These books of Kings and Chronicles are replete with examples of leaders who went astray, thanks to the poor guidance of others. Have you ever been led astray by bad advice? Have you ever led someone else astray? In this message Stephen challenges us to guard our ears and mouths.
“PARADE OF HEIRS”
(II Kings 11-16: II Chronicles 22-28)
An article from a well known magazine reads,
“The world is too big for us. There is too much going on; too many crimes; too much violence. Try as you will, you get behind in the race - it’s a strain to keep pace, and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly, you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure much more!
So writes, the Atlantic Journal, dated 1833.
Has it ever occurred to you that there has never been an easy time to live a godly life?
Take the godliest person from any chapter in human history and you will discover they struggled to be distinctive disciples just as you struggle. The Apostle Paul lamented that fact in Romans 7 when he said, “The things I don’t want to do I do, and the things I want to do for the glory of God I often never accomlish - O wretched man that I am.
But while there has never been an easy time to live for God, there will never be a better time than now.
God, the master teacher of all time, has a way of teaching that truth through flesh and blood - you see, He never asks us to become something without giving you plenty of examples - and He never warns us about becoming something without showing us the illustration of a wasted life.
In the Books of Kings and Chronicles, God preserves for us the stories of Kings and Queens - a royal review that is intended by God, not to just fill up space. He didn’t just like the sound of 66 Books - there’s a ring to that I like - let’s collect some more history and make up another book. He intends to transform our lives by revealing to us the lives of others. Some who failed; some who obeyed.
We’re going to review 12 chapters from these two books - 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles - they provide biographical material for the same people, much like Matthew Mark and Luke provided material for the disciples and our Lord.
So this morning we’ll overview 12 chapters - I had one lady tell me she wondered if we were ever going to turn the page in 2 Kings. Well, I’m not going to spend 12 weeks on these next 12 chapters - I can only imagine how how disappointed you are. What are you smiling at?
The royal review begins at the death of Jehu -remember him? By his courageous reign, Jezebel is slain, the prophets of Baal executed - there is peace in Israel for nearly 30 years.
Then Jehu dies - there is a living descendant of Ahab and Jezebel that has been waiting all these years for revenge - it is a woman named Athaliah - she is the daughter of Jezebel - and how like her mother she was.
Notice in 2 Kings chapter 11. v. 1. When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son Ahaziah was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring. (What she is doing is killing any heir to the throne so that she herself can reign.) 2. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him from among the king’s sons who were beign put to death, and placed him and his nurse in the bedroom. (can you just picture the drama here?) 3. So he was hidden with her in the house of the Lord 6 years, while Athaliah was reigning over the land.
This killing spree for power, by the way, has eternal implications. Joash was the last living descendant of David - if he were put to death, the covenant promise of God that He would keep a descendant of David on the throne in Judah would be broken.
Furthermore, the royal line of David would have ceased. And that line needed to stretch all the way to a carpenter named Joseph who was a descendant of David, who would adopt the son of his virgin wife, giving that little Messiah boy the legal right to sit on David’s throne.
Warren Wiersbe put it well when he wrote, “This is the seed of Satan trying to exterminate the seed of God.”
The daughter of Baal is trying to wipe out the Son of God.
She failed. When Joash turned 7 years of age, a godly priest named Jehoiada brought him out of hiding - notice verse 12. Then he brought the king’s son out and put the crowns on him, and gave him the testimony,; and they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hads and said, “Long live the king!” 13. When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people in the house of the Lord. 14. And she looked and behold, the king was standing by the pillar according to the custom, with the captains and the trumpeters beside the king; and all the pople of the land rejoiced and blew trumpets. Then Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason, treason!” skip to verse 16. So they seized her, and when she arrived at the horses’entrance of the king’s house, she was put to death there.
Wouldn’t this would make a great mini-series - it’d be a best selling novel. I guess it is - the only difference is it’s not fiction - and the moral of the story is this: here’s the principle of truth - “The plans of God are never crushed by the plans of Satan.
And to our generation, Jesus Christ has promised, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overpower it.”
So at age 7, a young boy who’d been hidden from the wicked Queen ascends the throne. I want to pick up his story in the Book of 2 Chronicles. (turn right - and let’s unstick some more pages).
Notice in chapter 24 that Joash is aided by this godly priest named Jehoiada. Notice verse 1. Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Zibiah from Beersheba. 2. And Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord” isn’t that great - but notice the haunting words of the next phrase - “all the days of Jehoiada the priest”
There’s something wrong with that - at least two things - first of all, a person’s walk with God should not be tied to the convictions of someone else.
I don’t want to be unfair - you can only imagine how much a little boy needed the help and guidance and encouragement of a godly, mature man - what a wonderful blessing Jehoiada was in the life of Joash.
But the second thing it teaches is the importance of accountability to someone else.
Joash will fail when the influence of a godly man is removed - notice v. 15. Now when Jehoiada reached a ripe old age he died; he was 130 years old at his death. (note this) 16. And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, becuase he had done will in Israel and to God and His house. 17. BUT, after the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and bowed down to the king, and the king listened to them. 18. And they abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers.
The question is, “Who are you listening to?” “Who counsels you?” Are there godly people who have the right give you hard advice? Who are you accountable to?
As hard as it is to imagine, Joash rebels against God over the next years of his reign. He rebels so much so that he will end up taking the life of another godly prophet who dared to confront him with the truth of his sin - what’s even more tragic is the fact that the godly prophet who confronted him was Jehoiada’s own son.
The overpowering principle that warns every one of us today is this:
An unnacountable life-style is an invitation to spiritual disaster.
Now, halfway through the reign of Joash, Jehu’s son became king in nearby Israel - by the way, the back of your study notes is a reminder that the nation is divided into northern and southern kingdoms. Samaria is the capital city of the north and the Northern Kingdom is referred to as Israel. Jerusalem is the capital city of the Southern Kingdom which is referred to as Judah. You’ll need to remember all this for the test.
Just in case you were taking a test and you were asked to tell which kings were godly and which kings were ungodly - if you put ungodly beside the name of every king - you’d get an 95 on the test.
Why did God go to all the trouble of preserving thei biographies of ungodly men? To warn us as well as encourage us to live godly lives.
Now let’s go beack to 2 Kings 13 and pick up the story with the new King of the northern kingdom.
His name is Jehoahaz. In verse 1, the most intriguing thing about Jehoahaz that you immediately pick up on is that he is the son of Jehu.
The first thing I thought was “Alright!” Jehu, the courageous King whom God used to deafeat Baal during his reign, had a son! Man what that son must have seen - it’s about time we get another King like that on the throne.
So here comes the son of Jehu - and then the shock of verse 2 hits you between the eyes. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel sin; he did not turn from them.
The overwhelming lesson that comes from this mans’ brief reign is this:
A spiritual heritage does not necessarily ensurea spritual future.
It’s a warning to everyone hear, most of all myself, the 8th generation minister from my family. If you’ve had a godly past, it doesn’t guarentee a godly future.
I’ve run into people who’ve said, “Yea, well, my grandfather was a preacher.”
So what! What are you.
It’s not just a warning - it’s an encouragement.
Some of you might say - Oh I wish I had had godly parents - I wish a grandparent on one side of my family had lived for God - while a spiritual heritage is a wonderful thing - if you had it - don’t ever take it for granted - if you didn’t have it - don’t be discouraged into believing you aren’t as usable in the work of God as another. Isn’t it wonderful that your spiritual gift or gifts did not come from your parents. When you trusted Jeus Christ, the Spirit of God invested in you a gift that you are to give back to Him through service in His church.
And one other point, just becuase you didn’t have a godly heritage, that doesn’t mean you can’t start one - begin that heritage with your life - here and now!
Take your family tree and, replant it - as David wrote, plant it by the streams of pure water.
Now go back to 2 Chronicles chapter 25 for the brief biography of a King with a Half-Hearted Religion
2 Chronicles 25:1. Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. 2. And he did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.
The word translated “whole” could be rendered loyal.
Yes, Amaziah followed the Lord God of Israel - but as a young man he had some doubts - those seeds would later sprout and you find Amaziah in the latter part of the chapter wroshipping both God and the false gods.
He is rebuked for his double-mindedness - he had feet firmly planted in mid-air. He wanted a foot in paganism and a foot in Judaism.
In the final verses of 2 Chornicles biography of Amaziah - Amaziah is said to have turned away from following the Lord.
The overiding principle of his story is this:
Half-hearted commitment in the present, will become whole-hearted failure in the future.
Now back to 2 Chronicles chapter 26
It’s the story of a King who started his reign wonderfully - he made incredible improvements and he solidified the southern nation.
The problem was Uzziah wasn’t satisfied with just being a King - he wanted to act as Priest as well.
But notice how well he began - 26:4. And he did right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father Amaziah had done. (that is, everything about Azmaziah that was godly, Uzziah followed in the same) 5. And he continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.
There’s an interesting insight into this man in the last part of verse 10 - “for he loved the soil”.
Now the good news turns bad - notice v. 14. Moreover, Uzziah prepared for all the army shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows and sling stones. 15. And in Jerusalem he made engines of war invented by skillful men to be on the towers and on the corners, for the purpose of shooting arrows and great stones. Hence his fame spread afar for he was marvelously helped until he was strong. 16. But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.
A book in my library that is nearly 150 years old writes, “God has two ways of trying men, one in the furnace of affliction, the other in the refining pot of prosperity, and this is much the harder trial of the two. Affliction tends to humble and soften and subdue; but in prosperity, self-esteem, self-reliance, self-satisfaction, self-will and pride are prone to spring up with a rank luxuriance. The scriptures teach us the danger of prosperity, and the inability of the human heart to drink a full cup of success without becoming intoxicated by success.
Sometimes success is the worst thing that can ever happen to a person - becuase with it comes the lure of pride and independence.
But that is the siren song of our culture - and it’s no coincidence that Frank Sinatra’s hit song, “I did it my way” has been recorded by more artists in the last 20 years than any other song!
The truth is, we don’t like restrictions - we don’t like limits - we honor the independent spirit - “there isn’t anything you can’t do if you put your mind to it - you’re the controller of your fate - have it your way!”
Uzziah did it his way - and his refusal to follow God’s word concerning worship opened the door to disobedience to the word, and the creation of a self-styled worship became such an obsession for him that it ultimately destroyed his life.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Hetty Green - America’s greatest miser - she died in 1915, leaving, to the amazement of all who knew her, a portfolio of cash and stock worth more than 1 million dollars. She never enjoyed anything she had -in fact, everyday she ate cold oatmeal - oatmeal because it was cheap - cold because she said it just cost to much to heat it on the stove. Her son injured his leg and eventually lost it by amputation, because Hetty wasted so much time looking for free medical help that the boy was not examined and helped early enough. What a waste.
It’s possible to reach the point of overlooking or even disliking what you do have because of selfish desires for what you do not have!
Uzziah wanted to burn incense like the priests!
Notice verse 18. And they opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful, and will have no honor from the Lord God.” 19. But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priest in the house of the Lord; beside the altar of incense. 20. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the Lord had smitten him. 21. And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of the Lord.
The man who had it made threw it all away - to the point that he couldn’t enjoy anything he had.
Finally! There is the story of a King who followed God - did you ever think it would happen???
His name is Jotham.
2 Chronicles 27:1. Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king. (skip to verse 2.) And he did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Uzziah had done; however, he did not enter the temple of the Lord.
I can’t help but chuckle at that - his father was smitten in the temple with leprosy - so his son never gets near the temple. Evidently it never inhibited his commitment to the God of Israel!
It’s as if Jotham will never forget the day his father became a leper. He’ll never forget the fact that his father failed in that one area of temptation - and he wasn’t the only King who sinned by acting as a high priest - so it’s as if Jotham wants to stay as far away from his father’s temptation as he possibly can.
That’s not a bad idea! It also brings up the wonderful point that just becuase your father failed in some area doesn’t obligate you to fail there too.
God’s power has the ability to break the cycle of generational examples.
Maybe your here this morning as living proof that Christ can free someone from the wickedness you were surrounded with in your childhood home.
So the principle could be put this way: It’s possible to live an obedient life in spite of a disobedient parent.
Did you notice the last part of verse 2 - But the people continued acting corruptly. Notice verse 6. So Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.
Here’s another principle from this godly kings biography: It’s possible to live a godly life in the midst of an ungodly people .
Don’t ever fall into the trap that your culture has to rewrite your character - the question is, will you order your ways before the Lord your God.
This last month, two news items reached my ears and impacted my heart. There were two deaths, two funerals - one was of a man who had preached for decades - I had heard him preach myself - he was an outstanding expositor - a leading figure in the Baptist Bible Fellowship movement. A few years ago his double life was exposed, he left the ministry; after learning that his partner had embezzled, he fell into depression. Two weeks ago, alone in a graveyard, he took his own life. Around the same time, another man died - his name was Jack Wyrtzen - the creator of Word of Life clubs, Word of Life Institute, camps and other ministries that reach around the world. He finished the race well.
It’s one thing to begin well, it’s another thing to end well.
One closing challenge that comes from the pages of this royal review:
If the pages of your biography were completed today, how would it end?
Oh that our story would not read, “We followed in the ways of our culture and in the system of worldly thinking - but, “We committed our ways unto the Lord, and followed him with a loyal heart.”
Some of you this morning may need to ask the Lord to finish the present chapter of your life which could be entitled “faithlessness. . .compromise. . . disobedience” and begin a new chapter called, “confession . . . submission”
Lord please make me, a sanctuary; pure and holy, tried and true;
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living, sanctuary, for you.