Friday, April 20, 2012

2 Kings 15 & 2 Chronicles 26-27 - How Can We Finish Well?

LINK: 2 Kings 15 & 2 Chronicles 26-27
2 Kings 15:1-7 parallels 2 Chronicles 26

BACKGROUND

Uzziah/Azariah of Judah - 2 Kings 15:1-7, 2 Chronicles 26

Reigned: 790-739 B.C. for 52 years, vice-regency under father, Amaziah, for 23 years (790-767 B.C.) and co-regency with son, Jotham, for 11 years (750-739 B.C.)

Character: Good 

Overlap with Israel's King: Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.)

Manner of death: Stricken by God 

Azariah means "Jehovah has helped." When he became king, his throne name was Uzziah which means "Jehovah is strength." He reigned while his father was taken captive to Samaria for fifteen years after the war with Joash, King of Israel. This co-reign (some refer to it as a vice-regency) lasted for 23 years from age 16 to 39 years. He was taught by Zechariah. In his early reign, he "sought the LORD," and "God gave him success" (2 Kings 15:3; 2 Chronicles 26:5), but he did not remove the high places (2 Kings 15:4). The conjecture is that it was just too much of an inconvenience for them to travel to the temple to offer their gifts and sacrifices. So, they visited the local shrine. 

He was a successful warrior and city builder and was skillful in organizing and delegating. Sadly, his great power led to pride (2 Chronicles 26:16). We already know from our study of Proverbs that, "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling" (16:18). His pride led him to perform priestly duties in disobedience to the Law which stipulated that this was only to be done by descendants of Aaron (Exodus 30:7-8). His destruction came in the form of leprosy that plagued him for the rest of his life. This led to Uzziah being quarantined and unable to reign. So his son, Jotham, was co-regent until Uzziah died. His death coincided with the beginning of the ministry of the prophet Isaiah whom we will study once we get through the life of the other kings reigning during Isaiah's time. While Uzziah started out well, he did not have lifelong obedience!

2 Kings 15:8-31 covers five kings of Israel who were all BAD! 


Zechariah of Israel - 2 Kings 14:29 - 15:12 

Reigned: 753-752 B.C. for 6 months

Overlap with Judah's king: Azariah/Uzziah (790-739 B.C.)

Manner of death: Assassinated by Shallum

He was evil through and through. God's Word stated that four generations would succeed Jehu on the throne of Israel (2 Kings 10:30). Therefore, his dynasty came to an end with Zechariah.

Shallum of Israel - 2 Kings 15:13-16

Reigned: 752 B.C. for 1 month

Overlap with Judah's King: Azariah/Uzziah (790-739 B.C.)

Manner of death: Murdered by Menahem (commander of Jeroboam II's army) 

Menahem of Israel - 2 Kings 15:6-22

Reigned: 752-742 B.C. for 10 years, overlapping reign with Pekah

Overlap with Judah's King: Azariah/Uzziah (790-739 B.C.), Jotham (750-735 B.C.)

Manner of death: Natural 

Like the kings before him, he was apostate. This is the first mention of Assyria (2 Kings 15:19). Pul was one of Assyria's strongest rulers. The invasion of Israel was in 743 B.C. and resulted in Menahem paying tribute to Pul.

Pekahiah of Israel - 2 Kings 15:23-26

Reigned - 742-740 B.C. for two years, overlapping reign with Pekah

Overlap with Judah's King: Azariah/Uzziah (790-739 B.C.), Jotham (750-735 B.C.)

Manner of death: Murdered by Pekah (one of his military officers)

He followed the "ways of Jeroboam." Pekah assassinated him in the most secure place in the palace, the citadel!

Pekah of Israel - 2 Kings 15:27-31

Reigned: 752-732 B.C.  for 20 years, overlapping reign with Menahem (752-742 B.C.) and Pekahiah (742-740 B.C.)


Overlap with Judah's King: Azariah/Uzziah (792-740), Jotham (750-732)

Manner of death: Murdered by Hoshea

Pekah had set up a rival government east of the Jordan River in Gilead when Menahem became king in 752 B.C. He did this because he disagreed with Menahem's paying of tribute to the king of Assyria. He also aligned with Rezin, the king of Damascus. This led to Assyria invading in 734-732 B.C. (Recorded in 2 Chronicles 28:5-8) and a deportation of the people there to Assyria in 733 B.C. He continued in his evil ways just like the kings before him.

Jotham of Judah - 2 Kings 15:32-38, 2 Chronicles 27. 

Reigned: 750-735 B.C. for 16 years (co-reigned with his father and his son) 

Overlap with Israel's King: Menahem (752-742 B.C.), Pekahiah (742-740 B.C.), and Pekah (752-732 B.C.

Character: Good

Manner of death: Natural

WHEW! When we go back to Judah, we have a good king.  He rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple and had many other building projects. "He walked steadfastly before the LORD his God" (2 Chronicles 27:6), but the 2 Kings account says, "the high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there" (15:35). 

REFLECTION

I must admit that when I get to this part of my Bible reading, I become very, very weary. The descent into evil of the people God chose to be His special possession is SO disheartening! They could have had it all!  But they all blew it, even Uzziah, who started well, did not finish well. The kings of Israel started and ended horribly with most being assassinated by their successor! 

I want a long term game plan for my life. I want to finish well. How about you?  

APPLICATION

Talk to God about this. How can you grow and deepen in Him?


Billy Graham wants to finish well. I just saw this new book by him in my library.  This is a key verse He shares:

But I do not account my life of any value 
nor as precious to myself,
 if only I may finish my course and the ministry 
that I received from the Lord Jesus, 
to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 20:24 (ESV)


Book JacketI am already intrigued by the chapter titles:

Running toward home
Don't retire from life
The impact of hope
Consider the golden years
Fading strength but standing strong
Death's destination
Influencing the impressionable
A foundation that lasts
Roots strengthen in time
Then and now

2014 Update: I read it, and it was excellent! Let's finish well as we near home. 

PRAYER

Lord, help us to walk in all Your ways not forgetting to obey You in the smallest areas and details of our life. Remove our "high places," Lord. We ask this because the Holy Spirit empowers us to live in obedience to You. Please teach us to number our days so that we may present to you a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Help us to finish well. We pray this in Jesus' strong and powerful name. Amen.

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