August 21, 2023
“In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. He was sixteen years old when he became king...”
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“In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done, except that the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. Then the Lord struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death; so he dwelt in an isolated house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the royal house, judging the people of the land.” 2 Kings 15:1-5 (NKJV)
Today’s chapter lists various kings in the divided Hebrew kingdom. (The Divided Kingdom consisted of two sub-kingdoms: Israel and Judah.) The leaders of both Israel and Judah varied in their devotion to the Lord.
It is hard not to focus on the kings of Israel. The man who was mainly responsible for the divided kingdom, Jeroboam, led 10 of the 12 tribes straightway into idolatry, forbidding them to worship the Lord in Jerusalem. So, idolatry was the norm for Israel. Because of their idolatry, the rulers of Israel only reigned for a few years each. (One of them only reigned for a month!) They seem to be absent of vision and a moral code. Doesn’t it remind us of the world today, with its driven “dog-eat-dog/every-man-for-himself” attitude? There is nothing attractive about Israel that makes the onlooker want to emulate them. We would rather avoid them!
In contrast, Judah’s kings typically reign longer, and their kingdoms are more stable. Notice that there are five kings of Israel for the two kings of Judah. Why? Because Judah sought after the Lord. At least, their kings did. Notice how the kings of Judah are listed as having done “right in the eyes of the Lord.” Lest we beatify Judah’s kings in contrast to Israel’s kings, we have the Lord’s charge against them: “Nevertheless, the high places were not removed.” Hence, while Judah’s kings were more stable, they both suffered difficulty: one from Leprosy and the other from terrorism.
“In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. However, the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. He built the Upper Gate of the house of the Lord. Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? In those days the Lord began to send Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah.” 2 Kings 15:32-37 (NKJV)
Let today’s passage remind us that we are not measured by how we fare against other men. We are measured by God’s standard, the Bible.