KNOWING GOD IN HIS GLORY
Three Bad Apples
Jerry A Collins
P What makes a good person go bad?
P What is the meaning of a lamentation?
P What is the relationship between a lamentation and a person gone bad?
I was recently driving with my daughter, Haley, and when I used the turning signal and for some reason it took me back to her age when I was riding with my grandfather on some morning errand he was making. The methodical sound of that turning signal somehow reminded me of my rides with him throughout my childhood that were special moments for me. He is gone now and these memories are all that I have of our relationship. For awhile I was taking up a lamentation for my grandfather. We often lament our loved ones who are gone by reciting our thots in honor of them.
In the Bible laments were usually funeral songs that generally stressed the good qualities of the departed as well as the tragedy or loss engendered by the death such as David’s lamentation over the death of Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1:17-27. In Chapter 19 of Ezekiel, we have a lament for the nation of Israel and her leaders. This is the first of five laments in the book (26:17-18; 27; 28:12-19; 32:1-16).
This lament is taken up for the princes of Israel vs 1. This is the title given by Ezekiel for the Kings residing in Jerusalem. At the time of this lament, Zedekiah was king. The date is 592BC, 5 yrs before the fall of Jerusalem. So Ezekiel was taking up a funeral song even though the city’s death was still in the future. The lament develops by tracing the fate of two of the last three kings in Jerusalem who had preceded Zedekiah before speaking of Zedekiah himself. However, this lament is not over just these kings but the Davidic dynasty they represented and the death of its rule in the nation vs 14! It is the final chapter when these last three kings of Judah are taken in captivity by foreign nations that bring this nation and its leadership to an end.
1. LAMENT OVER THE FATE OF KING JEHOAHAZ 1-4
After Israel had divided itself into two nations, Israel to the north and Judah to the south, the nations were ruled by a series of kings. In Israel there were 19 kings and everyone of them were bad ones. That nation was overrun by Assyria in 722BC and its people exiled effectively ending the nations existence after nearly 200 yrs. The southern kingdom called Judah had 19 kings and one queen, some good, some bad and is now nearing its end after almost 350 yrs. Its the last three of these kings, all of them bad, that Ezekiel laments. King Jehoahaz reigned 3 months at the age of 23. He was made king by the people when Josiah his father died but he was a bad king. In vs 3 we read that he learned to tear his prey, he devoured men. His reputation motivated another king, Pharaoh Neco II of Egypt to depose him and after doing so brot him with hooks probably in his nose attached to leashes down to Egypt. He died there in captivity (2 Kings 23:31-34; Jer 22:11-12). The sad thing is that Johoahaz had a godly father, Josiah, who had brought the nation back to God and had worked to purge it of idolatry. He had reinstituted religious reforms to have the nation conform to Gods law after generations of negligence. Josiah had 4 sons, three of whom reigned o ver Judah but each were bad. Jehoahaz could have continued his fathers work and followed his example but a number of good kings who had been influenced by a good father or mentor themselves, like Josiah, had bad sons because they did not do with their sons what had been done for them.
Good people will not pass on their goodness to others unless they specifically disciple them. Discipleship is the process by which I intentionally impact the life of another in the direction of Christlikeness. People need to be impacted by godly people thru discipleship. In Matthew 16:6 Jesus says watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. You just have to be around them to be impacted by their thinking and dogma. Isaiah 1:17 says learn to do good. Good has to be learned. Evil is like leaven. It permeates a group. You do not have to do anything to get it. Just be there. But good has to be learned and it is thru discipleship. Christians are called disciples more than believers in the New Testament. So you must pass on your goodness.
2. LAMENT OVER THE FATE OF KING JEHOIACHIN 5-9
After Jehoahaz and before Jehoiachin was another king, Jehoiakim that Ezekiel does not lament here. The reason may be that this king died in Jerusalem and was not exiled. Since the lament is about exile that king was left out of the song. We do know that he was the eldest son of Josiah but also failed to follow his fathers goodness and was a weak puppet king of Pharoah Necco who could be controlled easily. His son Jehoiachin succeeded him and only reigned for 3 mos as an evil king. His brief reign was a time of terror and destruction vs 5-7 until he was dethroned by Nebuchadnezzar. He was taken with hooks and possibly caged and imprisoned in Babylon. At the same time over 10000 people were exiled as well as all the treasures of the Temple and palaces in 597BC. We do know that he remained there for 37 years until he was released by Nebuchadnezzars successor (2 Kgs 25:27-30). He remained in Babylon the rest of his life and never returned to Judah. If believers do not disciple people who are close to them, like their children, but any people, those people will most likely follow bad people or the bad influences and examples of the society in general. The rare exception is the one who follows a past good leader or the Bible themselves. So far we have seen two of Josiahs three sons reigning and both were bad.
3. LAMENT OVER THE FATE OF KING ZEDEKIAH 10-14
This is the third son of Josiah and the younger brother. He also did evil in Gods sight for the 11 yrs he reigned in Judah. Judah is called a vine in vs 10. One planted by waters, fruitful and strong vs 11. The nation had prospered under Gods blessing producing many rulers fit to rule. But the contrast of the past is acute with the present condition vs 12-14 uprooted, shriveled, consumed, exiled and gone. ‘East Wind’ is a contrary wind from the desert rather the Mediterranean water in the west blowing its dust withering vegetation, destroying houses bringing distress (Dust in Dallas). The nation shriveled under the heat of oppression and the royal line is overthrown producing no more kings vs 14. Not until Christ returns will a ruler again rise in the line of David and reign as Israels king.
(1) The people can set up kings but only God sets up leaders of His people. Jehoahaz was chosen by the people but rejected by God.
(2) Not even powerful kings like Pharoah Neco can interfere with what God is doing to judge. For example, all the governments of the world will not be able to prevent the horror of the tribulation.
(3) If God is judging no man will be able to resist it. Jehoiachin carried oof righjt on schedule.
(4) Do not try to lead one way when God is working another like Zedekiah. Get as close to Gods heart as possible!