Today’s (Tu 04/06/2017) and tomorrow’s Old Testament FDR is 2 Chronicles 25 and 26 and can be read by clicking on the blue link. (Today’s and tomorrow’s New Testament passage will appear in tomorrow’s blog.)
Other Gods in life (ch25)
Amaziah, as the new king of Judah, begins well. He deals with those directly involved in his father’s assassination by putting them to death. This also separates him from any involvement. Note too, he observes the law that applies here to dealing with sin against other persons and only executes those involved and not their families. Now to war. He assembles his own tribes who make a great number (300k) ready for war and hires another 100k from Israel at twice the going rate.
Unfortunately at this time Israel has become apostate. Although Amaziah is raising a ‘host’ he relies on a reinforced army made up of 25% of non-believers. (It is thought the purpose was to deal with the sin of the Edomites when they invaded Judah 50 years before. Considered a sin because the Edomites attacked the people of God.)
This choice to involve the Israelites demonstrates Amaziah’s decision not to rely on the Lord for assistance, but to seek earthly assistance from an apostate mercenary force. Little wonder the ‘man of God’ is outraged! (v7)
The reading takes us through the victory, in unlikely ways that God brings to the fight, as the ‘believers’ fight on their own with the Edomite southerners.
Sadly, the Chronicles record notes the departing mercenary contingent that raids civilian towns on their unhappy dismissal and returning angrilly home from a bounty of booty they could have expected in plundering the Edomites with Amaziah’s force. (v13)
Unfortunately what then follows is another poor decision of Amaziah’s. Rather than destroying the false gods and images of the Edomites where they stood he brings them home to Judah and places them in a special place and continues to recognise them as gods by prostrating himself and making burnt offerings! At least he did not place these in the Temple of the Lord, yet he worshipped them!
God calls a prophet in His anger to challenge Amaziah!
The prophet asks this rehotorical question. “Why do you resort to the gods of another people, when they were powerless against you, when you were commissioned by the Lord himself?” The text records that it was all down hill from here.
For us this should read – “Why do we resort to the powerless gods of others when we know the Lord Himself?”
Too big for his boots (ch 26)
This chapter introduces Uzziah to us and cites his great feat of opening the trade route to Aqab, that had been an aim of Amaziah’s reign (v1&2). This chapter goes on to record his pleasing behaviour before the Lord, his worship of God and that God made him prosper. Uzziah was successful before God in fighting, in agriculture and being prepared to defend his people and land (v3 – 15).
Then at v16 Chronicles records Uzziah’s departure from relying on God. Although he has reached the watershed of his reign and become very successful as God’s earthly representative he becomes arrogant and violates one of the rights of God by entering the nave of the Temple to offer incense. This is a role of the priests alone, as commanded by God, and is done twice daily in normal circumstances.
Here we see a mark of the respect and fear in which Uzziah was held (v17). Quickly we see both the priest’s proclamation of judgement and God’s judgement placed on him in the form of a skin disease. Interestingly the passage records Uzziah’s awakening to what he has done (v20).
God’s judgement includes Uzziah now being isolated from all he has done and his own people and family as prescribed by Leviticus 13:46. Even when he dies his body is buried rather than placed in the sepulchre of the royal house (v23).
For us the priests’ question can be rephrased, “What arrogance will lead us to deny God his rightful place in all we do?”
Sisters and brothers, although we can see these kings of God’s choosing and their stories as part of Old Testament history they also speak to us . Through Jesus we too are elect of God and can succumb to the temptations of the evil one to choose other gods or think we are cool enough to treat God with disrespect, even unthinkingly!
A prayer: Father and Almighty God, I too am able to turn away from you and pay attention to other things I put in the place in my life that You only should have. Sometimes these are things I might worship. Sometimes these are things I might do that push you aside from being central in all I do, think and say. Help me Father to realise when I have done this. In Jesus’ name forgive me please Almighty God? Help me to keep You central in my life in all times. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen
The following publication was used to assist in preparing this blog: Johnstone, William. (1997) 1 & 2 Chronicles Vol 2 in Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 254, Sheffield Academic Press, Midsomer North. pp 150 - 169