2 Kings 23:31-37
31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
32 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.
33 And Pharaoh Neco put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and laid on the land a tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
34 And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away, and he came to Egypt and died there.
35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.
36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.
37 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.
“Jehoiakim’s rule was like that of the wicked kings who preceded Josiah. Jeremiah (Jer 22:17; 36:31) represents him as a monster who despoiled his own people; opposed the Lord’s servants; filled the land with violence, apostasy, and degradation; and led his people into open apostasy and degradation.” *
*Patterson, R. D., & Austel, H. J. (1988). 1, 2 Kings. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 4: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (291). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
After Josiah is killed in battle, his third son, Jehoahaz takes the throne for all of 3 months at which point the ancient enemy from Egypt comes and makes a few changes. Pharaoh Neco takes Jehoahaz off the throne and replaces him with Josiah’s second son, Jehoiakim. Apparently, Jehoiakim was more interested in bowing to Neco than his brother. Jehoahaz is carried into Egypt for the remainder of his life. Jehoiakim taxes the people brutally in order to pay the Egyptian pharaoh his due. Things in Judah are spiraling down at an alarming rate. Seventy years of captivity in Babylon is not far off. As noted from the resource above, Jehoiakim is a terrible leader. Under his kingship the country is plunged into violence. God’s people are a mess. While worship of the true God is not being practiced on a national level, there are pockets of faithfulness among the people, as we learn from the prophets.
When I was a kid and wanted to so do something that might be less than a good idea, I heard the same cliché that everyone heard. “If everyone else was jumping off a cliff, would you jump too?” My parents wanted me to know that just because everyone else was making a bad choice did not mean I had to make the same bad choice. They were wise words then and still ring true today. Just because others are turning their backs on God and choosing to go the way of the world, do I need to do it too? Probably not. Years ago I was in Toronto and found the poster below. I don’t know who drew it or who to credit for it, but it is simply brilliant and makes an awesome point. I’m not sure you can see the detail, but there’s one little sheep heading in the opposite direction and he’s saying “Excusez-moi, excusez-moi. . .” I love it. (Today I believe it hangs in a grandson’s room.)
While this might fall under the category of “loose theology” I think we can apply this to our faith as well. Rarely does God’s way go with the flow of popular opinion. That doesn’t matter. We are empowered by His Spirit to go His way instead.