Saturday, April 23, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 76. Jehoram King Of Judah, Part 2

Prophets And Kings
Day 76
Jehoram King Of Judah
Part 2

We conclude ours look at a bad king today. The prophet Elijah sends him a letter bouts just what a bad king him is.

2 CHRONICLES 21:12-20
"Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, which said: 'This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: 'You have not followed the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah. But you have followed the ways of the kings of Israel, and you have led Judah and the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves, just as the house of Ahab did.'" (2 Chronicles 21:12-13a) The prophet reminds Jehoram of his heritage. He is descended from godly men like David and like his father Jehoshaphat and his grandfather Asa. Jehoram has strayed very far from the example these men set.

The prophet goes on to say, "You have also murdered your own brothers, members of your own family, men who were better than you." (2 Chronicles 21:13b) Jehoram grew up with his six brothers, playing together and getting into all the fun and all the scrapes that brothers get into. Yet after becoming king he somehow found it in his heart to turn on these men he should have loved enough to protect with all his might. And it's not as if he came from a dysfunctional family: his father and brothers were good men, according to the Scriptures, and I believe Jehoram received nothing but kindness from all of them. He killed his brothers because of his deep insecurity and fear. He killed them because he was power-hungry. He killed them because nothing in the world meant more to him than sitting on the throne. I doubt any of his brothers ever plotted to take the throne from him but in his heart he feared it. He believed they were motivated by the same passions that motivated him. And in this he erred greatly.

Because Jehoram is such a sinner and has grievously harmed his family and his nation, the Lord pronounces judgment on him. "So now the Lord is about to strike your people, your sons, your wives and everything that is yours, with a heavy blow." (2 Chronicles 21:14) Jehoram's chief wife and queen was Athaliah, the daughter of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, but Jehoram had other wives besides her. He probably had a harem and a multitude of children.

The final piece of bad news is this, "You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out." (2 Chronicles 21:15) I did some research online to try and find out what Jehoram's affliction might have been and there are several opinions but the most likely seems to be that he had colon cancer. In those days he couldn't go anywhere for chemo or radiation. The most anyone could have done for him was prepare potions for pain relief, and I doubt those were as effective as the pain relievers we have today. 

The Bible doesn't say and I couldn't find anything in my research to back this up, but I wonder if when Jehoram put his brothers to the sword it meant they were thrust through the middle with the sword. That was a common way of killing men in battle in those times, simply thrusting through their abdomen so that the sword came out the back. It could sometimes take hours for a man to perish from a wound like that. The resulting injury would be similar to a "gut shot" that a modern soldier might receive on the battlefield and it's known as one of the most painful ways to die in battle. Even if a surgeon can patch a soldier up in time to prevent immediate death, infection tends to come along afterwards because material from the bowels gets into the bloodstream and causes sepsis. If a man doesn't die from the wound itself he's in grave danger of dying from infection. Maybe God's judgment of Jehoram was poetic justice for the agony he caused his brothers to endure. Graphic and disturbing as the thought is of a person's bowels literally coming out of their body, we must trust that God is just and that the judgment He passed down to Jehoram was warranted and was correct in its severity.

The words of the prophet begin to come true. "The Lord aroused against Jehoram the hostility of the Philistines and of the Arabs who lived near the Cushites. They attacked Judah, invaded it and carried off all the goods found in the king's palace, together with his sons and wives. Not a son was left to him except Ahaziah, the youngest." (2 Chronicles 21:16-17) We will find that the queen is still alive; only the lesser wives were taken away, probably because the queen was too highly guarded to be captured. We don't know for certain why the enemies spared Ahaziah. He was in his early twenties at the time, so he wasn't spared because he was a baby and of no use to the Philistines as a slave. He is the son of the queen and he may have been her only son, so this would have given him the right to the throne even though he was the youngest of all Jehoram's sons. If this is the case, then his life would have been protected by the palace guards just as Jehoram and the queen would have been protected. 

After this raid by the Philistines and the Arabs, Jehoram gets sick and is sick for two years before he dies. Some commentators state that Ahaziah began a co-reign with his father during the last year of his father's life because Jehoram wouldn't have been well enough to perform his duties as king. There is some evidence to back up a co-regency because of a difference between two passages of Scripture in reckoning the beginning year of Ahaziah's reign. In 2 Kings 8:25 we are told he began to reign in the twelfth year of King Joram of Israel. But in 2 Kings 9:29 we are told his reign began in the eleventh year of King Joram of Israel. Co-reigning with his father for one year would explain this. He may have begun to co-reign in the eleventh year of King Joram, then when his father died, he began to reign alone, corresponding with the twelfth year of King Joram. 

"After all this, the Lord afflicted Jehoram with an incurable disease of the bowels. In the course of time, at the end of the second year, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great pain. His people made no funeral fire in his honor, as they had for his predecessors. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one's regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings." (2 Chronicles 21:18-20) The people did not love their king. He ruled them ruthlessly, with an iron fist, and the author tells us no one was sorry to see him go. He wasn't even awarded the honor of a king's tomb. The king who so dishonored the Lord during his life finds no honor for himself in death.

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