You may recall that when the Book of the Law (the Pentateuch or first five books of the Old Testament) was found in the Temple, “Hilkiah the priest… went… to consult with the prophet Huldah. ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the words written in the scroll that the king of Judah has read will come true. For My people have abandoned Me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched.’
But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people… You tore your clothing in despair and wept before Me in repentance. So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died...’” (II Kings 22:14a, 16-19a, 19c, 20a, NLT).
Josiah failed to consult the Lord before taking his troops out to fight against the Egyptians. He was subsequently wounded and died before ever reaching middle age. “He was buried there in the royal cemetery. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him. The prophet Jeremiah composed funeral songs for Josiah. Then the people of the land anointed Josiah’s son Jehoahaz and made him the next king” (II Chronicles 35:24b-25a, II Kings 23:30b).
“Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. Pharaoh Neco put Jehoahaz in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath to prevent him from ruling in Jerusalem. He also demanded that Judah pay 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold as tribute” (II Kings 23:31a, 33).
Who put Josiah’s son in prison? Neco, the same guy Josiah had gone out to fight against. The same guy that had warned Josiah not to interfere with his plans to fight in support of the Assyrians. What had Neco told him? “I have no quarrel with you today! I am on my way to fight another nation” (II Chronicles 35:21b). But Josiah’s actions prompted Egypt’s forces to turn against Judah.
Jehoahaz spent only three months on the throne of Judah, but in that short length of time, he was recorded as having done “evil in the Lord’s sight” (II Kings 23:32a). True to His Word as always, though, Josiah didn’t live to see “the promised disaster” the Lord was going to allow in Judah.
I’ve said it a zillion times, but it’s so important for us to realize that we must never mistake God’s patience for indifference. He wants and expects those who claim His Name to live according to His ways. When we choose not to, we set in motion consequences that will inevitably come to pass. Thus was the track record of Judah.
After marching into Jerusalem, “The king of Egypt then installed Eliakim, the brother of Jehoahaz, as the next king of Judah and Jerusalem, and he changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. Then Neco took Jehoahaz to Egypt as a prisoner. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God” (II Chronicles 36:4-5).
Jehoiakim (formerly Eliakim) became a puppet king completely controlled by the whims of the Egyptians. Jeremiah the prophet had written the songs that were sung at Josiah’s funeral, but Jeremiah had something entirely different to say about his son Jehoiakim. We’ll see just what tomorrow.
“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” (Billy Graham)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates