The last king of Judah is the third of Josiah’s sons to sit on the throne. He was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar after he took Jehoiachin captive.
I don’t know what it is about these foreign leaders that they have to change the name of the man they appoint. Zedekiah birth name was Mattaniah. This name felt familiar to me so I went to my book Everyone In the Bible by William P. Barker and looked up the name. There were actually nine men in the bible with that name but we haven’t met any of the others yet. Maybe I used the name in one of my stories by assigning it to a nameless character. I do that with characters who are repetitive in the stories but we have no name for. (Thanks mom for giving me this book so I can find biblical names for my stories.)
Something that struck me is the fact that all three of Josiah’s sons “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (verse 19a). None of them took after their father. This son of Josiah’s was FAR younger than his brothers. Jehoahaz was 21 when he became king and reigned three months (son 1). Jehoiakim was 25 when he became king and he reigned eleven years (son 2). His son, Jehoiachin was 18 when he became king and he reigned 3 months (grandson). Then Zedekiah took the throne at 21 and he reigned eleven years (son 3). This made Zedekiah around age 10 when his full brother, Jehoahaz, took the throne. His nephew, Jehoiachin, would have been around age 7 when his father, Jehoiakim, took the throne. I wonder if they played together as children. There is only about a three year difference in their ages.
These ages are also the ages they would have been when Josiah died. He would have no more time to teach them the ways of the Lord. His two older sons didn’t benefit from their time with him. They did not follow the Proverbs promise: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Did their father train them up or did he leave that to others?
God was also executing judgment on His people during this time. Maybe it didn’t matter how they were trained because this was God’s timing. I have a hard time believing that though because we have seen Him delay judgment for those who called out to Him. But these men never did. They stayed with the foreign gods. God had enough of this. “For because of the anger of the Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that He cast them out from His presence” (verse 20a).
God became completely fed up with Judah when Manasseh ruled. He was the most evil king in Judah’s history. He postponed execution of His judgment until this time in history though because of at least one good king, Josiah. I don’t know where Zedekiah ranked on the scale of evil but he got the distinction of being the one on the throne when God poured out His wrath.
Zedekiah helped out Judah’s demise by rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar. We don’t know how many years into his reign he revolted but it was a suicide move on his part. Judah was NO match for Babylon WITHOUT the Lord. And they were just about to find this out.
Father God, I feel for the people. The few who were still faithful. We know there were some, otherwise we wouldn’t have the book of Daniel. You didn’t abandon them but they weren’t spared the deportation to Babylon. The faithful would face hardships just like the rest of the people but they wouldn’t face it alone. They faced it with You in their corner.
The same is true for me today. I NEVER face ANYTHING alone! You are always with me, holding my hand and calling me away from danger. I am RICHLY blessed. I haven’t had to face anything like Judah did but the things that I have faced You have held onto me through them all. THANK YOU FATHER. I trust that You will ALWAYS be there. I take You at Your word. I’m glad the faithful of Judah had Your promises to cling to in their dark days too.