Introduction: For both Northern Israel and Judah, the Book of Kings chronicles the sad apostacy and decline of their nations under their leaders. Yet, to show that God cares about His people, 19 chapters are devoted to the important role of Elijah, Elisha, and other prophets in speaking God’s Word to the kings, their servants, and the people over a 65-year period of time, 860 to 796 B.C., (1 Kgs, 17:1-2 Kgs. 13:25). Following Elisha’s death (2 Kgs. 13:20), the Kings of Northern Israel and Judah again reigned without consistently listening to God’s prophets. As a result, both nations suffered. 2 Kings 14 through 15 survey the poor decisions of the kings of Northern Israel and Judah as they ruled over 62 years (circa 796 - 735 B.C.). 2 Kings 14 records many events regarding the reign of King Amaziah of Judah. 2 Chronicles 25, quoted herein, also provides a parallel account of his reign. 2 Kings 14 further records some of the evil acts of Kings Jehoash and Jeroboam II during their reigns over Northern Israel. From the mistakes of these leaders, God reveals seven lessons for being a good leader. These include: (1) obedience, (2) fairness / justice, (3) faith / trust, (4) humility, (5) the fear of God, (6) repentance, and (7) gratitude.
First, Amaziah ruled Judah with only partial obedience towards God. Although he initially started off with good intentions, he drifted in his walk with God and eventually embraced idolatry. From Amaziah’s mistakes, God reveals that a good leader fully obeys God’s Word. Second, before he rebelled against God, Amaziah was fair and just by judging his father’s assassins by withholding judgment from their innocent family members. From Amaziah’s example, God reveals that a good leader is fair and just in his or her decisions and in dealing with others. Third, also before he rebelled against God, Amaziah listened to God’s prophet and reduced the size of his army before going to war with Edom. From Amaziah’s example, God reveals that a good leader has faith and trusts Him. Fourth, Amaziah then took a turn for the worse. He became prideful and embraced idolatry. He then threatened Northern Israel with a war that God did not sanction. From Amaziah’s many mistakes, God reveals that a good leader is humble and is led by the Holy Spirit. Fifth, Amaziah refused to accept warnings that he would lose his war. Because he would not turn from his pride and idolatry, God allowed Judah to lose, and he became a prisoner. From Amaziah’s defiance, God reveals that a good leader fears Him by hating evil. Sixth, after being freed from prison, God allowed Amaziah to rule Judah for another 15 years. Yet, he refused to repent or restore his people from the injuries that he inflicted upon them. As a result, the people hated him, and assassins later murdered him. From Amaziah’s mistakes, God reveals that a good leader repents and restores the injured. Finally, even though Northern Israel refused to repent of its ongoing idolatry, God felt compassion for that nation following its many wars with Syria and its constant political instability. As a result, God allowed an undeserving evil leader named Jeroboam II to deliver the Jews from Syrian oppression. He also gave the Jews prosperity. Yet, the Jews took God’s mercy and grace for granted. They did not thank God or change their evil ways. From their mistakes, God reveals that good leader lives in gratitude for God’s mercy and grace and inspires others to do the same.
Amaziah becomes King of Judah and only follows some of God’s laws. Like his father King Joash (Jehoash), Amaziah ruled Judah with only partial obedience towards God: “1 In the second year of Joash son of Joahaz king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah became king. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. 3 He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done. 4 Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” (2 Kgs. 14:1-4; 2 Chr. 25:1). King Joash (Jehoash)’s servants Jozacar and Jehozabad killed him as part of a conspiracy against him. As a result, Joash (Jehoash)’s son Amaziah became king of Judah at age 25 (2 Kgs. 12:21). He reigned 29 years, from 796-767 B.C. (2 Kgs. 14:2). The name Amaziah means “strength of Jehovah”. He at first did many things right as king. God previously guided events to eradicate state-sanctioned Baal worship in both Judah (2 Kgs. 11:17-18) and in Northern Israel (2 Kgs. 10:18-28). Amaziah ensured that Baal worship did not reemerge in Judah. God had also ensured that His Temple was repaired for proper worship. (2 Kg. 12:9-15). For a time, Amaziah protected the Temple as well. As set forth below, he also initially trusted God in a battle with Edom. Yet, like his father before him, he tolerated evil by allowing many pagan worship temples to exist. This would ultimately become a snare upon him and turn his heart against God.
Like his father, Amaziah disobeyed God’s commands by tolerating evil in Judah. Canaanite pagan altars were typically built on “high places” (1 Kgs. 13:32; Jer. 7:31). Whenever the Jews came across pagan altars, they were ordered to destroy them: “then you shall . . . destroy all their figured stones . . . and demolish all their high places;” (Nu. 33:52). “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars . . .” (Dt. 12:2-3). Failing to observe this rule would eventually cause the Jews to blend their worship of God with Canaanite pagan practices: “ . . . For on every high hill and under every green tree you have lain down as a harlot.” (Jer. 2:20). Failing to follow this rule also caused many kings to stumble.
Amaziah became an idolater after tolerating evil. In 2 Chronicles, the Bible records that Amaziah embraced the pagan Edomite gods after tolerating pagan worship in his own kingdom: “14 Now after Amaziah came from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought the gods of the sons of Seri, set them up as his gods, bowed down before them and burned incense to them. 15 Then the anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah, and He sent him a prophet who said to him, ‘Why have you sought the gods of the people who have not delivered their own people from your hand?’ 16 As he was talking with him, the king said to him, ‘Have we appointed you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?’ Then the prophet stopped and said, ‘I know that God has planned to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.’” (2 Chron. 25:14-16). Amaziah did not repent after hearing God’s Word. God therefore later judged him.
Partial disobedience was the beginning of the downfall of many kings. Amaziah was not alone in his path to failure that began with partial disobedience by not removing the pagan high places of worship. His father, King Joash (Jehoash), committed the exact same sin: “Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” (2 Kgs. 12:3). And their forefathers committed the same sin as well. King Solomon was a reformer who ultimately lead a path to failure that began with the same small act of disobedience in refusing to remove the pagan worship centers (1 Kgs. 3:2). He later built special altars on “high places” for his foreign wives to worship their pagan gods (1 Kgs. 11:7-8). King Jeroboam later followed after Solomon’s example and built altars for idol worship with unauthorized priests (1 Kgs. 12:31). King Asa’s disobedience in this area also led to his downfall (1 Kgs. 15:14). King Jehoshaphat was also a reformer who failed for the same acts of disobedience (1 Kgs. 22:43). King Manasseh later rebuilt pagan altars on high places after King Hezekiah destroyed them (2 Kgs. 21:3). Thus, several kings began with great intentions. Yet, their partial or full disobedience led to their downfall. Their disobedience also effected their kingdoms.
Partial obedience can be corrected if you will repent of your sins. Although Amaziah initially did right in God’s eyes, he was “not like David his father.” (2 Kgs. 14:3). To many, it might seem curious for God to consider David as a role model. At one point in David’s life, he violated at least seven of God’s Ten Commandments (2 Sam. 11:1-27). First, by lusting after his neighbor Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, he violated God’s Tenth Commandment against coveting (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). Second, by repeatedly giving into his lusts of his flesh, he made an idol out of attractive women and violated God’s Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-5; Dt. 5:8-9). Third, by sleeping with a married woman, he violated God’s Seventh Commandment against adultery (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). Fourth, he violate God’s Sixth Commandment against murder when he killed Uriah (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17). Fifth, by engaging in lies and deceit to cover up his neighbor Uriah’s murder, he violated God’s Ninth Commandment against bearing false witness (Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20). Sixth, after he later married Bathsheba, he violated God’s law against a leader having more than one wife (Dt. 17:17). To become king, he would have made a public vow to uphold the Torah. By breaking his vow before God, David also profaned His holy name (Lev. 19:12). Thus, his actions also violated the Third Commandment (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). Finally, as God’s appointed king, David violated the Fifth Commandment by dishonoring his heavenly Father (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16). Even if he only broke one Commandment, he would have broken them all (Jam. 2:10). David came to appreciate and write psalms about God’s mercy and grace only after God showed him his sins. David was a man after God’s heart not because he was perfect. Instead, he was a godly man because he later repented of his many sins (Ps. 51:4). Amaziah did not repent of his sins. As a result, his heart grew hard and his sins became worse over time.
Without God’s counsel, your heart may also grow hard to sin. David had Nathan to convict him of his sins (2 Sam. 12:1-12). After Nathan confronted him, David repented (2 Sam. 12:13). Although Amaziah initially listened to God’s prophet, he later did what seemed right in his own eyes. “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes;” (Dt. 12:8). If you are not in an accountability relationship, you may also drift from God in your walk.
Amaziah’s initial obedience in following God’s law. Amaziah did not start off as an idolater. His later sins would have been hard for most to predict because he initially showed courage in ignoring the customs of the day and following God’s law by sparing the lives of the children of his father’s assassins: “5 Now it came about, as soon as the kingdom was firmly in his hand, that he killed his servants who had slain the king his father. 6 But the sons of the slayers he did not put to death, according to what is written in the book of the Law of Moses, as the Lord commanded, saying, ‘The fathers shall not be put to death for the sons, nor the sons be put to death for the fathers; but each shall be put to death for his own sin.’” (2 Kgs. 14:5-6; 2 Chr. 25:2-4). The Jews had seen kings kill off entire families after they deposed prior kings (e.g., 2 Kgs. 10:11). Amaziah also likely hated Jozachar and Jehozabad for betraying and murdering his father, King Joash (Jehoash) (2 Kgs. 12:21). Thus, most expected Amaziah to kill off every living member of the murders’ families as an act of retribution and to deter future assassination attempts. Yet, Amaziah ignored Jewish custom and instead followed God’s law.
Amaziah initially faithfully judged each person according to their own actions. Jozachar and Jehozabad violated God’s Sixth Commandment against murder (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17). Under God’s law predating Moses, their actions carried the penalty of capital punishment: “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.” (Gen. 9:5). “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” (Ex. 21:12). “If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death.” (Lev. 24:17). “Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.” (Nu. 35:31). It was also the custom of that time to kill the children of a murder. Yet, that was not God’s law. God spared the innocent children from being killed for the sins of their fathers. “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Dt. 24:16). “But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.” (Jer. 31:30). “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” (Ezek. 18:20). Because Amaziah was initially following God’s law, God initially blessed him.
Amaziah initially succeeded because of his faith-led obedience. Before his death, David advised Solomon that his success as king would depend upon his obedience: “Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,” (1 Kgs. 2:3). Each king was further required to write a personal copy of the law to make sure that he followed it: “Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.” (Dt. 17:18). Amaziah initially succeeded as King of Judah because of his faith-led obedience. This faith-led obedience also led to God’s blessings in his war with Edom. Yet, because he did not completely follow God’s Word, he fell off his walk.
A Spirit-led leader should pursue justice. Like Amaziah at this point, God required that His kings pursue: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Dt. 16:20). God further appointed the kings to “do justice and righteousness.” (1 Kgs. 10:9). A king is also supposed to sit “on the throne of justice.” (Prov. 20:8). This means that a Spirit-led leader must care about addressing wrongs and the plight of those in need: “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” (Prov. 31:9). “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.” (Ps. 82:3). “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.” (Dt. 10:18). Are you just and fair to others?
Amaziah initially trusts God and defeats Edom in battle. As set forth in greater detail in 2 Chronicles 25, God blessed Amaziah with a victory over Edom because he trusted God and listened to God’s prophet: “7 He killed of Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000 and took Sela by war, and named it Joktheel to this day.” (2 Kgs. 14:7). When David was King of Israel, he defeated Edom (1 Kgs. 11:15). After Israel broke into two nations, Judah took control over Edom. During a war with Moab (which was under Northern Israel’s control), Edom provided troops to assist Northern Israel and Judah (2 Kgs. 3:12-26). Yet, during the reign of King Jehoram, the Edomites rebelled against Judah (2 Kgs. 8:20-22). Amaziah called the able bodied men of Judah as well as others to fight against Edom. Because Amaziah trusted God and obeyed Him in this war, God blessed him with victory.
Amaziah’s initial faith in trusting God. Amaziah initially assembled a large army to wage a war against Edom. This included 300,000 capable men of fighting age in Judah (yet most without prior fighting experience) and 100,000 seasoned mercenaries from Northern Israel (most battle tested from their wars with Aram in Syria): “5 Moreover, Amaziah assembled Judah and appointed them according to their fathers’ households under commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds throughout Judah and Benjamin; and he took a census of those from twenty years old and upward and found them to be 300,000 choice men, able to go to war and handle spear and shield. 6 He hired also 100,000 valiant warriors out of Israel for one hundred talents of silver.” (2 Chr. 25:5-6). Yet, a prophet then warned Amaziah not to join forces with Northern Israel. Because of its idolatry, God was not with Northern Israel. “7 But a man of God came to him saying, ‘O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel nor with any of the sons of Ephraim. 8 But if you do go, do it, be strong for the battle; yet God will bring you down before the enemy, for God has power to help and to bring down.’” (2 Chr. 25:7-8). Amaziah asked what to do about the money that he had already given to the mercenaries. The prophet promised Amaziah that he would recover this money if he trusted God: “9 Amaziah said to the man of God, ‘But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the troops of Israel?’ And the man of God answered, ‘The Lord has much more to give you than this.’” (2 Chr. 25:10). Because of Amaziah’s initial faith in following God’s command to trust Him and turn away 100,000 mercenaries from Northern Israel before a battle with Edom, God granted him victory in battle: “10 Then Amaziah dismissed them, the troops which came to him from Ephraim, to go home; so their anger burned against Judah and they returned home in fierce anger. Now Amaziah strengthened himself and led his people forth, and went to the Valley of Salt and struck down 10,000 of the sons of Seir. The sons of Judah also captured 10,000 alive and brought them to the top of the cliff and threw them down from the top of the cliff, so that they were all dashed to pieces.” (2 Chr. 25:11-12).
Act upon God’s Word, and He will bless you. God expects you to act on His Word. Obedience is not a test for salvation. Yet, for those who obey God’s Word, He promises many kinds of blessings: “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Dt. 5:32-33). “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Dt. 6:3). “But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Ex. 23:22). Throughout the Bible, God reminds His people that vows of obedience must be followed by action: “And the LORD said to me, ‘Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear the words of this covenant and do them.’” (Jer. 11:6). In case anyone believes that these are relics of the Old Testament, they are repeated even more often in the New Testament: “Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24-25). “[F]or it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.” (Ro. 2:13). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22; see also, Rev. 14:12; 22:14). God doesn’t want you to be obedient for the wrong reasons. Out of love (and not the promise of reward) are you being obedient to God’s Word, His Spirit, and His calling in your life?
Jehoash warns Amaziah not to start a war out of pride, but Amaziah refuses to listen. God had not counseled Amaziah to wage war against Northern Israel. Yet, he was blinded by his pride. Thus, he would not listen to warnings to stand down from his threats of war: “8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, ‘Come, let us face each other.’ 9 Jehoash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, ‘The thorn bush which was in Lebanon sent to the cedar which was in Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son in marriage.’ But there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trampled the thorn bush. 10 You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has become proud. Enjoy your glory and stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, would fall, and Judah with you?’ 11 But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah.” (2 Kgs. 14:8-11). In his parable, Jehoash depicted Amaziah as a thistle to symbolize his weaker power. Amaziah was foolish to feel pride merely because he defeated the small desert nation of Edom. In contrast, Jehoash depicted himself as the cedar, which had defeated the far more mighty opponent in Syria (2 Kgs. 13:25). The mercenaries from Northern Israel had already looted parts of Judah (2 Chr. 25:6-10, 13). Jehoash warned that his battle-tested armies from the ten tribes of Northern Israel would defeat the two tribes of Judah like a mighty wild beast crushing a lowly bush if Judah attacked. Both parties in this dispute were governed by their pride. Both also failed to give God credit for their victories. Yet, Amaziah carried the greater sin as the aggressor in this war.
Amaziah’s pride turned his heart against God. After God provided Amaziah with a victory over Edom, Amaziah then compromised in his walk and received God’s rebuke through a prophet (2 Chr. 15:14-16). As part of his spiritual compromise, he became prideful and took credit for his victory. He became angry when the mercenaries from Northern Israel raided Judah: “But the troops whom Amaziah sent back from going with him to battle, raided the cities of Judah, from Samaria to Beth-horon, and struck down 3,000 of them and plundered much spoil.” (2 Chr. 25:13) In his pride, he threatened Northern Israel with war unless it submitted to him. Even though Northern Israel had 10 tribes and more people, its wars with Syria had severely reduced its army: “For he left to Jehoahaz of the army not more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and 10,000 footmen, for the king of Aram had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing.” (2 Kgs. 13:25). And Amaziah had assembled 300,000 soldiers against Edom (2 Chr. 25:5, 11-12). He trusted in his own strength and believed that he would prevail. Yet, he did not turn to God for guidance regarding whether he should go to war. As a result of his spiritual blindness, he could not see that God had granted him victory of Edom.
Do not trust in his own strength or understanding in battle. Although Amaziah could not see it, God was solely responsible for his prior victory: “For by their own sword they did not possess the land, and their own arm did not save them, but Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, for You favored them.” (Ps. 44:3). “and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17:47). “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.” (Ps. 20:7). “The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.” (Ps. 33:16-17). “For I will not trust in my bow, nor will my sword save me.” (Ps. 44:6). “O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” (Ps. 60:11). Do you trust in God or your own abilities to prevail in your conflicts?
Jehoash defeats Amaziah and loots God’s Temple. Because Amaziah refused to back down from his prideful threats against Northern Israel, God allowed Northern Israel to defeat Judah and even loot the gold from His Temple: “12 Judah was defeated by Israel, and they fled each to his tent. 13 Then Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and tore down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate, 400 cubits. 14 He took all the gold and silver and all the utensils which were found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria. 15 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 16 So Jehoash slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son became king in his place.” (2 Kgs. 14:12-16). Amaziah paid dearly for his pride. He lost his freedom and his treasuries of gold (2 Chron. 25:23-25). He remained a prisoner in Samaria until Jehoash died, circa 782 B.C. (2 Kgs. 14:17). His people also suffered. Jehoash had his armies rip down the walls that protected Jerusalem. His troops looted the city and took people hostage. He even looted the holy things that existed inside of God’s Temple. Much of the gold had only recently been replenished. King Joash had previously used the Temple gold to bribe King Hazael of Damascus not to attack Judah (2 Kgs. 12:17-18).
God judged Amaziah for his pride. Through his pride, Amaziah committed one of the sins that God “hates”: “ . . . pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.” (Prov. 8:13). Because Amaziah exalted himself, God humbled him. “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12). “When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence, and the humble person He will save.” (Job 22:29). “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (Jam. 4:6). Because Amaziah’s pride would not let him repent, it led to his defeat and later his death: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). “A man’s pride will bring him low, . . .” (Prov. 29:23). His pride deceived him into thinking that he was responsible for God’s victory over Edom: ‘“ . . . The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,’ . . . declares the LORD.” (Jer. 49:16). Like Amaziah, when you are prideful, your heart will also deceive you into doing foolish things.
God also judged Amaziah because of his idolatry. When this account is read together with 2 Chronicles 25, the Bible records that God also judged Amaziah for his disobedience and idolatry in worshiping the gods of Edom: “But Amaziah would not listen, for it was from God, that He might deliver them into the hand of Joash because they had sought the gods of Edom.” (2 Chr. 25:20). God did not allow Amaziah’s idolatry to revoke God’s eternal covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:12-13). Yet, God still disciplined Amaziah for his acts: “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,” (2 Sam. 7:14). God was faithful to fulfill this promise to David.
Amaziah’s defeat was predicted under God’s law. Amaziah’s troops could not even put up a fight. Instead, “they fled each to his tent.” (2 Kgs. 14:12). Amaziah did not need a prophet to tell him that he would be defeated with his troops fleeing in terror if he disobeyed God and fought a war against God’s people without His consent. Through Moses, God warned that His people would be defeated in battle with their troops fleeing if they disobeyed Him: “25 The Lord shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Dt. 28:25). “I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you.” (Lev. 26:17) The Jews had also experienced this on a number of occasions when they turned against God. For example, when they misused the Ark and tried to fight the Philistines while disobeying God, the Jews also fled from the fight and lost: “So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.” (1 Sam. 4:10). When you disobey God, He will not forsake you (Dt. 31:6; Heb. 13:5). Yet, He may discipline you.
Fear God by hating evil. Like many believers, Amaziah did not take God’s warnings seriously. He found out when it was too late that there were consequences for his actions. The beginning of all knowledge is the fear of God (Prov. 1:7). The Bible defines the fear of God as “hating” evil (Prov. 8:13). Are you ignoring or condoning evil in your life?
The Jews kill King Amaziah and appoint his son Azariah (Uzziah) as King of Judah. Following Jehoash’s death, Amaziah was allowed to return to Judah where he served out his final 15 years as a weakened king. In the end, his own people hated him enough to conspire together and kill him: “17 Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 19 They conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there. 20 Then they brought him on horses and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David. 21 All the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the place of his father Amaziah. 22 He built Elath and restored it to Judah after the king slept with his fathers.” (2 Kgs. 14:17-22). Although not stated in the text, Jeroboam II appears to have released Amaziah from prison after Jehoash died (2 Chr. 25:25). Following King Joash (Jehoash)’s disobedience towards God, God lifted His hand of protection, and he died as a result of an assassination (2 Kgs. 12:21). Amaziah had 15 years to repent and turn to God after his return, 782-767 B.C. Because he failed to do so, he shared his father’s fate.
Amaziah sought and failed to find refuge in a city of idolatry. Amaziah lived out his final 15 years hated by his people for the pain he caused them. We can assume that the King of Northern Israel educated the people of Judah that Amaziah provoked the unnecessary war and was even given an opportunity to back down. When the conspiracy became known to Amaziah, he “fled to Lachish.” (2 Kgs. 14:19). This was the place where idolatry began in Judah: “Harness the chariot to the team of horses, o inhabitant of Lachish-- she was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion-- because in you were found the rebellious acts of Israel.” (Mic. 1:13). In other words, Amaziah sought refuge with the people who also practiced idolatry instead of trusting God. But he found no refuge in either his idols or the people who practiced idolatry.
Azariah (Uzziah) refused to follow in his father’s idol worship. Following Amaziah’s death, Azariah (also referred to as Uzziah (2 Chr. 26:1; Isa. 1:1)) succeeded him. Although he may have served as a regent while his father was in jail, his reign began in 767 B.C. (2 Kgs. 15:1; 2 Chron. 26:1-23). He was a reformer who refused to follow his father’s mistakes. He rebuilt the port city of Elath on the northern coast of the Gulf of Aqabah. This was an important city during Solomon’s reign (1 Kgs. 9:26-28; 10:22), and Jehoshaphat’s reign (2 Chr. 20:36). Azariah (Uzziah) also trusted God and succeed in many other aspects of his administration as King of Judah (2 Chron. 26:6-15).
Respond to God’s mercy and grace by repenting of your sins. Amaziah refused to use either his time in jail or his last 15 years as king to repent and restore those that he hurt. Jesus called upon the people He met to repent and return to Him before they would experience His mercy and grace: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mk. 1:15). “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19). “For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Ps. 51:1). David was a sinner in God’s eyes. Yet, what made David different was his willingness to come back to God when he sinned.
If you confess your sins, Jesus will forgive you. During Old Testament times, when a believer became aware of their sins, the believer was required to make a “guilt” offering (Lev. 5:5-13). Today, you do not need to make a physical sacrifice to be forgiven. Jesus did that for you on the cross (1 Jo 2:2). He further promises to forgive you if you will confess your sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). Will you confess your sins when the Holy Spirit reveals them to you?
Jeroboam II becomes King of Northern Israel and does evil before God. Following Jehoash’s death 782 B.C., King Jeroboam II succeeded him as King of Northern Israel. Like his predecessors, he did evil in God’s eyes: “23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. 26 For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, which was very bitter; for there was neither bond nor free, nor was there any helper for Israel. 27 The Lord did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash. 28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam and all that he did and his might, how he fought and how he recovered for Israel, Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel, and Zechariah his son became king in his place.” (2 Kgs. 14:23-29). Jeroboam II initially served as a co-regent with his father. Including that time, he reigned 41 years from 793-753 B.C. (2 Kgs. 14:23). This was longer than any other king of Northern Israel before him. Although God gave him a long time to turn to Him, Jeroboam II squandered this opportunity like every king before him. Like the kings who preceded him in Northern Israel, Jeroboam II continued the sins of Jeroboam I. This included the worship of golden calves and a counterfeit priesthood (1 Kgs. 12:26-33; 13:33; 2 Kgs. 3:2-3). He kept the caves at the cities of Beth-el and Dan to keep the Jews from worshiping at the Temple in Jerusalem. During his reign, God sent at least three prophets to convict him and his people. These included Jonah (2 Kgs. 14:25), Hosea (Hosea 1:1), and Amos (Amos 1:1). Yet, God showed mercy and grace when he failed to repent.
God’s compassion towards the people of Northern Israel. Since the time of Jeroboam I, the people had suffered because of the idolatry of their rulers. The constant instability in Northern Israel also fulfill a prophesy of God’s judgment. The prophet Ahijah prophesized that the people of Northern Israel would be like a “a reed is shaken in the water.” (1 Kgs. 14:15). This was a metaphor for instability (Matt. 11:7; Lk. 7:24). God judged each and every one of the leaders of Northern Israel for their evil acts (1 Kgs. 15:34; 16:2, 19, 31; 22:52; 2 Kgs. 3:3; 10:29, 31; 13:2, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28). As a result of their judgments, God removed His hand of protection, and the Syrians repeatedly invaded. Even though the leaders did not repent, God did not blot out the Jews. He also showed compassion on his people and used the wicked Jeroboam II to give the Jews relief from the constant attacks from Syria (2 Kgs. 14:26-27). God also blessed the Jews by allowing Jeroboam II to restore the boarders that existed under King Solomon by taking back lands lost to the Syrians (2 Kgs. 14:25; 1 Kgs. 8:65). This also gave Northern Israel great prosperity. Archeologists have confirmed that Northern Israel grew in its wealth during this timed period. Yet, Jeroboam II again failed to respond to God’s mercy and grace and repent. And the people misused God’s blessings. The prophet Amos spent much of his ministry confronting the Jews for placing their trust in their God-given wealth and failing to give thanks or turn back to Him. As a result, approximately 70 years after Jeroboam II’s death, his nation would cease to exist.
God’s faithfulness and grace in allowing Zechariah to succeed Jeroboam II. Jeroboam II deserved to be judged after his failure to follow God’s Word, listen to God’s prophets, repent of his idolatry, and his failure to give thanks for God’s undeserved blessings. He did not deserve to have his son Zechariah succeed him as King of Northern Israel (2 Kgs. 14:29). Yet, God allowed Zechariah to succeed Jeroboam II to keep His promises to Jehu. Because Jehu removed state-sanctioned Baal worship from Northern Israel, God promised him that he would have four generations of descendants rule Northern Israel: “The LORD said to Jehu, ‘Because you have done well in executing what is right in My eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”’ (2 Kgs. 10:30). Because God was faithful to keep His Word to a wicked and idolatrous king, you can trust His Word. You need not worry about Him removing His promises to you because of your sins.
Out of gratitude, make your life a living sacrifice for Christ. With the mercy and grace that God gave the Jews, He meant for them to show their gratitude by living holy lives (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2). This also applies to believers today as well (1 Pet. 1:16). Out of gratitude, God wants you to live a holy life praising Him in all that you do: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15). This also includes presenting your body as a living sacrifice for God: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Ro. 12:1). Out of gratitude for His mercy and grace, are you living a life of sacrifice and praise for Jesus?