Sunday, May 8, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 91. Amaziah King Of Judah, Part 3

Prophets And Kings
Day 91
Amaziah King Of Judah
Part 3

Today Amaziah makes the mistake of facing Israel in battle. Its a mistake because God is not wif him since Amaziah began to bow down to idols.

2 KINGS 14:8-22
Yesterday we learned that the hired Israelite troops Amaziah dismissed from military service were angry with him. They left his presence with much silver but they had expected to gain more riches as they fought alongside the troops of Judah. As revenge they made raids into Judean territory, taking much plunder and killing anyone who resisted them. Amaziah wants to strike back at them and, if his heart had been right with the Lord, he might have been successful. What the Israelite men did to the citizens of Judah was wrong but Amaziah has brought back idols from Edom and is worshiping them. The Lord is not on Amaziah's side because he has gone astray and is leading the nation astray. A prophet yesterday pronounced God's judgment upon Amaziah for his sins, saying, "I know that God has determined to destroy you." 

But Amaziah takes no heed to this warning. "Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, with the challenge: 'Come, let us face each other in battle.'" (2 Kings 14:8)

"But Jehoash king of Israel replied to Amaziah king of Judah: 'A thistle in Lebanon sent a message to a cedar in Lebanon, 'Give your daughter to my son in marriage.' Then a wild beast in Lebanon came along and trampled the thistle underfoot. You have indeed defeated Edom and now you are arrogant. Glory in your victory, but stay at home! Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?'" (2 Kings 14:9-10) Jehoash answers with a little parable. The king of Judah is challenging the king of Israel as if they are equal in power and military might, but they are not. Israel, being the cedar in the story, will survive a war even if there are many casualties. But the thistle, which is Judah, might be completely destroyed by a war. Jehoash says something like, "You think a lot of yourself since defeating Edom. And you do have the right to enjoy that victory, but you do not have the right to think you can come against an army like mine. It's better that you stay home. You will be defeated if you don't. Why endanger your people this way?" 

"Amaziah, however, would not listen, so Jehoash of Israel attacked. He and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth Shemesh in Judah. Judah was routed by Israel, and every man fled to his home. Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh. Then Jehoash went to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate---a section of about four hundred cubits long. He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace. He also took hostages and returned to Samaria." (2 Kings 14:11-14) There are several times in Scripture that we find the articles being taken from the temple. It happens when the people turn from the Lord to idols. The removal of the articles signifies God's protective hand being taken off the people because of their sins. Amaziah was in a position of great power and influence over Judah and his every action affected the citizens. When they saw their king bowing down to foreign gods, they felt free to bow down to foreign gods. He led them by example but it was a poor example. His arrogance and pride brought war and destruction upon Judah and upon the protective wall around Jerusalem and upon the temple itself. 

"As for the other events of the reign of Jehoash, what he did and his achievements, including his war against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? Jehoash rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel. And Jeroboam his son succeeded him as king." (2 Kings 14:15-16) Jehoash names his heir and successor after the man who was the first king of Israel after the ten northern tribes broke away from Judah and Benjamin. He names his heir after the man who introduced the worship of the two golden calves to Israel. 

We don't know how long Jehoash held Amaziah captive, probably just until he finished his assault on Jerusalem and went back to Samaria. However, some scholars believe he was held captive in Israel until the death of Jehoash. I tend to doubt that because it appears that Amaziah remained the king of Judah until the death of Jehoash and for fifteen more years after the death of Jehoash. If Amaziah were in Israel for a long period of time I would expect the people of Judah to have anointed another king in his place. "Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah lived for fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel. As for the other events of Amaziah's reign, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?" (2 Kings 14:17-18) 

The people are not happy with Amaziah. It's his fault they were so sorely defeated. "They conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish, but they sent men after him to Lachish and killed him there. He was brought back by horse and was buried in Jerusalem with his ancestors, in the City of David. Then all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah. He was the one who rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah after Amaziah rested with his ancestors." (2 Kings 14:19-22) 

Amaziah's reign began with quite a bit of promise. We were told he followed the Lord at first. We saw him be obedient to the word of the Lord. But as he became successful he became prideful. He wanted no man and no God to tell him what to do. So he dismissed the prophet of God from his presence and adopted the idols of the Edomites, gods without the power to see his actions and judge them. It's not until Amaziah takes up idolatry that the Lord lets him be defeated, but not before sending a prophet to try to reason with him. Amaziah rejected the prophet and the Lord's authority, so the Lord allowed Amaziah to reap the consequences of his actions.

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