I. A Hasty Reign (2Ki. 23:30b-32; 2Chron. 36:1,2)
In the spring/summer of 609BC, Necho 2 (pharaoh of Egypt) began his first campaign against Babylon, with the aid of the Assyrians. He moved his armies up the coastal route toward Syria… then prepared to cross the ridge of hills which formed the Jezreel Valley. There he found his path blocked by the Judean army led by King Josiah. After a fierce battle – ill-advised for Josiah – Josiah was killed.
There was now a leadership vacuum, with enemies all around. The Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians were all bigger and badder than Judah; Judah would soon be someone’s vassal-state. They were still trying to figure a way out (against what the prophets had told them was coming), so they appointed Shallum as their king. His name was evidently changed to Jehoahaz when he sat on the throne. Jehoahaz means “Possession of Jehovah”.
Jehoahaz wasn’t Josiah’s oldest son; that was Eliakim. Why was Eliakim passed over for Jehoahaz? It is preseumed Eliakim was too high-spirited… more warlike; Ezekiel called him a “young lion” (Ezek. 19:3).
II. A Hard Captivity (2Ki. 23:33a; 2Chron. 36:3a)
Jerusalem had thumbed their noses at Pharaoh Necho… and he would not let that slide. He called for Jehoahaz to come to Riblah, where he was, and, there, he put him in chains. After a short skirmish elsewhere, Necho picked up Jehoahaz on his way back to Egypt. He would eventually die there. He would be the first king of Judah to die outside of Judah… though not the last.
This captivity was an object lesson of what would happen to Judah… but they were too stubborn – and too close to it – to see it.
III. A Heavy Tax (2Ki. 23:33b; 2Chron. 36:3b,4)
Sin led to bondage… bondage led to misery… misery led to being forgotten (by all but God).
It’s a tragic story. The only bright spot for Jehoahaz seems to be that he was born to Josiah, the good boy-king of Judah. But, even that connection is a sad one; it was Josiah’s death in battle that led to Jehoahaz’s ascension to the throne.
A good start doesn’t necessarily mean a good finish. And it’s not how you start… but how you finish.
If today marked the end of your journey, could it be said that you finished well? Finish well!
You can read the story of Jehoahaz in 2Kings 23:30b-33; 2Chronicles 36:1-4; Jeremiah 22:10-12; Ezekiel 19:3,4.