Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Reading Through the Book of Chronicles #6 (2 Chron. 17-26)

ChroniclesToday we continue in the story of the Divided Kingdom in the second book of Chronicles accompanied by, 1 & 2 Chronicles, The College Press NIV Commentary, Old Testament Series, by John Mark Hicks. This section evaluates the reigns of several kings who had compromised reigns. When they followed God they received great blessing, but when they were unfaithful He let them experience the consequences of the loss of His protection. I have been posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

Chapters 17-20 record the reign of Jehoshaphat. Like Asa, Jehoshaphat was a good king who received great blessing from God, but whose bad decisions had a terrible effect on his legacy and his nation. 17 portrays Jehoshaphat as another king with the blessings of David and Solomon. However, he compromises all of this through his alliance with evil Ahab. Chapter 18 pictures God's heavenly court at war with Ahab to bring about his demise. Despite all his precautions, God brings the judgment of death on Ahab. Sadly, Jehoshaphat got himself caught up in this, placed himself in danger and received rebuke from the prophet. Jehoshaphat repents (in  contrast to Asa) and brings reform and justice to Judah. When God tests him through an overwhelming invasion (20) Jehoshaphat passes the test with a faithful and worshipful response and God removes the invader, without the army doing anything, just as He did with the Egyptians at the Red Sea. Jehoshaphat is a good example of how God rewards a faithful heart but, sadly, also epitomizes the devastating results of compromise with evil people.

Jehoshaphat’s heart was lifted up to the Lord. While wealth, honor, and power turned to pride in Uzziah and Hezekiah, Jehoshaphat’s heart remained devoted. 2 Chronicles 17, 363

Jehoshaphat is rebuked but restored. This models postexilic Judah’s own rebuke and restoration. Moreover, God examines the heart rather than the technicalities of a person’s life. God looks at the heart’s direction rather than perfection. 2 Chronicles 18, 374

Judicial authority in Israel was not the prerogative of autonomous power; rather it depended upon and expressed the rule of Yahweh and was to reflect his own attributes of righteousness, justice, and fairness. 2 Chronicles 19, 377

The prophet announces that God will deliver his people, just as he did in the Exodus. The God of the Exodus still reigns over the earth. The God of the Exodus is the God of the Restoration as well. Just as God delivered his people from Egypt and from this invading army, so God delivered his people from Babylon and can yet deliver his people from Persia. The hope of Judah is Yahweh. 2 Chronicles 20, 385–386

After Jehoshaphat's death, the consequences of his foolish alliance with Ahab come horribly to fruition. His son, Jehoram murders his brothers in order to secure his throne. The wealth, power and influence gained in 66 years of godly rule in Judah quickly dissipate. Jehoram is punished with an intestinal illness and dies after only an 8 year reign. His son Ahaziah rules only a year and is killed by Jehu in the purge of Ahab's family. Jehoram's wife, the granddaughter of Ahab, then murders the next generation of the Judah royal family to take over the kingdom for herself. Only Joash is spared. Compromise and unfaithfulness has come very close to destroying the nation and covenant.

Jehoram lost everything his father left him...The price of his sin is the near extinction of the house of David. Yet, God preserves a remnant—one son of Jehoram to whom God will show his faithfulness. Even in the midst of punishment, God remembers his promises. 2 Chronicles 21, 398

Judah, in the space of nine years, went from the wealth, territorial integrity, and peace of Jehoshaphat’s reign to the near annihilation of the Davidic line. While spiritual renewal is a long process of faith formation, degeneration can happen swiftly. 2 Chronicles 22, 402

The postexilic community hopes in God’s ability to preserve his people. They know he can raise up a nation from an infant. The postexilic community lives in the day of “small things” (Zech 4:10), but God uses “small things” to deliver his people. The preservation of Moses was a small thing, and so was the birth of Mary’s son in Bethlehem. Both, however, became deliverers, and the kingdom of God now fills the whole earth. 2 Chronicles 22, 404

When Joash turns 7 years old Jehoiada begins the coup which will crown Joash as the king and remove Athaliah from the throne.  Joash turns out to be another king that starts well but ends very badly.  When Jehoiada was alive, Joash did well. But after the death of Jehoiada, Joash listened to the advice of his flattering friends and reinstated Baal worship in Judah. When Jehoiada was alive the Covenant was renewed, the temple was restored and the people were blessed with the Davidic blessing.  After Jehoiada dies, the Arameans invade Judah and defeat a large Judean army with a small army, and carry off all the temple treasures back to Damascus. Joash is wounded in battle and killed in a conspiracy as punishment for his murder of Jehoiada's son. This section shows very graphically how, when we are unfaithful, God may remove his hand of protection from us and we become subject to all kinds of dangers and temptations. 

The joy of the people was a cultic celebration. The quietness of the city is God’s blessing. The term “quiet” is part of the Davidic promise (1 Chr 22:9; 2 Chr 20:30). Israel rejoices in their worship, and God blesses his people with peace. 2 Chronicles 23, 408

The reign of Joash underscores the value of spiritual mentors. But mentoring only lasts so long. At some point, Joash must adopt his own faith. Instead of following his godly mentor, he listened to others. This epitomizes the fallen heart. While Joash did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh, he only did so under the tutelage of Jehoiada. Ultimately Joash did not have a heart for God. When unrestrained, that heart killed God’s prophet. 2 Chronicles 24, 417

Chapters 25-26 describe two more kings, Amaziah and Uzziah, that start their reigns well with God's blessing, but their pride causes them to rebel against God. God gives Amaziah victory over Edom and then he adopts the Edomite gods into his own pantheon. When confronted by God's prophet he responds with insolence. This is followed by a series of bad decisions which leave Jerusalem's wall broken, Amaziah taken as a hostage and, eventually assassinated. Uzziah started even better and God blessed him with expanded territory, powerful army and wealth. However, Uzziah is not satisfied with being  just king and tries to usurp the priestly role by burning incense in the Holy Place. God punished him with leprosy. The irony is that Uzziah's grasping for power ended up restricting him from the power he already had as king.

Amaziah is the second of three kings (Jehoash and Uzziah) who started out good, but ended up bad. The theological point is perseverance and consistency...the stories remind us that God is patient. They warn us about our own temptations. No one “is immune from pride and complacency,” and perseverance is a necessary virtue. 2 Chronicles 25, 419

The irony is that the very gods that Amaziah brought into Jerusalem to worship are the reason Jerusalem is plundered. The gods of Edom could not protect Edom, and they could not protect Jerusalem. Yahweh alone reigns. 2 Chronicles 25, 425

Prosperity was the occasion of Uzziah’s fall. Faithfulness in the midst of prosperity demands integrity. Uzziah failed the test of prosperity. 2 Chronicles 26, 430

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