From 2 Chronicles 21-24
Jehoshaphat has been a good king (2 Chr 17.3-6). He has led Judah faithfully. Unfortunately after he passes away, all his work goes for naught. Today’s passage considers his son who ruled after him and the LORD’s judgment.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
21 Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Jehoram his son reigned in his place. 2 He had brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariah, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. 3 Their father gave them great gifts of silver, gold, and valuable possessions, together with fortified cities in Judah, but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn. (2 Ch 21:1–3)
Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram is the one who becomes king after him. Jehoshaphat have wealth and a measure of authority to all of his sons. He has seven in total. But it was to Jehoram as firstborn that he gave rule over all Judah.
4 When Jehoram had ascended the throne of his father and was established, he killed all his brothers with the sword, and also some of the princes of Israel. (2 Ch 21:4)
When Jehoram comes to power he promptly secured his rule by killing all his brothers and others who could possibly vie for his power.
He did this because he was insecure and afraid.
He wanted to make sure none of them would make a claim themselves.
It was not uncommon for the passing of the father to create turmoil among his sons. Which makes you wonder if their fathers took some precautions before they died to ensure this would not happen.
Jehoram’s actions speak loudly of his character as the Chronicler is about to make explicit.
5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 6 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. (2 Ch 21:5-6)
Jehoram married into Ahab’s family. Ahab you may remember was an Israelite king and was particularly evil (1 Ki 16.29-34). Building connections with the kings of Israel may well have strengthened his claim to rule, but the marriage didn’t in any way help his relationship with the LORD.
7 Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever. (2 Ch 21:7)
Even though Judah has turned away from his again, the LORD is still faithful to the promises he made David.
From his line would come a king who would rule forever.
On one hand the LORD as King, is required to punish wrongdoing. He should destroy them. But on the other, the LORD remains faithful. These two constraints govern his treatment of Israel and Judah. The LORD is patient and has long term goals in mind.
The passage now considers what is happening in the rest of the country. They lost control of people under their rule.
8 In his days Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own. 9 Then Jehoram passed over with his commanders and all his chariots, and he rose by night and struck the Edomites who had surrounded him and his chariot commanders. 10 So Edom revolted from the rule of Judah to this day. At that time Libnah also revolted from his rule, because he had forsaken the LORD, the God of his fathers. (2 Ch 21:8-10)
Jehoram rule was marked by civil war and not peace. This happened because he abandoned the LORD. There is still more, Elijah the prophet is sent by the LORD and delivers a letter of judgment.
11 Moreover, he made high places in the hill country of Judah and led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom and made Judah go astray. 12 And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying,
“Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father, ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel and have enticed Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom, as the house of Ahab led Israel into whoredom, and also you have killed your brothers, of your father’s house, who were better than you,
14 behold, the LORD will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions, 15 and you yourself will have a severe sickness with a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the disease, day by day.’ ” (2 Ch 21:11-15)
Elijah sums up his rule fairly well and pronounces judgment on him.
The LORD will send a plague on him and his people. His own punishment is far worse.
We can’t be sure what the LORD meant by ‘your bowels will come out’. It could be ulcers, colitis, chronic diarrhea, or dysentery. None of these sound desirable. Jehoram doesn’t seem to repent and plead for mercy. He doesn’t believe.
The LORD isnt finished with him yet.
16 And the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the anger of the Philistines and of the Arabians who are near the Ethiopians. 17 And they came up against Judah and invaded it and carried away all the possessions they found that belonged to the king’s house, and also his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, his youngest son. (2 Ch 21:16-17)
In addition to the Edomites the LORD raises up the Philistines and the Arabians against him. They invade the country, plunder it and carry away all but one of his sons.
That’s when his bowel disease began to make itself known.
18 And after all this the LORD struck him in his bowels with an incurable disease. 19 In the course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony. His people made no fire in his honor, like the fires made for his fathers. 20 He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. (2 Ch 21:18–20)
Two years of constant pain and agony. He only reigned eight years and even after that short time no one remembered him well. When he died his people did not honour him and no one regretted his passing. A tragic ending for an ungodly king.
Story of Israel
Jehoram’s story highlights how severe God’s judgment and punishment can be. This is something all people want to avoid at all costs. God judges the world by identifying and condemning sin and by vindicating and rewarding the righteous. God exercises temporal judgment on the world and on his people.
12 Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. 13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great. (Joel 3:12–13)
Israel was warned that they to would be held accountable for her actions (Dt 28.15-24). But she also did not listen (Jer 1.16; 11.7-8) and was punished accordingly.
Their punishment meant for them death and exile. In due time God finished paying them back for their sins and hundreds of years afterwards he sent the messiah.
Story of Jesus
Jesus is this messiah. In the gospel Jesus takes a very tough stance on sin.
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mk 9:42–50)
He goes to extremes highlighting what we should do to avoid hell.
Dont be like Jehoram. We need to cut sin out our lives.
Praise God, Jesus’ death has secured forgiveness of sins. We still need to respond to Jesus and make sure Jehoram’s story doesn’t become our own. The punishment of hell is far worse than the pain of removing the sin from our lives.
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