Monday, September 30, 2013

Uzziah’s Early Years

II Kings 15:1-4

“In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign.  Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.” (II Kings 15:1-2)

“Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah.” ( II Chronicles 26:1)

Amaziah was killed during an uprising against him during Jeroboam II’s twenty seventh year,  as a result of his adopting the gods of the Edomites in his later years.  The people chose his sixteen year old son Azariah, also known as Uzziah to be their next king.  One of his first actions as king was to reclaim and rebuild the city Eloth.

“He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.” (II Chronicles 26:2) 

Like Amaziah, as a young man, Uzziah sought to please God, although, like many of the kings of Judah, he did not completely eliminate false doctrine and unscriptural practices, which had been ignored for so long they were no longer considered a problem.

“And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done; Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.” (II Kings 15:3-4)

“And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.” (II Chronicles 26:5) 

Like his grandfather Joash, Uzziah followed the Lord as long as there was a strong preacher to keep him in line.  Unfortunately, like Joash and Amaziah, when he got older, he turned away from God.  As long as he served God, God blessed him.

“And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines.  And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, and the Mehunims. 

And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.” (II Chronicles 26:6-8) 

With God’s help, Uzziah was able to subdue the Philistines and occupy their land, building settlement among them like Israel has done among the Palestinians on the West Bank.  In addition he was able stop the Arabs from using Edom as a base for raiding Judah.  The ammonites in present day Jordan negotiated a treaty, paying tribute to maintain the peace on the East.  Egypt was aware of his power and avoided conflict on the southwest.

“Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate, and at the valley gate, and at the turning of the wall, and fortified them.  Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry.” (II Chronicles 26:9-10) 

Uzziah built up Judah’s infra-structure, fortifying Jerusalem and setting up outposts in the desert to protect the borders.  He spent a lot of effort making the available land more useable by digging wells for raising cattle and irrigating crops, because he enjoyed farming and raising cattle, including the central mountains and along the Dead Sea.

“Moreover Uzziah had an host of fighting men, that went out to war by bands, according to the number of their account by the hand of Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the ruler, under the hand of Hananiah, one of the king's captains.  The whole number of the chief of the fathers of the mighty men of valour were two thousand and six hundred.  And under their hand was an army, three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred, that made war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy.” (II Chronicles 26:11-13) 

Uzziah maintained a standing army of over three hundred ten thousand men, which was a strong deterrent to potential enemies,  His army was also  fully equipped with the most technologically advanced weapons.

“And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones.  And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.” (II Chronicles 26:14-15) 

Most armies of the day were composed of volunteers and many had only basic weapons such as a sword and spear.  Uzziah’s men all had shields and helmets to protect them, as well as bows and arrows for longer distance fighting.  They carried a sling for when their supply of arrows was exhausted, and the habergeon, a sort of long battle axe for fighting men on horseback.

He also had various types of catapults, built and installed on permanent fortifications to help defend them from attack.  Such weapons would not become widely used until much later.  As a result, he had a reputation as being a good king to leave alone.  It must have seemed like he was invincible.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jereboam II’s Reign

II Kings 14:23-29

“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 reigned forty and one years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” (II Kings 14:23-24)

About fifteen after Amaziah became king of Judah, Joash of Israel died and his son Jeroboam became king.  Though he never served God, adhering faithfully to the first Jeroboam’s imitation of the worship of God rather than the truth, he would have one of the longest reigns of any of Israel’s kings, reigning forty one years.  Hosea, Jonah and Amos all prophesied during his reign.

“He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.  For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.  And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.” (II Kings 14:25-27) 

Under Hazael and his son, Benhadad, Syria gained control of the Mediterranean Coast of Israel  and everything around the Sea of Gallilee to about twenty miles south. Israel was left with only of what had originally belonged to Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh.  Because Joash had been content to just stop their encroachment and had not destroyed their power, Syria was again trying to take over what was left.

After Joash’s invasion of Judah under Amaziah, Judah was not about to come to their rescue, and Syria had already defeated all their neighbors, so there was no one to come to Israel’s aid.  Because of his promise to preserve Abraham’s family, despite their sin, God would not let them be destroyed.

Little is known of Jonah’s prophecies other than the prophecy against Nineveh found in the book of Jonah, but he was the prophet God used to inspire Jeroboam the second to fight for their land.  As a result, Jeroboam was able to recover most of the land as far north as the Sea of Galilee, and prevent their being killed or absorbed into the Syrian culture.  He was able also to reclaim the section of Damascus one of the Earlier Benhadad’s had promised king Ahab in  I Kings 20.

“Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” (II Kings 14:28)

While Jeroboam’s other actions were recorded in official records, they were not included in scripture.   Amos describes the attitudes of the leaders of the false religion Jeroboam th first started.

“Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.  For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land. 

Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court.” (Amos 7:10-13)

Amaziah, the high priest of Jeroboam’s religion accused Amos of treason, and warned that his teaching would cause a division in the land, because Amos said that Jeroboam would be killed and Israel would be relocated from their land.

He told Amos that if he was going to preach such things, he needed to Move to Judah because the religion there belonged to the king and he decided what was to be preached.  Religious leaders had no right to oppose governmental actions.

Throughout history, Governments have taken this attitude toward religion, that it must be subject to the government.  It was to prevent this that the first part of the first amendment to the Constitution was adopted, which states, “Congress shall no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof:…”

When the Internal Revenue Service was allowed to establish rules as to what a religious organization must teach in order to retain tax exempt status, the first amendment was violated.  While I do not approve of polygamy, the prosecution of the Mormon church for practicing it was a violation of the first amendment.  Clearly, the United States government feels free to violate those protections to promote it’s own power.

“Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.  Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac. 

Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.” (Amos 7:14-17)

Amos pointed out that he had not been interested in being a prophet but that God had commanded him to prophesy to Israel.  Their orders to not prophesy were in direct contradiction to God’s command.  Their refusal to hear would not change the results.  Women in the city would be forced to turn to prostitution to support themselves, their children would be murdered and their land taken away.  They would be forced into slavery and die surrounded by evil because the didn’t take any action.

It was unfair not to let the people know what they faced, but Jeroboam and his priests refused to allow them to be warned.

“And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.” (II Kings 14:29)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Amaziah Defeats Edom

II Kings 14:1-7

“In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.  He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.  And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did. 

Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.  And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father.  But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (II Kings 14:1-6)

About two or two and a half years after Joash or Jehoash became king of Israel, Joash king of Judah was murdered and Amaziah ascended the throne.  Like his father Joash, he started out to serve God, but he didn’t have Jehoiada to guide him.  After Jehoiada’s death, Joash had gone along with the worship of nature along with the worship of God, and Amaziah allowed it to continue.  Once he was in control, he had the murderers of his father executed, but followed the law in not executing their children.

 “Moreover Amaziah gathered Judah together, and made them captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, according to the houses of their fathers, throughout all Judah and Benjamin: and he numbered them from twenty years old and above, and found them three hundred thousand choice men, able to go forth to war, that could handle spear and shield.” 

He hired also an hundred thousand mighty men of valour out of Israel for an hundred talents of silver.” (II Chronicles 25:5-6)

The Edomites, Esau’s descendants from the area south of the Dead Sea were constantly raiding Judah,  Amaziah raised an army of three hundred thousand experienced  men to go and destroy them.  Fearing he didn’t have enough he also hired a hundred thousand mercenaries from Israel for a hundred talents of silver.

“But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim.  But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down. 

And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? 

And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.” (II Chronicles 25:7-9)

Since the time of Jeroboam, Israel had been practicing a corrupted copy of the Jewish religion, rather than following God’s commands and God was angry at their sin.   Several of Judah’s kings had gotten in trouble for associating with the Kings of Israel.

God sent a prophet to warn Amaziah that if the Israelite soldiers were allowed to accompany them, Judah would be defeated and Amaziah killed.  Amaziah was worried that they would not be able to get the money he had spent to hire them back, but the prophet reminded him God was able to give far more than he would lose.

“Then Amaziah separated them, to wit, the army that was come to him out of Ephraim, to go home again: wherefore their anger was greatly kindled against Judah, and they returned home in great anger.” (II Chronicles 25:10) 

Taking God’s advice, Amaziah sent the mercenaries home.  They were very angry that they would not have the opportunity to gain the spoils of war even though they had already been paid but as it turned out their help was not needed.

“He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.” (II Kings 14:7) 

“And other ten thousand left alive did the children of Judah carry away captive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they all were broken in pieces.” (II Chronicles25:12)

Amaziah killed ten thousand in the battle to capture Selah or Seir, the Edomite capitol.  Ten thousand more were captured and executed by throwing them off a nearby cliff.

“But the soldiers of the army which Amaziah sent back, that they should not go with him to battle, fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria even unto Bethhoron, and smote three thousand of them, and took much spoil.” (II Chronicles 25:13)

The Israelite mercenaries were already organized and prepared to fight.  Angry that Amaziah had sent them home, attacked cities along the border between Judah and Israel, killing three thousand people and stealing everything they could carry.

Many Christian groups have joined with secular organizations to accomplish some special purpose, ignoring II Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”  The alliance has often resulted in great harm to the Christian group, even when it was realized they could not continue to work together.

“Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them.” (II Chronicles 25:14) 

Having soundly defeated the Edomites, Amaziah brought home their idols home and adopted their religion in place of worshipping God!  Why?  Obviously, the Edomite gods hadn’t delivered Edom from Judah.

“Wherefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, which said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand? 

And it came to pass, as he talked with him, that the king said unto him, Art thou made of the king's counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten? 

Then the prophet forbare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel.” (II Chronicles 25:15-16)

God was angry at Amaziah and sent a prophet to ask him why he would trade God for a bunch of idols that couldn’t even save their own people from Amaziah.  Amaziah told the prophet he hadn’t been asked what he thought  and that he would be killed if he kept questioning his decision.

The prophet said that God was going to destroy Amaziah because of his sin in choosing to worship idols and his refusal to listen to God’s advice.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jehoash’s reign and Elisha’s Final Prophecy

II Kings 13:10-25

“In the thirty and seventh year of Joash king of Judah began Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin: but he walked therein.” (II Kings 13:10-11)

About two and a half or three years before Joash, king of Judah died, Jehoahaz’ son Joash or Jehoash became king of Israel.  Like his father and grandfather, he practiced the corrupted form of Judaism Jeroboam had started, worshipping the golden calves, in violation of God’s law.

“And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, and his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?  And Joash slept with his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his throne: and Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.” (II Kings 13:12-13)

Though he did evil, Joash was not as wicked as other kings of Israel, nor did he do any great things that really stand out.   Scripture only records his war with Amaziah as part of Amaziah’s story, and his contact with Elisha shortly before his death.

“Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” (II Kings 13:14)

About fifty years before, Elisha had anointed Jehu king of Israel.  Though Jehu and his family practiced idolatry the entire time, they still held Elisha in high esteem.  Learning that Elisha was dying, Joash was upset at the thought of losing one who had played such an important part for over sixty years.  What would Israel do when he was gone and there was no one to take his place?

“And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.  And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands.  And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.” (II Kings 13:15-17)

Elisha  had Joash shoot an arrow out his window and described it as the deliverance from Syria, making it clear that deliverance would come from his leadership rather on Elisha’s power.  It would be up to Joash to fight until Syria’s power was broken.

“And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground.

 And he smote thrice, and stayed.

 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.”  (II Kings 13:18-19)  

To drive home his point that the results were dependent on Jehoash’s leadership, Elisha had him take a handful of arrows and hit the ground repeatedly with them.  Elisha was upset that Joash quit hitting after the third strike knowing that he was to fight until Syria was destroyed.  Because he didn’t take it seriously, he would only attack Syria enough to get them to stop temporarily.

"And Elisha died, and they buried him.  And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.  And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.” (II Kings 13:20-21)

When Elijah ascended into heaven, Elisha he had asked for a double portion of the Spirit of God to be on him.  When he died more than sixty years later, Moabite raiders had invaded and one of their men had been killed.  Seeing a group if Israelite men, they dumped the dead man’s body in Elisha’s sepulchre to get rid of it. Even after his death, there was still enough of God’s power to raise a man from the dead.  Can’t you just imagine the Moabites shock when the dead man jumped up and started trying to get out?

“But Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.  And the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.” (II Kings 13:22-23)

 Jehoahaz’s seventeen year reign, the Syrians had maintained control, limiting Jehoahaz to a standing army of ten thousand and only leaving him a token force of ten chariots and fifty cavalry men.  Had it not been for God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Israel would have been rubbed out.

“Hazael king of Syria died; and Benhadad his son reigned in his stead. 

And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities, which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.” (II Kings 13:24-25)

Just as Elisha had prophesied, Jehoash was able to defeat Hazael’s son and free the Israelite cities Hazael had captured.  Three times Jehoshaphat was victorious, and Benhadad withdrew so Jehoshaphat didn’t continue the fight and completely break their power.  As a result, almost three thousand years later, Syria is still threatening Israel.

Today there are many like Joash, who, although they don’t serve God themselves still respect and value those who have served God.  Like Joash, they are concerned what will happen when the old ones are no longer there to se that things are done right.  They need to understand that what happens in the future will depend on whether they step up to lead in the proper way or not.  Unless they make a full commitment to do whole job, their efforts will only produce temporary relief. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Reign Of Jehoahaz

II Kings 13:1-9

“In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah king of Judah Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom. 

And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days.” (II Kings 13:1-3) 

Athaliah usurped the throne of Judah shortly after Jehu seized the throne of Israel, reigning for almost six years.  Jehu reigned over Israel just over twenty eight years, apparently dying early in Joash’s twenty third year as king of Judah.  Since most ancient dates are recorded relative to a well known individual’s life rather than a number of years before or after some cataclysmic event, and most are only an approximation of the time involved few of them can be narrowed to an exact date.

That in no discredits the historical accuracy of scripture.  It is no different than saying a person is twenty, whether he just turned twenty  yesterday, or if he will be twenty one tomorrow.  It does make the belief that the King James Version is perfect untenable, however.

Jehu’s son, Jehoahaz took Jehu’s place, following his father’s example, and reverting back to the corrupted form of Judaism Jeroboam had started with roots in Egypt and ancient Babylon.  He did not adopt Baal or the gods of the people around them.

It was the same thing they had done in Exodus 32, eight hundred years before, and it produced the same result, making God angry.  Israel would be constantly oppressed by Syria under both Hazael, and his son Benhadad, as long as they lived.

“And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them. (And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime. 

Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)  Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing.” (II Kings 13:4-7) 

Elisha and other prophets were still alive, and Jehoahaz sought the Lord as a result of the Syrian oppression.  When they did so, God sent a leader that delivered them from the oppression so that they were free to their old lifestyle.  Unfortunately they did not turn away from the corrupted form of Judaism, nor did they turn completely away from their worship of nature.  Though they were no longer serfs to Syriua, their army had been decimated so they could only field a token force of ten chariots and fifty cavalrymen and a standing army of ten thousand.   For a country that a few years before had been able to field fifty times that many, it was quite humbling.

“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?  And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead.” (II Kings 13:8-9)

After about  seventeen years as king, Jehoahaz died and was buried in Samaria as a respected king, and his son Jehoash or Joash became king of Israel,  At the time Ahaziah’s son Joash was still king of Judah,

Monday, September 23, 2013

Joash Turns Away From God

II Kings 12:17-21

“But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old was he when he died.  And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house.” (II Chronicles 24:15-16) 

Jehoiada had grown up during Asa’s Reign and had served the Lord during Jehoshaphat’s reign,  He continued to serve God during Jehoram, Ahaziah and Athaliah’s reigns, even though doing so was extremely unpopular, finally anointing Joash as king and doing his best to teach him to serve God, as well as the entire nation of Israel.   Like everyone else, he died  at a hundred thirty years old.  He was highly respected by both the nation and his own family for what he had done for them, and was honored by being buried in the royal cemetery where the kings were buried, unlike Jehoram and Athaliah.

“Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them.  And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.  Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear” (II Chronicles 24:17-19) 

Jehoida had devoted his life to teaching Judah to serve God, and had been like a father teaching Joash to do so.  While he was alive, Joash had seemed really dedicated to God, calling for the reconstruction of the temple and rebuking Jehoiada for his failure to get it done expeditiously.

Unfortunately, he was like many who have been taught by strong Christian parents, going along with their standards and practices because the others believe it, but not really committed to them.  As soon as Jehoiada was dead,  After Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and made a big effort to express their admiration and respect for him.  Joash responded by going along with their ideas, rather than holding to the beliefs and standards Jehoiada had set.  As a result, toleration and even observance of other religious practices was encouraged.

God was angered by their rejection of him, but sent prophets to warn them of the consequences of their sin.  Like most people, they refused to pay attention to the warnings.    

“And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. 

And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. 

Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.” (II Chronicles 24:20-22)

One of the prophets God sent was Jehoiada’s son Zechariah, who warned them that because they had turned away from God, he would turn away from them and their economy would collapse.

Not wanting to hear that their sins were causing their economy to collapse the leaders met with Joash.  He ordered that Zechariah be killed to shut him up, totally ignoring the fact that without Jehoiada‘s help and protection he would not have been made king and probably would have been killed.

His attitude was much like that of the political leaders of today who try to destroy the influence of the churches today, overlooking the part Christianity played in getting the freedom they have, or like the pastors who get rid of all the people and reminders of the former pastor, ignoring the fact they wouldn’t even have the church if not for him.

 Zechariah’s last words were essentially that God would give them what they desired.  God is watching today, and he will give those today what they deserve as well.  As Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

“Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.” (II Kings 12:17) 

“And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus. 

For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the LORD delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash.” (II Chronicles 24:23-24)

The Syrians came down along the Mediterranean coast and captured The ancient Philistine city of Gath before turning East to Jerusalem.  Though they were vastly outnumbered by the armies of Judah, the Syrians were victorious, killing the leaders and sending most of their wealth to Damascus.  Judah’s economy was destroyed, as Zechariah had warned.

“And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and in the king's house, and sent it to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem.” (II Kings 12:18) 

Joash wound up robbing the temple of all it’s wealth and giving up his personal fortune persuade Hazael to allow him to continue as king.  

“And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” (II Kings 12:19) 

“And when they were departed from him, (for they left him in great diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died: and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings.  And these are they that conspired against him; Zabad the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith a Moabitess.” (II Chronicles 24:25-26) 

“And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.  For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.” (II Kings 12:20-21)

Joash had apparently been severly wounded during the fighting with the Syrians and his wounds had become infected.   Two of his servants, one a half  Ammonite and the other a half Moabite attacked and killed him while he was sick in bed, about a year after Jehoash, Jehu‘s grandson became king.of Israel.   He was buried in Jerusalem, alongside Jehoram and Ahaziah, but not in the royal cemetery.

“Now concerning his sons, and the greatness of the burdens laid upon him, and the repairing of the house of God, behold, they are written in the story of the book of the kings. And Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.” (II Chronicles 24:7)

Joash overcame some huge difficulties and accomplished some great things for God,  Unfortunately he threw most of his accomplishments away later.  Ezekiel 33:12-13 warns, “Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.  When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”

His son Amaziah would become the next king of Judah.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Repairing The Temple

II Kings 12:9-16

“And at the king's commandment they made a chest, and set it without at the gate of the house of the LORD.” (II Chronicles 24:8) 

“But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the LORD: and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD.” (II Kings 12:8) 

For years, the priests and Levites had traveled acroos Israel taking up offerings and pledges to repair the damage that had been done to the temple, trying to get enough to do the job.  Finally Joash ordered them to stop collecting the money and forget about making the repairs because nothing had been done.

Instead, he had them place a large chest with a hole for dropping in money by the entrance to the temple where any money could be dropped in.

“And they made a proclamation through Judah and Jerusalem, to bring in to the LORD the collection that Moses the servant of God laid upon Israel in the wilderness. 

And all the princes and all the people rejoiced, and brought in, and cast into the chest, until they had made an end. 

Now it came to pass, that at what time the chest was brought unto the king's office by the hand of the Levites, and when they saw that there was much money, the king's scribe and the high priest's officer came and emptied the chest, and took it, and carried it to his place again. Thus they did day by day, and gathered money in abundance.” (II Chronicles 24:9-11)

Instead of taking up the offering, They proclaimed that it would be up to the people to put it in themselves.  The people were thrilled, giving more than they had before.  It was so successful that they were still collecting the offerings that way in Jesus’ day as we see in Mark 12.

When I first started as pastor, the church was very small and many had very small incomes but one family had a good job and tithed faithfully.  One Sunday the lady asked me why the figure we had posted for the day’s offering was less than she had put in.  We started watching and learned that in the process of putting in a dollar, one girl was taking out a twenty dollar bill, and apparently she wasn’t the only one.  Having just recently taught on this story, I decided to do the same thing to prevent such theft.  Our offerings more than doubled almost immediately, so we continued and the church never again had a problem meeting it’s expenses.

In talking with our people, I found that many felt pressured to give when an offering basket was placed in front of them and resented it.  The box did not produce those feelings of resentment and they gave more as a result.  I have found the same thing in the other churches I have pastored.  People who give resentfully miss out on much of the blessing God has for them, so it would be worth doing even if it resulted in a smaller offering.  Tithing kiosks in some churches function the same way today.

“And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king's scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the LORD. 

And they gave the money, being told, into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of the LORD: and they laid it out to the carpenters and builders, that wrought upon the house of the LORD, And to masons, and hewers of stone, and to buy timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the LORD, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair it.” (II Kings 12:10-12)

“So the workmen wrought, and the work was perfected by them, and they set the house of God in his state, and strengthened it.” (II Chronicles 24:13)

When they had enough to make some of the repairs, they started, rather than waiting until they had enough to finish.  The people were excited to see work being done and  willingly gave more to see it completed.  The priests and Levites had wanted to wait until enough was collected, and people became discouraged because nothing was happening.  People today are no different.  

“Howbeit there were not made for the house of the LORD bowls of silver, snuffers, basins, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of the LORD: But they gave that to the workmen, and repaired therewith the house of the LORD.” (II Kings 12:13-14) 

“And when they had finished it, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada, whereof were made vessels for the house of the LORD, even vessels to minister, and to offer withal, and spoons, and vessels of gold and silver. And they offered burnt offerings in the house of the LORD continually all the days of Jehoiada.” (II Chronicles 24:14) 

“Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully.” (II Kings 12:15) 

Initially, all the offering was used to take care of the needed repairs.  Only when the repairs were complete did they use the money to obtain the decorative and luxury items.  This again encouraged the people that their money was being used wisely.  Many leaders have lost their people’s confidence because they insisted on redecorating the auditorium or putting up a new sign when the people knew the roof needed repairs or a new furnace was needed.  The old idea of listing the things you want done and then doing the most important one first builds confidence in one’s leadership because people see the important things are getting done.  They don’t mind waiting for the less important things.

When the basic work was accomplished, the extra money was spent on the nonessential items.  It was exciting to be able to have those things as well.

Because they had selected trustworthy men, it was not necessary to micromanage them or demand exact accounting for every penny spent.  If the men cannot be trusted, no amount of accounting and oversight can ensure they will not take advantage, and frequently it becomes a challenge to see if they can get by with it.  Our financial institutions have some of the strictest accounting systems anywhere, yet they were able to misuse and rip off millions of dollars.  

"The trespass money and sin money was not brought into the house of the LORD: it was the priests'.” (II Kings 12:16)

There was no cut backs in the sacrifices or burnt offerings to pay for the building program, and the priests and Levites did not have to give up part of their salary.  If a church is forced to cut back or borrow money in order to take care of some program, they should probably look more closely at what they are doing.  God said he would supply our needs.  He didn’t promise to supply all the things we lusted after.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Joash Established As King

II Kings 11:17-12:8

“And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD'S people; between the king also and the people.  And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD.” (II Kings 11:17-18) 

Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel.  She and her husband Jehoram had promoted the worship of Baal in Judah rather than the worship of God.   The people had resisted having Baal worship forced on them, and as Soon as Athaliah was dead, they willingly followed Jehoiada in destroying all the idols and the temple, executing the chief priest right in front of the altar to Baal.

Under Jehoram and Ahaziah, worshippers of God had been persecuted and may of the practices had been corrupted or forgotten.  Jehoida revived the old customs and offices according to the covenant with God.

“Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the LORD by the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the LORD, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David.  And he set the porters at the gates of the house of the LORD, that none which was unclean in any thing should enter in.” (II Chronicles 23:18-19)

“And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down the king from the house of the LORD, and came by the way of the gate of the guard to the king's house. And he sat on the throne of the kings.” (II Kings 11:19)

Not all Athaliah’s supporters and worshippers of Baal had been killed, so Jehoida placed a large force of guards to escort Joash to the palace and protect him.  They placed Joash on the throne as ruler.  

“And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet: and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king's house.  Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign.” (II Kings 11:20-21)

Throughout Jehoram and Ahaziah’s reigns there had been constant conflict between the worshippers of Baal and those who worshipped God.  In addition, both Jehoram and Ahaziah had repeatedly involved Judah in Israel’s battles to help Ahab’s family, at Athaliah’s insistence.  Her death and the destruction of the temple of Baal would allow the conflict to end, and because of her murdering her own family, no one questioned the justice of her execution.

“In the seventh year of Jehu Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba.  And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.  

But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.” (II Kings 12:1-3)

Joash was only seven years old when he became king, and would reign forty years.  Jehoiada the priest would serve as regent during his early years, advising and directing him in everything including who he should marry.  II Chronicles 24:3 declares, “And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and daughters.”

As long as Jehoiada was there to guide him Joash served the Lord and Israel largely followed the covenant with God, although the high places were not destroyed, and many  people still practiced the ancient nature worship as well as their worship of God.

“And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the LORD.  And he gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to them, Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that ye hasten the matter.” (II Chronicles 24:4-5a)

“For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD did they bestow upon Baalim.” (II Chronicles 24:7) 

Under Jehoram and Ahaziah, Athaliah and her sons had destroyed the temple and taken the things that had been dedicated to God to the temple of Baal.  Joash(Jehoash) saw the state of the temple and decided to repair and restore it.  He instructed the priests and Levites to collect money throughout the land to use for the repairs, instructing them to get it done as soon as possible.

“And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the LORD, Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found.” (II Kings 12:4-5) 

The Jews regularly brought offerings for special utensils to be used in the temple.  In addition there was a nominal fee of a half shekel every Jewish man was to pay for maintenance of the temple, as described in Exodus 30:12-16.  Joash directed the priests to use all that money for repairing the temple, as well as any voluntary offerings anyone might choose to give.  

“Howbeit the Levites hastened it not.” (II Chronicles 24:5b) 

“But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.  Then king Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and the other priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? now therefore receive no more money of your acquaintance, but deliver it for the breaches of the house.” (II Kings 12:6-7 

And the king called for Jehoiada the chief, and said unto him, Why hast thou not required of the Levites to bring in out of Judah and out of Jerusalem the collection, according to the commandment of Moses the servant of the LORD, and of the congregation of Israel, for the tabernacle of witness?” (II Chronicles 24:6)

“And the priests consented to receive no more money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house.” (II Kings 12:8) 

The Levites did not consider the command to repair the temple urgent.  Twenty three years after Joash became king, the repairs still hadn’t been made, and when he inquired, Joash learned that while the money had been collected, it had not been used for it’s intended purpose, or even put into a special account.  He ordered them to quit collecting the money and to forget about doing the work themselves.  Obviously they weren’t concerned enough about the temple to do the extra work needed.

It is unethical to collect money for one purpose and not use it for that purpose, but over the years I have seen a lot of churches, and missionaries do so.  As king, Joash was in a position to stop it. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Athaliah Usurps The Throne Of Judah

II Kings 11:1-16

“And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.” (II Kings 11:1) 

Jehoshaphat had been devoted to God and led Judah to serve him.  However, he had wanted to maintain a close relationship to the nation of Israel and had become friends with Ahab’s family.  As a result, his son Jehoram married Athaliah, one of Ahab’s daughters and adopted his in-law’s lifestyle.  When Jehoram died, his son Ahaziah became king, following in hs father’s footsteps, and his mother‘s advice.  He was killed by Jehu about a year after he became king, along with forty two of his relatives.

When Athaliah learned that Ahaziah had been killed, she had Ahaziah’s children and the rest of his uncles and cousins killed to eliminate any legitimate claims to the throne and usurped it for herself.

"But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain.  And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years. 

And Athaliah did reign over the land.” (II Kings 11:2-3)

Ahaziah’s sister hid his baby son Joash from his grand mother so he wasn’t killed with the others.  For six years they kept him hidden in the temple with Jehoiada, the priest.  During that time Athaliah reigned over Judah.

“And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the LORD, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the LORD, and showed them the king's son.” (II Kings 11:4)

“And they went about in Judah, and gathered the Levites out of all the cities of Judah, and the chief of the fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem.  And all the congregation made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said unto them, Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the LORD hath said of the sons of David.” (II Chronicles 23:2-3)

Judah had hated the corrupt reigns of both Jehoram and Ahaziah.  Athaliah was just as bad.  After six years with her as queen, Jehoiada called the leaders together and reviewed what God had said about David’s descendants being the rightful kings.  They agreed to restore Joash to his rightful place

“And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you that enter in on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king's house; And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard: so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down.  And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath, even they shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD about the king.” (II Kings 11:5-7)

“But let none come into the house of the LORD, save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites; they shall go in, for they are holy: but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD.  And the Levites shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whosoever else cometh into the house, he shall be put to death: but be ye with the king when he cometh in, and when he goeth out.” (II Chronicles 23:6-7)

“And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand: and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain: and be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he cometh in.” (II Kings 11:8)

Knowing that Athaliah would not willingly give up the throne, even for her grandson, Jehoiada divided up the palace guards into three groups to protect Joash.  One group was to protect the palace itself while another group was stationed at each of the main gates leading to the temple and palace area.

No one but the Levites and priests were to be allowed into the temple, and they were to carry their weapons while performing their duties to help protect the rightful heir to the throne.  Any unauthorized people were to be killed on the spot.

 “So the Levites and all Judah did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest had commanded, and took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that were to go out on the sabbath: for Jehoiada the priest dismissed not the courses.” (II Chronicles 23:8) 

“And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. 

And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give king David's spears and shields, that were in the temple of the LORD.  And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.” (II Kings 11:9-11) 

This was not just a military coup but a wide spread rebellion against Athaliah’s usurping the throne, supported by a majority of the people including the military, the priests and Levites and the common people.  The guard was armed with the ceremonial weapons that David had made, and completely blocked any entrance into the temple.  No one was allowed to leave his place until the coronation was complete to prevent any confusion or possibility of attack.

“And he brought forth the king's son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.” (II Kings 11:12) 

With Joash’s protection assured, Jehoiada proceeded with the coronation,m and to anoint him designating him as the official king.  The observers rejoiced to see him in that position.

“And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the LORD.  And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason.” (II Kings 11:13-14)

When Athaliah realized what had happened, she accused the people of treason, of betraying their government.  Like many rulers since, she overlooked the fact that a real authority comes from the people, and from God,  not from one’s power.  By illegally seizing power and usurping the throne, Athaliah had betrayed the people of Judah.  She was the real traitor.

In the last few months, we have had several whistle blowers who revealed illegal activity by the US government accused of treason.  Those who protect and enable the illegal activities are the real traitors, violating their trust, regardless of their attempts to justify it.

“But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the LORD.

 And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king's house: and there was she slain.” (II Kings 11:15-16)

Jehoiada ordered that she be taken outside the camp and executed along with her supporters.  They refused to stain the temple floor with such a wicked person’s blood, giving her even a semblance of legitimacy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Baal Worship Eliminated

II Kings 10:18-36

“And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.  Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtlety, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal.” (II Kings 10:18-19)

For thirty five years since Ahab became king, Israel had been involved in Baal worship, and it had become a major religion among them.  Jehu announced that he was going to serve Baal in a much greater way than they had ever done before and asked that everyone who worshipped Baal come to the ceremony he was going to have to help make it greater.  It was a way of getting them all together.

“And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it. 

And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another. 

And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments. 

And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only.” (II Kings 10:20-23) 

Jehu had the Ceremonial announced, and all the Baal worshippers came to help publicize their position and make it official, much like the Gay Pride marches in various cities.  Jehu had them dress in their ceremonial garments and then check to make sure there weren’t any of God’s worshippers slipping in among them to spy or disrupt their ceremony.

“And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him. 

And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal.” (II Kings 10:24-25)

While they were offering their sacrifices to Baal, Jehu assigned eighty men guard the exits to prevent anyone from escaping, warning that if any did, the one who permitted it would be killed.  He then sent troops into the temple of Baal, to kill everyone there.  When they were done they carried out the bodies to make sure there were no survivors, and then destroyed the city that the Baal worshippers had built next to the temple.

“And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.  Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.” (II Kings 10:26-28) 

Jehu and his men burned the wooden statues of Baal, and broke the giant stone statue, tearing down the temple and making it a garbage dump.  The worship of Baal was totally eradicated in Israel.

“Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.” (II Kings 10:29)

Jehu hated what Ahab‘s family had done and destroyed the family and the religion they had promoted.  Unfortunately, like most reformers, he only dealt with the most obvious problems.  He continued and promoted Jeroboam’s worship of the golden calves as a traditional Jewish practice, ignoring the fact it was just as wicked as Baal worship.  Just because something has been accepted for a while does not make it right.

Today many are upset about the efforts to legalize homosexual “rights” while insisting on the right of consenting adults to engage in promiscuous sex.  Leviticus 20 makes it clear that both behaviors demanded the death penalty.  One is not better than the other.  What Jehu was doing was very similar.

“And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. 

But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin. 

In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel; From Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan.” (II Kings 10:30-33)

Unlike Asa or Jehoshaphat in Judah, Jehu made no effort to go all the way to eliminate all the sin in Israel.  While God applauded and blessed his efforts to stop Baal worship, the blessings were limited.  Only four generations of Jehu’s descendants would be allowed to reign in Israel,.  In addition, the entire trans-Jordan region was under constant attack by Hazael and they Syrian forces.  Eventually all the land east of the Jordan was lost.

“Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?  And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. 

And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead. 

And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years.” (II Kings 10:34-36)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Judgment On Ahab’s Family

II Kings 10:1-17

“And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab's children, saying, Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour; Look even out the best and meetest of your master's sons, and set him on his father's throne, and fight for your master's house.” (II Kings 10:1-3)

Jehu had been chosen as king by the army, and had killed Ahab’s son Jehoram, as well as Jezebel.  However, Ahab had seventy other sons who could claim the throne.  Since they were from Samaria and Jezreel, their support would probably come from those cities.  Jehu sent a message to the leaders asking that they decide who was to be king and gather their army to fight for the right to be king.

“But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand?  And he that was over the house, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes.” (II Kings 10:4-5) 

Realizing that Jehu had killed both Jehoram, King of Israel and Ahaziah, King of Judah, the leaders of Samaria and Jezreel were afraid to fight him.  Instead they offered to surrender and not make one of them king, accepting whatever he might choose.

“Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master's sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. 

Now the king's sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up.  And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.” (II Kings 10:6-7) 

Ahab’s sons had been raised by the great men of the city in sort of a boarding school to give them the best and most polished education possible.  Jehu said that if they were sincere about their surrender, they were to behead all Ahab’s sons and deliver them within twenty four hours, eliminating any possible future claims.

The leaders obeyed His command, executing all seventy of Ahab’s sons, and gathering their heads in baskets to take them to Jezreel as he commanded.

“And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king's sons. 

And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning. 

And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these?  Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the LORD hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah.

So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining. ” (II Kings 10:8-11)

When the heads were delivered, Jehu had them piled by the gate to the place where he was staying overnight.  The next morning, he displayed them to the people, pointing out that while he had killed Jehoram, he had not killed these other sons of Ahab.  He reminded them of Elijah’s prophecy about Ahab’s family and warned them that God would see that every bit was fulfilled.  In essence, any complaints would have to be against God.   Jehu then killed all of Ahab’s relatives, the leaders that had supported him, and the priests to his false gods.  There was no one left to rebuild Ahab’s philosophy.

“And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria. And as he was at the shearing house in the way, Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? 

And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah; and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen. 

And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them.” (II Kings 10:12-14)

Ahaziah was Ahab’s grandson and Jehoram‘s nephew.  As Jehu was on his way to Samaria, he met a bunch of Ahaziah’s cousins and uncles on their way down to visit Jehoram and his wife and children.  When he found out who they were, he had them taken over to the pit where they bundled the fleeces and executed.  Forty two of Ahaziah’s relatives were killed because of their support of Ahab’s family.

“And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? 

And Jehonadab answered, It is. 

If it be, give me thine hand.

 And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.  And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.” (II Kings 10:15-16) 

Jehonadab the son of Rechab was a man devoted to keeping his heart right with God.  He even went so far as to direct his children to never build houses  or plant vineyards or crops so they would not forget it was God who took care of them.  Jeremiah used his children as an example for Judah and Israel in Jeremiah 35.  Jehu asked him to go along and see how much he wanted to serve God.

“And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which he spake to Elijah.” (II Kings 10:17) 

When he got to Samaria, Jehu destroyed everything there that related to Ahab as well, following God’s prophecy by Elijah.

Because David served God whole heartedly, God would not allow his family to be destroyed.  Because Ahab would not serve God and deliberately disobeyed, God had his entire family destroyed.  While it seems harsh, because they were raised under Ahab’s example, his children would develop much the same attitudes and standards as Ahab and Jezebel.  By killing them those attitudes would not be spread to future generations.  Parents need to consider the effects their attitudes and actions will have on their children and grandchildren.  Jehonadab(Jonadab) set such an example before his children that more than a hundred years later, his descendants were still doing what he taught them.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Jehu Takes The Throne

II Kings 9:16b-37

And Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram.  And there stood a watchman on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied the company of Jehu as he came, and said, I see a company. 

And Joram said, Take an horseman, and send to meet them, and let him say, Is it peace? 

there went one on horseback to meet him, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? 

And Jehu said, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. 

And the watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he cometh not again. 

Then he sent out a second on horseback, which came to them, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? 

And Jehu answered, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. “ (II Kings 9:16b-19)

Jehoram had left the army fighting Hazael in Ramothgilead while he was getting Medical attention in Jezreel.  Ahaziah, king of Judah had gone to Jezreel to check on Jehoram.  They had posted watchers to look for any messengers from Ramothgilead to tell them how the battle was going.

When the watcher saw Jehu’s group coming, Jehoram assumed it was a messenger with news and sent a man on horseback to ask if Hazael had surrendered.  Jehu didn’t answer, just telling the rider to fall in with the group.  He did the same thing with the second messenger.

“And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously. 

And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.” (II Kings 9:20-21)

Really concerned at the rate they were traveling and that the messengers hadn’t come back, Jehoram and Ahaziah went out to meet Jehu.  They met him on land that had belonged to Naboth whom Jezebel had ordered killed in Ahab’s name, back in I Kings 21.

“And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? 

And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many? 

And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.” (II Kings 9:22-23)

When Jehoram got close he asked if there was peace, hoping that Syria had surrendered, but fearing Israel had been forced to.  Jehu asked how their could be peace as long as they continued to allow Jezebel to have her way.

Jehoram  recognized that the army had revolted and turned quickly toward his palace, warning Ahaziah as he went.

“And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot. 

Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the LORD laid this burden upon him; Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith the LORD; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the LORD. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the LORD.” (II Kings 9:24-26)

Jehoram was almost out of range when Jehu shot an arrow.  It struck him in th heart and killed him.  Jehu then had the body thrown out on the land Ahab had stolen by the murder of Naboth, in the same area where Ahab had been killed as God had told them.

“But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.

And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David.  And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.” (II Kings 9:27-29)

Ahaziah was one of Ahab’s grandsons, and God had commanded Jehu to kill all his descendants.  Jehu followed him to Samaria, and later to Gur.  Ahaziah was wounded and fled to Megiddo where he died.  Jehu allowed his servants to take the body to Jerusalem where he was buried because he was also the grandson of Jehoshaphat, who served God, according to II Chronicles 22:9.  “And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.”  In the process, Ahaziah’s hold on the kingdom of Judah was destroyed.

“And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.  And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?

 And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs.

 And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot.” (II Kings 9:30-33)

When Jehu returned to Jezreel, Jezebel had heard about the rebellion.  Fixing herself up in her robes, Jezebel called out from her second story window, reminding Jehu that Zimri had been killed by Omri just seven days after killing Baasha and taking over the kingdom.   He didn’t need to think she was defeated yet.

Like most selfish and domineering people, Jezebel had no concept how much people resented her treatment of them. When Jehu asked who was on his side, some of the slaves looked out.  He asked them to throw her out the window and they didn’t hesitate.  When she landed in the street, Jehu rode his chariot over her and drove off leaving her lying in the street, badly injured.  

“And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king's daughter. 

And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.  Wherefore they came again, and told him.” (II Kings 9:34-36a)

After eating a meal, Jehu remembered that jezebel was daughter to Ethbaal, Phoenician king of  Zidon.  To not bury her properly might well offend the Zidonians.  When they went to bury her, they found that the dogs had eaten or dragged away everything but the skull, her feet, and the palms of her hands.

 “And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel: And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.” (II Kings 9:36b-37)

When he was told what had happened, Jehu reminded them that it was what Elijah had prophesied over twenty years before, that the dogs would eat her so that no one could go back and make a shrine of her tomb.  It would be better she be completely forgotten.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jehu Conspires Against Jehoram

II Kings 9:1-16a

“And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead: And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber; Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not.” (II Kings 9:1-3)

Over twenty years before, God had commanded Elijah to anoint Jehu king over Israel.  For all those years, Jehu had observed the consequences of not serving God and been able to compare it with the results when Asa and Jehoshaphat did serve God.  Finally the time had come for him to step up and take the leadership.

Jehu was in an area of Israel that was controlled by the Syrians.  The army was still there, although Jehoram had gone back to Jezreel.  When the young aspiring prophet anointed Jehu as king, both Hazael, who was the king of that region as a Syrian and Jehoram king of Israel were likely to get upset.  He was to secretly announce the anointing, then get away as quickly as possible, so he didn’t get caught up in the political upheaval.

“So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramothgilead.  And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting; and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain. 

And Jehu said, Unto which of all us? 

And he said, To thee, O captain. 

And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel.  And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel. 

For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel: And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah: And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.” (II Kings 9:4-10)

Convincing Jehu to hear him privately, the young prophet poured the oil on his head, and informed him that God had chosen him to be the next king of Israel.  He was to kill Ahab’s family because Ahab had allowed God’s prophets to be murdered by Jezebel, along with the people that worshipped God.  Both the healthy and those who were disabled were to be executed.  The punishment was the same as what had happened to Jeroboam and to Baasha because of their sin.  What a powerful warning this should have been to Jehu.  Unfortunately, like most people, he would hear only the part about becoming the next king.

Because Jezebel had played such a pivotal role in Ahab’s wickedness, She would not even be buried but would be eaten by the dogs as a sign of God’s displeasure and to prevent people coming back and making a shrine of her tomb.

“Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord: and one said unto him, Is all well? wherefore came this mad fellow to thee?

 And he said unto them, Ye know the man, and his communication. 

And they said, It is false; tell us now.

 And he said, Thus and thus spake he to me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel.” (II Kings 9:11-12) 

Jehu’s initial reaction was to assume his fellow officers were pulling a prank on him.  When they asked him what was said, he accused them of putting him up to it.  Finally they convinced him they weren’t involved and he told them what had been said.

“Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king. 

So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram had kept Ramothgilead, he and all Israel, because of Hazael king of Syria.  But king Joram was returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) 

And Jehu said, If it be your minds, then let none go forth nor escape out of the city to go to tell it in Jezreel.  Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there.” (II Kings 9:13-16a) 

Though they had served under Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram, the army was unhappy with the corruption and wickedness and when Jehu told them God had said he was to be the next king, they celebrated the idea of getting rid of the current administration.

Jehoram had been wounded in the battle with Syria and had returned to the family home in Jezreel medical treatment.  This gave the army time to make preparations to overthrow Jehoram.  Jehu led a contingent of troops to Jezreel to kill Jehoram before he could make a defense.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ahaziah’s Reign In Judah

II Kings 8:22-29

“In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign.  Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.” (II Kings 8:25-26) 

“And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead: for the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp had slain all the eldest. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah reigned.  Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.” (II Chronicles 22:1-2)

When Jehoram or Joram, king of Judah died during the twelfth  year of Jehorm or Joram of Israel’s reign, the people in Jerusalem made his youngest son Jehoahaz, also known as Ahaziah king in his place because all his other sons had been killed during the Arabian invasion.  His mother was Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and granddaughter of Omri.  In Hebrew  the word used refers to any female descendant.  The translators simply translated it exactly, without adding the qualifying ‘grand’.  Unfortunately, in English that can cause confusion.

In Hebrew writing, it is very easy to confuse numbers, and while II Kings says Ahaziah was twenty two when he became king, II Chronicles says he was forty two.  Since we know that his father was thirty two when he became king and reigned eight years, he was only forty when he died and it is impossible for his youngest son to be forty two.  The discrepancy probably arises from a clerical error in copying the records.  It raises no doubt of the validity of the story.

“And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, as did the house of Ahab: for he was the son in law of the house of Ahab.” (II Kings 8:27) 

“He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.  Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the LORD like the house of Ahab: for they were his counsellors after the death of his father to his destruction.” (II Chronicles 22:3-4)

The word translated son -in-law is correctly translated.  Whether a scribe incorrectly substituted it for the word meaning a grandson, or whether he actually married one of his mother’s sisters or half sisters is not known, but considering Ahab and Jezebel’s attitude toward God’s commands either is possible.

Coming to the throne as a very young man, Jehoahaz depended on his mother Athaliah  and his uncle Joram, king of Israel for advice, even adopting their older brother’s name for himself.  His administration was patterned on the of king Ahab as a result.  His father had done the same thing and the people were glad when he died, but Ahaziah did not recognize that it was the cause of his father’s problems.  He would only reign about a year.

“And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramothgilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram.

And king Joram went back to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria.” (II Kings 8:28-29a)

Following Athaliah’s and Jehoram’s advice, Ahaziah went with Jehoram to fight against Hazael, the Syrian king who had taken over Ramothe Gilead.  Jehoram was wounded in the battle and was forced to return to Jezreel to recover, and Ahaziah returned home.

“And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.” (II Kings 29b)

 “And the destruction of Ahaziah was of God by coming to Joram: for when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab.” (II Chronicles 22:7)

 Almost twenty five years before, God had commanded Elijah to annoint Jehu as king over Israel to destroy Ahab’s family.  Although Jehoram was still suffering from his wounds by the Syrians, when Ahaziah came to see him, he enlisted his help in an effort to destroy Jehu.  It was God’s plan to eliminate Ahaziah.

It is interesting that his uncle whose name he took only reigned about two years in Israel, and Ahaziah only reigned in Judah about a year.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

God’s Judgment On Jehoram

II Kings 8:23-24

“And the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” (II Kings 8:23)

While Judah had had kings who did wickedly in worshipping other gods and and ignoring his law, Jehoram was the first to go to such extremes of evil, even murdering his own family.  II Chronicles 21 gives additional details of his reign.

“Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.” (II Chronicles 21:11)

Like many wicked people, Jehoram wasn’t content to do wrong himself.  He actively tried to involve others in his sin.  He rebuilt the high places his father and grandfather had destroyed, encouraging the people to resume the old religions, which a far more promiscuous moral standard.  He caused the people of Jerusalem to get involved in sexual sin, much like our present day American culture.  He even went so far as to force people in other areas into similar sins to satisfy government officials.

“And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father's house, which were better than thyself: Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.” (II Kings 21:12-15)

God was angered by Jehoram’s wickedness and his deliberately getting others involved, and especially since his father and grandfather had taught him better.  He knew how God had blessed them for doing right, and had deliberately chosen the opposite.  While Jehoshaphat had set a bad example in associating himself with Ahab and his family, It was wholly Jehoram’s choice to emulate them.

As a result of his sin, a great plague would kill many of his people, even including his own wives and children.  In addition, he would have a disease, perhaps some kind of an intestinal or colon cancer that finally would result in his intestines falling out.

Here we have also another copying error.  Elijah had been dead for several years by this time and the prophet was Elisha instead.  Just as in English, there is only a very small difference in spelling.  That such errors are so few in repeated copying by hand for about three thousand years is amazing.  God has clearly preserved his word, although not in the way some KJV only believers would have us to believe.

“Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians: And they came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king's house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.” (II Chronicles 21:16-17) 

In addition to the plague, and the disease God promised, the Philistines, from the west, and the Arabs from farther south in the Arab peninsula invades Judah, carrying away most of Jehoram’s wives and sons except his son Jehoahaz and his wife Athaliah, as well as all his belongings that were in his house at the time.  Jehoahaz would be called Ahaziah after his mother's brother, the former king of Israel.

“And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease.  And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.” (II Chronicles 21:18-19)

Elisha’s prophecy about his disease came to pas exactly as described.  Jehoram suffered for about two years before finally succumbing to cancer.  It must have been a horrible period.  When he died, they didn’t even have much of a funeral or mourning period for him.

“Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and departed without being desired. Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the kings.” (II Chronicles 21:20)

After eight years as king, there was so much corruption and wickedness his people were just glad to see him gone.  He was so unpopular they wouldn’t even bury him in the same graveyard as the other kings, although they did allow him to be buried in the same city.

“And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead. (II Kings 8:24)