What We Can Learn from the Kings of Israel: Part 3

Posted on November 8, 2021

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By David Ettinger

Note: This is a 4-part series I originally wrote (as one long article) for the magazine Zion’s Fire back in 1998. I have made some slight updates. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 1 here.

JOTHAM (750-745 B.C., co-regency with Ahaz 744-735 B.C.)

Theme: Let others see God through your life.

Lesson: Don’t hide your light (i.e.) faith, under a bushel.

Key verse: “He did what was right in the sight of the LORD But the people continued acting corruptly” (2 Chronicles 27:2).

Verse to remember: “Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Track record: According to the short account of Jotham’s 16-year reign, the king did just about everything right politically and administratively. He did extensive rebuilding on the Temple walls and built towns, forts, and towers. Militarily, he defeated the Ammonites in battle: “So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 27:6). Despite all this, in 16 years he was unable to bring positive spiritual change to his people.

Application: There are many Christians today who lead “good” and “right” lives, yet very few people actually know they are Christians. It is imperative in this dark world that we back our good actions with verbal testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual epitaph: “So Jotham became powerful because he directed his ways before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 27:6).  

AHAZ (732-715 B.C., co-regency with Hezekiah 729-715)

Theme: The destructive power of sin.

Lesson: Wickedness against God can have tragic effects on those around us.

Key verse: “Ahaz … did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord, like David his father: For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim” (2 Chronicles 28:1-2).

Verse to remember: “… sin is lurking at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7).

Track record: For 16 years Ahaz is the epitome of evil. Among his many crimes, Ahaz not only sacrifices to idols, he also offers up his son as a human sacrifice – the height of pagan abominations. As a result, Ahaz, is handed over to the Syrians, and many of his subjects are taken captive to Damascus. Despite this, Ahaz does not repent. As he continues to sin, his people continue to suffer. In one day, 120,000 of his soldiers are slaughtered by Pekah, king of the Northern Kingdom. Following the carnage, Pekah gathers 200,000 people from Judah and is intent on enslaving them before a prophet of God steps in and stops him. Despite the intervention and his own inability to lead and protect his people, Ahaz still refuses to repent. Eventually, Ahaz aligns himself with Assyria and begins to worship their gods. He also profanes the Temple of the Lord by bringing in pagan altars and removes the altars of God, provoking the Lord to anger. Ahaz’s unabashed sin nearly destroys his people, and he does nothing to stop it.

For Christians, Ahaz is hardly an example to learn from, but one principle can be salvaged from this wicked monarch’s reign: Sin’s influence on those around us can be destructive. Ahaz’s sin spread like cancer to his people.

Application: When Christians sin, often this sin can have terrible effects on our families, those we fellowship with, and those we work with. Sometimes it takes hard work to curb the sin in our lives, but it is a work well worth doing.

Spiritual epitaph: “Now during the time of his distress, this same King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD” (2 Chronicles 28:22).

HEZEKIAH (715-686 B.C., co-regency with Manasseh 697-686 B.C.)

Theme: Letting God work through you.

Lesson: God will use you mightily if you are obedient to His will and Word.

Key verse: “Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in the Law and in the commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:21).

Verse to remember: “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Track record: Hezekiah’s track record is just as impressive as his father Ahaz’s is ignominious. Hezekiah repairs the damage caused to the Temple by his father; inspires his people to seek and serve the Lord; leads a national celebration of the Passover, something that hasn’t been done in generations; and brings peace – for a time – to his people. Despite this, Israel is attacked by the fierce Assyrian army which has just defeated the Northern Kingdom and carried it off to captivity. Assyria wants to do the same to the Southern Kingdom. However, unlike so many kings before him, Hezekiah does not panic when his country is under siege by making a treaty with a pagan nation. Instead, Hezekiah humbly seeks the Lord: “But now, LORD our God, please, save us from his [Assyria’s] hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, LORD, are God” (2 Kings 19:19).

Hezekiah’s prayer is amazing. When most Christians pray out of distress, we seek only our own deliverance. However, Hezekiah seeks deliverance because it will glorify God. Even in the direst circumstance of his life, Hezekiah seeks God’s glory first. God responds mightily by slaying 185,000 Assyrian troops that very night.

Just as Ahaz’s sin nearly enslaved his people, so Hezekiah’s righteousness redeems his.

Application: For the Christian, seeking God’s glory should always come first, even in our most distressing times. What blessing can be ours if, like Hezekiah, we would only seek the Lord in all we do and let Him accomplish His will through us.

Spiritual epitaph: “So Hezekiah lay down with his fathers, and they buried him in the upper section of the tombs of the sons of David; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem honored him at his death” (2 Chronicles 32:33).   

MANASSEH (697-642 B.C.)

Theme: It is never too late to get right before God.

Lesson: Don’t wait until you’ve destroyed yourself and everything around you before putting away your sin.

Key verse: “When he was in distress, he appeased the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (2 Chronicles 33:12).

Verse to remember: “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

Track record: It is hard to believe that someone as righteous as Hezekiah could produce a son as evil as Manasseh. The wicked monarch reigned longer than any king in Israel’s history – 55 years. Among his many transgressions is blatant idol worship and practicing pagan ritual: “He also made his sons pass through the fire in the Valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger” (2 Chronicles 33:6). When God’s patience runs out, He sends the Assyrians to punish Jerusalem. They put a hook in Manasseh’s nose and bind him in bronze shackles and carry off to prison in Babylon (33:11).

Sometime during his incarceration in his dank and dreary cell Manasseh comes to his senses and calls upon the Lord, “He [God] was moved by him and heard his pleading, and brought him back to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord alone is God” (33:13).

Manasseh exhibits his conversion by instituting repairs to the city walls and ridding the city of pagan deities. However, the damage done to the people is too great to repair, for Manasseh’s sins are recalled years later during the righteous reign of his grandson Josiah: “Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him” (2 Kings 23:26).

Application: Christians too often take liberties with the grace of God. That He will forgive our sins when we repent is no excuse to sin whenever temptation strikes us. Though Manasseh came to know the Lord, the king in his wickedness corrupted an entire nation. As Christians, let us deal with our sin as soon as possible and spare those around us of the consequences.

Spiritual epitaph: “So Manasseh encouraged Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the sons of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:9).

UP NEXT: PART 4