What We Can Learn from the Kings of Israel: Part 4

Posted on November 9, 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 3 here. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 1 here.

AMON (642-640 B.C.)

Theme: Often, time simply runs out.

Lesson: Don’t put off repentance.

Key verse: “Furthermore, he [Amon] did not humble himself before the LORD as his father Manasseh had done, but Amon multiplied his guilt” (2 Chronicles 33:23).

Verse to remember: “Behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Track record: Little is said of the vile king who reigned just 2 years, but what is said speaks volumes: “He did evil in the sight of the LORD, just as his father Manasseh had done … but Amon multiplied his guilt” (2 Chronicles 33:22-23). That Amon is linked to his father in the magnitude of his sin is a blaring condemnation of his life. That he continues to add to his sin is almost unimaginable. If Amon has any thoughts of repenting as his father had done, his plans are cut short when his own officials assassinate him.

Application: To Christians who are living out of God’s will, please allow for the rephrasing of the above verse: “Behold, now is the day of repentance” (italics added).

Spiritual epitaph: “Finally, his servants conspired against him and put him to death in his own house” (2 Chronicles 33:24).

JOSIAH (640-609 B.C.)

Theme: Serving God wholeheartedly can save multitudes.

Lesson: When you serve God without compromise, you bring blessing to everyone around you.

Key verse: “For in the eighth year of his reign while he was still a youth, he began to seek the God of his father David” (2 Chronicles 34:3).

Verse to remember: “ ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and put Me to the test now in this,’ says the Lord of armies, ‘if I do not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows’ ” (Malachi 3:10).

Track record: Josiah being the son of Amon is as improbable as Manasseh being the son of Hezekiah. For as wicked as his father and grandfather were, Josiah is exceedingly righteous. The monarch who would reign for 31 years is responsible for tearing down the altars of the Baals; smashing the Asherah poles; purifying and repairing the Temple; finding the Book of the Law, reading it to the people, and making a covenant to observe it; and removing the idols from all the land over which he holds dominion. Josiah also celebrates the Passover, something not done in Israel since the time of Hezekiah. More than anything, however, Josiah, like Hezekiah, brings salvation to the people. After finding the Book of the Law, Josiah sends his officials to consult the prophetess Huldah, who in turn delivers this message: “ ‘This is what the LORD says: “Behold, I am bringing evil on this place and on its inhabitants … [but] Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God … Behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace” (2 Chronicles 34:24, 27-28).

The kingdom of Judah will exist almost 23 years following Josiah’s death, allowing that much time for the nation to repent. Had it not been for righteous Josiah, Judah could well have been judged and sent off to captivity much earlier than she was.

Applications: The Christian should never be dismayed by living an upright life before God but failing to see fruit. For just as sin spreads and destroys, so righteousness permeates and saturates those who seek God. God will use your uprightness to bless others (whether you know it or not).

Spiritual epitaph: “ ‘Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself … I have indeed heard you,’ declares the Lord” (2 Chronicles 34:27).

JEHOAHAZ (609 B.C.), JEHOIAKIM (609-598 B.C.), JEHOIACHIN (598-597 B.C.), and ZEDEKIAH (597-586 B.C.)

Theme: Choosing what is wrong.

Lesson: Sin is not something beyond our capabilities to control, but, ultimately, something we choose to engage in.

Key verses: “But he [Zedekiah] stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel. Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 36:13-14).

Verse to remember: “The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to eliminate the memory of them from the earth” (Psalm 34:16).

Track record: Perhaps no other kings in Israel’s history had the opportunity to do what was right as did these four monarchs whose combined reigns lasted 23 years. Three of them were sons of Josiah, and the fourth (Jehoiachin) was his grandson. However, none of them followed Josiah’s example. The commentary on the second king of the foursome, Jehoiakim, speaks for all of them: “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 36:5). At last God’s patience has run out with His people, and He sends Nebuchadnezzar to carry them into Babylonian captivity. Though they had the shining example of the revered Josiah to emulate, the kings obstinately refused, thus bringing the downfall of their nation.

Application: As Christians, we must not allow sinful pride or desire to turn us away from following the godly examples of the men and women the Lord brings into our lives. We can do no better than strive to live according to how these men and women of God have shown us.

Spiritual epitaph: “But they [Judah] continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against His people, until there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16).

Conclusion
We are struck with a sense of sadness when reading of the sin of Israel (that is, Judah) leading up to the Babylonian captivity. Until the Church Age, no people on Earth had been so blessed as Israel. No other people had the opportunity to commune with God as did the Hebrews. The kings who were granted the privilege of leading this people had the opportunity to shepherd them in the ways of a holy and loving God. Some succeeded gloriously; but most failed miserably.

Today, Christians have a wonderful opportunity to live for the Lord and show the world that there is one God and One Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. May we be faithful in the work our Lord has given us to do.