Then the common people took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and made him king in Jerusalem in place of his father.
Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. The king of Egypt deposed him in Jerusalem and fined the land seventy-five hundred pounds of silver and seventy-five pounds of gold.
Then King Neco of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took his brother Jehoahaz and brought him to Egypt.
Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. Now King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked him and bound him in bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. Also Nebuchadnezzar took some of the articles of the Lord’s temple to Babylon and put them in his temple in Babylon.
The rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim, the detestable actions he committed, and what was found against him, are written in the Book of Israel’s Kings. His son Jehoiachin became king in his place.
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. In the spring Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and brought him to Babylon along with the valuable articles of the Lord’s temple. Then he made Jehoiachin’s brother Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah at the Lord’s command. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear allegiance by God. He became obstinate and hardened his heart against returning to the Lord, the God of Israel. All the leaders of the priests and the people multiplied their unfaithful deeds, imitating all the detestable practices of the nations, and they defiled the Lord’s temple that he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 36:1-14
After the death of Josiah, the four remaining kings of Judah became essentially vassal kings in the battle between Egypt and Babylon. They were replaced at the whim of the kings of these two competing empires. Each king’s rebellion toward God manifested itself in the way they tried to play Egypt and Babylon against each other. Their lack of faithfulness to their earthly rulers further symbolized their lack of devotion to God. The people followed suit and continued to harden their hearts toward God, instead of coming to Him in repentance. In the end, they suffered the consequences of their duplicity in a disastrous way.
In times when earthly rulers are in disagreement with the ways of God, it is appropriate to question and challenge unjust authority, such as the times when Old Testament prophets would chastise kings for their disobedience to God. Many times, though, our heart toward earthly authority is an outward manifestation of our attitude toward God’s authority. We need to keep our hearts soft to God and the work of His spirit in order to navigate the challenges of living in times of turmoil. It’s only when we have softened our hearts to the Holy Spirit that we can rightly discern God’s will in how we relate to the earthly authorities we encounter.
- In what ways do you need to let God’s Spirit soften your heart?