Chapter 12: David’s Throne: The Lamp in a Dark World
Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:43), who quickly made terrible mistakes. “But he forsook the counsel of the old men,” it says (1 Kings 12:8). He was not a good king, and Israel rebelled against him and against the house of David—as they do to this day (verse 19). This caused the division of Israel into two nations, just as it is causing appalling division within spiritual Israel, or God’s Church, today.
The northern kingdom never recovered. From the time Israel broke away until its fall to Assyria in 2 Kings 17, the record of every single king of Israel is evil! The northern kingdom suffered through the instability of nine different dynasties. What a devastating picture of what happens when you rebel against David’s throne!
The southern kingdom also had considerable problems, but God did preserve David’s throne. He ensured “that David my servant may have a light [or lamp] always before me” (1 Kings 11:36). Unlike the northern kingdom, Judah maintained one continuous line of rulers. God’s promise is sure!
Though Judah had its share of evil kings, it also had several righteous kings who periodically helped restore godly worship. Sadly, Judah eventually succumbed to its sins and went into captivity as well. That is how the books of the former prophets conclude.
Nevertheless, those kings who followed the righteous example of their father David had success. The same is true of God’s kings today—and it will hold true forever!
Judah and the city of Jerusalem were conquered by Babylon. Then the lamp—the light of David’s throne—was moved to Ireland. After Ireland, the throne was moved to Scotland and then to Britain. Today there is a new throne, which you can learn about by requesting our free book The New Throne of David.
Herbert W. Armstrong’s work and the Philadelphia Church of God today have added fiery brilliance to that lamp of David’s throne—spiritually! God has empowered the pcg to do so today by revealing an even deeper understanding of God’s promise to David.
The proper translation from the Hebrew in 1 Kings 11:36 is lamp, not “light.” That lamp continues to burn until Christ returns and rules this world from that throne!
Through Jeremiah, God made two covenants: one to David and one to the Levites. These two covenants were to keep that lamp burning brilliantly.
“For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually” (Jeremiah 33:17-18). God made a promise that there would never lack a man to sit on David’s throne. That covenant itself is a lamp to this world. But there is another covenant made to the spiritual Levites today, that there will always be a man magnifying that lamp for God.
Zechariah discusses seven lamps, representing a prophecy of the seven eras of the New Testament Church (Revelation 1:20). We are now in the seventh and last era. “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:1-6). The oil in that lamp is a type of God’s Holy Spirit.
God’s message today about David’s throne is empowered by His Holy Spirit. That means the lamp of David’s throne is shining brightly in this world today.
Anybody can see and understand the truth if they desire to do so.
There is a message being proclaimed to this world by God’s very elect today that revolves around David’s throne. It is called the “key of David” (Revelation 3:7-8). That key unlocks the true meaning of David’s throne spiritually.
This world is without excuse. God’s lamp is spreading its light around the world. Billions of people can access this message and understand. Most of them will not at this time. But the message will still be a witness against them.
The suffering of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord will cause, but not force, millions to get to know God. Then they will look to Christ and His Bride sitting on David’s throne for leadership.
Here is the only hope for this dark, evil world. God never leaves us without hope! That hope is fully explained in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.
That lamp burns forever. It is about to fill this world with its light. Jesus Christ’s imminent return is certain. A new civilization is about to be given to this dangerous world!
During Rehoboam’s reign, sin spread wildly: “For they also built them high places, and images, and groves [these are all used in pagan worship], on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 14:23-24). These men were committing acts that God called abominations.
Some years later, Rehoboam’s grandson, Asa, turned that situation around. “And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David his father. And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made” (1 Kings 15:11-12). Asa looked to David’s example and took bold action to put the nation back on track.
You know that this was not easy to accomplish! People’s tendency is always to go deeper into sin. Reversing course requires painful confrontation. It takes conviction and spiritual courage. God was very pleased with what Asa did, even though the king didn’t completely finish the job (verse 14).
Asa was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat, who was also righteous. Jehoshaphat assumed the throne of Judah during the fourth year of Ahab’s evil rule over Israel (1 Kings 22:41). “And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord …” (verse 43). One item of business was to finish what his father had started: “And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land” (verse 46). Again, this upright king just drove the sodomites out of the country! If they didn’t get out, they died. And God approved.
What is your view about sodomy? Is it the same as God’s? Today, the nations of Israel are steeped in this sin! We are up to our eyeballs in Sodom and Gomorrah! Society is aggressively promoting same-sex “marriage.” This isn’t marriage at all; it is right out of the mind of the devil—yet it is being encouraged from the very top today! As we saw with Jeroboam, leaders can “make” the people to sin (e.g. 1 Kings 14:16). God holds the leaders accountable. If they keep talking about a sin—and talking about it, and talking about it—it is inevitable, given the tendencies and weaknesses of human nature, that the people will grow accustomed to it. Then they joke about it. Then they accept it. And in their attitudes, they become sodomites!
What does God think? He had these kings drive the sodomites out! That is clear. Anybody ought to know what the Bible says about this, yet how many religious people do you see actually speaking out against the terrible sodomy in this land? They reason that it is ok, and most of them strongly support it! But human reasoning does not determine whether something is right or wrong—God’s reasoning does! Anybody who knows anything about the Bible ought to know that! Many of them do, but they will not accept it. People even argue that the Bible approves of this abomination. Are they being honest? Of course not!
God tells His Church that we must warn people of the results of this sin. We have written a booklet on the subject called Redefining Family, which explains God’s thinking about it (request a free copy). This is an extremely unpopular message. Do you think there might be a clash between God’s people and this Sodom-and-Gomorrah society? I perceive that we are going to have some conflict there.
Widespread sodomy is a sign that our society is about to collapse. Why? Because sodomy is the fruit of a far greater sin, the breakdown of the family. Strong families make strong nations, and upside-down, broken families produce a Sodom-and-Gomorrah society.
We were prophesied to have a breakdown of families in the nations of Israel, especially the U.S., Britain and the Jewish nation (Isaiah 3:1-12).
Sodomy is a matter of cause and effect, contrary to most human reasoning.
It is time we listened to God, the Creator of man and his mind!
We live during the darkest time of Israel’s history ever. People are proudly, arrogantly walking in the way of Jeroboam. Amos 7:10-13 prophesy of a confrontation between an end-time Jeroboam and a prophet of God. These examples in the former prophets teach us many lessons we need to know in this end time.
1 Kings 15 describes the short reign of Abijam over Judah. He was a wicked king, yet verse 4 says, “Nevertheless for David’s sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem.” A similar statement is made during the reign of evil Jehoram: “he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children” (2 Kings 8:18-19).
God always gives us a lamp or a light to show men the way of God. But man rejects that lamp even if it is God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, bringing that light!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). Christ’s life was the light of men. “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (verse 5).
This dark world even rejected God in the flesh and crucified Him. We are all guilty of that crucifixion because of our sins.
That example illustrates how hard and rebellious our human nature is. And how we fail to comprehend the light of God!
Satan is always trying to stamp out the throne of David and lead God’s people into sin. Judah went through a terrible period under some very evil kings, and an effort was made to stamp out David’s line (2 Kings 11:1). But God preserved that royal lineage by protecting Joash (or Jehoash).
Under Joash’s reign and the influence of Jehoida the priest, the house of Baal was destroyed and the covenant with God renewed. Joash even repaired the temple that was broken down (2 Kings 12). Not everything was done correctly, though. Sadly, after Jehoida died, Joash made some serious mistakes and descended into idolatry. Because of sin, Judah became oppressed by the Syrians, and Joash was killed by his own servants in a conspiracy (2 Chronicles 24:24-26).
Joash’s son Amaziah also had a relatively righteous reign, but didn’t serve God wholeheartedly, to the standard of King David (2 Kings 14:3). His rule was concluded by a defeat at the hands of Israel and—like his father—an assassination (verses 19-20).
Then came the rule of Amaziah’s son Uzziah (also called Azariah), who also started out righteously (2 Kings 15:3). “And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5). Uzziah enjoyed military successes and rebuilt and fortified Judah and Jerusalem. But then he forgot who gave him his blessings. He acted presumptuously and went into the temple to burn incense on the golden altar—as if he were a priest!
Some valiant priests confronted him: “And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God” (verse 18). Uzziah never should have been in there! Serious problems happen when you have people trying to do the job of God’s ministers whom God has not placed in that job. In God’s Church during this Laodicean era, we have suffered terrible problems from people who don’t belong in the ministry, who aren’t thinking like God or leading people to God. That is a very serious sin in God’s eyes!
For this sin, God struck Uzziah with leprosy, essentially bringing his reign to an abrupt end (verses 19-21). At some point around this time, a great earthquake struck that is referred to in the prophets (Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5). Josephus says this event happened while Uzziah was right there in the temple, causing massive damage to the structure (Antiquities, ix, 10:4).
Spiritually, we have seen such an earthquake rock the Laodicean Church. The city of Laodicea in the first century was repeatedly struck by earthquakes. The same is true spiritually of Laodicea in this end time.
These kings performed some positive acts, but they were ultimately failures because they did not go wholly after the lamp of David’s throne—and they did not remain faithful to the end. Half-hearted obedience will ultimately end in disaster. God truly wants us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Doing so will change your life in a dramatic way—forever!
Whom Will You Trust?
The next king of Judah who is commended in Scripture is Uzziah’s son Jotham: “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done” (2 Kings 15:34). As we saw in Chapter Seven, Jotham’s mother was a “daughter of Zadok” (verse 33). She surely played an important role in Jotham’s education, and helped raise a king who served God.
Two of the most loyal priests under King David were Abiathar and Zadok, Abiathar being the chief priest and Zadok serving under him. A rebellion rose up under the leadership of David’s son Absalom and many in Israel turned against David to follow Absalom. Abiathar and Zadok did not.
Later, when David was getting quite old, another son, Adonijah, rose up against him. This time Abiathar made the mistake of siding with the rebellion. Perhaps he believed David really had grown too old for his job. The high priest turned on the king! For David, that betrayal must have been one of the most depressing moments of his life.
But Zadok remained faithful. He was made chief priest because of that loyalty. Shortly after, he was given the honor of anointing Solomon king. Like none of the other priests, Zadok stayed loyal to David all the way into Solomon’s reign, until he died. His sons followed his example.
Zadok’s sons showed strong loyalty to their father and God. It was so strong that God even calls the 5 percent who are loyal today in the Laodicean era, sons of Zadok.
As 95 percent of God’s people turned away from Him today, the sons of Zadok remained loyal.
And now here in 2 Kings 15, we see a daughter of Zadok help shape her son into enhancing the lamp of David.
It is phenomenal how a strong father, Zadok, could have had such a strong impact on his family. He was the best and most loyal priest David ever had. He helped mightily in giving others an opportunity to see how God made David’s throne a precious lamp to this world. It was a witness against Israel and all other nations.
Like Zadok, his daughter helped others to see what a beautiful lamp God had given this world through David’s throne!
Jotham’s son Ahaz was an evil ruler. He got involved in terrible paganism and idolatry, and stopped the temple worship. As a result, God allowed many of the people to be captured or killed by the king of Syria—and even by the wicked Israelites! For protection, Ahaz didn’t appeal to God—he turned to Assyria! He even spoiled gold and silver out of the temple to buy this alliance! (2 Kings 16:7-8). This was a type of what the end-time nation of Judah is going to do just before the Great Tribulation (Hosea 5:13). Such an alliance is a terrible trap! The Assyrians ended up being terrible oppressors to the Jews (e.g. 2 Chronicles 28:20), and Judah began paying regular tribute to this brutal empire.
Then came Hezekiah, considered one of Judah’s greatest kings. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did” (2 Kings 18:3). That is high praise from God. Hezekiah revived Judah’s religion, cleaning up the priesthood and reopening the temple for true worship. The nation observed the most wonderful Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread (2 Chronicles 29-31). At that time, Hezekiah was really striving to follow King David’s righteous example (2 Chronicles 29:2, 25-27, 30) and how the Messiah was going to sit on David’s throne forever. What a lamp!
Hezekiah also stopped paying the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:7). It was during his reign that the northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria (verses 9-12). So the mighty Assyrians were a formidable threat at that time. Not long after, they began attacking towns in Judah.
At this point, Hezekiah’s faith wavered. He decided that his failure to pay tribute had been a mistake. He sent a message to Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, that he would pay for the Assyrian armies to withdraw. Sennacherib asked for a monstrous sum. Hezekiah submitted by paying it—and he even raided God’s temple for the wealth to do so! (verses 13-16). But the Assyrians didn’t withdraw—they threatened to march on Jerusalem!
Whom do you trust? “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. … It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. … Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 118:8-9; 146:3-4). Have you really learned this fundamental lesson of faith? Very few people have.
With Jerusalem under threat, this time Hezekiah reacted righteously. He turned to God for protection, praying a wonderful prayer of faith (2 Kings 19:15-19). As a result, God saved Judah by supernaturally destroying the Assyrians! (verse 35).
Hezekiah then had to face another big problem.
Cozying Up to Babylon
“In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live” (2 Kings 20:1; you can also read about this in Isaiah 38). This news shocked Hezekiah. At this point in his life, he handled the situation correctly.
“Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore” (2 Kings 20:2-3). Hezekiah turned to God and prayed.
God responded immediately. He instructed Isaiah to deliver this message: “Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years …” (verses 5-6). God recognized that Hezekiah was walking by faith. He promised to add 15 years to Hezekiah’s life and proved His promise by reversing Earth’s rotation 10 degrees! (verses 8-11). What an astounding miracle!
When the king of Babylon sent a message expressing his apparent concern over Hezekiah’s sickness, it played on Hezekiah’s vanity, and he allowed the Babylonian messengers to come see all his treasures (verses 12-13). Isaiah confronted Hezekiah over the incident, but Hezekiah was evasive in his response (I explain this in more detail in Chapter 12 of my booklet Isaiah’s End-Time Vision. Request a free copy.) This exchange shows that Hezekiah was cozying up to Babylon—a massive mistake! In his vanity, he never considered that the Babylonian king may have had ulterior motives for his inquiry. He did not recognize the danger.
Isaiah wanted to show Hezekiah that he was relying on his own treasure or strength instead of on God. Isaiah wanted the king to recognize that he was beginning to rely on Babylon.
It was at that point that Isaiah prophesied Judah’s fate: The nation was going to fall to the Babylonians (verses 16-18).
As God’s people, we must learn that we cannot cozy up to Babylon and also be close to God. We cannot hold back or compromise with God and His way of life. If we do, we will receive a free trip to Babylon like the ancient Jews did.
We must always look to the lamp of David’s throne. David is prophesied to have a lamp always before God!
A Fulfilled Prophecy
After Hezekiah, his son Manasseh became king. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord …. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, In Jerusalem will I put my name” (2 Kings 21:2-4). He brought Judah right back into the paganism that his father had worked to eliminate. Under his rule, the Israelites came to have familiar spirits and wizards—all kinds of demonism—and really provoked God to anger!
“And he [Manasseh] set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever” (verse 7). Manasseh had the audacity to desecrate God’s own house—the very house in which God said He would place His name forever! The way this is written, you know that God was extremely angry about this. Manasseh led the nation into evil worse than the Canaanites had been doing before God drove them out of the land! (verse 9).
After Manasseh’s reign, his son Amon followed in his wicked footsteps. He was assassinated after a short rule, and then his son Josiah became king—at the tender age of 8 (2 Kings 22:1).
Remember, God had specifically prophesied about Josiah’s righteous rule 360 years earlier during the reign of Jeroboam—even naming him. It was as if the forces of evil were on notice! Surely Satan tried to do everything possible to prevent someone named Josiah from becoming king—but God is more powerful than the devil!
At the time that Josiah took office, the temple was desecrated and the Jews’ religion was far from God’s law. But just as God had prophesied, Josiah proved to be one of Judah’s most righteous kings. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (verse 2). He saw to the renovation of the temple and the restoration of God’s law.
Hilkiah and the Law
Hilkiah was high priest at that time and father of Jeremiah. He had a great deal to do with the restoration of the law. Isaiah 22:20-25 contain a prophecy concerning an end-time Eliakim, the son of another Hilkiah, another end-time personality. I explain this prophecy in detail in my booklet Isaiah’s End-Time Vision. It connects to these personalities discussed in the former prophets.
Are you placing the right priority on God’s law? Mr. Armstrong greatly emphasized obeying God’s law. He would not compromise with it. He even said he believed this was the reason God used him so powerfully.
When Josiah wanted to repair the temple, he sent Shaphan the scribe to Hilkiah to determine how much money was available for the repairs (2 Kings 22:3-4). Hilkiah delivered all the funds collected for the temple repair to Shaphan (verse 7). At some time during the renovation, Hilkiah found the book of the law. Hilkiah became very convicted and excited by what he read in the law—and alarmed. He immediately showed it to Shaphan. This faithful scribe reacted the same way: He was stirred, moved and alarmed by what he read (verse 8; see also 2 Chronicles 34).
Shaphan realized that the king had to have the book. “And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes” (2 Kings 22:9-11). Now there were three men alarmed by the book of the law.
Are we stirred by God’s law? Are we alarmed by how most of God’s own people have rejected His law and government today? We should be just as stirred and alarmed as Hilkiah, Shaphan and Josiah were! We should react even more emotionally. It takes a strong reaction to establish and keep God’s law and government in the spiritual temple today. God’s very elect are that temple. You are that temple if you obey God’s government today. You are not God’s temple if you don’t.
Some commentators believe the scroll Hilkiah found was the book of Deuteronomy. This makes sense. Why? The history recorded here shows that Hilkiah, Shaphan and Josiah were very concerned about the nation being cursed by God. Deuteronomy 28 records the blessings and curses that Moses delivered to the nation. In its proper translation, 2 Chronicles 34:14 reveals that the book Hilkiah found was written by the hand of Moses. Even this fact must have been inspiring to these men.
Josiah Restores the Law
Josiah was so upset by what he read in the book that he sent an entourage to Huldah, a prophetess, to find out when God planned to punish the nation (2 Kings 22:12-14). Josiah’s quick response after reading the book shows his right attitude before God. He recognized that the nation was in serious trouble! He wanted to take whatever action was necessary—immediately. Do we approach God’s law and revelation in that manner?
The entourage received bad news. Huldah revealed that God was about to punish the nation severely (verses 15-17). But because Josiah’s heart was right before God, he would be spared from witnessing the destruction to Judah—it would not come until after his death (verses 19-20). In many ways this is similar to what happened in this end time. Much of the great tragedy that befell spiritual Israel, the Church, did not happen until after Mr. Armstrong died.
2 Kings 23 shows that even though destruction was coming, Josiah provided some zealous and righteous leadership. Study the whole chapter. He made a covenant with God to obey Him. He made sure the book of the law was read to the nation. He restored the holy days to their proper significance. He destroyed the pagan high places. He burned the bones of the priests on the altars, just as that unnamed prophet had said 360 years before! Verses 15-17 show that even Josiah knew he had fulfilled that prophecy. “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (verse 25).
The events recorded in these two chapters are a tribute to Josiah’s righteousness. Look at the impact this one man had. It is amazing what one righteous man can do!
There was a strong flame coming from the throne of David for many to see.
Mr. Armstrong was stirred up about God’s law in this end time. He worked hard to stir up the Church too. He made a covenant with God to obey Him. He restored the law of God to its proper significance. He destroyed pagan practices. He restored the holy days. You can read a great deal more about the parallels between Josiah’s work and that of Mr. Armstrong in my free booklet Lamentations: The Point of No Return.
God holds great wrath for the Laodiceans for what they have done to His end-time temple. They have destroyed the Church through lawbreaking. We must learn this vital lesson about the importance of God’s law, or we face tragedy. But if we do, then there is protection for us—God will spare us from Satan’s wrath. That is a sure promise. Remaining faithful to God’s royal law pleases the Lawgiver.
The Prophet Jeremiah also came on the scene during Josiah’s reign with some terrifying prophecies. He warned that, after Josiah died, the people of Judah would be suffering and lamenting.
However, the shortsighted people of Judah knew the prophecy that the nation wouldn’t be punished until after Josiah died, so they foolishly felt relieved. Josiah was young, they reasoned, and would live for a while—so in the short run, they didn’t need to worry. But not long after, in a battle with the Egyptian pharaoh, Josiah was killed (2 Kings 23:29-30).
The Jews were terrified at this news. This meant that punishment could descend on their nation at any time!
If you look at the history, however, God didn’t punish Judah right away. Around 24 years passed between his death and Judah’s fall. However, those years were far from peaceful—the nation suffered terrible curses during that time. I believe we have seen something similar in this end time: Many years have passed since Herbert W. Armstrong died. Conditions on Earth have progressively worsened—and they will continue to deteriorate until Christ returns. If you study the book of Lamentations, you see where we are headed.
The king who succeeded Josiah was his son Jehoahaz (also called Shallum; see 2 Kings 23:30-31; 1 Chronicles 3:15; 2 Chronicles 36:1-2). His reign was a curse: “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done” (2 Kings 23:32). Jeremiah prophesied exactly what would happen to him: He would be taken captive and die in captivity (Jeremiah 22:10-12). Within just a few months, that is exactly what took place. The pharaoh whose army had killed Josiah saw Judah as a vassal nation of Egypt. He invaded and took Jehoahaz captive back to Egypt, where he died (2 Kings 23:33-34).
In Jehoahaz’s place, the pharaoh demanded that Josiah’s older son Eliakim, who regarded pharaoh as his master, be made king, and he changed his name to Jehoiakim (verse 34). Just the fact that the king of Egypt made him king tells you something. Under pharaoh’s command, Jehoiakim taxed the people grievously and sent the money to Egypt (verse 35) while keeping a generous cut for himself at the people’s expense (see Jeremiah 22:13-17). He too was a very wicked king who led the people of Judah back into idolatry and other evils (2 Kings 23:36-37; 2 Chronicles 36:5). He rebelliously ignored the warnings of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36), and ended up dying according to one of Jeremiah’s prophecies (Jeremiah 22:18-19)—at the hands of the Babylonians.
Judah fell in three successive besiegements from Babylon. The first assault came in 604 b.c.: “In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years …” (2 Kings 24:1). The Babylonians took over as the masters of Judah.
Jehoiakim was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin, who was also an evil king (verses 6-9). Jehoiachin was only on the throne for a short time when the second Babylonian assault came—in 596 b.c. (verses 10-11). Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiachin and placed his uncle, whom they renamed Zedekiah, on the throne (verse 17).
Zedekiah was terribly wicked. Jeremiah warned him to continue paying tribute to the Babylonians, but Zedekiah ignored that godly counsel. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon” (verses 19-20). Those mistakes set the nation of Judah up for its final besiegement and captivity by Babylon!
Under these terrible leaders, the more time that passed after Josiah died, the worse conditions in Judah grew! Even though the captivity didn’t come for some time, the people still suffered horrible curses!
These people would not listen to God’s prophet. They ignored Jeremiah’s counsel—then imprisoned him and tried to get him killed! (You can learn about the archaeological proof of the men involved in this history by requesting a free copy of our booklet The Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered.)
2 Kings 25 describes the final attack on Judah. Nebuchadnezzar blockaded Jerusalem, cutting the city off from outside supplies. Within a few months, Jerusalem entered a terrible famine. The Jews knew this was the end. The soldiers tried to escape with their lives by night, and so did King Zedekiah. “And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him. So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah …” (2 Kings 25:5-7).
Nebuchadnezzar wanted to make sure this rebel saw his own sons die before his eyes, and he wanted to end the throne of David forever! He was motivated by the devil, who tried to break God’s prophecy that there would always be someone from David’s descendants to carry on that royal lineage.
Astoundingly, however, Nebuchadnezzar ended up releasing Jeremiah—the very man who would assure that line would continue through God’s power!
As for Judah, 585 b.c. marked its captivity. “And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away” (verses 8-11).
Where Was Jeremiah?
The Soncino Commentary has a fascinating quote in its introduction to 1 and 2 Kings: “From the evidence of the books of the Kings and the book of Jeremiah, it is generally assumed that the compilation of the former or of the greater part took place sometime between 561 and 536 b.c.” Those dates might be a little too far down the line, but the point is this: Kings was compiled after the fall of Jerusalem in 585 b.c. Soncino goes on to say that “the author or compiler who belonged to the class of didactic historians was honest, fair-minded and reliable. According to the Talmud (bb15a), he was the Prophet Jeremiah.”
The Talmud indicates that the compiler of Kings was Jeremiah. Commentaries like Soncino know the writer was probably Jeremiah. The interesting thing, though, is that they have no idea where he was when he compiled these texts.
The Cambridge Bible describes how Jeremiah was taken down to Egypt along with Jewish fugitives, “and the after-fate of that prophet is wholly unknown.” They don’t know where Jeremiah went after he left Egypt. Most Christians are deafeningly silent about Jeremiah’s commission, about the throne of David, and about what Jeremiah did after Jerusalem fell to Babylon.
If these scholars think Jeremiah compiled all this material, why don’t they ask where he was when he did so? They know he wasn’t in Jerusalem. They know he wasn’t in Babylon. Some think he remained in Egypt, but their sources are suspect. So where was he? They just don’t know. Do you think maybe they don’t want to know? Quite a lot of secular history tells you where he was.
At Herbert W. Armstrong College, we hosted an archaeological exhibit from January 2012 to October 2015 displaying two clay seals found in Jerusalem that belonged to Judean princes who persecuted Jeremiah. Israeli officials let us bring those artifacts relating to the great Jeremiah over to America. We wanted to display that history, and we’re absolutely awed by what God did in opening those doors. We were allowed to display those artifacts, and so many other wonderful things, for a purpose!
To understand where Jeremiah went, you have to know and believe God’s promise that David’s throne would last forever!
What kind of a fiery flame of hope is that?
Strong Warning—Awesome Hope
In The United States and Britain in Prophecy, Mr. Armstrong records the inspiring means by which God preserved that throne—that lamp—through Jeremiah. It has everything to do with the second part of the commission God gave this man: “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10). God used Jeremiah to plant the throne of David in Ireland.
History verifies that Jeremiah traveled to Ireland with the ark of the covenant and the stone of destiny, along with a daughter of Zedekiah who would carry on the royal line of David. We also know that Jeremiah raised up a college there. I’m sure that his work on the book of Kings took place at the college. Surely that college was an exciting place to be because Jeremiah could teach from his experiences during such important history!
The book of Jeremiah contains prophecies from during the reign of Josiah, from throughout the reigns of the kings who followed him, and even from the time after Jerusalem’s fall. It overlaps significantly with the history in 2 Kings; parts of it are identical. This is evidence that Jeremiah probably played a significant role in compiling the former prophets. It also shows that, as far as God is concerned, the former prophets are on the same level as the major prophets!
We know that Jeremiah personally went only to Judah, but he addressed his book to all of Israel. His message was a prophecy for Israel, yet it is about the attack of Babylon and the fall of Judah. Why? Because Judah’s fall and captivity to Babylon is prophecy for the modern nations of Israel!
Look at the two covenants spoken of in Jeremiah 33:17-18. The first involves the physical house of David, and the second—about God’s priests—involves the spiritual house of David. God’s faithful people are that spiritual house of David today.
Now, if you read the chronology that follows those covenants in the book of Jeremiah, what do you find? In the very next chapter, immediately after those two covenants, we start reading about Babylon conquering Judah (Jeremiah 34:1-3). That is a type of Babylon conquering Israel today. Babylon is on the scene again, and the leader of Babylon is the only economically strong country in Europe, even as the whole continent is falling apart financially. The suffering that this end-time Babylon wreaks on Israel will be a thousand times worse than what happened anciently! Modern Israel really is about to fall!
Then what follows? Jeremiah 38 talks about Jehucal and Gedaliah, these men who had Jeremiah imprisoned twice and tried to persuade the king to murder him. These are the two men whose seals, or bullae, God preserved all these thousands of years, and which now sit in the archaeology exhibit in God’s house on our college campus! Surely we can see this is a terrible warning to Judah and Israel! When you put the scriptures together with the seals from those princes, and you know what they did to Jeremiah and tried to do to the message of God, it may be the single strongest warning in the Bible!
All this flows after the revelation of those two covenants and the physical and spiritual house of David. We are getting ready to replace what Babylon is about to take away! And of course, Babylon itself is going to be taken away.
Those two bullae are a sobering discovery, but we don’t want to overlook the hope. Those men tried to kill Jeremiah, but then Nebuchadnezzar came in and released him. Zedekiah wouldn’t listen, and he had to see his sons die before he was blinded—and everybody thought that was the end of the throne of David.
But no! Jeremiah carried on with the throne of David and the house of David, installing Tea-Tephi on that throne. He carried right on with the great Work of God! God’s Word says that throne and that house will exist forever! Believe God!
This is the only hope of the world! Once Babylon is destroyed, there will be a nation of kings and priests to rule this world, and that is why we are here. That is why we are being prepared. This means we need to put out every effort we possibly can to get ready for that most honorable position in that most honorable royal house there ever will be! Are you ready to do that job? Are you ready to rule on David’s throne forever?
Then the lamp of David’s throne will illuminate the world!
These former prophets contain wonderful lessons; that is why God recorded them for us. There are examples, marvelous lessons, to teach us about God and His Work. There is so much wonderful history and prophecy of God as we get into those books. I believe God will show us even more as time goes on. But you really do have to dig in and study it. We must desire to get into the mind of God, the very depth of God. The more you get into them, with balance, the deeper and deeper it gets—and the more it will stir and move you to want to be a part of God’s Work and do anything you can to contribute to it!