Read: 2 Chronicles 25-27 and Psalm 82
You can criticize me all you want, but I would be completely ashamed if my epitaph read like Amaziah’s:
He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,
but not wholeheartedly.
2 Chronicles 25:2
Flipping through different translations we find other words for “but not wholeheartedly”: Reluctantly, half-hearted, not with a loyal heart. What did Amaziah do to earn such a reputation? I hope I can learn from this to avoid such a label!
The previous chapter we remember Joash completely lost sight of God’s plan after Jehoiada died by having his son Zachariah killed and scorning him as he died (2 Chronicles 24:22). The officials in King Joash’s court conspired against him for this cruel act and killed him in his bed. King Amaziah’s first action is to punish the officials who avenged Zachariah’s murder — he executed these officials. I’m not convinced this is a good action, but it is included in the narrative that supports King Amaziah as “good.”
He hires 100,000 fighting men from Israel (the northern kingdom), but is confronted by a man of God and releases these men from his army. This showed Amaziah was willing to be corrected. An amazing trait all by itself.
The brutality of the ensuing battle is hard to comprehend. They captured 10,000 men then threw them off of a cliff to their death. My only thought on this ugly image is that Amaziah’s heart must have become dark as a result. Not only did they throw men off a cliff, the troops he dismissed killed 3,000 people in towns that belonged to Judah. It’s hard to imagine anyone in power having no reaction to such carnage. This is my supposition because he does the unthinkable:
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 Chronicles 25:14
I believe his heart changed as a result of these events. God sends a prophet to confront Amaziah and his reaction?
While he was still speaking, the king said to him, “Have we appointed you an adviser to the king? Stop! Why be struck down?” 2 Chronicles 25:16
This is the same Amaziah on the outside, but something has dramatically changed on the inside. His next move is to threaten the king of Israel and provoke him into a fight. (see Kings of Israel and Judah for some details.) Needless to say, Amaziah did not fare well afterwards:
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 Chronicles 25:27
He did what was right, then he committed horrible crimes and his pride led him to death.
Chapter 26 provides the narrative for King Uzziah. The text says he did what was right like Amaziah did, but I’m not sure that’s a complete compliment! God was with him in battles and he won victories as a result. He invented weapons that protected his men and gave them great advantage (2 Chronicles 26:15). However, by verse 16 we read the sad truth about father-like-son heritage:
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 Chronicles 26:16
Pride. He was consumed by pride and his anger revealed itself in rage against the priests who tried to correct him. The result: he broke out in leprosy and lived separate from everyone until he died. Jotham, his son, began to rule as a result of his isolation.
Jotham did well, but he did not stop the people from following their corrupt practices. He rebuilt the Upper Gate and amassed great wealth. He became powerful because he walked with the Lord (2 Chronicles 27:6). Not much else is offered in 2 Chronicles about Jotham–sometimes the lack of words is a good thing! He reigned for 16 years.
Pride seems to be a huge issue; perhaps that’s the lesson to walk away from today. The topic of many sermons, pride comes in many forms, but mostly results in downfall. It’s one thing to take pride in work because we give it our all, but it’s another thing to work for pride. Lord, help me to see when my decisions are based on my desire for recognition above the commitment to excellence and the goal of pleasing you. Show me the difference and keep me from moving in that direction!