“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.”—Daniel 1:1-2 (NKJV)
God used prophets, faithful men to be His spokespeople to deliver important messages. Daniel was one. Since a teenager, Daniel (an Israelite) lived in Babylonian captivity, a foreign nation hostile to God for 70 years.
How did God’s people become captives? Israel committed terrible sins and rebellion toward a holy God. For many years, Israel continually dishonored the Lord in idolatry and failure to observe required Sabbaths. God had to deal with the sinfulness and prideful arrogance of His people.
Jehoiakim was Judah’s king for 11 years. He was known for attempting to “destroy” the Word of God. Ironically, his name means “Jehovah sets up”; yet “the Lord gave him into his hand.”
The Psalmist wrote, “But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another” (Psalm 75:7 NKJV). In His mercy, God took down the arrogant king of Israel. Jeremiah wrote of this arrogant, presumptuous ruler who abused his own people (Jeremiah 22:13-14) and persecuted and murdered God’s servants (Jeremiah 26:20-23). God instructed Jeremiah to prophesy against Jehoiakim and the city of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 36:1-32). God wanted them to repent so they could avoid their prophesied downfall (Jeremiah 36:4-7).
When the princes heard Jeremiah’s prophetic words, they quickly told Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:19). The king commanded an officer to read the scroll, and after reading portions, the king cut away part of the scroll and then tossed it into the fire. In his arrogance, Jehoiakim apparently thought he was accountable to no one. But God would have the last word.
Jeremiah prepared another scroll (Jeremiah 36:27-32). God spoke strong words for Jehoiakim: “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed” (Jeremiah 36:30-31 NKJV).
Sadly, Jehoiakim persisted in his defiance and suffered greatly from his sinful consequences. Ultimately, he was overcome by another evil king and died under his hand.
The lessons of King Jehoiakim apply to all leaders and all peoples: Man cannot arrogantly challenge God and expect impunity. David Guzik put it this way, “God always settles accounts with those who refuse to respond to His warnings.” Galatians 6:7 (NKJV) says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” And Numbers 32:23 (NKJV) says, “But if you will not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.”
DIG: Looking into your heart, is there a tendency to be in rebellion to the Lord? If that is the case, what are you holding onto?
DISCOVER: Read 1 John 5:3. God daily reveals His tender mercies and wills for us to walk in harmony with Him by following Him in obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). Make it your desire to honor Him.
DO: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).