The story of the end of the Kingdom begins with Solomon in 1 Kings 1-11. He built a box for God on the backs of the people.
Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, taxes the people harder and forces a schism in the nation. Jeroboam takes ten tribes north to form the Kingdom of Israel. He sets up two Golden calves and leads the nation into destruction. They are annihilated by the Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C.E.
Rehoboam stays in the south with the Kingdom of Judah, and they struggle through many ups and downs with God.
It is important to always remember that the stories of Israel and Judah live in the political tension and the physical battle ground between Egypt to the southwest and Babylon to the Northeast.
This timeline skips to the year 715 B.C.E. and 2 Kings 18:1 when Hezekiah becomes king of Judah. It is during his reign that the prophet Isaiah begins to speak to Judah. Hezekiah serves God and is able to keep Babylon at bay.
Good King Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, ends up being the worst king Judah ever had. He disregards God’s Law and fully embraces the culture, theology and worship practices of the Canaanites. He places altars to the Canaanite gods and goddesses in Solomon’s temple, along with temple prostitutes and child sacrifice.
Manasseh’s sin was so bad, Isaiah tells Judah that God has removed the hedge of protection and they will be destroyed by Babylon (see this post).
This decadence persists for 55 years.
Manasseh’s son, Amon, reigns for two years. He is killed by rebels.
Josiah takes the throne at age 8.
He has never known a Judah that worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob according to the ways that Moses taught them.
He reigns for 16 years with a good heart and no knowledge of God.
A happy accident occurs and the Book of the Covenant is discovered in a storeroom of the temple. Josiah reads the book, encounters the God of Promise, repents, and reforms the country.
His humility and submission to God’s Covenant creates a temporary hedge of protection around Judah. Read 2 Kings 22:18-20.
Manasseh had taken the Kingdom too far. Shortly after Josiah died, things fell apart.
Judah was destroyed by Babylon in 586 and the people were taken into captivity for 70 years.
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