A New Low

In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree. 2 Kings 16:1-4.

It has been an incremental journey to the place where a king of Judah, a decendant of David, would burn one of his own sons on an altar to Molech. It took generations of disobedience and token nods to the one true God before they reached the place that God warned them about. These are the very practices that earned the wicked nations His judgment when he gave the land to Israel.

In America, we used to sacrifice infants in secret, before anyone could tell you were pregnant. Then we made it legal. Now it is being celebrated, and it is even considered after birth. This is why it’s over for us as a nation. You can only save yourself now.

The Leper King

In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, began to reign. He was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 4/Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. And the Lord touched the king, so that he was a leper[a] to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the household, governing the people of the land. Now the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son reigned in his place. 2 Kings 15:1-7.

Azariah was yet another good king of Judah who did not stop the idolatry at the high places. It may be no accident that it is recorded that God afflicted him with leprosy after mentioning this fact.

Azariah may have been a proponent of religious liberty, but God is not. God is the creator of all, and he expects to be acknowledged as the almighty. Having no other gods before you is the first commandment. It is not optional. Adam had only one commandment, and violating it brought sin upon the whole earth.

Today we bring good news that all is forgiven if you will believe the good news of Christ’s sacrifice. He came to take away the sin of the world. He didn’t ask your permission. He extends grace and gives you a chance to abandon your idols in exchange for the one true God. Ignore this at your peril.

Amaziah

In the second year of Joash the son of Joahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not like David his father. He did in all things as Joash his father had done. But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand, he struck down his servants who had struck down the king his father. But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.” 2 Kings 14:1-6.

After his father’s assassination, Amaziah waited for the opportunity to avenge his father. And he scrupulously obeyed the Law of Moses by not extending punishment to their families. It takes a special act of God to do that, like He did against Ahab, wiping out his whole house.

When you hold someone’s descendants guilty of what the past generations did, you are assuming God’s power. God gives man, through governmental authority, the right to execute justice on the guilty, not their children and grandchildren.

It is common for some politicians to say one group owes another group something based on history. This is injustice, and it presumes upon God’s power.

Strike the Arrows!

Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Draw the bow,” and he drew it. And Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, “Open the window eastward,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot,” and he shot. And he said, “The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.” And he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them.” And he struck three times and stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.” 2 Kings 13:14-19.

If anyone else had told the king to strike arrows on the ground, it would be an odd thing to do. But this was Elisha, the prophet of God. He deals with the supernatural, and there is significance in his words and actions. He hears the voice of God and brings God’s instructions. The king had already shot an arrow out the window and this signified victory. So his rather tepid participation showed that he was only receiving limited victory.

Today we are inhabited by the holy spirit. But we ask for small things. We have little expectation of victory. So that is what we will get. But it does not have to be that way. We must dare to believe in a God who wants to be feared and glorified. We must believe in a God who is holy and all powerful, not an absent father with low standards.

The Reign of Jehoash

In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him. Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places.

Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the Lord, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the Lord, let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.” But by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, the priests had made no repairs on the house. Therefore King Jehoash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and said to them, “Why are you not repairing the house? Now therefore take no more money from your donors, but hand it over for the repair of the house.” So the priests agreed that they should take no more money from the people, and that they should not repair the house. 2 Kings 12:1-8.

Jehoash began well because he was being raised to follow the Lord from an early age. We know he was crowned when he was seven, but we don’t know at what age he was ruling autonomously. For instance, he ordered that the temple of Solomon be repaired, but by the time he was thirty, he noticed it wasn’t getting done and he took over the project and made sure the workmen got paid.

This chapter gives only a thumbnail account of his life. But the Chronicles fill in some details about his less righteous later life. Although he was zealous to rebuild the temple, he didn’t tear down the high places and stop those idolatrous practices. Unfortunately, those became a snare to him later. And his assassination at the end of this chapter makes more sense according to the other account of his life.

The story of Jehoash does underscore that it is important to raise children in the way of the Lord. It has a profound effect on their lives and others. The later accounts will go a long way towards vindicating one of my own axioms: “It’s never too late to screw up.”

But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die. Ezekiel 18:24.