2 Chronicles 1-3: Solomon the Priest-King

Chapter 1

In Solomon’s first act as king upon his second anointing, he immediately spoke to all Israel – the intimacy of speech being also God’s first act to us, Him speaking to us the Word (John 1), followed immediately by burnt offering, a hopeful sign that Solomon understands his position as sinner before the LORD our Redeemer and Saviour.  Rather than going directly to Jerusalem where the ark was, he understood that his sin needed to be typologically dealt with at the altar first, as a sign to the Israelites and the neighbouring countries.  This contextualises Solomon’s thirst for wisdom in v.7-13, as opposed to the common possessions, wealth, honour or lives of those who hate Solomon.  He would rather bless the kingdom with the Wisdom of God, and in turn be given these things which are inherited by the meek (Matthew 5:5). So also Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52), and it is by this Wisdom (Proverbs 8), the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2), that kings shall truly reign (c.f. v. 13).

Chapter 2

This is followed by Solomon’s humility in understanding that this house, this temple, is but a shadow – “who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him?  Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?” (v.6).  Indeed, not even highest heaven can contain the Trinity, led alone some earthly temple which unfortunately has become a place of over-emphasis when Christ, and not His shadow, is the focal point.  Hiram, the king of Tyre, is first of many non-Israelites to understand this crucial Christian message.  It is “Because the LORD loves his people, he has made [Solomon] king over them” (v.11).  So also, because the LORD loves us so much that He has given us His only begotten son Jesus Christ to be king over us (John 3:16), secured only through his victory on the cross.  What glory to witness Hiram praising the LORD (v.12), contributing also to the work of the temple by the hand of a man with mixed blood – son of both Dan and Tyre (v.14), followed by a description in v.17 of the resident aliens in Israel.  The LORD surely does not only have eyes for Israel, but also for the glory of the Gentiles.

Chapter 3

The work is done on none other than the place where Isaac was to be sacrificed (Genesis 22) and where the LORD provided a substitutionary ram, until the day the Lamb of God would be provided.  It is here that the Lamb is slain on the cross, and it is also here that the glorious temple is built, where the wrath on David was averted by the Angel of the LORD – Jesus Himself.

The remaining commentary of the work of the Temple can be found in my posts on 1 Kings 6-10.  However, it is again important to note the focus of the narrator here that the priestly nature of Chronicles places the work of the temple at the forefront of Solomon’s ministry and role as priest-king, immediately after his speech with the Israelites and burnt offering at the bronze altar of Gibeon.

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2 Chronicles 1-3: Solomon the Priest-King

1 Chronicles 24-26: Spirit before brawn

Chapter 24 therefore continues with the children of Aaron (excluding Nadab and Abihu – see Numbers 3:4), organising the priests by sixteen heads under the sons of Eleazar (organised by Zadok), and eight under the sons of Ithamar (organised by Ahimelech) – listed under v.7-19, by casting lots and leaving it to the LORD’s decision (Proverbs 16:33).  David then moves on to organise the musicians in chapter 25.  Note the quality of the men chosen, and their gift of prophecy – (i) the sons of Asaph who prophesied under Asaph (“collector of the people“), and Asaph who prophesied under the direction of the king; (ii) the sons of Jeduthun, under the direction of Jeduthun (“praising“), who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the LORD (v.3); and (iii) the sons of Heman, under the direction of Heman (“faithful“).  Not only were these men prophetic (v.1), but these were skilled (v.7) and were above all compliant with the orders of the king (v.6).  Again, these men were chosen by casting of lots for their small and great duties, reserving these decisions once again to the LORD.  Such men, filled with the Holy Spirit, thus combine their musical talents to worship, to praise, and to prophecy – and they are brilliant models enabling us to see the different corners of the ancient Church doing His work through various means.

Next, chapter 26 re-counts the divisions of the gatekeepers, sons of Meshelemiah (friendship of Jehovah, v.2-3); sons of Obed-edom (servant of Edom, v.4-8; the sons of Shemaiah, son of Obed-edom, in v.7-8); sons of Merari (sad, bitter, v.10) – lots, too, were cast for their duties and gates as follows:

1.  East:  Shelemiah (whom Jehovah repays) (six Levites each day)

2.  North:  Zechariah (Jehovah is renowned / remembered), a shrewd counselor (four Levites each day)

3.  South:  Obed-edom and his sons (four Levites each day, as well as two and two at the gatehouse)

4.  West:  Shuppim (serpents) and Hosah (refuge) (four Levites at the road, and two at the colonnade).

Ahijah (brother / friend of Jehovah) is then described in v.20 as having charge of the treasuries of the house of God and of the dedicated gifts, the sons of Jehieli (treasured of God) (sons of the Gershonites belonging to Ladan – v.21-22) being in charge of the treasuries.

Shelomoth (peaceful), another from the line of Moses (v.25), with his brothers were in charge of all the treasuries of the dedicated gifts (v.26-28).

It is interesting how the description of the gatekeeping comes before the allocation for the gifts; for the temple itself requires gatekeeping not due to the gifts; nor does the temple itself require protection.  Quite the contrary, as was the case with the flaming sword in Eden (Genesis 3:24), the purpose was for our protection (c.f. 1 Chronicles 13:10) so that we do not waltz into the temple without the blood and robe of Christ (Isaiah 61:11).  The temple treasuries and dedicated gifts are but a re-treading of Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7), but it is the gatekeeping of the temple which reminds us that our offer of worship through such gifts are to come after the objective truth of our sin which must be dealt with at the temple by the blood of the Chosen Lamb.

And the other sons of the Kohathites (assembly) (c.f 1 Chronicles 23:12), the Izrahites (descendant of Zerah, rising of the sun) were appointed to external duties; the Hebronites (alliance) had oversight of Israel westward of the Jordan for all the work of the LORD and for the king’s service; Jerijah (people of Jehovah) of the Hebronites in particular was responsible for the genealogy or fathers’ houses – appointing him and his brothers to have oversight of the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of the Manassites.

Thus, chapters 24-26 clarify once again the importance of the Levites in the important works surrounding the temple and also consolidating Israel’s identity as priesthood to all nations (Exodus 19:6) before its military persona (described in chapter 27, after the allocation of roles to the Levites in chapters 23-26) which is but temporary and holds no candle to the peace which the true Solomon shall bring to Israel (1 Chronicles 23).

Concluding these chapters, Matthew Henry comments on David’s allocations of roles in particular in relation to the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe Manassites:

“Either those remote tribes were not so well furnished as the rest with judges of their own, or because they, lying furthest from Jerusalem and on the borders of the neighbouring nations, were most in danger of being infected with idolatry, and most needed the help of Levites to prevent it. The frontiers must be well guarded.  This is said to be done (as were all the foregoing settlements) in the fortieth year of the reign of David (v.31), that is, the last year of his reign. We should be so much the more industrious to do good as we can see the day approaching. If we live to enjoy the fruit of our labours, grudge it not to those that shall come after us.”

One would imagine military allocations would be more fitting if these men were placed on the borders of Israel most susceptible to pagan invasion or influence; yet, in David’s wisdom and in the LORD’s will through His divine allotment, the priests continue to take the higher and preceding role in Israel’s identity to the other nations.  Never once should Israel confuse itself as a neighbouring nation (Deuteronomy 18:9), but to remember that it is a nation chosen to be saved by the grace of the Father through their submission to the Passover Lamb.

1 Chronicles 24-26: Spirit before brawn

1 Chronicles 8-11: The City of Jesus

1 Chronicles 8 begins with the genealogy of Saul with some notable Christians such as Jonathan and Merib-baal (Mephibosheth, the “contender against Baal”, he who was exalted by David in 2 Samuel 21:7).  It is interesting that v.29-40 are repeated in chapter 9, as if to emphasise the mighty descendants of Benjamin, the son of Jacob.  Yet, it is in the prophecy and in their names that we realise the promise of the Seed will not be fufilled through Benjamin.  This “ravenous wolf” who in the morning is devouring its prey, and in the evening dividing the spoil (c.f. Genesis 49:27) is but the proper presupposition with which we see Saul’s lineage.  His genealogy focuses not on Jonathan or Mephibosheth, the significant characters which seemingly redeems Saul’s posterity; rather, it ends with “the sons of Eshek” – which is means the sons of “oppression“.  Ulam, Eshek’s firstborn, being both “their strength“, yet also “their folly“.  These were indeed mighty warriors of Benjamin, having many sons and grandsons – emphasising once again from which son of Israel they descend in v.40.

Yet, almost immediately, we are shown the genealogy of the returned exiles.  From the glory of Saul’s days, his warriors which seem to be his lineage’s stronghold, the focus is not on the returned Benjaminites.  Rather, the focus is firstly the priests, the Levites, and the temple servants (1 Chronicles 9:2).  The meaning of the name of the chief of the gatekeepers, Shallum, is in contrast to Eshek or Ulam.  Where Shallum means retribution or a restoration of sorts, Eshek and Ulam are both folly and oppression – explaining why the Spirit does not inspire the narrator of 1 Chronicles 9 to focus any longer on the folly of Saul’s bloodline, the spirit of whom was followed continuously by the rebellious kings of Israel.  Rather, the Levitical focus of Chronicles reminds us of the importance of the Priesthood and the chosen tribe Levi – such as the Korahites (c.f. Numbers 26:58; 2 Chronicles 20:19 – musicians of the Lord).  Their work of service, their fathers being “in charge of the camp of the LORD” (v.19), their “duty of watching” (v.27) – all summed up in David and Samuel’s joint election (v.22).  Note once again that such genealogies were not elected by Saul – but by the prophet and the first king after the LORD’s own heart, the man who modelled his life after the Second LORD of his worship (c.f. Psalm 110; Matthew 22:45).  So also the work of the kinsmen of Kohathites (who had been the focus of Numbers chapter 4 in their service of the tabernacle), are brought to the fore.  It is not until a full exposition of the glory of the LORD’s restoration of Israel through the priesthood that the narrator seems to strangely return to Saul’s genealogy.  Yet, the purpose is apparent in comparing the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 9:35-44 with 1 Chronicles 8:29-40.  Verses 39 and 40 are removed from chapter 9:35-44 – no longer does the narrator focus on Eshek or Ulam or even the warriors or bowmen of Benjamin, for these things are useless in the face of restoring Israel after its captivity in Assyria / Babylon.

The folly of Saul’s lineage is made even more apparent in chapter 10, which opens with the death of Saul and his sons, and Saul’s plan to preserve his ego and reputation by falling upon his own sword rather than being overwhelmed by the Philistines.  Saul is accordingly diminished, whilst David, Samuel and the Levites are appropriately exalted.  The author of Chronicles is clearly intent on remembering the Lord as the Author of Israel’s life, and Refiner of Israel’s rebellion.  Chapter 10 therefore ends with “So Saul died for his breach of faith.  He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance.  He did not seek guidance from the LORD.  Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse” (v.13-14).  Instead of seeking guidance from a medium, he should have sought after the Mediator; instead of satiating his lust of self-preservation, he should have satiated his need to be preserved by Christ in the Father’s wrath.

Thus, as we turn to chapter 11, we come to understand why Jerusalem is not the city of Israel; nor is it the city of Saul.  For the true character of this city was not defined by the physical first king, nor from Israel, but from the LORD of the kings and the LORD of the nation.  David embodies the character of Jesus in taking over Jerusalem, the once city of the Jebusites, with the support of Israel declaring herself as David’s “bone and flesh“, reminiscent of the relationship between Christ and the Church in Genesis 2:23 and Ephesians 5:22-33.  Just as Israel submits herself to her king David, so also David’s victory came from seeking the Mediator’s guidance contrary to Saul’s actions – and of all the notable events of David’s life (such as his slaying of Goliath), the narrator opted to focus on the renaming of Jerusalem as the city of David (v.4-9), for this city is essentially not David’s city, but the city of the One Whom David’s worshipped – the city of Jesus.

For David to become such a great man in the LORD (v.9), it was befitting that he was supported too by mighty men as described in the remainder of chapter 11.  The emphasis, however, is not on how mighty they were; contrarily, their efforts cannot hold a candle to David’s sacrifice (c.f. v.18-19).  For it is David’s lifeblood which gives these men their life, not vice versa – “”…Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men?  For at the risk of their lives they brought it.”  Therefore he would not drink it.”  Indeed, the only cup that Christ shall drink is the cup of the Father’s wrath, pouring out His lifeblood for the mighty men.  Although the followers of Christ are co-heirs and perhaps mighty kings and mighty men, their exaltation comes from the humbleness of the One who poured His lifeblood out to us, so that we may drink of His blood and feast on His flesh (Matthew 20:28).  It is in this light that we are to read about the lives of such mighty men, their might hinging on the One whose might is in His weakness; whose might does not lie in men’s sacrifice, but in His sacrifice for us first.

1 Chronicles 8-11: The City of Jesus

1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

From chapters 4 to 7, the narrator shifts focus from the genealogy of the promised Seed to the House from which the Seed is born.  Note that the sons of Israel are born in the following order:

  • Reuben
  • Simeon
  • Levi
  • Judah
  • Dan
  • Naphtali
  • Gad
  • Asher
  • Issachar
  • Zebulun
  • Dinah
  • Joseph
  • Benjamin

Yet, in 1 Chronicles 4-7, they are described in the following order:

  • Judah
  • Simeon
  • Reuben
  • Gad
  • Half tribe Manasseh
  • Levi (including Zebulun)
  • Issachar
  • Ben
  • Naphtali
  • Manasseh
  • Ephraim
  • Asher

It is not clear why the order has been switched – although it becomes apparent when we refer to Genesis 48 and 49, where the Spirit of God speaks through Jacob and blesses his sons, prophesying specifically that the Christ shall come through the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) – hence, 1 Chronicles 4 begins not with Reuben the firstborn, but with Judah, to which we turn to now.

Judah

Genesis 49:8-12 –

8  “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;

your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

9  Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

10  The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

11  Binding his foal to the vine

and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,

he has washed his garments in wine

and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

12  His eyes are darker than wine,

and his teeth whiter than milk.

This is the only tribe whose description includes a detailed story of a man of God.  This is the story of Jabez (Ch 4:8-10), who (compared to the other tribes) proves to walk in the light of Christ; not to mention Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth, is also named after a man of Judah (Ch 4:4).  Furthermore, Judah’s reputation exceeds those of the other tribes.  As described under Simeon’s description, the men “did not have many children, nor did all their clan multiply like the men of Judah”.  Such is the blessing of childbirth through Judah, in ensuring that the Messiah’s light is not extinguished from this anointed bloodline.

Simeon

Genesis 49:5-7 –

5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.

It is interesting that with this tribe in particular, it is noted that they are inferior in number to Judah (Ch 4:27), and that the cities they lived in were theirs, until David reigned (Ch 4:30).  They also rested in the land, which the former inhabitants belonged to Ham (Genesis 9:22) – the father of the Canaanites.  Indeed, they are thus divided and scattered, without the glory bestowed upon Judah.

Reuben

Genesis 49:3-4 –

“3  “Reuben, you are my firstborn,

my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,

preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

4  Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,

because you went up to your father’s bed;

then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!”

Thus the firstborn of Israel is disgraced; the Son of God could have been born through Reuben, and yet – like the firstborn Adam – it is from another son that the Second Person shall be born from.  Unstable as water, Reuben shall not have pre-eminence – and instead, Judah shall become “strong among his brothers… and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph”.  Of this, Adam Clarke comments:

 

This is, by both the Syriac and Arabic, understood of Christ: “From Judah the King

Messiah shall proceed.” The Chaldee paraphrases the verse thus: “Seeing Judah prevailed over his brethren, so the kingdom was taken from Reuben and given to Judah; and because he was strong, so was his kingdom. Levi also was godly, and did not transgress in the matter of the golden calf; therefore the high priesthood was taken away from the children of Reuben, and on their account from all the first-born, and given to Aaron and his sons. The custody of the sanctuary belonged to the Levites, but the birthright to Joseph.

And Matthew Henry too also states:

The reason why this tribe is thus postponed. It is confessed that Reuben was the first-born of Israel, and, upon that account, might challenge the precedency; but he forfeited his birthright by defiling his father’s concubine, and was, for that, sentenced not to excel, Gen. xlix. 4. Sin lessens men, thrusts them down from their excellency. Seventh-commandment sins especially leave an indelible stain upon men’s names and families, a reproach which time will not wipe away. Reuben’s seed, to the last, bear the disgrace of Reuben’s sin. Yet, though that tribe was degraded, it was not discarded or disinherited. The sullying of the honour of an Israelite is not the losing of his happiness. Reuben loses his birthright, yet it does not devolve upon Simeon the next in order; for it was typical, and therefore must attend, not the course of nature, but the choice of grace. The advantages of the birthright were dominion and a double portion. Reuben having forfeited these, it was thought too much that both should be transferred to any one, and therefore they were divided. (1.) Joseph had the double portion; for two tribes descended from him, Ephraim and Manasseh, each of whom had a child’s part (for so Jacob by faith blessed them, Heb. xi. 21; Gen. xlviii. 15, 22), and each of those tribes was as considerable, and made as good a figure, as any one of the twelve, except Judah. But, (2.) Judah had the dominion; on him the dying patriarch entailed the sceptre, Gen. xlix. 10. Of him came the chief ruler, David first, and, in the fulness of time, Messiah the Prince, Mic. v. 2. This honour was secured to Judah, though the birthright was Joseph’s; and, having this, he needed not envy Joseph the double portion.

Gad

Genesis 49:19

19  “Raiders shall raid Gad,

but he shall raid at their heels.

Thus, with Gad, his tribe is compared to the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh – valiant men expert in war (Ch 5:18), crying out to God in battle in defeat of the Hagrites (described to be from the line of Hagar according to Smith’s dictionary – “The same people, as confederate against Israel, are mentioned in (Psalms 83:6) It is generally believed that they were named after Hagar, and that the important town and district of Hejer , on the borders of the Persian Gulf, represent them.”)

Half-tribe of Manasseh

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.””

Indeed, although Manasseh is the elder, he is only blessed secondary to Ephraim’s blessing in Genesis 48 – for Ephraim shall be greater than Manasseh.   Perhaps Jacob saw that the half-tribe would break faith with the God of their fathers (v.25) by whoring after the gods of the peoples of the land.  Thus, their genealogy is relegated to a mere description of how them, the Gadites and the Reubenites are exiled by the king of Assyria.  They are described once more in chapter 7:14-19, though nothing remarkable is described.

Levi

Genesis 49:5-7 –

“5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.”

And now we come to the tribe of Levi.  It is interesting that the LORD did not choose Judah, or the half tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to become the anointed men of priestly work.  Instead, the LORD chose Levi – who wields weapons of violence; who in their anger they killed men (c.f. Moses smiting an Egyptian man, a typical response of a Simeonite / Levite in revenge, Exodus 2:12).  This is the reason why the Levites do not own their portion of land like the other tribes (c.f. Joshua 13:33 – the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance; Ch 6:63, 77 – some land taken from Zebulun which is not otherwise mentioned between chapters 4 and 7).  Though they are scattered (Ch 6:61-65), it is for a different reason – to highlight the mercy and grace of our LORD.  Though Simeon rests in the land of the Canaanites, Levi rests in the arms of the LORD by His election.  These are “the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there”.  David, a man of music, would relegate such an important role to the elected priesthood by example (1 Samuel 16:23), which would otherwise remain as wrathful murderers unwilling to receive the grace and mercy of the Father through Christ.

Issachar

Genesis 49:14-15 –

14  “Issachar is a strong donkey,

crouching between the sheepfolds.

15  He saw that a resting place was good,

and that the land was pleasant,

so he bowed his shoulder to bear,

and became a servant at forced labor.

Just as Issachar is described as a strong donkey, so in chapter 7:1-5 we see that they were all mighty warriors.

Benjamin

Genesis 49:27 –

27  “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,

in the morning devouring the prey

and at evening dividing the spoil.”

Benjaminites, too, were known to be mighty warriors – the ravenous wolf that they are.

Naphtali

Genesis 49:21

21  “Naphtali is a doe let loose

that bears beautiful fawns.

It is interesting that save for Judah, Levi, and Ephraim (further described below), the other tribes are known for wars; they are known to be preparing for conflict.  Yet, Judah, Levi and Ephraim are known for peace; for enjoying the true Sabbath that God made for Adam upon the next day of Adam’s birth.  It is not incidental that in New Creation it shall be a feast of peace and our lives of conflict, now, are but temporary.  Naphtali, according to the prophecy, falls somewhat into character as the Chronicler does not provide much detail – neither revealing whether they have fallen into the side of war or peace.

Ephraim

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”

This promised and blessed younger son of Joseph bore, among others, Joshua the son of Nun.  It is from this tribe that the typological shepherd, Yeshua, hails (Ch 7:27).  The immediate description of Manasseh prior to Ephraim, closing with the land of the Manassites in v.29 in fact shows the dichotomy between the future of Manasseh compared to Ephraim; Manasseh, which broke faith; Manasseh, which owned Megiddo, the place of Josiah’s death; Ephraim, which bore the typological Messiah of the Hebrews, ushering their new age in Canaan.  Ephraim seen as ushering peace, owning much land; Manasseh seen as rebellious, causing much strife.

Asher

Genesis 49:20 –

“20  “Asher’s food shall be rich,

and he shall yield royal delicacies.”

Thus, unsurprisingly, Asher too is described to include mighty warriors and chiefs of the princes (Ch 7:40).

Zebulun and Dan – summary of the tribes in the history of redemption

Yet, what of Zebulun and Dan?  Zebulun’s land is referred to, a portion of which is given to the Levites above.  In Genesis 49:13, they were prophesied to “dwell at the shore of the sea”; to “become a haven for ships”, and their “border shall be at Sidon”.  Zebulun seems to be traditionally shrouded in anonymity compared to the other tribes; but this is positive compared to Dan’s deliberate omission from John’s book of Revelation.  Like Chronicles, the tribe of Joseph appears twice in Revelation (Revelation 7:6, 7:8).  Thus, just as 1 Chronicles 4 opened with the reminder that the Messiah shall come from the tribe of Judah, the typological Messiah from Ephraim, the gospel mercy of the LORD through Christ showered upon the Levites, the significance of which is not equally borne by the other tribes who shadow under the physical firstborn Reuben – a man of war and rebellion – we end chapter 7 with a reminder that the Anti-Christ is a man from within.  Just as Christ was a man not loved by his own (John 1:10-11), so also the Satan and His children (John 8:44) shall pretend to judge his own people, being a serpent in the way, biting the heel of the horse.  That is why Jacob yearned for the salvation of Christ (Genesis 49:18) – for it is Dan who acts as judge, but the LORD is true judge who shall give life for those in His Son and not death:

Genesis 49: 16-18 –

“16  “Dan shall judge his people

as one of the tribes of Israel.

17  Dan shall be a serpent in the way,

a viper by the path,

that bites the horse’s heels

so that his rider falls backward.

18  I wait for your salvation, O LORD.”

1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

2 Kings 15-16: Conspiring against Jesus

II Kings 15:

1 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, began to reign.

2 He was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.

3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.

4 Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.

5 And the LORD touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the household, governing the people of the land.

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

7 And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son reigned in his place.

In continuation of these chronicles of the kings of Israel and Judah, we now come to king of Judah Azariah the son of Amaziah, whose mother’s name was the LORD’s power of Jerusalem (Jecoliah), doing what was right in accordance with his father’s name.  Yet, he became a leper thorugh his own arrogance, fully described in 2 Chronicles 26:16-20.  Although defeating the Philistines by seeking the LORD (2 Chronicles 26:6-15), given much strength and wisdom, his pride preceded him and led him to inappropriately burn incense on the altar of incense – forgetting that despite his righteous acts, he – like us – are born as sinful men.  Only the sons of Aaron are consecrated to do the job of burning incense; only the Messiah, the Priest-King, can do this.  Thus he decided his own future as the leper king:

16 But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

17 But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor,

18 and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.”

19 Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense.

20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him.”

 

Thus the king’s son Jotham, perfection of the LORD, reigned in Uzziah / Azariah’s place.

8 In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months.

9 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

10 Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him and struck him down at Ibleam and put him to death and reigned in his place.

11 Now the rest of the deeds of Zechariah, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.

12 (This was the promise of the LORD that he gave to Jehu, “Your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” And so it came to pass.)

Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II, walked in the sins of Jeroboam (in similar fashion to the kings of Israel), ending the bloodline of Jehu on the throne of Israel.  This is in fulfillment of the prophecy to king Jehu, the ancestor of Zechariah (2 Kings 10:30), whose kingdom shall not reign forever due to his sins at Jezreel (Hosea 1:4), unlike the Messianic kingdom (2 Samuel 7:13).  The bloody coups of these kings of Israel, the supposed priesthood to all nations, is now becoming more often – such conspiracies repeating itself time and time again (v.10; v.14).  The violence also knows no bound – the conspirator against the conspirator, ripping open all the women in it who were pregnant because of Tiphsah’s refusal to open to the dictatorial king of Israel (v.16):

13 Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned one month in Samaria.

14 Then Menahem the son of Gadi came up from Tirzah and came to Samaria, and he struck down Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria and put him to death and reigned in his place.

15 Now the rest of the deeds of Shallum, and the conspiracy that he made, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.

16 At that time Menahem sacked Tiphsah and all who were in it and its territory from Tirzah on, because they did not open it to him. Therefore he sacked it, and he ripped open all the women in it who were pregnant.

17 In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem the son of Gadi began to reign over Israel, and he reigned ten years in Samaria.

18 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

19 Pul the king of Assyria came against the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that he might help him to confirm his hold on the royal power.

20 Menahem exacted the money from Israel, that is, from all the wealthy men, fifty shekels of silver from every man, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back and did not stay there in the land.

21 Now the rest of the deeds of Menahem and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

22 And Menahem slept with his fathers, and Pekahiah his son reigned in his place.

Menahem was not a king who followed Christ; he was a king who followed his flesh, securing his royal power through ungodly alliances with the king of Assyria, exacting the money from his body, his people (v.18-20).  Unsurprisingly, Pekahiah (“eyes opened by the LORD” walked in the same sins:

23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned two years.

24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

25 And Pekah the son of Remaliah, his captain, conspired against him with fifty men of the people of Gilead, and struck him down in Samaria, in the citadel of the king’s house with Argob and Arieh; he put him to death and reigned in his place.

26 Now the rest of the deeds of Pekahiah and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.

Irony that the son of the conspirator (Menahem) against the conspirator (Shallum) is now in turn conspired against by Pekah, the son of Remaliah – Pekahiah’s captain!  Such is the failed ungodly leadership that conspiracies and falsehood reign more than the kingdom of heaven on earth.  The open-eyed one, destroyed the one whose eyes were opened by the LORD – irony upon irony.  Yet, the pattern of these kings is that though they walk in the sins of Jeroboam, they still seek the LORD’s blessings through their names.  Yet, it is Immanuel who will bear the true Name that brings blessings upon Israel, granting peace with neighbours (Exodus 23:21).  The conspiracies (fourth one this chapter) thus continue through Hoshea, son of Elah (v.30):

27 In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twenty years.

28 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and he carried the people captive to Assyria.

30 Then Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah and struck him down and put him to death and reigned in his place, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.

31 Now the rest of the acts of Pekah and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.

In a fresh change of perspective, we turn back to the kings of Judah – free of conspiracies now, Jotham the son of Uzziah and Jerusha (daughter of righteousness, Zadok, the LORD’s possession) walks with Christ, his life described more fully in 2 Chronicles 27.  Yet, although Jotham walked ever so briefly in the LORD’s presence, Judah is now subject to what would soon become the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity of the chosen nation – subject of much of the prophetic books in the remainder of the Old Testament:

32 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, began to reign.

33 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok.

34 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done.

35 Nevertheless, the high places were not removed. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD.

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

37 In those days the LORD began to send Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah.

38 Jotham slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father, and Ahaz his son reigned in his place.

II Kings 16:

1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign.

2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God, as his father David had done,

3 but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.

4 And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.

Note that “walking in the way of the kings of Israel” is already a proverb in itself, the kings of Judah distinguishing themselves by doing what is right in the LORD’s eyes – walking in the way of David the type of Christ.  Such is the king of Israel, the false leader who would burn his son as an offering (c.f. Leviticus 18:21; 20:2) according to the despicable practices of the Christ-less neighbours.  Thus, the king of Israel and the Syrians come to possess the land of Elath from the possessor Ahaz.  The work of Azariah is thus undone (2 Kings 14:22), for the LORD is not helping the kings of Judah as He did Azariah.  Yet, Israel’s union with Syria against Judah too is an act of disobedience despite God using them to humble Judah (2 Chronicles 28:8-15):

8 The men of Israel took captive 200,000 of their relatives, women, sons, and daughters. They also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Samaria.

9 But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded, and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, “Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven.

10 And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the LORD your God?

11 Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.”

12 Certain chiefs also of the men of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who were coming from the war

13 and said to them, “You shall not bring the captives in here, for you propose to bring upon us guilt against the LORD in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.”

14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the assembly.

15 And the men who have been mentioned by name rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them. They clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem, and they besieged Ahaz but could not conquer him.

6 At that time Rezin the king of Syria recovered Elath for Syria and drove the men of Judah from Elath, and the Edomites came to Elath, where they dwell to this day.

Yet, instead of turning back to Christ, Ahaz turns to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria.  What blasphemy and heresy!  “I am your servant and your son” – indeed, the follower of Satan is indeed his son (John 8:44)!  What is the LORD’s is now given to the king of Assyria!

7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.”

8 Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria.

9 And the king of Assyria listened to him. The king of Assyria marched up against Damascus and took it, carrying its people captive to Kir, and he killed Rezin.

The victory is thus not the LORD’s – but the victory is that of Tiglath-pileser, overcoming the king of Syria with the sword rather than the love of the Father poured out through Christ.  The treasures found in the house of the LORD (v.8) was exchanged for the model of the pagan altar, its pattern and details (v.10).  Christ worship is exchanged for Satan worship:

10 When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. And King Ahaz sent to Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details.

11 And Uriah the priest built the altar; in accordance with all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, so Uriah the priest made it, before King Ahaz arrived from Damascus.

12 And when the king came from Damascus, the king viewed the altar. Then the king drew near to the altar and went up on it

13 and burned his burnt offering and his grain offering and poured his drink offering and threw the blood of his peace offerings on the altar.

14 And the bronze altar that was before the LORD he removed from the front of the house, from the place between his altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of his altar.

15 And King Ahaz commanded Uriah the priest, saying, “On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. And throw on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice, but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.”

16 Uriah the priest did all this, as King Ahaz commanded.

The offerings were thus made on the altar of Damascus, the bronze altar of the Temple of the LORD removed from the front of the house and instead was placed on the north side of this false altar (v.14), quietly ignored.  It was thus removed from the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite where Jesus stood (2 Samuel 24).  See the extent of his idolatry in 2 Chronicles 28:

22 In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the LORD—this same King Ahaz.

23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.

24 And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and he shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem.

25 In every city of Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods, provoking to anger the LORD, the God of his fathers.

26 Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.

27 And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem, for they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel. And Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.

17 And King Ahaz cut off the frames of the stands and removed the basin from them, and he took down the sea from off the bronze oxen that were under it and put it on a stone pedestal.

18 And the covered way for the Sabbath that had been built inside the house and the outer entrance for the king he caused to go around the house of the LORD, because of the king of Assyria.

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

20 And Ahaz slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.

 

Because of the king of Assyria, he modified the temple structure and closed the way to the Holy Place, forcing idol worship in the heart of Jerusalem.  Note Matthew Henry’s view of Ahaz’ acts of degradation:

He removed the covert for the sabbath, erected either in honour of the sabbath or for the conveniency of the priests, when, on the sabbath, they officiated in greater numbers than on other days. Whatever it was, it should seem that in removing it he intended to put a contempt upon the sabbath, and so to open as wide an inlet as any to all manner of impiety. 3. The king’s entry, which led to the house of the Lord, for the convenience of the royal family (perhaps that ascent which Solomon had made, and which the queen of Sheba admired, 1 Kings x. 5), he turned another way, to show that he did not intend to frequent the house of the Lord any more. This he did for the king of Assyria, to oblige him, who perhaps returned his visit, and found fault with this entry, as an inconvenience and disparagement to his palace. When those that have had a ready passage to the house of the Lord, to please their neighbours, turn it another way, they are going down the hill apace towards their ruin.

Israel is, indeed, entering its darkest time.

2 Kings 15-16: Conspiring against Jesus

2 Kings 13-14: The LORD for the hearts of men

II Kings 13:

1 In the twenty-third year of Joash the son of Ahaziah, king of Judah, Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years.

2 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from them.

3 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Syria and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael.

4 Then Jehoahaz sought the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them.

5 (Therefore the LORD gave Israel a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians, and the people of Israel lived in their homes as formerly.

6 Nevertheless, they did not depart from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin, but walked in them; and the Asherah also remained in Samaria.)

7 For there was not left to Jehoahaz an army of more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and ten thousand footmen, for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing.

8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

9 So Jehoahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria, and Joash his son reigned in his place.

Often the king’s actions lead to the nation’s victory or demise – and that tradition of the kings of Israel is still very much apparent up to the 13th chapter of the second book of Kings.  He sinned in the way of Jeroboam; and thus the LORD continued to give them into the hand of Hazael; yet, when he sought His favour, the LORD listened and sent a savior; instead of granting Jehoahaz victory, the LORD anointed another savior.

10 In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned sixteen years.

11 He also did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, but he walked in them.

12 Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, and the might with which he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

13 So Joash slept with his fathers, and Jeroboam sat on his throne. And Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.

Like his father, Joash too walked in the way of the sins of Jeroboam.  Yet, this king of Israel, also like his father, understood the LORD’s role in their lives.  They knew that without the LORD, they would not be able to secure any victories against Syria or any other nation.  Joash’s pleading to Elisha (as his “father”) in v.14 is focused on the “chariots of Israel and its horsemen”, as if highlighting the need for Elisha to bless his warfare.  Elisha’s response is typically prophetic:

14 Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”

15 And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows.

16 Then he said to the king of Israel, “Draw the bow,” and he drew it. And Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands.

17 And he said, “Open the window eastward,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot,” and he shot. And he said, “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.”

18 And he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them.” And he struck three times and stopped.

19 Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”

The LORD’s arrow of victory is but the equivalent to the war bow placed in the heavens (Genesis 9:13).  The window opened eastward was towards the country beyond Jordan, which Hazael had taken from the Israelites (c.f. Adam Clarke’s commentary).  The LORD’s arrow of victory struck the ground but three times; if moreso, then Syria would have been ended.  Yet, the bow in the heavens, the sign of the covenant between man and God, faced upward towards God Himself.  The victory of Joash is but temporary – by human means.  Although Syria may be destroyed even when Joash struck the ground five or six times, yet the true victory lies in conquering the hearts rather than numbers of enemies.

20 So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year.

21 And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.

22 Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.

23 But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now.

The fear of death and loss pervades much of the reasoning behind both Jehoahaz and Jehoash’s actions as kings.  As people not following Christ, they do not see that victories of this world are first and foremost subject to the victory already achieved by Christ.  Yet, we have this abrupt account of Elisha’s death, through which a man was brought back to life (v.21); a keen reminder that Elisha’s wisdom is built on life after death; our baptism to death through the arrow piercing Christ, so that we rise again just as He is risen today (v.21; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12).  Instead of clinging onto the God of Elisha, Jehoash sought only to defeat the Syrians and recover the cities of Israel – his sights sorely earthly and without divine intentions.  The life of the man touching Elisha’s bone is but a shadow of our resurrection by drinking of the waters of life through Christ.

24 When Hazael king of Syria died, Ben-hadad his son became king in his place.

25 Then Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again from Ben-hadad the son of Hazael the cities that he had taken from Jehoahaz his father in war. Three times Joash defeated him and recovered the cities of Israel.

II Kings 14:

1 In the second year of Joash the son of Joahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, 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 Jehoaddin of Jerusalem.

3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not like David his father. He did in all things as Joash his father had done.

4 But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.

5 And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand, he struck down his servants who had struck down the king his father.

6 But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the LORD commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.”

The woman whom Jehovah adorns, Jehoaddin, is the mother of the next king of Judah, Amaziah (the strength of the LORD).  Although not walking like David his father (a sign that the Messiah, once again, has not yet come), he still did what was right in the eyes of the LORD – striking down his servants who had struck down the king his father (v.5).  It is interesting to compare the lives of the kings of Israel in the previous chapter, seeking external victory and glory, summed up in Jehoash’s words to Elisha – “the chariots of Israel an its horsemen!”, to the kings of Judah.  Here, the life of Amaziah is first described in terms of the high places which were not removed, and him ensuring that the king’s household is not filled with wicked counsel, earmarked by his compliance with the Mosaic law that each shall die for their own sins (Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:4).  That is the law of Moses; and yet, this law points us to the grace, that Adam’s crime is therefore, indeed, our crime (Hebrews 7:10).  Indeed, unless Christ takes on Adam’s sin, and thus gifts us His righteousness as our righteousness, then this law would otherwise be broken.  In God’s salvific economy, this law remains testimony to God’s fulfillment of it – though, here, not yet.

Instead, Amaziah is looking on the immediate conduct of the children’s fathers, just as Amaziah should not be put to death because of his father’s failure to follow Christ; again, this is a contrasting picture between spiritual fatherhood and physical fatherhood; between our spiritual father Christ, and our physical father – whether they cling to Christ or not.  Here, Amaziah looks on the children and sees them innocent with regards to their father’s conduct; yet, like their fathers, they are born in sin.  Unless they cling onto Christ to inherit his righteousness as ours (Isaiah 61:11), then indeed our father’s sins are our sin.

7 He struck down ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and took Sela by storm, and called it Joktheel, which is its name to this day.

Thus, instead of merely pleading to Elisha, it is Amaziah’s walk with God which secured his victory over the capital of Edom, the rock, Sela – and give due glory to the LORD by the name Joktheel (“subdued by God”).  This is more clearly laid out in 2 Chronicles 25:5-13, where Amaziah follows the counsel of a man of God, reminding him of the LORD’s power to lift up or cast down:

O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the LORD is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites.

8 But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.

8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us look one another in the face.”

9 And Jehoash king of Israel sent word to Amaziah king of Judah, “A thistle on Lebanon sent to a cedar on Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son for a wife,’ and a wild beast of Lebanon passed by and trampled down the thistle.

10 You have indeed struck down Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?”

11 But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up, and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another in battle at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah.

12 And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home.

13 And Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate.

14 And he seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house, also hostages, and he returned to Samaria.

15 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash that he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel, and Jeroboam his son reigned in his place.

17 Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel.

18 Now the rest of the deeds of Amaziah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

19 And they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But they sent after him to Lachish and put him to death there.

20 And they brought him on horses; and he was buried in Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.

21 And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.

22 He built Elath and restored it to Judah, after the king slept with his fathers.

Yet, despite comparing Amaziah’s more apparently virtuous life with Jehoash, we are immediately informed that Amaziah’s arrogance against Jehoash has led to the demise of Judah and the wall of Jerusalem, in the battle at the house of the sun (Beth-shemesh).  This defeat of Judah and the breaching of Jerusalem is an unfitting victory for a man who follows in the path of Jeroboam.  However, this is not described in 2 Kings but in 2 Chronicles 25:

14 After Amaziah came from striking down the Edomites, he brought the gods of the men of Seir and set them up as his gods and worshiped them, making offerings to them.

15 Therefore the LORD was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?”

16 But as he was speaking, the king said to him, “Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” So the prophet stopped, but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.

 

Instead of destroying the objects that captured the hearts of the Edomites, he merely destroyed the Edomites.  That is contrary to the mandate to be a priesthood to all nations, for the LORD does not grant true victory except the victory through circumcision of the heart (Exodus 19:6).  He forgot that the LORD, though lifting him up in the victory over Edom, can equally destroy Amaziah because of setting up the Edomite gods and worshipping them.

Although the LORD is not with Jehoash, Amaziah’s fall and explicit denial of the man of God (who, if at all, is more suited to be a royal counselor than anything else) is a reminder that the true king of Israel – the true Messiah – is to heed wisdom from mere men not of immediate royal presence or stature.  In the downfall of Judah is the ironic death of Amaziah in the same manner as his father (2 Kings 12:20), even more ironically so dying in the Canaanite city Lachish (“invincible”).  Thus becomes the appointment of Azariah (“whom the LORD helps”), the son of Amaziah, whose first notable work was restoration of Elath to Judah.

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years.

24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

25 He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.

26 For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter, for there was none left, bond or free, and there was none to help Israel.

27 But the LORD had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

According to Jesus, the Word Who spoke by his servant Jonah from the winepress of the well (Gath-hepher), even the LORD would use a man such as Jeroboam to restore the border of Israel.  This again is the LORD’s mercy, to ensure that not only Judah but the whole of Israel is maintained until the day that the LORD uses the Satan to also lift the curse of death by causing the death of the Christ on the cross.  Such is the irony – yet, follows closely with what the man of God stated:  “God has power to help or to cast down”.

28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam and all that he did, and his might, how he fought, and how he restored Damascus and Hamath to Judah in Israel, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, the kings of Israel, and Zechariah his son reigned in his place.

2 Kings 13-14: The LORD for the hearts of men

1 Kings 15-16: the failed Sons of David

I Kings 15:

1 Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah.

2 He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom.

3 And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.

4 Nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem,

5 because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

6 Now there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.

7 The rest of the acts of Abijam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.

8 And Abijam slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David. And Asa his son reigned in his place.

 

V.4 ties the kings of Judah together – “nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem…”.  This is the prophetic hope – the gospel, that David’s son Jesus Christ is set up in the lineage of kings to establish new Jerusalem.  For what other reason are the kings maintained in spite of their faulty relationships with the Anointed Son of David as sung in Psalm 2?  Theirs is the true covenant of God’s unfailing love to us, that we cannot be removed far and wide from His warm embrace (Romans 8:38-39).

 

Chapters 15-16 record the history of Abijah and Asa – and there are interestingly different depictions of him in 1 Kings 15-16 and 2 Chronicles 13-16.  The narrator of Kings jumps immediately to the summation of Abijah’s life; and notably, in the book of Kings, Abijah is called Abijam – a name which now means ‘father of the sea’ instead of ‘the Lord is my father’.  With the sea connoting negative implications in biblical terms (Jeremiah 5:22; Ezekiel 47:9; Jude 1:13), the usage of Abijam over Abijah is fitting in the narrator’s negative description of Absalom / Abishalom’s lineage.  “He walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God” (v.3 – my emphasis italicized).  Though not ‘wholly’ true, 2 Chronicles 13 makes specific reference to Abijah’s holy proclamation against Jeroboam.  Though the narrator recognizes the book of Chronicles as recording Abijah’s life account (v.7), nonetheless the account of his life in this book is short, and not sweet.

 

It would seem, however, that the focus is not on the merits of Abijah – but contrarily on the evils of Maacah (“oppression”), the daughter of Abishalom (“father of peace”).  She is mentioned in v.2 but is again mentioned in verses 10 and 13 – it is quite clear that these two chapters focus on the comparison of the relationships which Abijah and Asa respectively had with Christ.  Contrast the description above with the following text from 2 Chronicles 13:

 

4 Then Abijah stood up on Mount Zemaraim that is in the hill country of Ephraim and said, “Hear me, O Jeroboam and all Israel!

5 Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?

6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord,

7 and certain worthless scoundrels gathered about him and defied Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them.

8 “And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods.

9 Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes for ordination with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods.

10 But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the LORD who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service.

11 They offer to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may burn every evening. For we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him.

12 Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed.”

13 Jeroboam had sent an ambush around to come upon them from behind. Thus his troops were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them.

14 And when Judah looked, behold, the battle was in front of and behind them. And they cried to the LORD, and the priests blew the trumpets.

15 Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.

16 The men of Israel fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hand.

17 Abijah and his people struck them with great force, so there fell slain of Israel 500,000 chosen men.

18 Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers.

19 And Abijah pursued Jeroboam and took cities from him, Bethel with its villages and Jeshanah with its villages and Ephron with its villages.

20 Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah. And the LORD struck him down, and he died.

 

What happened to the man who exclaimed these words against Jeroboam?  This is what 1 Kings 15 seeks to clarify by its current focus on Asa.

 

9 In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah,

10 and he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom.

11 And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as David his father had done.

12 He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.

13 He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. And Asa cut down her image and burned it at the brook Kidron.

14 But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true to the LORD all his days.

15 And he brought into the house of the LORD the sacred gifts of his father and his own sacred gifts, silver, and gold, and vessels.

 

Immediately, in v.11 Asa is described as ‘doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as David his father had done’ – comparing Asa and Abijah to David as the ‘standard’.  However, it is important that we do not assume the kings to look at David as some “God-king”, though he is a commonly used type of Christ (Luke 18:38; Revelation 22:16).  What David had done was but a shadow of Christ, but moreso, David had faith in Christ.  Here is a man whose deeds bore Christocentric meaning because of the Christocentric faith he had (Psalm 2, 72, 110; Mark 12:35-37).  As Matthew Henry notes in his commentary on Mark 12:35-37:

 

“Christ shows the people how weak and defective the scribes were in their preaching, and how unable to solve the difficulties that occurred in the scriptures of the Old Testament, which they undertook to expound. Of this he gives an instance, which is not so fully related here as it was in Matthew. Christ was teaching in the temple: many things he said, which were not written; but notice is taken of this, because it will stir us up to enquire concerning Christ, and to enquire of him; for none can have the right knowledge of him but from himself; it is not to be had from the scribes, for they will soon be run aground.

1. They told the people that the Messiah was to be the Son of David ( 35), and they were in the right; he was not only to descend from his loins, but to fill his throne (Luke i. 32); The Lord shall give him the throne of his father David. The scripture said it often, but the people took it as what the scribes said; whereas the truths of God should rather be quoted from our Bibles than from our ministers, for there is the original of them. Dulcius ex ipso fonte bibuntur aquæ–The waters are sweetest when drawn immediately from their source.

2. Yet they could not tell them how, notwithstanding that it was very proper for David, in spirit, the spirit of prophecy, to call him his Lord, as he doth, Ps. cx. 1. They had taught the people that concerning the Messiah, which would be for the honour of their nation–that he should be a branch of their royal family; but they had not taken care to teach them that which was for the honour of the Messiah himself–that he should be the Son of God, and, as such, and not otherwise, David’s Lord. Thus they held the truth in unrighteousness, and were partial in the gospel, as well as in the law, of the Old Testament. They were able to say it, and prove it–that Christ was to be David’s son; but if any should object, How then doth David himself call him Lord?  They would not know how to avoid the force of the objection. Note, Those are unworthy to sit in Moses’s seat, who, though they are able to preach the truth, are not in some measure able to defend it when they have preached it, and to convince gainsayers.”

 

Though Abijah fought and won military victories against Jeroboam, such victories are ultimately empty if the removal of such powers is not immediately replaced with God’s love through Christ (Romans 8:39).  Asa’s actions is therefore in stark contrast, by firstly his putting away of the male cult prostitutes, removing all the idols his fathers had made (fathers, notably linking this to Abishalom ironically titled the ‘father of peace’).  Instead, only Asa, the physician, can cure the nation of its sins by removing the idolatrous sacramental objects of their own faiths; by removing Satan’s stronghold within the church and cleansing it from inside out.  The key verse is v.13 – he removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because of her faith in Asherah.  By assumption, this means that Abijah did not remove his queen mother in-spite of her worship of Asherah – effectively making Abijah’s words of 2 Chronicles 13 empty if he did not carry out the implications of his proclamation against even the queen mother.  The stark image is that of Abijah’s omission and Asa’s proactive mission to destroy all that leads people astray, burning the image of Asherah in the brook Kidron – at the same time, the image of such burning burnt into the minds of his Israelite subjects.  The burning of the image of Asherah in this brook is especially symbolic, for it is a place of David’s weeping (2 Samuel 15:23, 30), frequently a place crossed by the LORD (John 18:1), and a place frequented by all types of impurities (2 Kings 11:16, 23:6; 2 Chronicles 29:16, 30:14; Jeremiah 26:23) but also eventually a place where the Jews would wish to be buried (Joel 3:2)

Remember the words of our LORD Jesus concerning idols, for He is the purifier of our spirits by the coming and filling of His Spirit (2 Corinthians 6:16; Revelation 9:20).

 

V.14 is testament to the LORD not seeking ‘perfection’ for the purpose of salvation; in fact, what He seeks is a type of worship which understands His will for mankind.  Asa clearly understood this – setting himself apart from Abijah by focusing on the house of the LORD.  This is a House which is heavily neglected – aside from David, Solomon and Asa’s respective foci on this central Temple of Israel, we will not come back to this House until 2 Kings 11, approximately 100 years later, under the direction of Jehoiada.  Yet, it is also the place where the light of Christ shines the brightest – the Levitical system of sacrifice, pointing clearly towards the work of the sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered for the sins of the church of spiritual Israel (Romans 11:25-26).

 

16 And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

17 Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might permit no one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.

18 Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house and gave them into the hands of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying,

19 “Let there be a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I am sending to you a present of silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.”

 

Yet, almost immediately after what had been a bold imagery of the focus on the temple and house of God – we witness the fall of Asa by his reliance on “the son of the Syrian god” (Ben-hadad), who in turn is the son of he “who believes Rimmon is good” (Tabrimmon), the son of Hezion – king of Syria.  Like Ahijah earlier in his life, and just as Asa had torn down the Asherah images in the midst of her mother’s forced abdication of the throne, Asa could have relied on the LORD to defeat the wicked Baasha.  Instead, Asa would relinquish the treasures of the house of the LORD, implying that the mere worship and sacrifice of the Temple is insufficient that he should rely on earthly rather than spiritual alliances (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 6).

 

20 And Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel and conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.

21 And when Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah, and he lived in Tirzah.

22 Then King Asa made a proclamation to all Judah, none was exempt, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber, with which Baasha had been building, and with them King Asa built Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah.

23 Now the rest of all the acts of Asa, all his might, and all that he did, and the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? But in his old age he was diseased in his feet.

24 And Asa slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father, and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place.

 

How strange that the later history of Asa’s life is not reflected here, though Abijah’s wickedness is displayed for all to see?  For Asa, just like Abijah, did not rely on the LORD fully in his latter days – 2 Chronicles 16:

 

7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you.

8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand.

9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

10 Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time…

12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians.

 

Asa’s victory here seems to be won by Yahweh – but note that this is not a war fought under the banner of Anointed One.  Even though Baasha is painted as an evil conspirator against the son of Jeroboam in the following verses, the narrator is not providing a full picture of what this king of Judah is like: however, it is clear that the kings of Israel are portrayed in a decidedly worse picture to promote the primary message of the King of Kings to come from Judah.  However, the Anointed King is not any of the ones mentioned thus far – as Chronicles clearly shows.

 

25 Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years.

26 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.

27 Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him. And Baasha struck him down at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, for Nadab and all Israel were laying siege to Gibbethon.

28 So Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah and reigned in his place.

29 And as soon as he was king, he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He left to the house of Jeroboam not one that breathed, until he had destroyed it, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite.

30 It was for the sins of Jeroboam that he sinned and that he made Israel to sin, and because of the anger to which he provoked the LORD, the God of Israel.

31 Now the rest of the acts of Nadab and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

32 And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah, and he reigned twenty-four years.

34 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.

 

Thus, the foretelling of the overcoming of Baasha bears the focused message of the author of this book of Kings – that the line of Judah prevailed over the line of Israel.  That the House of Judah overcomes the House of Israel which has been led astray by Jeroboam and Nadab and Baasha’s sins (v. 26, 34; 2 Kings 10:31, 15:9, 15:18 – constant reference to Jeroboam as causing Israel to sin, in fulfillment of Ahijah’s prophecy in 1 Kings 11-12).  Tirzah (pleasantness), an old royal city of the Canaanites, was destroyed by Joshua in Joshua 12:24.   Jeroboam chose it for his residence, and he removed to it from Shechem, which at first he made the capital of his kingdom. It remained the chief residence of the kings of Israel till Omri took Samaria (1 Kings 14:17; 15:21; 16:6, 8, etc.). Here Zimri perished amid the flames of the palace to which in his despair he had set fire (1 Kings 16:18) – and it is apparent that just as the brook Kidron was primarily a place of the burning of the Asherah image, so also Tirzah is a place where the kings of Israel can only find temporary solace before their ungodly demise (1 Kings 15:33; 16:6-23).

 

I Kings 16:

1 And the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying,

2 “Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins,

3 behold, I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

4 Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens shall eat.”

5 Now the rest of the acts of Baasha and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

6 And Baasha slept with his fathers and was buried at Tirzah, and Elah his son reigned in his place.

7 Moreover, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, both because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and also because he destroyed it.

 

Thus, we finally receive the due intervention for Baasha’s act, for his emulation of the wicked bloodline of Jeroboam.  A Christian prophet Jehu (Jehovah is the living), the son of Hanani (God has gratified me), has effectively pointed out the generations to come – the anti-Christ house of Jeroboam, in the line of the kings of Israel.  Contrarily, the line of the kings of Judah has David, the type-of-Christ.  It is from this point forward that the antithesis is more pronounced – the Davidic king against the Jeroboam-like king.  The former leading the Israelites back to the law, back to the house of the LORD, back to Jerusalem; the latter leading the Israelites to the brook Kidron, to Tirzah, to Ramah, to the false altars of worship.

 

8 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned two years.

9 But his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. When he was at Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was over the household in Tirzah,

10 Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place.

11 When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he struck down all the house of Baasha. He did not leave him a single male of his relatives or his friends.

12 Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet,

13 for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, which they sinned and which they made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols.

14 Now the rest of the acts of Elah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

 

Elah of Baasha died by hands of Zimri the commander – contrast this continuity with David’s fear of killing the king (1 Samuel 24:6) because of his understanding of what the ‘king’ means in the Israelite context (Psalm 24, 72).  The king is not a mere human title; it is a dignified delegated position to cause Israel to live in grace, not in sin; to cause Israel to live in faith by placing her trust in the Day of Atonement, amongst the other Jewish festivals which were witnesses of the gospel truths in themselves (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

 

15 In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days in Tirzah. Now the troops were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines,

16 and the troops who were encamped heard it said, “Zimri has conspired, and he has killed the king.” Therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp.

17 So Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah.

18 And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire and died,

19 because of his sins that he committed, doing evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and for his sin which he committed, making Israel to sin.

20 Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and the conspiracy that he made, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

 

Is it not apparent here that the life of Omri is very similar to that of Baasha’s life against Nadab at Gibbethon (1 Kings 15:27-30)?  This is the continuity and persistence of sin (1 Timothy 5:20), notably living under the father of lies (v.19; John 8:44).  What happened to the days when Israel was united as one man (Judges 20:11), but now it is divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah – but a third by the splitting of the people of Israel into two parts (v.21)?  That half should follow Tibni (straw / hay / intelligence), and half should follow Omri (pupil of Jehovah)?  That these false kings should build Samaria, a place of heresy – crafted by man and not God (Hosea 8:5-6)?

 

21 Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts. Half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri.

22 But the people who followed Omri overcame the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died, and Omri became king.

23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for twelve years; six years he reigned in Tirzah.

24 He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver, and he fortified the hill and called the name of the city that he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.

25 Omri did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did more evil than all who were before him.

26 For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in the sins that he made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols.

27 Now the rest of the acts of Omri that he did, and the might that he showed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

28 And Omri slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria, and Ahab his son reigned in his place.

29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years.

30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him.

31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.

32 He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria.

33 And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

34 In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.

 

And now we come to the 7th king since Jeroboam (inclusive of Jeroboam, from Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri) – who has allegedly done “evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him” (v.30).  Not only that, he took for his wife Jezebel (chaste) the daughter of Ethbaal (with Baal) king of the Sidonians and served Baal. The irony that Jezebel, as ‘chaste’ – is the daughter of he who serves and is with their ‘lord’ Baal.  He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, built in the evil city of Samaria – and he also made an Asherah, like Maacah the removed queen mother.  While Abijah and Asa promoted the reforms under Christ’s banner (in spite of their own deficiencies as types of Christ), the physical church of Israel continued to worship Baal, in their mock-house of their lord, with their mock elohim (Baal and Asherah).  This ends with the symbolic rebuilding of Jericho by Hiel of Bethel (life of God of the house of God), in fulfillment of Joshua’s curse in Joshua 6:26 –

 

26 Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.

“At the cost of his firstborn shall he

lay its foundation,

and at the cost of his youngest son

shall he set up its gates.”

 

What further irony that the city of Jericho is rebuilt by a man who aligns himself with Ethbaal, with Jezebel, with Ahab – in their mock Bethel, their mock elohim and their mock city by the name of a man who is apparently the ‘life of God’.  This could not be further from the truth.  Yet, it is clear the narrator has one agenda by the end of chapters 15 and 16 – to portray the hypocrisy of physical against spiritual Israel; the hypocrisy of the kings of Israel against the kings of Judah.  By comparing Abijah and Asa’s life, we see that Asa’s faith followed through with the removal of idols, though he faltered in his walk with the LORD in a variety of times (highlighted in Chronicles instead of Kings).  And in highlighting Asa’s work, we see Abijah’s comparative deficiencies as to have the narrator identify him as ‘walking in the sins of that his father did before him’ (i.e. following in the line of Maacah and Absalom, though this is not the focus of Chronicles – see 2 Chronicles 13:2); whereas Asa walked in line with the heart of David v.11 and this is reflected in his removal of idols, of even his queen mother whom Abijah failed to remove.

 

Whatever glorious picture we see, however, is but a dim shadow of the Anointed Son whom David worshiped as no mere human king, but the Son of the Heavenly Yahweh.  Even in the heights of Asa’s reforms, these pale in comparison to the spotless work of the humble Lamb of God.  What we can say, though, is that their work points us firmly to Christ – who will remove all Asherahs, all Baals, all false kings, and that “All names will soon be restored to their proper owners.” (Aslan in the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia)  They will neither be Jezebel, nor Hiel – for the curse of Joshua will fall upon them as a mark against Satan, revealing Jezebel as the false prophetess (Revelation 2:20), and Hiel as the death cursed from God.

 

 

1 Kings 15-16: the failed Sons of David