2 KINGS 24:1 – 25:30 and JOHN 15:1–27
2 Kings 24
The end of the monarchy in Judah is drawing near. King Jehoiakim, son of Josiah is now reigning. He came to the throne at the age of 25 and had a reign of 11 years. He is now about to enter the 5th year of his reign when he is taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. He will be subjected to the king for a period of three years before rebelling against him with the supposed help of the King of Egypt. We also need to note that this is during the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah (Jer 25:1). It is also around the time when Daniel and his three friends would have been taken away captive to Babylon. There are armies that come up against Judah comprised of the Syrians, Moabites and Ammon all who owed allegiance to Babylon. God allowed this due to the sins of Judah that culminated under King Manasseh. The Lord allowed for a great revival to take place under Josiah but it was not enough to stem the tide of pending judgment. These judgments were fulfilments of prophetic words that were brought forth by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zephaniah and Huldah the prophetess (2 Kings 22:14). There will be more details regarding Manasseh and the subsequent judgments in the Book of Chronicles.
The next King in line is Jehoiachin who is a son to Jehoiakim. His reign was for 3 months after coming to the kingdom at the age of 18. He was carried away to Babylon along with all the treasures of the house of the Lord. The princes and mighty men were also carried away during this siege. We are seeing a very sad ending to a monarchy that started well under King David after the unfortunate reign of Saul. It became even more glorious under Solomon but began to slide downwards soon thereafter. There were a few glimpses of a godly reign but none of them could hold steady for long with succeeding generations of sons. The flickering light of the kings are now fading as Babylon is assuming territorial control of the area. The treasures of the house of the Lord have been stripped away and taken captive as well. It is important to reflect as to what went wrong. What are some of the lessons that can be learned seeing that the Lord is looking for Kings and priests in these last days? Though this will be redundant I feel to highlight the following verses. After all, Moses was rather redundant with his warnings to Israel.
Deu 17:14 When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;
Deu 17:15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
Deu 17:16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
Deu 17:17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
Deu 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
Deu 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
Deu 17:20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
When one looks at the history of the monarchy of Israel it is clear that there is a violation at every stage. What is seen above is also the remedy. First, Israel presumed upon God for a king like all the other nations. This violates verses 14-15 above. Second, David violated the law concerning the multiplying of wives as seen in verse 17. Third we see that Solomon violated all of the law of kings. He multiplied horses unto himself, (1 Kings 10:26) he then had multiple wives (1 Kings 11) as well as multiplied gold and silver in excess. What was also missing was the written law which was to be with the kings all the days of their lives. We know that this was not done seeing how the Law was rediscovered under Josiah. This sad end of the monarchy that we see playing out is the result of the neglect of these laws as seen in the above. This makes the case as to what is required and needful in order to be the manner of King and Priest that God is looking for today. It really is no secret.
Pro 6:20 My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Pro 6:21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
Pro 6:22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.
Pro 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
The New Covenant is the Law of God being written upon the fleshly table of the heart. Jesus fulfilled the Law; He did not destroy, dismiss or eliminate it. He has given us the same ability to have the Law fulfilled in our hearts through His Spirit as well. We must learn from the history of Israel’s monarchy. The last king of Judah was Zedekiah, who was the uncle of Jehoiachin. He was installed to be king by the King of Babylon himself.
2 Kings 25
This chapter opens with Zedekiah into the ninth year of his reign. It would be good to compare this verse with Jer 52:4 due to its saying the same thing. We see that the ministry of Jeremiah took place during the reign of Josiah up till the time of the carrying away of Judah into captivity. Within a period of two years the city was besieged followed by a great famine throughout the land. The city was divided and broken up resulting in the men, including Zedekiah, fleeing by way of the gate near the king’s garden. Zedekiah was quickly captured and brought to Babylon where he faced judgement. What was his judgement? They slew his sons before his eyes then plucked out his eyes afterwards.
The captain of the guard (Nebuzaradan) had the task of returning to Jerusalem to plunder any remaining resources in the city. He also burned the city with fire. This act left Jerusalem in ruins up until the time of Nehemiah. It will be the report of the desolate city of Jerusalem that will prompt him to take on the role of the restorer. Jerusalem, the city that the Lord loves was now being laid to ruins. What a sad commentary of a city that once had such splendour. The good news is that our God is a restorer and there will come a time when the walls of the city will once again be rebuilt. It provides a message of encouragement to us today when we consider how badly broken down many institutions are. It can be marriages, homes and even broken relationship with God. The power of the Cross is to heal and to restore. It is encouraging to know that God can also restore nations that have gone astray from Him. What is about to be seen with Jerusalem however is a 70 year period of exile. If people were to hear and heed to Jeremiah’s prophesy they would be able to survive and thrive in Babylon. We will see people like Daniel and his three friends who stand out during this period of captivity. There were many who rejected Jeremiah’s word; many who sought to escape only to fall victim to the very sword that they were fleeing from (Jer 42:16).
Nebuzaradan also took the brass items that were contained in the house of the Lord as well as some of the other instruments that were used in the tabernacle (vs 13-17). They also took the attending priests to Babylon. There were some people who were left in the land such as land tillers and others who were considered insignificant to bring along. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah to be their ruler. Gedaliah was a friend of Jeremiah and one who took note of Jeremiah’s words as seen in Jer 38:2. Gedaliah repeats the message that Jeremiah spoke on numerous occasions regarding the submitting to the Chaldeans for their good (vs 24). After a period of 7 months there are a group of men who conspire to kill Gedaliah and the Jews and Chaldees that were with him. After they committed this act they immediately fled to Egypt in fear of the Chaldees. We can link this event to the timeframe of Jeremiah’s prophesy in Jer 43:4-7.
Finally we see the kindness of King Evil-Merodach being bestowed upon a former King of Judah by the name of Jehoiachin. He was now in the 37th year of his captivity being around 55 years old. He brings him out of prison and gives him a position all the days of his life. What was the reason for this kindness? He was also given new garments as well as an allowance from the king. Perhaps it is a picture of the future benevolence of Darius and Cyrus to God’s elect when the kingdom of the Chaldeans gives way to the Medes and Persians. There is a particular anointing that allows for a man to have favor with both God and man. Daniel had it while going into captivity as well as when he came out. It is an anointing that the church must apprehend and appropriate.
1Sa 2:26 And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men. (Luk 2:52, Ezra 7:21)
The Lord continues on the theme of relationship, citing the love and unity He has with the Father and the level of relationship that can be attained in learning to abide in Him. Jesus uses the illustration of Himself as a vine and the Father as being a husbandman. It helps to bring clarity in how we can both link with the Son and the Father. He then further illustrates the truth of what happens if one is fruitful. This is often missed and not understood. If one is fruitful there will be a time of purging or pruning which will enable a greater level of fruitfulness. What does this look like? A real life pruning example will drive the point home.
We served as missionaries in India for a number of years. On our property we had a group of mango trees which consistently gave an abundant crop of high quality mangos in the month of June. In one particular year we had a team visiting our work in the month of December. Among the team members was a lady who had expertise in horticulture. She admired the mango trees but commented that the trees needed pruning. We had several of our Bible School students assist her as she went about the pruning process. I was horrified when I came to see the work that was done hours later. To me it looked like she “killed” the trees. There were dead branches all over the compound but the worst part is what the trees looked like. This woman assured me that all would be well.
This is what the pruning process can be likened to in our life. It is painful and it will have little semblance of life. That which was once fruitful now has little evidence of life. This is where perspective and good doctrine need to enter in. These spiritual conditions are easily misdiagnosed. Many tend to be happy in their measure of fruit and refuse the sword or knife of pruning. Jesus is going to great lengths in making this point because He knows that the Cross is before Him and many (most) will not understand its significance. This is why the Apostle Paul emphatically declares that many will not endure good sound doctrine in days of testing (2 Tim 4:3). They will opt for teachings that circumvent this process. What is the purpose of pruning? What was the result of the pruning of our Indian mango trees? In a word “fruitfulness”. The trees were not only fruitful but they brought forth a much larger crop at the time of harvest. The same principal applies in our lives as well. The Lord is looking for “much fruit”. How can we define much fruit? It is the manifestation of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Gal 5:22-23). This is what glorifies the Father and enables us to be true disciples of the Lord (vs 8).
The Lord then goes back to the subject of keeping His commandments. This intimate relationship that the Lord seeks to have with us depends on it. If we love God with all our heart, mind and strength we then will have the ability to love others in like manner. This ensures that the love of God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit is within us. The end result of this relationship is joy (vs 11). We see two of the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in these verses (Love and Joy). The Lord then enhances the commandment of loving one another as he is about to demonstrate His love for all. How will He do this?
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
The greatest demonstration of love that could ever be given is the laying down of one’s life for His friends. This is to be compared to John 3:16 where the Father demonstrates His love to the world by willingly sacrificing His only begotten Son to die upon a Cross. These two verses show forth the great love that the Father and Son have for mankind; it also reveals the great love and harmony that exists in the Godhead. One can begin to see the beautiful and illustrative way the Lord is teaching on the subject of love and abiding. It reveals the power and message of the Cross as well.
We will shortly see how the Lord continues to speak of the person and ministry role of the Holy Spirit. In meditating upon theses chapters we come to a greater revelation and understanding of the godhead. Interspersed in this dialogue is the incorporating of man into the process. Jesus is actually giving His finest teaching with regard to love and intimacy in this dialogue with His disciples. It is personal and it is revelatory. The Lord then elevates the relationship He has with His disciples by calling them friends as opposed to servants. The difference being is that the Lord is not holding anything back. He is expressing fully to the disciples everything that He is hearing from the Father (vs 15). He again makes a statement heard earlier about how the Father would grant anything asked in the name of Jesus. We can now better understand the context of that remark due to the intimacy required that the Lord has elaborated on (John 14:13).
The Lord speaks of the Holy Spirit as a Comforter in verse 26. He also refers to Him as the Spirit of Truth who will further testify of the Lord. This will allow the disciples to provide a more effective witness of the Lord since they have known Him from the beginning after Jordan. Jesus has been establishing a strong foundation in paving the way for the soon coming ministry of the Holy Spirit. These chapters of dialogue that Jesus has with His disciples represents far more than we realize. It helps us to distinguish the difference between a servant and a friend. May God help us to qualify and have such a place of abiding.