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Passage: 2 Kings 12-14

On Sunday, May 4, 2014, Yujin wrote,

But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah (2 Kings 14:11).

Notice that Amaziah, King of Judah, did not listen to the counsel of Jehoash, King of Israel, not to seek a fight with Israel. What we are not told in the account in kings is that this stubbornness was not from Amaziah but from the LORD. Listen to the parallel account in the Chronicles:

Amaziah, however, would not listen, for God so worked that he might deliver them into the hands of Jehoash, because they sought the gods of Edom (2 Chronicles 25:20).

God made Amaziah stubborn, for God wanted him to fight Israel and be defeated by them, for God was angry with Amaziah for embracing the gods of Edom. 

This should not surprise us, for God also hardened the heart of Pharoah in the days of Moses, so that Pharoah repeatedly refused to let the people of Israel go, even though he witnessed many disasterous plagues against Egypt. In that time, God did this so that He might display His great and awesome works through him.

Friends, here's a frightful thought. When a person turns away from the LORD, God may even entrap them in their disobedience so that they not only do not obey the LORD, but that they also cannot obey the LORD. 

As I have shared earlier on this passage, Amaziah likely turned away from God because he was angry with God. He initially obeyed God by not using the mercenaries from Israel to fight against Edom, but these very mercenaries massacred the people of Judah while he was fighting Edom. Now, even though this was a tragedy, Amaziah could have had a worse tragedy if these mercenaries turned against him in his battle against Edom. Regardless, Amaziah should not have, thereby, turned away from the Lord to the gods of Edom. Even in the face of this misfortune, he should have trusted in the LORD.

Sometimes, we have this foolish notion that we can hurt God for hurting us. We think something like, "If God is not going to do this for me, why should I keep serving Him?" It is foolish because we forget that God is not a man, so that we might bribe Him or punish Him by withholding our obedience or affections. We only harm ourselves. Instead, even if He were to bring misfortune on us, the best thing we can do is to still praise Him. For He alone is God and there is no other. This is why when it seemed that Job faced all the misfortunes from God that a man may face, he did not curse God but instead declared, 

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21).

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him (Job 13:15).

Friends, the LORD alone is our hope. No matter what our circumstance in life, whether easy or hard, whether destitute or rich, whether everyone is for us or against us, let us faithfully praise Him, trust Him, and obey Him with all our hearts.  

Passage: 2 Kings 12-14

On Sunday, May 5, 2013 (Last Updated on 5/4/2015), Yujin wrote,

Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground,” and he struck it three times and stopped. So the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times” (2 Kings 13:18-19).

When I read this account of Elisha and Joash, the King of Israel, I think of the game "Simon says". Elisha is Simon, and he tells the king to do various things. The last thing he tells him to do is to take a set of arrows and strike the ground; however, Joash strikes the ground only three times and then stops. Elisha scolds him for not striking more times. It's as if he was telling him, "Simon did not say 'Stop'." As a result, Joash would not completely defeat Aram. 

I feel like there is a lesson here. How many of us obey the Lord in this way? We do some token act or perform some service to the Lord and then stop. We stop though God did not tell us to stop. 

Some time ago, I had the privilege of overseeing the small group leaders at a certain church. At the time, they had in place a policy of a sabbatical (rest from ministry) after about two years of service. What I observed was that those that went on sabbatical not only "rested" from serving as small group leaders but stopped serving altogether. So I told them at the time, I am getting rid of the notion of a sabbatical. I told them that when you serve, you are signing up to serve forever, that is, until God directs you into some other ministry. Why put some arbitrary time frame of a year or two years of commitment?

Someone asked me what they were to do if the Lord called them to do something else. I did not hesitate to tell them that they should go and do that. It is not our business to commit people to programs and timetables but to commit them to the Lord. And just as in the game "Simon Says", you do what Simon says until he says something else. We ought to serve the Lord in this way. We ought to serve in whatever capacity He puts us until He directs us into something different. 

And here is a word to pastors and small group leaders. Why try to persuade someone to keep doing a ministry where God has neither given them ability or zeal? When we say something like, "I have no one to replace you right now" or "Can you at least serve out the remainder of the year?" or use some other inducement, is this right? Is this trusting in the Lord, who the Bible says supplies the church body with the gifted people as they are needed and where they are needed (cf. 1 Corinthians 12)? Shouldn't we rather encourage believers to pray, discover their gifts and calling, and then zealously pursue whatever God has for them? When we use worldly commitments and inducements, we are not following the Lord but trying to operate a business. 

My friends, God is not glorified in this. Let us be mindful. 

Passage: 2 Kings 12-14

On Friday, May 4, 2012, Yujin wrote,

Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, with the challenge: "Come, let us face each other in battle." (2 Kings 14:8 NIV)

Here we find Amaziah, King of Judah, picking a fight with Jehoahaz, King of Israel? Why? Certainly there may be a bit of overconfidence after just defeating the Edomites. However, there may be more to this than meets the eye. The parallel account in 2 Chronicles 25 gives a more complete picture. There we are told that Amaziah had initially hired soldiers from Israel to fight alongside Judah against Edom:

He (Amaziah) also hired a hundred thousand fighting men from Israel for a hundred talents of silver. (2 Chronicles 25:6 NIV)

But he did not use these troops because "a man of God" told him that God would not give him victory over the Edomites if he did this because God was not with Israel. The king complained that he had already spent a lot of money to purchase their services. The man of God tells him that God can give him much more than this (2 Chronicles 25:9). So Amaziah obeys the word of the LORD and sends the Israelite mercenaries away. And we are told that these mercenaries were enraged by this.

Then we find out what happens after this. Amaziah defeats the Edomites; however, while he is slaughtering the Edomites, the Israelite mercenaries begin slaughtering the people of Judah, even three thousand of them, and they also steal from them "great quantities of plunder" (2 Chronicles 25:13). We are not told this, but I imagine that word of this gets to Amaziah on the battlefield. We are not directly told how he reacts, but perhaps we are indirectly told.

We discover that Amaziah then takes the gods of Edom and brings them back with him and begins to worship them. Though the text does not spell out the connection, perhaps the reason why Amaziah turns away from the LORD is because he felt the LORD betrayed him with respect to the Israelite mercenaries. After all, since he obeyed the LORD in sending them away, he lost the hundred talents he paid them, they killed 3000 of his people, and they took a great deal of plunder from Judah. 

Now, this would also explain his challenge to the king of Israel to fight. After all, the men from Israel had just murdered and plundered his people, and they did this in a most ignoble way; namely, while the troops were away fighting a battle with Edom.

Now, I write this to give perspective. By my explanation, we may understand Amaziah's behavior, but it does not excuse it or make it right. He was wrong to turn away from the LORD to worship the gods of Edom. The indictment of God's prophet still holds true:

The anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah, and he sent a prophet to him, who said, "Why do you consult this people's gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?" (2 Chronicles 25:15 NIV)

Even though God's counsel may seem to have led to the Israelite mercenaries getting angry, raiding, killing and plundering the people of Judah, this does not take away from the power, authority and reality of God. King Amaziah needed to understand that God is worshipped not because He gives them victory over their enemies and provides them peace and prosperity. God is worshipped because He is God. David was angry with God on more than one occasion, but he did not for that reason turn away from the LORD. Job was angry with God for taking away his wealth, his children, and his health without just cause, but he did not for that reason turn away from the LORD. Instead he acknowledged, 

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:21 NIV)

Friends, let us also learn this lesson from Amaziah. Let us worship the LORD because He alone is God, not because of the benefits we receive, whether earthly or eternal. Let us serve Him because He is eminently worthy of it and not simply because of the particular benefits we think we'll receive if we do. Will we turn away when our life gets hard? Will we turn away if God takes a loved one from us? Will we turn away if we face suffering? Aren't we called to suffer for His Name, for this is what Paul writes:

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, (Philippians 1:29 NIV)

Some people say that God has called them to this or that mission or to this or that work or even to this or that person in a relationship, but then when things don't turn out to be "successful" with respect to wealth, popularity, happiness, etc., then it is thought to be no longer from God. How many testimonies have you heard where someone followed the LORD but lost their money, their status, or even their life? Yet, this is the normal heritage of many of the faithful people in the Bible. It is not without reason that Paul writes,

As it is written:"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." (Romans 8:36 NIV)

Let us understand this. We worship the LORD because He alone is God. We serve Him simply because He is worthy of it, and not because of the earthly benefits we will receive. Let us understand that our faith does not make God more real. This is backward. It is God who makes our faith real. Let us understand that God does not need us at all. We desperately need Him. God has no responsibility to us but only to Himself. But we are responsible to God, who has both created us for Himself and redeemed us for Himself. 

Therefore, let us simply align our wills to God's revealed will in His Word. Let us not worry about outcomes, results, or whether we feel God has been fair to us or not. None of these things will change the fact that He alone is God. Let us not become fools. With all your might worship the LORD!

Passage: 2 Kings 12-14

On Thursday, May 3, 2012, Unmi wrote,

In 2 Kings 14, we read the story of King Amaziah. There is also a parallel account of his story in 2 Chronicles 25. Amaziah is the story of a man who "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly." 

In the account of killing his father's slayers, he did good. Now it came about, as soon as the kingdom was firmly in his hand, that he killed his servants who had slain the king his father. But the sons of the slayers he did not put to death, according to what is written in the book of the Law of Moses, as the Lord commanded, saying, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the sons, nor the sons be put to death for the fathers; but each shall be put to death for his own sin.” (2 Kings 14:5-6)  He followed the written word of the Law. 

The next event describes his battle with Edom. He killed of Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000...(2 Kings 14:7) However, the 2 Kings account doesn't tell the full story. The account in 2 Chronicles described what he did after the battle. When Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought back the gods of the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them.  (2 Chronicles 25:14)

The anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah, and he sent a prophet to him, who said, “Why do you consult this people’s gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?” (2 Chronicles 25:15)

Why would King Amaziah bow down to Edomite idols that could not even save his own people? Is doesn't make sense! As I read this account it made me think about whether we are doing the same thing today.  We follow some of God's laws and like to think of ourselves as righteous in what we are doing, but are we truly wholeheartedly devoted to the LORD or are we trusting in "gods" which can not save. Is our hope in our education? in our finances? In our children? In our physical appearance? We know that these do not save, but we still strive for these things more than striving toward living a life wholeheated devoted and obedient to one true God.


Passage: 2 Kings 12-14

On Tuesday, May 4, 2010, Matt wrote,

"21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet." - 2 Kings 13:21

This is an odd verse that seems random.  What significance does it have?