November 17, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Chronicles 25-28.
Background: II Chronicles 21-24.
Concepts and Connections.
Amaziah: After Joash is assassinated, his son Amaziah is set up to be king. Amaziah had a strong start in doing what was right in the sight of the Lord, even adhering to the Law when delving out the punishment for his father’s assassination (see Deuteronomy 24:16). The problem was, however, that Amaziah never had his whole heart in serving the Lord, and as he grew stronger, his faith grew weaker. Before his downward spiral, Amaziah took a census and mustered an army to go to battle with Edom. In preparation for battle, Amaziah hired 100,000 mighty men of Israel with 100 talents of silver to go into battle alongside Judah. The Lord sent a prophet to Amaziah telling him not to take the men of Israel with him into battle, for the Lord was not with them. When Amaziah raised concerns with the prophet because he had already paid the soldiers anrd did not want to loose his money, the prophet tells him that God is able to give him much more than anything he paid the soldiers if he would trust in Him. Thus, Amaziah dismissed the army of Israel and went into battle with his men alone, and the Lord gave his enemy into his hand. The men of Israel took this as an insult, however, and were very angry, causing them to make raids on the cities of Judah.
Amaziah’s victory over Edom we see the start of his downward spiral. He took the gods of the men of Seir, the people he had just defeated, and set them up and worshipped them. A prophet was sent to Amaziah because the Lord was angry with him, and asked him why he would worship the gods of a people that he had just defeated instead of the God who had just delivered them. Amaziah was not willing to listen to the prophet, however, and stopped him from speaking since he was not a royal counselor. But the Lord had determined to destroy Amaziah. After this, we see Amaziah’s pride lead to this destruction, as he turns to Israel after his victory over Edom and challenges them to battle. Joash, king of Israel, warns Amaziah of the foolish request he is making, for he will surly fall before Israel, and tries to allow him to back out of his challenge. Amaziah’s pride is too much, however, for the Lord had determined to destroy him through this, and he went up to battle anyway. Israel indeed won the battle and took Amaziah captive, brought him to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, taking the gold, silver and vessels that were found in the house of the Lord. Amaziah would live for fifteen years after the death of Joash before he was hunted down in Latish and killed, leaving his son Uzziah to reign in his place.
Uzziah: Uzziah’s reign follows a similar trajectory as his father’s, starting off well in the beginning and then letting pride lead to his downfall. When Uzziah takes the throne at 16, he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, being instructed by the prophet Zechariah (not to be confused with the prophet who has a book named after him). As he followed the Lord, the Lord blessed him and gave him success in battle. He was successful in war against the Philistines and against the Arabians. During his reign, the Ammonites paid tribute to Judah and his fame spread all the way to Egypt. He became very strong and Judah thrived in technology (making machine bows, probably like crossbows, and catapults), military might and agriculture. The Lord had indeed blessed Uzziah. But all of his might and fame went to his head, and he became proud. Thinking very highly of himself, he went into the house of the Lord to burn incense, which only the priests were supposed to do, for they had been consecrated before the Lord to burn incense. AS he tried to burn the incense, however, 80 priests (who were men of valor) withstood Uzziah and told him that the incense was not for him to offer. Uzziah was angry, but before he could do anything, the Lord struck him with leprosy in his forehead, so that he was driven out of the house of the Lord. He spent the rest of his life in a separate house, and his son Jotham was was set over his household and governed the people of the Land. When Uzziah died, he was buried in the field that belonged to the kings instead of the tombs of the kings, for he was a leper. His son Jotham reigned in his place.
Jotham: After the death of Uzziah, his son Jotham reigned in his place, taking the throne when he was 25 years old, and reigned for 16 years. Similar to his father, Jotham did what was right in the sight of the Lord, perhaps even more so than Uzziah as he did not let his might make him proud, but rather grew mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord. Though Jotham followed the Lord, the people did not follow his example, but rather continued to follow corrupt practices. This story does seem to indicate that the Lord will bless the leader that follows Him even if his followers do not. Jotham was given success in battle, even having the Ammonites pay tribute to Judah for three years during his reign. After his death, he was buried in the city of David and his son Ahaz reigned in his place.
Ahaz: Though Jotham his father had done what was right in the sight of the Lord, when Ahaz took the throne he acted wickedly in the sight of the Lord just as the kings of Israel had done. He made images to foreign gods and even sacrificed his sons by making them pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, a detestable thing in the sight of the Lord (see Jeremiah 7:30-32). Because of his wickedness and departure from the Lord, he was given into the hands of his enemies, with different nations coming against him and striking Judah with great blows. Both Syria and Israel struck Judah and took a great number of captives. Interestingly, after Israel took 200,000 captives of Judah, the Lord sent a prophet named Oded to them to tell them not to take the people of Judah and Jerusalem captive, for it was because they had forsaken the Lord that they were given into the hands of Israel, not because Israel was holy or mighty. In fact, Israel had acted very wickedly before the Lord, and this action was only going to compound their sin agains the Lord. Thus, when certain chiefs of the men of Ephraim heard these words, they prevented the men who were returning from war from bringing the captives into Israel, but rather reclothed them, treated them with hospitality and send them on their way back home. The Lord was punishing Judah for their sin, not destroying them, and even in their wickedness, the Lord made provision for them to remain without being utterly destroyed.
Ahaz, however, did not learn from his mistakes or the punishment of the Lord as he should have, for instead of looking to God for help, he turns to the king of Assyria. The Philistines were making raids on the cites of Judah. Though Ahaz had given the king of Assyria a portion from the house of the Lord for him to help him, the king of Assyria afflicted him instead of helping. Even this did not turn Ahaz in the right direction, but rather pushed him further into idolatry, sacrificing to the gods of Damascus of Syria. His logic was that Syria had come against him an prevailed, therefore showing that their gods were powerful and if he sacrificed to them they would help him. He was obviously incorrect in this assumption, for Syria’s victory had not come at the hands of their gods, but rather by the hand of the Lord because of Judah’s sin. Ahaz’s idolatry became the ruin of Judah. When he died, the people would not bury him in the tombs of the kings of Israel. His son Hezekiah reigned in his place.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 123-125.
Grace and peace.