Eliakim to Jehoiakim

Pastor Josh Combs

“And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim.” 2 Kings 23:34

Nearly 600 years before Christ would come to Earth, more than 200 years before the birth of Alexander the Great, and centuries before the rise of the Roman empire, Babylon and Egypt were two of the greatest empires in the world. Sitting nearly right between them was the nation of Israel, which had at this point in history become two nations, one being Israel and the other Judah. In 722 BC, the Assyrians had decimated Israel and taken them into captivity. Judah, however, would survive as a nation until around 586 BC.

The rival kingdoms of Babylon and Egypt would each conqueror nations, tax the people, take natural resources, and turn citizens into slaves, all for the purpose of building their empires. As these two kingdoms grew and the spiritual rebellion of Judah persisted, Egypt captured the King of Judah, Jehoahaz, removed him from power, and took him to Egypt, where he died. In his place, Pharaoh Neco II placed Jehoahaz’s older brother in power.

His name was Eliakim, which means “God has established.” And truly, God had established this royal line. The Scripture says of his father Josiah, “There was no king like him, who 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…” (2 Kings 23:25). But Josiah’s son Eliakim “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 23:37). Not only did he do evil before the Lord, but his very name was changed as a demonstration of his change in allegiance.

The Pharaoh of Egypt, rather than allowing this new king’s  name  to continue to reflect God’s authority in establishing kingdoms, changed his name to Jehoiakim, meaning “the lord has established.” In a different context that name could mean the Lord of Heaven, but in this case it refers to the lord of Egypt, Pharaoh Neco II. The ruler of the Egyptian empire wanted this puppet king’s name to reflect the glory of Pharaoh and Egypt’s power. However, rather than disdaining this dishonor to God, he embraced his power. The king of Judah’s allegiance had changed, his lord had changed, and now his name change demonstrated those facts.

Who is your lord? Where does your allegiance lie? Those are crucial questions to answer. In closing the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord….’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you’” (Matthew 7:22-23). The lordship of Christ is a fundamental facet of salvation. Jesus must be both our Lord and our Savior. He will not be our Savior if He is not our Lord. Nor will He be our Lord without saving us from the consequences of our sin or eternity in Hell. Romans 10:9 is crystal clear: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (emphasis added).

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Kings 23:31-24:6; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4

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