Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Monday, April 24, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 25, 2 Kgs 12-14

Today's readings are 2 Kgs 12-14.

2 Kgs 11:21 calls King Joash, "Jehoash" for reasons unexplained. He's a good king even though he fails to remove the "high places." These are sites of pagan and idol worship, and some of Jehoash's people still participate in them (2 Kgs 12:1-3). As good a king as Jehoash is, this oversight will have consequences further down the road.

Note that in 2 Kings 12:2, Jehoash seems to rule well because of the influence of the priest Jehoiada.

Jehoash enacts reforms that include rebuilding the temple. But, in directing the rebuilding, the king takes oversight of the funds away from the priests and puts it in the hands of some of his officials (2 Kgs 12:4-10).  Apparently, this was done apart from his mentor and priest, Jehoiada. The king’s decision to make a radical change in how the temple was supposed to function is an ominous sign that Jehoash is beginning to slip in his faith and commitment to God.
Sure enough, as he grows older, he begins to make questionable decisions. In 2 Kgs 12:17-18, afraid of being invaded, he gives sacred gifts in the temple to the king of Syria, Hazael.

Joash loses his throne and his life in a coup, the same manner in which he gained the throne.

What happened? Jehoash seemed to be on the right path when he was younger. Yes, he made a few bad decisions but, with good teaching and a strong dedication to godliness, he should have been able to repent and overcome, like David. Instead, Jehoash continues to slide downward.

2 Chr 24 gives us some background information on Jehoash (Joash). We find that his slide backward starts when Jehoiada, the priest and his mentor, dies. Ultimately, during Jehoash’s reign, Judah ends up "abandoning the house of the Lord" (2 Chr 24:18).

God sends a prophet, Jehoiada's son, to draw Joash back in line. Joash kills him. Syria invades, and Judah's army is defeated because they had forsaken the Lord (2 Chr 24:23-24). Joash, a good king gone bad, is assassinated by his servants.

Joash's story shows us that our faith must be our own. While it is good to have mentors, they should never be the focus of our faith nor the source of the strength of our convictions. A mentor should point us toward the Lord, not his own teaching. Apparently, Joash's faith had more to do with his relationship with Jehoiada than it did with his relationship with God. As soon as Jehoiada departed, Joash fell to pieces. Our spiritual welfare should never be dependent on another person, but on our intimacy with the Father.

Meanwhile, 2 Kgs 13:1-3 tells us that Jehoahaz becomes king of Israel. While Jehoash was a good king turned bad, Jehoahaz appears to be a bad king turned good. When Syria oppresses Israel again, Jehoahaz wisely turns to God for help. God sends a savior to deliver Israel from Syria (2 Kgs 13:4-6).

However, Jehoahaz’s conversion seems to be situational. As soon as the Syrian threat is removed, he continues his ungodly ways and dies with the northern kingdom greatly diminished (2 Kgs 13:6-9).

We see another pattern here. When God's people cry out to Him in repentance, He saves. For Israel, it is an immediate delivery from their situation.  The rescue is temporary for Jehoahaz, however, because his heart is not entirely sincere. This is evidenced by the fact that he continues to sin and the people of Israel continue to worship idols. Jehoash takes over after Jehoahaz. He is another bad king (2 Kgs 13:10-13).

In 2 Kgs 13:14-25, Elisha prophesies one more time before he dies. Events happen exactly the way Elisha says they would. This is encouraging evidence that God is still moving among His people, still in sovereign control of all that happens, still refining His people.

2 Kgs 14:1-16 describes the reign of Amaziah, Joash's son, king of Judah. After defeating the Edomites, Amaziah gets overly confident and challenges Jehoash, king of Israel, only to lose the battle and be taken captive. Amaziah is a good king but his decision to go into battle against Israel was ill-conceived, and he loses the favor of the people. He is assassinated and replaced by his son, Azariah (2 Kgs 14:17-22).

Meanwhile, Jeroboam, the son of Joash, becomes king of Israel. He is a bad king. Nonetheless, God uses him to rescue Israel from its enemies (2 Kgs 14:23-29). This is another example of God using whatever or whomever He wishes to accomplish His will. 

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