“Behold, the days are coming,” declares The LORD
When I will raise up for David a righteous BRANCH
And HE will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.
In HIS days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell securely
And this is HIS NAME by which HE will be called
‘The LORD our Righteousness.’
In the study of the last two chapters of 2 Kings (chapters 24 and 25), and the last chapter of 2 Chronicles (2 Chr 36) we will both learn lessons from and witness:
- righteous king Josiah’s three sons and one grandson briefly reign in Judah (2 Chr 36:1-12)
- the fulfillment of GOD’s WORD concerning:
- HIS deliverance of Judah’s remnant into the hands of their enemies
- removing Judah from HIS land; sending then into Babylonian exile; including some of king Hezekiah’s sons who would serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace
- treasures taken from the king’s house into Babylon
- securing the holy things and treasuries from the temple of our Beloved LORD GOD
- the destruction of Jerusalem and HIS temple
- good figs and bad figs
- Jeremiah the prophet (2 Chr 36:11-12)
- the puppet governor Gedaliah (2 Kin 25:22-25)
- Cyrus king of Persia and his proclamation (2 Chr 36:22-23)
King Josiah’s sons and grandson:
The last four kings to reign in Judah and Jerusalem before the Babylonian exile, were three sons and a grandson of king Josiah (1 Chr 3:15-16). None of them practiced righteousness, as their father and grandfather king Josiah had. Instead they did the same evil in the sight of our Beloved LORD GOD, as other kings before them. And as a result all four were removed from the throne and taken into exile:
- king Josiah’s youngest son Shallum (aka Jehoahaz):
- was put on the throne by people of Judah and Jerusalem after his father died (2 Kin 23:30)
- after three months the king of Egypt, Pharaoh Neco, forcibly removed him from power and imprisoned him in Egypt, where he died (2 Kin 23:31-34, 2 Chr 36:1-4, Jer 22:10-12)
- king Josiah’s second born son Eliakim (aka Jehoiakim):
- was made king by Pharaoh Neco in place of his youngest brother Jehoahaz (2 Kin 23:34, 2 Chr 36:4)
- Pharaoh Neco changed his name to Jehoiakim, and made him a puppet king (a figurehead who is installed by a powerful ruler of an empire in order to provide the appearance of local authority, while allowing political and economic control to remain among the empire). Pharaoh Neco ruled over king Jehoiakim for eleven years, and made him pay tribute as leader of a conquered nation (2 Kin 23:35-36)
- in king Jehoiakim’s last three years of reign, king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Pharaoh Neco, and took all that belonged to him (2 Kin 24:7, Jer 46:2). Jehoiakim then became a puppet king for king Nebuchadnezzar paying tribute to him (2 Kin 24:1, Dan 1:1).
- after serving king Nebuchadnezzar for three years, king Jehoiakim decided to rebel against him (2 Kin 24:1); so king Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem surrounded it with his Babylonian army (Dan 1:1), forced king Jehoiakim to surrender, bound him with bronze chains and took him to Babylon (2 Chr 36:6)
- king Jehoiakim was unlike his righteous father king Josiah, who through tears humbled himself and repented before our Beloved LORD GOD, when he heard The WORD of GOD. Instead, he despised The WORDs of GOD given through Jeremiah. King Jehoiakim would cut each page and throw it into the fire, once the page was read to him (Jer 36:1-28). As a result, GOD declared his body would not be buried at death, and none of his sons would permanently sit on the throne after him (Jer 22:17-19, Jer 36:29-31)
- king Josiah’s grandson, king Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin (aka Jeconiah, Coniah):
- became king when his father king Jehoiakim died; he reigned only three months and ten days when king Nebuchadnezzar returned to Jerusalem for a second invasion of the city. It was at this second invasion king Jehoiachin, his mother, his wives, his officials, the leading men of Judah and Jerusalem, men of valor, craftsmen and smiths, and men fit for war, were led away into Babylonian exile; eighteen thousand souls (2 Kin 24:8-16)
- king Jehoiachin was imprisoned for almost thirty-seven years in Babylon, but at the very end of the thirty-seventh years, he was released from prison. Jehoiachin was treated well by king Nebuchadnezzar’s son (Evil-merodach), who now reigned in Babylon, however king Jehoiachin would die in exile, never seeing his homeland again (2 Kin 25:27-30, Jer 22:24-27).
- king Josiah’s third born son Mattaniah (aka Zedekiah):
- Zedekiah was made king by king Nebuchadnezzar when his nephew was taken into Babylonian exile (2 Kin 24:17, 2 Chr 36:10)
- king Zedekiah served and paid tribute to king Nebuchadnezzar until he rebelled against him in his ninth year (2 Chr 36:11-13); causing king Nebuchadnezzar and his army to return to Jerusalem for the third and final invasion (2 Kin 25:1-7, 2 Chr 36:11-21, Jer 39:1-2).
- king Zedekiah sought the counsel of The LORD from Jeremiah, but he did not heed the counsel given (Jer 37:1-21, Jer 38:1-28). Consequently, he suffered the consequences. He tried to flee and was captured (Jer 52:7-9), his sons were put to death in front of him (Jer 52:10), he was blinded, and taken into Babylonian exile in bronze chains (Jer 52:11), all the homes in Jerusalem, including the temple were set on fire and all the walls around the holy city were torn down (Jer 52:12-14)
Reflecting on king Josiah, and his three sons and grandson, who sat on the throne after him; we must carefully consider how we as parents are raising our children. Do we train our children in the way they should live godly lives (Pro 22:6), by being an example (Deu 4:9). Do we daily and diligently teaching them The WORD of GOD (Deu 6:7, 2 Tim 3:14-15), while sharing our personal testimonies of HIS goodness, faithfulness, and power (Psa 78:3-8)? May our Beloved LORD GOD say of us, what HE said of HIS friend Abraham in Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of The LORD by doing righteousness and justice.”
The fulfilment of GOD’s WORD
Like Israel, our Beloved LORD GOD sent HIS prophets to Judah, over and over, calling for repentance (2 Kin 17:13-14, Jer 7:25). But the people of Judah, like the people of Israel refused to turn from their evil ways, and refused to believe GOD’s warnings (2 Chr 36:15-16, Jer 7:26-28). So, in the final two chapters of 2 Kings (chptrs 24-25), we witness the fulfilment of GOD’s WORD to:
- deliver the remnant of Judah into the hands of their enemies (2 Kin 21:14, 2 Kin 24:2, Psa 106:42)
- remove Judah from HIS land (2 Kin 23:27), send them into Babylonian exile (2 Kin 20:16-18, 2 Kin 24:3-4, Jer 39:1-9), including some of king Hezekiah’s sons who would serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace (2 Kin 20:18, Dan 1:1-7)
- take treasures from the king’s house into Babylon (2 Kin 20:17, 2 Kin 24:13, Isa 39:6)
- secure the holy things and treasuries from HIS temple (Jer 27:18-22).
- destroy Jerusalem and HIS temple (2 Kin 23:26-27, 2 Kin 25:8-10, 2 Chr 36:19)
It’s important to point out three things about our wonderful LORD GOD, concerning Judah’s exile to Babylon, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the temple. Indeed GOD’s WORD was fulfilled concerning these matters, but it was not the end of the story. First, our Beloved LORD GOD is merciful (Psa 145:8-9), a GOD of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-19). From the very beginning when man fell in the garden, our merciful GOD through HIS plan of redemption (Gen 3:15), made a way for the banished one to be restored (2 Sam 14:14). As demonstrated, by HIS promise to restore the exiled descendants of Abraham back to the promise land (Jer 30:1-3). Second, our Beloved LORD GOD is faithful (Deu 7:9), HE promised king David would always have a lamp through his sons before HIMSELF in Jerusalem, the city where HE chose to put HIS NAME (1 Kings 11:36, 2 Kings 8:19). Therefore, the nation of Judah would only be in Babylonian exile for seventy years (Jer 29:10-14), both Jerusalem and HIS temple would be rebuilt (Isa 44:28), and king David’s descendant would reign on his throne forever (Luk 1:31-33). Third, our Beloved LORD GOD preserved the treasures of HIS temple for the time when Jerusalem and HIS temple would be rebuilt. King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem three times, and each time the treasures from the temple and palace were safely carried into Babylon (2 Kin 24:13, 2 Kin 25:13-17, 2 Chr 36:5-7, 2 Chr 36:9-10), and stored until our Beloved LORD GOD would return them with the exiles (Ezr 5:13-15, Ezr 1:1-11).
Good figs and Bad figs
After king Josiah’s grandson was taken into Babylonian captivity, our Beloved LORD GOD showed HIS prophet Jeremiah, a vision in which there were two baskets of figs set before the temple of The LORD. One basket had very good figs, and the second basket had very bad figs, that were so rotten, they couldn’t be eaten.
Our LORD told Jeremiah the good figs were the captives of Judah, HE would send into Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans. Our Beloved LORD GOD would give these captives a heart to know HIM and return to HIM whole-heartedly. HE would watch over them in their exile, and bring them back to the promise land (Jer 24:4-7) at the end of seventy years (Jer 29:10). Among the good figs were members of the royal family, including Hezekiah’s descendants (2 Chr 36:20, Isa 39:7, Dan 1:3-5); Daniel the prophet (Dan 1:6-7, Mat 24:15); the three Hebrew boys, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah (Dan 1:6-7)… The bad figs who refused to voluntarily go into Babylonian exile were king Zedekiah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remained in the land, and those who went into Egypt for Pharaoh’s protection (Jer 24:8-10, 2 Kin 25:26, Jer 42:1-22).
The lesson of the good figs and bad figs is such a clear example of what happens when we trust in ourselves instead of trusting in The LORD GOD (Pro 3:5-7). Indeed through many examples in HIS WORD, we have seen time and time again that our Beloved LORD GOD does not do things the way we do things. HE told Joseph “one day he would rule over his family.” Instead of progressing as the leader of his family, Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and put into prison. All which positioned him to be ruler in Egypt and protector of life (Gen 37:1-36, Gen chapters 39-50, Psa 105:17-24). Our GOD did not use weapons to conquer Jericho, instead trumpets sounded, fighting men marched for seven days, a war cry went up, and the fortified walls of Jericho fell (Jos 6:1-27). HE sent Gideon and three hundred men successfully into battle against an army so numerous they could not be counted, with only pitchers and torches in their hands (Judges chapters 6-8). And in this lesson, HE sends those HE considers good into captivity; away from all they know. What we consider a setback in the natural, is really a promotion in the spiritual. Which should teach us to continually trust HIM at all times (Psa 62:8), and seek HIS counsel in all circumstances (Psa 32:8, Psa 48:14).
Jeremiah the prophet
Jeremiah was a young man called and anointed by GOD as a prophet (Jer 1:4-5). Jeremiah’s call came in the 13th year of righteous king Josiah’s reign, and lasted until the fifth month of Jerusalem’s Babylonian exile (Jer 1:1-3).
Our Beloved LORD GOD used Jeremiah to speak to the nation of Judah, Jerusalem, and the kings of Judah during the final twenty-two years before exile. After the fall of Judah and Jerusalem, our GOD continued to use Jeremiah to speak to the nation in captivity (Jer 29:1-14), the remnant left in the land (Jer 42:1-22), and the enemies of Judah and Jerusalem (Jer chapters 46-51). And that is the reason, this final study in 2 Kings (chapters 24 and 25), contain many Scripture references from The Book of Jeremiah, which provide great details of information.
Today, our Beloved LORD GOD uses The Book of Jeremiah, to still speak to us. HE forewarns us, as HE did Judah and Jerusalem, to listen, obey and serve HIM only. If we refuse to listen; refuse to repent of idolatry and willful sin in our lives; we too will suffer the penalty for sin (Rom 2:8, Eph 5:1-8, Col 3:5-6).
The puppet governor Gedaliah
Gedaliah a Jew, was the son of Ahikam, and grandson Shaphan (Jer 43:6). Gedaliah’s father Ahikam, was among the men that king Josiah sent to inquire of inquire of The LORD for him concerning the words in The Book of The Law; which was found during the repair and restoration of the temple (Kin 22:13). King Nebuchadnezzar replaced king Zedekiah of Judah with Gedaliah to govern the cities of Judah for him (2 Kin 25:22, Jer 40:5).
All the Jews remaining in the land, and all those who had been scattered during king Nebuchadnezzar’s invasions heard Gedaliah, one of their own had been appointed governor. So the Jews went and sought refuge with Gedaliah (Jer 40:6-8, Jer 40:11-12). Gedaliah assured them, they did not need to be afraid of serving the Chaldeans/Babylonians (Jer 40:9). However, seven months after Gedaliah was appointed governor; Ishmael who belonged to the royal family of David, killed Gedaliah. Causing all the Jews to flee to Egypt out of fear (2 Kin 25:25-26, Jer 41:1-18).
It is critical in both our physical and spiritual life to always inquire of GOD, rather than trust in ourselves. In Proverbs 14:12, our Beloved LORD GOD tells us “there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end, is the way of death.” Gedaliah was warned that Ishmael had been sent by the king of Ammon to take his life, but he did not listen to the warning, and he did not inquire of GOD, so he was killed (Jer 40:13-16, Isa 41:1-2). Sadly Gedaliah, and eighty Jewish men, were murdered by Ishmael and his men (Jer 41:4-7).
Cyrus king of Persia and his proclamation
Our Beloved LORD GOD spoke through the mouth of HIS prophet Isaiah that Cyrus king of Persia, would rebuild Jerusalem, and lay the foundations of HIS temple (Isa 44:28, Isa 45:1-4). This prophecy was fulfilled more than 150 years later.
Cyrus had reigned over Persia and several other conquered nations for twenty-one years, when he captured Babylon from Darius the Mede (Dan 5:22-31). In his first year of reign over Babylon, The WORD of our GOD was fulfilled (2 Chr 36:22-23, Ezr 1:1). King Cyrus both issued a written decree, and sent out a proclamation throughout all of his kingdom, stating that any Jewish person in his kingdom who wanted to return to Judah, and assist in rebuilding GOD’s temple in Jerusalem, could go (Ezr 1:3). Additionally king Cyrus, called for neighbors of any returning Jew to support them with donations of gold, silver, goods, cattle, and freewill offerings (Ezr 1:4-6); and appointed a governor named Sheshbazzar, to return the gold and silver utensils to the temple in Jerusalem (Ezr 1:7-11, Ezr 5:13-17).
Throughout the 2 Kings study, we have seen GOD’s WORD faithfully fulfilled. And in this study, though Cyrus did not know GOD, our GOD knew him (Isa 45:4-5) and called him by name (Isa 44:28, Isa 45:1), to carry out HIS purpose to rebuild Jerusalem, lay the foundation of the temple, and let the exiles go free (Isa 45:13). Just as our Beloved LORD GOD knew and loved us, before we knew HIM (Rom 5:8, Col 1:21-22). And we to have been called for a purpose (Rom 8:28).
When your days are complete, and you lie down with your fathers
I will raise up your descendant after you
WHO will come forth from you
And I will establish HIS Kingdom
HE shall build a house for MY NAME
And I will establish the throne of HIS Kingdom forever.
2 Samuel 7:12-13