August 19, 2023
“In the twenty-third year of Judah’s King Joash son of Ahaziah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king over Israel in Samaria and reigned 17 years. He did what was evil...”
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“In the twenty-third year of Judah’s King Joash son of Ahaziah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king over Israel in Samaria and reigned 17 years. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and He surrendered them to the power of Hazael king of Aram and his son Ben-hadad during their reigns. Then Jehoahaz sought the Lord’s favor, and the Lord heard him, for He saw the oppression the king of Aram inflicted on Israel. Therefore, the Lord gave Israel a deliverer, and they escaped the power of the Arameans. Then the people of Israel dwelt in their tents as before, but they didn’t turn away from their sins that the house of Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit. Jehoahaz walked in them, and the Asherah pole also remained standing in Samaria. Jehoahaz did not have any army left, except for 50 horsemen, 10 chariots, and 10,000 foot soldiers, because the king of Aram had destroyed them, making them like dust at threshing.” 2 Kings 13:1-7 (HCSB)
There is a surprise in today’s passage. Jehoahaz was a devotee of the cult of Jeroboam. This is no surprise. We’re used to hearing it by now! He was so committed to it that despite all the conditions the Lord allowed him to suffer, Jehoahaz “did not turn from it.”
Notice the theological segment placed amidst the usual narrative. We should not be surprised that the wrath of the Lord ignites against Israel or that He continually gives them over to the power of Hazael and Ben-hadad. However, we ARE surprised that Jehoahaz pleaded with the Lord.
“Those who reject the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law battle against them.” Proverbs 28:4 (HCSB)
Naturally, we are ready to shoot our Proverbs 28 arrow at Jehoahaz. Before we launch it, however, we meet a more surprising surprise: The Lord listened to him, to a calf worshipper! Why on earth would the Lord do that? Because He saw how the King of Syria oppressed Israel. God is still the same “Book-of-Exodus” God, the One who notices the afflictions of His people and desires to deliver them in hopes of winning their repentance. In a few chapters, we will see how He is the same God of judgment and chastisement, even to his children.
How did the Lord answer Jehoahaz? He gave Israel a “savior.” But everyone wonders who that “savior” was. It was certainly not Jehoahaz and was most likely subsequent kings, Jehoash and Jeroboam II. Actually, it doesn’t matter much. What matters is that the Lord gave Israel a savior when they needed one. The tragedy is how Israel was so ungrateful for their deliverance. They just kept on sinning. The warmth of God’s pity did not soften the hardness of their infidelity. There was no memory carryover that claimed and won their gratitude.
This reminds me of today’s church culture. Israel wants relief from trouble, not a relationship with God, and she craves therapy, not transformation. Guard yourself against this mindset!