2 Kings 14

2 Kings 14
Pastor Mark Hudson

Chapter 14 begins with a brief account of Amaziah, King of Judah.  He gets a C if he received a report card like we used to get in school.  Some students are satisfied with that.  Some of us are content with getting a job done even if the job was not your best effort and looks . . . well, okay.  Good enough.  At least, good enough in your eyes.

In vs. 1-6, compared to the other kings, he seemed okay.  But you may feel that way about yourself.  I have not committed murder, adultery, or gone to federal prison.  I have not brought scandal to the church.  True but you are proud, or lazy, or envious, or whatever sin you struggle with.  And that sin that is nipping at your heels has found a safe haven in your heart and mind.  You are so conscious of what  others think about you or say about you.  Maybe you cover us bitterness.  Maybe you are a gossip.  Be careful, because one or those sins may trip you up in a big way even when you thought you could contain and manage your sin.

In chapter 14, Amaziah experienced success.  He struck down 10,000 Edomites.  After you succeed at something, you feel a certain euphoria.   As a King, winning a battle is a huge undertaking, risky, dangerous, yet with the possibility of making a name for yourself.  Amaziah got cocky.  He was warned to be happy with his victory and leave the king of Israel alone.  But he wouldn’t.  He didn’t just lose the battle, in vs. 12-14, he lost his position (maybe his life) and Judah had a prelude to exile.  Judah experienced a mini exile.  They lost in a big way, property was damaged, precious goods were stolen and hostages were taken.  This was an inglorious ending of his kingship. So, his 16-year-old son became king after him.

In vs. 23ff, the author focuses on the northern tribe, Israel.  Jeroboam, son of Joash, reigned for 41 years but did “evil in the sight of the Lord.”  This is a different Jeroboam than the one who was the son of Nebat.  This Jeroboam fulfilled the words of the prophecy of Jonah.   Jeroboam expands the territory of the nation of Israel extending northward.  But you may wonder why?  Jeroboam does ‘evil in the sight of the Lord’ as we noted.   “Prosperity may be a sign of Yahweh’s compassion but not of his commendation”  (D. R. Davis, p. 217).  It may not be as simple as we might think to see a person, a family, a business, church, school prospering and conclude they are blessed or commended by God.

God orders history for reasons we can never understand.  Why was slavery allowed by God in the U.S.?  Why such mass starvation and cruelty in China in the 60’s and 70’s?  Why were so many people lost in the world wars?  And we could go on and on.  And why have not experienced revival in North America like we did in the Great Awakening?  We need it, in my view, so much more.  And why on earth has He given the U.S. such prosperity when we are leading the world in sin (well, it seems like it)?  God is blessing the nation of Israel not because but in spite of the king and the nation.

We need to remind ourselves that the greatest blessings are not material things.  In fact, the greatest blessings are often things the world would reject.  In essence, the greatest blessing is the heart of the covenant: for God to be our God.  Gen 17:7 put the heart of the covenant this way: “to be God to you and to your offspring.”  In a similar fashion, the author of II Sam. 7:24 writes, “And you established for Yourself Your people Israel to be Your people forever.  And You, O Lord, became their God.”  In Phil 3:10, Paul only wants to “know Him and . . . share His sufferings . . .” which captures what these authors pointed to in the Old Testament.

If you are born again, your deepest desire cannot be and must not be, wealth, material possessions, security, or good health.  Your deepest desire is to know Christ in a more profound way.  You will endure anything to know Him better.  Your deepest joy is to serve the Lord Jesus with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul.  This is why Christians have faced death threats, persecution, and affliction with such courage and resolve.  God may draw us closer with material blessings but if so, the wicked sure get those same blessings.  Those riches don’t help them to repent.  God often uses affliction and suffering to draw us near to Him.  As Samuel Rutherford wrote, “Grace grows best in winter.”

The chapter ends with a curious conclusion in vs. 26-27.  These verses begin with “For the Lord saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter . . .” which ought to remind us that when a person is suffering or grieving or afflicted and nothing changes or happens, God sees. The fact that God sees you is such an astounding truth.  Of all the 8 billion people in the world, he knows the number of hairs on my head.   That kind of intimate knowledge is beyond my comprehension.  If God sees, He can do anything He wants.  If He does not heal, change things, or remove the problem, the fact that He simply sees is a great comfort.

Finally, a brief comment on the phrase in v. 27, “so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam . . .”  In v. 24, the author says, “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”  One might ask, why does God use people who do evil?   These are the only people He has.  Do you think when someone becomes an elder or a deacon, they become a better Christian?  Do you think pastors and missionaries are really as spiritual as they sound or appear?  Of course, on one hand we want to be deeply spiritual but we are all cracked pots, limping like Jacob trying to believe the gospel in our weakness.  But, for all you sinners who also believe the gospel (looking at me AND you), God will use you.  He actually accomplishes His will through imperfect people like you and me.

Dear heavenly Father, all You do is good and just.  Keep us from acting on our pride.  Forgive our many sins of hubris as we look down on others. It is so easy for us to see the faults of others while we go temporarily blind trying to look at our own.  Father, we are awash in so many things, most of us can’t fit our cars in our garages.  We build more and more storage units but lukewarm is our love for you.  Remind us that You see our pain.  For some reason, You allow us to experience the joy of serving You, the eternal One with no beginning and no end.  In the majestic name of Christ.  Amen.