2 KINGS 15
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This chapter corresponds with 2 Chronicles 26 and 27.
To understand the gospel of the kingdom, we must be familiar with God's past dealings with this kingdom. Therein lies the interest and importance of this chapter. It is part of the divinely inspired record of God's past dealings with the kingdom, recorded for our instruction and admonition. This record is infinitely more important and should be more interesting to us than all the worldly rubbish we hear on the radio or read in the daily papers, for this is related to eternity.
We are told that the scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation, but it is quite obvious they cannot do so, if we do not diligently apply ourselves to and take an interest in these things that God has recorded for out instruction for the development of our minds in spiritual things. Let us never feel, or act as though we feel, that we are already wise unto salvation, and therefore do not need to diligently study and give our whole interest and attention to the Word of God, and can therefore safely give our attention to the passing things of this life.
Surely this is the very opposite of being wise. No one is going to just drift into eternal life with a mere shallow smattering of the Divine Word. It will only be those who give it their undivided heart.
This chapter - 2 Kings 15 - speaks of three kings of Judah-Uzziah, or Azariah, Jotham, and Ahaz-father, son, and grandson, and six kings of Israel. The kings of Israel are ignored in the Chronicles, which just deals with Judah. These six kings of Israel of this same period are Jeroboam II, Zachariah, his son, Shallum (who killed Zachariah), Menahem (who killed Shallum), Pekahiah, Menahem's son, Pekah (who killed Pekehiah), and Hoshea (who killed Pekah).
Eight of the 19 kings of Israel obtained the throne by killing the previous king. The throne of Judah, on the other hand, always stayed in the House of David, except when Athaliah seized it for six years.
The time period of this chapter was in the eighth century before Christ; that is somewhere between 800 and 700 BC. These are the last days of the ten-tribed, northern Kingdom of Israel. Hoshea, mentioned in this chapter, was the last king. Samaria was destroyed, and Israel went into captivity BC 721.
1 In the 27th year [shanah] of Jeroboam king of Israel [Yarov`am Melech Yisroel] began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah [Azaryah Ben Amatzyah Melech Yehudah to reign [as melech].
Azariah king of Judah more commonly known as Uzziah *
2 Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign [ as melech], and he reigned 52 years in Jerusalem [ shanah in Yerushalayim]. And his mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem [shem immo was Yecholyahu of Yerushalayim].
He reigned 52 years, second only to the wicked Manasseh's 55.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight [yashar in the eyes] of Yahweh, according to all that his father Amaziah [Amatzyah aviv] had done;
This is not a commendation from an eternal point of view. It is merely a general summing up of the character of his reign. Amaziah, his father with whom he is compared, did right, we are told, but NOT like David, and NOT with a perfect heart.
Both kings, Amaziah and Uzziah, committed very serious sins. But both also suffered heavily in this life. This might indicate that God was working with them to produce true saints. However, this would seem unlikely, at least in Amaziah's case, the father, in light of what the scriptures say of his death in 2 Chronicles 25:27 - "After the time that Amaziah turned away from following the LORD, they made a conspiracy against him...and slew him."
Amaziah, the father, foolishly started a disastrous war with Israel, which resulted in the breaking down of the wall of Jerusalem and the loss of all the temple's treasures. He also worshipped the idols of Edom and angrily silenced a prophet who rebuked him for it. Uzziah, the son, who begins this chapter, though he had one great failure and suffered terribly for it, seems to have been a far better and more capable man.
It is not for us to form final eternal judgments of these men, unless the scripture clearly does so. In this case, we have only a brief record of a long reign of 52 years. We, therefore, could not possibly reach a balanced judgment. Only God, who knows the heart, could weigh the whole life-long picture.
This chapter says very little about him, except that he did good and that God smote him with leprosy. This would surely leave a strange impression of the ways of God, if we did not have a fuller explanation elsewhere. But, it should teach us not to make judgments on incomplete information. And we should remember that the information may be incomplete in many scriptural passages that seem strange.
God is not bound to make full explanations. He records only what suits His gracious purpose of teaching us to walk in the way of life. It is all written with a view of testing and training and developing us, not merely to entertain or inform us, or that we should sit in judgment upon God or anyone else. *
4 Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense [ offered zevakhim and burned ketoret ] still on the high places.
What were the high places? Obviously, they were something very common all through Israel's history of the kingdom, but were not pleasing to God.
The high places were local places of worship and sacrifice. They were generally condemned in scripture for several reasons. God decreed that all sacrifice be at one center-the Tabernacle and Temple. This was to promote unity, to maintain the central worship, and to prevent corruption.
Human nature, being what it is, and Israel especially, the high places, the local places of sacrifice, invariably degenerated into corruption and immorality in copying the heathen practices of worship. Just like Christadelphians copying the world in Christmas and Easter activities, and even Halloween and St. Valentine's. It is almost inevitable where there is weakness of perception.
The high places were not, in themselves, necessarily evil. They were often, at the beginning, dedicated to the pure worship of God. They were permitted, and even at times sanctioned by God, when there was no central place of worship in operation.
Samuel was sacrificing at a high place, when Saul met him (1Samuel 9:12). And again, God appeared to Solomon, when he was sacrificing at the high place at Gibeon. Of that occasion it was recorded in 1 Kings 3:2-5 -
"Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days. And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offering did Solomon offer upon that altar. In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee."
The double use of the word only here, which is a strong word of contrast, shows that the high places were tolerated as a temporary necessity, but were contrary to the basic ideal. There is a lesson in this, though we must not presume upon it, or press it too far-that is, that in this present imperfect dispensation of sin and weakness, God sometimes permits or arranges things that are not entirely ideal.
We find that throughout the later history, after the temple was built, that good kings endeavored to eliminate the high places, while evil kings rebuilt them.
Solomon built high places, right near the temple, for all the gods of his foreign wives. And this was the cause of God's rending the kingdom (1 Kings 11:7-11). Solomon's bad example weakened the hands of all who followed him.
We can see why the high places were, on the whole, a bad and dangerous thing, even when professedly set up to worship the true God. They looked to the mind of the flesh like a good thing. Who could find fault with facilities of worship? But God knows the weaknesses of human nature, and so we are only safe when doing things His way, not what seems to us to be good. *
5 And Yahweh smote the king [plagued HaMelech], so that he was a leper [metzorah] unto the day of his death [yom mot], and dwelt in a several house [ bais hachafeshit (separate house, leper asylum house)]. And Jotham the king's son [Yotam Ben HaMelech] was over the house, judging the people of the land [Bais (Palace), shofet (governing) the Am HaAretz.].
Let us turn to 2 Chronicles 26, for the fuller account of Uzziah's reign. Verse 5 - "He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God." There is no other record concerning this Zechariah. Clearly, he was a prophet raised up to teach and guide the young Uzziah, as the high priest Jehoiada had done for Joash. Here is illustrated the value and power of good counsel and guidance. Uzziah was very energetic and strong minded, but he was kept in the way of right by his respect and trust of Zechariah.
Still in verse 5 of 2 Chronicles 26 - "And as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper." This is always and inescapably true, though it may not always be apparent on the surface. We may forsake God and seek the things of the world and appear to prosper. And, we may faithfully serve God and appear to suffer for it and not to prosper. But the most important thing in the world is for us to have the sense to realize that on the one hand God cannot be mocked with impunity and on the other hand that all things eventually work together for good for them that love and serve God.
We cannot lose, IF we serve God; we cannot win, if we don't. It's that simple. If we have the sense to see this, regardless of appearances, our course is always clear. If we do not have the sense to see it, we are stupid indeed. *
37 In those days Yahweh began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria [Yehudah Retzin Melech Aram], and Pekah the son of Remaliah [Pekach Ben Remalyah].
38 And Jotham [Yotam] slept with his fathers [avot], and was buried with his fathers [avot] in the city of David his father [Ir Dovid aviv]: and Ahaz his son [Achaz bno reigned as melech] in his stead.
These confederate enemies could do little against Judah, while the strong and righteous Jotham reigned. But after his death, in the reign of Ahaz, his wicked son, they jointly invaded Judah and besieged Jerusalem, purposing to overthrow the house of David and set up another king over Judah in league with themselves.
Although Ahaz was a wicked idolater, Isaiah was sent to him to assure him of God's support, because he was the king of Judah of the line of David, and to offer him any sign he might choose to confirm it, to strengthen his faith. He hypocritically refused the sign, saying that he did not want to tempt God. And he sent the treasures of the temple and the palace to the king of Assyria to come and help him.
It was at this time and on this occasion that the great sign of Emanuel was foretold, as described in Isaiah 7.
Ahaz was a very wicked king; one of the worst. He was the first to adopt the heathen custom of offering children in the fire to Molech-a practice which became common thereafter in both Judah and Israel, and which was one of the principle evils for which God destroyed both kingdoms.
Parallel to the history of Judah in this chapter are the six last kings of the northern kingdom-mean, miserable, meaningless men, most reigning briefly and dying violently. Just before this Jeroboam II, grandson of Jehu, had a prosperous and stable reign of 41 years, and Israel seemed stronger and more secure than ever before. He annexed Syria and far north to Hamath and all the territory east of the Jordan, all the way down to the Dead Sea.
Jeroboam's Israel and Uzziah's Judah together reconquered the whole area of Solomon's empire at its greatest extent. It was during this brief and deceptive period of power and prosperity that Amos said to them both, "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations."
Right after Jeroboam the bubble of power collapsed in anarchy. The last 30-40 years of Israel saw these six kings-mostly usurpers, seizing the throne by violence. Against some came the Assyrian power, which repeatedly wasted and plundered the land and finally carried them all away into captivity.
Thus ended the larger northern part of God's kingdom in the past. Judah to the south was from the same fate by the righteousness and faith of one man-Hezekiah. And was carried on another 130 years. But that too finally ended under a similar foreign wasting in captivity. This time by Babylon.
And so God's kingdom ended in darkness and dispersion, because of wickedness, until he come whose right it is, the Lord Our Righteousness, who will reestablish God's Kingdom, rebuild Jerusalem, its capitol, extend the Kingdom to fill the world, set up over it immortal sinless rulers, and rule all nations in equity and peace. *
Bro Growcott - He Hasted to Go Out