We have arrived at our final study in a nine-month-long survey of the book of Chronicles. But we aren't down to the last king just yet. You see, with these final 23 verses, there are still four kings and about a hundred years left to cover.
When we left off, we saw the sad end of King Josiah, a man who had walked wonderfully with God from the age of eight. But this godly man died at the age of 39 when he stubbornly meddled in the Egyptian/Babylonian conflict that was not his. Now, his son will become king, at least temporarily.
Josiah's son Yeh-ho-aw-KHAWZ became king after his father's death. 2Kings tells us that he was not the mirror image of his father, but in fact,
2Kings 23:32 He did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
God allowed Yeh-ho-aw-KHAWZ to be overpowered by Pharaoh Neco, the king of Egypt. Neco took him captive (2Kings 23:33) and had his brother El-yaw-KEEM sit on the throne of Judah. Neco apparently thought that El-yaw-KEEM was easier to control, and would be more submissive to Egyptian demands of tribute money. Neco also changed El-yaw-KEEM's name to Yeh-ho-yaw-KEEM. When someone changes your name, it is a sign that you are in subjection to their authority.
Meanwhile, Yeh-ho-aw-KHAWZ was taken to Egypt, where he died (2Kings 23:34).
This other son of King Josiah was also evil, as his brother had been. After eleven years on the throne, it was time to be judged. But God didn't use Pharaoh Neco to bring judgment upon him. You see, Egypt was radically decreasing in strength and grasp of this region of the world because Babylon was so radically increasing in power. The Babylonian Empire had grown to the point where they had taken over everything that Egypt had gained (2Kings 24:7).
And so judgment for this king of Judah came from the opposite direction of Egypt. It came from the Babylonian Empire. Just as Pharaoh Neco had done to him, now Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon does. Nebuchadnezzar forced Yeh-ho-yaw-KEEM to be in subjection to him. But after three years, Yeh-ho-yaw-KEEM rebelled (2Kings 24:1) against him. And so Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem, and made the first of what would be three attacks, captivities, and robberies.
The year was 605BC. Nebuchadnezzar took Yeh-ho-yaw-KEEM, and some of the temple treasures back to Babylon, while Yeh-ho-yaw-KEEM's son Yeh-ho-yaw-KEEN took his place.
There is a transcriptionist's error in the new king's age here. 2Kings 24 lists his age as eighteen, not eight, and that would have to be the accurate one, for in Jeremiah, God calls him a "man" (Jer. 22:28).
Yeh-ho-yaw-KEEN was also called Jeconiah and Coniah. He was so wicked that God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, said,
Jer. 22:24-30 "As I live," declares the LORD, "even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. "I will hurl you and your mother who bore you into another country where you were not born, and there you will die. But as for the land to which they desire to return, they will not return to it. Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar? Or is he an undesirable vessel? Why have he and his descendants been hurled out and cast into a land that they had not known? O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD, 'Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.'"
This was major, and the devil himself must have thought that this major declaration was a major mistake. You see, for all these years, God had been promising that the Messiah was going to come through David, and sit on David's throne. Now, the kingly bloodline has been permanently cursed! God has just announced that no man of Jeconiah's descendants will prosper sitting on that throne!
And yet, just five verses later, God reaffirms the promise of the Messiah as the descendant of David:
Jer. 23:5-6 "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.'"
This is terribly confusing. How can the promised king descend from David, and yet not be among the cursed of the kingly bloodline? God had it all worked out.
You see, when the Messiah was born, He was legally from the kingly line of David, but not biologically. Jeconiah's bloodline descended down to a man named Joseph (Matt. 1:12-16), who was engaged to a virgin named Mary. Joseph's legal heir was named Jesus. But this son wasn't biologically his - He had been born of the virgin Mary, conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit! Mary, also, was a descendant of King David, but not through the kingly line of Solomon, which had extended down to Jeconiah. No, she was the descendant of David's son Nathan (Luke 3:23-31). And so Jesus was able to inherit the legal position of Jeconiah's kingly line, without the blood curse, even while fulfilling the need to be a biological son of David!
In the year 597BC, Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem again, for the second time. Jeconiah (Yeh-ho-yaw-KEEN) was taken captive, as well as the rest of the temple treasures. But this time, he took captive all of the officials of Judah, as well as anyone who had talent or money (Jer. 24:1). Only the poorest people remained in the land.
Nebuchadnezzar appinted Jeconiah's uncle Mat-tan-YAW as king of Judah and changed his name to Tsid-kee-YAW (2Kings 24:17).
Tsid-kee-YAW had sworn an oath before God to submit to Nebuchadnezzar, but he was evil, and gave no regard to his vow. His rebellion against God led to his rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar.
Meanwhile, all of the Jews who remained in the land had depreciated into idolatry and immorality. They paid no attention to Jeremiah or God's other prophets. As a result, God told them that they would be utterly destroyed (Jer. 24:8-25:11).
When the Babylonians attacked the final time, the temple was destroyed, Jerusalem's wall was broken down, and most of the rest of the Jews were killed. The few that remained were taken into captivity, as most of the rest of them had been nine years before. The Jews would remain captive in Babylon for seventy years.
Jeremiah had in fact prophesied that the Babylonian Captivity would last seventy years.
Jer. 25:11 'This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,' declares the LORD, 'for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.'
But why seventy years? Was this an arbitrary choice of a number by God? No, it had a specific purpose, because the land was owed a special payment. In the book of Leviticus, the Lord commanded,
Lev. 25:2-4 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard."
Every seventh year was to be dedicated for the land to rest. But the Israelites had been in the land of Israel for 490 years now, and had never once given the land its sabbaths. God decided that this was the perfect example to demonstrate their failure to obey His Law, and demanded the 490 years' worth of sabbaths: seventy years.
Of course, this had been made known to the Jews through Jeremiah, and so as the time drew closer, we see that Daniel the prophet wrote,
Dan. 9:2-3 in the first year of his (Darius') reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.
Those seventy years were long and difficult for the Jews in Babylon. But for us, they go by as fast as it takes us to get to the next verse...
The sharp-eyed among us will notice that these last two verses are nearly identical to the first two and a half verses on the next page of their Bible. The book of Ezra begins with the very words that end the book of Chronicles (with the exception of the word "Yahweh" in 2Chron 36:23). This has led many to believe that Ezra was the Chronicler - the author of Chronicles.