2 Chronicles 25 says that King Amaziah 'did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.' After a brief period of faithfulness, he soon turned away to worship other gods, then refused to listen to opportunities to repent. As a result, he was dealt with according to the same law he had acknowledged in his early years: 'each one shall die for his own sin.' Likewise, our obedience and love for God are half-hearted, but if we repent and trust in the death of Christ for our sins, we will not die, but live.
On a day for honoring and thanking the Lord for our earthly fathers, we will read about how king Joash responded to the faithful love of Jehoiada the priest, who was like a father to him. While Jehoiada was alive, Joash worked with him to restore God’s house so that burnt offerings could be offered regularly. But after Jehoiada died, Joash forgot the kindness he’d been shown, and he abandoned the house of the Lord by worshipping idols and neglecting to offer burnt offerings. In a similar way, so much of our faithfulness to our heavenly Father is tied to remembering his kindness to us, most of all in the sacrifice of his Son, as represented by those burnt offerings.
In this passage, we see that King Ahaziah of Judah walked with the house of Ahab, just as his father and grandfather had done, because his relatives from the house of Ahab were his counselors. And though his death left no one able to rule the kingdom, the counsel of the Lord was at work to preserve the house of David until the true and eternal King would come. Likewise, when we walk in the ways of the world because we are following the counsel of the world, the Lord graciously confronts us and gives us an opportunity to repent and be saved, rather than being judged along with the world.
After having been graciously given the kingdom by his father, Jehoram of Judah killed his brothers and forsook the Lord. And, just as the Lord had told David in 2 Samuel 7, he disciplined Jehoram severely for his sin. But also in keeping with the promise made to David, the Lord did not remove his steadfast love from David’s descendant. He preserved one son to continue the line to the final Son of David, whose kingdom would be established forever, and because of whom God also shows mercy to us when we betray him and sin against others.
2 Chronicles 17 tells us that overall, King Jehoshaphat of Judah walked in God’s commandments. In chapter 18, he foolishly and rebelliously followed the path of wicked king Ahab of Israel, but after being rebuked by a prophet, he returned to the ways of the Lord and led the people to do the same. Jesus had no need to return to God, because he always, perfectly walked in the ways of his Father. But far beyond what Jehoshaphat did for his people, Jesus enables us to return to God, so that we might walk by faith and the Spirit in the good works the Father has already prepared for us to do by his grace.
We typically don’t seek things unless we think we need them and realize they are missing. But the story of King Asa in 2 Chronicles 14-16 teaches us that seeking the Lord should be a constant activity. Even when we don’t think that we need his guidance or deliverance in a particular situation, we always need his fellowship and grace, and he is always worthy of our worship for his own sake. Like Asa, we don’t seek the Lord consistently and exclusively, but he never stops seeking us, to strengthen us and make our hearts more fully committed to him through Christ.
Abijah was not a good king. But on one occasion, he set himself apart from his adversary (Jeroboam), his father (Rehoboam), and even his own reputation, by remembering, revering, and relying on the LORD. As we look at 2 Chronicles 13, we will consider what we can learn from the stories of these three kings, but more importantly, how our ability to remember, revere and rely upon the LORD depends on the King who always did this perfectly for our sake.
The Lord speaks to us directly through his Word, and we are called to listen to it and obey it. But he also tests us through his works, and, like Rehoboam, we are often tempted to respond in the wrong way to our circumstances. We can learn from his example, but our ultimate hope is that the long-awaited descendant of Rehoboam always responded in the right way to both the works and Word of his Father, and his grace and power will enable us to do so as well.
As we continue through a rough transition between two polarizing and flawed presidents, we read of Solomon, who was quite flawed himself, yet is presented in Chronicles in a seamless transition between two ideal and highly popular kings who led Israel through the golden age of its history. Above all his other qualities and accomplishments, Solomon is shown to be a model ruler because of his attention to the temple, where he leads the people in sacrificing and praying to the LORD, foreshadowing the truly perfect king and high priest to come.