Are the changes in your life real, or are they "enforced"?
What do you do when nobody's around?
This is why we need a little reserve in our response when a person "accepts" the Lord.
We hope and pray that it's a true conversion.
The test is what happens over time, and whether or not the person actually allows God to make changes in them.

:4  the priests of the second order

I think this probably refers to how the priests were divided into divisions.  David had divided the priests up into 24 divisions, and they rotated “shifts” (1Chr. 24:7)

:7  the houses of the sodomites,

There had been male prostitutes who lived right next door to the temple.

Josiah put them out of business.

:8  from Geba to Beersheba,

Geba was on the northern border of Judah, Beersheba was the southernmost part.

:9  the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem,

There were Levitical priests who had been offering worship, presumably to Yahweh, but out on the high places.

Josiah did not allow these men to come and lead worship through sacrifices in the temple of Jerusalem. He did allow them to eat unleavened bread with the other priests, though.

:10  he defiled Topheth,

This was the place where the Molech worshippers offered their children to Molech.

:10  the valley of the children of Hinnom,

This was a valley on the south side of mount Zion.

Also later known as "Gehenna", which became a picture of hell.

:13 which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth

It's kind of interesting that Solomon's idols were still around in Josiah's day.

He dealt with even the very old things, things that had lingered on and on.

:14  filled their places with the bones of men.

This is the best way to “gross out” the “gods” of these places of idol worship.

It's kind of scary to think of how Josiah had been cleansing the land of idols since his 12th year, and all this stuff was still left!

Before, he was operating according to his conscience, hopefully being led somewhat by the Spirit of God.

Yet now he’s operating according to God’s Word.

Lesson:

God's Word brings deep cleansing.

We can certainly grow a lot as we simply learn to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit.
But the problem is that the Holy Spirit has to work through a sinful person, you.
And we don't always like to be as honest with ourselves as we ought to be.

We tell ourselves, "Well, just a few nice pictures of pretty girls can't be all that bad ... after all, it's all part of God's creation, isn't it?"

We can be pretty easy on ourselves.

But when we stay in God's Word, it doesn't mess around with us!
(Heb 4:12 KJV)  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
God's Word gets right to the point.
2Tim. 3:16-17  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Stay in the Word!

:15-20 Cleaning up Bethel

:15 the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin,

Bethel – “the house of God”

This was the big thing that had contributed the most to the fall of the northern kingdom.

Jeroboam felt that if his people were allowed to go back to Jerusalem to worship during the regular feasts, that they might end up leaving his country for good.

So he devised a counterfeit religion, to keep the people satisfied, and they worshipped golden calves in the cities of Dan in the north, and Bethel in south of Israel.

:16  according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed,

At the time that Jeroboam had set up his false worship, a prophet came up to Bethel and warned that it would be destroyed by a person named Josiah.

(1 Ki 13:2 KJV)  And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.

Lesson:

God has a plan for you.

Josiah isn't the only one that God has had a plan for.
(Eph 2:10 KJV)  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We are God's "made-things", His "poema", his works of beauty.

God has "good works" which He was already set up ahead of time for us to do.

All we have to do is do them.

:18  Let him alone; let no man move his bones.

Out of respect for the prophet that had prophesied concerning himself, he let the guys bones alone.

:21-23  The Passover is held

:21  Keep the passover ...

The people had forgotten about the Passover.

The Passover was Israel's oldest feast, celebrating the one event that really pulled them together as a nation, when they were delivered from slavery in Egypt.

You can read more details about this Passover in 2Chron.35.

:22  Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges

The parallel passage states:

2Ch 35:18  And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (AV)

That's quite a statement, considering the people that had been around between Samuel's day and Josiah's day.

That includes people like King David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and even Josiah's great-grandfather, Hezekiah.

Hezekiah had held a passover after restoring temple worship, but his passover had some problems:

They had to hold it a month late because the people couldn't get spiritually prepared in time.
Many of the priests were still spiritually unready when they celebrated, and the people also had arrived at the feast in an "unclean" condition.
When people from the north had been invited to the feast, they only laughed at Hezekiah.

Yet with Josiah's passover, everything was in tip-top condition, and the feast was held exactly as the Lord had commanded it should be.

Lesson:

The "good old days" might still be ahead of us.

Sometimes it's easy for us to look back through history and think longingly, "I sure wish I could have lived then ..."
I've been reading the autobiography of Charles Finney, and the history of the revivals that took place in New York and Pennsylvania during his life.
I read the stories and think, "Gosh, I wish we could have times like that now ..."
Why not?
The best times don't have to be the ones far in the past, there's plenty of room for "best times" in our own future.

What made Josiah's passover so great?

As I've read it, there seems to be one thing that stands out the most as a reason why Josiah's passover is held up as being so great.

2Ki 23:21  And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as [it is] written in the book of this covenant. (AV)

Josiah had a particularly special relationship with God's Word.

It had radically changed his life when he discovered the book!

And now he's being careful to do everything, including celebrating this feast, exactly as the Book says.

Summary:

The greatest days of revival could actually be ahead of us.
The key is whether or not we'll live according to the Word of God or not.

If we choose to compromise our lives and let the world influence us, we'll be limited.

:24-28  More cleansing

:25  like unto him was there no king before him

Something very similar was said of his great-grandfather, Hezekiah:

2Ki 18:5  He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor [any] that were before him. (AV)

Gill:  Hezekiah might excel him in some things, as Josiah might excel Hezekiah in others.

:25  that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses;

heart

lebab - inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding

soul

nephesh - soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion

might

[email protected]`od - might, force, abundance

It's kind of interesting to see that there's only one other verse in the Bible that uses these same three Hebrew words (heart, soul, might) like this:

De 6:4-5  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD:  5  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (AV)

Lesson:

Passion AND the Word

It seems that often churches tend to fall into one of two categories.
There are churches with a lot of passion, with an emphasis on emotional experiences, yet aren't real strong when it comes to teaching the Bible.

The danger is that they can get off track by basing everything upon an emotional experience.

Their whole goal is to get the people pumped up emotionally.

There are churches that stress the Bible, and yet don't have much passion in them.

They're deader than a doorknob when it comes to passion for the Lord.

But they know their Bible.

We need BOTH!
We need a balance of passion for the Lord, but guided by a grounding in God's Word.

Illustration:

They're like two wings of an airplane.
You don't get off the ground unless you have a balance between the two.

:26  Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath,

It was already too late. God's judgment for the many years of the peoples' sin was already on it's way.

It's not that Josiah's revival didn't do any good.

We saw last week that God promised to wait until after Josiah was king for the judgment to come.

Lesson:

Judgment is still coming.

We need to have our eyes opened that even if there is one last great revival before the Lord comes back, it still won't change the fact that He must bring judgment on the world.
But there's no reason we shouldn't be praying to snatch as many as we can from the jaws of hell.

:26  because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him

Even with Manasseh, even though he repented, he had caused such widespread immorality, that the nation never recovered from it.

:29-30  Josiah's death

:29  Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates:

By now, 609 b.c., Assyria had become so weak that she had lost practically all her empire, especially to the Babylonians (or Chaldeans). 

Nineveh (the capitol of Assyria) had fallen three years earlier, in 612, and the Assyrians had moved their forces around the cities of Haran and Carchemish on the upper Euphrates River.

The Babylonians decided to it was time to completely wipe out the Assyrians, and advanced to attach at Carchemish. 

Egypt was more fearful of Babylonia than Assyria, and launched an attack through Palestine with the idea of coming to Assyria's assistance at Charchemish. 

This would be one of the great battles of history.

:29  king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo,

Josiah apparently like the Babylonians best (kind of a pennant race), and decided to do a little warring of his own, trying to trip up the Egyptians on their way to rescue the Assyrians.

He met Pharoah Neco at Megiddo, the same battle field as Armageddon, in the valley of Jezreel, in the north of Israel.

But instead of helping the Babylonians, Josiah ended up dead.

Neco proceeded after his brief interruption with Josiah, on up to Carchemish, where he joined with the Assyrians in 609 b.c.  For three years they gave the Babylonians a lot of trouble, until in 605 b.c., Nebuchadnezzar gave a surprise attack, wiping out the city, and chasing the Egyptians as far south as Hamath.

Lesson:

Walking with God doesn't exempt you from stupid mistakes.

Here's this great, righteous king.
But he makes a great big, stupid, bozo mistake.
He should have never tried to take on Pharaoh Neco.
Neco even tried to warn Josiah, but Josiah didn't pay any attention to the warnings. (2Chronicles 35:21-25)
I think that often we can get the idea that as long as we're going to Bible Studies, having daily Quiet Times, and even praying a little every once in a while, that whatever we do will magically turn out wonderful.
As if we can make no mistakes.
It's not that simple.
It's only as we're seeking the Lord, and obeying HIS leading that we can make no mistakes.
But if we aren't paying attention to God's leading, we can make some pretty BIG mistakes.

:31-34  The short reign of Jehoahaz

:31  Jehoahaz

Jehoahaz = "Jehovah has seized"

He also had another name, Shallum (Shallum = "retribution")

Josiah actually had four sons, three of whom would take a shot at ruling over Judah.

1Ch 3:15  And the sons of Josiah [were], the firstborn Johanan, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum. (AV)

:31  he reigned three months in Jerusalem.

Not very long.

:32  he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD,

Instead of following in his father's footsteps, he quickly reverts to wicked ways. I wonder just how much trouble he could get into in three months?

:33  Pharaohnechoh put him in bands

bands – chains

Because Josiah had gone out to battle against the Egyptians, and lost, the nation of Judah was now under the control of the Egyptians, and Pharaoh Neco decided who he wanted to be ruling the country.

Apparently Jehoahaz was not too sympathetic to the Egyptians. So he was arrested.

:33 Riblah in the land of Hamath,

Riblah is about 65 miles north of Damascus.

Apparently, Neco summons Jehoahaz northward to check him out, and when he got there, had him put in chains.

:33  a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.

100 talents of silver = 3 3/4 tons of silver

a talent of gold = 75 pounds of gold

It's at this time that the Lord gives a prophecy to Jeremiah regarding Jehoahaz (Jer. 22:10-13), he’s going to die in captivity.

:34  Pharaohnechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king

Neco wanted to be the one deciding who should be king, and he chooses another of Josiah's sons, Eliakim.

Eliakim = "God raises" or "God sets up"

:34  turned his name to Jehoiakim,

Jehoiakim = "Jehovah raises up"

The practice of changing another person's name was done to show a person who was in charge.

:35-37  Jehoiakim reigns in Judah

:35  but he taxed the land to give the money

Jehoiakim paid what Pharaoh asked, but he did it by taxing the people extra to make up for it, so it didn't cost him anything.

:36  Jehoiakim was twenty and five years

He was actually two years older than his brother Jehoahaz, who was 23 (vs.31)

:37  did that which was evil

Another rotten apple.

2Kings 24

:1-4  Jehoiakim's reign

:1  Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up

In 605 b.c., Nebuchadnezzar finally defeated the Egyptians in a battle at Carchemish.

Later that year, he came through the land of Judah to make sure that his new conquest, all of Egypt's territories was in control.

The beginning of the end has started.

Josiah the good king is dead, and now, three years later, the serious trouble begins.

He makes Jehoiakim his servant, and at the same time, takes some captives back with him to Babylon, including the prophet Daniel and his friends.

Lesson:

Hang in there.

God spoke to Jeremiah:
Jer 12:5  If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and [if] in the land of peace, [wherein] thou trustedst, [they wearied thee], then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? (AV)
I'm not sure exactly when Jeremiah received this prophecy (it's kind of unclear), but perhaps it was as early as during the times of good Josiah.
And Jeremiah was getting tired out in his ministry then, how would he ever handle it when the persecution comes, when the city would be under siege, when people would die from Nebuchadnezzar's armies?
We go through tough times and think we can’t handle any more.
Yet God is building endurance in us.  Endurance only comes from enduring hard times.

You don’t learn to swim unless you get in the water.  You don’t learn to endure unless you endure.

:1  Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him.

Instead of sending his tribute money to Egypt, he now sent it to Babylon.

After three years, he decided to rebel against Babylon, possibly with a promise of help from Egypt.

:2  the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees ...

According to Eupolemus, this army consisted of Medes and Babylonians, and, besides 10,000 chariots, there were in it 180,000 footmen, and 120,000 horsemen.

:3  Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah

We don't often like to think of this, but this is God's judgment.

Somehow we get the idea that God only does happy, flowery, sweet, and gentle things in our lives.

But God is also a God of judgment.

Lesson:

Judgement will come

Peter writes:
(2 Pet 3:10-12 KJV)  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. {11} Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, {12} Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

:4  for the sins of Manasseh,

We've mentioned this before, that even though Manasseh himself repented in the end of his sins, the things he had done had so influenced the nation, that they never were able to fully recover and repent from the wickedness that had been brought about.

:5-7  Jehoiakim's death

:6  Jehoiakim slept with his fathers:

It's a little unclear as to just how he died, though he died shortly after being taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar.

We are told in 2Chronicles that Nebuchadnezzar came to take him away in chains to Babylon:

(2 Chr 36:6-7 KJV)  Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon. {7} Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.

It was a few years before this that Jeremiah had a prophesy from the Lord concerning Jehoiakim (Jer. 22:13-30).  In the prophecy, God warned Jehoiakim about his greed and violent temper.  And now the warning has come to pass.

:6  Jehoiachin

Jehoiachin = "Jehovah establishes"

Also known as "Coniah"

Coniah = "Jehovah will establish"

The son of Jehoiakim, the grandson of Josiah, now takes the throne.

:7  the king of Egypt came not again any more

Even though Josiah had fought against Egypt, his son, Jehoiakim, was a friend of Egypt, having been made king by Pharaoh Neco.

It is thought that when Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, he did it in 601 b.c., when Egypt was able to successfully keep the Babylonians from crossing their border.

But now, the "friend" of Judah could give no more help because Nebuchadnezzar had conquered everything from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Lesson:

You can't always count on your friends to bail you out.

The kings of Judah too often were counting on others to bail them out.
What they needed to do was to repent and get right with God.
Solomon wrote:
Pr 18:24  A man of [many] friends [comes] to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NAS)
David wrote:
Ps 34:4  I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. (AV)

:8-9  Jehoiachin's reign

:9  he did that which was evil

All the kings after Josiah were “evil”.

:10-17 Nebuchadnezzar comes

:10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem,

This could be in response to Jehoiachin’s father (Jehoiakim) rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar and refusing to pay tribute (24:1).

:12  Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon,

He wisely surrenders to Nebuchadnezzar.

Jehoiachin surrendered the city to the Babylonians on March 16, 597 B.C.

:12  he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers:

Jehoiachin is taken captive along with his mother, just as Jeremiah prophesied:

Jer 22:26  And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. (AV)

:12  in the eighth year of his reign.

In the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, not Jehoiachin's.

:13  all the treasures ...

This time, Nebuchadnezzar takes everything that's valuable out of the kingdom.

It seems he doesn't want the nation to have anything to make treaties with other countries with.

:13  as the LORD had said.

Over a hundred years ago, Jehoiachin's ancestor, King Hezekiah had entertained visitors from the distant kingdom of Babylon.

He thought he'd impress these men, and in his pride, gave the visitors a tour of all his wealth, showing them everything he had.

I wonder if those very emissaries reported to their king, who had it recorded in their archives about all the wealth in the kingdom of Judah.

After they had left, the prophet Isaiah paid a visit to the king and asked about what happened:

2Kings 20:14-18  Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon. 15  And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them. 16  And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD. 17  Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. 18  And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

:14  even ten thousand captives,

Among those taken to Babylon (in 597 b.c.) in this second group (the first went in 605 b.c., including Daniel) is the prophet Ezekiel, who was one of the priests.

His prophetic ministry will start when he gets to Babylon:

Eze 1:2-3  In the fifth [day] of the month, which [was] the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity, 3  The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. (AV)

The major prophets at work during this time:

Jeremiah was in Jerusalem, ministering to the people in Judah.

Daniel was taken to Babylon, and had a ministry to the kings in Babylon, even rising himself to be the second most powerful man in the world at the time.

Ezekiel was one of the captives, and his role was to minister to the Jews who were in captivity in Babylon.

This time of the Babylonian captivity was one of the most important times in the history of the nation Israel.

It was the thing that finally got the Jews free from worshipping other gods.

Lesson:

Trials can be meant to purify us.

Heb 12:11  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (AV) 
The Jews were being "spanked", and they learned from it, they learned to get rid of their idolatry.

:17  Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead,

Mattaniah = “gift of Jehovah”

Jehoiachin's uncle is now made king.

Mattaniah is now the third son of Josiah to rule over Judah.

He apparently is the youngest son, since he is now only 21 years old.

Eleven and 1/2 years ago, when his father died, he would have been 10 years old, while his older brother Jehoahaz (the first to become king) was 23 years old, and his half-brother Jehoiakim (the next to become king) was 25 years old.

:17  changed his name to Zedekiah.

This is a display of Nebuchadnezzar's authority, changing the king's own name at his whim.

Zedekiah = "Jehovah is righteous"

Note: Zedekiah is a major player in the book of Jeremiah.

His name appears 48 times. God has lots to say to this man!

:18-20 Zedekiah reigns in Judah

:18  he reigned eleven years

He is going to be the last king over Judah.

:18  his mother's name was Hamutal,

His mother was the same as Jehoahaz (2Ki.23:31), making him his full brother, but different from Jehoiakim (2Ki.23:36)

:19  he did that which was evil

Bad to the end.

2Kings 25

:1-7 Jerusalem is conquered

:1  in the ninth year of his reign,

The ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, not Nebuchadnezzar's.

It is now 588 BC. There are two years left until the fall.

:2  unto the eleventh year

Note: The siege wasn't a straight two year period.

There was actually a brief break where Jeremiah records:

Jer 37:5  Then Pharaoh's army was come forth out of Egypt: and when the Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed from Jerusalem. (AV)
But the break was very brief, and Nebuchadnezzar came back, just as Jeremiah warned he would (Jer.37), and beseiged Jerusalem again.

During this time, Jeremiah was busy at work, giving warnings to king Zedekiah in Jerusalem (Jer. 32:1-5; Jer. 27:12; Jer. 38:17)

Lesson:

God always gives lots of warnings.

The problem is that we don’t often pay attention to them.
Illustration:
There once was a farmer who heard that a great flood was coming.
First the police came by and told him to evacuate, but he said he’d try to stick it out, he was trusting God.
Then when the water began to get higher and higher, a boat came by, but he refused it, and said he’d stick it out, he was trusting God.
Then finally as the water was getting to the top of the house, a helicopter came by.
But he said no, he’d stick it out, he was trusting God.
Finally, the man drowned.
“God, why did you let me drown?” he asked.  God replied, “I sent the police, the boat, and the helicopter, what more do you want?”

:3  the famine prevailed

This is one of the goals of Nebuchadnezzar.

He isn't trying to kill all the people. He's just trying to make them weak enough that when he comes in to take the city, they won't be able to put up a fight.

:4  the city was broken up,

The city was broken into on July 16, 586 B.C

:4  all the men of war fled by night

Jeremiah fills in a few details in his own personal account (Jer. 39:2-4)

:4  the king went the way toward the plain.

The plain of the Jordan, to the northeast.

:5  all his army were scattered from him.

When the king is captured, all his men desert him.

This is another prophecy that's being fulfilled, but one that's given from Babylon by the prophet Ezekiel (Eze. 12:10-14)

:6  brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah;

Riblah - This was a city 200 miles north of Jerusalem, 65 miles north of Damascus, and was the same place that Pharaoh Neco used as a temporary headquarters after killing Josiah, and then taking his son Jehoahaz captive there (2Ki.23:33)

At this same time, Nebuchadnezzar is also conducting campaigns against the city of Tyre, and other cities in Judah, according to some ancient documents known as The Lachish Letters.

:7  they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah,

This was to be part of the punishment of a rebellious king, in which the last thing he sees with his own eyes is his children being killed in front of him.

For the rest of his life, the last thing his eyes recorded would be in front of him, the death of his own children.

Strangely enough, several prophecies are coming into play:

We read that Zedekiah would see the king of Babylon with his eyes:

Jer 32:4  ... shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes;

We also read that though he would be taken to Babylon as a prisoner, he wouldn't actually "see" it.

Eze 12:13  My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon [to] the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there. (AV)

Lesson:

Just because you don't understand how things work, God's Word is still true.

There are times when we come across seemingly contradictory passages, and we can't understand how they can both be true.
But don't worry, God will work it all out in the end!
God isn't limited to your inability to understand.
Aren't you glad!
God says:
Isa 55:9  For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (AV)
Paul writes:
1Co 13:12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (AV)

:8-17 The city is burnt and leveled

:8  in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month

For us, August 16, 586 BC.

It's been about a month since the wall of Jerusalem had been broken into, and now it's time to bring Jerusalem it's punishment.

:9  he burnt the house of the LORD,

Solomon's temple is destroyed.

:10  brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about

They're removing Jerusalem's protection.

Lesson:

Sin opens us up to more attack.

The nation has been in rebellion against the Lord, and now their defenses are all shot.
One of Satan's tactics is to tell us that if we just give in this one time to sin, that the pressure will be over, God will forgive you, and you can go on with life.
But what he doesn't tell you is that a little more of your wall has just been torn down.
And the next time that Satan attacks you, you have even less resistance against him.
Jas 4:7  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (AV)

:11  carry away

And so we have the third group taken to Babylon.

The first group was taken in 603 b.c. when Nebuchadnezzar came against Jehoiakim, made him his servant, and took back the cream of Jewish young men, including Daniel and his buddies.

The second group was taken after Jehoiakim rebelled, and his son Jehoiachin took the throne.  In 598 b.c., Jehoiachin, along with 10,000 others including Ezekiel, were taken captive to Babylon.

Now the last batch is taken at the final fall of Jerusalem, 586 b.c.

:12  left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.

Nebuchadnezzar's plan was not to allow the land to be ruined, but to stay productive.

:13  did the Chaldees break in pieces,

This was just practical.

The pillars and the sea were way too large to carry back to Babylonin one piece.

:15  such things as were of gold,

Some of these things are going to go into storage in the vaults of Babylon.  King Belshazzar would take out some of these same gold and silver vessels and use them in a big party (Dan. 5:2).

:18-21  The Leaders are executed

:18  Seraiah the chief priest,

This was an ancestor to Ezra, possibly his father or grandfather:

(Ezra 7:1 KJV)  Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,

:20  Nebuzaradan captain of the guard took these,

These were all the leaders that were left in the city that could have the potential of gathering the remaining people together and mounting resistance against Nebuchadnezzar's army.

:21  slew them at Riblah

Riblah - This was a city 200 miles north of Jerusalem, 65 miles north of Damascus.

This was Nebuchadnezzar's field headquarters.

:22-26 Governor Gedaliah is killed

:22  Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler

Gedaliah is not from the royal lineage of King David, and he is only appointed governor, not king over Judah.

Nebuchadnezzar is not taking any more chances allowing someone with the authority of a king to rule over the people in Judah.

:23  Gedaliah to Mizpah,

Mizpah is eight miles north of Jerusalem.

Gedaliah sets up his government there, since Jerusalem is in ruins.

:23  Ishmael ... Johanan

These two guys are going to be kind of important, as we'll see.

:24  Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees

Gedaliah is only telling them what the Lord has spoken through Jeremiah, yet this isn't what these guys want to hear.

You can read more about Gedaliah in Jeremiah 40-43.

:26  for they were afraid of the Chaldees.

Going to Egypt would be a terrible mistake.  Jeremiah would be warning them against going to Egypt.  But they would do it anyway.

Lesson:

Fear of people leads to bad judgment.

Solomon wrote:
Pr 29:25  The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. (AV)
Some of the biggest mistakes in the Bible happened because of the fear of man:
Abraham was afraid of Abimelech, and his wife Sarah was taken into Abimelech's harem! (Gen.20)
Aaron was afraid of the people, and so he made a golden calf, leading the people into idolatry (Ex.32)
Saul disobeyed God's command to wipe out the Amalekites because he feared the people (1Sam.15)
Peter was afraid of the Jews and denied the Lord three times (Mat 26)
What are the decisions you are facing right now?
Are some of the choices you face ones that are driven by fear?

Be careful about them.

Jesus said:
Mt 10:28  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (AV)

:27-30  Restoration begins

:27  seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin

Jehoiachin was 19 years old when taken captive, and this would now make him 56 years old. It's March of 560 b.c.

:27  Evilmerodach king of Babylon

This guy was the son of Nebuchadnezzar.

:28  spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings

Things begin to change for the only surviving King of Judah.

:27-30 Jehoiachin

(Jer. 22:28-30)  Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? 29  O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. 30  Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

Coniah, or, Jehoiachin, would be taken captive to Babylon, where he will die in captivity, with none of his sons becoming kings of Judah.

Ironically, part of Jesus' genealogy is actually traced back to Jehoiachin.

Joseph could trace his lineage back to the kings, through Jehoiachin.
Does this break the prophecy?
No, even though Jesus was legally Joseph's son, He wasn't biologically Joseph's son.
Jesus' only human parent was Mary, who traced her genealogy back to David through David's son Nathan instead of Solomon.

:30  all the days of his life

The process of restoration is going on.

The story didn't end when all the people were taken to Babylon.

Lesson

God's heart is for restoration.

You may feel like you're on the road to Babylon, on the road to prison.
But in God's eyes, you're on the way toward restoration.
Our plan:
Galatians 6:1-2  Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2  Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
If you see someone fallen, don't count them out.
They're just ripe for God's work of restoration.