Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, which said:
“This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: ‘You have not walked in the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah. But you have walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and you have led Judah and the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves, just as the house of Ahab did. You have also murdered your own brothers, members of your father’s house, men who were better than you. So now the LORD is about to strike your people, your sons, your wives and everything that is yours, with a heavy blow. You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out.’ ”
The LORD aroused against Jehoram the hostility of the Philistines and of the Arabs who lived near the Cushites. They attacked Judah, invaded it and carried off all the goods found in the king’s palace, together with his sons and wives. Not a son was left to him except Ahaziah, the youngest.
After all this, the LORD afflicted Jehoram with an incurable disease of the bowels. In the course of time, at the end of the second year, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great pain. His people made no fire in his honor, as they had for his fathers. (2 Chronicles 21:12-19)
Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king of Judah. He immediately murdered his six brothers. Then he married a daughter of King Ahab, and adopted his religious practices.
Because he led his people to worship idols rather than the God of Israel, God punished him. As God had told the Israelites in the time of Moses, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” (Deuteronomy 8:5) As harsh as the punishment that Jehoram received, dying of a painful and embarrassing ailment, “Nevertheless, because of the covenant the Lord had made with David, the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever.” (2 Chronicles 21:7)
Had Jehoram heeded God and repented his life might have been very different. As Jeremiah points out, “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.” (Jeremiah 18:7-8) God will always respond to a changed heart, because repentance and restoration is s God’s goal whenever he brings judgment.