Last Three Kings, Exile and Prelude to Ezra

2 Chronicles 33:1–20 – Manasseh
2 Chronicles 33:21–25 – Amon
2 Chronicles 34:1–36:1 – Josiah
2 Chronicles 36:2–14 – Josiah’s Successors
2 Chronicles 36:15–23 – Exile And Restoration

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One Reply to “Last Three Kings, Exile and Prelude to Ezra”

  1. Manasseh.  Not good. “He sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists” (2 Chronicles 33:6). Manasseh paid no attention to warnings, so God allowed him to be taken captive to Babylon. There, in despair, he prayed to the Lord and “the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea” (33:13). Manasseh cleaned house, restored proper fellowship offerings, but the people continue to sacrifice at the high places instead of Jerusalem, but at least these were presented to the Lord (33:17).

    Amon’s 2-year reign ended in assassination, short-lived and evil. “Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord; Amon increased his guilt” (33:22-23).

    Josiah.  One of my favorite stories of this era, Josiah does what is right in the eyes of the Lord and does his best to redirect the Israelites to the proper ways. During the restoration, Hilkiah found The Book of the Law and reports this to Josiah. “When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes” (34:19), he knew that he knew. In reading through “Reasonable Faith,” one of the principles Dr Craig offers is the concept of the Holy Spirit seeking His people; for those who are listening, they will hear his voice. Likewise, those who simply will not listen will be lost. Josiah hears the words, really hears the voice of God. He wants to know what God would have him do, so he sends Hilkiah the priest to find a prophet for direction. He finds Huldah (interestingly a woman) and she provides the answer, God is not pleased with Israel, but “because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God…I have heard you…your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live there” (34:27-28).

    Josiah, in response, gathers “all the people from the least to the greatest” (34:30) and has the Book of the Law read to everyone and has them pledge themselves to it. Josiah removed the idols and burned them. Next, he prepares for a Passover celebration like no other–he honors the Lord with all his might.

    The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 35:18

    This is a remarkable statement…”none of the kings” would include Solomon who was famous for his lavish celebrations. Josiah’s response to finding the Book of the Law is over-the-top and ever so appropriate. May we get 1% as excited as this! (ok…more than 1%, but you get the point!)

    Josiah’s death in battle is a result of his disobedience.  Necho, king of Egypt, is attacking a neighbor when Josiah marches out to meet him in battle. Necho tells Josiah he is not attacking Judah, but Josiah “disguised himself to engage him in battle” (35:22). There’s no explanation as to why Josiah did this, but the result is clear: he was shot by archers and died. Sad end to an otherwise excellent king.

    As 2 Chronicles ends, we rip through king after king:

    • Jehoahaz (Shallum, his personal name, reminds me of Gallum)
      • reigned for 3 months
      • carried off to Egypt by Necho.
    • Jehoiakim
      • reigned 11 years, did evil in the eyes of the Lord (36:5)
      • Nebuchadnezzar took him to Babylon
    • Jehoiachin
      • reigned 3 months and ten days, did evil in the eyes of the Lord (36:9)
      • Nebuchadnezzar took him to Babylon
    • Zedekiah
      • reigned 11 years, did evil in the eyes of the Lord (36:12)
      • rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar

    Sadly, “all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord” (36:14). Nebuchadnezzar carried a remnant off to Babylon, but killed many men and women in the process. “They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem” (36:19). 

    Chronicles ends with the hope of rebuilding the temple, potential restoration, with reference to the work of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. This is near the historical end of the Old Testament, both kingdoms in exile. The Northern Kingdom is erased, the Southern Kingdom (Judah) survives through the exile and eventual return.

    The remnant remained faithful. Perhaps only a small percentage, but there were some who remained faithful as we read in Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Daniel in particular. My hope is that we would not be carried off to a modern Babylon by worshiping idols of our time, that we would hear the message proclaimed and turn from our ways to serve the Lord with all our heart. The book I read yesterday (my Sabbath Sunday) entreats us to forgive others completely, to simply not allow ourselves to be offended by the actions of others. I didn’t like the story of “Water Walker” (Ted Dekker), but the central theme of forgiveness is critical. As C.S. Lewis said in his short narrative, The Weight of Glory, “We have never talked to mere mortals,” everyone of us is an eternal being. Keeping this perspective is difficult when we linger on bills and daily responsibilities. God gives us the history of Israel to help us with our perspective, to read brief stories of many years, of victory and despair. We must learn from these and choose his way for our lives. Lord, keep my thoughts on heavenly rewards as I seek to be useful here on earth.

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