II Kin. 23:28-37; II Chron. 35:20-36:7; Jer. 22:10-17; 26:1-6; 7:1-8:3
The life of a king was one of boldness and danger. As Egypt’s King Necho aided the Assyrians at Carchemish, King Josiah of Judah went up against the Egyptian king. Even though the Egyptian battle did not directly pertain to Judah, Josiah perceived it as an Egyptian/Assyrian threat and disguised himself to fight Necho. King Josiah was mortally wounded in that battle after serving thirty-one years as one of Judah’s greatest kings. His death ended Judah’s years of glory as his sons who succeeded him refused to follow his righteous ways.
Jehoahaz was the first of Josiah’s sons to succeed him to the throne. After an evil reign of only three months he was captured by King Necho and imprisoned in Riblah, Hamath in the northern part of what had once been Israel. Upon returning to Egypt, Necho brought the prisoner, Jehoahaz with him. He then made Eliakim, another son of Josiah a puppet king instead of Jehoahaz. Eliakim’s name was changed to Jehoiakim.
There continued to be great mourning for Josiah in the land of Judah. Jeremiah instructed the people to mourn instead for the king, Jehoahaz who had been taken away and would never return. He warned the new king against greed and oppression of his people.
It took only a short time for Judah’s government to fall apart after the death of Josiah. Twenty-five-year-old Jehoiakim being a vassal or puppet king under Egypt gave their silver and gold to Pharaoh and under his direction taxed the people and gave that money to the Egyptian king.
The Lord came to Jeremiah with instructions to stand at the gates of the temple and to speak His warning to the people. God in His mercy was giving them another chance to turn in repentance from their wicked ways. The prophet reminded them of the evils that they had committed and gave them a way to escape God’s wrath. They were guilty of stealing, murder, adultery, false swearing, burning incense and walking after other gods and even sacrificing their sons and daughters as burnt offerings to the god, Molech. Even though Jeremiah was to speak those words to the people, God told him that they would not obey nor answer him.
(We cringe at the thought of offering innocent young children as sacrifices to gods during the times of the prophets. However, somehow it is morally acceptable to abort the lives of innocent unborn babies under the guise of “The Right to Choose.” Whatever happened to the babies’ “right to choose?” Go figure!! God will not hold those murderers blameless if they do not repent.)