Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 26: Part 4

2 Chronicles 26  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 11
In the government of Israel, the king was Chosen to stand for God before the people, and before God for the people to enforce righteousness both by precept and example, and the temple as the tabernacle of old was the meeting place (Ex. 29:4343And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. (Exodus 29:43) and 2 Chron. 7:12). Now that the king is driven out of the temple, and compelled to dwell in a separate house, thus interrupting the legal communication between God and the people, what a feeling of woe must have passed through the few righteous that were in Judah! What unknown terror in their minds when compelled to say of the king—he is a leper! The place of chief of the godly was the king's, as well as chief of the people. And when he had to take the place of a leper and say, Unclean, what wonder that Isaiah (Isa. 6) as the most prominent of the godly remnant should give sad expression to the tears and feelings of the righteous! “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;” and this he would the more deeply feel, for as he adds “mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts.” There is no word in scripture to express a worse condition than “unclean “; for this is applied to the leper who is thrust out of the camp, but this is the word that the prophet applies to himself. Why should he be so vile in his own eyes? Because he had seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. The posts of the door moved, and the house was filled with smoke at His presence, what else could Isaiah—holy as he might be—say of himself, but that he was unclean? Not that the righteous were cut off from God; nay, there was a resource, a little city, always provided for them; as now God says by the apostle that with every temptation (trial) there is a way of escape. And the prophet had already given God's word, “Say ye to the righteous that it shall be well with him” (Isa. 3:1010Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. (Isaiah 3:10)). It is while threatening the wicked that the Lord pauses (shall we say?) in the midst of His denunciations to give this assurance to the righteous. How cheering this must have been to those who, conscious that in the righteous government of God, every covenant, blessing, and privilege was forfeited! Nothing remained for them but sovereign mercy, and this is just what God delights in, for He is the Father of mercies. And in the vision when Nadal sees Jehovah of hosts, when the almost despairing cry bursts from him “Woe is me,” it is then that mercy, yea, more than mercy is shown him, and the angel with the live coal takes away his uncleanness.
This purging of the prophet is not quite the same as the cleansing of a sinner when he receives the forgiveness of his sins, and is cleansed from guilt, for it is the precious blood of Christ that cleanses from all sin. Fire, which is symbolical of the judgment of God, would consume a sinner not purged. In the vision it is qualifying a saint to carry Jehovah's message when every visible means was gone—a message to a people who were never in such a position before. And now that this priestly and kingly link had utterly broken, a new link is formed with the righteous: not that there had not been prophets before, but a new one under the circumstances. The nation was cut off and Lo-ammi written on Judah, as indelible as Belshazzar's doom upon the walls of his palace. Only Christ can say Ammi again.
The corporate position of the whole nation also the prophet bewails, when he confesses that he is a man of unclean lips, dwelling in the midst of a people of unclean lips. His association with them (for he was an Israelite) aggravated the uncleanness: a truth that has its importance now, and that needs the live coal now as then. Not only is seen the individual condition of the righteous, but their national position. The righteous and the wicked as both forming the nation must, at least outwardly, suffer the national judgment. But through all, the righteous are kept and brought, and the prophet becomes the visible link of communication between God and His witnesses, until Christ came, and with Him not a mere temporary link of prophecy with the righteous remnant but the bringing in of everlasting righteousness. But righteousness which is by faith is that which therefore comprehends Gentiles as well as Jews. How wondrously and mercifully God is presented as meeting His own disconsolate ones! The word too records the mercy and the power that kept them together in spite of the influences of surrounding idolatry and indifference. Malachi speaks of those that feared the Lord, and that they spake together; and though they dwindled to a small number, the Lord found some in the temple that then stood, and called others to follow Him, until the hour came when they would no more be correctively smitten, but chastisement gives place to judgments and exhortations, yea, entreaties, to the expectation of threatenings.