"Judgments of a Loving God" - Chapter 29

    

     

    

    

Chapter 29: The Sins & Judgments of the Southern Kingdom

Part 3: Manasseh to Zedekiah

   

    

Chapter 29 Contents

 

29.1 Introduction

29.2 The Last Kings

29.3 The Big Picture

29.4 Jeremiah's Seventy Years

29.5 Summary-Conclusions

   

29.1 Introduction

 

In the previous two chapters we have been considering the activities of the kings of the southern kingdom comprising Judah and Benjamin. We said we would consider them under the following headings and we looked at all the kings through to Hezekiah

 

A. The Early Kings 2 Chron 10-16 (930-872 = 58 yrs – 3 kings)

B. Jehoshaphat 2 Chron 17-20 (872-853 = 25 yrs)

C. The Middle Kings 2 Chron 21-28 (853-715 = 138 yrs – 8 kings)

D. Hezekiah 2 Chron 29-32 (715-697 = 29 yrs)

E. The Last Kings 2 Chron 33-36 (697-586 = 111 yrs – 7 kings)

 

This leaves us to look at the final group that we have referred to as ‘the Last Kings', Manasseh through to Zedekiah.

 

This is a period where there is some good (see Josiah) but mostly there is a downhill slide until the nation is eventually taken into Exile and Jerusalem and the Temple completely destroyed.

 

 

 

The Southern Kings

(and the lengths of their reigns)

1. Rehoboam (17)

2. Abijah (3)

3. Asa (41)

4. Jehoshaphat (25)

 

5. Jehoram (8)

6. Ahaziah (1)

7. Athaliah (6)

8. Joash (40)

9. Amaziah (29)

10. Uzziah (52)

11. Jotham (16)

12. Ahaz (16)

13. Hezekiah (29)

 

14. Manasseh (55)

15. Amon (2)

16. Josiah (31)

17. Jehoahaz (3m)

18. Jehoiakim (11)

19. Jehoiachin (3m)

20. Zedekiah (11)

 

 

  

29.2 The Last Kings 2 Chron 33-36 (697-586 = 111 yrs – 7 kings)

 

14. Manasseh

  • did evil and was carried to Babylon (2 Chron 33:1-11)
  • repented & was restored (2 Chron 33:12-20)

   

His sins

   

2 Chron 33:2-7,9 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, "My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever." In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom , practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. He took the carved image he had made and put it in God's temple…. Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites.

  • Followed the ways of the Canaanites (v.2)
  • Rebuilt high places, erected altars to Baal, made Asherah poles (v.3)
  • Built wrong altars in the temple (v.4,5)
  • Sacrificed his sons and practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft (v.6)
  • Put a carved image in the temple (v.7)
  • Did more evil than the Canaanites had done (v.9)

   

God's Discipline & Manasseh's repentance

   

2 Chron 33:10-13 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon . In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God.

  • The Lord called Manasseh but he refused to listen (v.10)
  • The Lord disciplined through the king of Assyria who took him to Babylon (v.11)
  • There he truly repented (v.12)
  • The Lord took him back to Jerusalem (v.13)

Subsequently he:

got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the LORD, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. (v.15)

Then he restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed fellowship offerings B and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the LORD, the God of Israel.( v.16)

The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the LORD their God . (v.17)

   

The Lord's word after his sinning

 

2 Kings 21:10-15 The LORD said through his servants the prophets: "Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel , says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and hand them over to their enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their foes, because they have done evil in my eyes and have provoked me to anger from the day their forefathers came out of Egypt until this day."

  • The Lord's word: (v.10)
  • His sin is worse than the Canaanites before him (v.11)
  • Therefore disaster will come on Jerusalem and Judah (v.12)
  • Jerusalem will be wiped out (v.13)
  • They will we handed over to their enemies (v.14)
  • And this is all because of what they have continued to do (v.15)

 

 

15. Amon

  • did evil & was assassinated (2 Chron 33:21-25)

 

2 Chron 33:22,23 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the LORD; Amon increased his guilt.

  • Did the same sins as Manasseh had previously done (v.22)
  • Yet never repented (v.23)
  • Was assassinated by his officials (v.24)

 

 

16. Josiah

  • sought the Lord (2 Chron 34:1-3)
  • cleansed the land (34:4-7)
  • restored the temple (34:8-13)
  • renewed the Covenant (34:14-33)
  • celebrated the Passover (35:12-19)
  • killed after a battle (35:20-27)

   

His early years cleaning up the land

   

2 Chron 34:1-8

Walked rightly before God (v.2)

In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images. (v.3)

Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. (v.4)

He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. (v.5)

In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel . Then he went back to Jerusalem. (v.6,7)

In the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the LORD his God. (v.8)

   

God's word has effect

  

Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD (v.14)

Then Shaphan took the book to the king and …. read from it in the presence of the king. (v,.16,18)

When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes. (v.19)

   

His Response

  

He gave these orders (v.20)

"Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD's anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book." (v.21)

   

Help sought & God's word

  

2 Chron 34:22-28

those the king had sent … went to speak to the prophetess Huldah, (v.22)

She said to them… (v.23)

This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people--all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah . (v.24 Judgment!)

Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all that their hands have made, my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.' (v.25 Reason!))

Tell the king of Judah … (v.26)

Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD.( v.27 Yet delay)

Now I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.' " So they took her answer back to the king. (v.28)

   

Josiah's Response

 

2 Chron 34:29-33

Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem . (v.29)

He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites-- all the people from the least to the greatest . (v.30a Everyone goes)

He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. (v.30b God's word read to them)

The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD--to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book. (v.31 Josiah pledges to keep the Law)

Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. (v.32 the people similarly pledge)

Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the LORD, the God of their fathers (v.33 Ongoing cleansing)

 

  • After this he holds a mighty Passover (2 Chron 35:1-19)
  • Following this he then went out to join in a battle that was not his and was mortally wounded and died (v.20-24)

   

A Concluding Summary from 2 Kings

   

2 Kings 23:24-27

His ongoing activity v.24

Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem . This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD.

A general summary of him v.25

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did--with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

Yet God's previous declaration still stands v.26

Nevertheless , the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger.

The long-term judgment remains v.27

So the LORD said, "I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel , and I will reject Jerusalem , the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, `There shall my Name be.'"

 

 

17. Jehoahaz

  • deposed by Egypt (2 Chron 36:1-5)

 

2 Chron 36:2-4

Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. (v.2 a very short period before Egypt came against them)

The king of Egypt dethroned him in Jerusalem and imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. (v.3 – a presumed judgment of God)

The king of Egypt made Eliakim, a brother of Jehoahaz, king over Judah and Jerusalem and changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Eliakim's brother Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt. (v.4 – Jehoahaz ends up in Egypt and Jehoiakim left to reign)

 

 

18. Jehoiakim

  • taken to Babylon (2 Chron 36:5-8)

 

2 Chron 36:5,6 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon .

  • Nebuchadnezzar clearly was God's judgment

 

2 Kings 24:1-4

Nebuchadnezzar clearly God's disciplinary judgment (v.1)

During Jehoiakim's reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he changed his mind and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar.

Ditto the raiders (v.2)

The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah , in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets.

Overall summary (v.3,4)

Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD's command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive.

 

 

19. Jehoiachin

  • Short term bad king, taken to Babylon (2 Chron 36:9,10)

 

2 Chron 36:9,10 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and brought him to Babylon , together with articles of value from the temple of the LORD, and he made Jehoiachin's uncle, Zedekiah, king over Judah and Jerusalem .

  • A short term king who did evil in his short time (v.9)
  • So Nebuchadnezzar took him to Babylon (v.10a)
  • His uncle replaced him (v.10b)

 

Final outcome (v.15)

Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon .

Note: we will comment on the reasoning of all that took place here in the subsequent summary chapter

 

 

20. Zedekiah

  • refused the Lord (2 Chron 36:11-14)
  • with Judah , taken into exile in Babylon (36:15-21)
  • Cyrus instructed about the Temple (36:22-24)

    

The Final Fall

 

2 Chron 36:11-21

The Cause (v.11-14)

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the LORD . (v.11,12 – failure to repent when rebuked by Jeremiah)

He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God's name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the LORD, the God of Israel. ( v.13 hardened himself against God and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar)

Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the LORD, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem . (v.14 It wasn't just him, it was also the whole religious establishment)

 

God warned again and again (v.15,16)

The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God's messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. (v.15,16 Although God constantly warned them they refused to heed His voice)

 

God's final remedy – 4 aspects

He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. (v.17 (i) Many people killed)

He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God , both large and small, and the treasures of the LORD's temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. (v.18 (ii) Everything from the temple was taken)

They set fire to God's temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem ; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there. (v.19 (iii) The temple and Jerusalem destroyed)

He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. (v.20 (iv) Everyone else taken into exile)

    

The Long-term goal – Restoration

   

2 Chron 36:21-23

21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.

22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:

23 "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "`The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah . Anyone of his people among you--may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.'

 

   

29.3 The Big Picture

 

We will consider the prophetic dimensions of all that took place in the next chapter but it feel incomplete to finish this chapter without seeing the prophetic context given by Jeremiah.

  

Jeremiah 25

   

The warning comes

1 The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah , which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon . (Probably 605BC)

2 So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem :

 

He establishes his own credibility

3 For twenty-three years--from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day--the word of the LORD has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

 

They have failed to listen and respond to the prophets

4 And though the LORD has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. 5 They said, "Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the LORD gave to you and your fathers for ever and ever. 6 Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not provoke me to anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you." 7 "But you did not listen to me," declares the LORD, "and you have provoked me with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves."

 

The coming Consequences of their refusal to hear

8 Therefore the LORD Almighty says this: "Because you have not listened to my words, 9 I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon," declares the LORD, "and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp.

 

The End Outcome

11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

 

Note:

1. God had warned again and again and again of what will come

2. They had every opportunity to repent but never did.

3. The consequences were clearly laid out – destruction and deportation

4. The length of the exile was specified as seventy years.

 

    

29.4 Jeremiah's Seventy Years

 

There are some interesting dates involved in connection with what happened following the Exile.

 

The Fall of Jerusalem and start of Exile occurred in 587BC

 

However the first people started returning to Jerusalem under Cyrus and the Rebuilding of Temple begins in 537, which is just a fifty year gap, not seventy.

 

However the first thing to be rebuilt in Jerusalem was the Temple and this was completed in 517.

Take 517 from 587 and you have exactly seventy years.

 

Now why should the seventy years be in reality the period between the destruction of the Temple to the completion of the Temple ?

 

We would suggest that the existence of the Temple indicated the presence of God in the midst of the nation and the nation, in heavenly terms, only existed when God was with it.

He had been with them from the time they left Egypt through the Exodus during which He had only indicated His presence in a pillar of cloud or fire,

After the inauguration of the nation on Mount Sinai, and after Sinai He had ‘inhabited' the Tabernacle and then later the Temple .

The all-important issue for them as a nation was His presence and while the Temple didn't exist for the period of the Exile, God thus did not consider they existed as His nation in the Promised Land. When He thus spoke of seventy years through Jeremiah, He was referring to the period of His absence with His people in the midst of Jerusalem .

 

    

29.5 Summary-Conclusions

 

In the same way as the previous chapter, let's summarise in table form the kings we have considered in this chapter

 

King

Good

Not so good

14. Manasseh

 

He repented in Babylon , & was allowed to return and restore the land

Did evil in every way possible and was disciplined by being carried to Babylon

15. Amon

Nothing good noted

Did evil & was assassinated

16. Josiah

 

An excellent king and no discipline necessary

Died after battle he did not need to fight

17. Jehoahaz

Nothing good noted

Deposed by Egypt

18. Jehoiakim

Nothing good noted

Taken to Babylon

19. Jehoiachin

Nothing good noted

Taken to Babylon

20. Zedekiah

Nothing good noted

Refused the Lord, taken into exile in Babylon

Whereas with the northern kingdom we might say that the rot set in from the outset with Jeroboam who instigated idol worship which was never removed, with the southern kingdom, although the signs were often there and the Lord had spoken about their end previously, the rot really seems to have set in with Manasseh whose activities were so terrible that they incurred the Lord's wrath in both exiling him to Babylon but also declaring His final judgement on the nation prophetically.

 

His son Amon seems to have learned nothing from his father and reverts to evil.

 

What is remarkable is the reign of Josiah which is the outstanding reign of both kingdoms throughout their existence. Nevertheless during his reign the Lord reiterates His intention to ultimately destroy the nation, although not in his reign. Josiah just goes to show that in the midst of bad examples a person can stand out for God and while he is there, God will bless.

 

The remaining four kings Jehoahaz , Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah demonstrate they have learned nothing from those before them and it is a steady downward spiral of folly, each one ending up being taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Our description of Sin as ‘self-centred godlessness' is clearly demonstrated in all but one of these final seven kings, and even he died because of his pride. It is a sad testimony to the human race.

 

Let's summarise the Lord's activity in these two kingdoms in the next chapter.

 
 

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