2 Chronicles says, “…the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” God is love and if His wrath is released, He is still love. The LORD desired to save His people and bring “remedy” to Israel, but they refused. He continued to release judgments in stages trying to awaken them and cause them to repent, but they hardened their hearts further. Finally, the time came where things could not be remedied and the only thing that could be done was to bring swift severe judgment to the land. The LORD has no delight in the death of any person (see Ezekiel 33:11); He waits with longsuffering for people to repent, but there comes a time when things can’t be fixed any other way except by judgment.
Josiah was Israel’s and Judah's most zealous kings. He became king at 8 years old, he began to seek God at age 16, and at 20 he purged Judah and Jerusalem of all its idolatry. The people went along with his reforms, but it didn’t affect the nation, as a whole, at the heart level as it did Josiah. Josiah truly feared the LORD and repented, committing to serve Him only. We read in 2 Chronicles 34:33, “Thus Josiah removed all the abominations from all the country that belonged to the children of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not depart from following the LORD God of their fathers.” Israel served the LORD all the days of Josiah, but after he was gone, they quickly went back to their old ways since the majority did not repent from the heart.
Hezekiah was a King that did right after the ways of David, but he wasn’t a perfect man. As we read these scriptures it can cast a light on our own life; one thing that particularly struck me was 2 Chronicles 32:25. It says, “But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.” God had shown Hezekiah great kindness and kept him from destruction, namely from early death in this occasion, but Hezekiah didn’t respond to God with the gratitude He deserved because his heart was lifted up. Hezekiah began to take for granted what the LORD did for him; maybe he was thinking he deserved it. The Bible says Hezekiah did finally humble himself, but later on we hear how ambassadors from Babylon came and he foolishly shows off all his things to them. As the LORD lifts us up and blesses us, it is important that we remain humble with a heart of true gratitude and a sober attitude about ourselves.
The LORD said to Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:20, “Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.” The LORD can’t hear a prayer we don’t pray, but He promises to hear us when we pray.
Psalms 80:3 says, “Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!” The difference between them being saved or being destroyed by their enemies was God stepping in (causing His face to shine). No matter your problem or situation, God will make the difference, causing restoration and salvation.
Although under the Law, we see the grace of God in the “revival” lead by King Hezekiah. The people were a month late to celebrate the Passover due to not having enough priests consecrated in time. Still, many of the people were not sanctified when the Passover came, so Hezekiah prayed, "May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God,” and the LORD listened to him. The Passover is a picture of the death of Jesus Christ; the One who came to save sinners. It’s fitting that God accepted them, not on having done everything right up until then, but because their hearts were turning to the LORD.
Let me put up the link to the list of the kings of Judah and Israel one more time.
Today’s reading brings us to the end of the kings of Israel and to the Assyrian captivity. These chapters include some important history of Israel. After the Assyrians captured the people of Israel, they “imported” some new people into the land (See 2 Kings 17:24). After lions starting attacking them, they brought in an Israelite priest to show them the ways of the LORD. These nations adopted the LORD yet did not turn away from their former gods; 2 Kings 17:41 says, “These nations feared the LORD, yet served their carved images.” This was how the “Samaritans” came about whom the Jews had no dealings with (See John 4:9).
As we read through the word of God, it easy to see how we will be blessed as we humbly follow the LORD’s ways and troubled if we don’t. We must make the decision to continually look to God’s word or we will be victims of doing what seems best. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” 2 Chronicles 26:5 says, “As long as King Uzziah sought the LORD, God made him prosper,” but verse 16 says, “when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.” Uzziah was blinded by his success; he let his heart get lifted up. If we have any kind of real success, we must remember to remain in the same humility that got us there. Lord, hep us to walk in true humility.
There is some very interesting commentary on King Amaziah in 2 Chronicles 25:2: “he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a loyal (or whole) heart.” We need to dig a little deeper and find out why we do the things we do. Amaziah did what was right, but not from the heart and he ends up making a drastic turn from the LORD later in life.
Amaziah did well when he listened to the wise counsel from men of God. After he made the mistake of hiring soldiers from Israel, a man of God warned him not to take them to battle for God was not with the men of Israel, only the men of Judah. Amaziah said to the man of God, "But what shall we do about the hundred talents which I have given to the troops of Israel?" And the man of God answered, "The LORD is able to give you much more than this" (2 Chronicles 25:9). I love the answer from the man of God. We are not to worry about money; just trust God and do what is right and He will take care of the rest.
King Joash of Israel (not to be confused with the one from Judah) was an evil king but oddly he had esteem for Elisha the prophet. Through Elisha, the LORD would give Joash as many victories against Syria as he was willing (or had the faith) to receive (See 2 Kings 13:14-19). Joash only struck the ground three times with arrows; he only “reached out” for three victories from the LORD, and the LORD gave him three victories. It is amazing to see how God’s mercy reached out time and again to people who kept turning to others gods. By looking at how God dealt with His people and the other nations of the earth we can see how He is longsuffering, wanting people to repent. The minority that rose up in faith and prayer made huge impacts. Let’s never grow weary in doing good and in praying; the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous does much!
I believe there is a foreshadow or principle for us in how Joash (also spelled: Jehoash) became king in 2 Kings 11. He narrowly escaped death, but was hidden away until the time of his appearing. Every one of God’s children is marked with greatness like Joash, but He hides us away until we are mature enough to step into the role we are destined for. Joseph and Jesus Christ were hidden until the set time for them to ascend to the throne. There are many that are still "hid away," but the day will come when the LORD will reveal the anointing upon their lives to the world for His glory.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan