Saturday, 7 June 2014

(159) June 8: 2 Chronicles 23-25 & John 16:16-33

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

To discover:­­
As you read note the reasons these kings fell.

To ponder:
Here we see the focus of Chronicles: God’s promise to David will only be fulfilled in a king who remains righteous and retains a concern to build the temple and so promote true worship (1 Chro 17v11-14). The problem in Judah is that whenever kings start to show promise, they fall.
            After Ahaziah’s death his mother destroyed the whole royal family so she could reign (22v10-12). However, David’s line continued because Joash was hidden for six years by his aunt, the wife of Jehoida the priest. In the seventh year, he then covenanted with some commanders to gather the Levites and family heads in order to crown Joash. The whole group then covenanted with Joash, no doubt setting out the terms of his rule and their service. On the basis of God’s promise to David and under tight security, Jehoida crowned and anointed Joash, gave him a copy of the agreement, and had Athaliah killed (see notes on 2 Kgs 11). Jehoida also made a covenant that he, the king and people would be the LORD’s. The people then destroyed the items of idolatry, Jehoida restored true worship in the temple and enthroned the king. The note that this was with singing and rejoicing is now familiar. Joy and praise accompany godly rule and will supremely in Christ’s kingdom.
            Initially Joash did “right” as king and used the people’s taxes to have the temple repaired (see notes on 2 Kgs 12v1-16). This completed the work of restoring worship in Israel, and so we read “as long as Jehoiada lived, burnt offerings were presented continually.” But Judah needed a faithful king not just a faithful priest. And after Jehoida died at an age that affirmed his righteousness (24v15), Joash listened to Judah’s officials, and “abandoned the temple,” turning again to idolatry. In mercy God sent prophets like Jehoida’s son Zechariah, who warned them that if they “forsake” God he would “forsake” them. But they didn’t listen, and under Joash’s instruction actually stoned Jehoida’s son, who called on God for justice as he died. So God had Aram invade. Noteworthy is the fact that numbering just a few they defeated the far greater Judean force just as a few in Judah had previously defeated many when God was with them. So Aram killed Judah’s leaders and wounded Joash, who was then assassinated by his officials for killing Jehoida’s son Zechariah. This is ironic. The very people who led Joash astray ended up murdering him. Putting our lot in with the wicked never pays. Not only does it bring down God’s judgement, but often ends in disloyalty and betrayal.
            Like Joash, his son Amaziah started well, being said to have done “right” - although “not wholeheartedly.” He punished his father’s murderers whilst followed the law (25v4), and listened to the prophet who rebuked him for hiring Israelite mercenaries. Key here is the prophet’s reasoning that “the LORD is not with Israel” – affirming his purposes are to be fulfilled through the southern kingdom. He also responds to Amaziah’s concern at the financial loss of letting the men go by stressing the LORD could give much more. We are to do right whatever the consequences, financial or not, and trust God if this brings difficulty.
            After such obedience, Amaziah was victorious. However, the dismissed and therefore disgruntled mercenaries raided Judah – a consequence of Amaziah’s foolish decision to employ them in the first place. Moreover, after God’s help, astonishingly Amaziah brought back Seir’s gods and worshipped them – provoking God’s anger. God’s prophet highlighted the stupidity of this. He was consulting the gods who had already been shown impotent in not saving Seir. It is equally nonsensical to turn from the one who has demonstrated his power over death and turn to gods, whether religious or not, who are demonstrably impotent in the face of it.
            Ahaziah threatened the prophet, listened instead to his advisers, challenged the king of Israel, ignored his warning to back down, and so, as judgement from God for his idolatry, was defeated. Moreover, Israel then broke down Jerusalem’s walls and plundered the temple and palace – undoing part of the work Jehoida had so faithfully done. Once more we see that only a faithful king will establish an enduring kingdom.

Praying it home:
Praise God that he is sufficient for whatever difficulty obedience to him might bring. Pray that you would have the faith to do what is right whatever the consequences.

Thinking further:
None today.
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