TODAY’S READING: 2 Kings 12–13; 2 Chronicles 24
The sin of Jeroboam plagued the northern kingdom of Israel throughout its history, leading to its demise. Jeroboam excluded his people from the metanarrative, from the missionary covenant God made with Abraham and the fathers, by refusing to let Israel travel to the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem. Because he feared losing power, Jeroboam forced his people into idolatry and set up golden calf idols, forcing them away from the missionary heart of God. This led to disaster, loss of life, blessing, and ultimately exile from the land. Jeroboam’s sons and followers maintained this egregious sin and inherited the oppression: “Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. But Jehovah was gracious to them, had compassion on them, and regarded them, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not yet destroy or cast them from His presence” (2 Kings 13:22–23). Even though Jeroboam and those following broke covenant, the long-suffering heart of God extended patience, and as long as there was some missionary activity (Naaman the Syrian coming to faith in Jehovah, Elisha representing Jehovah in Damascus), there was a stay of execution.
We look at Jeroboam’s idolatry and shake our head at his selfish stupidity. We forget it started with his fear of losing power over his people and his cutting them off from the metanarrative, the covenant of Jehovah with Abraham and sons to bless all peoples of the earth. What if Jeroboam’s folly today is found in pastors and leaders who do not centralize and prioritize the gospel going to all the unreached peoples of earth? What if Jeroboam’s sin today, the sin that God loathes and will judge, is found in a fear to preach the missionary message, ubiquitous in the Bible, because we want to keep our people in our large personality-centered churches and not to send them to the uttermost? What if the idolatry of our present day is that we live and preach a non-radical, non-missionary life and make it our chief goal to have more people in our orbit than to launch to the nations in obedience to the Great Commission? Jeroboam wanted to control his people and the consequence removed them from the missionary covenant God made with Abraham. The result: the loss of the blessing, presence, and the protection of God. Maybe Jeroboam’s idolatry in our time are attraction-based churches that fixate on gathering large crowds, not missionary churches that passionately live to send.
Joash in the southern kingdom of Judah started a little better than Jeroboam; he at least wanted to care for God’s house (a house of prayer for all nations) and collected money for that goal (2 Chr. 24:14). Pastors and leaders should have no embarrassment that a major part of their stewardship includes the gathering of funds for missionary support so that God’s heavenly house would include people praying from all the nations. When Jehoiada (priest and mentor to Joash) died, Joash left the “house of Jehovah Elohim of his fathers” and wrath descended (v. 18). It’s the same story as the north: Participate in God’s missionary heart for all nations and be blessed or depart from God’s house and face God’s anger. For when we forsake Jehovah and His missionary passion, He forsakes us (v. 20).
The life and death of a church is connected to its missionary obedience. To stay in harmony with God’s covenant with Abraham and David is to be blessed, and to cut others or ourselves off from a prioritization of missions praying, giving, and going is to be cursed. How revealing that the last act of Elisha’s missionary life is a resurrection miracle connected to a Jordanian attack. First, Elisha decimated the false prosperity gospel in how he died (2 Kings 13:14). I guess it was God’s will for His man of faith and power to die of sickness! Then a dead man was thrown in his tomb when the Moabites attacked and was raised to life. God can’t resist displaying His glory before the nations! He will do it with or without our cooperation. He will do it by our nation’s or church’s life or death. How much better to live for the glory of God among all nations than to wither and die because we resisted, ignored, or diminished God’s missionary passion.