We've been away from II Chronicles for awhile; but the story picks up here parallel to II Kings 8-9.
Jehoram's Choices (Judah)
When we were last in II Chronicles (a while ago!), we met Jehoshaphat and read about his time with Ahab, his reforms at home, and even his victory over enemies because of his reliance on the Lord. He did many things right; but also seem to lack some basic common sense, especially in regards to Ahab and his family.
Unfortunately, he doesn't finish well. The end of the story of Jehoshaphat was when he allied himself with Ahab's wicked son, Ahaziah in a business deal. The Lord sent a prophet to tell him, specifically, that it was this alliance that led to that disastrous shipping deal.
It was into this muddled legacy that Jehoshaphat brought his son as a co-regent for the last few years of his reign (which was a common practice).
Now, with Jehoshaphat dead and buried with his fathers in Jerusalem, Jehoram became king in his own right.
It mentions that Jehoshaphat had many sons and gave them precious metals and gold and even fortified cities as inheritance; but Jehoram was given the kingdom because he was the first born. (verse 3)
Wow. Things really take a turn in verse 4. He settles in and secures the kingdom and then he kills all of his brothers and some rulers of Israel. (I'm assuming because things have been muddied with Ahab daughter marrying Jehoshaphat's son.)
Verse 5 whiplashes us back to the mundane- Jehoram was 32 when began his reign and reigned 8 years.
Verse 6 gives the executive summary of this king's standing with God, and it's not good. He walked in the ways of the house of Israel (not in the house of David, as Judah should have). This contamination of the House of David with the house of Ahab happened because Jehoram married Ahab's daughter and she led him in doing wicked in the sight of the Lord.
It reminds me of how Solomon's house didn't make it one full generation past him successfully ruling the kingdom because of how he raised his son. Jehoshaphat is about to cause the same kind of truly seismic shift in the people of God.
Despite this, the Lord was not willing to destroy the House of David because of His covenant with David. We do, however, immediately see the loss of some of God's favor.
Edom revolted and set up their own king. When Jehoram went toward them to bring them back under control, Edom began to surround them as they slept. Jehoram fought back in the middle of the night; but it reads like that was the end of the war. Jehoram got to live; but Edom was lost forever as a vassal state.
And the same thing happened with Libnah. Specifically because Jehoram forsook the Lord, according to verse 10.
Moreover, he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot and led Judah astray.II Chronicles 21:11
What a heartbreaking passage. While it may seem odd to offer such an abysmal verse such prominence- it's worth highlighting. This is almost identical verbiage that we've been reading about Israel since the northern tribes broke off.
And now the virus has arrived in Judah because Jehoshaphat let his son marry into that awful family. I'm now convinced that Jehoram killed his brother (and the Israel rulers) based on advice from Jezebel (who is still alive) and her sons and daughters. It would be an even more clear explanation how ruler of Israel made his hit list.
Idolatry is a toxin and it is contagious. We have to be so vigilant and on our guard for those who want to pull us away from our Lord. We have the advantage of the Holy Spirit; but He gave them prophets. We have to choose to submit daily. The consequences are far reaching.
Jehoram Gets a Letter
Isaiah sends Jehoram a letter, in lieu of coming in person with his exhortations. The Ryrie Study Bible says that Isaiah had been taken up to heaven by the time the letter arrived.
Verse 12- Isaiah leads with all of Jehoram's crimes- following Israel and not the House of David, leading the people into the sin and such as noted above. When Isaiah gets to the part about murdering his own family, he even mentions that they were all better than Jehoram. Ouch. Then Isaiah gets to the punishment- calamity for all of Jehoram's people. And a particularly unpleasant ending for Jehoram himself. A bowel disease.
Then the Philistines and Arabs invaded carrying out the sentence by carrying away all of the possessions, including the wives and sons, except the youngest, Jehoahaz. And the Lord smote him with the incurable bowel illness. Yikes. Eventually his bowels came out and he died painfully.
Verse 19 has an interesting observation. After his death, his people made no fire for him, as they had done for his fathers. Verse 20 goes even further in describing the dishonor that while he was buried in Jerusalem, he was not buried in the tombs with his fathers. It explicitly explains that, "...he departed with no one's regret." Wow. We've had some kings end poorly, having done some evil things; but none so far have received an epitaph like that. I'll be curious to see if Wiersbe has an insight into that ending.
Chapter 22: 1-9
After the death of Jehoram, his youngest son became king. He is named Jehoahaz in verse 21:17; but is named Ahaziah, probably in honor of his uncle, the king of Israel. That makes this Ahaziah also Ahab's grandson. And Omri's great grandson. They make that point in verse 2.
Verse 1 explains that when the Arabs invaded they slayed all of the other sons of Jehoram, leaving only this son. It also states that the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah king. They willingly chose him. Rather than finding some other line of David, they chose this man. The king was supposed to be someone who saw to the people's best interest, not just bloodline inheritance.
He was 22 when he became king and reigned 1 year. Verse 3 tells us that he walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, at the direction of a wicked mother. The contagion from Israel to Judah is now complete. Verse 4 goes on to say that Israel was his counsel following his father's death. So it doesn't sound like the house of David is represented at all any more.
Ahaziah went to war alongside Israels's king, the other Jehoram. When Jehoram was sick, Ahaziah went to visit him in Jezreel. This was where Jehu arrived and slew everyone from the house of Ahab and then went after Ahaziah, slaying him as well. Although they buried him out of respect for his father (grandfather), Jehoshaphat.
This back and forth between kings of Israel, Judah, and their families shows that a spiritual battle rages all around us. And at times, it looks like the enemy is winning. Mostly by poisoning many good things. But the Lord's Plan will be executed. His Word will never return void. We can be confident that He will keep His covenant, even when the benefactors of that covenant don't deserve it.
I can attest to that first hand!