TODAY’S READING: 2 Kings 14; 2 Chronicles 25
Jeroboam II was an evil king who restored and recaptured land to Israel, strengthening the northern Kingdom to its greatest extent since the days of Solomon (2 Kings 14:23, 25, 28). That a holy God used an evil leader as a result of Jonah’s prophesy (v. 24) should not surprise us when we remember that God will always be glorified (as that is not the question; the question is whether we will be willing participants in God’s glory among the nations). Concurrent with Jeroboam II lived King Amaziah of Judah. Amaziah modeled three missionary applications—one positive and two disastrous.
For the positive, God used Amaziah to glorify His name by defeating the Edomites in the valley of Salt. Amaziah raised an army of 300,000 and hired 100,000 more from Israel (2 Chr. 25:6). God sent a prophetic reminder that it’s not about numbers, but about who you partner with (v. 8). God doesn’t need huge numbers to get His will done or be glorified. Let’s fixate on what He does need—complete obedience and holy alliances.
On the negative side Amaziah brought home the idols of the Edomites (v. 14), set them up as his gods, and bowed down to them. At first blush the actions of Old Testament characters seem idiotic: Why worship the gods your God just defeated? But a second look usually reveals that we do the same thing because the human heart is foolish and stubborn. Common practice in ancient days was to respect the gods of conquered peoples in order to win political favor with them. In my view Amaziah was first making political statement. He defeated Edom militarily and won the war, and then he wanted to win peace and incorporate Edom into his kingdom. Jeroboam was expanding to the north, so Amaziah thought, “Let me likewise push my influence outward.” But what started as a political and cultural concession quickly led to idolatry. Our current Edomite idols may well have political origins. The evangelical community is enamored with political power and personalities and makes compromises in order to win favor and (supposedly) spread influence. Accommodating and excusing immoral behavior in the halls of power in the vain hope of growing our kingdom is to lose our prophetic voice and to incur the anger of God (v. 16). Political concessions (home or abroad) lead to God’s anger, not His glory.
An equal and opposite error is to pick a fight with those God does not want us to attack. If aligning ourselves with the wrong nations and ideologies is damaging, so is fighting the ones God has not ordered us to attack. Amaziah (Judah) turned his sights on the slights of Jehoash (father of Jeroboam II in Israel) and challenged him to war. Jehoash cuttingly responded: “You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in that, and stay at home, for why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you” (2 Kings 14:10). The missionary application is straightforward: We need to concentrate our energies on winning glory for Jehovah among the nations, not in fighting our brother. It was right for Amaziah to bring glory to God among the Edomites; it was wrong for him to meddle with his “brother,” his neighbor to the north. There is enough work to do for Jesus globally rather than waste our energy meddling with those nearby.
There are many potential distractions to the pursuit of God’s glory among all nations and a favorite trick of the enemy is to get missionaries and believers needlessly meddling with one another. We should not glory in meddling; we should glory in taking the gospel where it has not gone. Enough ink has been spilt and emotion squandered on meddling—my own ink included. May Jesus help us forgo all meddling and focus all energy on loving Him and loving the lost. Let’s not fight one another in Benin. Rather, let’s fight for the glory of God among the Dandawa.