The Southern Kingdom
Understanding the Old Testament Lesson #018
May 14, 2000
"Father, we thank you so much that we have the privilege and freedom to gather together as believers to study Your Word; that Your Word is the Source of our authority. Your Word is our Guide; it is our Direction. It teaches us how to think and what to think and we thank You for the Holy Spirit Who illuminates our thinking so that we can understand these things and see how they apply to our lives. And Father, we pray that as we continue our study of the Old Testament that You would help us to understand these things and see how they apply in our own lives. We pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen."
Two weeks ago we began to look at the two kingdoms after the united monarchy in the Old Testament. You have the divided kingdom in the north called Israel. In the south it is called Judah. Just by way of review, there are five periods in the history of Israel. There is the united kingdom from 1050 BC to 931 BC. Now before we get too embedded in our study, you should have a handout (unavailable but see chart included below*; the dates may be slightly different...) http://www.ldolphin.org/kings.html (an announcement is made….)
We are looking at Israel in terms of the two kingdoms, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. The five periods of Israel's history: first the united kingdom, Saul, David, and Solomon 1050 BC to 931 BC; then the kingdom divides and fragments. Let's go back and see here:
The Law 1440 BC
Historical Books 931 BC; that would be the 1 or 2 chapter of 1 Kings
Division of Israel in the north with Jeroboam and Judah in the south under Rehoboam 722 BC, then the Exile and the last three Books in the Historical Section, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther come in after the exile.
So we are dealing with what is called the Pre-Exilic Period of the divided monarchy. Now this period extends from 931 BC to 722 BC when the northern kingdom goes out under Divine discipline. After that you just have the southern kingdom alone from 722 BC to 586 BC. Then in 586 BC God takes them out under Divine discipline, the fifth cycle of discipline, and they go into 70 years of captivity in Babylon. The northern kingdom was made up of ten tribes and they just sort of melted into the melting pot of the Middle East in Asia. The typical procedure of the Assyrians when they conquered a country was to take the local population and move them and disperse them so that they would no longer have a core identity; in other words, to break down their ability to revolt.
A few weeks ago I saw a special on A&E called the Lost Tribes of Israel. It was fascinating because they went into various pockets of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, up through Iran as well as Ethiopia; showing where various groups of people, even in China there were groups that still claim to be Jewish. In fact, the had assimilated, obviously to some degree or another, so the Ethiopian Jews are black and the Chinese Jews are Chinese; the Indian Jews are Indian. But in the passport, on the official papers of the Chinese, for example, it is stamped "Jew." The Jewish community in this one village had fallen apart, fragmented a hundred and fifty years ago, but there were still individuals who lived there who claim to be Jews. These are the so called "ten lost tribes of Israel." They are still scattered, but they do still have some identity. Many of these groups are coming back to Israel and are being recognized as Jews and with DNA testing they can check and make sure that they are Jewish. That is fascinating to see how that is taking place before our very eyes.
Judah in captivity covers the periods from 586 BC to 536 BC when they begin to return to the land. And then the Post-Exilic Period covers 536 BC to 400 BC. Now last time as we got through this we looked primarily at the northern kingdom. We didn't do a detailed study. You have your chart there. You can sort of follow along. It begins with the split between Rehoboam in the south and Jeroboam in the north. Jeroboam is the first king in the north. He leads the tax revolt against Rehoboam when he is not only going to continue the oppressive tax policy of Solomon, but he is going to increase the rate of taxes. So Jeroboam leads the revolt and he sets up an alterative religion in the north that claims to be based on the worship of Yahweh. Just like many Christians claim to be Christians but they are not following the Bible. The same thing happens. He sets up alternative worship sites in Bethel and Dan; and he builds and has golden claves manufactured that are to represent God. He claims that this is the God that brought them out of Egypt (Exodus.)
So you see theological and historical revisionism taking place under Jeroboam and this is one of the major sins that take place in the north. From this point on all of the kings are basically said to follow in the footsteps of Jeroboam I and to lead the people into idolatry. That is except for Ahab under the Omri dynasty. We saw that Ahab married Jezebel. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal who was the high priest of Baal in Tyre; and that brings full blown Canaanite paganism, which they were to have destroyed back into Israel as a religion and the worship of Yahweh is outlawed. This is when you have the famous conflict between Elijah and Ahab. Then under Jeroboam II there is a reversal against the Baal worship, but they just go back to the Jeroboam I heresy. So all the kings in the north basically are evil; that is what we said last time. All the kings in the north are evil. Six in the south are good.
When we stopped last time I wanted to take a slight break and look at the prophets. If you look at your chart, what you will see in a vertical column there next to the dateline; you will see the prophets inserted into there chronological order. You might want to circle that or highlight that in some way on the overhead. That is red so you can see how they fit into the overall flow of history. The office of prophet did not begin until you are into 1 Samuel, into the theocracy. The first prophet is unnamed; he is just called a man of God. His task was to inform Eli in the Name of God that the house of Eli was going to be replaced by a faithful priest. Eli was the high priest and he was corrupt and his children were even more corrupt. So Eli, this is prior to the chart that we have on the overhead.
You have that unnamed man of God in 1 Samuel 2. Then Samuel is the first significant prophet on the scene who anoints both Saul and David and is the voice of the LORD. This sets a precedent that every king is anointed by a prophet. A prophet precedes and this every king should be authorized by God; must first be anointed by a prophet. That was the role of John the Baptist. He was a prophet in the line of Old Testament prophets and so he must anoint Jesus. That is what takes place at Jesus' baptism at the Jordan River. This follows the Old Testament pattern. A king could not reign independently. A human government is not autonomous. It is always under the authority of God and established by the prophet. John the Baptist is a prophet, the one who anoints Jesus in His ministry and this follows the Old Testament pattern.
Now there are several other prophets that are mentioned in the Old Testament. You have Nathan, who was a prophet and friend of David. He appears for the last time when Solomon is made king. Nathan is the advisor of David. He is the successor of Samuel. Then you have the mention of Ahijah the Shilonite in 1 Kings 11:29-40. He is the one who appears before Jeroboam and gives him a prophesy that he will lead a revolt against the southern kingdom. So you could write Ahijah into your notes there in 1 Kings 11:20-40, the first mention of Ahijah. These are non writing prophets. You have non writing prophets and writing prophets: Gad, Nathan, Samuel, Ahijah, Azariah, Hananiah, Jehu, these are all non writing prophets who appear on the scene and give the Word of the LORD and who will be king and announce various other prophesies of judgment. Of course, the greatest two are listed here on the chart, Elijah, during the reign of Ahab and Elisha during the reign of Jehoram and Jehu. So you have Elijah and Elisha.
Elijah comes on the scene during the darkest period of Israel's history when Ahab is the king. He is married to Jezebel and they have established Baal worship as the primary state religion. Open your Bibles with me to 1 Kings 17. We will just read the initial statement here. It is interesting how a number of factors often show up in a Scripture passage. 1 Kings 17:1 we read, "Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead," now we don't know any thing more about his background than that. Gilead is probably across the Jordan, but even that is uncertain and much debated. Elijah just sort of appears out of nowhere into the court of Ahab and announces, "As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand; surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." Now two things are going on here; first of all, if you go back and read the curses in the outline of the five cycles of discipline going back to Deuteronomy 24. God announces that with Israel's disobedience He is going to withdraw rain and the sky will be like iron and the earth will be like bronze. That is what is taking place. He is announcing a drought and a famine.
Another thing that is going on here and that is that the state religion is now Baal worship, BAH-ahl /'bɑːɑːl/, as it is pronounced in the Hebrew, Baal is the storm god. He is the god of thunder, the god of rain; he is the god of fertility, and so what Elijah is demonstrating here is two things:
1. You are under judgment because you disobeyed God and God's judgment will come true.
2. God is more powerful than Baal.
So then you have the episodes in 1 Kings 17 when Elijah leaves and goes out on his own and God basically hides him and takes care of him for several years before he appears back in the court to challenge Ahab. Then you have the episode in 1 Kings 18 when Elijah goes up on Mt. Carmel and challenges the priests of Baal.
Now that is the whole background. You have to understand that Baal is the god of fertility; he is the god of rain; he is the god of thunder, and so Elijah erects this enormous altar up on Mt. Carmel and he challenges the priests of Baal and says if your god is God let him strike this with lightening and burn up the altar. And so they dance around and they cut themselves and they go through all the gyrations of pagan priests and nothing happens. So Elijah taunts them. There is something interesting there. We don't like that in post-modern America. Taunting somebody for their religious belief is considered intolerant, but you just look at Elijah and you say what is the matter? Did your god go to the bathroom? Is he taking a little rest break? He just really challenges them. Nothing happens and this goes on most of the day and then they quit and Elijah comes out and takes these enormous pots of water and dowses the entire altar until the water is just running off and fills the gutter around the altar. He prays to God and instantly fire comes down from heaven and vaporizes the altar, the sacrifice, and everything and demonstrates that God is God.
It is interesting that just right after that victory Elijah goes into the pits of depression. He gets his eyes on himself and he thinks he is the only one left. And LORD, what are we going to do? I am the only one left and nobody is following me. That is when God tells him, no, that there are 7,000 others who have not bowed their knee to Baal. So there is always seems to be a remnant at this time. Well Elijah is eventually replaced by Elisha during the reign of Jehoram and Jehu. Jehoram is the last of Ahab's line and they are replaced through a bloody cue authorized by God under Jehu. But the problem is that just as with Jeroboam, who is authorized to reign in the north, God is judging the David line because of Solomon's compromise. That is why he split the kingdom into. God has authorized the northern kingdom and he has authorized Jeroboam's monarchy. If Jeroboam had been faithful to the LORD God would have sustained him, but Jeroboam went into idolatry. The same thing happens to Jehu. He is anointed by a prophet; he is given Divine authorization to be the king in the north, but he continues to lead the people into sin of Jeroboam the son of Nabat, which is Jeroboam I. So these things continue… (Dr. Dean's chart unavailable but see chart below*).
In the northern kingdom during the ministry, the prophesy period, of Elijah and Elisha, in the south Asa and Jehoshaphat are both see as good kings; they follow the LORD. It during their reign, the reign of Jehoram, Ahaziah, that Obadiah prophesizes; Obadiah is one of the minor prophets. Obadiah basically brings judgment and announces that Edom, which is on the southern border of Israel. If you look at the map here (Dr. Dean's map unavailable but see map below**). Edom is across the Jordan and southeast of the Dead Sea. For a while they are under Jerusalem's control and then for a while they revolt and they are eventually taken out in judgment. This is the prophecy that takes place about two centuries before it is actually fulfilled.
Of course, what you will note is that whenever any prophet prophesizes anything that truly foretells the future the liberals always come along, and by that I don't mean political liberals. In theology the liberals don't take the Word of God as the Word of God. The Bible as it contains the Word of God; or it is just as accurate in things related to religion, but it is not accurate historically or in other things. Of course there can't be anything true predicted in prophesy because that would mean that God is really God. So there is always an attempt to re-date things, so instead of these prophets foretelling the future they are actually writing history and that is not the case. There is a lot of evidence that Obadiah is written during the time and the reign of Jehoram as is Joel. So that is where these two minor prophets fit into the scheme of things during the 9th century BC.
Now during this time there was continued apostasy in the north. What we have seen so far is that the kings in the north did not have prophetic sanction other than Jehu and Jeroboam. They go through various stages of apostasy, which they are rejected by the LORD and God raises up prophets in order to warn them of Divine judgment. God uses two nations during this period to discipline Israel. The first nation that He uses are the Aramaens. They are to the north east of Israel; and the second nation is the Assyrian Empire; so first the Aramaens and then the Assyrians. The Aramaens began as rivals and later become masters. They have various victories over Israel and eventually reduce during this time down in the middle part of the 800s BC; they reduce Israel to a very small section just around Samaria. It becomes nothing more than part of a runt state until God sends a deliverer.
Now God always sends unusual deliverers and the deliverer that God sent in this case is Adad Nirari III, who is the Assyrian king; this is covered in 2 Kings 13:25. So for a while there is a brief pause in the discipline on the northern kingdom but then the Aramaen states begin to grow stronger and stronger and look basically undefeatable but Assyria is gathering their strength and the ominous cloud on the horizon. Everybody knows that eventually this storm is going to come their way and by 740 BC the Assyrian empire began to move to the west so that the northern kingdom eventually becomes destroyed in 722 BC.
Now it is during this time that God raises up prophets such as Jonah; we have already mentioned Amos and also Hosea, who comes up during this time. It is interesting how God uses Jonah in this period. The basic theme of Jonah, which Jonah's life and his ministry was around 800 BC to about 780 BC. He is quite a popular prophet in the north because this just proceeds the reign of Jeroboam II and at the early part of his reign and according to 2 Kings 14:25 Jonah was prophesying that there would be tremendous prosperity in the northern kingdom. There borders will expand; there will be economic prosperity; there will be plenty of food. This was God's grace before judgment. God always follows that pattern. He never judges without proceeding with the message of grace. It was 120 years of Noah preaching the gospel prior to the Flood. There is always grace. Moses went to Pharaoh in the times of the plagues announcing judgment giving Pharaoh the opportunity to follow the LORD and release the Israelites, but Pharaoh each time refused. So there is always grace before judgment. That is always God's pattern.
Jonah's quite popular and then the event by which everybody remembers Jonah. Jonah is told to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, in order to warn them of impending Divine judgment. The thing about Jonah was that he was an intense patriot to Israel and he realizes the threat of the Assyrians so the last thing he wants to do is go to the enemy to warn them of Divine judgment. He would rather just sit back and let God wipe them out. So he goes the opposite direction and we all know the story about Jonah and the great fish. It wasn't a whale; it was a great fish. There are in fact instances and stories every now and then of some large fish or shark or in one case a whale swallowing a fisherman. The fishermen survived; they come out because they have spent some time in the intestinal system of a fish. They are bleached white from the stomach acid. So this makes them quite noticeable as they come out.
If that happened with Jonah then when he finally arrived in Nineveh he was presented as quite a shocking image. So this would draw everybody's attention to him and he announced God's judgment and preached the gospel and the Assyrians turned to the LORD massively, hundreds of thousands were saved. This is what allowed the empire to survive and to execute judgment on the northern kingdom. So Jonah was used to preserve the Assyrians so they in turn could judge the northern kingdom. I am sure he did not appreciate being used by the LORD in such a way. But that is the story of Jonah and how he fits into the overall scheme is that we see that Israel is a blessing. Remember, God told Abraham that I am calling you out as a people; you will be a blessing to all nations and even if you are in rebellion, I am still going to fulfill the promise. So Jonah is sent to the Assyrians. We also see a similar type theme in Amos, which shows God's concern for the Gentiles and that during the Old Testament period there is still thousands and thousands of Gentiles who are saved as a result of Israel's witness. So it is during this time that God carries out and fulfills certain aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant.
I said earlier that there were six good kings in Judah (see chart below): Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Uzziah, Hezekiah and Josiah. One of my personal favorites has always been Joash because of what takes place during his life. It is a fascinating story. In fact, it is a tremendous encouragement to parents of the impact that you can have on your children as young children and the impact that they can have as a result of the doctrine that they learn in the home. We go back and we look at the chart. We will see that Joash reigned in the south just after Ahab and Jehoram in the north. What happened for background is that Jehoshaphat entered into an alliance with Ahab and in order to seal that alliance he has his son Jehoram marry the daughter of Jezebel, by the name of Athaliah. Now Athaliah is almost, just a shade, less wicked than her mother. But, this is the grace of God and also His sense of humor – both of these women are in the line of Christ (by marriage).
Athaliah wants to introduce her agenda, to introduce Baal worship into the south and completely do away with all worship of Yahweh, and is almost successful. Jehoram is a wicked king and goes along with all of her policies. He was so wicked that when he became king he feared that there would be a coup led by his brothers so he had all of them executed. He wipes out everybody in the family. Remember this is the Davidic line. God had promised David that there never would be a time when he did not have a son on the throne, so the light begins to flicker a little bit here because there is only one left in the Davidic line now and that is Jehoram and he is a Baal worshipper. So he has a bloody violent reign and is killed, assassinated and succeeded by his son Ahaziah, who is in turn killed in the battle of Ramoth-Gilead.
Ahaziah has a very short reign; he doesn't last a year and so the only person left in the monarchy who can reign as an adult is Athaliah. Athaliah decides this is her opportunity so she is going to go through the king's harem and she is going to wipe out every child. So she, like the Pharaoh of the oppression, like Herod, she wipes out all the children in the line. But Jehoram had a daughter named Jehosheba who was married to the high priest at the time, Jehoiada. So Jehosheba takes the infant Joash and hides him in the temple and gives him to the high priest, Jehoiada, who in turn raises this infant. So the light has flickered. It is almost out. All that is left is this infant son and of course he is going to eventually stage a coup when he is six years of age. He is positive to doctrine; he is taught the Word of God. He is taught by Jehoiada; he drills him on the Word of God and on the principles of the Mosaic Law. And by this time nobody else even knows what the Mosaic Law consists of because all the copies had been destroyed except for one or two that are left in the temple.
Now there was no return to the Word. So the people still, even under Joash there is still not going to be the Word of God in the land. That won't happen until you get down to Josiah. Under Josiah, which is much later, down around 640 BC when he comes to the throne. Not until you get down to Josiah who has a heart for the LORD and is going to go back in and rebuild the temple. When he does, because it has fallen in disrepair because of all the idolatry and nobody cares about God. When he goes back into the temple guess what they discover? They discover the Mosaic Law and nobody even knows about it. They have forgotten about it. It is a tremendous example of what the impact of the Word of God has on people. They bring it (the Word of God) out and start making copies. They send the priest and prophets throughout the land to read the Mosaic Law to the people and there is one of those rare events in history where there is a true and genuine revival.
One of the things that marks a true and genuine revival, not like some of the stuff you hear today. It is not a lot of enthusiastic excitement and emotionalism and all of the other stuff. It is marked by the clear and concise teaching of the Word of God and people's response to the teaching of the Word of God. It shows in their changed lifestyle. So I think that Joash and Josiah are two of the great revivals that take place in the southern kingdom during their history, when the people return to the land. But the sad part about the story of Joash is once his mentor, Jehoiada, dies when Joash is in his twenties, he assimilates to the paganism in the country. What happens with these kings is they return the state religious emphasis back to the Mosaic Law and the Mosaic emphasis, but the heart of the people does not go back to the LORD for the most part with a few minor exceptions during this time. So because of that they are eventually going to go out under Divine discipline.
Now as you get further down into this chart, you go down from Joash, Azariah (Uzziah) the fourth of the great kings in the south. It is under Azariah's (Uzziah's) ministry that Isaiah has most of his ministry. It is during this time that Isaiah is pronouncing judgment upon the southern kingdom, warning them that because of their idolatrous heart, because they have basically rejected their God at the popular level, they will continue to come under Divine discipline. The dates for Isaiah are roughly 750 BC to 680 BC. He is under two kings. He is under, operates under Uzziah down to Hezekiah's reign. He covers Jotham; he has a long period. It starts with Uzziah and goes down to Hezekiah. Isaiah's reign is primarily under Hezekiah. 2 Kings 18:5-7a says this about Hezekiah. Would you like this to be your Divine epitaph? "There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow Him. He kept the commands of the LORD had given Moses and the LORD was with him and he was successful in whatever he undertakes." So Hezekiah is the greatest of all of the southern kings.
Now when you look at Isaiah, Isaiah is one of the great prophecies of the Old Testament and it is divided into three sections. The first section covers the first 35 chapters. So book one of Isaiah is chapters 1-35 and this with the Assyrian background. Assyria now has invaded the northern kingdom or invades it in 722 BC. Isaiah begins his ministry about 732 BC just prior to the Assyrian destruction of the northern kingdom and he warns that Assyria will come and that they will come all the way to the door of Jerusalem but they will not be able to take Jerusalem. He predicts the overthrow of the north, but he says that they will not completely destroy the southern kingdom. He predicts that Assyria will go into Egypt. He uses the metaphor that it is going to come like a flood as water rises up a man's leg to his waist and so forth, so all the way up to the nose and the head, but it won't completely cover him. And the nose and the head is Jerusalem.
So like a flood Assyria comes right to the gates of Jerusalem and then God intervenes and wipes out the entire Assyrian army. The Angel of the LORD comes down during the night while the army sleeps, everybody is killed. Sennacherib wakes up the next day; the army is gone; everyone is dead; he flees back to Assyria and is soon assassinated because when you have an army that size, several hundred thousand wiped out it is going to send shock waves through the entire empire. So the first 35 chapters deal with the Assyrian background. The second section, which is book two, chapters 36-39 is going to also deal in part, chapters 36 and 37, with the Assyrian invasion, and then in chapters 38 and 39 is the prediction of the Babylonian invasion. Book three is predictive period which predicts that the Jews would go into captivity in Babylon, this is chapters 40-66, and it focuses on the redemptive solution that God will send through the suffering servant. That is one of the greatest sections of prophesy related to the Messiah and the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. That is in Isaiah 53.
Now from this point on the northern kingdom goes out under Divine discipline in 722 BC. From that point we come to Judah alone, from 722 BC to 586 BC. We have Hezekiah and he is followed by Manasseh, who is Hezekiah's son. He reigns for 45 years and he was the most evil and wicked of all the kings. The Scripture says of Manasseh, "Thus Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to be more evil then the nations the LORD destroyed before the sons of Israel." Now look at that. Here is Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah. Hezekiah is the apex of rule in Judah. He is the greatest of all the kings and has a heart for the LORD and his son Manasseh is just 180 degrees opposite, undoes everything that his father did. He (Manasseh) did more evil than the nations the Lord destroyed. That is all the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, the whole mess of pagan religions is not nearly as evil and wicked as Manasseh. They are offering their children as live sacrifices to be burned in the arms of Molech; they have adopted all the pagan practices and then they try to improve on them. Not in a good sense, they just become more pervert.
But eventually God's grace gets even Manasseh, and at the end of his reign Manasseh gives us an example of what repentance really means. He changes his mind and he turns back to the LORD. We see this in 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 "When he was in distress, he entreated the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He (God) was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem (Manasseh had been taken out as a captive by the Babylonians) to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD, Yahweh, was God." 2 Chronicles 33:14 "Now after this he built the outer wall of the city of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entrance of the Fish Gate; and he encircled the Ophel with it and made it very high. Then he put army commanders in all the fortified cities of Judah." So he rebuilds the military.
2 Chronicles 33:15, this is the key; this is what true repentance looks like. It is not emotional. It is not feeling sorry for your sin. It is recognizing the truth and changing the way you do things on the basis of truth. "He also removed the foreign gods and the idols from the house of the LORD, as well as all the altars which he had built on the mountain of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside the city." So he tears down all the high places and removes all the altars. He institutes Yahweh worship as the state religious worship again. But the problem is that it can't institute a revival from the top down. It has to come from the bottom up. The people still have their allegiance to all of the idols. 2 Chronicles 33:16 "He set up the altar of the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it; and he ordered Judah to serve the Lord, Yahweh, God of Israel. 2 Chronicles 33:17 "Nevertheless the people still sacrificed in the high places, although only to the LORD their God." That is they continued to assimilate. It was like going to a place of pagan worship and calling Yahweh.
That is what is going on here. So they are still assembling. They are like many people today they wanted to believe that everything is true. If you believe that everything is true then you believe that nothing is true; because if you believe everything it is all self contradictory then you are in trouble.
Now during this time was the prophecy of Nahum fits in at this same time at the end of Manasseh's reign. Then you have the rise of one last sign of grace before the final judgment on the southern kingdom. It is the rise of Josiah. He leads the people in a true reform movement. There is a return of (the people.) They discover the law in the temple; they rebuild the temple but yet it doesn't have any effect on the nation as a whole because the people are still rejecting the LORD. You see on the side here the prophets that write during the reign of Josiah, Jehoahaz, and Jehoiakim.
Jehoahaz is about twelve years followed by his uncle Jehoiakim in 597 BC. His reign is very short. He is a wicked king; he is also called Coniah. Jehoiakim or Coniah is referred to as the Coniah curse because he was so wicked that God announced a curse on his line; that His line would be cut off from the throne of Judah. Now that is important because that relates to the genealogical line of Joseph. Joseph is a descendant of Jeconiah or Coniah. That is one other reason why Jesus could not be the physical child of Joseph because that would mean He was a descendant of Coniah. God cut off Coniah. The line from Mary, a descendant from another son of David, from Nathan, goes down to Jesus has true inheritance rights to the throne of David through a different side of the royal line. So we see at this period that this comes to a rapid close by 586 BC.
Let's back up and look at this last section. You can divide the period, this 100-year period into three sections, Manasseh and Amon from 687 BC to 640 BC. This first period is Manasseh and Amon. Baal worship is the official religion and then there is a revival right there at the end. Then you have the period of Josiah, which is a period of reformation; and then all of Josiah's sons do evil and just lead the people into worse and worse examples of idolatry. During this time, if you are going to read through the Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel; if you are going to read the Minor Prophets, you can't understand what is going on if you don't have some understanding of the background of this history that is taking place because they are grounded in what God is doing historically in the life of Israel. As we look at our map, God is using the; it starts off with the Assyrian Empire and then between about 620 BC to 610 BC the Egyptian Empire from the south comes back into prominence and God uses the Egyptians and then the Assyrian Empire is wiped out and defeated by Babylon. And from 605 BC down to 539 BC the Babylonian Empire is used to discipline the nation of Israel.
It is interesting to observe in this that all of the things that happened in terms of the rise and the decline of power in the nations that surround Israel, for example, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Aramaens, the Egyptians; their fortunes, whether those nations increase in power or decline in power, is directly related to what is happening spiritually in Israel. The point there is that the believer throughout history determines the course of history, because God is either going to be blessing or cursing in relationship to positive volition. When Israel was positive these nations went into decline. Of course what happens is that the liberals come along and try to reverse it. So when you read history you will see this as well because the Assyrian Empire went into decline, Israel was then able to assert itself. Well this is the reverse of the case because Israel was positive to doctrine then they began to assert themselves and because God is protecting them He causes problems in the other nations. So, as goes the believer so goes the client nation, whether it is the covenant nation of Israel or client nations in the Church Age.
So we see how God uses all these nations and they are warned time and time again. Isaiah prophesizes that the Babylonians are going to come and they will completely destroy Judah and the southern kingdom and take them into captivity. Then Jeremiah begins to warn them. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because of his tremendous concern and compassion for the southern kingdom; warning them but the people rejected him. There is one passage early on in Jeremiah that I always remember. Jeremiah is very young at the beginning of his ministry. He is not in Jerusalem yet. He is still out in the country and he is announcing judgment; he is rejected and ridiculed and everybody is running him down. He goes to the LORD and has a whining session. He says LORD, why? Why do you pick me to be the one to do this? To announce their judgment; You know the people are negative; they are not going to listen to me. Why me? God says to him, if you can't walk with the footman how do you think you are going to run with the horsemen?
You know there is a great principle there that we have to learn to deal with the small adversities and oppositions and problems in life because that is what prepares us to go on in the spiritual life to deal with the greater things that God has for us. If we don't learn to walk with the footmen, then we will never run with the horsemen. We will never get to that point in our spiritual life where we have and experience all the blessings and all the things that God has for us because we haven't learned the doctrine and applied it to be able to develop the spiritual strength and courage to handle that opposition.
So we continue. We see in Isaiah and in Jeremiah we have the Lamentations that Jeremiah writes. That is the Book of Lamentations that is going in the wrong direction. We have the Book of Lamentations, which is Jeremiah's lament over the fall of Jerusalem. If you read it you just see where his whole heart is. Let's look at some of the things he says, Jeremiah 3:10 "Yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart." In spite of all this, in spite of the judgment of the northern kingdom, in spite of all the things that God did, all of the prophets He sent, her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me, God said, with all her heart. This is what happens after Manasseh. They don't return with all their heart, "but rather in deception." They just had ritual without reality, and this was really the beginning of the whole Pharisaical movement. It is this outward observance of the Law without a true internal change of mind towards the LORD and submission to the authority of the LORD.
Then Jeremiah 6:16-20, "Thus says the LORD, 'Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is (that is the path of doctrine), and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.' But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' And I set watchmen over you (these are the prophets), saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' (this is a warning sign) But they said, 'We will not listen.' " So warning after warning after warning and the people do not listen. "Therefore hear, O nations, And know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, The fruit of their plans, Because they have not listened to My words, And as for My law, they have rejected it also. For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from Sheba And the sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable And your sacrifices are not pleasing to Me." Ritual without reality is meaningless.
So by the end of Josiah's reign Jehoahaz comes to the throne. He does evil; he shifts his foreign policy, and it is at this time that Assyria is taken out in judgment. The interesting thing is that God will rise up a nation like Assyria. He sends Jonah to that nation to preach the gospel; they turn to the Lord, but they eventually become negative. Now God uses them to discipline the northern kingdom but in the process they become anti-Semitic. So now that they are anti-Semitic God is going to "curse those who curse you," the Abrahamic Covenant; and He takes out Assyria under Divine discipline and replaces them with Babylon.
So now the southern kingdom, Judah, is surrounded by Egypt to the southwest, Babylon to the east, and from 612 BC to 605 BC you see Egypt trying to take control of Judah. There are two or three battles with Nebuchadnezzar. Finally, Nebuchadnezzar defeats the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish. The Babylonians rise up under Nabopolassar; they defeat the Assyrians and his son Nebuchadnezzar is one of the greatest monarchs and powers of all time and Nebuchadnezzar is the one who eventually invades Judah three times, 605 BC, 598 BC and finally in 586 BC he comes in and completely destroys the southern kingdom. It is in 605 BC that he took the first group of captives back to the capital in Babylon. Among those captured you find Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They are believers. Many of these were probably not believers. It is a mixed bag just as those who are destroyed and killed in the military encounters are also a mix of believers and unbelievers.
And so the nation goes out in defeat; the last two kings are hauled off into captivity; and Jeremiah goes with one branch of captives; they flee down to Egypt. So you have an Egyptian community of Jews; you have another group is taken out to the east of Babylon and you have a Babylonian group there; and then the lower classes, the unskilled classes are left in Judah. Other tribes, other ethnic groups are brought in to repopulate; and so nothing is happening in the land for the next seventy years. That is designed in order to fulfill all of the Sabbaths; the Sabbath rests that were mandated under the Mosaic Law. Those Sabbatical laws were never fulfilled; every seventh year the land was supposed to rest; every 49th year it would rest; and then the 50th year was a Jubilee Year. It would rest and there would be no work done during that entire period as a sign of their faith-rest and dependence upon the LORD. Israel never fulfilled that; so in order to give the land its rest during all those sabbatical years that they ignored, God takes them out for seventy years; and that is called the Babylonian captivity. At the end of that He begins to return them in 536 BC; so that is the end of the exile.
We will come back next time and we will look at what takes place during the Exilic Period under Daniel specifically and the Exilic and Post-Exilic Prophets. That should pretty much get us to the end of our survey of orientation to the Old Testament. Now that you have a graph of all that and you can recite it back to me in your sleep; we will have a contest for understanding what goes on in Judges. We will start a series on the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. I don't recall ever hearing anybody preach the Book of Judges, but the theme of Judges is what happens to a culture when they are surrounded by moral relativism. I cannot think of a book that has more significance for believers today than the study in Judges.
"Father, we do thank You for this time to look at Your Word to see how You work in history; how You are gracious to those who are in rebellion to You; You go the extra length in order to continuously woe us back to Yourself and yet there is always the certainty of judgment. You do not withhold judgment even though You are very gracious. Your love far exceeds the degree of Your wrath and Your judgment. This is of course this was ultimately portrayed at the Cross where Jesus Christ took on Himself our judgment. Father, we pray that if there is anyone here this morning that is uncertain of their eternal destiny, unsure of their salvation; that right now would be the opportunity for them to make that certain by putting their faith in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins. He is that to which all of the Old Testament points and to which all the New Testament points back to. He is our Savior; He paid the penalty for every sin in human history so that we have to do nothing. Salvation is not based on church attendance or on moral reformation or any other human factor. It is faith alone in Christ alone. Father we pray that You would help us to understand the things that we studied, to think about them, to reflect on the themes of the Old Testament that we may have a greater understanding and appreciation of what You did during that time. We pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen."
* This is not the chart Dr. Dean used.
** Map of Israel during times of 1 and 2 Kings