2 Kings 23:31-4:20
Sadly the reforms and lifestyle of Josiah did not have a long lasting effect upon his own son nor upon the nation he spent his life trying to turn back to God.
We spoke about this last week. What looked like a revival and great awakening in Josiah’s day was just a fad for most. As soon as a new king was on the throne who wanted to return to idolatry and wickedness the majority of the nation walked away from God and turned back to idols.
Pharaoh Neco inserted his power over Judah after killing Josiah in battle. Perhaps in an effort to drive the point home that he was in charge he threw Jehoahaz (aka Shallum) into prison in Riblah. This also made a statement that Neco would and could use Judah as a way to prevent Babylon from getting too close to him and his troops.
Not only did Pharoah Neco imprison Jehoahaz, but he also forced Judah to pay him a hundred talents (about 7,500 pounds or 3.75 tons) of silver and a talent (about 75 pounds) of gold further showing his power over Judah.
Again, all of this could have been avoided if Judah would have repented long before this, but they were a stubborn and hard hearted people who wanted to worship their idols in the sight of God, thus provoking Him to anger.
I might remind you, that the US is not too unlike Israel or Judah...
So after throwing Jehoahaz in prison and imposing the tribute (tax or fine) on Judah, Pharoah Neco then made Eliakim Josiah’s other son king in his place and gave him a new name Jehoiakim.
Eliakim = God raises, God sets up
Jehoiakim = Jehovah raises up
Then Pharoah Neco took Jehoahaz from the prison and took him to Egypt where Jehoahaz died.
Jehoiakim either did not have all the silver and gold to give to Pharoah Neco or he did not want to give all that he had so he taxed the people of Judah in order to pay the amount demanded by Neco.
At this point Judah has no real king nor any real power as an independent sovereign nation. Jehoiakim works for Neco and he will do whatever Neco says in order to remain in his position as king over Judah even though his position has lost all of its power and authority since he is really just acting like a governor over a state under the authority of Pharoah Neco.
Now as Jehoiakim was busy taxing the people to pay Pharoah Neco he was also spending money on a new house for himself. Jeremiah the Prophet was sent with a message from God about this...
11 For thus says the Lord concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, and who went away from this place: “He shall return here no more, 12 but in the place where they have carried him captive, there shall he die, and he shall never see this land again.” 13 “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages, 14 who says, ‘I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms,’ who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion. 15 Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. 16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? declares the Lord. 17 But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.” 18 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “They shall not lament for him, saying, ‘Ah, my brother!’ or ‘Ah, sister!’ They shall not lament for him, saying, ‘Ah, lord!’ or ‘Ah, his majesty!’ 19 With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried, dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”
Jehoiakim was so wicked that in Jeremiah 26 it is recorded that he killed a prophet named Urijah that God sent to deliver a word to Jehoiakim. Urijah the Prophet fled to Egypt and Jehoiakim was so wicked that he sent men to Egypt to bring him back to Judah so that he could kill him with a sword. Later in Jeremiah 36 we see king Jehoiakim burning a letter that God had Jeremiah write down for king Jehoiakim. The text says that he would read a section then toss it in the fire because he didn’t care what God had to say about his wickedness.
So when it says he did evil in the sight of the Lord it is no small thing.
The sellout king Jehoiakim has gone from being the servant of Pharoah Neco to being the servant of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar recognized the strategic location of Judah in his pursuit to conquer the Assyrians and Egyptians, so he comes to Judah to conquer it and put Jehoiakim under his control.
In these days Babylon was growing as a superpower while the Assyrians were decreasing in there role as one even with their alliance with Egypt.
History tells us that Nebuchadnezzar came against Judah in part to take Judah away from Egypt’s control as revenge for Egypt invading Babylon before Babylon had grown in power. At this time Nebuchadnezzar was just a prince and not yet king. He went to Carchemish and defeated the Egyptians then chased the Egyptians to Sinai. It was during that time that Nebuchadnezzar came to Judah to take it from Egyptian control.
This puts us right around 605 BC. Nebuchadnezzar will end up coming again to subdue Jehoiakim in 597 then agin in 587 BC after he rebelled against Babylon.
All of this was recorded by the Babylonians and archeologists have found evidence of these events as well. In fact archeological discoveries show a layer of ash that shows when the Babylonians burned down Carchemish in the late spring early summer of 605 BC. They also found lots of arrowheads, as well as a shield from the battle.
It was in the middle of this that Nebuchadnezzar’s dad died and he rushed back to Babylon to take the throne.
Now to give you some context of the timing, it would be during Nebuchadnezzar’s rush back home that the events of Daniel 1 took place...
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.
It was after Nebuchadnezzar took captives with him on his way back to Babylon that Jehoiakim rebelled against him…But only until the Babylonians returned...
The Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites were all loyal to the powerful Babylonian empire and they by the will of God came against Judah repeatedly.
God had already spoken through the prophets that God had sent to Judah that this would happen. Instead of repenting and submitting to what God had said, Jehoiakim and the nation of Judah fought against not only the Babylonians but more importantly against God Himself.
I’m sure the inhabitants of Judah thought that God would fight for their independence against Babylon, but He would not because they had fought so hard to be independent against God.
Jehoiachin is also called Jeconiah and Coniah elsewhere in Scripture particularly by Jeremiah.
Jeremiah tells the fate of this wicked king as well..
24 “As I live, declares the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, yet I would tear you off 25 and give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born, and there you shall die. 27 But to the land to which they will long to return, there they shall not return.” 28 Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot, a vessel no one cares for? Why are he and his children hurled and cast into a land that they do not know? 29 O land, land, land, hear the word of the Lord! 30 Thus says the Lord: “Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days, for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah.”
Just as Jeremiah prophesied.
Remember that Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and he was certainly not happy about that and had to make a display of Judah because of that.
So now Jehoiachin surrenders to Nebuchadnezzar to appease the anger that his father had caused.
This is attack #2. Ten years later there will be the 3rd and final attack by Babylon where they will complete the task of putting Judah to an end.
Now there is a very interesting thing that is missing from the list here. In fact 1 very important item seem to be missing from the list of things taken to Babylon.
Tradition says that Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant to keep it safe from the Babylonians.
There have been a few places that people claim still today to be the actual place with some people claiming to have found it. Unfortunately nobody has been able to prove the location of the Ark.
Others have discounted this by saying that since Nebuchadnezzar cut into pieces all the items of gold that the Ark of the Covenant was part of what was carried off.
Like the Assyrians, the Babylonians took captive the people of wealth and influence and only left the poor and non influential in the land.
One of the influential people that was taken captive at this time was Ezekiel the prophet who penned the book of Ezekiel while in captivity in Babylon.
Mattaniah was the brother of Jehoiakim.
Mattaniah reigned from 597-587 BC. By the time he takes the throne Judah’s land mass had been severely diminished with all the cities of the Negeb taken away according to Jeremiah 13.
It was during this time that the false prophets really had an impact upon Judah and there was a constant struggle between Jeremiah and these false prophets. (Jeremiah 28-29)
Mattaniah = “gift of Jehovah”
Zedekiah = “Jehovah is righteous”
God’s righteous judgment upon Judah was taking place in these days.
12 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14 All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem.
Jeremiah warned Zedekiah not to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar but the false prophets told the king that he would be victorious and he believed them instead of Jeremiah the prophet that God had sent Judah...
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah. 3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him, saying, “Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall capture it; 4 Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye. 5 And he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I visit him, declares the Lord. Though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed’?”
The king did not want to hear the word of God from the prophet of God. This had been a problem in Judah for a very long time and that is why they are rightfully receiving the judgement of God.
How important for us to be both obedient to the word of God as well as a willing messengers of God’s word today as we see so many in our nation including many within high positions in government, media, and finance rejecting the word of God.