2 Kings 14:23-29

Jeroboam II, King of Israel

Jeroboam, king of Israel, the third successor of Jehu, suc­ceeds Joash, his father. "He did evil in the sight of Jehovah: he departed not from any of the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin" (v. 24). Nonetheless his reign lasted forty‑one years! One might believe, and we have several examples in this history, that God always prompt­ly cut off the kings whose conduct dishonored Him. Such is the case with Zechariah, the son of this same Jeroboam (2 Kings 15: 8), but it is not so here. God has different ways which He knows how to reconcile with His longsuffering and His mercy. His pity for Israel's state of being oppressed directs His ways concerning Jeroboam's reign. "Jehovah saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter; and that there was not any shut up, nor any‑left, nor any helper for Israel. And Jehovah had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under the heavens; and he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash" (vv. 26‑27). God raises up a savior for this people in the person of this king who had incurred His displeasure, just as He had previously done with Joash his father (2 Kings 13: 5). "He restored the bord­er of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the sea of the plain" (v. 25).

The territory of Hamath, the principal city of upper Syr­ia, had at one time belonged to Solomon (2 Chr. 8: 3). Jeroboam's victory restored to Israel "the entrance of Hamath," a very important strategic position. The city of Hamath itself does not seem to have been part of the con­quest, but the borders of Israel were restored from the en­trance of Hamath to the Salt Sea, which is the Dead Sea (cf. Joshua 3: 16). Taking possession of this enlarged Israel's territory at the expense of that of Judah, for a part of Damascus and of Hamath had formerly belonged to the lat­ter (v. 28).

Jonah the prophet, the son of Amittai, had announced this event beforehand (v. 25). Jonah is the first prophet about whom we have a prophetic writing Our passage here presents him as a prophet of Israel. His prophecy has not been preserved for us. It spoke of a particular event which had no abiding import. It is mentioned in Scripture, but it is not, according to what we have in 2 Peter 1: 20, a "prophecy of scripture." The latter is never interpreted by the events near at hand to which it alludes. Jonah is presented to us in this passage as a prophet of grace and of temporary deliverance of Israel.

A few words will suffice to characterize the book which speaks of him. Jonah, representing the people who glory in their legal righteousness, rebels against the Lord, who wishes to send him to the Gentiles. He is for the moment thrown into the sea by the nations whose ship can then sail in peace upon a calmed sea. At the end of three days, the prophet, representing the Messiah who takes the place of unfaithful Israel, is raised, and the new Israel announces the judgment and grace that follow its repentance. He is then enlightened as to the merciful purposes of the Lord.

Apart from its prophetic meaning which ought not to de­tain us here, Jonah's preaching against Nineveh has a historical importance for the course of events which are un­folded in this part of the book of kings. It shows us the con­siderable role of the Assyrian kingdom at this epoch, a kingdom which would enter into conflict with that of Is­rael, to accomplish the judgments of God.

The prophet Amos, who prophesied in the same epoch, announced to the house of Israel that Jeroboam's conquests would not be long‑lasting The Assyrian would capture these from them. "For behold, O house of Israel, said Je­hovah the God of hosts, I will raise up against you a na­tion; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hamath unto the torrent of the Arabah" (Amos 6: 14). Less than one hundred years later, this prophecy was realized under Hezekiah (2 Kings 18: 34; 2 Kings 19: 13). Jeroboam had "put far away the evil day" (Amos 6: 3), in reconquering Israel's borders to "Hamath the great" (Amos 6: 1‑2), and unto the sea of the plain. Behold, says Amos, the evil day is near at hand. On the eve of ruin, the prince was relaxing, think­ing only of his ease (Amos 6: 4), and behold, Hamath itself and Gath (recaptured by Uzziah-2 Chr. 26: 6), and Calneh and Babylonia were about to fall into the hands of the As­syrians! The house of Jeroboam was threatened with ruin under the judgment of the Lord, who would "not again pass" His people any more, and who would cause judgment to fall upon them from top to bottom, even to their founda­tions (Amos 7: 7‑9).

It is remarkable that Hosea, prophesying under the reign of Uzziah, of Jotham, of Ahaz, and of Hezekiah, kings of Judah, mentions only Jeroboam, king of Israel, and passes over his successors, under whom he likewise prophesied, in silence (Hosea 1: 1). For him their history seems to stop with Jeroboam, although Zechariah, this latter's son, represented the fourth generation granted the house of Jehu by the Lord (2 Kings 10: 30). But Zechariah, the last link of this chain, is in fact already rejected. He reigns only six months, and God turns away from him and his successors, according to His word: "I will not again pass by them any more" (Amos 7: 8; Amos 8: 2); and according to that which Hosea says: "They have set up kings, but not by me" (Hosea 8: 4).

Amos gives us some details about the end of the reign of Jeroboam II (Amos 7: 10‑17). Amaziah, priest of the calf at Bethel, warns the king that Amos is prophesying against Israel, adding (which was a lie) that he had foretold the violent death of the king By this slander, Amaziah was seeking to rid himself of the prophet and to have him sent away to Judah, for he was giving him competition at Bethel, "the king's sanctuary, and . . . the house of the kingdom." (Bethel, "the house of God" had been completely forgotten.) God's true witness embarrasses Amaziah, who clings to his usurped priesthood and to his official position. Amos an­swers him: "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was a herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. And Jehovah took me as I followed the flock, and Jehovah said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel" (Amos 7: 14‑15). Amos was not dependent upon a prophets' school, but directly upon God, nor was he of the priestly family. Christ expresses Himself likewise later on in the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 13: 6). The Holy Spirit had chosen Amos from among the shepherds of Tekoa (Amos 1: 1), from being among the sheep, just as He had formerly chosen David, His anointed. The Lord had said to him, "Go" and he had gone. We have in Amos an example of the ministry that is attached directly to that of Christ, and that is a foretaste of what the entire Christian ministry later on would be, or rather ought to be. Now the prophet takes the false minister and his false pretensions to task directly: "There­fore thus said Jehovah: Thy wife shall be a harlot in the city, and thy sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided with the line; and thou shalt die in a land that is unclean; and Israel shall certainly go into captivity, out of his land" (Amos 7: 17).

A terrible judgment must fall upon these official men in the service of the world and of its false gods whom they christen with the name of the Lord; as for Israel, they must certainly be carried away captive. Henceforth there would be no more repentance in God's heart with respect to them. The time was come; it was too late, as it is said in Revela­tion 22: 11: "Let him that does unrighteously do unrighte­ously still; and let the filthy make himself filthy still!" Judah was to be spared a while yet, and God wanted to produce revivals there until the hour foretold by Jeremiah would sound for Judah.