The Reality of Birth and Death is that somewhere in between you are going to encounter Income Tax.
Taxes have been around for nearly as long as money, and certainly since governments and dictators discovered their advantages.
400 Years – a Brief Overview
The books of I and II Kings contain the history of God’s people over some 400 years. Some stories are familiar, some names are well known. Others may be less recognised, but every one is there for a reason. There is far more to be read and said than is covered here, this is merely a brief trip into one point in that time frame.
After the brilliance of the kingship of David, the accounts of Judah and God’s people read for the most part as a downhill trip, which ends in the fall of Jerusalem, captivity and exile..
We step into the picture towards the end of this 400 year period. One phrase we see quite frequently is: ‘And King X = whoever was reigning at that time did evil in the sight of the Lord.’
Cause and consequence were plain. When kings and people turned away from God, things went badly for the nation. When they repented, things looked up. The kings listed are increasingly noted as evil, and ever-fewer are commended as being ‘good in His sight.’ One would think that God’s patience must be about exhausted.
We see a particularly evil king named Manasseh, followed by his equally wicked son, Amon. The third to follow them was Josiah, one of the bright spots in the records, who proved to be the last good king of Judah.
Josiah ruled for 31 years. He died in battle, fighting against Pharaoh Neco, a successful military leader of Egypt.
On the death of Josiah his son Jehoahaz became King of Judah for a brief reign of barely three months. That same Pharaoh Neco captured and imprisoned him, and he died in captivity.
Neco then set up Jehoiakim, the half-brother of Jehoahaz, as a puppet ruler. Another evil king for Judah, and this one was king in name only. The one calling the shots was Pharaoh Neco.
Tribute and Tax
II Kings 23:
33b. And Pharaoh Neco . . . 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.
35. 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.
– Pharaoh Neco imposed the tribute. Now there’s a nice case of political correctness. It was nothing other than a victor’s tax.
– Jehoiakim taxed the land, then handed over the gains as Neco commanded him
ºHe exacted the silver and gold.– Exacted carries the root meanings of tyrranising and oppressing, driving as one would drive a beast of burden.
ºfrom the people of the land – That is, from everyone else. No donations came from himself. He used others to pay for his security.
º According to his assessment. – He calculated how much he needed and then imposed the tax: It was arbitrary, based on his own perceptions. It was not just. His philosophy was: I need, therefore I tax.
Was it Just?
Immediate Indignation demands that at this point God should:
– Wipe out Pharaoh Neco
– Dethrone Jehoiakim
– Put a good king in power
– Restore prosperity to Israel
– Give everyone 7 fold of what was stolen from them
And that all should live happily ever after in a smug comfort zone.
So What Happened Next?
Pharaoh Neco disappears into the sunset with his tribute. We never hear of him again.
An unrepentant Jehoiakim rules over Judah for another 11 years.
36a. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
37. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.
He was an evil king. He did evil in the sight of the Lord. Why did God not wipe him out, send plagues of locusts into his dining halls, frogs into his hot baths?
We can think, OK, God has His times and seasons, a plan that will come to fulfilment in His time.
But then we see a strange development in ch 24.
Here we have an evil king who taxed the people of Judah unjustly, and gave the money to a foreign pharaoh.
Eleven years pass. What does God do for Judah? What does He do to Jehoiakim?
In this time Egypt and the Pharaoh Neco had been defeated in battle by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Jehoiakim switched sides and linked up with Nebuchadnezzar, again it seems looking out for his own skin.
II Kings Ch 24 1-4
1.In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. Then he (Jehoiakim) turned and rebelled against him (Nebuchadnezzar).
He changes camps once again!
2.And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servants the prophets.
3. Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the Lord, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done,
4. and also for the innocent blood that he had shed.
Hold On Just a Moment
God sent the raiding bands to destroy who? There must be a misprint.
Surely God should have sent the Chaldeans and the Syrinas and the Moabites and Ammonites to destroy Babylon, or finish off Egypt, or wipe out Jehoiakim.
continued next week