Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 20-22

2 Chronicles 20‑22  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
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Even Jehoshaphat is no exception to the universal deceitfulness and ingratitude of the human heart. The people were sinking deeper in sin notwithstanding the wonderful interpositions of God's mercy, His patient longsuffering; they had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers (20:33). The prophet had told the king, “There are some good things found in thee.” When did the Lord ever forget what was acceptable to Him? Yet here is but another instance of the inconstancy and instability of man. For after the gracious rebuke of his unholy alliance with Ahab, after his wondrous deliverance from the united armies of Moab, of Ammon, and others, a great multitude, after God had given him rest, after all this did he join himself with Ahaziah, king of Israel who did very wickedly. This alliance was for commercial purposes, to make ships to go to Tarshish. The prophet reproved him for joining with the father, and he repeats it with the son. Again the Lord rebukes him, and the ships are broken. There is to be no alliance with Israel, with the haters of the Lord, neither for war nor for commerce. Ahaziah solicits a renewal of the attempt, but Jehoshaphat would not (1 Kings 22:4949Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not. (1 Kings 22:49)). No doubt he felt the reproof given by Eliezer, and that the destruction of his ships was Jehovah's judgment.
A brief notice of Jehoram follows; we see the cruel policy of a tyrant: he slew all his brethren and some of the princes. Is he a son of the house of David? Yes; but he is married to Ahab's daughter, and was better pleased with Ahab's court than with his father's. See what Jehoshaphat's affinity with Ahab led to. For the first time we read of Judah's king following and bringing in Ahab's wickedness into the court of Judah; and not only worse idolatries, but his wife when old (Athaliah) develops into a murderess and slays even her own grand-children, save Joash who is preserved from her fury. In a remarkable way a prophetic writing comes to the king from Elijah, which was kept back by the over-ruling hand of God till the right moment, after the prophet's death, when the threatening contained in it might (humanly speaking) have greater effect upon him. But it does not appear to have wrought any change on him. A murderer of his brethren, an idolater, of the worst type, he died just as Elijah's writing predicted. In judgment his was a miserable, dishonored and unregretted end, no reign hitherto so disastrous, if we except Rehoboam's, when the ten tribes revolted: the Philistines and the Arabians, who brought presents to his father, rise up against him. And again we may ask; Is he a scion of the house of David? Yea, and therefore he and his are not irreparably destroyed. “Howbeit the Lord would not destroy the house of David because of the covenant that He had made with David, and as He promised to give a light to him and to his sons forever” (21:7). Judgment yet delays, but it soon comes, and is pronounced by divine authority upon the guilty people and land. As each evil king appears, Judah's guilt deepens; and idolatry, the root—sin of all, bears abundant fruit. Judah had already become Aholibah.
Enough is given to show the accelerating descent of Judah into the depths of idolatry and the judgments of God becoming more severe. Think of the chosen nation dwindled down to two tribes; of the royal family of David, the chosen of the chosen, whose representative now is a fratricide, an idolater dying a most awful and terrible death, the immediate infliction and judgment of the righteous God; and of the enemy triumphant! What a condition morally and governmentally for the people! Were the surrounding heathen nations worse than this? How great the compassion and longsuffering of God! how His mercy flowed on like a river that deepens and widens as it rolls onward, as it were, side by side with the flood of iniquity, and keeping pace with it, until that deed was done which brought upon them the heavy judgment under which they are still lying. That deed which truly was the doing of the combined power of the darkness of hell and of earth, of Satan and the haters of the Lord, but which was fore-ordained of God as indeed the means and reason of the only foundation of Israel's past mercies, of God's present longsuffering, of their ultimate restoration, and of eternal salvation known now and forever, both for the Jew and the Gentile. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out (Rom. 11:3333O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33))!
The greater their provocation, the greater does the mercy of God appear. But underneath their provocation is the power and cunning of Satan. For he is to them the unknown and hidden enemy of their Messiah, ever seeking to break that kingly chain whose first link is David, and the last Jesus the great Son of David. The idolatries, rebellions, and alliances with the Gentile, or with apostate Israel, are so many attempts of Satan against Christ. His enmity is more against the COMING KING than against the people of the kingdom. He is permitted so far as to bring judgment upon the chosen people, but this only shows how glorious is the victory of grace over the most desperate wickedness of man, and of God's power over the utmost malignity of the devil.
Israel as a shadow of the future kingdom was ruined when the ten tribes revolted. But God's purpose stood fast, and for its accomplishment two tribes continued steadfast to the house of David: a fact due only to the faithfulness and purpose of God. When that purpose is accomplished, it is the bringing in His First Begotten into the world; but before He takes the kingdom, judgment falls upon Judah, and with heavier strokes than upon Israel, and heavier still they are to bear before the King appears in glory. Their cup of iniquity overflowed when they crucified their own Messiah. God lingered in mercy till then, yea after; for Peter proclaimed the restitution of all things if they would only repent. But even as they rejected Jesus on earth as their Messiah, so they would not have Him as the risen Lord of all, and killed Stephen. He was as a messenger from the dead, and their language is the same as when the Lord was living on the earth, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Of necessity judgment followed.
Either by the enemy's sword, or by internal treachery, Satan had apparently almost succeeded in destroying the house of David; against that house he was continually plotting. If he could but destroy that family (by this time he knew that the Bruiser of his head would come thence), then all Israel would be his prey, the two tribes as well as the ten, besides the world at large where he reigned. Jehoram, Cain-like, had slain all his brethren, and the Philistines and Arabians come to complete the destruction of the chosen family, so that there was never a son left him [Jehoram] save Jehoahaz the youngest of his sons (21:17) called also Ahaziah, who reigned but one year. How marked the judgment of God upon these two kings! The former (Jehoram) dying of a dreadful disease, buried ingloriously, the latter slain by the sword, a poor runaway fugitive. But it was the vengeance of God (22:7).