We Three Kings  

By Jon W. Quinn


The title of this article probably conjures up a mental image of the three wise men bringing gifts to baby Jesus. That is unfortunate because the Bible does not say that they were kings at all, and it does not even say that there were three of them.

But the kings referenced by the title lived almost six centuries before Jesus' birth. They were the last three kings of Judah. Neither of them had what it takes to be a faithful man of God, let alone a ruler of His people. Their names are Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Instead of pulling Judah back from the brink of disaster, they propelled the nation into the abyss of destruction.

The downward spiral of Judah, following the reforms of the faithful king Josiah, concludes with the evil son of Josiah, Jehoahaz (reigned for 3 months), and the three kings which followed him. Jehoahaz was deposed by the king of Egypt, who appointed Jehoiakim king. Jehoiakim, after eleven years of evil, was carried away by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. He was succeeded by Jehoiachin who also was an evil king. Jehoiachin was carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, and his uncle, Zedekiah, another evil king, was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah rebelled against the Babylonians and continued his evil ways for eleven years before he was carried away into captivity. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, fulfilling ancient prophecies about what the results of apostasy would be.

Jehoiakim (also called Eliakim)
(2 Kings 23:35-24:7; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8)

After victory in battle, Pharaoh Necho had political clout in Judah and made Eliakim, a son of Josiah, king of Judah. He also changed his name to Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:34-37). Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh and taxed the land according to Pharaoh's command (23:35). The Bible says that Jehoiakim reigned eleven years in Jerusalem and did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord (23:36,37). He turned the nation again toward idolatry.

Babylon displaced Egypt as the power to be reckoned with in Judah and Jehoiakim became the vassal of Nebuchadnezzar for three years before rebelling against him (2 Kings 24:1). The Lord sent raiding troops of Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites against Judah to destroy it for its idolatry and evil "according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken by his servants the prophets" (2 Kings 24:2; Jeremiah 25:4-11). Nebuchadnezzar carried Jehoiakim into captivity (2 Chronicles 36:6).

What Jehoiakim, as well as many people today, failed to realize is that the claim of God upon man is that man worship Him and keep His commandments. The question many ask is “What right does God have to make a claim on me” when the question ought to be “What right to I have to say 'no' to my Creator.” Rebellion against God does not end with a good result for societies, nations, cultures or individuals; but obeying certainly does (Proverbs 14:26; Psalm 127:1).

Jehoiachin (also called Coniah and Jeconiah)
(2 Kings 24:8-16; 2 Chronicles 36:9,10)

After Jehoiakim died, Jehoiachin reigned in his place (2 Kings 24:6). Jehoiachin also did evil in the sight of the Lord according to all his father before him had done (2 Kings 24:9). Jehoiachin was carried away into Babylonian captivity, along with the nobles and skilled workers (2 Kings 24:15). Interestingly, among those taken captive would have been a faithful young man named Daniel, as well as his three friends.

The prophets of God spoke by inspiration, so their prophecies are always correct (2 Peter 1:20,21). This is also true with Messianic prophecies. They are absolutely correct. But sometimes they, like other Scripture, are misused or misunderstood. This brings us to a very important point about the nature of Jesus' kingdom.

First, Jesus would prosper sitting on the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6,7; 16:5; Psalm 132:11,12; Luke 1:32).
Is this to be a literal throne over a future earthly prosperous millennial kingdom as many say today? Or does it refer to a spiritual kingdom and rule in the hearts of His people which already exists, and has since the first century?
Jesus was a descendent of this evil king Jehoiachin (Matthew. 1:11,12). It was prophesied that none of Jehoiachin's descendents would prosper sitting on the throne of David ruling anymore in Judah (Jeremiah 22:24-30). This means that Jesus would not reign in Judah and prosper. His was not an earthly kingdom (John 18:36). Premillennialists teach that Jesus will return to earth and reign and prosper on the throne of David in Judah for a 1000 years, but the Bible teaches Jesus is reigning now and will not return to reign on the earth from Jerusalem (Colossians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 15:23-26).

Zedekiah (also called Mattaniah)

(2 Kings 24:17-25:7; 2 Chronicles 36:11-14)

Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah, Jehoichin's uncle, king over Judah and Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:10). He would be the last king before the prophesied destruction and captivity of the idolatrous nation was complete. Zedekiah reigned eleven years and did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 24:18-19). Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:20). Zedekiah refused to listen to Jeremiah and did not humble himself before the prophet of God (2 Chronicles 36:12). He allowed others to put Jeremiah in prison (Jeremiah 38:5,6).

The leaders of the priests and the people transgressed, according to all the abominations of the nations. They defiled the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 36:14). The people of Judah mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord rose against His people beyond remedy (2 Chronicles 36:16). Zedekiah called for Jeremiah and asked his counsel (Jeremiah 38:14-23). Jeremiah told Zedekiah to surrender to the Babylonians and the city would not be destroyed and Zedekiah would escape (Jeremiah 38:20). Even now, there was still a glimmer of hope, but Zedekiah refused to listen to Jeremiah.

God brought against them the king of the Chaldeans (2 Chronicles 36:17-20). The Chaldeans killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out his eyes and then bound him and carried him off to Babylon (2 Kings 25:7). Those who escaped the sword were carried away to Babylon (2 Kings 25:11; 2 Chronicles 36:20). The treasures of the temple were taken to Babylon (2 Kings 25:13-17). The temple was burned and the walls of Jerusalem were destroyed (2 Chronicles 36:19). It was at this time that the famed Ark of the Covenant became lost to history.

For those who persist in evil, divine retribution is inevitable (Jeremiah 5:19). God can raise up, at any moment, fitting instruments to do his will. Even the likes of Judas, Pilate and Pharaoh, and their evil intent, were worked into God's plan (Isaiah 29:15,16; Jeremiah 32:19; Romans 11:33,34). That is still true for our own nation and its leaders today. It is something for us to think about.

From The Bradley Banner 10/9/2005
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bradley, IL 60915


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