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.
I think that there is a part of all of us that wants to be like Elijah in 1 Kings 18. He’s just coming back from a miraculous experience where he saw God raise a young boy from the dead. Then, he has the courage to face off with King Ahab and essentially tell him that the entire reason there was no rain in Israel for three years was because of his disobedience.
1Ki 18:18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
Finally, and I think this is the most audacious part, he issues a challenge. He challenges all 450 prophets of Baal to try make fire rain down from the sky. All of those prophets were allowed to work together, and Elijah was going to stand alone as the only one requesting that the true God send down fire. All of the people in Israel were supposed to there to see who ultimately won.
First, he was outnumbered. You would think that 450-to-1 would tilt the table in favor of Baal. Apparently, the people of Israel were kind of undecided as to which one was really real or perhaps they thought that both of them were equally real, so I have to imagine that the crowd was assuming that the group that was able to yell louder would ultimately prove to be true.
Second, he was unpopular. Like I already pointed out, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were not excited about Elijah. After all, he blamed all the problems in Israel on the leadership. Right before the encounter, we discover that Elijah was virtually alone in this fight.
1Ki 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
1Ki 18:22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
I think that this is the kind of boldness that we’re lacking in the world today. As Christians, sometimes we allow ourselves to be shouted into submission. Because our opponents sometimes have loud and influential voices, we figure that it isn’t worth trying to argue for what we believe in.
However, that is not the approach we should take. We need to be more like Elijah. We need to be willing to stand alone if necessary and rely on God to give us strength. There is no indication that there was anything special about Elijah except that he was a prophet. That should be encouraging. We might not feel that we have the talent for defending Christianity, but even living a life that is different than what the world preaches makes a statement.
The world might not be the easiest place to be a Christian, but that doesn’t mean we back down. We need to continue living the way that God wants us to live.
Gideon is easily one of my favorite characters in the Bible, and we are introduced to him at the beginning of Judges chapter 6. He came into leadership because (surprise) the people of Israel had been rebellious once again. The Midianites came in and essentially wrecked everything in Israel.
As a result, one day Gideon was trying to get his wheat put away quickly before the Midianites came to burn it down just like they had done all over Israel. Then, all of a sudden, an angel appeared to him and said that he was going to save Israel. Needless to say, Gideon didn’t buy it right away.
Jdg 6:15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
Because of earthly constraints, Gideon was worried that he would not be able to do what God had called on him specifically to do. However, the angel didn’t seem to have much doubt.
Jdg 6:16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
After the angel essentially torched his offering and disappeared, Gideon recognized that it truly was God that he was dealing with and knew he had to be obedient.
His obedience was immediately put to the test when God told him to go and tear down the altar to Baal. Not only was he supposed to tear it down, but he was also supposed to replace it with an altar to God.
He actually went through with it with the help of some servants, and when everyone in the city woke up that morning and saw what Gideon had done, they wanted to put him to death immediately.
Gideon’s father told the angry people that if indeed Baal was really upset with his altar being torn down, he would be able to plead for himself. The people could not really argue with that one, so Gideon had a little time to gather his army.
However, even after he did this, he wanted a little bit more proof that God would protect them.
Jdg 6:36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
Jdg 6:37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
Jdg 6:38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
Jdg 6:39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
Jdg 6:40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
For today, that is where we leave this story of Gideon. However, I think that what we need to take away from this today is the fact that God does not mind if we do not understand His will. He knows that we are indeed humans, and we cannot always comprehend what He wants for us. However, when we ask these questions, we need to be prepared to follow. Gideon could have had all that proof and decided to go home. That would not have been the right response. However, he did not decide to go home, and he did what he actually was chosen to do.
Judges chapter 2 could be misconstrued to present an evil picture of God. I am sure there are people out there who have thought that because God allowed Israel to be devastated just because they did not follow Him, He must be pretty evil.
Jdg 2:12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
Jdg 2:13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
Jdg 2:14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.
However, people who believe that are also ignoring one of the other characteristics of God. He is ultimately just, and as a fair judge, He had to go through with what He said in the past. Specifically, if you remember the end of Deuteronomy, you’ll remember all of the blessings and curses the children of Israel had to decide between.
If they wanted the blessings, they had to follow God. When they didn’t follow God like in our chapter for today, they had to accept the consequences of their actions.
Ultimately, that is just. Our legal system is built on the same concept. If people do something wrong and break the law that has already been established, then they have to be responsible for the already laid out consequences.
From what I remember about Judges, the people of Israel were on a kind of roller coaster. They alternated between periods of following God and wandering away. However, it is important to keep in mind that God was just in all of His judgments.
It is not as if He made up rules on the fly to stick it to the people. They knew what they needed to do, and they made their choices. Because of this justice, the punishment needed to follow.
I like how God essentially issues a challenge in the middle of Deuteronomy 32. He obviously knows that He is the only God, but not everyone believed that.
Deu 32:36 For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
Deu 32:37 And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,
Deu 32:38 Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.
Deu 32:39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
This is very much like Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In a similar way, he challenged them to actually have their own gods answer their requests. Needless to say, they did not respond, and when Elijah prayed to God, He did respond.
In verse 39, it is also interesting that God holds life and death. That encompasses the whole of the human experience. We really don’t have any other option. Therefore, it logically follows that there is nowhere we can go and not have God with us.
Now, that can be a comfort for those of us that know and love Him.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He is not just one of many gods. He is the only God.