2 CHRONICLES 36
4 And the king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and turned his name to Jehoiakim. And Necho took Jehoahaz his brother, and carried him to Egypt.
A heathen presumed to designate the ruler of God's kingdom for the first time! Egypt was to pay dearly for this presumption. Foreigners were to set up her rulers - Ezekiel 30. So it has been for over 2000 years since.
Jehoiakim reigned eleven years, and Jeremiah had much to do with this ungodly man. In the first year of his reign, Jeremiah was commanded to stand in the court of the temple and proclaim to all the people that came to worship that unless they put away their wickedness, God would make the temple a desolation and the city a curse to all the nations of the earth.
Exactly the same charges were brought against Jeremiah by the priests and false prophets, as were brought against Christ that he had spoken against and threatened the temple of God. They said, "Thou shalt surely die." But at this time the princes and the people saved him from the priests. For in God's purpose, he had much work yet to do.
And this was just one year after Josiah's death-the 1st year of Jehoiakim.
Bro Growcott - Jeremiah, prophet of judgement and glory
5 Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he began to reign, and he reigned 11 years in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh his Elohim.
In the 4th and 5th years of Jehoiakim, a very significant chain of events occurred-one of the great turning points of history. We are told in Jeremiah 25 that the 4th year of Jehoiakim was the 1st year of Nebuchadnezzar. This, incidentally, is a very important connecting link between Scriptural and profane history. In indication of a great change in God's relationship to Judah, Jeremiah proclaims to the nation that he had now warned them for 23 years and that they had not harkened, and that consequently, the long foretold evil is about to begin. Judah has now 18 years to go.
It is at this time that the Spirit reveals through Jeremiah that the captivity by Babylon will last 70 years. And, at the same time Jeremiah is commanded to write all his prophecies in a book, and to have it read before all the people as a solemn witness. This was completed in Jehoiakim's 5th year.
The book was publicly read as commanded, and the princes who heard it immediately took the matter before the king, and began to read it to him. When two or three columns had been read, the king seized the book, cut it with a knife, and threw it into the fire.
That was the point at which the nation's doom was finally sealed. That event ranks in significance with the rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah. "His blood be upon us and upon our children," they cried, as the living Word was cut asunder, and he was cast into the sacrificial fire.
Jeremiah records with sadness and wonder that when the roll of God's Holy Word was divisively cut and burned,
"Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words."
They were all in it together.
At the same time, in this 5th year of Jehoiakim, which was the 2nd of Nebuchadnezzar, another event of immense importance took place, which though a long way away and under very different circumstances and surroundings, we can see was directly connected with and dependent upon this final appeal and witness by God and His official rejection by the king and the Israelitish nation.
As Israel was rejecting God, God was revealing to an alien that He was rejecting Israel-the Kingdom of God was to be cast down and the kingdom of men to be given unrestricted sway for seven times-2520 long evil years.
For it was in this fateful year, we are told, Nebuchadnezzar received his dream of the great and terrible image. He is told that it represents the kingdom of men that is to rule the world in violence, bloodshed, and lust, until God's rejected kingdom is reestablished. Measuring from this event-604 BC-it was exactly 2520 years to 1917, when the last desolator was driven out of the land.
Because of the proclamation of Jeremiah's book of prophecy, Jehoiakim sought to seize Jeremiah. But it is recorded that the LORD hid him.
He was commanded to write the book again and to add many words to it-make the judgment even greater. More evils were included, because of Jehoiakim's insolent rejection. And among them may well have been the prediction that this king, of all the long line of mostly evil kings, this one should have the crowning indignity of the burial of an ass-his body cast out to abuse and insult.
Jehoiakim doubtless felt he was quite a hero in daring to flaunt the Word of God, as is the custom of modern thought today, but "God is not mocked." The final end of the matter will show where wisdom lies.
All, who reject God's Word, will suffer the same end-the burial of an ass, or as David expresses it, "Like sheep are they laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning."
Bro Growcott - Jeremiah, prophet of judgement and glory
15 And Yahweh Elohim of their fathers [Avoteihem] sent to them by His messengers [malachim], rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on his people, and on His dwelling place [Ma'on]:
"It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem."
This may strike the ear as a strange saying. Jerusalem the chosen -- Jerusalem where God had placed His name -- Jerusalem where David reigned, and which God had honoured with His manifested presence. Why must Jerusalem be the scene of a prophet's martyrdom? It seems as if the fitness of things would have required a reverse conclusion. But the history of the case supports the words of Christ. God Himself says:
"This city hath been to Me as a provocation of Mine anger and of My fury from the day that they built it, even to this day ... They have turned to Me the back and not the face, though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction" (Jer. xxxii. 31-33).
And again by Ezekiel: "This Jerusalem, I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her, and she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her ... Therefore, thus saith Yahweh God, behold I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations" (Ezek v. 5).
It was to bring Jerusalem from her wickedness that the prophets were sent; and it was because of their message that they perished at her hands...
...Jesus was therefore in strict harmony with the divinely-recorded history of Jerusalem when he sent word to Herod that that city, and not Galilee, must witness his sufferings -- a strange, sad, sorrowful history, which on this same occasion wrung from the lips of Christ the memorable apostrophe:
"O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee: how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate; and, verily I say unto you, ye shall not see me until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Yahweh."
There has been a history since the history that drew this lamentable exclamation from the mouth of Christ; and how signally has that second history borne out his words. What has been Israel's state since the destruction of Jerusalem? What has been Israel's history for 1800 years past? Could it be more graphically portrayed than in the words of Christ:
"Your house is left unto you desolate."
Reasonable men will behold in this fulfilment of prophecy the evidence of the divinity of his work and words.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 46
18 And all the vessels of the house of Elohim [ kelei Beis HaElohim], great and small [hagedolim and haketanim], and the treasures of the house [otzerot of the Beis] of Yahweh, and the treasures of the king [otzerot HaMelech], and of his princes [sarim]; all these he brought to Babylon.
19 And they burnt the house of Elohim [Beis HaElohim], and brake down the wall of Jerusalem [Chomat Yerushalayim], and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire [eish], and destroyed all the goodly [its precious ] vessels thereof.
The two books of Chronicles are a brief resumé of God's dealings with men from the Creation to the destruction of the Kingdom. Today we are brought to the final chapter in that history - a tragic history of wasted opportunity and unfilled expectations.
What glorious possibilities were open to Israel! A holy nation, a chosen people, a sanctified vessel, to whom God had drawn marvelously near, and through whom He had condescended to reveal Himself to mankind.
But how miserably they failed! What prolonged distress and wretchedness could have been avoided if they had only hearkened to the gentle voice of divine instruction, speaking to them as a Father to His children. What useless sorrow, just because they would not learn!
Is it indeed true that we can only learn wisdom by the path of bitter experience? Only learn it when it is too late? Does man lack entirely the faculty of avoiding evil by timely self-discipline? Must human experience always be one endless cycle of heedless folly and hopeless regret?
Fortunately, we have the assurance that this is not the whole picture, although the broad course of Scripture and experience indicate that it is almost universally true.
But there have always been the exceptions. Our hope lies in discovering and applying that hidden source of divine power by which these exceptions succeeded in breaking the strong downward gravity of the natural, and drawing themselves upward toward God.
From both the successes of the few, and the failure of the many, we must take lessons that will enable us to succeed.
Bro Growcott - Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge
20 And them that had escaped from the sword [cherev] carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants [ avadim] to him and his sons [banim] until the reign of the kingdom of Persia [Paras]:
What happened to Israel? What went wrong with their bright beginnings-their eager enthusiasm for God? And how could it have been avoided? Did they voluntarily and consciously choose the path of self-destruction, or did it overtake them without warning from behind as the accumulated consequence of deeper and deeper self-deception and neglect?
To the very last moment they did not see the blow falling. Each increasingly ominous portent of disaster found them further blinded by the perverted fleshly exhilaration of a still lower descent into abomination and rebellion against God.
If they could have seen to the end the consequences of their course - if they had fully realized what was in store - if they could have clearly perceived things in their true light - would they have acted differently, before it was too late? Unquestionably, unless they were entirely devoid of reason.
So, in the final analysis, the whole trouble lay in their perception. True, what led them astray were the natural motions of their flesh, but everyone has them. A man is not a helpless slave to his flesh in any respect, unless he chooses to be. There is always available an inexhaustible supply of divine power, if man will only accept it to help fight himself.
But sometimes we are not very anxious to get rid of our idols, and after a few halfhearted attempts as a concession to our conscience, we find it easy to convince ourselves that it cannot be done.
The plea of weakness will not bear the light of day. God delights to make the weak strong, if they will unreservedly give themselves to Him. Most do not really want to put away their enjoyable little "weaknesses."
The trouble with Israel lay in their perception. They could not see. Darkness enveloped them, and they stumbled on to destruction, fighting against the light, mocking the messengers of God, twisting themselves tighter and tighter in the net of their own blind obstinacy, till the wrath of God rose like a flood, and there was no remedy.
Now all this is recorded for our admonition. There is something here for us. Something we must have. Each chapter adds its particular ray to that light which alone can deliver us from the same sad end.
Israel illustrates the almost inevitable course - the course which can be escaped only by constant, tireless effort and application, and by being very different from the majority.
God only proposes to save a very small remnant of the countless millions that come and go. And God is no respecter of persons. It follows then that those whom He selects must be exceptional to a very marked degree, and they must be constantly on guard to maintain this distinction.
Of what must this necessary distinctiveness consist? Not in accomplishments, or ability, or intellectual preeminence - but just one thing: putting God first.
Putting God first consists primarily in keeping Him constantly in the forefront of our current consciousness. Remembering and not forgetting.
Many things fill our minds and come and go as memory is provoked, but it is what occupies our heart and interest and attention that counts. What or who is it to whom our mind irresistibly turns whenever the pressure of the immediate present is relaxed? That is the acid test of our affections. Here we stand face to face with our real selves.
What or who occupies the secret, inner sanctum of our heart where at every opportunity we delight to retire and muse? This is where God looks in making up His jewels, and if He does not find Himself there, He passes on. We may have lots of other things laid out to show Him, but He will not be interested in them. David said-
"Thy testimonies are my delight and the rejoicing of my heart" (Psa. 119: 24).
"I have longed after Thy precepts. I have loved Thy commandments" (Psa. 119: 40).
"Thy statutes have been my songs in my pilgrimage" (Psa. 119: 54).
"O how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psa. 119: 97).
Extreme? Overstated? Too highly coloUred? Poetic exaggeration? Not at all, though it may seem so to the crude, common, animal outlook. Here lies the difference between death and life.Bro Growcott - Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge