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
(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
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).
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
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