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Chronicles was written to inspire the returning Jewish exiles by retelling the rich history of their nation. Many times it does so by exalting the good things that happened, but in the remaining chapters it sounds a different theme. Over and over we read of leaders who prospered when they followed God, only to fail when they finished by abandoning him.
Asa. For 36 years he ruled wisely and followed God’s counsel. Then, when faced with a weaker threat than others he had faced, he turned for help to the king of Aram (Syria) rather than God. The final five years of his life were filled with war and personal sickness.
Jehoshaphat. He won many great victories by trusting in the Lord, and brought religious reforms to strengthen Jehovah worship. But he also made disastrous agreements with wicked King Ahab (marrying his son to Ahab’s daughter) and with King Ahaziah of Israel.
Joash. The boy who began ruling at age seven was shepherded in his early years by Jehoiada, the priest. During these years Joash prospered and accomplished great things for God. But when Jehoiada died the king turned away from God to idol worship, even allowing Jehoiada’s son to be stoned to death for prophesying against the king. Soon Joash suffered military defeat, injury in battle, and assassination.
Amaziah. God gave him a military victory, but in return he worshiped the idols of the nation he defeated, leading to his defeat and imprisonment by Israel. Later he was assassinated.
Uzziah. He ruled Judah for 52 years. “He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” (II Chronicles 26:5) “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” (26:16) Uzziah was struck with leprosy and lived isolated for his remaining years.
Hezekiah. He re-established temple worship and the observance of Passover. He humbly prayed for God to overthrow the invading Assyrians, and God gave victory. “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” (II Chronicles 31:21) Yet following deliverance from the enemy, and personal deliverance from deadly illness, Hezekiah grew proud. Chronicles says he “did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.” (32:25) Among his mistakes was showing Babylonian envoys the treasures of his kingdom and failing to raise up a godly son.
Josiah. Another boy king, who began reigning at the age of eight. He reformed the worship of God and his efforts to restore the temple led to the discovery of the long lost Book of the Law. He led Judah to practice the commands of the Law and God had mercy on Josiah and the kingdom because of his humble response. But in the thirty-first year of his rule he chose to intervene in the march of Egypt’s king against Assyria. There may have been bravery in the attempt, and even loyalty to his current ally, Assryia, but there was also a lack of wisdom, and perhaps outright opposition to the will of God (Egypt’s king said so). Josiah was mortally wounded and died on his return to Jerusalem.
In contrast to these leaders who failed to finish well there was one king who began badly and finished strongly: Manasseh. After years of wickedness Manasseh was captured by the king of Assyria, and the one who seemed beyond redemption repented and was restored to the throne. Sadly, the damage had already been done to the kingdom. Chronicles focuses on the positive and overlooks it, but in Kings we learn the result:
Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. II Kings 21:11-12
Our charge is to stay strong to the end. The Christian life requires perseverance. God gives us his grace in order to be able to persevere and to finish the good work which he began in us.
We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. Hebrews 6:11
Guys who finish strong are, to quote the old hymn, stayed upon Jehovah. And guys who are stayed upon Jehovah consistently do four things. They stay in, they stay close, they stay away and they stay alert. They stay in what? Well they stay in the Scriptures. They stay close to a friend they can’t con. They stay away or keep their distance from women other than their wives. They stay alert to the schemes of the enemy. Now if I can remember those four stays, then you can remember them, even if you have attention deficit disorder. One guy put it this way in Psalm 119, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against Thee.” Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, gentlemen. – Steve Farrar
About this blog
During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered II Chronicles 13 – 36. Next week I will write about Ezra 1 – Nehemiah 9. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering II Chronicles 13 – 36.
Whom do you rely on? 2 Chronicles 16
When you fast… 2 Chronicles 20
The power of influence: 2 Chronicles 22-24
Starting strong, ending badly: 2 Chronicles 26
Leadership: 2 Chronicles 29-31
Grace and consequences: 2 Chronicles 33
Done, but not through: 2 Chronicles 36