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A King Like No Others

 

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A King Like No Others

 

Frequently, weíve explored the character of one of the most well-known figures in the Bible, King David of ancient Israel. We have seen, throughout the scriptures, both his strengths and his weaknesses. We have studied both his physical and spiritual qualifications to become the ancient and the soon-to-be future leader over Godís chosen people.

 

The Measure of Greatness

Today we need to consider greatness. How does one measure greatness? Is it measured best by size of territory or number of people in the kingdom or amount of wealth? Those might be some of the ways some people would measure greatness but is that the way God measures greatness?

In the Old Testament, who is stated as being the greatest? In Job 1:1, when can see the mention of Job and his great possessions.

(Job 1:1-3 NASB) There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. {2} And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. {3} His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

After his time of trial and testing, at the end of the book of Job, we can see that his latter measure was deemed by God as being even greater than before.

(Job 42:12-17 NASB) And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning, and he had 14,000 sheep, and 6,000 camels, and 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. {13} And he had seven sons and three daughters. {14} And he named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. {15} And in all the land no women were found so fair as Job's daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. {16} And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his grandsons, four generations. {17} And Job died, an old man and full of days.

Certainly, Job was among the greatest of all time but there were other people of outstanding greatness mention by God in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 14:13, we can see Job mentioned among others measured as great by Godís standards of righteousness.

(Ezek 14:13-14 NASB) "Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it, and cut off from it both man and beast, {14} even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves," declares the Lord GOD.

Letís see the ultimate level of greatness mentioned by Christ in Matthew 11:11.

(Mat 11:11 NASB) "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

So, even through Christ categorically stated that John the Baptist was the greatest man ever born, Jesus went on to say those who enter the kingdom of heaven are even greater than John. Did Christ tell us the qualifications of those who would be able to enter the kingdom of heaven? In Matthew 7:21, weíll find the answer.

(Mat 7:21 NASB) "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

Read that again. "He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" are the ones who shall enter the kingdom of heaven.

In Matthew 19:17, Christ was asked directly what was required for eternal life.

(Mat 19:17 NASB) And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."

Again, in Matthew 22:36, Christ was directly asked which of those commandments of God was the greatest.

(Mat 22:36-38 NASB) "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" {37} And He said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' {38} "This is the great and foremost commandment.

Now, doesnít it stand to reason that greatness would be defined by the great and foremost commandment? Remember, in 1 Sam 16:7, what Samuel said when he came to the sons of Jesse to anoint the new king over Israel in the place of Saul.

(1 Sam 16:7 NASB) But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

 

The question to consider today is, "who do you think was truly the greatest king to ever rule Godís chosen people?" If we were playing Jeopardy or some other television game show where speed is of the essence, you might think to yourself, "Oh, thatís easy. It was King David." Buzzzzzz. Youíre wrong. Itís true that David was one of the greatest kings in the history of Israel. Itís also true that David was called "a man after Godís own heart and the one to whom God made promises regarding the rulership of his posterity over Israel forever. David, however, is not the one mentioned in scripture as "no king like him."

 

The Kings of the United Kingdom of Israel

Well, if it wasnít King David then it must have been his son, King Solomon. Buzzzzz. Youíre wrong againÖ mostly. It is true that there is one instance in scripture of the phrase "no king like him" being used in regard to Solomon. In Nehemiah 13:23, we can see the phrase was used by Nehemiah to describe the greatness of Solomon at the time but it is followed by the mention of the source of his downfall.

(Neh 13:23-26 NASB) In those days I also saw that the Jews had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. {24} As for their children, half spoke in the language of Ashdod, and none of them was able to speak the language of Judah, but the language of his own people. {25} So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, "You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take of their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. {26} "Did not Solomon king of Israel sin regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin.

Itís plain to see from the statement we just read, the comparison was made between Solomon and the other kings of many nations. It was not comparing Solomonís greatness with the greatness of any of the other kings of Israel. There are many instances in scripture where God holds things against Solomon, despite all the riches and success God showered upon Solomon. God condemned him for his many foreign wives who took his heart away from serving the one true God of Israel. In addition, God forbid kings of Israel from multiplying horses to themselves and Solomon certainly disobeyed that command.

Well, if it wasnít David or Solomon, we certainly know it wasnít King Saul, the first king of Israel, since God took his holy spirit away from Saul due to his disobedience. So, that narrows down our search just a bit.

There were only three kings who ruled the united Kingdom of Israel. It was shortly after the coronation of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, that the northern ten tribes seceded and formed their own Kingdom of Israel headed by Jeroboam. The southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin and, ultimately, Levi, formed the Kingdom of Judah and remained under the rule of Rehoboam. Letís have a quick history lesson reviewing the quality of the northern kings of Israel from the time of the division of the kingdom. Weíll call our session today, "History of the Kingdom of Israel 101." Our textbooks for today will be the books of Kings and Chronicles.

 

The Kings of Northern Israel

Letís begin in 1 Kings 13:33, where we can read Godís summation of Jeroboamís rule over his people.

(1 Ki 13:33-34 NASB) After this event Jeroboam did not return from his evil way, but again he made priests of the high places from among all the people; any who would, he ordained, to be priests of the high places. {34} And this event became sin to the house of Jeroboam, even to blot it out and destroy it from off the face of the earth.

After the reign of Jeroboam, there were three kings who ruled over Israel but they all did evil in the sight of God by perpetuating the sins of Jeroboam and misleading the people of Israel through idolatry.

In 1 Kings 16:15, we read there was more evil to come, however, in the form of the next king of Israel, Omri.

(1 Ki 16:15-19 NASB) In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days at Tirzah. Now the people were camped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. {16} And the people who were camped heard it said, "Zimri has conspired and has also struck down the king." Therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. {17} Then Omri and all Israel with him went up from Gibbethon, and they besieged Tirzah. {18} And it came about, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the citadel of the king's house and burned the king's house over him with fire, and died, {19} because of his sins which he sinned, doing evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, making Israel sin.

In verse 25, we find that Omri was even worse than the ones he replaced.

(1 Ki 16:25-26 NASB) And Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, and acted more wickedly than all who were before him. {26} For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat and in his sins which he made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel with their idols.

The next in line after Omri was his son, Ahab. Was Ahab finally a righteous king to rule Godís people? Continue the story in verse 28.

(1 Ki 16:28-33 NASB) So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria; and Ahab his son became king in his place. {29} Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. {30} And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him. {31} And it came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. {32} So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. {33} And Ahab also made the Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

Rather than being the righteous king the nation of Israel needed and the righteous king that God yearned to lead his people, Ahab was worse than all the bad kings of Israel who ruled before him.

What about Ahabís son? Certainly, he should have learned from his fatherís and his motherís mistakes and evil deeds. If you saw all the evil come upon your country because of your parentsí misguided rule, wouldnít you have repented and changed your behavior to be in line with Godís desires? Continue with the story of the rule of Ahabís son at the end of the book of 1 Kings in chapter 22 and verse 51.

(1 Ki 22:51-53 NASB) Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel. {52} And he did evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. {53} So he served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger according to all that his father had done.

So, Ahaziah didnít improve from the evil deeds of his father and mother. Incredible as it might seem, Ahaziah didnít learn from his parentsí mistakes but he continued in their sinful ways. In 2 Kings 1:17, we can read of his death.

(2 Ki 1:17 NASB) So Ahaziah died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And because he had no son, Jehoram became king in his place in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.

Pay close attention because now there was a Jehoram, king of Israel, at the same time as there was a Jehoram, king of Judah. It can be quite confusing to try to keep them separate. In 2 Kings 3:1, we read that, even though Jehoram finally improved a bit over the sins of his father and mother, Ahab and Jezebel, he still persisted in maintaining the way of life that proceeded from the original sins of Jeroboam, the first king of the northern nation of Israel.

(2 Ki 3:1-3 NASB) Now Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel at Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. {2} And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, though not like his father and his mother; for he put away the sacred pillar of Baal which his father had made. {3} Nevertheless, he clung to the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin; he did not depart from them.

In chapter nine of Second Kings, after all of these evil leaders ruling over his people Israel, God finally took matters into his own hands by choosing an agent to carry out his will in wreaking vengeance upon the evil in Israel.

(2 Ki 9:1-9 NASB) Now Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, "Gird up your loins, and take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. {2} "When you arrive there, search out Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in and bid him arise from among his brothers, and bring him to an inner room. {3} "Then take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say, 'Thus says the LORD, "I have anointed you king over Israel."' Then open the door and flee and do not wait." {4} So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. {5} When he came, behold, the captains of the army were sitting, and he said, "I have a word for you, O captain." And Jehu said, "For which one of us?" And he said, "For you, O captain." {6} And he arose and went into the house, and he poured the oil on his head and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'I have anointed you king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel. {7} 'And you shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel. {8} 'For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male person both bond and free in Israel. {9} 'And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah.

In verse 22, we can see how Jehu executed the vengeance of God.

(2 Ki 9:22-24 NASB) And it came about, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, "Is it peace, Jehu?" And he answered, "What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?" {23} So Joram reined about and fled and said to Ahaziah, "There is treachery, O Ahaziah!" {24} And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength and shot Joram between his arms; and the arrow went through his heart, and he sank in his chariot.

Was Jehu, at last, the righteous king that Israel needed and God wanted? Weíll find out in verse 30 of the next chapter.

(2 Ki 10:30-31 NASB) And the LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in executing what is right in My eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." {31} But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel sin.

Yes, Jehu was more righteous than all the kings of Israel before him but we can see that he was not the king of righteousness God desired because he did not fully implement all of Godís will by turning his people away from the original idolatrous sins of Jeroboam. Nonetheless, because he did execute Godís vengeance in destroying the house of Ahab, God rewarded him with a long reign for his family through the time of Jehuís great grandson.

If we were to continue reading chapters 14, 15, and 16, we would find there were eight more kings to rule Israel but each did evil in the sight of God by following in the sins of Jeroboam. In 2 Kings 17, we can read of Hoshea, the final king over the nation of Israel.

(2 Ki 17:1-2 NASB) In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned nine years. {2} And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, only not as the kings of Israel who were before him.

Continue in verse six.

(2 Ki 17:6-18 NASB) In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. {7} Now this came about, because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods {8} and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. {9} And the sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right, against the LORD their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. {10} And they set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, {11} and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the LORD had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the LORD. {12} And they served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this thing." {13} Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah, through all His prophets and every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets." {14} However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. {15} And they rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them [that is a very important key to the downfall of Judah as well, which weíll discover shortly]. {16} And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. {17} Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. {18} So the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.

 

So, we have seen that of all the kings who reigned over the northern kingdom of Israel for hundreds of years, there was not one king whom God deemed to be righteous and pleasing in his sight. There were one or two, like Jehu or Hoshea who were less evil or who were used by God to wreak vengeance upon more evil leaders in Israel but there was not one king whom God said was righteous.

 

The Kings of Judah

If that was the case with the northern kingdom of Israel, was the quality of leadership any better in the southern Kingdom of Judah? How did God view Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. after the split of the united Kingdom of Israel? Letís go back to the book of 1 Kings.

(1 Ki 14:21-24 NASB) Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. And his mother's name was Naamah the Ammonitess. {22} And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy more than all that their fathers had done, with the sins which they committed. {23} For they also built for themselves high places and sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. {24} And there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel.

Well, if Rehoboam was evil, what about his son?

(1 Ki 15:1-3 NASB) Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. {2} He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. {3} And he walked in all the sins of his father which he had committed before him; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, like the heart of his father David.

After the short three-year reign of Abijam, the next king to rule Judah was Asa. Was he any more righteous? Continue in verse nine.

(1 Ki 15:9-15 NASB) So in the twentieth year of Jeroboam the king of Israel, Asa began to reign as king of Judah. {10} And he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. {11} And Asa did what was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father. {12} He also put away the male cult prostitutes from the land, and removed all the idols which his fathers had made. {13} And he also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah; and Asa cut down her horrid image and burned it at the brook Kidron. {14} But the high places were not taken away; nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the LORD all his days. {15} And he brought into the house of the LORD the dedicated things of his father and his own dedicated things: silver and gold and utensils.

 

At last, a righteous king that "did what was right in the sight of the Lord." Notice, however, who was the root of the evil pagan religion in Judah. It was Maacah, who was the mother of both King Abijam and King Asa. Just think for a moment how difficult it must have been for King Asa to banish his own mother. What a trial! Put yourself in Asaís shoes. Would you have been able to banish your own mother for doing evil?

Now, letís see in 1 Kings 22:41 if the next king improved upon the dedication of his father, Asa.

(1 Ki 22:41-43 NASB) Now Jehoshaphat the son of Asa became king over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. {42} Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. {43} And he walked in all the way of Asa his father; he did not turn aside from it, doing right in the sight of the LORD. However, the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense on the high places.

In 2 Kings 8:16, letís see if the dedication to God continued for a third generation.

(2 Ki 8:16-19 NASB) Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then the king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah became king. {17} He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. {18} And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab became his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. {19} However, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David His servant, since He had promised him to give a lamp to him through his sons always.

Look at that! There is another example of a pagan womanís power. As Maacah from Moab, the queen mother was largely the cause of perpetuating evil in Judah in the days of Rehoboam, Abijam, and Asa, so was another pagan woman just two generations later. The King of Judah had married the daughter of Ahab, the most evil king of all in the northern Kingdom of Israel.

Remember what we read earlier in 1 Kings 16:30 about Ahab, when we were reviewing the kings of Israel.

(1 Ki 16:30-31 NASB) And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him. {31} And it came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him.

Now we can begin to see the relationships and how the evil spread from the pagan nations through marriage to Israel and then through marriage again to Judah. This was not a new occurrence. God gave explicit warnings about Israel succumbing to the temptations of the nations around them when Israel first occupied the Promised Land way back in the book of Judges, chapter three.

(Judg 3:3-7 NASB) These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. {4} And they were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses. {5} And the sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; {6} and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. {7} And the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and the Asheroth.

Letís trace it. Ahab was the son of Omri. Ahab went outside the daughters of his own people to bring in Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians. As we just saw, the Sidonians were listed by God in the book of Judges as one of the heathen nations left among the Israelites after the initial conquering of the land by Joshua. Those nations were left in existence among the Israelites to test Godís people to find out if they would obey Godís commandments.

Earlier, we read how Ahab had seventy sons who were executed on order of Jehu in carrying out Godís vengeance against the house of Ahab. Unfortunately, it looks like Jehu may not have also killed off Ahabís daughters, along with his sons. Notice, how the evil of the house of Ahab migrated through his daughter to the Kingdom of Judah.

(2 Ki 8:24-27 NASB) So Joram [Jehoram] slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and Ahaziah his son became king in his place. {25} In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. {26} Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. {27} And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, like the house of Ahab had done, because he was a son-in-law of the house of Ahab.

So, Ahaziahís mother was Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, the king of Israel (and probably also the daughter of Jezebel).

What do you expect when you play with temptation. Evil had again been introduced to the Kingdom of Judah by marriage to pagan women. Letís see how Athaliahís evil and lust for power dominated the government of Judah.

(2 Ki 11:1-3 NASB) When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring. {2} But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him from among the king's sons who were being put to death, and placed him and his nurse in the bedroom. So they hid him from Athaliah, and he was not put to death. {3} So he was hidden with her in the house of the LORD six years, while Athaliah was reigning over the land.

Look at that! Athaliah exterminated all of the kingís other sons because she apparently didnít have any sons of her own to take the place of Ahaziah on the throne of Judah. Furthermore, because of her lust for power, she continued to directly control the government of Judah for six more years, as queen. While she ruled Judah, however, the young king Joash grew.

(2 Ki 11:21- 12:2 NASB) Jehoash was seven years old when he became king. In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash became king, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. {2} And Jehoash did right in the sight of the LORD all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

Finally, a king whom God termed as "righteous" but the key lies at the end of verse two: And Jehoash did right in the sight of the LORD all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him. Notice, however, Joashís righteousness was only strong during the days of Jehoiada, the high priest. Continue in the next verse.

(2 Ki 12:3 NASB) Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

So, even though Joash was righteous and did much to restore righteousness to the government and people of Judah, he didnít quite go "all the way" in serving God with his whole heart. In fact, in his last years, he actually trusted more in men and riches than in the God of Israel as we see in 2 Kings 12:18.

(2 Ki 12:18 NASB) And Jehoash king of Judah took all the sacred things that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred things and all the gold that was found among the treasuries of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent them to Hazael king of Aram. Then he went away from Jerusalem.

Joash would have done well to remember the words of his great, great grandfather, Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 7:8.

(Eccl 7:8 NASB) The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.

We should remember also the words of Ezekiel in Ezekiel 33:12.

(Ezek 33:12 NASB) "And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, 'The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.'

For three more generations, the son, the grandson, and the great-grandson of Joash reigned over the kingdom of Judah in righteousness. Like their father, Joash, however, they didnít go all the way in righteousness because the high places remained and the people still worshipped the host of heaven.

After Joashís great-grandson, Jotham, the next king to rule Judah was Ahaz, the son of Jotham. Was Ahaz the fifth consecutive righteous king to rule Godís people? As we can read in 2 Kings 16, unfortunately, the answer was "no."

(2 Ki 16:1-4 NASB) In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, became king. {2} Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done. {3} But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had driven out from before the sons of Israel. {4} And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.

Not only did Ahaz walk in the way of the kings of Israel and offered a child sacrifice by making his own son pass through the fire, in verse ten, we can see how he imitated the worship of the king of Assyria by constructing a copy of his altar and implementing its preferential use in Godís temple in Jerusalem.

(2 Ki 16:10-18 NASB) Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw the altar which was at Damascus; and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the pattern of the altar and its model, according to all its workmanship. {11} So Urijah the priest built an altar; according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, thus Urijah the priest made it, before the coming of King Ahaz from Damascus. {12} And when the king came from Damascus, the king saw the altar; then the king approached the altar and went up to it, {13} and burned his burnt offering and his meal offering, and poured his libation and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. {14} And the bronze altar, which was before the LORD, he brought from the front of the house, from between his altar and the house of the LORD, and he put it on the north side of his altar. {15} Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, "Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening meal offering and the king's burnt offering and his meal offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land and their meal offering and their libations; and sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice. But the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by." {16} So Urijah the priest did according to all that King Ahaz commanded. {17} Then King Ahaz cut off the borders of the stands, and removed the laver from them; he also took down the sea from the bronze oxen which were under it, and put it on a pavement of stone. {18} And the covered way for the sabbath which they had built in the house, and the outer entry of the king, he removed from the house of the LORD because of the king of Assyria.

So, we can see how Ahaz royally corrupted worship practices in the temple of God. After the corrupt reign of Ahaz, the next king to rule Judah was his son, Hezekiah, as we read in 2 Kings 18:1.

(2 Ki 18:1-5 NASB) Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea [the last king of the northern nation of Israel], the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. {2} He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. {3} And he did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. {4} He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. {5} He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.

There it is! At last, there was a king to rule Godís people unlike any before him or after him. Just how was he different? Look again at verse five: he trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel.

So, we can see it was because he trusted God. The word translated "trust" is batach. In Strongís Hebrew Dictionary, it is #982 and itís defined as "to hie for refuge, figuratively, to trust, to be confident or sure." In Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, batach is defined as: to trust; to have confidence or to be confident; to be bold; or to be secure. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament defines batach as: to feel safe or to be careless. In an earlier sermon, we thoroughly proved, both from Old Testament and New Testament sources that faith is trust. The faith that God demands of us, which is essential to our salvation, is the same as wholehearted trust in God for everything. Trust is Faith and Faith is Trust. So, it was because of Hezekiahís great trust (or faith) in God that it was said there was "no king like him."

Letís look at Hezekiahís great trust or faith in God by starting in the next verse.

(2 Ki 18:6-8 NASB) For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments (mitzvah), which the LORD had commanded Moses. {7} And the LORD was with him; wherever he went he prospered. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. {8} He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.

Notice something: not only did Hezehiah keep Godís commandments but it says that "he clung to the LORD." The Hebrew word translated "clung" is dabaq. It is Strongís #1692 and it means: to cling, to stick, to stay close, to cleave, to keep close, to stick to, to stick with, to follow closely, to join to, to overtake, to catch. Dabaq is exactly the same word used in Genesis 2:24 where it says that a man is to leave his father and mother and cleave to (dabaq) his wife. Think of that! Hezekiah had such a relationship with God that it was portrayed as clinging, sticking, joining and following closely with God.

 

 

The Fulfillment of Hezekiahís Trust in God

Early in his reign, Hezekiah saw a great example of the consequences of sin and lack of trust and lack of obedience to God when the northern nation of Israel was conquered and deported by the king of Assyria.

Later, in verse 28, notice the threat of the messengers sent from the king of Assyria who was ready to attack Jerusalem and Judea. Not only did they seek to undermine the peopleís reliance upon king Hezekiah but, more importantly, they sought to undermine their trust in Yahweh to deliver them.

(2 Ki 18:28-35 NASB) Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, saying, "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. {29} "Thus says the king, 'Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand; {30} nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, "The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria." {31} 'Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, "Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern, {32} until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die." But do not listen to Hezekiah, when he misleads you, saying, "The LORD will deliver us." {33} 'Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? {34} 'Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? {35} 'Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?'"

Look at Hezekiahís reaction upon hearing the threats of the king of Assyria.

(2 Ki 19:1-8 NASB) And when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the LORD. {2} Then he sent Eliakim who was over the household with Shebna the scribe and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. {3} And they said to him, "Thus says Hezekiah, 'This day is a day of distress, rebuke, and rejection; for children have come to birth, and there is no strength to deliver. {4} 'Perhaps the LORD your God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left.'" {5} So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. {6} And Isaiah said to them, "Thus you shall say to your master, 'Thus says the LORD, "Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. {7} "Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land. And I will make him fall by the sword in his own land."'" {8} Then Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish.

So, Judah received a temporary reprieve from assault; but notice what happened in the next verse.

(2 Ki 19:10-22 NASB) "Thus you shall say to Hezekiah king of Judah, 'Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, "Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria." {11} 'Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, destroying them completely. So will you be spared? {12} 'Did the gods of those nations which my fathers destroyed deliver them, even Gozan and Haran and Rezeph and the sons of Eden who were in Telassar? {13} 'Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, and of Hena and Ivvah?'" {14} Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. {15} And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, Thou art the God, Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. Thou hast made heaven and earth. {16} "Incline Thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open Thine eyes, O LORD, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. {17} "Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands {18} and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. {19} "And now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, O LORD, art God." {20} Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.' {21} "This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him: 'She has despised you and mocked you, The virgin daughter of Zion; She has shaken her head behind you, The daughter of Jerusalem! {22} 'Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? And against whom have you raised your voice, And haughtily lifted up your eyes? Against the Holy One of Israel!

In verse 35, look how God fought for Hezekiah. God gave a greater victory by a larger margin than Hezekiah could have ever expected.

(2 Ki 19:35-37 NASB) Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead. {36} So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. {37} And it came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son became king in his place.

Because Hezekiah trusted so much in God and his protection and deliverance, Hezekiah took the King of Assyriaís threat and blasphemy directly to God. Because of Hezekiahís petition of faith, God heard him and delivered Hezekiah and all of Judah.

Even as great as Hezekiah was, he wasnít perfect. There was room for improvement, which he did not attain. Letís look at an incident in 2 Kings 20:12, toward the end of Hezekiahís life, which can show us the difference between trusting with confidence in God and displaying fearful, wholehearted obedience to God.

(2 Ki 20:12-19 NASB) At that time Berodach-baladan a son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. {13} And Hezekiah listened to them, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and the house of his armor and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah did not show them. {14} Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, "What did these men say, and from where have they come to you?" And Hezekiah said, "They have come from a far country, from Babylon." {15} And he said, "What have they seen in your house?" So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them." {16} Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD. {17} 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the LORD. {18} 'And some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you shall beget, shall be taken away; and they shall become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.'" {19} Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good." For he thought, "Is it not so, if there shall be peace and truth in my days?"

Hezekiah was presumptuous in displaying a lack of concern for the welfare of generations to come. That was obviously a fault of his; but remember Godís praise of Hezekiahís trust in God when he said: "he trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him."

 

The Later Kings of Judah

We need to ask, were there any more righteous kings of Judah who attained to the level of Hezekiah? Letís look at Hezekiahís son, Manasseh, in chapter 21.

(2 Ki 21:1-6 NASB) Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Hephzibah. {2} And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel. {3} For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. {4} And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, "In Jerusalem I will put My name." {5} For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. {6} And he made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD provoking Him to anger.

Not only was Manasseh so evil and displeasing in the sight of God by his own actions of idolatry and the shedding of blood but it was because he caused Judah to sin even more that God decided to wipe away the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah by sending calamity and casting them into exile. After such hideous sin, surely the son of Manasseh would see the results of his fatherís sins and repent. Letís continue in the next verse.

(2 Ki 21:19-23 NASB) Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. {20} And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. {21} For he walked in all the way that his father had walked, and served the idols that his father had served and worshiped them. {22} So he forsook the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD. {23} And the servants of Amon conspired against him and killed the king in his own house.

So, Amon the son of Manasseh, persisted in the sins of his father. What of the next king, Josiah the son of Amon? Continue in chapter 22.

(2 Ki 22:1-2 NASB) Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. {2} And he did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left.

 

The Righteousness of Josiah

After all the evil of Manasseh and Amon, the people once again had a righteous king who did what was pleasing to God. It is said that he attained to the level of righteousness of David but did he go beyond to the level of Hezekiah?

In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, he ordered the priests to make a full cleaning and repair of the temple of God in Jerusalem. During the cleaning, the high priest found a book of the law of God.

(2 Ki 22:10-11 NASB) Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. {11} And it came about when the king heard the words of the book of the law, that he tore his clothes.

Look at Josiahís attitude of humility and repentance! Continue in verse twelve.

(2 Ki 22:12-20 NASB) Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king's servant saying, {13} "Go, inquire of the LORD for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the LORD that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us." {14} So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her. {15} And she said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'Tell the man who sent you to me, {16} thus says the LORD, "Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read. {17} "Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched."' {18} "But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the LORD thus shall you say to him, 'Thus says the LORD God of Israel, "Regarding the words which you have heard, {19} because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you," declares the LORD. {20} "Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, neither shall your eyes see all the evil which I will bring on this place."'" So they brought back word to the king.

Look further at Josiahís reaction. He very well could have said to himself what we read earlier of Hezekiah: "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good. For he thought, is it not so, if there shall be peace and truth in my days?" That was Hezekiahís reaction to a similar prophecy about his own kingdom. Instead, look at what Josiah did next in chapter 23.

(2 Ki 23:1-13 NASB) Then the king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. {2} And the king went up to the house of the LORD and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant, which was found in the house of the LORD. {3} And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant. {4} Then the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. {5} And he did away with the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah and in the surrounding area of Jerusalem, also those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and to the moon and to the constellations and to all the host of heaven. {6} And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD outside Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and ground it to dust, and threw its dust on the graves of the common people. {7} He also broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the LORD, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah. {8} Then he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; and he broke down the high places of the gates which were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one's left at the city gate. {9} Nevertheless the priests of the high places did not go up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers. {10} He also defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire for Molech. {11} And he did away with the horses which the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the official, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. {12} And the altars which were on the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, the king broke down; and he smashed them there, and threw their dust into the brook Kidron. {13} And the high places which were before Jerusalem, which were on the right of the mount of destruction which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the sons of Ammon, the king defiled.

Notice that Josiah destroyed and defiled (to prevent their reuse by the people) even the ancient high places of Ashtoreth and Chemosh which had been established by Solomon. In doing so, he went beyond the righteousness of Hezekiah because none of the kings of Judah had removed or desecrated them in the hundreds of years since Solomon. Continue in verse 14.

(2Kings 24:14-24 NASB) And he broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with human bones. {15} Furthermore, the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down. Then he demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah. {16} Now when Josiah turned, he saw the graves that were there on the mountain, and he sent and took the bones from the graves and burned them on the altar and defiled it according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these things. {17} Then he said, "What is this monument that I see?" And the men of the city told him, "It is the grave of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel." {18} And he said, "Let him alone; let no one disturb his bones." So they left his bones undisturbed with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria. {19} And Josiah also removed all the houses of the high places which were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made provoking the LORD; and he did to them just as he had done in Bethel. {20} And all the priests of the high places who were there he slaughtered on the altars and burned human bones on them; then he returned to Jerusalem. {21} Then the king commanded all the people saying, "Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God as it is written in this book of the covenant." {22} Surely such a Passover had not been celebrated from the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah. {23} But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was observed to the LORD in Jerusalem. {24} Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spiritists and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

What action! What zeal for the work of God! What passion to execute what was right and pleasing to God! Surely Josiah attained to the level of righteousness of Hezekiah. Josiahís passion for obedience to Godís righteousness went even beyond the level of Hezekiah and all the kings of Israel who were before him. Look at the next verse to see Godís evaluation of Josiahís righteousness.

(2 Ki 23:25 NASB) And before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.

After Josiah, there were three more kings of Judah who all were unrighteous and did evil in Godís sight. So, God performed the calamity he had prophesied to come upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their sins and the sins of Manasseh. Letís go back, however, and examine once more the righteousness of Josiah, the last of the righteous kings of Judah.

 

A Scriptural Contradiction?

We asked earlier if there could have been another king who attained the level of righteousness displayed by Hezekiah. Well, we found there was another but how can there be two kings of whom it is written "there was no king like him?" Could there be two best-evers? We need to examine the statements more closely.

Earlier, we read of Hezekiah that "He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him" and that "he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments (mitzvah), which the LORD had commanded Moses. Hezekiah was praised by God for his trust in God for deliverance. Hezekiah didnít trust in himself or in other men for deliverance but he took matters directly to God and trusted God for deliverance.

Hezekiah and Josiah were each different, though. Each had strengths that were recognized and praised by God but each also had weaknesses. In 2 Chronicles 35:20, we can see Josiahís weakness appear when he was presented with the opportunity to trust wholly in God for deliverance from his enemies.

(2 Chr 35:20-24 NASB) After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him. {21} But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, "What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? I am not coming against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from interfering with God who is with me, that He may not destroy you." {22} However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo. {23} And the archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, "Take me away, for I am badly wounded." {24} So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had, and brought him to Jerusalem where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.

 

We just read of Josiah that "before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him." There are some key words in that verse which could easily be passed by. Letís look at them more closely. The Hebrew word translated might is Strongís #3966. me'od, which means vehemently; wholly, speedily. The word translated law is Strongís #8451 torah, which means direction, instruction, or law and encompasses more than just the ten commandments. So, Josiah kept all the torah and he kept it vehemently, with all his mind and desire. What tenacity! What passion!

Earlier today, we read Christís response when asked what was required for eternal life. The master quoted from the great Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4.

Shema Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad.

(Deu 6:4-9 NASB) "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! {5} "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. {6} "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; {7} and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. {8} "And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. {9} "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

This passage is cited by our savior as being the greatest of all commandments and as the door to eternal life.

 

 

Conclusion

What have we learned today from our history course? What lessons can we take home and put to use in our daily lives? We learned how the great majority of kings who ruled over both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah were evil and taught their subjects the deceptions of Satan and this world. We learned how evil migrated from the pagan nations through the kings of Israel to the kings of Judah. The skeptic might say, "the lesson is easy: women are just plain trouble." That simplistic statement, however, belies the deeper truth: worldly women (or men) cut off from God are truly trouble and can become the downfall of their mates. Thatís why we must teach our young people to look to the Godly inner man (or woman) when seeking a mate.

We know David was a righteous king of Israel who was loved by God and will receive the reward God promised him to rule his people Israel forever in the world to come. Weíve seen, though, there were also two other kings who each received the praise of God that there was "no king like him." As weíve learned in sermons before, there are two levels of righteousness required by God: righteousness by faith and righteousness by works. Hezekiah represented Godís desired type of righteousness by faith as he wholly trusted God for deliverance. Josiah represented Godís desired type of righteousness by works as he repented and turned to God with all his being and kept all of Godís instructions with fervency and desire.

We know what Davidís reward will be. We donít know what Hezehiahís or Josiahís rewards will be in the resurrection. We do know, however, that their examples of faith and works were written for our instruction and emulation. They were both, indeed, the greatest of Israelís kings, not only in this present age but surely also in the age to come.

Scripture shows that our reward in the resurrection is to become righteous kings and priests of God. Letís use the outstanding examples of Hezekiah and Josiah as our springboard to even greater righteousness now.

 

 

Sermon by Philip Edwards

August 4, 2007

 

Copyright 2007, Philip Edwards

 

Studies in the Word of God
 

Church of God Most High
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