2 Chronicles 24:1–25:28, 1 John 1:5–10, Psalm 103:1–14
Two OT chapters cover the lives of two kings. The first, Joash, started out well, but drifted off course. God sent Zechariah (son of Jehoiada the priest) to challenge him and to tell him that because he’d forsaken the Lord, the Lord had forsaken him. The king didn’t like that. He forgot the kindness that Jehoiada had shown him, and killed his son. When he was dying, Zechariah said, “May the Lord see and avenge!”
It was not long coming. Syria attacked with a small army but because of this king’s rebellion against God, they were instruments of judgment on Joash. “When they had departed from (Joash), leaving him severely wounded, his servants conspired against him because of the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest, and killed him on his bed. So he died, and they buried him in the city of David, but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings.” (2 Chronicles 24:20–25)
The next king is Amaziah, Joash’s son who reigned in his place. He was twenty-five years old and ruled for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. The Bible says “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart. And as soon as the royal power was firmly his, he killed his servants who had struck down the king his father.” (2 Chronicles 24:27–25:3)
After that slaughter, Amaziah hired 100,000 soldiers from Israel for 100 talents of silver. But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites. But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.”
Amaziah was concerned about the money, but the man of God told him, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this.” To his credit, Amaziah discharged the army that had come to him from Ephraim, but they became very angry. Then Amaziah took courage and went against the Edomites, but brought their gods home with him and set them up as his gods and worshiped them, making offerings to them.
God was angry and sent a prophet who said to this king, “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?” But as he was speaking, the king said to him, “Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” So the prophet stopped, but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.” (2 Chronicles 25:6-16) Those in Jerusalem conspired and killed this king.
I know my own heart and tendency to turn from God, but unlike these kings, God never turns from me. The Gospel of Jesus Christ ensures my salvation. Obedience is important, but obedience is part of what it means to be a Christian. Because Jesus lives in me, He gives me the desire and the ability to obey Him. This is good news, and it is also the marker of true faith, as the NT reading declares:
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:5–8)
Those know and love Jesus also know that we are sinners. However, we can confess our sin and be forgiven. The OT saints could do that too. The psalmist blessed the God who forgives sin, heals, redeems and crowns His people with love and mercy. Because of His benefits and because He satisfies me with good things, I am so grateful. He even says my “youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:2–5)
Those two kings made a few good choices, but they also erred badly. Perhaps they forgot that “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:8–14)