2 Chronicles 21: Lessons from Jehoram’s Rebellious Reign Regarding God’s Response to Sin

Introduction: Judah’s slow descent into evil reached one of its many low points with Jehoram. He rejected God’s law, murdered his brothers, and adopted Baal worship. Including David, Jehoram was the seventh king in the Davidic line. Although many Davidic kings at times acted with great faith and obedience, none were without sin. Jehoram represented the fullness of their descent into evil. While David’s line did not deserve to continue after Jehoram, God was faithful to keep His promise to David that an eternal covenant would continue through his descendants. Yet, this promise did not mean that the Davidic kings would not suffer the consequences of their sins. From God’s response to Jehoram’s rebellious reign, He reveals several lessons regarding how He may respond to sin. First, all have fallen short because sin is (1) universal. In response to our sin, God offers (2) mercy and grace, (3) loving discipline, (4) warnings, (5) possible financial hardships, (6) possible personal hardships, and (7) judgment if you refuse to repent.

First, as a murderer and as a Baal worshiper, Jehoram took the sins of his predecessor kings and magnified them in the worst possible way. The failure of the kings to act righteously showed that mankind is inherently sinful and cannot find redemption through its leaders. Mankind can only find salvation through faith in Jesus. Second, although the Davidic line deserved to end with Jehoram, God was faithful to keep His promise to David to keep the line going. For all sinners, God will also faithfully respond to sin by offering mercy and grace. This mercy and grace is available to all through faith in Jesus Christ. Third, God responded to Jehoram with progressive discipline, beginning with rebellions in Judah’s external possession of Edom. God showed Jehoram the rebellion in his heart by allowing his territories to rebel against him. God will also discipline sinners out of love to correct them and bring them back to Him. Fourth, when Jehoram failed to respond to God’s progressive discipline, God used a prophet to warn him that more severe discipline would follow if he did not repent. Through His Word and the Holy Spirit, God also warns believers before He imposes harsher discipline. Many sinners, however, become spiritually blind and ignore these warnings. Fifth, to cause Jehoram to understand his covetousness, God allowed pagan armies to loot and steal all of Jehoram’s wealth. When a sinner is consumed with covetousness, God can use financial pain to discipline the sinner and bring him back. Sixth, when Jehoram failed to respond, God disciplined Jehoram for his vanity by allowing him to suffer from poor health. When a believer is consumed with vanity, God can also use personal pain to discipline the sinner. Finally, when Jehoram refused to repent, God allowed him to die a painful death and without the honor of being buried in David’s tomb. God will also judge a sinner as a last resort when he or she refuses to repent.

1. Universal Sin: Mankind is Inherently Sinful and in Need of Redemption. 2 Chr. 21:1-6.

  • King Jehoram murders his brothers and adopts Baal worship. After Jehoshaphat’s death, his eldest son King Jehoram succeeded him. But he did not trust God. Thus, he murdered his six brothers and other officials who might have challenged his rule, and he adopted the Baal worship that his father-in-law introduced into Northern Israel: “1 Then Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Jehoram his son became king in his place. He had brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azaryahu, Michael and Shephatiah. All these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. Their father gave them many gifts of silver, gold and precious things, with fortified cities in Judah, but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram because he was the firstborn. Now when Jehoram had taken over the kingdom of his father and made himself secure, he killed all his brothers with the sword, and some of the rulers of Israel also. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did (for Ahab’s daughter was his wife), and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (2 Chr. 21:1-6; 2 Kgs. 8:16-18). Both Northern Israel and Judah had a king named Jehoram. The term “Joram” is a shortened version of the same name. Neither was biologically related. But both rebelled against God. Ahab’s son Jehoram (aka “Joram”) ruled Northern Israel from 852 to 841 B.C. Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram ruled Judah from 848 to 841 B.C. Thus, their reigns overlapped for seven years. The Jehoram of Judah married Athaliah the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kgs. 11:1). Queen Athaliah introduced Baal and Astarte worship to Judah and did a number of other evil acts (2 Kgs. 11:1-16; 2 Chr. 21:6; 22:10 - 23:15) the same way that Jezebel introduced Baal and Astarte worship to Northern Israel and influenced Ahab to commit evil acts (1 Kgs. 16:31-33; 21:25). Although Jehoshaphat was considered at times to be a man of God in his walk, he showed little concern for his son’s spiritual walk. He would have been instrumental in arranging this marriage. He put the unity of the two nations of Israel above his son’s walk with Yahweh. As a result, his son would turn to evil and the entire nation of Judah would suffer. In addition to embracing idolatry and Baal worship, the Jehoram of Judah murdered his brothers and others because he feared that they would try to kill him and seize power in Judah (2 Chr. 21:2-4). He lived under Satan’s influence. Thus, he saw murder and Baal worship as the best way to protect his claim to the throne.

Under Athaliah’s influence, Jehoram introduced Baal worship to Judah1

  • The universal sin within the kings of Judah. Including David, Jehoram was the seventh ruler in David’s line. These included: [1] David; [2] Solomon; [3] Rehoboam; [4] Abijah; [5] Asa; [6] Jehoshaphat; and [7] Jehoram, aka, Joram (1 Chr. 3:10-11). While every one of these leaders engaged in evil and wicked acts, Jehoram was the culmination of the evil within the line. The Bible records no redeeming things about him or his reign. He was a murderer and an idolater who refused to repent no matter what God did to bring him back. Together, they showed that the Jews could not find redemption through their leaders. They needed to turn to Him for deliverance and for their salvation.

  • David’s sins brought judgement upon his descendants. David’s actions brought judgment upon his descendants. His sins began with covetousness. His unchecked covetousness first drove him to take eight wives. These included: (1) Saul’s daughter Michal, (2) Ahinoam of Jezreel, (3) Abigail of Carmel, (4) Maacah, the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur, (5) Haggith, (6) Abital, (7) Eglah, and (8) Bath-shua (Bathsheba), the daughter of Ammiel. In addition, he also had at least 10 concubines (2 Sam. 15:16; 2 Sam. 20:3). In taking all these wives, David’s ignored his oath to obey God’s law. This included a requirement that he have no more than one wife: “He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.” (Dt. 17:17). “Do not give your strength to women, or your ways to that which destroys kings.” (Prov. 31:3). From the beginning, God intended for marriage to be limited to one man and one women (Matt. 19:4-6; Gen. 2:23-24; 1 Tim. 3:2). David’s unchecked covetousness also caused him to murder Uriah to obtain his wife Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11: 14-24). As a consequence, God condemned David’s family to constant conflict: ‘“Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.”’ (2 Sam. 12:10). This included both David’s immediate family and his descendant kings.

  • Solomon’s sins also brought judgement upon his descendants. God blessed Solomon with greater wisdom and wealth than any other person (1 Kgs. 4:29-34; 10:23). Although Solomon initially used his gifts for God, he later misused God’s blessings and committed several deadly sins which also brought judgement upon his descendants. First, he took 1,000 wives, including 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kgs. 11:3-4). He violated God’s law that he have only one wife 999 times (Dt. 17:17(a)). More importantly, his many wives, especially his pagan ones, turned his heart against God (1 Kgs. 11:4). Second, because of his foreign wives, Solomon began to worship other gods (1 Kgs. 11:5-6). This violated God’s First Commandment (Ex. 20:2-3; Dt. 5:6-7). He built idols and pagan altars for the Jews to worship the pagan gods like Chemosh and Molech (1 Kgs. 11:5-8). This violated God’s Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-6; Dt. 5:8-10). Third, to become king, Solomon would have taken an oath to obey God’s laws. His failure to follow his oath as the King of Israel blasphemed God’s holy name (Lev. 19:12). This violated God’s Third Commandment (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). Fourth, by worshipping other gods and stumbling generations of Jews to do the same, Solomon dishonored both his father David and God the Father. This violated God’s Fifth Commandment (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16). Fifth, Solomon tried to kill his servant Jeroboam after the prophet Ahijah told Solomon that God would give Jeroboam 10 of the 12 tribes for Solomon’s rebellions (1 Kgs. 11:40). In addition to being another form of rebellion against God, this violated God’s Sixth Commandment (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17). Sixth, Solomon hoarded gold and wives out of covetousness. This violated God’s Tenth Commandment (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). Finally, because his heart grew hard, he refused to listen to the prophet Ahijah’s warnings that Solomon’s sins would lead to the division of Israel (1 Kgs. 11:9-13). Because Solomon misused God’s grace, he misled Israel into division and darkness. The kings who succeeded him continued in his idolatry. Jehoram simply took the idolatry that Solomon started to the next level with Baal worship.

  • Because all leaders will sin, place your hope in Jesus, not in their leaders. Through the failed example of Judah’s kings, God warns not to turn to leaders for your deliverance. “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Ps. 146:3). “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” (Ps. 118:9). “O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” (Ps. 60:11). It is common during elections in western nations for people to put their hopes in one political party or in one candidate. It is important to care about who is elected. A Spirit-led leader can lead a nation into God’s blessings, and a rebellious leader can lead a nation into God’s curses. Yet, like every other person, human leaders will sin (Ro. 3:23). Thus, you should never place your hopes in leaders. Instead, place your hope in Jesus (1 Tim. 6:17).

  • Our salvation is also undeserved. David, Solomon and Jehoram were all murderers, and every king from Solomon to Jehoram either tolerated or practiced idolatry. None of these kings deserved to be king. Like the Davidic kings, you did nothing to earn God’s grace: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;” (Eph. 2:8). “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” (Acts 15:11). “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;” (Ro. 3:24). If you feel that you deserve to be saved based upon your works, “then Christ died needlessly” (Gal. 2:21).

2. Faithfulness: God Faithfully Responds to Sin by Offering Mercy and Grace. 2 Chr. 21:7.

  • God spares David’s line from extinction to keep His promise to David. Even though the Davidic kings were unfaithful, God kept His promises to David: “Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David because of the covenant which He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and his sons forever.” (2 Chr. 21:7; 2 Kgs. 8:19). For the same acts of murder and Baal worship, Northern Israel suffered from constant coups and political instability. Jehoram’s actions made Judah just as deserving of God’s punishment as Northern Israel. Yet, to keep His Word to David, God spared Judah and the Davidic line of kings from the death they deserved.

  • God was faithful to Judah even when its kings were unfaithful. The fact that God did not destroy Judah sooner after seven kings embraced or tolerated evil shows that God is long suffering and quick to forgive. “The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; . . .” (Nu. 14:18). His forbearance also shows that He is faithful. During the reign of these kings, He did not destroy Judah because He was faithful to keep His Covenant with David (2 Kgs. 8:19). God promised David a kingship through his descendants that would never end: ‘“12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’ (2 Sam. 7:12-16). Even though all the Davidic kings deserved death for their actions, God did not want to profane His holy name by terminating His promises to David: “But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself known to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt.” (Ezek. 20:9). “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” (Is. 48:11). “Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, that He might make His power known.” (Ps. 106:8). You can also have faith that God will never profane His holy name by breaking any promise in the Bible to you.

  • Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant of an eternal kingship through David. On many occasions, God repeated His promise of an eternal kingship through David. Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of this promise: ‘“I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations.’ Selah.” (Ps. 89:4). “So I will establish his descendants forever and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Ps. 89:29). “He gives great deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.” (Ps. 18:50). “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” (Ps. 89:27). “For thus says the LORD, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel;”’ (Jer. 33:17). “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Is. 9:6-7). “A throne will even be established in lovingkindness, and a judge will sit on it in faithfulness in the tent of David; moreover, he will seek justice and be prompt in righteousness.” (Is. 16:5). “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’”’ (Jer. 23:5-6). Jesus was born into the line of David (Matt. 1:1). He came to fulfill God’s covenant with David as the eternal King of Kings: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Lk. 1:32-33). “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.’” (Rev. 19:16). You may declare Jesus to be your Lord. Yet, is He Lord over every aspect of your life?

  • God gave the Jews an eternal kingship so that they could be a light to the world. God also “promised him to give a lamp to him through his sons always.” (2 Chr. 21:7; 2 Kgs. 8:19). As a descendant of David, Jesus was the Light of the World who guided the faithful kings: “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’” (Jo. 8:12; 1:1-13). His light would remind the kings of His Covenant with them (Ps. 132:17; 2 Chr. 21:7). The Jews were in turn meant to share their light with the rest of the world: “He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Is. 49:6). Believers in Christ are also meant to share their light with others: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” (Matt. 5:14). Are you a light to the lost and those in need?

  • God is faithful to forgive you when you repent and accept Jesus as your King of Kings. You can also trust in the promise of the King of Kings to forgive you when you repent and accept His sacrifice for you on the cross: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.” (Ps. 32:5). “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Ps. 103:12). Have you confessed your sins to Jesus to let Him forgive you?

3. Discipline: God Disciplines Sinners Out of Love to Correct Them. 2 Chr. 21:8-11.

  • In response to Jehoram’s rebellion against God, Edom rebelled against Judah. Although God spared Jehoram from immediate death, He still allowed Jehoram to suffer consequences for the idolatry that he introduced to Judah. Because Jehoram rebelled against God, God allowed Edom to rebel against Jehoram: “In his days Edom revolted against the rule of Judah and set up a king over themselves. Then Jehoram crossed over with his commanders and all his chariots with him. And he arose by night and struck down the Edomites who were surrounding him and the commanders of the chariots. 10 So Edom revolted against Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time against his rule, because he had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers. 11 Moreover, he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot and led Judah astray.” (2 Chr. 21:8-11; 2 Kgs. 8:20-22). Edom was the last nation that David conquered (2 Sam. 8:14; 1 Chron. 18:13). David’s actions fulfilled a centuries-old promise that God made to the Jews. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau. As a child of the flesh, Esau had little regard for the blessings of God available to him as the firstborn son of Isaac. Thus, he gave them up for a bowl of lentil stew (Gen. 25:29-34). After Isaac blessed Jacob instead of Esau, Esau took three worldly wives and his five children and left the Promised Land. They settled in the hill country of Seir in the southern part of modern Jordan (Gen. 36:6-8). Abraham also sent his seven sons of the flesh out of the Promised Land. He first sent out Hagar and his son Ishmael (Gen. 21:12-21). He later sent out Keturah and their six sons (Gen. 25:1-6). Yet, unlike Hagar, Keturah, and their children, Esau left voluntarily. Because Esau cared little for the things of God, he liked better what he saw in the world than in the Promised Land. Despite Esau’s rejection of God, God showed mercy and grace toward Esau by creating the nation of Edom from his descendants. God’s creation of the nation of Edom is important because it shows that He was faithful to keep His promise to Rebekah that two nations would come through her (Gen. 25:23(a)). God, however, promised that the younger would rule over the other (Gen. 25:23(b)). Through David, God fulfilled this promise by allowing the Jews to rule over the Edomites. Yet, because the Jews did not remain faithful, God did not extend this promise indefinitely. Without His hand of protection over the Jews, the Edomites rebelled (2 Kgs. 8:20). Jehoram tried to put down the rebellion. But without God’s protection, he failed. And the Jews never again ruled over Edom (2 Kgs. 8:21-22). Even worse, the pagan town of Libnah, approximately 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, took advantage of the chaos to revolt at the same time (2 Kgs. 8:22). Libna’s rebellion may have taken place at the same time that the Philistines and the Arabs rebelled against Jehoram (2 Chron. 21:16-17). God allowed the Jews to experience the pain of their rebellion against Him through rebellions against them. Thus, God’s mercy and grace should never be treated as a license to sin.

Judah broke with God, and God allowed Edom to break free from Judah2

  • God disciplined Jehoram through rebellions. Jehoram rebelled against God by taking pagan wives and adopting idolatry and Baal worship. He thought his marriage alliance with Ahab’s family would make him stronger. Yet, it made him weaker because he lived without God. Hundreds of years earlier, God warned David that his eternal kingship would not exempt his heirs from discipline, just as a loving father disciplines a wayward son: “14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,” (2 Sam. 7:14). In a similar way, God disciplines His people out of love: “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.” (Dt. 8:5). “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:7). “But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:32). If God has disciplined you, change your ways for Him.

  • Tolerating evil will corrupt your worship of God. In addition to Baal worship, God condemned Judah for tolerating pagan temples: “11 Moreover, he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot and led Judah astray.” (2 Chr. 21:11). Because the Jews (like most believers) were weak in their faith, God called upon them to “destroy” all of the pagan idols and influences in the Promised Land that might corrupt their worship. “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place.” (Dt. 12:1-3; 7:5). “But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim.” (Ex. 34:13). These temples had sadly existed since Solomon’s reign. Like the Jews, Christians must also avoid accommodating these idols of the flesh in their lives. If you have accommodated worldly idols, repent and let the Holy Spirit renew your mind. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Ro. 12:2). Are you tolerating evil influences in your life?

4. Warnings: God’s Word Warns Sinners Before He Disciplines Them. 2 Chr. 21:12-15.

  • God warned Jehoram that he would suffer both financially and through poor health. Knowing Edom’s rebellion would fail to cause Jehoram to repent, God used the prophet Elijah before his rapture to write a letter to Jehoram to warn him that God would next remove his wealth and then his health. “12 Then a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God of your father David, ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father and the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot as the house of Ahab played the harlot, and you have also killed your brothers, your own family, who were better than you, 14 behold, the Lord is going to strike your people, your sons, your wives and all your possessions with a great calamity; 15 and you will suffer severe sickness, a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the sickness, day by day.’’” (2 Chr. 21:12-15). God used Elijah primarily to confront the evil kings of Northern Israel, especially Ahab. God had previously raptured Elijah to heaven (2 Kgs. 2; 3:11). Thus, this was a prophetic letter that God had Elijah write before his rapture. The miracles that God performed throughout Northern Israel would have been well known in Judah. His rapture would have also been well known. For Jehoram to receive a warning letter from a prophet who disappeared before he became king should have scared him into returning to God. But Jehoram was spiritually blind and therefore unable to discern the Word of God. He may have dismissed the letter as a forgery from a man presumed to be dead. Like Jehoram, God’s Word and His Spirit warn believers that He must judge sin as a righteous God. Yet, out of spiritual blindness, many do not understand God’s warnings or reject them.

  • God’s Word always comes true and should never be ignored. God promises that every promise or prophecy that He makes will always come true: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:18). “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.” (Lk. 16:17). “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:11). “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Nu. 23:19). Like Jehoram, many have heard God’s warnings regarding the consequences of sin and rejected them. Yet, like Jehoram, sinners ignore God’s warnings at their own peril. God does not want to discipline sinners. But God would not be a just and righteous God if He ignored evil. Thus, if you are rebelling against God, stop and repent.

5. Financial Hardships: God Can Use Financial Pain to Discipline Sinners. 2 Chr. 21:16-17.

  • God fulfills his warning by allowing pagan nations to take Jehoram’s wealth and family. Because of his refusal to repent, God first fulfilled his promise that Jehoram would lose his wealth and most of his family. “16 Then the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabs who bordered the Ethiopians; 17 and they came against Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions found in the king’s house together with his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.” (2 Chr. 21:16-17). God blessed Jehoram with great wealth. Because this wealth allowed Jehoram to become filled with covetousness and feel independent, God allowed pagan armies to remove it from him. Likewise, because Jehoram killed his brothers, God allowed the enemy armies to take his wives and sons, except for his youngest son Jehoahaz. His son would allow David’s line to continue. But Jehoahaz was a sinner like his father. Thus, God spared him out of mercy and grace.

  • God can remove your idols, including wealth, if they have caused you to rebel. If your wealth or some other idol has caused you to rebel against God, God can also remove these distractions or snares from your life to bring you back to Him. When a society or its leaders become filled with covetousness and rebel against God, God warns that He may allow thieves or enemies will steal property or wealth: “you shall build a house, but you will not live in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but you will not use its fruit.” 31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat of it; your donkey shall be torn away from you, and will not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you will have none to save you. . . . 33 A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, ” (Dt. 28:30(b)-31, 33(a)). “[Y]ou will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up.” (Lev. 26:16(c)). “They will devour your harvest and your food; . . . They will devour your flocks and your herds; they will devour your vines and your fig trees; . .” (Jer. 5:17(a)(c); Neh. 9:37; Ezek. 25:4). Don’t let wealth cause you to become filled with covetousness. You may force God to remove His hand of protection and allow you to suffer to bring you back.

  • God also enforced His law against polygamy by allowing Jehoram’s wives to be taken. God allowed the enemy nations to take Jehoram’s many wives (2 Chr. 21:17). It was against God’s law for him to have multiple wives. “He shall not multiply wives for himself . . .” (Dt. 17:17). Because Jehoram chose to live without God, God allowed him to experience the consequences of his actions. This included having his illegal harem taken from him: “30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man will violate her; . . .” (Dt. 28:30(a)). “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.”’ (2 Sam. 2:11). ‘“Their houses shall be turned over to others, their fields and their wives together; for I will stretch out My hand against the inhabitants of the land,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 6:12; 8:10). If you want to live without God, He may also allow you to live under His law.

  • God allowed Jehoram’s sons to die because of Jehoram’s murders. Jehoram murdered his six brothers and other officials in Judah (2 Chr. 21:4). As a result, God allowed all but one of Jehoram’s sons to be killed (2 Chr. 21:17). Although he deserved to die for his actions, God instead allowed His law to be fulfilled by taking sons from Jehoram as a penalty for the brothers and others that he killed: “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Ex. 21:23-25). Jehoram chose to reject God’s mercy. Thus, he lived under God’s law.

6. Personal Hardships: God Can Use Personal Pain to Discipline Sinners. 2 Chr. 21:18.

  • God fulfills his warning by allowing Jehoram to suffer from poor health. Because Jehoram again refused to repent, God next allowed him to suffer from a terrible disease. “18 So after all this the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable sickness.” (2 Chr. 21:18). Jehoram’s vanity had caused him to become spiritually blind. In order to cause him to repent, God removed any reason that Jehoram might have had to be vain.

God disciplined Jehoram with an incurable illness3

  • God can allow sin to impact your health. If a person’s vanity causes them to reject God or if he or she fails to respond to other forms of discipline, God may also allow that person to suffer from an illness to bring that person to repentance: “22 The Lord will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with the sword and with blight and with mildew, and they will pursue you until you perish.” (Dt. 28:22). “I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up.” (Lev. 26:16). David, for example, suffered poor health because of his adultery and murder: “There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.” (Ps. 38:3). “For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my iniquity, and my body has wasted away.” (Ps. 31:10). “He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away, He has broken my bones.” (Lam. 3:4). An evil lifestyle or a life without God can also lead to mental illness: “34 You shall be driven mad by the sight of what you see.” (Dt. 28:34). Madness is defined as the opposite of Godly wisdom (Ecc. 1:17; 7:7). God punished Nebuchadnezzar for sins with madness (Dan. 4:32-34). Jesus also freed many people who suffered mental illness brought on by demon possession (Matt. 8:14-17; Mk. 1:29-39; Lk. 4:33-41). If you are suffering from an illness, this does not automatically mean that God is disciplining you. But if you are suffering from an illness, pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal any hidden sins and then repent when the Spirit reveals them to you.

  • A double-minded believer should not expect God to answer prayers. Because Jehoram turned back and forth between Yahweh and Baal, God did not hear his cries for help in either the battlefield or for his own health. If you vacillate between depending upon Jesus and the world, Jesus considers your faith unstable. Believers who are double-minded should not expect Jesus to answer their prayers: “For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jam. 1:7-8). God is equally unimpressed with people, like the prophets of Baal, who uttered meaningless words to have their prayers answered: “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matt. 6:7). There are many reasons why God may not answer a prayer. Your request may not be right for you. Or, it may be contrary to God’s will. Or, it may not be the right time. Yet, if your prayers are not selfish and remain unanswered, repent of any double-minded beliefs.

  • Don’t be stiff-necked when God disciplines you. God called His people obstinate in the face of discipline: “The LORD said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people.”’ (Ex. 32:9; 33:3). Jeremiah later also lamented God’s people who refused to accept His discipline: “O LORD, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have smitten them, but they did not weaken; You have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.” (Jer. 5:3). Are you stiff-necked and obstinate in the face of discipline?

7. Judgment: God Judges Sinners When They Refuse to Repent. 2 Chr. 21:19-20.

  • God judged Jehoram with a painful death and without honor. Because Jehoram refused to repent, God allowed him to die a painful death and then be the first king of Judah not to be buried in David’s tomb. “19 Now it came about in the course of time, at the end of two years, that his bowels came out because of his sickness and he died in great pain. And his people made no fire for him like the fire for his fathers. 20 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years; and he departed with no one’s regret, and they buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” (2 Chr. 21:19-20). Despite God’s discipline and this incurable illness, Jehoram did not repent. Thus, he had a painful and short, eight-year reign. His rotting body was the outward manifestation of his rotting soul. As one commentator observes: “Again, this was a fitting judgment. There was a sense in which Jehoram was rotten spiritually from within; here, God simply caused the physical condition of his body simply corresponded to the spiritual condition of his soul.” (David Guzik on 2 Chr. 21).4

  • God also judged Jehoram by allowing him to die without honors. Jehoram was buried in Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 8:24). Yet, he died without the honor of being buried in David’s tomb along with all of his other ancestor kings of Judah (2 Chr. 21:19-20). God allowed Jehoram’s son to see how his father died after a short reign without honors to give a chance to repent and choose a different path. But he instead followed after his father’s evil ways. God wants you to learn from the mistakes of people like Jehoram so that you don’t repeat them. A life without God leads to pain and the stigma of sin.

  • Although God is slow to anger and quick to forgive, He will eventually judge sin. God delayed His judgement upon Jehoram for eight years to give him a chance to repent. This shows that He is slow to anger and quick to forgive: “Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, . . .”’ (Ex. 34:6-7). “But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.” (Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 116:5). Jesus never changes (Heb. 13:8). He is slow to anger and quick to forgive because He wants all to come to repentance: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Ro. 2:4). Yet, because God is just (2 Thess. 1:6), He will one day judge all sin (Ps. 94:23). Jesus will one day come to judge the nations and His enemies (Joel 2:1; Rev. 8-9; Is. 11:4; 63:1-6; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 9:6; Ps. 110:4-7). Satan and his demons will be judged in the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). Thus, every person must take sin seriously by repenting of their sin and by fearing God by hating evil things (Prov. 8:13).

  • Judge the desires of your flesh. Unlike Jehoram, Jesus warns believers to make no provision for the flesh: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Ro. 13:14; Col. 3:10). Judging the desires of the flesh includes making sure that you cannot divide your loyalties between God and the things of the world: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matt. 6:24; Lk. 16:13). Are your loyalties with God divided in any area?

  • God will not forsake you when He disciplines you. God removed the kingship from Saul’s line because of his rebellion (1 Sam. 15:23). Yet, even though God disciplined David’s descents, He promised never to forsake them and remove their right to the kingship: “but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” (2 Sam. 7:15; Ps. 89:33). Sin would, however, limit the extent of their blessing. First, He limited their kingdom to the land of Judah: ‘“However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”’ (1 Kgs. 11:13; 2 Kgs. 17:18). Here, God limited their blessings further by removing Edom from their control and plaguing the Jews with political instability. But He promised that He would never leave or forsake His people. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6; Heb. 13:5). However, like David’s descendants, sin may prevent you from experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings. If you have sinned, repent. And, don’t engage in open rebellion and squander the fullness of His blessings.