Hezekiah (a good king, cleansed the temple and restored right worship, he was delivered from the Assyrians and from sickness by the Lord) . . . Manasseh (very bad, though the Chronicler reports his repentance) . . . Amon (like father, like son) . . . Josiah (a good king, religious reforms, foolishly went into battle against Egypt and was killed) . . . Jehoahaz & Jehoiakim & Jehoiachin & Zedekiah (all stubborn and evil) . . . and the kingdom was no more. Some of the most distressing words in the OT: “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy” (36:15-16).
Yet, the Chronicler reports, after seventy years, “The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up’” (36:22-23). I can never get over God’s forbearance and his graciousness.
The Lord’s our rock, in Him we hide,
A shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A shelter in the time of storm.
Mighty Rock in a weary land,
Cooling shade on the burning sand,
Faithful guide for the pilgrim band-
A shelter in the time of storm. -- Vernon J. Charlesworth (ca. 1880)