2 Kings 15
Azariah aka Uzziah
He was a mostly good king who entered his time as king in a difficult time. remeber that we just saw his father Amaziah lose a big battle with Jehoash king so Israel. The loss was severe...
And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home. 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. 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.
Azariah certainly has his work cut out for him as a young king. He will need to learn to rely upon the Lord if there is to be any peace, security, or prosperity for Judah again.
notice though it says that he did right in the eyes of the Lord
2 Chronicles 26 really gives the details of his reign as king. When we get there we will find out that Azariah defeated the Philistines and captured some of their cities, that he also didn't allow the Ammonites to rise up and rebel against Judah, but instead they continued to be under Judah. He reigned during the time of Zechariah the prophet. He was known widely as a strong king, and oversaw great building projects and was successful at farming. He also rebuilt the weakened military forces of Judah and added new types of weapons to their armory.
He was a very successful king in the 52 years he reigned over Judah.
But like so many that went before him, he did not remove the high places...
It wasn't all good news for king Azariah. 2 Chronicles seat ails for us the reason for his leprosy...
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. But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the Lord who were men of valor, 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.” 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. 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. And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the Lord. And Jotham his son was over the king’s household, governing the people of the land. Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, from first to last, Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz wrote. And Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the burial field that belonged to the kings, for they said, “He is a leper.” And Jotham his son reigned in his place.
Remeber that Azariah was also known as Uzziah. It was at the end of Azariah/Uzziah’s life that Isaiah began his prophetic ministry and had that wonderful vision in the midst of a time with incredible spiritual decline both in Judah and Israel...
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
It was an important reminder to Isaiah then and is an important reminder to us now to know that no matter who is a king, or president, or Prime Minister or whatever other title is given to world leaders today it was, is, and ever will be our God sitting on the thron above everything and everyone else.
'As we continue through the chapter we will see just how dark things got during the days of Isaiah.
Now back to Israel
Zechariah was an evil king who reigned only 6 months before he was killed and replaced.
Some have pointed out that there may be a time gap of about 11 years between the death of Jeroboam II and the reign of Zechariah. If that is true then they would have had a time of anarchy with a similar minset as it was in the book of Judges with every man doing what was right in his own eyes.
Other translations say that Shallum killed Zechariah in front of the people.
This tells us that Zechariah was incredibly disliked by his subjects if they allowed that to happen.
The death of Zechariah was the end of the dynasty of Jehu.
What a dynasty it was too. Incredible potential for a godly dynasty that became ungodly before Jehu died. His idolatry and disrespect for God was lived out in the lives of his son, grandson, and especially in his great grandson.
Unfortunatly for Israel they would see the next 40 + years until their eventual captivity to Assyria being filled with 6 more wicked idolatrous kings because of their collective hardness of heart against God and His word.
Shallum is the 2nd shortest reign of a king in Israel outside of Zimri who only reigned for 7 days (1 Kings 16)
We being to see the horrible state of things in Israel as the people repeatedly refused to heed the warnings from God as He sent so many of His prophets during these days. Isaiah, Hosea, Jonah, Micah and others were the messengers that God sent during these days, and yet the people would not heed the word that God spoke through them.
Just look at the brutality of Menahem upon Tiphsah...
Pul aka Tiglath-Pileser
Instead of Menahem humbling Himself before God and praying for help, he instead humbles himself before the Assyrian king Pul and pays him for help.
We also see here the first Socialist reign of a king as Menahem decides he needs to tax the rich in the land to give it to Pul to keep himself in power. In doing so he put Israel under subjection to Assyria And now Israel will be paying off Assyria until their eventual captivity.
Don’t feel too bad for the wealthy people that Menahem taxed though. The prophets in those days spoke against the way they gained their wealth...
“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’
Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate.
Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?”
Can I forget any longer the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed? Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales and with a bag of deceitful weights? Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
Menahem thought he was setting himself up to be a feared and respected ruler with the nation of Assyria backing his reign, but all he did was put the nation of Israel into a horrible position as eventual captives of Assyria.
It was at this time in history that the Assyrians became incredibly powerful and began to defeat their enemies and put other nations into subjection under them. Menahem played right into Assyria’s plans.
Neither Zechariah nor Shallum were able to reign well enough to pass on the throne to their sons, but now we have once again a king (Menahem) being succeeded by his son Pekahiah.
But like so many other kings of Israel that were before him we see once again that familiar phrase “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord...”
Unlike his father Pekahiah would neither reign long nor pass on the dynasty to his own son. Instead we see yet another king being assassinated.
He was assassinated by his Captain - Bodyguard
This is Tiglath Pileser III
When the king of Assyria came and captured those Israelite cities it was a warning to Israel to listen to the prophets of God and repent of their idolatry, but the Israelites were so far gone spiritually and so dependent upon and scared of Assyria that they only continued to decline militarily and more importantly spiritually.
Menahem may have been able to pay off the king of Assyria, but times have changed and the Assyrians are no longer willing to accept money, now they want to expand their territory and influence. They did so by taking some of the better pieces of land in Israel to really make a public display of their power.
In fact 1 Chronicles tells us that the Assyrians took the tribes on the other side of the Jordan captive at this point...
So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he took them into exile, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day.
By the way this section of land was not ever restored to Israel. This was a devastating and permanent loss. Sadly this could have been avoided if only the people of God would have acted like people of God and listened to and heeded the word of God.
With what Assyria left of Israel it was now diminished to a land mass just 30 miles wide and 40 miles long.
Now back to Judah
When it says that he built the upper gate of the house of the Lord it may be speaking of the direct access from the king’s house to the Temple itself.
Either way the fact that Jotham was concerned for and building on the Temple shows his concern for the house of the Lord and that is a very welcomed thing to see in Judah knowing how constantly wicked the kings in the northern kingdom of Israel have been.
2 Chronicles tells us this about king Jotham...
So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.
The Lord was sending in the enemy to see how Judah, specifically how the kings of Judah would respond. Would they go the way of Israel with all of its idolatry and sin, or would they cry out to and cling to God and His word. What they did would directly impact what God allowed to happen next...
We will see how this all plays out when we get to his son Ahaz next chapter.
As we close tonight it is important for us to learn the lessons of those who went before us. Will we live as Israelites who ran away from God when things got tough and even when things were going well, or will we have a heart like Jotham and want to have an open path to God…?