2 Kings 23:31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months.
Second Kings concludes with the account of four kings who ruled in quick succession, each of them evil. Jehoahaz was the son of King Josiah, and ruled for just three months after his father’s death in 609 BC. After doing evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 23:32), he was dethroned by Pharaoh Necho, and taken to Egypt.
Jehoahaz may have dreamed of a long and glorious reign in which he would build a mighty kingdom. But all his dreams were dashed by circumstances beyond his control. He reminds us how easily our dreams can be destroyed, and that the only wise course is to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Then we will flourish forever regardless what happens in this life.
2 Kings 23:36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years.
Jehoiakim also did evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 23:37). In fact, when the words of the prophet Jeremiah were read to him, he took the scroll and threw it into a fire (Jeremiah 36:23). But the prophet’s words came true when the king of Babylon attacked Jerusalem, raided the temple, and carried Jehoiakim into exile (Jeremiah 36:29, 2 Chronicles 36:6).
The Bible is the most hated book on earth, but also the most loved and widely read. Haters of God reject the Bible, and may even commit it to the flames. But they cannot stop it from coming true. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever (Isaiah 40:8), wrote Isaiah.
2 Kings 24:8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months.
Shortly after he came to the throne, Jehoiachin surrendered to King Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:12). He too was taken to Babylon, with ten thousand others, leaving only the poorest behind (2 Kings 24:14). He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father had done (2 Kings 24:9).
There was little Jehoiachin could have done politically, since he was only eighteen years old. But at least he could have prayed. Some people only turn to God when life is hard, but Jehoiachin would not even do that. Like many before and since, he wanted nothing to do with God.
Under King David the nation of Israel became a dominant force, and David’s son Solomon took it to its height. But in 931 BC, when Solomon died, the nation split and never reunited. The northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC, and the southern kingdom of Judah would fall to the Babylonians in 586 BC. God’s people prospered as long as they followed him. But when they turned away from God, there was no one to protect them.
2 Kings 24:18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years.
Zedekiah was the last to rule the kingdom of Judah before it was destroyed. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 24:19). He also did evil in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar by rebelling against him.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, responded to Zedekiah’s revolt by surrounding Jerusalem and cutting off the food supply. Then he broke through the city walls and captured Zedekiah. He killed Zedekiah’s sons in front of him, then put out his eyes. The last thing Zedekiah saw was the execution of his sons (2 Kings 25:7). If you have ever wanted to unsee something, that is how Zedekiah felt for the rest of his life.
The Babylonians burned down the temple and other important buildings in Jerusalem. They also destroyed the city walls and took most of the people into exile. Only the very poorest were left behind, so they could work the fields (2 Kings 25:12). The Promised Land was God’s gift to his people on the condition of obedience, so when they turned away from God he rightly kicked them out.
Some of the kings who led God’s people were better than others, but most were truly terrible. Instead of leading God’s people to worship him, they led God’s people away from him. The results were catastrophic but the point is clear: as goes the king, so goes the kingdom.
All the kings’ failures remind us of our need for a better king. If only God’s people had a king who was perfectly righteous, mighty and wise, the kingdom would flourish as never before. This is what God has provided in the person of Jesus Christ. Soon he will return, and his kingdom will never end (Luke 1:33).
Reflection and Review
Do you ever hope everything in the Bible will not come true?
Why are so many leaders evil?
What kind of king will Jesus be?