Monthly Archives: August 2013
2 Chronicles 28 gives us a portrait of another bad king in Judah. Ahaz was pretty much as idolatrous as they came, and as a result, his kingdom was invaded.
2Ch 28:5 Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter.
The important thing to notice about this verse is that God was the one doing the delivering. Even though it might sound like all kinds of evil forces were doing the overrunning, God was still obviously in control of the situation.
We have seen this type of thing many times by now. When the people of God wandered away and started worshiping some other type of god, they ran into a tough time. However, just like in this situation, God was the one orchestrating the events.
He was using difficult times to bring His people back to Him. On a much more minor scale, you could think about Jonah. He was being disobedient by running away from his mission in Nineveh. God used a difficult time inside of a giant fish to turn his attitude around.
Sometimes we need to be woken up. We need some type of eye-opening event that forces us to look at what we were doing wrong.
In this case for the people of Judah, they had to be overrun. They had to realize that when they turned away from God, they were really turning away from everything that made them a nation.
If you are reading along, you will be able to tell that it did not get better by the end of the chapter, but tomorrow we will get to see the people of Judah start coming back to God (I didn’t want to leave you on an overly depressing note).
Leaders are important for setting the tone of an organization. Because of their position, they have authority and influence over the people that follow them.
However, there are times when even good leaders end up with bad followers. People have free will and do not have to conform to leadership. This is what happened in 2 Chronicles 27.
2Ch 27:1 Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok.
2Ch 27:2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the LORD. And the people did yet corruptly.
Jotham did what he needed to do. He followed God, and he did not randomly enter the Temple to burn incense like his father did. If you read the rest of this chapter, he did many great things for God and became great.
However, some of the people who followed him did bad things.
This is why I am often times confused when people attack Jesus Christ himself by saying that some of His followers do bad things.
I am not delusional. I recognize that every single person who has ever followed Jesus Christ is indeed a sinner. We are reconciled to God through the death of Jesus and not because we live perfect lives.
As human beings who are pretty comfortable in our sinful lives, it should not be surprising that even after we come to recognize that sinfulness and our need for Jesus we might still sin from time to time. It is not right, but it does happen.
Unfortunately, some people have been really bad things while still professing to be Christians. I’m not here to judge anyone’s salvation, but I will say that their bad behavior does not disqualify the teachings of Jesus Christ.
It seems to me that this is basically a strawman. We set up some human beings who are evil and attack them as a way to attack the leadership of Jesus Christ. That is illogical. The followers who those things are not Jesus himself, so it is really a misguided attack.
Jotham was a good leader, but some people decided to do bad things. Similarly, Jesus is the ultimate leader, and even though we wish it would not happen, sometimes Christians do things that they really should not do. In both situations, the leadership did what they needed to do by following God, but humans have free will and have a choice to sin.
At one time or another, I know that everyone of us has unfortunately exercised that right. Isn’t it great that that we have a God that forgives?
Uzziah seemed to be a pretty good king in 2 Chronicles 26. He had quite a bit of success in war, and we are told that God was with him.
2Ch 26:4 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did.
2Ch 26:5 And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.
God was helping him do well (by the way, the Hebrew word in this case for “prosper” is the word that generally means “to push forward.” This is important because we might not only be talking about material wealth. Rather God was pushing him forward in terms of military success and many other areas).
However, even though he had all of the success and was doing so well in so many areas of his life, he was not immune from wandering away from God or being punished.
2Ch 26:16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
He obviously did something that only the priests were authorized to do, and he ended up being punished for that by being afflicted with leprosy. You might say that it was only one mistake, and it might seem a little bit harsh to go to that extreme.
However, God is fair, and the rules apply to everyone. Even though he was the king, he could not override the rules that God had in place. Even though it was only the first time we hear about him doing something like this and violating a major rule of the Temple, God needed to be fair and allow the consequences to be realized.
2 Chronicles 25 gives us a picture of the new king of Judah. Amaziah must have appeared to be a pretty good leader on the outside, but the Bible tells us that there were some internal issues that were never reconciled.
2Ch 25:2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart.
This seems to indicate that there is a certain difference between what we do and the attitude we do it with. It isn’t simply a matter of following the rules externally. Our motives need to be in the right place, and this is not necessarily an easy thing to discern.
For example, Jesus told us that we need to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). I might be really nice to my neighbors on the outside. I may always greet them when they get home, and I might invite them over for dinner once per week. I might buy them presents for their birthdays or even remember their birthdays at all.
These are all nice things to do, but we can certainly do them with imperfect motives. For example, what if the only reason we are being nice to our neighbor is because he or she has a lot of money? We aren’t being really nice to them because we want to follow the command of Jesus. We have an imperfect heart even though on the outside all of our activities seem to be right in line with what we are told to be doing.
It is challenging to be authentic. However, it is what we are told we need to do. While people will see what we do, we need to remember that God ultimately cares about what happens inside of us and behind our actions.
1Sa 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
It is good to have guidance. It is good to be able to benefit from the experiences that other people have gone through so that you can learn from both the successes and failures. In 2 Chronicles 24, Joash had that in the priest Jehoiada.
2Ch 24:2 And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.
It does seem to imply that he was doing what was right because he had some type of guidance. He decided that he wanted to repair the Temple which is definitely a good thing to do. He wanted to repair it because of all of the damage that had been done to it by the followers of Baal.
2Ch 24:7 For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD did they bestow upon Baalim.
His heart was in the right place at this point in his life because he had appropriate influences. Unfortunately, Jehoiada was an old man and he naturally ended up passing away at the age of 130 which meant that there would be new advisors coming into the life of Joash.
2Ch 24:17 Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them.
2Ch 24:18 And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.
He allowed idolatry to return to Israel, and even when God sent prophets to straighten them out, they didn’t listen. They continued to hurry down a dangerous path, and you knew that destruction would come in the end.
2Ch 24:24 For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the LORD delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash.
Having the mentor there was important. Jehoiada apparently helped keep Joash straight. I hope that we all have some type of mentor who can help keep us on this type of path. While I do wish that this particular mentorship had had a slightly more lasting effect, this is a good story to illustrate the power of having a mentor rather than not having one.
2 Chronicles 23 contains quite a bit of action as we see the crowning of the legitimate heir to the throne. If you recall, this was Joash who we had spoken of yesterday. He had been hidden from his great-grandmother because she would rather murder all of her descendants than see them overrun by some foreign power.
Today was the day that he was to be unveiled. Finally, he came out of hiding to climb the throne. However, he had a full armed guard surrounding him on that day to make sure that nothing out of the ordinary happened to him.
2Ch 23:11 Then they brought out the king’s son, and put upon him the crown, and gave him the testimony, and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king.
2Ch 23:12 Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came to the people into the house of the LORD:
2Ch 23:13 And she looked, and, behold, the king stood at his pillar at the entering in, and the princes and the trumpets by the king: and all the people of the land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets, also the singers with instruments of musick, and such as taught to sing praise. Then Athaliah rent her clothes, and said, Treason, Treason.
If we look at just the three verses, we can recognize that the people were doing what God wanted them to do. They were putting someone from the line of David on the throne like it was supposed to have been. The people were happy about that and were rejoicing.
Nevertheless, Athaliah was not quite as happy about this development because it demonstrated that her plan had obviously failed. She was not able to eliminate every possible heir to the throne. Not only that, but Judah was turning back to God despite the fact that she was not a believer. She saw this as a major insult to her.
She thought that treason was the people leaving her when she should have realized that leaving God is the ultimate treason. I guess that is the crime she committed.
Yesterday I wrote about how it is so cool to see Biblical prophecy in the Old Testament that is later confirmed in the New Testament. Today, in 2 Chronicles 22, we see a threat to that prophecy coming true.
Just to recap, yesterday we read a prophecy that said that the light would never depart from the line of David. I proposed to you that although it probably meant some type of divine right to rule at the beginning, ultimately it was referring to the person of Jesus Christ who is the Light of the World.
In today’s reading, we find out that Ahaziah was a pretty bad king of Judah. It seemed like it was kind of a kingdom run by the family because we hear that his mother was a pretty bad counselor for him.
Judgment was coming for Ahaziah though, and when Jehu was working as the person that God appointed to get rid of the house of Ahab, many of the leadership in Judah got caught up in that as well since he had allied with them.
2Ch 22:7 And the destruction of Ahaziah was of God by coming to Joram: for when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab.
2Ch 22:8 And it came to pass, that, when Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah, that ministered to Ahaziah, he slew them.
2Ch 22:9 And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.
As his mother saw this happening, she apparently thought that it was undignified to have her entire family murdered by the mob, so she went about trying to eliminate all of her descendants. The problem with that is that it would have ended the line of David and therefore invalidated the prophecy that we mentioned above. Here is what happened.
2Ch 22:10 But when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.
2Ch 22:11 But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, (for she was the sister of Ahaziah,) hid him from Athaliah, so that she slew him not.
God was there in that moment providing protection. He knew that there was something that needed to happen through that child (preserving the family line in this case), so He orchestrated everything to make that possible.
I bet that you never thought we could find a prophecy regarding Jesus in 2 Chronicles 21. However, check this out.
2Ch 21:6 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD.
2Ch 21:7 Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever.
In Old Testament times, I am sure that the reference to the light was generally interpreted as some type of divine right to rule. It would make sense. However, in New Testament times, there is only one person who is described as being the source of light.
Joh 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Obviously, He was born out of the lineage of David, and because of that, there’s no way that the Light will ever depart from the books of that family’s history. It is a fact.
Biblical prophecy is a very interesting thing. Obviously, it is not a healthy thing to automatically try to impose meaning on a text recklessly. However, when you see a phrase about something lasting forever, it is probably safe to assume that there is something superhuman going on. Then, when you hear about a light that is obviously used in a metaphorical sense, you have to wonder where else that phrase is used in the Bible.
Jesus claimed to be the Light of the World, and we know that he was born out of the family of David. It all comes together.
At some point, you would think that God would get really tired of dealing with the ups and downs of Israel (or specifically Judah). Every time things seemed to be getting better and they were coming back to worship God, they fell backward yet again.
In 2 Chronicles 20, we come to the consequences of the sin that was established yesterday. Jehoshaphat was hanging out with bad friends, so God was going to bring judgment. Judgment came in the form of the enemy marching right onto their doorstep.
However, the people of Judah finally realized that they needed to straighten out.
2Ch 20:3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
2Ch 20:4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
Difficult situations can bring out the best or the worst in us. We can either try to solve the situation ourselves and probably have some difficulties, or we can turn the problem over to God and surrender ourselves to whatever His will is.
In this case, the people of Judah decided that it was better to come back to God rather than continue running away from Him and making bad decisions.
I posed the question at the beginning of this post as to whether or not God gets tired of dealing with all of these ups and downs.
It was good for Judah, and it certainly is good for us that He does not.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Obviously, we are working on getting closer to God and making fewer and fewer mistakes. However, it is nice to know that as far as God is concerned, we can be forgiven.
In order to talk about what I want to from 2 Chronicles 19, we need to jump back to yesterday. Even though Jehoshaphat wanted to hear from the prophet of God rather than all of the false ones, he entirely disregarded the word of the prophet and went to battle alongside Ahab.
When he came back to Israel did 2 Chronicles 19, he was met by another seer named Jehu who had some strong words for him.
2Ch 19:2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.
Ahab was a really bad guy. He was probably not someone that you would want to hang out with. He was someone who willfully disobeyed God at seemingly every opportunity, so God was not so happy that Jehoshaphat had gone to war to help out someone who was so opposed to the teaching of God.
Just as a brief note of clarification before we continue, I want to point out that this passage does not disqualify loving sinners. After all, we are all sinners and are called to reach out and minister to the world.
However, when Jehu is talking in this passage, he is talking about forming an intensely close alliance like they did in the previous chapter. It is not that we shouldn’t love or care about people like Ahab, but we should not form such tight friendships with those who might not be a good influence on us and lead us to disregard the word of God like Jehoshaphat ended up doing.
I think that this passage emphasizes the need to choose our friends wisely. If you surround yourself with friends that are not such a great influence, I would not say that the wrath of God will probably come down, but you will make bad decisions that do have consequences. Make good choices when it comes to who you associate with.