By Chuck Griffin
Have you ever been in a spiritually good place, feeling “right with God,” and then suddenly found yourself sinning mightily?
Those who have experienced such behavior know the sudden turn can be shocking and confusing. The author of 2 Chronicles repeatedly tells us stories of leaders who make such sudden wrong turns.
In chapter 25, we find Amaziah presented as one of the more successful kings over Judah, at least to a point. Early in his reign, he seems to follow God’s law scrupulously. When he goes to war against the Edomites, God tells him to send home the mercenaries he has hired to supplement his army, assuring the king he will have victory without such unsavory assistance.
And victory is Amaziah’s. That’s what makes his next act so odd.
Rather than giving thanks to the God who has given him assurances through prophets and victory on the battlefield, he carries home the idols of his defeated enemy and begins to worship them.
God, of course, expresses anger, speaking through a prophet. But even then, Amaziah is unrepentant, threatening the prophet with death. Amaziah eventually falls into the hands of his enemies and dies as the result of a conspiracy, all a result of divine displeasure.
We do receive an early clue to Amaziah’s problem in 25:2. We’re told that Amaziah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.”
In other words, while part of Amaziah loved and followed God, there were dark places where he had not allowed God to penetrate. Therein lay the problematic parts of his personality.
Self-righteous anger may have been one of Amaziah’s serious problems. On their way home, the mercenaries he had dismissed looted parts of Judah, doing a lot of damage.
Perhaps Amaziah blamed God for allowing such a thing to happen. If so, Amaziah failed to see that the mercenaries’ behavior was more evidence that they were not the kind of people to be aligned with a godly mission, and that he had made a serious mistake in hiring them.
It also was a tradition in the Ancient Near East to take home the gods of a defeated people, absorbing them into the conqueror’s religious traditions. It may be that Amaziah forgot the special nature of the God over Judah, the God who declared himself One and Only. If so, Amaziah is simply another example of the folly of blending worldliness with godliness.
We again see how the Old Testament points us toward the New Testament. Only one with a whole and holy heart, Jesus Christ, could make it possible for the darkest parts of the human heart to be filled with light.
Dear Lord,when we experience sudden, surprising failure like Amaziah’s, search us deeply and show us what we still keep hidden. And of course, help us to hear your guidance and make the changes we need to make. Amen.