Thursday, 15 May 2014

(136) May 16: 2 Kings 12-14 & John 5:25-47

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider how we see God’s patience expressed.

To ponder:
Joash of Judah “did right,” except in keeping the high places. Yet we read this was just for “all the years Jehoida the priest instructed him.” It is faithful teaching that will keep us faithful disciples.
            The repairing of the temple was needed because it was now over a century old and may have been damaged by others (2 Chr 24v6). Joash tasked the priests to oversee this and use the money brought to them at the temple (12v5, 8). But they failed to complete the work, using the money for themselves (12v7). Joash therefore ordered them to give the money (except for that accompanying guilt and sin offerings), and required the job be done by others. Security for the money was ensured, and with commendation of the supervisors’ honesty (12v9-16). New utensils were not however made, so the funds could be focused on the repairs. We therefore see the priesthood largely corrupt, the king taking charge of their affairs, and the kingdom inferior to that of Solomon’s day, when his vast wealth was available to construct the temple. There is encouragement here, to give generously to the building of the church, rather than hoarding for ourselves.
            With another attack from Hazael, God’s agent of judgement throughout these chapters (see 8v12), Joash even lost what was valuable in the temple, using it to pay him off. This further impoverished the nation. And with Joash’s reign ending in assassination, we see the weakness of the kingdom even when reigned by a king with such a good start. Something more than instruction from childhood is therefore necessary in any king who will fulfil God’s covenants with Abraham, Israel and David. Nothing less than perfect righteousness and a perfected people seems required.
            Jehoahaz of Israel “did evil” and so was also oppressed by Hazael because of God’s “anger.” But the nation are reminded there is always hope, as God “raised up” an unnamed “deliver” when Jehoahaz sought his favour. In some senses, this was all the two kingdoms needed to do. However, Israel still continued in the alternative worship and idolatry of Jeroboam, and in worshipping Asherah (13v6, 1 Kgs 12v26-33). And with it we read the northern kingdom has been brought to a desperately vulnerable state (13v7). With such ingratitude and fickleness, only the people could be blamed for their struggles.
            Jehoash, who succeeded Jehoahaz, did the same evil, but still respected Elisha, visiting him when dying. The king’s declaration about the “chariots and horseman of Israel” shows he may have heard what Elisha witnessed at Elijah’s death (2v12). Without his own chariots and horsemen (13v7), it was a cry of concern that after Elisha Israel might lack the protection of this heavenly army. Elisha’s response with the bow and arrows is to promise victory over Aram, but not total victory, because Jehoash displayed a lack of faith or desire in striking the ground only three times. Although Elisha’s death is ordinary, the raising of the dead man thrown into his tomb affirmed his uniqueness. And so, after his death, his word is fulfilled. Although, God graciously kept Hazael (Aram’s king) from destroying Israel under Jehoahaz, Jehoash is able to defeat his son “three times” (the times he struck the ground). It is however stressed that Israel’s continued existence was because of God’s compassion and covenant with the patriarchs, not because of anything in them.
Amaziah was the next king of Judah, doing “right” but only as far as his father Joash did. This is seen by following the law in dealing with Joash’s murderers (14v5-6). He also defeated the Edomites, reminding us of the full deliverance God promised through a special king (Num 24v17-19). After arrogantly challenging Israel however, Israel not only captured Amaziah but broke down part of Jerusalem’s wall, plundered the temple and took hostages. This is the lowest point for Judah, and at the hands of her sister nation. Amaziah was later assassinated.
Jeroboam of Israel did evil, but restored Israel’s boundaries as the prophet Jonah had predicted. This too was only because God had compassion on Israel’s helpless suffering (see Ex 2v23-25), and hadn’t said he would “blot them out.” Throughout then we see God is reluctant in punishing his people, patiently keeping them from the destruction they deserve.
Praying it home:
Praise God that he is patient with humanity, giving people time to turn to him. Pray that your non-Christian friends would not show contempt for his patience, but take the opportunity and turn to him whilst they can.

Thinking further:
None today.

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