Ezra 1-3: His love endures forever

Chapter 1

Ezra immediately begins after the Books of Chronicles, and the redemptive hope that Israel awaited for (whilst it stood under the captivity of Babylon) was found in Cyrus – a Gentile, a Persian king.  It is from Ezra that it becomes ever more apparent that the forward looking faith of the Old Testament saints was, as Abraham believed, not in the physical land of promise but in the new creation where He is preparing a place for us (John 14:2).  Isaiah prophesied concerning this anointed shepherd (Isaiah 44:28, 45:1), typological of Christ the Shepherd; Jeremiah prophesied concerning the end of the captivity, leading up to Cyrus’ rule (Jeremiah 25:12, 29:11).  Thus, in God’s specified timing of 70 years of captivity, the restoration begins not with the external infrastructure of the elected nation, but begins from inward out – from the house of the LORD outwards (v.3-4).  Thus the resources begin to be inherited, by the meek from the strong, as symbolically brought by Sheshbazzar – the prince of Judah also known to be “born of Babel”, a mark of our captivity now destroyed.

Chapter 2

As one can note from Ezra 2, the numbers of Israel have waned drastically under the captivity of Nebuchadnezzar (v.1-35), followed by the Levites (v.40-42), the temple servants (v.43-54), the sons of Solomon’s servants (v.55-57) (both temple servants and sons of Solomon’s servants being 392 people – v.58), the unidentifiable Israelites (v.59-63 – subject to the consultation of the Urim and Thummim, “light and perfection” / “revelation and truth“, to ensure that these are truly the once-exiled Israelites).  The whole assembly was no longer as glorious as it once was in the days of Moses (v.64-66; the resident aliens alone were 153,600 in Solomon and David’s day, c.f. 2 Chronicles 2:17).  In spite of this, the theme of redemption is not one of quantity but that of an identity shift – for Zerubbabel no longer needs to carry that name, and no one needs to carry a Chaldean / Babylonian name in slavery anymore – for the people are now, after a long 70 years, living “in their towns” (v.1, 70), which sandwiches what is otherwise a depressing census in between.  What joy to return to our Father’s house, despite being born in slavery to sin and given a name which is emblematic of our godless past, as we look forward to receiving new names in His eternal household (Revelation 2:17, 3:12).

Chapter 3

Thus, the re-unification begins in the seventh month, the month of beginnings – the month of the Day of Atonement – Tishri (seventh month of the ecclesiastical year).  It has been a while that the children of Israel were gathered as one man (c.f. Judges 20) to Jerusalem; just as these Babylonian captives were scattered and united in their fathers’ houses, so they are now gathered together as one Church – a glorious shadow of us being gathered to the Father’s house in new creation, as part of the grander scheme of an eternal co-existence with Christ as His unified Body.  So, by the hands of Jeshua (whom Jehovah helps), son of Jozadak (whom Jehovah has made just), and Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel (asked of God), the altar of the God of Israel was re-built – re-instituting the law of the burnt offerings (v.2-3), the Feast of Booths (v.4) and the other offerings and appointed feasts (v.5).

It is important that this occurred before the foundation of the temple of the LORD was laid (v.6).  Although the foundation was built first with the Tabernacle (Exodus 26) and the Temple (2 Chronicles 8:16), just as Israel was established before the Temple was built, so there is a turning point here.  It is more apparent now that the sacrifices are central to the identity of their renewed unity and restoration after captivity – and that such could be done before the restoration of the Levitical priesthood (v.8).  Finally, the chapter ends on the refrain – “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” – however, this refrain adds “toward Israel” at the end, an addition which is excluded in other passages (1 Chronicles 16:34, 41; 2 Chronicles 5:13, 7:3, 7:6, 20:21; c.f. Psalms 136).

In spite of the restored glory of Israel throughout the first three chapters of Ezra, it is met with a varied response – with sorrow by the older generation (who have seen the first Temple) and with joy by the newer (v.12).  It appears, however, the catalyst to the weeping of the older generation is the laying down of the foundation (as opposed to the direct comparison of the first Temple and the restored Temple), possibly reminding them of the glorious pre-captive days of the first Temple.  Although not touched on by the book of Ezra, Haggai provides much insight in chapter 1 (regarding the state of the house of the LORD as the people busy themselves in their own houses, reminding them that the house of the LORD is of equal if not greater priority), and chapter 2 (v.1-9):

“In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say,  ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes?  Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts,  according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.  For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.  And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.  The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.  The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.’”

Indeed, the “latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former” – referring not to the renewed temple, but rather to the true glory of Christ Jesus, shaking “the heavens and the earth” – so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, from both Israel and the Gentiles.

Therefore, Israel is no longer filled with the arrogance that once plagued the final generation before the Babylonian captivity – for the new blood rejoices in the central multimedia representation of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, whilst the old blood is reminded of their sins which caused this captivity, which led to the scatter and exile.  While the generations stand together in worship, the Church is at its weakest – its sins laid bare, and yet Israel should sing ever more proudly that the LORD’s steadfast love endures forever.  However, the His love is not merely for Israel – but for the Gentiles too, as exampled by Cyrus’ fundamental involvement in this restoration.

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Ezra 1-3: His love endures forever

2 Chronicles 34-36: Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world

Chapter 34

Josiah, the last glorious king before Judah’s lengthy captivity in the hands of the Babylonians, sought the LORD when he was sixteen (v.3) and immediately purged the city and the temple in which was the Name of the LORD (2 Chronicles 6).  The cleansing involved the chopping down of altars of Baals (v.4), burning the bones of the priests on their altars as a retribution of the wrath they incurred upon themselves (v.5) and bearing the Asherim and images into powder, cutting down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel (v.7).  At 24 years old (v.8), upon cleaning the land, the Law of the LORD was found (v.8-18), commencing a reformation of Israel once again – just as Christ cleansed our hearts so that the law could be written on them (Jeremiah 31:33) and allow the spiritual Israelites to be reminded that the removal of idolatry comes hand in hand with worshipping the true God and find their identity as His collective children.  Josiah’s reaction (v.21) is exactly that of a person who understands the implications of not truly following Christ and merely “playing church”, as a worshipper of the LORD who does not have His law.  Yet, note the narrator’s decision to state clearly that Josiah had been walking with the LORD since 16; and for 8 years, Josiah had not the law of the LORD to guide Him, yet His mandates were already written on Josiah’s heart by the indwelling Holy Spirit – a reminder that the era before Moses, too, walked with Jesus without the written law.

Note, then, prophetess Huldah’s prophecy on Israel and Judah – that Josiah shall sleep with his fathers (v.28) before witnessing the inevitable tragedy and destruction to fall on Israel.  In the wake of this, Josiah immediately worships the LORD by making a covenant with Him, clearly understanding the purpose of the Law is relational and not simply that of a master bidding a slave to merely work.

Chapter 35

Josiah’s relationship with the LORD upon Huldah’s prophecy is most importantly marked by his keeping of the Passover through the properly elected divisions and positions of the Levites (v.1-6).  Such worship and sacrifice in the face of Israel’s impending disaster (v.7-9)!  Note clearly that no Passover of this grandeur and detail to the iota has been kept since the days of Samuel the prophet, indicating that Josiah’s keeping of the Passover is the ending bookend to the book of Samuel which opens the eras of the kings of Israel.  The repeating refrain in these verses are “according to the king’s command” and “as it is written in the Book of Moses” / “according to the rule“, which prove that the Law is closely adhered to, by the faithful Christian king’s command at a tender age of 26 years.

Yet, Josiah’s death is sudden and is indeed brought about the the Egyptian king Neco, who himself understands to be carrying out the LORD’s will (v.21-22).  It is a strange turn of events, for Neco to state that it would be against His will if Josiah opposes Neco; yet, Huldah had already prophesied that Josiah’s death was the LORD’s grace towards him, in preventing him from seeing Israel’s eventual downfall.  Surely, it is not contrary to God’s will that Josiah oppose Neco and is brought to the grave in return?  Is it not because of Josiah’s faithfulness to even the smallest iota of the Law that Israel has this temporary peace, and thus the king’s removal is tantamount to the LORD’s eventual disciplining of His elected nation?  Observe Matthew Henry’s commentary on Josiah’s death:

“From principles of religion: “God is with me; nay, He commanded me to make haste, and therefore, if thou retard my motions, thou meddlest with God.” It cannot be that the king of Egypt only pretended this (as Sennacherib did in a like case, 2 Kings xviii. 25), hoping thereby to make Josiah desist, because he knew he had a veneration for the word of God; for it is said here ( 22) that the words of Necho were from the mouth of God. We must therefore suppose that either by a dream, or by a strong impulse upon his spirit which he had reason to think was from God, or by Jeremiah or some other prophet, he had ordered him to make war upon the king of Assyria. (3.) From principles of policy: “That he destroy thee not; it is at thy peril if thou engage against one that has not only a better army and a better cause, but God on his side.”
…It was not in wrath to Josiah, whose heart was upright with the Lord his God, but in wrath to a hypocritical nation, who were unworthy of so good a king, that he was so far infatuated as not to hearken to these fair reasonings and desist from his enterprise. He would not turn his face from him, but went in person and fought the Egyptian army in the valley of Megiddo, 22. If perhaps he could not believe that the king of Egypt had a command from God to do what he did, yet, upon his pleading such a command, he ought to have consulted the oracles of God before he went out against him. His not doing that was his great fault, and of fatal consequence. In this matter he walked not in the ways of David his father; for, had it been his case, he would have enquired of the Lord, Shall I go up? Wilt thou deliver them into my hands? How can we think to prosper in our ways if we do not acknowledge God in them?”

Indeed, Josiah died in the Valley of Megiddo (symbolically called the place of crowns).  In further distinction to Matthew Henry’s views, Dev Menon’s commentary on the book of Revelations (chapter 16:15-16) reveals that Josiah’s death at Megiddo is prophetic of a greater death:

” The victory is assured – the armies of the world assemble at the Mount of Megiddo, the very place where Josiah (God supports) was pierced (2 Chronicles 35, Zechariah 12, John 19:37). That is the place of their destruction. The place of the cross.”

Josiah’s death is therefore compared in Zechariah 12 to the death of Christ; and it is in the death of Christ that the disciples were scattered, albeit for 3 days and 3 nights.  It is this short, dark period that the remainder of the Old Testament points towards – the fall and scattering of Israel until Christ’s resurrection, when similarly the Church is restored and shines gloriously.  Here, Josiah’s death prompts the inevitable downfall of Israel, as he is pierced in God’s plan by a Gentile, just as the first Passover was held in Egypt – the same Passover which only king Josiah has kept since the day of Samuel’s leadership.

Chapter 36

In this short chapter we see an usurping of the throne of Josiah’s appointed son (v.2-3), followed by the folly of Eliakim (raised up by God) / Jehoiakim (brother of Josiah’s son Jehoahaz, renamed as Jehoiakim – whom Jehovah sets up, as a mockery that the king of Egypt is Jehovah), and his son Jehoiachin (v.8-9, whom Jehovah has appointed), and Jehoiachin’s brother Zedekiah (justice of the LORD) – the narrator intentionally grouping the three kings together as having hard hearts against the LORD (v.13), leading to Israel’s unfaithfulness (v.14) and failure to keep and protect the house of the LORD (v.7, 14).  Yet, despite His unwavering steadfast love (v.15-16), they kept mocking the messengers of God.

It is in Israel’s own rejection of God that the house of the LORD is destroyed, just as the body of Christ had to be destroyed before being re-built (John 2).  So this temporary destruction of the house is but a prophecy of Israel’s own rejection of Christ, leading to the destruction of the true temple of God – Jesus’ body – just so we could be baptized in Christ’s death and raised in His resurrection (Romans 6:3), just as the Israelites are now scattered and baptised in Christ’s death, and whether they resurrect with His glory or not depends on whether they cling onto Christ or their empty religion for the generations to come.

This resurrection of Israel, akin to Christ’s resurrection, is described at the end of 2 Chronicles which is a sweeter note than that of 2 Kings.  Where in 2 Kings 25 we see a description of grace falling on Jehoiachin, both books of Chronicles’ intention is on a larger scale beyond that of microscopic mercy; rather, Chronicles detail the macroscope of the importance of the priesthood, and the victories of the kings when the priesthood and the Levites are restored to their proper duty – with the temple and Jerusalem being once again the focus of Israel’s identity (c.f. 2 Chronicles 26), given their dual importance as the place of Christ’s work on the cross and a multimedia presentation of the gospel respectively.  Jeremiah’s positive prophecy concerning Israel is therefore not surprising, and had been fulfilled (v.21-22), for Israel’s captivity is but a foreshadowing of Christ’s death on the cross leading to the scattering of the disciples.  That time of darkness was merely temporary.  Similarly, Babylon’s captivity would end under Persia eventual leadership, and Cyrus’ decision to release the Israelites and rebuild the destroyed house in Judah.  Here, for the first time, the Gentiles are not merely contributing to the house of God (i.e. Sheba / other kings paying tributes to Israel in the past) – but Cyrus is proactively commissioning Israelites to rebuild the temple, a foreshadowing of the global evangelism involving both Jews and Gentiles in building up the dwelling place of God on earth.  That is the hope we are left with at the end of 2 Chronicles, that not only Israel, but also the Gentiles, are workers of the resurrected global House of the LORD – but not until after being exiled and banished in the wake of the crucifixion of Josiah, a type of Christ.

2 Chronicles 34-36: Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world

2 Chronicles 31-33: Humbled

Chapter 31

Hezekiah’s focus on the priesthood continues in chapter 31, as (like David in 1 Chronicles 16) he appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites (v.2-10).  In the wake of the destruction of idolatry (v.1), the response is to replace such idolatry with passion for Jesus, giving thanks and praise (v.2) and giving the portion due to the priests and the Levites that they might give themselves to the Law of the LORD which points to Christ alone (v.3-4), such tithing through the Levites which have not been done for many generations of kings (v.7-8 – from the third month to the seventh month).  Such overflowing blessing which is beyond all that the Levites had needed (v.10)!  This prompted Hezekiah to command the Levites to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD (v.11) to house such contributions, tithes and dedicated things (v.12), a reminder that these are all the LORD’s to begin with – also a symbolic storing of the treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).

This very much defines the period in which Hezekiah led – doing what was good and right and faithful before the LORD (v.20).  Yet, Hezekiah was not the promised offspring, despite his temporary shortcomings described in chapter 32; he is not the Son spoken of in Psalm 2; like Solomon, they both shine brightly as types of Jesus, representing ages where heaven seemed to kiss earth.  Not yet, not yet.

Chapter 32

The arrogance of Sennacherib is almost a red herring given Hezekiah’s walk with Christ and devotion to the priesthood, as surety that the LORD’s steadfast love is manifested in His victory through Israel against all enemies and odds.  The waters of the Law of the LORD flows from and to Israel (Isaiah 2:2) and Hezekiah’s decision to stop the water of the springs outside the city (v.3) is a conscious act of pronouncing judgment on Sennacherib for failing to recognise the importance of Israel’s identity to Sennacherib’s salvation.  Indeed – for with Israel is the right arm of the LORD, whereas Sennacherib is but an arm of man.

Sennacherib’s blasphemy in v.9-15 is but a repeat of what Israel believes – indeed, that what the other nations believe in are but false idols.  Of course they are incapable to fend themselves against man’s mightiest threats (v.9-15) when their object of faith is dead and lacks the power to protect but only the power to deceive.  Hezekiah’s God is the true deliverer – the story of the exodus preached in Israel and surely in the surrounding nations.  Sennacherib’s ignorance of the Passover and this protected nation is already testimony to this eventual downfall – that this tribal nation’s survival has been and will continue to be entirely dependent on the LORD’s steadfast love to Israel through Jesus.  “How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!” (v.15, c.f. v.17) is in itself a fabricated lie.

The Israelites’ first response could have been to justify themselves; to seek confidence in their military might.  Yet, Hezekiah and Isaiah’s response is exactly that required and expected of an Israelite – to pray because of such blasphemy and crying to heaven (v.20).  The irony of Sennacherib’s death is that his lie has turned on himself – that in the house of his god he was struck down rather than delivered.  One of LORD’s mere angels is sufficient to cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the Assyrian camp (v.21), and not even the Angel of the LORD Jesus Christ Himself – let alone the angelic army which protects Israel (2 Kings 6:17)?  Once again, the king of Israel is honoured because of Israel sealing its identity as the LORD’s child, as initiated by Hezekiah and Isaiah’s joint plea (v.23) – just as Christ was exalted by the Father (Acts 5:31) and was challenged by the lies of men like Sennacherib (Matthew 27:40).  Even Hezekiah’s pride was merely mentioned as a passing stage in his life, his sin overshadowed by his humility (v.26) which blessed the nation, just as Christ’s humility on the cross provided the gifts of salvation and Holy Spirit to us.

Thus, the sign Hezekiah received (v.24), amongst the various signs he received in the destruction of Sennacherib, were the Babylonian princes’ and envoys’ subject of inquiry.  The “sign that had been done in the land” is the sacrament of God’s love towards Israel, manifested in the Shekinah glory in the House of the LORD.  Yet, God left Hezekiah to himself (v.30), in order to test him and to know all that was in Hezekiah’s heart – whether Jesus was written on his heart, or whether his own name was written on his heart.

Chapter 33

Yet, just as Hezekiah was described to have a life walking with Jesus, his son Manasseh shakes that stability in Israel by his evil leadership once again (v.2) – the mindless sheep of Israel following their sinful king even in rejecting the same LORD Whom Hezekiah lifted up.  Just like Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28) who had similarly sacrificed his offspring as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, a direct threat to the Offspring Who would have brought everlasting to Israel.  Instead, Ahaz and Manasseh choose to adopt the idolatrous practices and abominations of other nations to achieve such victory – Manasseh in particular rejecting the LORD despite receiving direct revelation from Him (v.10), leading him to be chained down like a slave, like an animal (Isaiah 37:29).  Yet, in fulfillment of Solomon’s plea in 2 Chronicles 6, that even a man like Manasseh, if he were to turn back to the LORD, he would be redeemed – v.12-13 is a fulfillment of this.  Manasseh humbled himself before the LORD, and God was moved – His steadfast love expressed in bringing Manasseh back to Jerusalem (v.13).  Only at this stage did Manasseh know that the LORD was God.  As a response in faith, he took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD (v.15-17), restoring the altar of the LORD and sacrificing peace and thanksgiving offering.  Judah is to return to serving the LORD, not to sway from the promise of the gospel which Manasseh newly received.

Yet, like how Manasseh has “undone” the work of Hezekiah, so also Amon is another faulty line in the lineage of David threatening the coming of the Son.  He did not humble himself before the LORD, and instead he incurred more and more guilt – bearing a death very similar to Sennacherib’s (chapter 32:21).  However, there was still some ray of light – that the people would reject those who killed Amon (v.25) – and his short reign is thus replaced by young Josiah.

 

2 Chronicles 31-33: Humbled

2 Kings 23-25: The Exile of Judah, the Beginning of Hope

II Kings 23:

1 Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him.

2 And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.

3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.

 

The reformation of king Josiah therefore continues – for the first time in many decades is it recorded that a king would make a covenant before the LORD and with all the people joining in the covenant.  This is truly a shadow of the propitiatory penal substitution of Christ, our King who made a covenant with the Father and that we should join in this same covenant (John 17).  For who can love God with all his heart and all his soul except the Son who is at the Father’s bosom, at the Father’s side, before creation (John 1:18)?

 

4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel.

5 And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.

6 And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people.

7 And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.

8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the gate of the city.

9 However, the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers.

10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech.

11 And he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the precincts. And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.

12 And the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, he pulled down and broke in pieces and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.

13 And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

14 And he broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with the bones of men.

15 Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah.

 

Verses 4 to 15 are beautiful – they are reminiscent of the work of the judges (c.f. Gideon, Judges 6) at a greater scale, the destruction of all idols leaving but the one appointed bronze altar as a reminder that there is but one sacrifice (Ephesians 4:5).  Verses 4-6 and 10 are reminders that Kidron (turbid) valley is the same place where Jesus was betrayed (John 18); and it is in this same place that David mourned (2 Samuel 15:23) as his own kin Absalom betrayed him.  So also here, the Kidron is a place of impurity, bearing witness to the sins of Israel and its idolatries and prostitution.   Indeed, it is not a place of clarity – but it is muddy, turbid, unclear, filled with corruption.

 

Rightly should Josiah go on to defile Topheth (v.10), named as such as it became a place of burning, a drum, in the Valley of the Son of Lamentation (Hinnom), lamenting the death of the sons and daughters offered to Molech.  Thus also the idols of even king Solomon and Jeroboam were destroyed – the abomination of the Sidonians, Moab, and Ammonites (c.f. Deuteronomy 18:9; 20:18).

 

16 And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things.

17 Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.”

18 And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria.

19 And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the LORD to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel.

20 And he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

 

The cleansing is thorough – and Josiah thus fulfils the prophecy made in 1 Kings 13:2-3, the prophecy made against the line of Jeroboam which many sinful kings have walked in, implying an end to the evil king’s corruption spreading throughout Israel.  Josiah knows that this man is indeed a man of God, contrary to the recipients of his cleansing in the previous verses – indeed, “Let him be; let no man move his bones”.  His bones shall not be defiled (1 Kings 13:32).  Thus, the bones are preserved, not because cremation is a practice not for Christians; rather, the burning of the human bones on the same altars built by these sinful men is a pronouncement of the LORD’s judgment against them.  These men did not accept the sacrifice of the one lamb, the one LORD, Christ – and instead, they stand outside of htem whereby they too shall receive the wrath of the Father that Christ did on the cross.  Shall we, too, be burned on our own altars for presumptuously relying on more than the cross?  Or shall we look only to the sacrificial scapegoat, the slaughtered Lamb, and remember that He is sufficient in his propitiatory work?  Josiah’s reformation and specific acts are a timely reminder to look only to Christ, our Passover Lamb, and remember that is sufficient in a time of zealous but empty religiosity:

 

 

21 And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.”

22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.

23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.

24 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.

 

There is indeed no king like Josiah, following after the words of Deuteronomy 18.  As is the fitting description in 2 Chronicles 34:33 – 33  And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.”  The Passover was of such significance to Josiah that “no passover like it has been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet” (c.f. 2 Chronicles 35:1-19, especially v. 18).  It is a depressing state of events, where no king has kept such as Passover as was kept by Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:19).

 

ALL his days they did not turn away – what a glorious period, perhaps even greater than the period of Solomon who had ushered in idolatry even during his time.  Yet, the LORD’s wrath is not turned – for Josiah is but a king, and Christ is the true king who shall usher in the end times of reformation and sanctification until His second return.  Josiah’s name is not enough – Christ’s name is the one that the LORD wishes to imprint into Jerusalem, after it is refined through the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity:

 

26 Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.

27 And the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”

28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

29 In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. King Josiah went to meet him, and Pharaoh Neco killed him at Megiddo, as soon as he saw him.

30 And his servants carried him dead in a chariot from Megiddo and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.

 

Although not fully recorded in 2 Kings 23, the death of Josiah is perhaps more fully explained in 2 Chronicles 35:

 

“20  After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates and Josiah went out to meet him. 21  But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” 22  Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. 23  And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” 24  So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. And he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 25  Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a rule in Israel; behold, they are written in the Laments. 26  Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his good deeds according to what is written in the Law of the LORD, 27  and his acts, first and last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.”

 

We see that Josiah entered into a quarrel that was not against Israel, but against the king of Assyria (also recorded in v.29 of this chapter).  What we see increasingly, however, is the LORD working through these neighbouring nations to bring a (temporary) end to Israel (c.f. 2 Kings 24:3).  It is indeed the LORD’s plan to pit Neco and Assyria against one another, and Josiah’s intervention is arguably part of the LORD’s plan too, in fulfillment of His own prophecy (c.f. 2 Kings 22:20).  His death is neither untimely nor abrupt – it is intentional, for it shows Josiah’s powerlessness as the type of Christ against the LORD’s allowance that chaos and darkness reign before the incarnation of the Light of lights (Genesis 1:2-3).  The senselessness of the death of Josiah is but a firm reminder that even in a holy man like Josiah, in direct contrast to Manasseh, that salvation was never through the kings but through Christ alone, the Passover Lamb Whom Josiah looked forward to.

 

See Matthew Henry’s commentary on Josiah’s death:

 

“Notwithstanding this he was cut off by a violent death in the midst of his days, and his kingdom was ruined within a few years after. Consequent upon such a reformation as this, one would have expected nothing but the prosperity and glory both of king and kingdom; but, quite contrary, we find both under a cloud… Yet even this destruction was intended to be their effectual reformation; so that we must say, not only that the criminals had filled their measure and were ripe for ruin, but also that the disease had come to a crisis, and was ready for a cure; and this shall be all the fruit, even the taking away of sin. As an evidence of this, even the reforming king is cut off in the midst of his usefulness–in mercy to him, that he might not see the evil which was coming upon his kingdom, but in wrath to his people, for his death was an inlet to their desolations. The king of Egypt waged war, it seems, with the king of Assyria: so the king of Babylon is now called. Josiah’s kingdom lay between them. He therefore thought himself concerned to oppose the king of Egypt, and check the growing, threatening, greatness of his power; for though, at this time, he protested that he had no design against Josiah, yet, if he should prevail to unite the river of Egypt and the river Euphrates, the land of Judah would soon be overflowed between them. Therefore Josiah went against him, and was killed in the first engagement, 29, 30. Here, (1.) We cannot justify Josiah’s conduct. He had no clear call to engage in this war, nor do we find that he asked counsel of God by urim or prophets concerning it. What had he to do to appear and act as a friend and ally to the king of Assyria? Should he help the ungodly and love those that hate the Lord? If the kings of Egypt and Assyria quarrelled, he had reason to think God would bring good out of it to him and his people, by making them instrumental to weaken one another. Some understand the promise made to him that he should come to his grave in peace in a sense in which it was not performed because, by his miscarriage in this matter, he forfeited the benefit of it. God has promised to keep us in all our ways; but, if we go out of our way, we throw ourselves out of his protection. I understand the promise so as that I believe it was fulfilled, for he died in peace with God and his own conscience, and saw not, nor had any immediate prospect of, the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; yet I understand the providence to be a rebuke to him for his rashness… We must adore God’s righteousness in taking away such a jewel from an unthankful people that knew not how to value it. They greatly lamented his death (2 Chron. xxxv. 25), urged to it by Jeremiah, who told them the meaning of it, and what a threatening omen it was; but they had not made a due improvement of the mercies they enjoyed by his life, of which God taught them the worth by the want.”

 

However, this is not a senselessness without hope.  The victory of Christ is assured.  In the words of Dev Menon in his commentary on Revelation: … the armies of the world assemble at the Mount of Megiddo, the very place where Josiah (God supports) was pierced (2 Chronicles 35, Zechariah 12, John 19:37). That is the place of their destruction. The place of the cross.”  In the midst of the battle between Assyria and Egypt, Megiddo is the place of the cross where the restoration of New Jerusalem begins and the refinement of creation leads to the destruction of those standing outside of Christ.  However, for now, not yet.

 

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

32 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

33 And Pharaoh Neco put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and laid on the land a tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

34 And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away, and he came to Egypt and died there.

35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.

 

Thus, Jehoahaz (whom the LORD sustains), the son of Josiah is anointed by the people, although walking in the ways rejected by His father.  He is immediately placed under bonds in Riblah in the land of Hamath and made the land a tributary to Egypt.  Instead, Pharoah Neco takes away the anointed son, and opts for Eliakim (raised up by God) changing his name to Jehoiakim (whom Jehovah sets up / resurrects).  There is, however, a question over why Pharoah Neco would change Eliakim’s name (which already is in reverence to the LORD) except to indicate that the Pharoah indeed believes he is the LORD who set up Eliakim – not the LORD who anointed Jehoahaz and the kings before him.  The Pharoah, in understanding the hope of the Israelites, has thus removed any anointed son of God, any potential Messiah, and instead opted for his own king whom he set up and through whom would do Pharoah Neco’s bidding.  Yet, there will come a day where the true Jehoiakim, whom the Father resurrects, the Anointed Son that will be itself a kingdom of heaven and earth for all other nations to be spiritual tributaries to it (Isaiah 2:2-5).

 

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.

37 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

 

II Kings 24:

1 In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him.

2 And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by his servants the prophets.

3 Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done,

4 and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon.

5 Now the rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

6 So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.

7 And the king of Egypt did not come again out of his land, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates.

 

Israel’s return to slavery in Egypt is a reversal of the events of Exodus – and once again, the nation is enslaved even further into the hands of the Babylonians.  This is because the anointed kings have not walked in the ways of David the type of Christ – shedding innocent blood when they should be relying on the blood of the Lamb.  Disappointingly, though not surprisingly, Jehoiachin, the son of brass (Nehushta c.f. 2 Kings 18:4) continues to reign in evil as the darkest time of Israel ushers near.

 

 

8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.

9  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.

10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.

11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it,

12 and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign

13 and carried off all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the LORD, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the LORD had foretold.

 

Thus, the work of Josiah is undone (2 Kings 22-23), the treasures of the house of the LORD removed and cut in pieces (c.f. Deuteronomy 28:49; 2 Kings 20:17).  Note in particular the LORD’s usage of Nebuchadnezzar in relation to Israel as observed by Adam Clarke:

 

“It has been remarked that Nebuchadnezzar spoiled the temple three times.-1. He took away the greater part of those treasures when he took

Jerusalem under Jehoiakim: and the vessels that he took then he placed in the temple of his god, Da 1:2. And these were the vessels which Belshazzar profaned, Da 5:2; and which Cyrus restored to Ezra, when he went up to Jerusalem, Ezr 1:2.  It was at this time that he took Daniel and his companions. 2. He took the remaining part of those vessels, and broke them or cut them in pieces, when he came the second tine against Jerusalem under Jeconiah; as is mentioned here, 2Ki 24:13. 3. He pillaged the temple, took away all the brass, the brazen pillars, brazen vessels, and vessels of gold and silver, which he found there when he besieged Jerusalem under Zedekiah, 2Ki 25:13-17.”

 

 

14 He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land.

15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.

16 And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war.

17 And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

19 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.

20 For because of the anger of the LORD it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.

 

And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

 

In similar manner to the replacement of Jehoahaz, so also Jehoiachin is replaced by another – Mattaniah (gift of Jehovah), whose name is changed to Zedekiah (justice of Jehovah) – ironically so, as this justice is believed by the king of Babylon to be brought by the king who sees himself as Jehovah.  What arrogance of Pharoah Neco and the king of Babylon, seeing themselves as the LORD who sets up and the LORD who imparts justice!  They will be recipients of such justice when they look upon the victory of the cross at Megiddo, at the place where Josiah was pierced, and regret that they made a mockery of the visible LORD who is resurrected by the LORD of the third heaven.

 

II Kings 25:

1 And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it.

2 So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

3 On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.

4 Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah.

5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him.

6 Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him.

7 They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.

 

Yet, this justice of Jehovah is destroyed – a fulfillment of the wrath of God against Israel, the temporary serving of justice upon the appointed nation.  In a time of no food, in the worst time of Israel, the king of Judah was judged – for what reason?  Because the kings of Israel did not follow Christ.  What irony that the men of Israel went in the direction of the Arabah (burnt up) and Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of fertility (Riblah).  The LORD thus passed the just judgment upon Zedekiah as the representative of Israel, through Babylon – the utmost shame of being sentenced by a godless and arrogant nation.   Not only the destruction of the king, but also the destruction of the house of the LORD (1 Kings 6) – the house in which the true king shall reign forever.  Yet, let us remember – “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27)  Indeed – the house of the LORD is not this pitiful temple (which is but a shadow, a temporary rendition of the heavenly home) but the new dwelling place that the LORD is preparing for us (John 14:2-3).

 

8 In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.

9 And he burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down.

10 And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.

11 And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile.

12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.

13 And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the LORD, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces and carried the bronze to Babylon.

14 And they took away the pots and the shovels and the snuffers and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service,

15 the fire pans also and the bowls. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver.

16 As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands that Solomon had made for the house of the LORD, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weight.

17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and on it was a capital of bronze. The height of the capital was three cubits. A latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, were all around the capital. And the second pillar had the same, with the latticework.

18 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the threshold,

19 and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and five men of the king’s council who were found in the city, and the secretary of the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city.

20 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah.

21 And the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.

 

Note the brief description of the items in the house of the LORD – the gold, the silver, the bronze – the pillars of the House (Jachin and Boaz, He shall establish and alacrity respectively), and the chief priest Seraiah (prince of the LORD) and Zephaniah (hidden by Jehovah) – all struck down and put to death at the land of fertility (Riblah).  The irony.  Thus, Judah was taken into exile – the hope of the LORD, the offspring of Adam (Genesis 3:15), the gospel at an end.

 

Yet, that is not true – for the LORD’s kingdom shall be established; no matter how dark the chaos, the light shall reign – the light shall defeat darkness without contention.  Although neither Zedekiah nor the house stand in the face of such oppression, let us remember the hope that the LORD has given to David:

 

2 Samuel 7:11-16 – “And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.

12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men,

15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.

16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.

 

He is not Solomon – He is the Christ, who shall build a house for His Father, preparing rooms for His co-heirs, establishing the throne of the Father’s kingdom forever.  Christ is His Son, disciplined by the rod of men on the cross when he bore our sins – the piercing being the stripes of the sons of men, but His Father’s love never departing the Messiah.  Thus, and only on that day, shall the kingdom of Christ reign forever – his throne established forever.  The grand plan of the Messiah shall come to fruition.

 

22 And over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, he appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, governor.

23 Now when all the captains and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite.

24 And Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.”

25 But in the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men and struck down Gedaliah and put him to death along with the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah.

26 Then all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces arose and went to Egypt, for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.

 

In the seventh month, the month of Tishri (the same month as the Day of Atonement; c.f. Leviticus 23:27), the month of beginnings, Ishmael of the royal family came with ten men and struck down the governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, at Mizpah (the watch-tower).  This is a time of waiting, a time when the people – both small and great – scattered to Egypt for they were afraid of the Babylonians / Chaldeans.

 

Now, we turn to the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah (decades since 2 Kings 24).  The time skip is between v.26 to v.27, for the narrator wants us to be reminded of the hope of 2 Samuel 7 – that, in the twelfth month, before Nisan – the month of the Passover, the successor of Nebuchadnezzar (Evil-merodach, the fool of death) freed Jehoiachin.  Instead of Zedekiah, the narrator chose to look at the grace bestowed upon Jehoiachin, whom Jehovah has appointed, as this king of Judah is freed from the pit and was given a seat above the seats of the kings in Babylon.  Jehoiachin is thus no longer a prisoner, but walks with his head higher than the kings.

 

27 And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison.

28 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon.

29 So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table,

30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.

 

Yet, what led us to this place?  What led us to Evil-merodach’s change of heart from Nebuchadnezzar?  This is a story left for the next books, revealing much more of God’s plan of redemption through Christ, the restoration of His house (2 Chronicles 36:22-23), and the ushering of His Son’s incarnation.

2 Kings 23-25: The Exile of Judah, the Beginning of Hope

2 Kings 19-20: Peace and prosperity in the days of the King

II Kings 19:

1  As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the LORD. 2  And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz. 3  They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. 4  It may be that the LORD your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.” 5  When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, 6  Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7  Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’”

 

Hezekiah’s hope is high – “It may be that your Christ heard all the words of Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the Father, and will rebuke the words that your Christ has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left” (a more Christocentric translation of the Hebrew).  He knows that the Son has heard these mocking words of blasphemy from Rabshakeh, and that the Father as His witness would rebuke these same words (c.f. John 8:18).  Isaiah thus prays for a spirit of fear to be placed in the heart of this Assyrian king, despite the prideful man’s many victories against neighbouring nations for these nations too have relied on their gods to deliver them, but to no avail:

 

8  The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he heard that the king had left Lachish. 9  Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, “Behold, he has set out to fight against you.” So he sent messengers again to Hezekiah, saying, 10  “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11  Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? 12  Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? 13  Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’”

 

14  Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD and spread it before the LORD. 15  And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: “O LORD the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 16  Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 17  Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands 18  and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 19  So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.”

 

It is refreshing to see a king lying prostrate before the King of the heavens – the LORD who is enthroned above the cherubim, above the mercy seat in the house of the LORD before which Hezekiah prayed (Exodus 25:22).  The kings of Assyria have rightly cast the gods of these nations into the fire, “for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands”.  Is that not the same pandemic facing the world today?  Let us therefore wait on the true LORD to save us from the false leaders of this world, so that the glory of God may be revealed for all to see and be shamed!

 

Thus says the LORD through Isaiah:

 

20  Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. 21  This is the word that the LORD has spoken concerning him:

 

“She despises you, she scorns you—

the virgin daughter of Zion;

she wags her head behind you—

the daughter of Jerusalem.

22  “Whom have you mocked and reviled?

Against whom have you raised your voice

and lifted your eyes to the heights?

Against the Holy One of Israel!

23  By your messengers you have mocked the Lord,

and you have said, ‘With my many chariots

I have gone up the heights of the mountains,

to the far recesses of Lebanon;

I felled its tallest cedars,

its choicest cypresses;

I entered its farthest lodging place,

its most fruitful forest.

24  I dug wells

and drank foreign waters,

and I dried up with the sole of my foot

all the streams of Egypt.’

25  “Have you not heard

that I determined it long ago?

I planned from days of old

what now I bring to pass,

that you should turn fortified cities

into heaps of ruins,

26  while their inhabitants, shorn of strength,

are dismayed and confounded,

and have become like plants of the field

and like tender grass,

like grass on the housetops,

blighted before it is grown.

27  “But I know your sitting down

and your going out and coming in,

and your raging against me.

28  Because you have raged against me

and your complacency has come into my ears,

I will put my hook in your nose

and my bit in your mouth,

and I will turn you back on the way

by which you came.

 

These words of judgment against Sennacherib are staunch reminders of how Sennacherib could even potentially achieve victory against Israel to begin with – because the LORD allows it (v.25) – the LORD’s plan from days of old, that is to save men from their sins by the sacrifice of His divine Son (Genesis 3:15).  The Holy One of Israel is not pleased (c.f. Isaiah 41) – for He is the Christ, the remnant of the house of Judah who shall take root downward and bear fruit upward (c.f. Psalm 1).  “The zeal of the LORD will do this”.  Indeed, it is this same zeal of the LORD that the one remnant Jesus Christ indeed took root in the international church and bore fruit for the Gentiles to feed from Him (Romans 11).

 

29  “And this shall be the sign for you: this year eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same. Then in the third year sow and reap and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 30  And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 31  For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD will do this.

 

32  “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 33  By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. 34  For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

 

Thus, the messenger of the LORD Jesus Christ went out to strike down many men in the Assyrian camps, pushing Sennacherib back home to Nineveh, worshipping his false god Nisroch (the great eagle) when he should have hid under His wings (c.f. Ezekiel 1:10).  Yet, his demise is akin to the demise of those conspiring kings of Israel – being struck down by Adrammelech (splendor of the king) and Sharezer (prince of fire) only to pave way to Esarhaddon (victor), the irony that his son is named after one of the idols Adrammelech.  This does not bode well for the royal family of Assyria has they increasingly ignore the might and presence of Christ Jesus, hence their eventual ruin:

 

35  And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36  Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. 37  And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

 

II Kings 20:

1  In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” 2  Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, 3  “Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4  And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5  “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, 6  and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.” 7  And Isaiah said, “Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover.”

 

Thus, on the third day, the son of God is given life (v.5) – fifteen years of more life for the purpose of seeing Jerusalem redeemed from the hand of the king of Assyria.  Yet, this life is not eternal, and is a reminder that Hezekiah serves only as a shadow and reminder to the Christ who shall rise again to achieve an eternal peace in New Jerusalem.  Thus Hezekiah recovers from a cake of sweet figs (1 Samuel 30:12)  contrary to the fig tree without figs, which offends Christ (Mark 11:13-14; sign of peace and prosperity – c.f. 1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10).

 

8  And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the LORD on the third day?” 9  And Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?” 10  And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.” 11  And Isaiah the prophet called to the LORD, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.

 

This event is also recorded in Isaiah 38.  In the words of Matthew Henry:

 

He cried unto the Lord by special warrant and direction, and God brought the sun back ten degrees, which appeared to Hezekiah (for the sign was intended for him) by the going back of the shadow upon the dial of Ahaz, which, it is likely, he could see through his chamber-window; and the same was observed upon all other dials, even in Babylon, 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. Whether this retrograde motion of the sun was gradual or per saltum–suddenly–whether it went back at the same pace that it used to go forward, which would make the day ten hours longer than usual–or whether it darted back on a sudden, and, after continuing a little while, was restored again to its usual place, so that no change was made in the state of the heavenly bodies (as the learned bishop Patrick thinks)–we are not told; but this work of wonder shows the power of God in heaven as well as on earth, the great notice he takes of prayer, and the great favour he bears to his chosen. The most plausible idolatry of the heathen was theirs that worshipped the sun; yet that was hereby convicted of the most egregious folly and absurdity, for by this it appeared that their god was under the check of the God of Israel. Dr. Lightfoot suggests that the fifteen songs of degrees (Ps. cxx., &c.) might perhaps be so called because selected by Hezekiah to be sung to his stringed instruments (Isa. xxxviii. 20) in remembrance of the degrees on the dial which the sun went back and the fifteen years added to his life; and he observes how much of these psalms is applicable to Jerusalem’s distress and deliverance and Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery.

 

12  At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 13  And Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. 14  Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.” 15  He said, “What have they seen in your house?” And Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”

 

Yet, in spite of Hezekiah’s recovery, he opens his house to the man ominously entitled Merodach-baladan, the son of Baladan – meaning death who has given a son.  The son of death therefore takes Hezekiah to Sheol, and Isaiah pronounces the inevitable judgment on Israel:

 

16  Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: 17  Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD. 18  And some of your own sons, who shall be born to you, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” 19  Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?”

 

20  The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah and all his might and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 21  And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and Manasseh his son reigned in his place.

 

Yet, Hezekiah is not the promised son of Psalms 1-2.  He is but a faint (though incredibly influential and powerful) shadow, who brought temporary prosperity to Israel.  This is, however, not enough.  Note the LORD tested him through the son of death, these Babylonians, only to reveal Hezekiah’s flawed heart – the narrative showing a king whose life is marked by peace and security in his days.  This prophecy, however, would ring different in relation to Christ – whose peace and security in His days would be everlasting.  Perhaps this is why Hezekiah believes “the word of the LORD that you have spoken is good” (v.19) – for if only this were true also for Christ, then the eternal God-man would be able to bring far more peace and security than a sinful man like Hezekiah.  If Hezekiah, a tainted picture of what would otherwise be a glorious truth, a man reborn only to not make return according to the benefit done to him, could nonetheless bring temporal peace and prosperity – what more can the glorious Christ, the sinless God-man and Redeemer of Hezekiah, give to the future of Israel?  Yet, until then, we ponder on the life of Hezekiah as he points us towards the God whom he put his faith in (2 Chronicles 32:25-31):

 

25  But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem. 26  But Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

 

27  And Hezekiah had very great riches and honor, and he made for himself treasuries for silver, for gold, for precious stones, for spices, for shields, and for all kinds of costly vessels; 28  storehouses also for the yield of grain, wine, and oil; and stalls for all kinds of cattle, and sheepfolds. 29  He likewise provided cities for himself, and flocks and herds in abundance, for God had given him very great possessions. 30  This same Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. 31  And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.

2 Kings 19-20: Peace and prosperity in the days of the King

2 Kings 17-18: Hezekiah, the son of the Father

II Kings 17:

1  In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah began to reign in Samaria over Israel, and he reigned nine years. 2  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him. 3  Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria. And Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. 4  But the king of Assyria found treachery in Hoshea, for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison. 5  Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria, and for three years he besieged it.

 

Note the increasing demise of Israel.  Hoshea is anything but like the Hoshea, the son of Nun (c.f. book of Joshua).  He does not bear the name Yeshua, nor is he the true salvation of Israel.  Shalmaneser (which could be translated as chained), however, lives up to his true name.  He is the one who shut up the king of Israel and bound him in prison.  “Salvation” is thus bound up – symbolically, Israel is to be chained to Assyria for many decades, scattered throughout Halah, Habor, river of Gozan and in the cities of the Medes:

 

6  In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

 

This is not simply because the king of Israel walked in the ways of the previous kings of Israel – it was because the people of Israel sinned against the LORD, represented by the sinful king.  Instead of being in awe of the LORD, they were in awe of other gods (c.f. 2 Peter 2:22) which they had been saved from back in Moses’, Aaron’s and Joshua’s day.

 

7  And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods 8  and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. 9  And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10  They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11  and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, 12  and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” 13  Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”

 

Yet, it is interesting that throughout this entire period of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, the LORD had consistently sent to the kings of Israel and kings of Judah prophets, seers, and men of God to remind the kings of them straying from the LORD.  The role of these Spirit-filled men was to simply remind them to cling onto Christ and walk in Him as David had walked, to simply keep His commandments (v.13; c.f. 1 Kings 1:10-45; 11:29; 12:22; 13:1-29; 14:2-18; 16:7-12; 17:18-24; 18:22-36; 19:16; 20:13-38; 22:7; 2 Kings 1:9-13; 3:11; 4:7-42; 5:3-13; 6:6-15; 7:2-19; 8:2-11; 9:1-4; 13:19; 14:25).  Instead of following Christ and being conformed to the image of God (Romans 8:29), “they went after false idols and became false” – conforming to the image of the false idol which they worshipped:

 

14  But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 15  They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them. 16  And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17  And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 18  Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.

 

19  Judah also did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. 20  And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight.

 

Note that even Judah, although preserved (v.18), did not keep the commandments of the LORD and walked in the customs that Israel had introduced (v.19).  Instead, once Israel was torn from the house of David, the house of righteousness, Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, became king only to lead the majority of the kings of Israel (and sometimes of Judah) into sin (c.f. 1 Kings 13).  The narrator here therefore culminates his summary of the history of Israel with v.21-23, the apex of the pride and fall of Israel:

 

21  When he had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. And Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD and made them commit great sin. 22  The people of Israel walked in all the sins that Jeroboam did. They did not depart from them, 23  until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day. 24  And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. 25  And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the LORD. Therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26  So the king of Assyria was told, “The nations that you have carried away and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land. Therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them, because they do not know the law of the god of the land.” 27  Then the king of Assyria commanded, “Send there one of the priests whom you carried away from there, and let him go and dwell there and teach them the law of the god of the land.” 28  So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

 

However, despite the dispersion, the LORD’s efforts in destroying the Assyrians who did not fear the LORD (v.25); and even the Assyrian king eventually yielding to the LORD’s might by asking for one of the priests to teach the Assyrians how they should fear God, the reality was far different from the LORD’s plans.  “Every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities in which they lived” – even when the king of Assyria is beginning to fear the LORD, every nation still made their own gods, fearing no god but their own.  Such staunch idolatry of the neighbouring nations is but another sign of Israel’s failure to walk with Christ and be His body (c.f. Exodus 19:6):

 

29  But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities in which they lived. 30  The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31  and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32  They also feared the LORD and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. 33  So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.

 

Every nation in which the Israelites lived, they did not witness nor were they fishers of men for Christ.  Note these false idols:

 

  • Babylon had Succoth-benoth (tents of daughters, the booths of prostitution);
  • Cuth had Nergal (hero);
  • Hamath had Ashima (crime/offence, Pan of the Greeks);
  • Avvites had Nibhaz (to bark, a dog-headed man) and Tartak (prince of darkness, in the form of an ass);
  • Sepharvaim had Adrammelech (splendor of the king, resembling Molech – male power of the sun) and Anammelech (image of the kingfemale power of the sun)

 

All also had the LORD, but also serving their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.  What sadness, that each of these gods are still worshipped in some way, shape, or form today – yet, these are false idols, truly leading men to prostitution, as if they were worshipping a hero, as if their gods were splendors and images of the king – what lies!  The future of Israel looks dim, as Christ the LORD, His Unseen Father and Their Holy Spirit – are all but one of many Gods feared but without the same intimate relationship the saints have thus far enjoyed:

 

34  To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the LORD, and they do not follow the statutes or the rules or the law or the commandment that the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35  The LORD made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, 36  but you shall fear the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. 37  And the statutes and the rules and the law and the commandment that he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. You shall not fear other gods, 38  and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not fear other gods, 39  but you shall fear the LORD your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.” 40  However, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner.

 

41  So these nations feared the LORD and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.

 

II Kings 18:

1  In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. 2  He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3  And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. 4  He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). 5  He trusted in the LORD the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. 6  For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses. 7  And the LORD was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. 8  He struck down the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.

 

Despite the end of 2 Kings 17, as dim as the future of Israel seemed, the light enters into the darkness by way of Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, king of Judah.  He is indeed the might of Jehovah, his mother called my father is the LORD.  This typological Son of the Father unsurprisingly walks as David did, doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD.  He fully trusted not in himself, nor in the various idols listed in 2 Kings 17, but he trusted in the LORD, holding fast to Him and did not depart from Him.  The bronze serpent, the type of Satan, was crucified on the cross (c.f. John 3:14) and lifted up by Moses, as a sign of the Son being lifted up and destroying the work of the evil one.  Instead, they worshipped the one to be destroyed.  Hezekiah fittingly should call it Nehushtan, a trifling thing of brass, for it is indeed but a piece of brass used to speak the gospel truth to the Israelites in the wilderness.  Note his reform in the first year of his reign, in the first month (2 Chronicles 29:3-11):

 

3  In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them. 4  He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east 5  and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place. 6  For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the LORD our God. They have forsaken him and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD and turned their backs. 7  They also shut the doors of the vestibule and put out the lamps and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the Holy Place to the God of Israel. 8  Therefore the wrath of the LORD came on Judah and Jerusalem, and he has made them an object of horror, of astonishment, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes. 9  For behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. 10  Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, in order that his fierce anger may turn away from us. 11  My sons, do not now be negligent, for the LORD has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him and to be his ministers and make offerings to him.

 

The work of King Ahaz is thus undone by the sevenfold sacrifice of bulls, rams, lambs, and male goats (2 Chronicles 29:21, 35-36), laying their hands on the scapegoat (2 Chronicles 29:23-24).  However, despite His faithfulness, the Israelites continued to transgress the LORD’s covenant, neither listening nor obeying:

 

9  In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it, 10  and at the end of three years he took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11  The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12  because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. They neither listened nor obeyed.

 

Although the previous king of Assyria had understood the LORD’s protection over Israel (2 Kings 17:27-28), the onslaught of Assyria shall not cease until Israel returns to the LORD.  Yet, they did not.  Sennacherib (sin, the god) named after an idol, thus taunts Israel, despite Hezekiah following Christ’s burden by self-sacrificing himself to take whatever Sennacherib would impose on him (v.14):

 

13  In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 14  And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; withdraw from me. Whatever you impose on me I will bear.” And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15  And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16  At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD and from the doorposts that Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria. 17  And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rab-saris, and the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they arrived, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway to the Washer’s Field. 18  And when they called for the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.

 

The house of the LORD is thus stripped once again, yet the king of Assyria still sends his general, the chief of the Heads, and the chief cupbearer / of the princes (Tartan, Rabsaris, Rabshakeh) with a great army.  What the narrator of 2 Kings, however, fails to record are the words of encouragement from Hezekiah in such times of difficulty:

 

7  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8  With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. – 2 Chronicles 32:7-8

 

19  And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? 20  Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? 21  Behold, you are trusting now in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 22  But if you say to me, “We trust in the LORD our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem”? 23  Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. 24  How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 25  Moreover, is it without the LORD that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.’”

 

What sarcasm and what lies (v.25) from this chief cupbearer / of the princes!  Yet, these are words of irony – for it is the Assyrians who are doomed to eat their own dung and drink their own urine:

 

26  Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 27  But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine?” 28  Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29  Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. 30  Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ 31  Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, 32  until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, The LORD will deliver us. 33  Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 34  Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 35  Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’” 36  But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.” 37  Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

 

Just as the end of 2 Kings 17 was dark, with Israel’s future entering its darkest time, so also these words of Sennacherib mark a dark period threatening the birth of the Messiah through Judah.  If Israel is taken over, what hope can there be?  “Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand”?  Yet, it is exactly this question, that Hezekiah shall cling onto the LORD even more than before – to anticipate that Messiah who will be the light shining into the darkest of nights.

2 Kings 17-18: Hezekiah, the son of the Father

2 Kings 11-12: Jehoiada, bearing the reproach of Christ

II Kings 11:

1 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family.

2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death.

3 And he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

The whore of Babylon, however, has not yet been destroyed – for the end of days has not yet come. Until then, the bloodline of Satan shall continue to wreck havoc on the promised nation, this time through Athaliah, the type of the enemy.  This is the woman “whom God afflicts”, for she causes the death of the royal family for her own gain.  Even Joash, her grandson “whom Jehovah bestowed”, would not have escaped such brutal murder.  This scene is reminiscent of the hiding of Moses, and the hiding of Jesus – to ensure that the line of Israel is not destroyed (c.f. Exodus 2; Matthew 2).  Six years he spent in the house of the LORD, until the tutelage of priest Jehoiada (“Jehovah known”), growing in the faith as Athaliah sought to destroy all the royal seed (the literal Hebrew of the ESV’s adoption of “family”), destroying the possible fulfillment of Genesis 3:15.

4 But in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of the Carites and of the guards, and had them come to him in the house of the LORD. And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD, and he showed them the king’s son.

5 And he commanded them, “This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king’s house

6 (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards) shall guard the palace.

7 And the two divisions of you, which come on duty in force on the Sabbath and guard the house of the LORD on behalf of the king,

8 shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever approaches the ranks is to be put to death. Be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in.”

9 The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.

10 And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the LORD.

11 And the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house on behalf of the king.

12 Then he brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”

Are v.4-12 not a picture of the Old Testament?  (c.f. 1 Peter 1) The picture of Israelites, under oath in the house of the LORD to protect and safeguard the king’s son until the day of his crowning?  Some may not see his crowning, yet they long for the day when Athaliah is destroyed and the true King is crowned (Hebrews 11:13).  The object of faith has not changed – it has always been the true king Joash, as directed by Jehoiada who faithfully keeps this one royal seed of Adam and Eve and of Israel from perishing.

13 When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the LORD to the people.

14 And when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!”

15 Then Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and put to death with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the LORD.”

16 So they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses’ entrance to the king’s house, and there she was put to death.

17 And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people, that they should be the LORD’s people, and also between the king and the people.

18 Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest posted watchmen over the house of the LORD.

19 And he took the captains, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, marching through the gate of the guards to the king’s house. And he took his seat on the throne of the kings.

20 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king’s house.

21  Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign.

Such a fundamental picture of Satan destroyed according to his folly and arrogance.  Though he too may shout “Treason! Treason!”, he has no justification to do so.  He wants to be God (Ezekiel 28:9), such that Athaliah’s charisma and beauty was struck down by the innocence and incomparable authority of the young king Joash.  She shall be destroyed outside of the house of the LORD (v.15) and thrown into the pit, outside of the fellowship of believers.  It is on this Sabbath day of rest that the coronation of the king is achieved; and that the house of Baal is simultaneously destroyed with the priest of Baal permanently removed.  So the ascension of Joash as king is completed in a matter of one appointed day (Hebrews 5), the fullness of time when Christ too shall return to destroy the house of Babylon and be revealed as the King of kings despite other falsities such as Athalia as the interim king / ruler.  And this judgment shall begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

II Kings 12:

1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba.

2 And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

3 Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places.

4 Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD,

5 let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.”

6 But by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, the priests had made no repairs on the house.

7 Therefore King Jehoash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and said to them, “Why are you not repairing the house? Now therefore take no more money from your donors, but hand it over for the repair of the house.”

8 So the priests agreed that they should take no more money from the people, and that they should not repair the house.

9 Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in the lid of it and set it beside the altar on the right side as one entered the house of the LORD. And the priests who guarded the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD.

10 And whenever they saw that there was much money in the chest, the king’s secretary and the high priest came up and they bagged and counted the money that was found in the house of the LORD.

11 Then they would give the money that was weighed out into the hands of the workmen who had the oversight of the house of the LORD. And they paid it out to the carpenters and the builders who worked on the house of the LORD,

12 and to the masons and the stonecutters, as well as to buy timber and quarried stone for making repairs on the house of the LORD, and for any outlay for the repairs of the house.

13 But there were not made for the house of the LORD basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver, from the money that was brought into the house of the LORD,

14 for that was given to the workmen who were repairing the house of the LORD with it.

15 And they did not ask an accounting from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workmen, for they dealt honestly.

16 The money from the guilt offerings and the money from the sin offerings was not brought into the house of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.

The activities of v.1-16 is but a picture of Nehemiah’s building up of the temple after the Babylonian captivity.  However, the hearts of men were still faulty.  Joash reveals the state of man’s heart in v. 4-5, that “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD,

let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered”.  The money was a free-will offering to repair the house of the LORD, and Joash’s focus was on ensuring that this house of worship would be the focal point of Israel rather than the high places.  Such is the marked difference between the leadership of one who walks with Jesus under the guidance of a priest of God, compared to the leadership of one who walks by the flesh, heeding poor counsel.  However, the decay of the house of the LORD is an apparent departure from Solomon’s day.  V.13 – there were not made for the house of the LORD basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver.  All went simply to repair.  This is not the golden city of Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22.  Joash is but repairing a shadow, the importance of which has been increasingly neglected by the people of Israel – even Joash himself.  Note the invasion by the Syrians:

17 At that time Hazael king of Syria went up and fought against Gath and took it. But when Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem,

18 Jehoash king of Judah took all the sacred gifts that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah his fathers, the kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred gifts, and all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and of the king’s house, and sent these to Hazael king of Syria. Then Hazael went away from Jerusalem.

Instead of lifting up the invasion to God, we see instead Joash gifting items in the house of the LORD to the Syrians.  This act may seem strange independent of his other account in 2 Chronicles 24, which reveals that Jehoiada was the one ensuring Joash was following Jesus:

““15 But Jehoiada grew old and full of days, and died. He was 130 years old at his death.

16 And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, and toward God and his house.

17 Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them.

18 And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs.

19 Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the LORD. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention.

20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’”

21 But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD.

22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!””

 

Instead, the king began to listen to the princes of Judah, and they “abandoned the house of the LORD” and served the Asherim and the idols.  Joash, too, abandoned the house – and thus wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem, explaining the invasion of the Syrians.  Instead, these are the rest of the acts of Joash described in the following v.19, and so the plan against Joash in the opening of 2 Kings 11 was materialized in the end of his life.  Joash, unfortunately, was not the promised Seed who would rebuild the house of God and Israel, although his life was modeled as such by Jehoiada and Zechariah, the true worshippers of Jesus Christ.  Instead, Joash dies a gruesome death, fitting to that of a king without God.

19 Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

20 His servants arose and made a conspiracy and struck down Joash in the house of Millo, on the way that goes down to Silla.

21 It was Jozacar the son of Shimeath and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, who struck him down, so that he died. And they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Amaziah his son reigned in his place.

2 Kings 11-12: Jehoiada, bearing the reproach of Christ