Zedekiah, the king dominated by others

Zedekiah the fickle

One thing is striking in the character of Zedekiah: it is his inconsistency. For example, after putting Jeremiah in prison because of the words he spoke from the Lord (Jeremiah 32:3), he still goes to see him in secret to hear the word of the Lord (37:17). When Jeremiah asks him not to be send back to the house where he was a prisoner, he grants him to be kept in the prison yard (vv. 20–21). After having cowardly allowed the princes to throw Jeremiah into a pit (38:5–6), he grants Ebed-melech to take 30 men to get him out (v. 10). And after all this, he once again secretly brings Jeremiah to hear again the word of the Lord (v. 14). Prisoner or not? Traitor or not? Prophet or not? Sometimes he says yes, afterwards he says no, or at least his behaviour does not quite agree with his previous decisions.

This inconsistency could also be a symptom of a conscience at work. He was looking for different voices for advice. But even then, his inconsistency also manifests itself in the things he heard from the Lord. If you knew that something would end well by taking choice A and that it would end very badly by taking choice B, which of the two choices would you take? But “because the anger of Jehovah was against Jerusalem and against Judah, until He had cast them out from His presence, Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon” (2 Kings 24:20).

Could the Lord have intervened to help Zedekiah make the right choice and avoid all this? He certainly could have. But he left Zedekiah to his own devices. This is an important reminder for us. When something bad happens, the men of this world often complain about God. It is a misunderstanding, for “every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation nor shadow of turning” (James 1:17). When God—who is always constant in his ways—leaves man to his own works and the consequences of his choices, there is always much evil that comes out of it. The purpose of God’s intervention, apart from judgment, which is his strange work (Isaiah 28:21), is always to curb the development of evil (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:6–7) and to act in grace and mercy toward man (Isaiah 30:21). Let us never forget this. If we harden ourselves, there comes a time when God will leave us to our own choices and the consequences of those choices.

Zedekiah, knowing in advance the result of one choice or another, and knowing what he had to do to make the right choice, did not act in accordance with what he knew. But there are also other reasons for this to be discovered in this last video which closes this series on the kings of Judah.

Jehoiachin, the king who surrendered

Jehoiachin and the second deportation

We have very little information concerning the reign of Jehoiachin; if we can call it a reign, for in fact Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city of Jerusalem. But the name of Jehoiachin comes up several times in the Word, being linked to several events.

For example, in the book of Ezekiel, the time is continually counted from the deportation of Jehoiachin. (The only exception is the “thirtieth year”, in chapter 1, verse 1. This date takes us back to about 622 B.C., the 18th year of the reign of Josiah, when the book of the law had been found and the Passover was celebrated).

Another example can be found in Esther 2:6 where we learn that it was during the deportation of Jehoiachin that Mordecai was also transported to Babylon.

Jehoiachin, although he did evil, according to the summary reported to us of his reign, was certainly not the most guilty. But he was nevertheless deported. On the other hand, we can see the merciful ways of God through all this.

This new video presents some positive aspects of the only action reported to us from Jehoiachin, and of God’s ways towards all those who went into captivity.

Jehoiakim, the king who rebelled

When God compares Jehoïakim with his father Josias

In Jeremiah 22:13-19, a very vivid, but dramatic, description of Jehoiakim’s reign is given to us. He thought only of greatness, achieving his goals through injustice, lack of righteousness, and by using others without paying for the work done. “Thine eyes and thy heart are only on thine extortion, and on the blood of the innocent, to shed it, and on oppression and on violence, to do it.” (Jeremiah 22:17)

This shows us the true character of this king from whom we learn very little in the books of Kings and Chronicles.

A very important question will be asked of him by the Lord: “Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice? Then it was well with him.” (Jeremiah 22:15)

Josiah, his father, was certainly great and blessed, and the Lord would certainly not have deprived Jehoiakim of the same thing. Josiah feared God, he practised judgment and justice, and everything went well for him. Jehoiakim should have learned something from his father’s piety. But unfortunately, he did walked a path that was quite the opposite of that. Instead of judgment and justice, we have violence and injustice; two key words that we can remember about Jehoiakim.

There was a very strong and personal message for Jehoiakim in these words. Unfortunately, his heart was not attentive to the word of the Lord; quite the contrary. He wanted to live in his own way and do as he wished. But his path of violence and injustice earned him the righteous judgment of God.

This new video presents three lessons learned from Jehoiakim’s reign.

Jehoahaz, the king of ephemeral reign

Time is short… do you know that?

A French children’s song starts with the words put in the title. Jehoahaz did not know that his time was going to be short, and we do not know how long we have. But as this children’s song says, we know that time is short and that Jesus is coming back soon!

We mentioned, concerning the reign of Amon, that tomorrow does not belong to us. Here we see that our days are short. “So teach us to number our days, that we may acquire a wise heart” (Psalms 90:12). Jehoahaz reigned for three months, and the rest of his life was nothing but captivity.

Jehoahaz made a bad use of the short time he had. May we make good use of the time that we have now, being “filled with the full knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so as to walk worthily of the Lord unto all well-pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing by the true knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).

What are we going to do with the time we have?

This new video presents three lessons learned from the events that occurred during Jehoahaz’s reign.

Josiah, the king committed with all his heart

Like father, like son … really?

Perhaps many people were wondering what sort of king this 8-year-old boy would be when he ascended his father’s throne. Because when your father’s name is Amon, and he has just been murdered by his servants, and your grandfather’s name is Manasseh, it does not take much to raise questions. Those who were still pious among the people probably had reasons to worry. Maybe that led them to pray for their young sovereign.

Not only Josiah did not fit into what we could consider a family reputation, but quite the contrary, he still remains today a remarkable example of zeal and piety towards God. It reminds us of two things:

—First, we must be careful with appearances and generalizations. When we look at someone, we should not try to see their family or their parents or grandparents. But we must see the person for what he is. God works in everyone’s life and we see in Josiah that no matter the background, He can do wonderful things, all to the glory of His name!

—Next, even with the best privileges and the best education, someone could turn away from God. Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, is a very good example of that. The point is this: everyone is responsible to God for his own choices.

Let us seek the spiritual good of one another, young and old, for the glory of God, encouraging us and helping us to grow at the image of our Lord Jesus, “and by so much the more as ye see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

Amon, the king who multiplied his sin

Amon, a reminder of the severity of God

Manasseh repented towards the end of his reign. We can say it sincerely: good for him and glory to God! But unfortunately the damage was done, not only among the people, but in his own home, in his children.

Not only did Amon not walk in the way of the Lord, but we read that he “he forsook the LORD, the God of his fathers” (2 Kings 21:22). To forsake something, one must have had something to do with it. Is it possible that Amon gave the appearance of following the Lord during his father’s lifetime? After seeing the radical change in the conduct of his father Manasseh, and after he had cleansed the city of all his idolatrous deeds, Amon may have followed his father when he worshiped the Lord—at least outwardly. If it were very sincere in Manasseh’s heart, it is obvious that Amon did not understand it, or did not want it at all! From the beginning of his reign, his true intentions, his true thoughts, manifested themselves.

It has been suggested that Manasseh himself prepared his sepulchre in his house in the garden of Uzza, for he did not feel worthy of anything else after all he had done. He had judged himself before God. Amon too was buried in the same place as his father, but it was the judgment of God that was on him. Serious thought.

If Manasseh reminds us of the unfathomable grace of God and his great patience, in Amon we are reminded of his severity. God is not mocked. God keeps “mercy unto thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”, but He is “by no means clearing the guilty”, and He is “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:7).

We cannot ignore the influence that Manasseh had on his son Amon, but that does not diminish Amon’s responsibility. He had seen his father’s repentance, but unfortunately the things of God did not find a place in his heart. It reminds us of the importance of our actions before the children—our children—in view of their eternal future. Let’s bring them to the Lord! Yes, “Bring him to Me,” He tells us (Mark 9:19). “Let the children come to Me” (Mark 10:14).

This new video presents three lessons learned from the reign of Amon.

Manasseh, The king who provoked the Lord

Manasseh, an extraordinary demonstration God’ grace

If Hezekiah, the father of Manasseh, was an example of godliness, Manasseh did quite the opposite. Murder, blood, gross idolatry, nothing is missing on his “curriculum vitae” in terms of sin, both towards God and towards men. And since he was king, who would stop him? Well, God did it, but not as we would have done or imagined.

When was Manasseh taken prisoner?
Some think it was about midway through his reign, others in the last few years.

Why was he taken to Babylon by the Assyrians?
Most likely because it happened when the king of Assyria had just taken Babylon, about ten years before the end of the reign of Manasseh.

Why was he released?
The clemency of the king of Assyria? Not only: we read that God listened to the prayer of Manasseh. That’s the real story! It was God working in the background to bring this king to repentance, for our Saviour God “desires that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Here are three lessons taken from the reign of Manasseh.

Hezekiah, the king who trusted in the Lord

Hezekiah, an example of piety

At his death, Hezekiah was buried “in the highest place of the sepulchers of the sons of David; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honor” (2 Chronicles 32:33). He is in every respect different from his father Ahaz. Here are some differences between the two.

—His father turned entirely to idolatry, and even sacrificed one of his sons to these horrible idols. Hezekiah, he turned wholly to the Lord his God, and celebrated the Passover which speaks of the sacrifice of the Son of God for the salvation of whosoever believes in Him.

—His father set aside the altar of brass and made another, modified the house as he wanted and finally, he closed the doors of the temple. Hezekiah opens the doors of the temple, and has the house sanctified and cleansed.

—Ahaz turned to the king of Assyria and his idols for help, and got none. Hezekiah turned to the Lord and they were miraculously saved from their enemy, the king of Assyria.

—When his father died, he was not even buried in the sepulcher of the kings of Israel. But Hezekiah was given the highest place.

Hezekiah did “what was right in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Chronicles 29: 2). And “his good deeds” (2 Chronicles 32:32) are also reported to us. Just like us Hezekiah was not perfect, but his heart was really for God. He learned his lessons and we also grow in the things of God.

Here are three lessons taken from the reign of Hezekiah to continue to grow in the ways of God.

Ahaz, the king who gave himself up to evil

Ahaz, the example not to follow

Uzziah and Jotham had worked to build cities in Judah, to equip the army, and to build war machines. All these things were impressive, but we see that even the best preparations, without God, are useless. There were 300,000 soldiers of the time of Amaziah, 307,500 of the time of Uzziah, and probably not less in the days of Jotham and Ahaz. But 120,000 of them, so valiant, so well equipped that they were, were killed in a single day by Pekah!

Isaiah had said, “If ye believe not, surely ye shall not be established.” (Isaiah 7: 9) When we see the state in which Judah was left after the passage of the king of Syria, of Israel, of the Edomites, and of the Philistines, the word of God came to pass. Jerusalem was not taken and their plan to overthrow royalty in Judah did not come true (Isaiah 7:7), and the king of Assyria came (7:17). And as Ahaz did not believe the word of God, he was not established. The army was greatly diminished, the wealth of the country was lost to the benefit of the Assyrian, and they lost their autonomy largely by the Assyrian. Prosperity? Peace? If we want to persuade ourselves!

When God speaks, it happens. Jeremiah said, “Who is he that saith, and there cometh to pass, what the Lord hath not commanded?” (Lamentations 3:37) But for us, let us take courage and receive the Word of God in full assurance of faith knowing that the promise of His coming is near! “Wherefore be of good courage, men, for I believe God that thus it shall be, as it has been said to me.” (Acts 27:25)

In this video you will find three other practical lessons learned from Ahaz’s reign.

Jotham, the king who learned his lessons

Jotham, an encouraging example

It is very interesting to compare the two accounts of Jotham’s reign in Kings and Chronicles. In Chronicles we have a general mention that the people still acted corruptly (2 Chron. 27: 2). For the rest, we have a positive presentation of his reign and his works, as well as his walk before the LORD. In the book of Kings we have a more succinct description, mentioning only the construction of the upper gate of the house of the LORD. But we find a more detailed description of the people’s corruption (2 Kings 15:35). Therefore, we also read that in that time the LORD began to send against Judah Rezin and Pekah. In other words, it was because of the corruption of the people, not because of the king himself. Thus, no evil thing is mentioned concerning the reign of Jotham. He was even buried in the city of David, his father!

Yes, Jotham walked in the ways of David in this regard. So, God honoured him with this positive account of his reign, while dealing, in discipline, with the state of the people. Let us be encouraged by the words of the Lord Jesus: “If anyone serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there also shall be My servant. And if anyone serve Me, him shall the Father honour.” (John 12:26)

Here are three practical lessons we can learn from Jotham’s reign.