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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 3:10-16 Others in authority

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, October 10, 2023

10 The son of Solomon was Rehoboam, Abijah was his son, Asa was his son, Jehoshaphat was his son, 11 Joram was his son, Ahaziah was his son, Joash was his son, 12 Amaziah was his son, Azariah was his son, Jotham was his son, 13 Ahaz was his son, Hezekiah was his son, Manasseh was his son, 14 Amon was his son, Josiah was his son. 15 The sons of Josiah were Johanan the firstborn, the second was Jehoiakim, the third was Zedekiah, the fourth was Shallum. 16 The sons of Jehoiakim were his son Jeconiah, and his son, Zedekiah.

This list takes us from Solomon’s death in 930 BC to the exile in 586 BC, 344 years in all (in just a few years from now, Pentecost 2030, it will be the 3,000th anniversary of Solomon’s succession to David’s throne). The names here from Rehoboam to Jehoiakim are in order of royal succession. After Jehoiakim, his son Jeconiah became king (also called Jehoiachin), but then Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took Jeconiah’s uncle Zedekiah (not Jeconiah’s son Zedekiah) and made him king. That accounts for nineteen kings after the division of the kingdoms, but there is a name missing. The widow of King Joram was the granddaughter of Omri (who had been king of Israel in the north). She was Athaliah. In her time, the succession of the kings becomes hard to understand, because two kings in the north are named Ahaziah and Joram (father and son), and two kings in Judah to the south are also named Ahaziah and Joram (son and father). Translators try to help us by purposely misspelling the southern, Judean Joram’s name “Jehoram,” which I will also do in 2 Chronicles 21-22 when his story is told. Athaliah seized power in Judah when her son was killed, and for seven years she held the throne, murdering every family member who might have had a claim, until the boy Joash was brought forward from hiding and she was put to death at the horse gate of the palace (2 Kings 12:16). I have retold this now because students of the Bible may find it useful to know that after the first three kings (Saul, David and Solomon), the north had twenty kings, and the south also had twenty kings (or 19 kings and one ruling queen) until both Israel and Judah went into their separate exiles and their royal lines ended.

Johanan, the oldest son of Josiah, is not mentioned when Josiah was killed in battle and had to be replaced. Perhaps he had died young, or in battle. His brother Shallum was renamed Jehoahaz and placed on the throne (see Jeremiah 22:11), but he only reigned three months. Another brother, Eliakim, was renamed Jehoiakim and placed on Israel’s throne by an Egyptian Pharaoh (Neco, 2 Kings 23:34). By the end, the people of Judah were no longer choosing their kings; enemy powers were manipulating their government until it was finally destroyed completely.

We will read rapidly about the final kings of Judah at the end of 2 Chronicles, but we can mention here that Shallum (verse 15) was named Jehoahaz when he became king for three months (2 Chronicles 36:1-3). It is likely that the Zedekiah at the end of verse 16 is not the same as the one in verse 15, but is an otherwise unknown son of Jehoiachin, born before his father went into captivity. This makes the statement of the following verse (which we will read tomorrow) easier to understand; that the generally liked king of Judah, Jehoiachin, had one son before he went into captivity (he was eighteen at the time, 2 Kings 24:8) and seven others when he was in Babylon. Tablets found in Babylon have shown allowances of rations for Jehoiachin and five of his sons, so most of them either survived into maturity in Babylon or (perhaps) some of them escaped captivity or were held elsewhere.

In this list, we are shown the whole list of the kings of Judah after the kingdom was divided. We should remember that government is a secular office established by God. The office of government, whatever form it takes, is performed by issuing and upholding good laws and by handling outward discipline and the administration of justice. Governments do this in harmony with the divine moral law, written in men’s hearts in the conscience. Whether a government acknowledges this or not (few ever do), it does this for the honor and glory of the triune God, and for the temporal well-being of man.

Christians must beware claims by such Protestant groups as the Anabaptists (forerunners of modern Baptists) and other Pentecostals who teach that the government is not a divine institution at all. Some of them forbid Christians to take any government office. The pope also claims a power superior to the secular government to the extent that he reserves the right to depose princes. Bellarmine the Catholic theologian defines this claim in this way: “The pope is able to change kingdoms and to remove them from one person and give them to another as the highest spiritual prince if it should be necessary for the salvation of souls.”

With these we must also beware the so-called naturalists in the field of constitutional law who, following Jean-Jacques Rousseau the political theorist, claim that state and government are based only on human agreement, and that the whole life of the state is a “social contract” where the individual freely subjects himself to the community. Almost all modern teachers of constitutional law follow this thinking, yet deny the right to millions to “freely subject themselves” to the community of their choice, which nullifies the logic of their heresy. With them we also caution ourselves against the anarchists who gained a certain popularity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the U.S. and in Europe.

Romans 13:1 proclaims the divine institution of government without apology. And our Augsburg Confession upholds Romans 13 in Article XVI. But the government outside of Biblical Israel has a sphere of responsibility and activity that includes only temporal, civil, earthly, and social matters. It does not include spiritual matters.

The government can and may collect taxes (Romans 13:7).

The government administers justice (1 Corinthians 6:1-3).

It is responsible for laws about trade and commerce (Acts 19:38).

It has punishing authority over the human body and life (Romans 13:4).

It is responsible for civil order and peace (Romans 13:6; 1 Timothy 2:2).

It is responsible for all civil, outward discipline (Romans 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14).

Scripture never and nowhere gives governments authority over spiritual matters. A government cannot command the church to change or deny its doctrine, and when Christians are threatened in this way, they should respond, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) as Peter and John did.

A final word, since we know that all of Israel’s and most of Judah’s kings were wicked men. The obligation that a Christian has to obey the government is not removed when the government makes an unjust law, imposition, or tax, and even when a person would suffer loss or injury. To suffer evil is not against the Christian conscience (otherwise Jesus would be sinning in John 19:1). But to do evil always is. Luther says: “What if a prince is in the wrong? Are his people obliged to follow? Answer: No! It is not fitting for anyone to do what is wrong. A person owes a higher obedience to God, who wants what is right, than to men.”

Therefore the government might cut down my tree or claim a section of my field for public use, and I am obliged to obey. But the government cannot tell me that the body of Christ is not present in the bread of the sacrament.

Let us give glory to God with our obedience to the Fourth Commandment, which includes secular authorities as well as family authorities.

We should fear and love God that we do not dishonor or anger our parents and others in authority, but honor, serve, and obey them, and give them love and respect.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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