When Josiah died, his son Jehoahaz became king in his place. Verses 31-32 read,
“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.”
Why did he reign only three months? As soon as Pharaoh Neco knew Josiah was no longer king, he swept in to take Jerusalem for himself. Verses 33-34 tell us,
“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.”
Jehoahaz was taken into captivity immediately. He died very quickly once in Egypt. But the pharaoh was not done with Jerusalem. He made Eliakim, Jehoahaz’s older brother the king in his stead and ordered Jerusalem to pay him a hefty tribute. Not only that but he changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. Why would he do that?
He did it to show his power and authority over the kings and so over the people. He did it to say he was a god to be worshipped and that he was better and greater than The LORD. Eliakim means God raises up. It speaks of God’s sovereignty and honors The Lord as the one who causes us to stand and be who He ordains us to be. Neco changed his name to show his godhood over the king, to show it was him that raised him to be king. He changed his name to Jehoiakim, which means raised by Yahweh. He was exalting himself to The LORD’s place. He was saying he was Yahweh, the God of Israel.
But saying God is not The LORD doesn’t change the fact. Saying The Lord is not Sovereign doesn’t make it so. Saying he was a god, didn’t make him God. It is God who held Neco back until Josiah died per His promise to the king (2 Kings 22:19-20). The LORD is Yahweh. Daniel 2:20-22 puts it this way,
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.”
Neco thought he was a god and he claimed to be God, but he was doing The Lord’s will in carrying out the prophecy of His wrath toward Judah recorded in 2 Kings 22:16-20. Jehoiakim may have thought he was raised up by Neco, but it was The Lord who set him up as king. He paid tribute to the pharaoh when he should have given praise and honor to The Lord. Verses 35-37 read,
“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.
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.”
Not only did Jehoiakim pay tribute to Neco and allow him to be his lord and god, but he put the burden for paying the tax on the people. Jehoiakim made the people give offerings to his false god.
Men may conspire against God and His people. They brashly claim there is no God and brazenly worship themselves as gods but in doing so, they only prove that there is One God and He is The LORD. Acts 4:23-31 puts it like this,
“When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servants said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’--
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
The People of Israel, other nations, Herod, and Pilate all planned to bring Jesus down but in doing so fulfilled God’s plan and let Jesus lay His life down for us. There scheme made the crucifixion and Resurrection possible. Their plan was God’s plan. Because God is Sovereign, we can be bold. We can have the courage to do His work because we know that nothing can stand against God’s purposes. The Lord comforts us with this truth in Isaiah 54:16-17.
“Behold, I have created the smith
who blows the fire of coals
and produces a weapon for its purpose.
I have also created the ravager to destroy;
17 no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”
We can face anything in Jesus because we know He is The LORD. He is Yahweh. We can persevere through any trial, tribulation, and disaster because though God does not send the trouble (Isaiah 54:15), He will use for His great purpose and our good. Romans 8:28-30 reads,
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Believer, be encouraged The LORD, your God is Sovereign. He is Almighty, All-Sufficient, and All-Powerful. He was and is and is to come.