I. A NATION SINKING INTO SERVITUDE. When Egypt comes up and deposes one king and sets up another, calling that other by a name that it pleases to confer, at the same time imposing a heavy tribute on the people of the land; and when, that power declining, Assyria sends its troops and, without any resistance, enters the capital, puts the sovereign in chains, and then extends to him a contemptuous protectorate; when this same power again comes up and carries away the sovereign after a brief reign of three months, and takes him away, with the most precious treasures of the capital; - we are affected by a sense of pitiful national decline. We enter into the feelings of its patriot-subjects who could not have helped contrasting the glories of the age of David and Solomon with the abject humiliation of their own time. A strong and self-respecting people falling into servitude, bowing its head to an utterly relentless power which has no other force than that of the sword and the war-chariot, - this is a melancholy spectacle indeed. It may profitably suggest to us the question - What is the real cause of a nation's fall? and it will be found, on inquiry, that while this may be due to overweening ambition, it is much more likely to be ascribed to indulgence, to demoralization, to the weakness which must attend moral and spiritual deterioration. Simplicity and purity of life, sustained by Christian principle - this is the one security against decline, subjection, and ruin.
II. A YOUNG MAN'S HOPES EXTINGUISHED. NO doubt the young prince Jehoahaz grew up in the court of Judah with high hopes for his future. His father was in possession of no mean estate, and there was every prospect of his succeeding to some measure, if not to the chief part of it. But, after three months' occupancy or power and enjoyment of wealth, to be cast into chains and taken away to languish in confinement in Egypt until he died, was a sad and sorry portion. We do not know, but we can well imagine, that there was high hope extinguished, love broken off, much earthly brightness suddenly eclipsed. It is one of the consolations of obscurity that it is much less likely than is prominence to be subjected to such sudden and painful overthrow. It is most wise on the part of all of us to have in reserve a spiritual force that will sustain us if we "suffer the loss of all things" human and temporal.
III. A YOUNG MAN CHOOSING THE EVIL PATH. Of Jehoahaz, as well as of Jehoiakim and of Jehoiachin (see 2 Kings 23:32, 37; 2 Kings 24:9), it is recorded that "he did evil in the sight of the Lord." This is peculiarly sad as applicable to Jehoahaz. Considering the gracious influences under which he spent his childhood and his boyhood at court, he ought to have done (as he must have known) better things. Instead of confirming and consolidating the glorious revolution effected by his father, he dissipated all good forces and broke up all good institutions. It is not in the power of most young men to work evil on such a scale; but who shall measure the good left undone and the evil wrought when one young man deliberately chooses the evil part? Within the compass of one human life large capacities are included; how large only Omniscience can tell. Lot the young man feel that not for his own sake only, but also for the sake of a very large number of other human souls, it is of the greatest consequence that he should walk in the ways of heavenly wisdom. - C.
I. WHAT THE PEOPLE OF GOD DID UPON THE DEATH OF JOSIAH.
1. That the best of men may err in judgment and in act.
His servants therefore took him out of that chariot.I. THE NATURE AND QUALITY OF THE LAMENTATION.
1. Extensively. All Judah and Jerusalem.
2. Intensively. Bitter lamentation.
3. Protensively. Of long duration, "an ordinance in Israel."
II. THE CAUSE AND GROUND OF IT. The loss of a good leader whose life had been useful.
III. DOCTRINE. That faithful, active, and public-spirited men in the Church of God should not be laid in their graves without great lamentations. In replication I will show —
1. Negatively. On what account the death of good men is not to be lamented.
2. Positively. The true grounds and causes of such lamentation.(1) Because so much of the Spirit of God as dwelt in them, when amongst us, is now recalled and gathered up from this lower world. As it is a real loss to a company when any merchant withdraws a great stock he had running in trade, out of the bank; so certainly it is a great loss to the Church of God, when the precious gifts and graces of the Spirit, dwelling in the saints, are drawn out by death.(2) Because thereby a breach is made to let in the judgments of God upon the remnant that is left.(3) The beauty and ornaments of the places they lived in are defaced and removed by their death.(4) Because the propagation of religion is obstructed in the places from whence they are removed.(5) The consideration of the time in which good men die aggravates the loss, if it falls out, —
(a) (b) (c) 1. The worst of men, such as secretly rejoice at the removal of such men. 2. The insensibleness of good men, who are apt too slightly to pass over such tremendous strokes of. God (Isaiah 57:1). 3. The very best of men, who though they do bewail and lament the loss of such men, yet they do not lament it in the due manner. ( John Flavel..)
(b) (c) 1. The worst of men, such as secretly rejoice at the removal of such men. 2. The insensibleness of good men, who are apt too slightly to pass over such tremendous strokes of. God (Isaiah 57:1). 3. The very best of men, who though they do bewail and lament the loss of such men, yet they do not lament it in the due manner. ( John Flavel..)
(c) 1. The worst of men, such as secretly rejoice at the removal of such men. 2. The insensibleness of good men, who are apt too slightly to pass over such tremendous strokes of. God (Isaiah 57:1). 3. The very best of men, who though they do bewail and lament the loss of such men, yet they do not lament it in the due manner. ( John Flavel..)
1. The worst of men, such as secretly rejoice at the removal of such men.
( John Flavel..)
2. The danger of undertaking any work without asking counsel of the Lord.
3. How universal is the reign of death.
4. That we should be cautious how we attribute sudden and violent death to the vengeance of the Most High.
5. That it is not wrong to mourn for the dead.
(J. S. Wilkins, B.A.)
1. There was a general mourning for him.
2. The prophet Jeremiah made a particular office for it.
3. This office was used among others upon the day of lamentation.
4. This use was established by a law upon Israel, which was observed till the end of the Babylonian Captivity.
II. THE REASONS OF THEIR DOING IT.
1. Because it was caused by their sins.
2. Because it was a punishment for their sins.
(Bishop W. Lloyd.)
Homilist.Why does the Jewish nation now weep over Josiah? The reasons are:
I. THE GREAT NATIONAL LOSS WHICH THE EVENT INVOLVED. Josiah was a prince —
1. Of a reflective nature. His mind was in the quest of the highest truth.
2. Of a tender spirit.
3. Of reformative disposition.
II. THE SAD MEMORY OF THE MORAL CAUSE OF THE CALAMITY.
III. THE TERRIBLY DISTRESSING MYSTERY ASSOCIATED WITH THE DISPENSATION. Josiah was the most useful man of his age; yet he dies at thirty-nine. Mystery though it be, it teaches us —
1. That Heaven's government is no respecter of persons.
2. The irresistibility of death.
3. That there is nothing on this fleeting earth on which we should set our hearts.
4. That there must be an after life.
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