If you’d like to join us in our journey reading all the way through the Bible this year, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to email back a copy of the reading plan we are using.
Chances are, Amaziah is not an Old Testament character that most of us are very familiar with. One of the kings in that long list of rulers over Judah in Jerusalem, he is for all intents and purposes – unremarkable. Which makes looking at his life worth considering. He is neither a great hero to emulate, nor the worst villain to be repulsed by. A sort of every-man. More like – me. Which makes me want to pay attention to him, to learn from him. In reading this account today, the life of Amaziah found me praying 3 things. More on that here on Through the Word in 2020. I’m Reid Ferguson.
Psalm 115, Luke 8:9-15, 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 and 2 Chronicles 24:23-25:28 cap off our readings for this week. And as I said, it is the brief snapshot of the life of Amaziah that catches my eye today, convicts my soul of some things, and brings me to prayer. Maybe it will do the same for you.
Amaziah was just 25 when he became king. He reigned for 29 years. And the first thing our text notes about him is: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.” That challenges and frightens me. How easily that statement can describe me – at least a times. How easily I lose focus. Let other things eat up my time, attention and devotion. Grow apathetic, half-hearted in my service to Christ. Serving, but not with a whole heart.
Heavenly Father, it is in this matter of whole-heartedness that I see such failure in myself. I content myself so easily in you. To barely know you. To spend little real time with you. To be so unfamiliar with what you have taken countless lives to reveal, write, copy and preserve throughout the centuries. To think little of your daily graces. To live in the shadow of the Cross and virtually take it for granted at times. Oh Father – make me a whole-hearted man after you.
Secondly, despite his half-heartedness, God still worked with Amaziah. The occasion arose for war against an enemy, and God sent a prophet to counsel him for victory. And win he did. But then we read that: 2 Chronicles 25:14
It is a seductive thing to make idols out of our victories, or any of God’s blessings. We serve well in some capacity, God uses us in some way, people are blessed, we have some real success over some battle with sin, and soon we are treasuring the battle, the victory, the usefulness – our ministry – more than the God who gave us all these things.
Heavenly Father, keep me from bowing the knee to worship my accomplishments or anything else you have given in your goodness. Give me a heart to remember and love you as the Lord of all blessing. And keep me from living in past experiences and usefulness. Keep me growing in You. Keep me from idols in my heart of any kind.
In His faithfulness, God sent a prophet to Amaziah again to rebuke him for this turn toward idolatry and to call him back to fidelity to God. But the text says he would not listen. A refusal which led ultimately to his destruction.
Father, give me ears to hear all of your rebukes. Keep me from hardening my heart against the convicting work of your Spirit in such hours. Keep me from going on to judgment because I will not hear, humble myself, repent and seek your mercy. Grant me a hearing heart. Always.
God bless. And God willing, we’ll be back next week.