Struggles of Israel Meditations: 20. More Lessons
2 Chron 31:20,21 “This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.
The Kings: The next block of kings we’ll consider following on from those in the previous study are Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. As we have been seeking to cover both spiritual and physical struggles, we will first consider how each king is described in Scripture and then what interaction they had with other nations.
Amaziah: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly.” (2 Chron 25:2)
“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 Chron 25:14)
Uzziah: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God.” (2 Chron 26:4,5)
“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.” (2 Chron 26:16)
Jotham: “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.” (2 Chron 27:2)
Ahaz: “Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and also made idols for worshiping the Baals. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his children in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.” (2 Chron 28:1-4)
Hezekiah: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.” (2 Chron 29:2)
Amaziah: “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. So Jehoash king of Israel attacked.” (2 Chron 25:20,21)
“From the time that Amaziah turned away from following the Lord, they conspired against him in Jerusalem and he fled to Lachish, but they sent men after him to Lachish and killed him there.” (2 Chron 25:27)
Uzziah: “As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” (2 Chron 26:5) “God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabs.” (26:7)
“Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him.” (2 Chron 26:19)
Jotham: “Jotham waged war against the king of the Ammonites and conquered them …. Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.” (2 Chron 27:5,6)
Ahaz: “the Lord his God delivered him into the hands of the king of Aram. The Arameans defeated him and took many of his people as prisoners. He was also given into the hands of the king of Israel, who inflicted heavy casualties on him.” (2 Chron 28:5)
“At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help. The Edomites had again come and attacked Judah and carried away prisoners, while the Philistines had raided towns in the foothills.” (2 Chron 28:16-18)
“The Lord had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the Lord. Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave him trouble instead of help.” (2 Chron 28:19,20)
Hezekiah: “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” (2 Chron 30:21)
“After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.” (2 Chron 32:1)
“the Lord saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side.” (2 Chron 32:22)
“But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah.” (2 Chron 32:25,26)
Summary: Interactions with Neighbours: From the above we can pick out the times enemies came against the people of God:
- First of all we see Amaziah who, although not attacked by enemies from outside, provoked Israel with the result that Israel come against them and defeated them (see 2 Kings 14:8-14), i.e. civil war.
- Second came Uzziah (otherwise known as Azariah) who took the initiative and went to wage war against the Philistines (2 Chron 26:6) and had victory because he was so strong.
- Third, came his son Jotham who inherited the strength of the nation from his father and so attacked and quelled the Ammonites (2 Chron 27)
- Fourth, Ahaz was a bad king and Aram came and defeated him (2 Chron 28:5a), together with the king of Israel (2 Kings 16:5,) who could not overcome him but brought many casualties. (2 Chron 28:5b)
- Fifth Hezekiah was mostly good, yet the king of Assyria came against him but the Lord delivered him. (This seems not so much disciplining as simply testing).
And So: Within this group we find a relatively good period with Uzziah being strong and victorious over the Philistines, his son Jotham following in his footsteps and defeating the Ammonites, and Hezekiah restoring the kingdom spiritually and the Lord dealing with Assyria on his behalf.
On the negative side, Amaziah took on board the gods of the Edomites and was thus disciplined by an attack from the northern kingdom, and Ahaz was simply a bad king and was disciplined by being defeated and subdued by Aram and the northern kingdom.
Thus we continue to see a direct link between the physical struggles of the nation and their spiritual activities. The attack on Hezekiah by Assyria slightly confuses the picture because it is not discipline for bad activity but more a simple testing and when they called on the Lord (passing the test!) the Lord removed the threat.
And Us? The lesson continues on, “a man reaps what he sows”, i.e. there is a direct link between the way we live our lives and the consequences that follow. It is a lesson that the world around us fails to observe. May we not be like that.