2 Chronicles 21

2 Chronicles 21
by Pastor Mark Hudson

Sometimes a bad example is a good example.  Jehoram is not a good example, but he does serve a purpose.  Buoys are necessary.  Buoys tell boaters to stay away from stumps, rocks, or sand bars.  Jehoram is not a good King.  But any of us that are older and closer to our death than our birth, Jehoram serves a purpose that we do not want to ruin our lives like he did.

His father, Jehoshaphat, was a godly king but it appears that the author is critical of Jehoshaphat’s choice of his first born.  Jehoshaphat’s choice of his first-born was not an outstanding choice (v. 13).  The death of Jehoram’s father is narrated in the first three verses.  This choosing of Jehoram was Jehoshaphat’s last major decision.  It proved to be a serious miscalculation.  Jehoram’s brothers were given wealth (v. 3) as well as cities.  But they would not be able to enjoy them.

Early on, we form a negative opinion of this new king because he kills all his brothers after ascending the throne.  Included in that number are some of the princes who may have given Jehoram reason to suspect them.  This is a wicked way to begin one’s reign.  This is not the way any king of Judah should ever act.  Once Jehoram murders his brothers, it is difficult to get past that and think Jehoram will ever be good.  That assumption is confirmed by the end of the chapter.

King Jehoram is not just politically aligned with Israel; he marries the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel named Athaliah.  Verse 6, jars the reader by this phrase, “and he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done . . .”  This is not what you want to read about a king from Judah.  Jehoram should be following the Lord, but he is acting like Ahab who is one of the worst, if not the worst, king of Israel.  We are also reminded that just because a parent is a believer, that does not mean their child(ren) will be.

Clearly, the Lord is not pleased with Jehoram. But notice the grace of God in v. seven.  God is faithful to His covenant with David so even though Jehoram’s sins are grievous to God, “the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that He made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.”  This really is an amazing statement that shows the grace of God.

Now in vs. 8-10, we God bringing trouble on Judah through foreign nations.  We see the same in v. 16 where “the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the anger of the Philistines and of the Arabians . . . .”  God uses others to bless us and others to discipline us.

The king, possibly to allow for everyone to be able to worship who they wanted, created a place for idolators.  We do not know if the king encouraged this worship, but we would assume so since he built the high places.  This was a serious mistake.  God was especially provoked by the high places.

This resulted, not in a sermon from the prophet, but a letter.  Elijah sends a letter that is recorded in v. 12ff.  Essentially, Elijah writes Jehoram, ‘Hope you are doing well.  As you know, you are not a good king.  In fact, your brothers were all better than you.  Since you have acted wickedly, God will bring a plague on your people and your family as well as your possessions.  You will die of a painful disease.  Oh, and have a great day.’

So, after this letter, Jehoram’s wickedness results in more of God’s judgment.  In v. 17ff, the Philistines and Arabians invade Judah and “carried away all the possessions they found that belonged to the king’s house, and also his sons and his wives, so that no son was left him except Jehoahaz, his youngest son.”  One might hope that the king would repent.  Life is not going well for Jehoram.

The last few verses of this chapter details God’s judgement on Jehoram.  One author guesses that what Jehoram had was colorectal carcinoma.  I heard another speaker call Jehoram’s disease dysentery.  Whatever he had was painful since he died in “great agony” (v. 19).  We see God’s judgement in these verses.  Painful disease, virtually no family left, the nation turned to idolatry, other nations warring against him, few possessions, and after he died, no funeral fire, no one was sorry he died, and while he was buried in Jerusalem, he was not buried in the tombs of the king.  A rather ignoble funeral as well as a wicked life.

Dear heavenly father, You deserve the honor of a life of obedience and faith.  You are worthy of any sacrifice Your people make for Your glory.  Yet, there are many who dishonor You, reject Your Word and flaunt Your laws.  May we live like Your people by dying to sin and living to righteousness as 1 Peter 2:24 exhorts us.    Guide us to see where real joy comes from and pursue the eternal fountain of joy.  We pray this in the name of the Lord of lords and King of kings: our Lord Jesus.  Amen.