And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done; save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places. — 2 Kings 15:3-4
My husband and I have a good friend who shares our love for the Gospel. He is an outstanding carpenter and cabinet maker, and also a wonderful communicator. Although he is deaf, he never misses a word we say if we look at him when we speak. His replies and answers to questions asked verify the fact that he is also a master at lipreading.
Our friend is successful in communication and his business because he watches for every word. He is single-minded about getting the message. If he were to be distracted into watching what the neighbors are doing or the dog is chasing, he would miss our message.
In our focus verses we note that Azariah (also known as Uzziah) did what was right in God’s eyes, following his father’s example in serving the Lord. However, he was not listening intently to all that God had said. He was familiar with God’s instructions given in the Ten Commandments, as were the people of Judah. Yet, they were not giving all of God’s words strict attention, or the high places would have been removed, and the people would have gone to the Temple or to God’s appointed priests rather than making sacrifices and burning incense on the high places.
The people of Judah should have been reading God’s lips. He had given definite instructions to Moses years before, and Moses had passed on those instructions to the people. Fathers were told to place remembrances around their homes and to repeat God’s directions orally so that people would not forget His commandments. But the people of Judah had quit focusing on God, and therefore they were disobedient.
Many centuries have passed, but God has not changed. He still intends for us to listen to all of His instructions. It is imperative that we pay close attention and not allow ourselves to be distracted by the sin around us in this world. We can do this by making sure every area of our lives conforms to God’s Word and by opening our hearts to His directions.
Chapter 15 gives a summary of the reigns of King Azariah of Judah, and five kings of Israel: Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah.
The text begins with Azariah (meaning “the Lord has helped”) as king of Judah. His other name was Uzziah (meaning “the Lord has strengthened”). Azariah, considered in most ways a good king, started to reign when he was sixteen years old, ruling for over twenty years with Amaziah, his father. His total reign lasted fifty-two years. God helped him prosper as a farmer and as a military man. An account of his life, prosperity, and downfall is recorded in 2 Chronicles 26. The same chapter (verses 16-21) gives more details regarding Azariah’s sudden onset of leprosy as recorded in 2 Kings 15:5.
Lepers were not allowed to dwell with non-lepers or to enter the Temple for worship. When Azariah was smitten with leprosy for usurping the priests’ responsibilities, Jotham, Azariah’s son, was made a co-regent. For approximately ten years, Jotham carried on the king’s duties, and upon Azariah’s passing, Jotham became the king.
In verses 8-31, the text shifts back to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Zachariah was the king for six months, fulfilling God’s promise given generations earlier to Jehu, “Thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel” (2 Kings 10:30). Jehu was followed by Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam II, and Zachariah. (See “The Divided Kingdom” timeline.)
Zachariah was assassinated by Shallum, who reigned for a month and then was killed by Menahem. Bible scholars believe that Menahem was a military commander under Jeroboam II and Zachariah. He demonstrated the cruelty shown by the people of Syria and Ammon (See 2 Kings 8:12 and Amos 1:13).
During the ten years that Menahem reigned, the Assyrians made their first invasion of Israel. In 743 B.C., the armies of Assyrian King Pul (also known as Tiglath-pileser III, verse 29), forced Israel to pay tribute. Menahem collected approximately two million dollars from sixty thousand of the wealthy people of the nation.
When Menahem died, his son Pekahiah was made king. After reigning two years, he was killed by Pekah, a captain in his army. Pekah and his associates were against submitting to Assyria, and formed a coalition with Syria. However, Tiglath-pileser invaded Israel again and took captives back to Assyria. Eight years after he killed Pekahiah, Pekah was killed by Hoshea, who was loyal to Assyria. Hoshea was the last king of Israel.
In verse 32, the focus moves back to Judah. Jotham began as a co-ruler with his father Azariah. He served God, but did not take away the high places.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah
L. Uzziah of Judah (15:1-7)
1. The character of Uzziah’s reign (15:1-4)
2. The leprosy and death of Uzziah (15:5-7)
M. Zechariah of Israel (15:8-12)
1. The character of Zechariah’s reign (15:8-9)
2. The murder of Zechariah (15:10-12)
N. Shallum of Israel (15:13-16)
O. Menahem of Israel (15:17-22)
1. The character of Menahem’s reign (15:17-18)
2. The tribute to Assyria (15:19-20)
3. The death of Menahem (15:21-22)
P. Pekahiah of Israel (15:23-26)
Q. Pekah of Israel (15:27-31)
1. The character of Pekah’s reign (15:27-28)
2. The partial captivity by Assyria (15:29)
3. The conspiracy of Hoshea (15:30-31)
R. Jotham of Judah (15:32-38)
1. The character of Jotham’s reign (15:32-35)
2. The incursions of Rezin of Syria (15:36-37)
3. The death of Jotham (15:38)
God wants full-time obedience from His people. Are we listening to His instructions today?