Introduction: This chapter covers the reigns of seven kings from both Judah and Northern Israel. In Judah, this includes the two kings Azariah (Uzziah) and his son Jotham. In Northern Israel, this includes five kings, including: Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah and Pehak. Each of these seven kings failed God in some way, for some in more ways than others. From their failures, God provides seven revelations regarding the end times. Many will live under: (1) pride, (2) apostasy, (3) chaos, (4) violence, (5) strife, (6) bondage, and (7) judgment.
First, Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah was a reformer who initially tried to serve God. Yet, he later became consumed by his pride and desire for power. As a result, God judged him with leprosy. During the end times, pride will cause many to turn from God. As a result, God will also be forced to judge them. Second, Zechariah became King of Northern Israel and embraced idolatry through the worship of golden calves. As a result, God removed His hand of protection and conspirators soon killed him. During the end times, many will embrace false doctrines. As a result, God will also remove His hand of protection from them. Third, following Zechariah’s six-month reign, Northern Israel’s next king Shallum lasted only one month. During the end times, many will live in chaos without God. Fourth, after Menahem assassinated Shallum, he engaged in barbaric acts. These included, but were not limited to, mutilating pregnant women. During the end times, many will also embrace violence and conflict. Fifth, following Menahem’s murderous reign, his son Pekahiah reigned for only two years before he too was assassinated. During the end times, many will also live in strife as they try to live without God. Sixth, the next King of Northern Israel, Pehak, continued the evil practices of his predecessors. As a result, God allowed two and a half tribes to be taken into captivity. During the end times, many will live in bondage to Satan. Finally, following Azariah’s (Uzziah) death, Jotham became King of Judah. Although he mostly did what was right in God’s eyes, he tolerated evil like his forefathers. As a result, God allowed foreign adversaries to attack Jerusalem. He allowed this to discipline His people to bring them back to repentance. During the end times, God will also discipline His people. He will discipline and judge His people to also bring them to repentance.
Azariah (Uzziah) becomes King of Judah. Following Amaziah’s death, Azariah (also referred to as Uzziah (2 Chr. 26:1; Isa. 1:1)) succeeded him. Through most of his reign, he trusted and partially followed God’s laws. Yet, his partial obedience later turned into rebellion and pride. This in turn led God to discipline him with leprosy: “1 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah became king. 2 He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 3 He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 4 Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. 5 The Lord struck the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death. And he lived in a separate house, while Jotham the king’s son was over the household, judging the people of the land. 6 Now the rest of the acts of Azariah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 7 And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son became king in his place.” (2 Kgs. 15:1-7). Although he likely served as a regent for either 10 or 11 years while his father was in jail, Azariah’s (Uzziah’s) reign began in 767 B.C. (2 Kgs. 15:1; 2 Chron. 26:1-23). He reigned for 52 years from age 16 until he was 68 years old. Judah was in disarray when his reign began. Out of pride, his father Amaziah began a war against Northern Israel that God did not command or condone. This resulted in Judah’s defeat, the destruction of Jerusalem’s protective walls, the gold from the Temple and Jerusalem being looted, and many people being taken into captivity (2 Kgs. 14:8-11). Amaziah also embraced idolatry by worshiping the gods of Edom (2 Chr. 25:20). Azariah (Uzziah) was a reformer who initially refused to follow many of his father’s mistakes (2 Kgs. 14:3). He also trusted God through most of his reign: “He did right in the sight of the Lord,” (2 Kgs. 15:3). Because he trusted God for most of his reign, he succeed in many aspects of his administration as King of Judah (2 Chron. 26:6-15). His name Azariah meant the “the Lord has help.” His alternative name of Uzziah means “The Lord is my strength”. Isaiah began his public ministry during his reign (Isa. 1:1). His reign was also concurrent with the prophet Zechariah (2 Chr. 26:5). As a result of God’s blessings, Judah enjoyed peace and prosperity during Azariah’s reign. He was a skilled builder and architect. This included rebuilding the port for sea trade in city of Elath on the northern coast of the Gulf of Aqabah. This was an important city during Solomon’s reign (1 Kgs. 9:26-28; 10:22), and Jehoshaphat’s reign (2 Chr. 20:36). He also gained fame and the fear of his enemies. With God’s help, his armies defeated the Philistines and took part of their territories. He also prevented the Ammonites from ending their tributes (2 Chr. 26:6-8). But he did not live in complete obedience to God. He tolerated pagan worship by failing to remove the pagan high place (2 Kgs. 15:4). Because his heart was not fully devoted to God, God’s blessings of material success eventually caused him to think that he was responsible for Judah’s blessings. Like his father, he became prideful (2 Chr. 26:16-20). As result, God punished him with leprosy (2 Kgs. 15:5). He then lived in isolation until he died (Isa. 6:1). Because of his leprosy, he further was denied the honor of being buried in David’s tomb (2 Chr. 26:23).
Like his predecessors, Azariah (Uzziah) disobeyed God by tolerating evil in Judah. Canaanite pagan altars were typically built on “high places” (1 Kgs. 13:32; Jer. 7:31). Whenever the Jews came across pagan altars, they were ordered to destroy them (Nu. 33:52; Dt. 12:2-3). Failing to observe this rule would eventually cause the Jews to blend their worship of God with Canaanite pagan practices (Jer. 2:20). Failing to follow this rule also caused many kings to stumble. Azariah (Uzziah) was not alone in his path to failure that began with partial disobedience by not removing the pagan high places of worship (2 Kgs. 15:4). His father Amaziah committed the same sin: “4 Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” (2 Kgs. 14:4; 2 Chr. 25:1). His grandfather, Joash (Jehoash), also committed the exact same sin: “Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” (2 Kgs. 12:3). And their forefathers committed the same sin as well. King Solomon was a reformer who ultimately lead a path to failure that began with the same small act of disobedience in refusing to remove the pagan worship centers (1 Kgs. 3:2). He later built special altars on “high places” for his foreign wives to worship their pagan gods (1 Kgs. 11:7-8). King Jeroboam later followed after Solomon’s example and built altars for idol worship with unauthorized priests (1 Kgs. 12:31). King Asa’s disobedience in this area also led to his downfall (1 Kgs. 15:14). King Jehoshaphat was also a reformer who failed for the same acts of disobedience (1 Kgs. 22:43). King Manasseh later rebuilt pagan altars on high places after King Hezekiah destroyed them (2 Kgs. 21:3). Thus, several kings began with great intentions. Yet, their partial or full disobedience led to their downfall.
Like his father, Azariah’s (Uzziah’s) pride turned his heart against God. Azariah (Uzziah) observed how pride led to his father’s destruction. God provided Amaziah with a victory over Edom (2 Kgs. 14:7). Out of pride, Amaziah then picked a war with Northern Israel and lost (2 Kgs. 14:8-16). While his father’s pride resulted in a war, Azariah’s (Uzziah’s) pride led to a different type of power grab. He attempted to take total control by merging the separate roles of church and state. He did this by usurping the role of the priests in offerings at the Temple: “But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the Lord, valiant men. 18 They opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the Lord God.’ 19 But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, beside the altar of incense. 20 Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the Lord had smitten him. 21 King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. And Jotham, his son, was over the king’s house judging the people of the land.” (2 Chr. 26:16-20).
God judged Azariah (Uzziah) for his pride. Through his pride, Azariah (Uzziah) committed one of the sins that God “hates”: “ . . . pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.” (Prov. 8:13). Because Azariah (Uzziah) exalted himself, God humbled him. “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12). “When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence, and the humble person He will save.” (Job 22:29). “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (Jam. 4:6). Because Amaziah’s pride would not let him repent, it led to his defeat and later his death: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). “A man’s pride will bring him low, . . .” (Prov. 29:23). His pride deceived him into thinking that he was responsible for God’s blessings: ‘“ . . . The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,’ . . . declares the LORD.” (Jer. 49:16). When you are prideful, your heart will also deceive you into doing foolish things.
God judged Azariah (Uzziah) for his pride1
In the end times, people will also be blinded by their vanity and pride. Like Azariah (Uzziah), people during the end times will become arrogant and vain: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Tim. 3:2). “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:21). Ask God to show you where you are self-absorbed or vain.
Zechariah becomes King of Northern Israel and does evil in God’s eyes. While Judah enjoyed peace and stability because its king tried to follow God in most areas for the majority of his reign, Northern Israel plunged into political instability because its leaders refused to repent of their idolatry. Zechariah was the first of five Kings of Northern Israel mentioned in this chapter. Like every leader before him, Zechariah embraced idolatry, and God removed His hand of protection. As a result, conspirators soon killed him: “8 In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in Samaria for six months. 9 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 10 Then Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him and struck him before the people and killed him, and reigned in his place. 11 Now the rest of the acts of Zechariah, behold they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 12 This is the word of the Lord which He spoke to Jehu, saying, ‘Your sons to the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.’ And so it was.” (2 Kgs. 15:8-12). Zechariah was the last of Jehu’s descendant’s to rule. For removing Baal worship, God rewarded Jehu by promising him that four generations of his descendants would rule after him as king (2 Kgs. 15:12; 10:30). Zechariah was the fourth and last descendant of Jehu to live to fulfill God’s promise. He reigned for a mere six months, sometime between 753 and 752 B.C. (2 Kgs. 15:8). Like the kings who preceded him in Northern Israel, Zechariah continued the sins of Jeroboam I. This included the worship of golden calves and a counterfeit priesthood (1 Kgs. 12:26-33; 13:33; 2 Kgs. 3:2-3; 14:24). He kept the caves at the cities of Beth-el and Dan to keep the Jews from worshiping at the Temple in Jerusalem. The fact that Shallum was able to assassinate Zechariah in front of the people suggests that God removed His blessings, and his people deeply resented him.
Zechariah’s assassination fulfilled several prophecies. Zechariah’s assassination fulfilled a prophecy that would end in the destruction of the idolatrous state that Jeroboam created: “And the LORD said to him, ‘Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.”’ (Hosea 1:4). “The high places of Isaac will be desolated and the sanctuaries of Israel laid waste. Then I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” (Amos 7:9). In the last 20 years of Northern Israel, the final six rulers would be plagued by conflict and instability. This also fulfilled a prophecy. The prophet Ahijah prophesied that the people of Northern Israel would be like a “a reed is shaken in the water.” (1 Kgs. 14:15). This was a metaphor for instability (Matt. 11:7; Lk. 7:24). God judged each and every one of the leaders of Northern Israel for their evil acts (1 Kgs. 15:34; 16:2, 19, 31; 22:52; 2 Kgs. 3:3; 10:29, 31; 13:2, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28). As a result, all of the people suffered from political instability. This carries lessons for the modern Church. If the Church chooses to stay out of politics, ungodly people will take control, and the nations will suffer from their evil choices. This will include instability.
God’s warnings of judgment are true and are fulfilled when sinners refuse to repent. Throughout the Bible, God reveals that His Word is true and always comes to pass: “Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” (Josh. 21:45). “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.” (1 Kgs. 8:56). “I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” (Is. 48:3). “Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.” (Is. 42:9). No other holy book can make similar claims of fulfilled prophecy as the Bible does. Thus, non-believers ignore God’s warnings of judgment at their own peril.
In the end times, people will openly embrace apostasy. Zechariah ignored God’s many judgments upon his predecessor kings and instead embraced the idolatry of worshiping golden calves. He likely knew God’s prophecy to Jehu. Thus, he would have known that he would be the last king to live under Jehu’s dynasty. That was a signal to him that he would likely die a violent end without an heir. This should have prompted Zechariah to reject idolatry and turn back to God. Yet, he would not let go of the false teachings and idolatry that were common throughout Northern Israel. In the end times, leaders will also reject God’s Word, embrace false doctrines and ignore God’s warnings of judgment. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Tim. 4:1). “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” (2 Pet. 2:1). Are you tolerating false doctrines in your life? Or, are you tolerating false teachings in your church?
Shallum becomes King of Northern Israel and does evil in God’s eyes. Following Zechariah’s six-month reign, Northern Israel’s next king Shallum lasted only one month: “13 Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned one month in Samaria. 14 Then Menahem son of Gadi went up from Tirzah and came to Samaria, and struck Shallum son of Jabesh in Samaria, and killed him and became king in his place. 15 Now the rest of the acts of Shallum and his conspiracy which he made, behold they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.” (2 Kgs. 15:13-15). Like his predecessors, Shallum did evil in God’s eyes by continuing the same idolatrous practices started under Jeroboam I. Shallum’s reign was the second shortest amongst the Kings of Northern Israel. He lasted only a month, sometime in or around 752 B.C. He died a brutal death through his assassination. Only Zimri with his seven-day reign had a shorter tenure as a king (1 Kgs. 16:15).
Shallum reaped what he sowed. Shallum assassinated Zechariah (2 Kgs. 15:10). In turn, Menahem, who is believed to have been a military commander, quickly assassinated Shallum (2 Kgs. 15:14). Thus, Shallum reaped the evil that he sowed: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7). “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it yields no grain. Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up.” (Hos. 8:7).
In the end times, chaos will also be pervasive in society. The anarchy that followed Zechariah’s assassination provides a window into the end times. Shallum’s reign lasted four weeks. The last half of the seven years will be filled with chaos during the Great Tribulation. “28 The Lord will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart; 29 and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.” (Dt. 28:27-29; Ex. 10:21). “We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, . . .” (Is. 59:10(a)). “By day they meet with darkness, and grope at noon as in the night.” (Job 5:14; 12:25; 38:15). “They wandered, blind, in the streets; . .” (Lam. 4:14(a); Amos 8:9). “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” (Prov. 4:19). During the end times, people will be spiritually blind. They will know their suffering. Yet, they will be oblivious to God’s solution.
Menahem becomes King of Northern Israel and does evil in God’s eyes. After assassinating Shallum, Menahem showed his evil and barbaric nature through atrocities as king: “16 Then Menahem struck Tiphsah and all who were in it and its borders from Tirzah, because they did not open to him; therefore he struck it and ripped up all its women who were with child. 17 In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi became king over Israel and reigned ten years in Samaria. 18 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 19 Pul, king of Assyria, came against the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver so that his hand might be with him to strengthen the kingdom under his rule. 20 Then Menahem exacted the money from Israel, even from all the mighty men of wealth, from each man fifty shekels of silver to pay the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria returned and did not remain there in the land. 21 Now the rest of the acts of Menahem and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 22 And Menahem slept with his fathers, and Pekahiah his son became king in his place.” (2 Kgs. 15:16-22). Menahem ruled Northern Israel for ten years with utter cruelty, from 752 to 742 B.C. (2 Kg. 15:17). As an example of his cruelty, Menahem mutilated pregnant woman in the town of what is believed to be “Tappuah,” (not Tiphsah in Syria (2 Kgs. 15:14)), a town 14 miles southwest of Tirzah (Josh. 17:8). This was a war tactic that was only practiced by pagan foreign armies (2 Kgs. 8:12; Hosea 13:16; Amos 1:13). God prohibited Jews from raping captured civilians (Dt. 21:10-14). Mutilating a pregnant woman was an evil God would never condone. Menahem’s cruelty was also compounded by his idolatry. Menahem then cowered before Syria and after Tiglath-pileser III from Assyria invaded Israel in or around 743 B.C. To preserve his own power, Menahem agreed to make Northern Israel a vassal state of Assyria. He forced his own subjects to pay tribute to King Tiglath-pileser III. Menahem therefore placed his people in economic as well as spiritual bondage. Thus, he was evil in every aspect of his life in God’s eyes (2 Kgs. 15:18).
In the end times, people will be unforgiving and violent toward each other. In the end times, God’s teachings of mercy and forgiveness will be ignored. Like Menahem, people will become “without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;” (Ro. 1:31). When God’s love and mercy are removed, the end times will be filled with violence, wrath, vengeance, hatred, and betrayal, the same way Menahem treated his rivals.
Pekahiah becomes King of Northern Israel and does evil in God’s eyes. Following Menahem’s murderous and self-serving reign, his son Pekahiah reigned for only two years before he was assassinated: “23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah son of Menahem became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years. 24 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25 Then Pekah son of Remaliah, his officer, conspired against him and struck him in Samaria, in the castle of the king’s house with Argob and Arieh; and with him were fifty men of the Gileadites, and he killed him and became king in his place. 26 Now the rest of the acts of Pekahiah and all that he did, behold they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.” (2 Kgs. 15:23-26). Pekahiah’s two-year reign lasted from between 742-740 B.C. Like his father and the kings who preceded him, he did evil in God’s eyes. This included, but was not limited to idolatry. (2 Kgs. 15:24). Each king became more brutal and wicked as they tried to maintain their grip on their power. Pekah, one of Pekahiah's army officers, then conspired with 50 men (presumably soldiers under his command from Gilead) to kill him.
King Pekahiah was murdered after a two-year reign2
Satan stirs up evil leaders to create strife amongst God’s peoples. The strife between the Jews in Northern Israel was a result of their leaders’ evil desires for self-aggrandizement and power. As they lived without God, these leaders lived under Satan’s control and caused strife and misery: “An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.” (Prov. 28:25.) A person who causes strife amongst God’s people is one of the things that God “hates”: “There are six things which the LORD hates, . . . A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Prov. 6:16, 19).
During the end times, the people will also live in strife against each other. When order under Satan’s rule breaks down, society becomes chaotic, hateful, and violent. “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.” (Titus 3:3). When God’s people turn on each other in strife, it is a sign that He has removed His hand of protection and Satan is in full control: “53 Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you.” (Dt. 28:53). “Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat.” (Lev. 26:29). “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.” (Jer. 19:9). “They slice off what is on the right hand but still are hungry, and they eat what is on the left hand but they are not satisfied; each of them eats the flesh of his own arm.” (Is. 9:20; Lam. 4:10; (Ezek. 5:10). These verses should not be read as acts of cannibalism. Instead, they represent the curse of having people who were once family and friends turn on each other in acts of cruel violence and strife.
Pekah becomes King of Northern Israel and does evil in God’s evils. Following Pekah’s assassination of Pekahiah, Pekah continued the evil practices of his predecessors. Without God’s protection, he also was assassinated by his own people: “27 In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah son of Remaliah became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years. 28 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon and Abel-beth-maacah and Janoah and Kedesh and Hazor and Gilead and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria. 30 And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and struck him and put him to death and became king in his place, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah. 31 Now the rest of the acts of Pekah and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.” (2 Kgs. 15:27-31). Pekah reigned from about 752 to 732 B.C. Assyrian records also suggest that Tiglath-pileser III deposed Pekah as king of Israel in or about 732 B.C. He continued the sins of his predecessors of murder and idolatry. Without God’s protection, Tiglath-pileser III invaded Northern Israel and annexed some of their best lands in Galilee and Gilead. He then deported and enslaved the Jewish citizens that he captured. These lands were never again restored to Israel. He also is believed to have paid Hoshea to depose Pekah (2 Kgs. 15:27).
Without God’s protection, Tiglath-pileser, King of Assyria, later captured Israel3
Pekah allowed two and a half tribes to be placed into captivity. From the book of Chronicles, the Bible records that two and a half tribes were carted off into captivity: “So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile, namely the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara and to the river of Gozan, to this day.” (1 Chr. 5:26) The territory of Northern Israel was shrinking. Because the Jews would not repent, the nation would soon cease to exist.
During the end times, many will live in spiritual bondage. The physical bondage of the Jews was God’s manifestation of the Jews’ spiritual bondage. For many, Satan has become either the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), “the prince of this world” (Jo. 12:31), or the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). During the end times, Satan will reveal himself and place the world in physical bondage. This will also be the physical manifestation of their spiritual bondage. Those in bondage will be blind to the greater power of the Holy Spirit unless they repent and turn to Jesus: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 Jo. 4:4). If you are in bondage, repent and turn to Jesus.
Jotham becomes King of Judah and God disciplines him. Following Azariah’s (Uzziah’s) death, Jotham became King of Judah. Although he mostly did what was right in God’s eyes, he tolerated evil like his forefathers: “32 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah became king. 33 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok. 34 He did what was right in the sight of the Lord; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. 35 Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of the Lord. 36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 37 In those days the Lord began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah. 38 And Jotham slept with his fathers, and he was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; and Ahaz his son became king in his place.” (2 Kgs. 15:32-38). Jotham reigned over Judah for 16 years, from 750-735 B.C. (2 Kgs. 15:33). Like his father, Jotham started off with good intentions. During his reign, he rebuilt the Temple gates. This meant that he was focused on worshiping God. He did not give into idolatry. The Book of Chronicles also records his other accomplishments (2 Chr. 27:3-6). Yet, he continued to allow idolatry to infect Judah. The fact that so many kings of Judah allowed this type of idolatry to continue suggests that they became spiritually blind to this sin. Each king failed to teach his sons God’s Word. The kings failed to read God’s Word, and they failed to heed Spirit-led advice. Because they failed to obey God’s Word, God allowed enemies to attack the Jews. He did this to prompt the Jews to search the Word, repent and turn back to Him.
Jotham sought a right relationship with God and partially succeeded. The rebuilding of the Temple showed that Jotham sought a right relationship with God, even if he failed in one area: “So Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God.” (2 Chr. 27:6). “His father Azariah (Uzziah) misunderstood the link between the royal house and the house God, demanding priestly authority (2 Chronicles 26:16-21). As one commentator explains, “Many kings before him wanted no link between the royal house and the house of God. Jotham understood that he was a king and not a priest, yet he wanted a good, open link between the palace and the temple.” (David Guzik on 2 Kgs. 15).4 But, if he cared about others having a right relationship, he would not have tolerated evil places of worship that would stumble others. This carries lessons for the Church. It should not ignore or tolerate the evil influences in society that stumble others.
God disciplined His people without forsaking them. The prophet Isaiah also lived during Jotham’s reign. Through Isaiah, we learn that God allowed King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah from Northern Israel to reach as far as Jerusalem. Yet, out of mercy and grace, God did not let them prevail: “Now it came about in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it.” (Is. 7:1). This shows that God wanted to discipline His people to bring them back. He did not want any of them to fail or to be placed into bondage.
In the end times, God will discipline His people to bring them to repentance. God used progressive discipline with both the nations of Northern Israel and Judah. In each case, He allowed either foreign or domestic enemies to cause the Jews torment. He did this to bring His people to repentance. During the end times, God will also unleash progressive judgments to bring His people to repentance (Rev. 8:7-13; 16:4; 9:1-11; 16:3-21). Yet, most will sadly ignore God’s progressive discipline and warnings.