January 13, 2014.
I’m reading through II Chronicles right now and I keep coming across phrases that simply make me mad/disappointed. Chronicles, as I realized this time through, is a Old Testament book of history that mainly deals with the kings of Judah up until Babylonian captivity. Now, compared to the kings of Israel, the kings of Judah on average clung to the Lord more consistently; however, their record was shady at best. What makes me the most disappointed is when I read about a king that started off by following God and then left in his later years after he had amassed treasure or land, or perhaps even after some hardship had come on the land (usually from result of not following God fully). I run across verses like these:
“Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David. And Asa his son reigned in his place. In his days the land had rest for ten years. And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment.”
(II Chron. 14:1-4)
“At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time.”
(II Chron 16:7-10)
Another story that follows along the same lines:
“Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did what was right in the eyes of theLord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.”
(II Chron. 24:1-2)
But after Jehoiada died:
“Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs. Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the Lord. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention”
(II Chron. 24:17-19)
These are not just two isolated stories in the second book of Chronicles, but they seem to almost set up a little bit of a pattern of falling away. That makes me sad. I read about God’s people and I just see them completely forsake him for other gods and I can’t help but think “What were they thinking?! God made it so obvious that when they followed him, he blessed them and when they didn’t, he sent the people of the land to conquer them. Yet they still forsook him!”
It’s very easy to see how other people went wrong, especially in retrospect; I must as the question, however. Are we not doing the same thing? Sure, I can point to a king or the people of Judah and condemn them for following after their own lusts, but I see myself do that daily. “I know that God loves me, but I really want to do this. God wouldn’t condemn me for being happy, would he?” This is one of the most common lies of the devil. Its not really bad to do that stuff. You still love God. He still loves you. It’s all good.
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
We should be able to take the stories of the Old Testament and learn from their mistakes. Fortunately (or unfortunately, in a sense) for us, it seems the mistakes of the kings are blatant and obvious to us, thus we might be able to say we aren’t following in their footsteps. I think the slow fade is much more dangerous, however, because we don’t even realize it’s happening. We don’t serve physical idols, so it seems we are not idol worshipers as they turned to be. But we are idol worshipers. Money, Pride, Football, TV, Technology, Gossip, Celeberties. These are our idols today. They are just as bad as the Asherim back in the days of Judah.
Are we going to follow in the steps of Judah, or are we going to learn from their mistakes? That choice is left up to us. Let us all grow closer to our Lord and Savior through study and prayer.
Suggested Daily Reading: II Kings 20, II Chronicles 25-27
The Lord grant us wisdom and understanding.