Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 25

2 Chronicles 25  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
 
A prophet is sent and reproves Amaziah for his amazing folly. “Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand?” The infatuated king had no answer to this stinging reproof, which in effect was saying that he was worshipping the gods he had vanquished. But if the king cannot answer he can threaten—the resource of the world to stop the mouths of God's witnesses. “Art thou made of the king's counsel? Forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten?” Have you authority to speak, have you been duly appointed as one of the king's counselors? And thus it is that the merciful message from God to show him his sin and folly is met with threatenings; “forbear” said the king, and the prophet ceased, and the message of the merciful reproof was thrust away. He could refuse the mercy and shut the mouth of the prophet; but he must hear God's judgment without any mingling of mercy. “I know that God hath determined to destroy thee because thou hast done this and hast not hearkened to my counsel” (25:16). And when God determines to destroy, can man escape? Amaziah is but a sample of man. There is a message of mercy from God now, and the spirit of the world is still saying “Forbear,” or giving hearing only to some humanly appointed authority, an authority which is constituted and upheld by law. And all such do forbear rather than offend the world. The awful judgment of God on those who do not obey the truth is not announced as God gives, but is toned down so as not to be self-applied. Nay, a mere human authority will preach smooth things; and man will sleep on in his sins, or, if perchance a word alarms the burdened conscience, he turns himself on his yet unthorny bed, folds his hands saying “a little more sleep,” takes his accustomed draft of the devil's anodyne, and after a while wakes—where? “Thou hast done this” i.e., his seeking after the gods of Edom, and afterward not hearkening to the prophet's counsel, which perhaps was frequently given before that time. Indeed the stern impatient word “forbear” seems to imply that this was not the first time that the prophet had reproved the king. But this was the occasion for uttering God's determination. “I know that God hath determined to destroy thee.” To sin is to be worthy of condemnation, but to refuse mercy and reproof brings out God's determination to destroy (Prov. 1:24-3124Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: 30They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (Proverbs 1:24‑31)). His own pride and folly becomes the immediate occasion of his ruin. He was lifted up because of his victory over Edom and challenges the king of Israel. How contemptuously Joash treats him! Amaziah impelled by his own vanity would not hear; it was the first step in the path which led to his downfall, and his defeat was the first public stroke of God's judgment which was now inevitable, for this came of God (ver. 20). Man's pride and folly when persisted in become the precursor of God's judgment. Yet for this act of foolish pride he took advice—whose advice? Like Rehoboam he sought the mind of flatterers.
If a lying spirit was permitted to persuade Ahab. whose determination was it to destroy Amaziah? The king of Israel made good his parable. It was the thistle against the cedar, and the result was a complete rout. The thistle was trampled on, and was trodden down by a wild beast. “Judah was put to the worse before Israel and they fled every man to his tent” (ver. 22). Amaziah is a captive, the walls of Jerusalem are broken down for the space of 400 cubits, the treasures of gold and silver both of the temple and palace were taken, and hostages also. This was an effectual stop to Judah's boasting against Israel. Whatever glory Amaziah won by his victory over Edom is irretrievably over shadowed. Fifteen years afterward, like his father, he is slain by conspirators. But mark the closing words of the inspired writer, “Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the Lord they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem” &c. (ver. 14-27.) He turned away from the Lord on his return from the victory over Edom. Then the conspiracy was formed. He returned in triumph and thought his throne was secure; but unknown and unapprehended, as when Jonah rejoiced under the shadow of the gourd which a worm at the root was destroying, a conspiracy was formed against him in the hour of his boasting. It was the judgment of God. “I know that God hath determined to destroy thee,” said the prophet, and whether vain-gloriously boasting against Israel, or humiliated under his defeat by the man that he wantonly challenged, or fleeing to Lachish from conspirators, this determination of God still followed him: God was overruling the wickedness of the conspirators to accomplish His determination. He might flee to Lachish from them, but he could not flee from the judgment of God.
No conspiracy would have succeeded had he not turned away from the Lord. Though he showed little or no faith when he hired soldiers from Israel, and a very selfish and interested obedience to the Lord's word when he sent them away, it was when he publicly set up Edom's idols that the Lord permitted these evils to come on him. “Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah first and last” (ver. 26). “First and last” —Is there not a division here between the former and the later part of his reign? and is the dividing line when he turned from the Lord? Though the former part was not with a perfect heart, it was when Jehovah was publicly dishonored that the prophet announced God's determination to destroy him.
How low, in a comparatively short time since the magnificence of Solomon's reign, has Judah fallen! How debased in their own eyes they must have appeared when their own city wall, even of Jerusalem, was broken down by an enemy! Calamities from within and without fall on the people, as the family of David, dragging the nation after them, sink deeper and deeper in the mire of idolatry and corruption. How marked has been the downward course since the death of Jehoshaphat and how swiftly and surely the judgments of God followed! Jehoram dies of a terrible disease, Ahaziah by the sword, Joash and Amaziah by domestic treachery. What a history that of Judah is becoming! The last days of pagan Rome are scarce blacker. In Rome we see the cruelty, the ambition, and the lawlessness of men without the knowledge of God; but in Judah with equal wickedness there is the knowledge of God, as far as could be known under the Mosaic economy. But if God winked at the time of ignorance among the Gentiles (Acts 17:3030And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts 17:30)), not so with Judah; there judgment followed more or less swiftly in the track of sin, God using earthly instruments but not the less His judgment.
Not so now; this present is pre-eminently the day of grace. God is longsuffering and man is heaping up sin. But the day is coming when Christ will take the immediate rule of this world; for when His judgments will be seen in the earth, then also the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness (Isa. 26:99With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9)). R. B.