***Holy Week suggested additional reading, Matthew 21***
Vs. 1, “Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother’s name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok.” King Jotham would take over for his leprosy stricken father Uzziah. While the chronicler has some positive reviews for Jotham (vs. 6), it is not enough to change the spiritual climate of Judah. Jotham was successful in his building programs (vs. 3-4) and his military campaigns (vs. 5-7).
Regarding application…Spiritual Waywardness. Vs. 2, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the Lord. The people, however, continued their corrupt practices.” Question: Why did the nation not have spiritual success? The original account (II Kings 15:32-38) sheds a little more light into this. Under Jotham’s rule, Judah still did not get rid of the high places. High places were Canaanite locations of pagan worship. We can have all the success we desire on the outside, but if we try to split our worship with God and idols; it’s game over. God made it very clear for His people to get rid of all the high places (Numbers 33:52). Question: Are there any metaphorical high places in our lives?
Vs. 1, “Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah.” King Uzziah reigned in a time of prosperity for Judah (vs. 1-5). The LORD brought victory for Judah over the Philistine and Arabian nations (vs. 6-8). Uzziah had a love for soil and had was able to advance in technology for warfare and building (vs. 9-15). Unfortunately, like his father Amaziah, he too fell into the trap of pride as he assumed he was above the law (vs. 16-21). His arrogant assumption to do the privileges of a priest would result into being afflicted with leprosy. What a wasted opportunity to lead God’s people the right way (vs. 22-23).
Regarding application…Handling Success. Vs. 16, “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” King Uzziah’s downfall was pride. He couldn’t handle the success that was given to him. There are good winners and bad winners. The good winners are the overconfident ones who gloat in their victory. I believe it’s rare to find a humble champion. Even King David was not immune to the pitfalls of success. Having power and success from a worldly point of view has got to be overrated. I suppose it’s a good thing that the worlds richest are a small percentage of our population. Our success as believers is never going to be something the world would aspire to have. Let’s keep that humble perspective as we live this life!
Vs. 1, “Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddin; she was from Jerusalem.” The chronicler continues the story of Judah’s kings as he comes to King Amaziah (II Kings 14). Amaziah is the ninth king of Judah and leads a rather unimpressive degenerating kingship. He starts out promising by being merciful (vs. 3-4) to the conspirators of his father’s death. He also listens to the unnamed prophet’s advice by letting go of the Israelite mercenaries (vs. 5-10). Unfortunately, Amaziah turns to apostasy as he begins to idolize the Edomite god’s he had plundered in victory (vs. 11-16). His victory over the Edomites led him to believe he was unstoppable. Amaziah proceeds to threaten Jehoash king of Israel (vs. 17-24), but is soundly defeated and Jerusalem is plundered. King Amaziah was kidnapped and later murdered (vs. 25-27).
Regarding application…Idolatry’s Lure. Vs. 14, “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.” Question: Why would Amaziah worship a god who had been defeated by the LORD? It seems unthinkable, but not as far-fetched we might assume. These pagan idols had the allure of something tangible. They were like any temptation we may face today that seems ludicrous for us to struggle with. This is a sobering reminder for us to ensure we do not allow the enemy to get a foothold in our life (Ephesians 4:27). Take time to honestly consider things in your life that the enemy attacks you in. Talk with your spouse, family member, pastor, church member, etc. for accountability and prayer.
Vs. 22, “King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, “May the Lord see this and call you to account.” What an incredibly tragic turn of events for Judah! The chronicler reminds us of King Joash’s rise and fall. Question: What was the cause? Certainly, Jehoiada the high priest had made a very positive influence on Joash in his early reign (vs. 4-16). They were able to restore the temple and the sacrifices. However, when Jehoiada passed away, Joash’s true colors came out (vs. 17-22). He was negatively influenced by leaders of Judah who wanted to revert back to apostasy. God’s patience towards them is evident as He sent prophets to warn them (vs. 19). Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah (Not the minor prophet Zechariah) came to speak truth and reason to Joash. However, Joash would have Zechariah stoned to death (20-22). The latter half of our chapter shares with us the result of a king and kingdom who would receive their just punishment (vs. 23-26). God would exact consequences upon Judah in the form of an Aramean invasion. Joash would be assassinated by Zabad and Jehozabad who were of mixed descent.
Regarding application…Easily Influenced. Vs. 17, “After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them.” Joash had no backbone. He would be easily influenced by whoever was the most powerful at the time. Having been part of the church for many years, I have seen my good share of people like Joash. When they choose to be with godly people, they are wonderful to be around. But, the moment that they get bored, they will gravitate towards the next cool thing. I would caution you to be wise around such people. It’s good to give people the benefit of the doubt and second chances, just don’t put all your eggs in their basket (if you understand what I mean). Let us be people of courage and fortitude to not be so easily influenced by others!
Vs. 1, “In the seventh year Jehoiada showed his strength. He made a covenant with the commanders of units of a hundred: Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zicri.” What an intense narrative as David’s lone offspring Joash was the center of the messianic promise! In our previous chapter, we were told that Jehosheba rescued young Joash from the wrath of Athaliah. Jehosheba’s husband was a priest named Jehoiada. He would lead an open revolt against Athaliah who had now assumed full power of Judah. Jehoiada meticulously concocts his plan perfectly (vs. 1-11). Athaliah comes to investigate the cheering only to find out that she has been usurped and she would be executed (vs. 12-15). The people of Judah would unite in covenant renewals as they would enthrone their new king (vs. 16-21).
Regarding application…Stepping Up. I love how we are told Jehoiada the priest would show his strength! What impresses me most is the calculated patience of Jehoiada to wait for the right moment to show his hand. It reminds me of a master chess player waiting to bring out his queen or a great poker player with a poker face finally showing his winning hand. Jehoiada makes his move. Question: What areas of life do you need to get stronger so you can show your strength? We must pray for wisdom and patience when it comes to trusting in the Lord. Jehoiada knew that this move against Athaliah was in the context of God’s will. The more we grow in our relationship with the Lord, the more we will be able to step up!
Vs. 3, “He (Ahaziah) too walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong.” The chronicler gives us a shortened version of King Ahaziah’s rule of Judah (II Kings 8-10). Young King Ahaziah (22 years old) unfortunately had an ungodly mother in Athaliah. This influence along with his former father’s advisors (vs. 4) would lead him to align with the northern tribe Israel. However, that is not an excuse in the eyes of the LORD for his unwise decisions. He would suffer at the hands of Jehu whom God had called to be the new king of Israel. The latter half of our chapter (vs. 10-12) involves Athaliah seizing the power of the Davidic throne as she plays her own version of Game of Thrones. However, Athaliah’s power move is not considered a legitimate claim on the throne.
Regarding application…Courageous Action. Vs. 11, “But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered…” While there is corruption in one (Athaliah), Jehosheba courageously preserves David’s line as she protects young Joash from Athaliah’s murderous plot. The HBO series Game of Thrones is at the zenith of their popularity. Certainly, the storyline of the Northern and Southern tribes is filled with real life drama that eclipses any fictional story. While we may not have such a task of saving the very lineage of David’s line, we face our own moments of courage. The task of taking up the cross daily takes courage beyond human measure. It is not easy to make a choice to die to your own desires and walk with the Lord. Consider what courageous actions you can take this week that will bring honor to the Lord and take action!
Vs. 20, “Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” King Jehoram was the first of the Judah kings to receive an entirely negative report. The chronicler expands upon Jehoram’s original account (II Kings 8:16-24). Jehoram’s action of killing his own family members was not an uncommon practice in antiquity. Jehoram’s wife (Athaliah) was the daughter of Jezebel who was a Phoenician princess who worshipped the god Baal. The influence of an evil spouse can be quite powerful! Judah would take a step back into idolatry and lose some of their foreign allegiances (vs. 8-11). Elijah would send Jehoram a letter of doom and consequences for his evil ways (vs. 12-20). The chronicler realizes the invading nations were God’s ways of disciplining Judah. Yet God would not allow Judah to be destroyed because of His covenant with David (vs. 7).
Regarding application…Justice Delivered. Vs. 12, “Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, which said: “This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: ‘You have not walked in the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah.” If this were a movie, the audience is probably cheering that this evil king would get his due punishment. Jehoram was a murderer and a man with no fear of God. The old adage, “What goes around, comes around” comes to mind. The people of Judah suffered under such injustices, but God did not forsake them. Question: What injustices are you experiencing in life these days? Take time to dialogue with the Lord and remember He hears our cries out to Him.
Vs. 1, “After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat.” This event in Jehoshaphat’s reign was not recorded previously in I Kings. It is truly one of the great stories in the Bible! It was important for the chronicler to help God’s people see what transpires when the LORD is sought. The preparation and God’s war against Judah’s enemies is an overarching theme in all of our lives. What a powerful scene as King Jehoshaphat leads all of Judah into seeking and trusting in the Lord (vs. 3-13). Jehoshaphat’s prayer is rich in covenant understanding of God’s faithfulness. Jahaziel the Levite and son of Asaph delivered a prophetic response of hope and victory (vs. 14-17). It’s important to be reminded how worship is an active response to God (vs. 18-19). God fights the battle and Judah is victorious over the vast army (vs. 20-26)! The ending of our chapter (vs. 31-37) is a realistic reminder that God’s people are not perfect. It is not the people that are amazing, it is God’s hand of providence and grace.
Regarding application…Fix Our Eyes on the LORD! Vs. 12, “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” The odds were against them. The opposition was vast and powerful. There seemed to be no way out. Question: Haven’t we felt like this? It pains us to see loved ones going through trials and pain. Yet, it is the trials and pain that challenge us to fix our eyes upon the Lord. Notice in the following verse (vs. 13) that everyone; men, women, and children stood humbly before the Lord. What a powerful picture of humility! Brothers and sisters, this is the type of humble response that God is seeking. As we start another new week, may our eyes be fixed very so faithfully on the Lord!
Vs. 2, “Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is upon you.” Jehu the seer, son of Hanani, comes to condemn Jehoshaphat for his alliance with the wicked King Ahab upon returning from battle (vs. 1-3). It’s important to remember the original audience of the chronicler: the Babylonian exiles centuries after the actual events transpired. The exiles now returning to their land would recall the importance of being wholly devoted to the LORD. The appointed judges would help ensure God’s justice among His people (vs. 4-7) and keep the system uncorrupted. It’s also interesting to see Jehoshaphat appointed dual leaders “attorney generals” in Amariah (church) and Zebadiah (state).
Regarding application…Wakeup Call. Vs. 3, “There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.” Jehu’s message would be a “wakeup” call for Jehoshaphat as he would renew the spiritual fervor that had been lacking when he allied himself with Israel. Certainly, it was God’s generosity and grace that would prevent any further consequences. Question: How has God given you a spiritual wakeup call? The one that stands out the most for me was my car accident on a highway. I had been attending church faithfully for two years, but I was growing complacent in obeying God wholeheartedly. That incident was the catalyst to get me to finally attend Bible College and start an adventure of faith!
Vs. 1, “Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage.” This was a big mistake for Jehoshaphat to align himself with the northern tribe Israel. The chronicler gives us insight to the original passage (I Kings 22). King Ahab used flattery and appealed to Jehoshaphat’s pride as he came to visit in Samaria (vs. 2). King Ahab breaks his own treaty with the Arameans by his desire to take back Ramoth Gilead. Ramoth Gilead was an important city of refuge in Moses’ time as well as a strategic city for Solomon. It was overtaken by the Syrians (Arameans) when there was strife in the divided kingdom. Jehoshaphat advises restraint and seeking the Lord before Ahab would go and try to retake the city (vs. 4). Unfortunately, King Ahab consults about four hundred prophets who do not truly seek the Lord (vs. 5-6). This is when the prophet Micaiah comes into the scene(vs. 12-27). After some sarcasm, Micaiah unleashes the truth by sharing a vision from the LORD. Though Ahab didn’t trust Micaiah’s prophesy, he took some precautionary steps by disguising himself in battle (vs. 28-34). But the random arrow that struck Ahab in battle was the hand of God.
Regarding application…Declaring the Truth. Vs. 27, “Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!” Declaring the truth would land the prophet Micaiah in confinement with only bread and water (vs. 26). Micaiah had a bit of feistiness in him as he originally responded with sarcasm (vs. 14). But the vision the LORD to Micaiah gave him the confidence to stand up to the evil king and even be slapped and humiliated by the false prophet Zedekiah (vs. 23). We live in a time where it is not easy to stand up for the truth. As Christians we are put in precarious positions when it comes to voicing our response to truth. Many new ways of thinking have permeated our culture. The Bible has become a laughing stock to the savvy intellectuals of our time. Brothers and sisters, let us be like Micaiah who stood up for the truth despite consequences that would come his way!