Jeroboam II’s son Zechariah made it six months as king of Israel before being assassinated by Shallum. Shallum barely survived one month before Menahem did him in and took over. Menahem lasted ten years as Israel’s king, ruling during the time when Jotham was running Judah and his father Uzziah, the official king, was shut away with leprosy.
How did Menahem’s time in office go? Suffice it to say he was not a nice guy. “When Menahem died, his son Pekahiah became the next king” (II Kings 15:22, NLT).
Pekahiah proved to be a chip off the old block. He “began to rule over Israel in the fiftieth year of King Uzziah’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria two years. Then Pekah son of Remaliah, the commander of Pekahiah’s army, conspired against him. With fifty men from Gilead, Pekah assassinated the king, along with Argob and Arieh, in the citadel of the palace at Samaria. And Pekah reigned in his place” (II Kings 15:23, 25).
“Pekah son of Remaliah began to rule over Israel in the fifty-second year of King Uzziah’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria twenty years. But Pekah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. Then Hoshea son of Elah conspired against Pekah and assassinated him. He began to rule over Israel in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah” (II Kings 15:27-28a, 30).
Which brings us back to Judah and Jotham. “Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Jotham did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. He did everything his father, Uzziah, had done, except that Jotham did not sin by entering the Temple of the Lord. But the people continued in their corrupt ways” (II Chronicles 27:1a, 2).
Uzziah had started off as a good king. Jotham may have learned from his father’s early example or by seeing what happened to him when he defied the Lord in the Temple. Either way, his record makes Jotham one of the better kings among Judah’s leaders. He achieved great military victories and the people prospered under his leadership.
The Bible makes it clear why Jotham’s rule was blessed: “King Jotham became powerful because he was careful to live in obedience to the Lord his God” (II Chronicles 27:6). Jotham succeeded because he relied on God.
“When Jotham died, he was buried in the City of David. And his son Ahaz became the next king” (II Chronicles 27:9). Before we get to Ahaz, though, let’s flip back over to Israel and their new king, Hoshea. He was to be the final straw in Israel’s long history of disobedience. Hoshea had assassinated Pekah and taken over as Israel’s leader when Jotham was in his twentieth year as king of Judah.
Second Kings 17 is one of the saddest chapters in the Bible. It may take us a day or two to cover all of it, but it’s far too important to trim to only a few verses.
“Hoshea son of Elah began to rule over Israel in the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria nine years. King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, so Hoshea was forced to pay heavy tribute to Assyria. But Hoshea stopped paying the annual tribute… Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods” (II Kings 17:1, 3-a, 5-6a, 7a).
Israel as a nation of God’s people was dissolved. How many times have you heard the saying, “History repeats itself?” It’s true. Israel was punished and warned over and over but went right on ignoring Jehovah. Eventually He said, “Enough.” Don’t wait until it’s too late to turn to Jesus. Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell someone else that He’s the Only Way to Heaven.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates