TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES for DISREGARDING God’s LAW: And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, "Thus says the Lord God of your father David: Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot like the harlotry of the house of Ahab, and also have killed your brothers, those of your father's household, who were better than yourself, behold, the Lord will strike your people with a serious affliction--your children, your wives, and all your possessions; and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day" (2 Chron. 21:12-15).
Jehoram, the eldest son of Jehoshaphat, reigned in Judah for eight years (848–841 BC). However, unlike his godly father, Jehoram committed many heinous acts during his reign. He killed all his brothers to prevent any of them taking over the throne of Judah in his place (vv. 1–4). He married Ahab’s daughter Athaliah and through her influence, promoted paganism in Judah (vv. 5–6). Only because God was committed to His promises to David did Judah escape His awesome wrath during Jehoram’s time (v. 7). It was then that Jehoram received a letter from prophet Elijah that he would not escape God’s judgment for disregarding God’s law (vv. 12–14) including having to suffer an excruciating disease of the bowels that would result in his death (v. 15).
There are tragic consequences for disregarding God’s law, which are evident from the life of Jehoram. The judgments against Jehoram were two-fold and the emphasis was on immediate retribution (1 Chr. 28:9). First, God promised “a serious affliction” on the people and on Jehoram’s family. Before he died Jehoram suffered the loss of his personal wealth and all the members of his family to bands of Philistines and Arabs. Only his son Jehoahaz survived so that the line of David would not be completely obliterated.
Second, Jehoram becomes terminally ill and the prophecy of Elijah was completely fulfilled in his life. The people of Judah did not mourn nor make any burning for him; neither did they give him a royal burial in the sepulchers of the kings. Jehoram died in severe pain having suffered for two years until his very intestines came out (v. 19a). We should contrast his death with Asa’s death (16:14). Similarly, while Joash (24:25), Ahaz (28:27), and Manasseh (33:20) all died in ignominy, Amon was disgracefully assassinated (33:24). They all reaped God's wrath for the wickedness they had sown earlier in life!
Elijah’s letter warned the king and gave him opportunity to repent, but Jehoram went on his own wicked way. He disregarded God’s law, and died in utter disgrace even though he was the son of the godly Jehoshaphat! Let us remember that there are tragic consequences for disregarding God’s law, and we need to take these 'real' life stories as teaching points for our personal life journey as we obey God's word completely!