- 2 Chron. 35:20-25
- 2 Kings 23:30b-34, 36-37, 35
- Jer. 22:10-17; 26:1-23
Neco king of Egypt was passing through the land of Judah on his way to the Euphrates River for a battle, and king Josiah went out against Neco. In a rather uncommon event GOD spoke to Neco and told him to warn Josiah not to battle Egypt or else he would lose, but Josiah did not listen. During the battle Josiah was shot with an arrow by Egyptian archers and he had his men swap his chariot and drive him from the battle. Josiah later died as a result of his injury. He should have listened to GOD's message through Neco.
Jeremiah composed sad songs, called laments, which the people of Judah sang after Josiah's death. These songs became traditions for the people. Josiah was well-loved because He loved GOD and obeyed Him, and because He did what was right and just, and defended the cause of the poor and needy.
Josiah's son Jehoahaz succeeded him as king. He reigned only 3 months and was captured by Neco and taken to Egypt where he stayed until he died. Jehoahaz did evil during his reign.
Neco replaced Jehoahaz with his brother Eliakim as a puppet king in Judah (meaning he was the king, but Neco controlled him). Neco changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim reigned in Judah for 11 years and he did evil. He collected taxes and paid Neco the silver and gold he demanded.
Early in Jehoiakim's reign, GOD sent Jeremiah to the temple to proclaim a message of repentance. If the people did not repent, GOD would destroy the temple and bring disaster upon Jerusalem. After his message, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized Jeremiah and wanted to put him to death because his message displeased them. They refused to believe that Jeremiah was speaking on GOD's behalf. Thankfully, wise men stood up and defended Jeremiah, recalling past events from another prophet named Micah who had prophesied a similar message during Hezekiah's day, and the people repented and the land was spared. So Jeremiah was released and his life spared.
Jer. 26:20-23 tells us that there was another prophet named Uriah had prophesied a similar message, and the people sought to kill him, so he fled to Egypt, but Jehoiakim sent men who captured him from Egypt and Jehoiakim put him to death by the sword.
These events serve as a serious reminder that, often times, the message of repentance is not popular. And when the hearers are unwilling to listen, they want to "shut up" the speaker with whatever means necessary. Some day we might be in a situation like Jeremiah and Uriah where we might lose our life for speaking the truth to people. If that is the case, we must trust in GOD to deliver us and know that, whether He chooses to save us or not, our suffering in this life will not compare to the crown of glory and rest that awaits us in heaven.