Monday, May 20, 2013

CL - II Kings 13-14 - Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam II of Israel; Amaziah of Judah

We will continue our study of the kings of Israel and Judah.  In this post we will look at three kings, all of which had an impact on the History of Judah and Israel.  Caution:  The names are going to get even more confusing, as there are different kings who share the same names.  To add yet a little more confusion, the Scripture uses slight variations of spellings for certain names, ie Joash and Jehoash are the same person, but yet there are two of them.  I used the spelling "Joash" for the king of Judah in the last post.  In this post I will use the spelling "Jehoash" for the king of Israel who became king two years before Joash, king of Judah died.  In the next post Azariah and Uzziah are the same man.  {One could think that this is totally unnecessary and should have been simplified, but throughout History, this is not really unusual.  Just a few quick examples:  There have been how many King Henrys in England?  How many Pope Johns?  How many King Phillips of France?  And how many spellings of Phillip?  Philip; Phillipe'; Philipe.  We've had two presidents named John Adams and two named George Bush.  It's easy for us to differentiate because most of us have three names.  The Israelites in Old Testament times had only one name.}

Chapter 13

This chapter opens with the introduction of Jehoahaz, who was the son of Jehu.  Although his father was not what we might call a Godly man, Jehu obeyed God and did much to eliminate idolatry in Israel.  His son Jehoahaz reversed that trend and led the people of Israel away from God.  This angered God and I understand why.  The people of Israel were made to understand that the worship of Baal and other Caananite gods was absolutely wrong.  But yet when Jehu died and they had noone to steer them correctly, they (as though it was instinctive) turned right back to their idolatrous ways.  {Even considering the lengths of time that these transitions took place, I still don't understand what made them so disregarding to the God that loved them and cared for them so much.  But God always said that they were a "stiff-necked" people.  That term was used for stubbornness, as oxen or donkeys were referred to as "stiff-necked", meaning they would not allow the reins to turn their heads in the right direction.  Instead, they stiffened their necks and went the direction they wanted to go.}  God often deals with His people by placing them under the harsh rule of another nation.  When God was angered with these people He allowed Hazael of Syria to oppress Israel.  {Sorry, but another clarification is needed:  In verse 3 it says that Hazael and his son Ben-Hadad led the Syrians in their oppression of Israel.  Here again there are two men with the same name.  Although I am confused that Hazael named his son Ben-Hadad because it was the previous King Ben-hadad that Hazael overthrew violently to take the throne of Syria in Damascus.  This could be especially confusing because the previous king Ben-hadad was very recent in our study.}  Hazael had attacked portions of Israel so often and won all the battles that there was practically nothing left of of what was a huge and mighty military.  All that was left (vs 7) was fifty horseman, ten chariots, and ten thousand foot soldiers.  Remember the numbers in Soloman's military?  The chariots were in the thousands, so many that buildings and stables had to be built in many cities just to house them.  But back in verse 4 something unexpected happens.  Because of such terrible circumstances in Israel, Jehoahaz (the very king that has led his people away from God, and back to idolatry) humbles himself before God and asks for His help.  {God does not ignore the prayers of a humble or a righteous man.}  To honor king Jehoahaz's humility, God provided deliverence from the Syrians, and Israel was allowed to live in peace.  But the Scripture is careful to note that they still did not abandon their idolatrous ways.

Verses 10-->  Jehoahaz reigned seventeen years in Samaria.  He died and his son Jehoash became the king of Israel.  He also did evil in the sight of God.  Although a ruthless and ungodly king, Jehoash was a strong ruler, who believed in the importance of a strong military.  There is not a lot written about Jehoash, but he was blessed during his reign.  Verse 14 mentions Elisha, who at that time was suffering from an illness that would eventually prove fatal for this magnificent prophet.  When king Jehoahaz learned that Elisha was ill, he went to visit him and actually cried over his sick body.  So touched by this was Elisha that he called on the power of God to bless the king with military victories, although Jehoahaz's lack of faith caused his victories to be limited to three, which although these victories did not provide peace, they did prevent Israel from being totally wiped out of existance by Syria.

Check out verse 20-25 - This is the last we'll read of Elisha, one of my favorite Old Testament characters.  Elisha died from that illness and was buried.  In this passage we see that even after his death Elisha was still in the miracle business.  After the death of Elisha, there were some men burying a body in the same burial grounds that Elisha's body was in.  At that moment some Moabite raiders rode up and frightened the burial crew such that they did not finish their job of digging a new grave.  Instead, in their haste, they threw the dead body into Elisha's grave.  When the dead body touched Elisha's body, it came to life.  Elisha's last miracle.

Chapter 14 - Amaziah, King of Judah

While Joash was reigning in Israel, Amaziah ruled in Judah.  He was a good king who did right in the sight of God, but he made a few mistakes in his twenty-five year reign.  The Scripture is always careful to mention that these kings of Judah failed to eliminate the "high places" where incense and sacrifices were burned to honor pagan gods.  In verse 5 and following, his first order of business was to capture all those responsible for killing his father Joash and have them executed.  {These conspirators should have done their homework.  God made a covenant with David that his descendants would always sit on the throne of Judah.  Therefore, killing Joash could not possibly have interrupted the family from ruling in Jerusalem.  This should have told them that justice against them would be served quickly, which it was.}  After he had successfully avenged his father's death, he took on the rebellious Edomites and killed ten thousand of them in the Valley of Salt.  To defeat the imfamous warring Edomites was no small feat.  Amaziah had quickly become known as a king who was a mighty conquerer.  {Some poeple cannot handle fame very well.}  After his decisive victory against the Edomites, he decided he wanted to go to war against Israel.  This was a mistake.  He had no reason to pick a fight with Israel because they were not enemies at this time.  He really wanted to flex his muscles, as was evidenced by the way he challenged Israel.  He actually sent a message to king Jehoash and told him he wanted to go to war with Israel.  Jehoash responded properly, showing a much higher level of maturity than did Amaziah.  To paraphrase Jehoash's response to Amaziah:  "You're feeling arrogant because you defeated the Edomites.  Stay home and enjoy your victory.  Be content with that.  Don't pick a fight you cannot win.  If you do, you will learn a hard lesson."  But Amaziah was too proud to take such advice.  They went to war and the army of Amaziah lost.  Not only did Israel defeat Amaziah's army, they laid seige on Jerusalem and plundered the entire city, including the Temple and its valuable furnishing, utensils, and artifacts.  Additionally, to teach Judah a lesson, king Jehoash took hostages back to Samaria with him as slaves to serve as a reminder to Judah and Israel of the seige on Jerusalem.

This chapter goes on to tell of Jehoash dieing and Jeroboam II replacing him on the throne of Israel.  Jeroboam II was much like his namesake, doing what was evil in the sight of God.  Then the Scripture also tells us that there was a conspiracy among Amaziah's enemies that led to his assassination.  His sixteen-year-old son Azariah succeeded him as king of Judah.  Shortly after that, Jeroboam II of Israel died and his son Zechariah succeeded him as king.
We'll continue our study in II Kings in the next post, which will begin with chapter15.

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