Joash of Judah is dead by the hands of his servants. His son Amaziah rules in his place. One of the things he does is ‘repay’ the servants for their treachery.
We are told right away that Amaziah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (verse 3b). He fell short of the mark set by David because he didn’t remove the “high places” where the people worshiped. Who did they worship there? Was it the Lord or was it false gods?
His first act as king was to ‘repay’ the men who murdered his father. They paid with their own lives. This is the first of the kings that stops at punishing the perpetrators alone. All the other retaliation events included killing the whole family of the one who was guilty. But Amaziah followed the Law on this issue. That alone should put him in good standing with the Lord. He didn’t shed innocent blood; at least not here.
Amaziah’s hands weren’t completely free of blood as he fought against Edom and killed 10,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. I wonder what provoked this war. Was this to reclaim lost territory? Edom had rebelled against Judah rule and set up a king for themselves king during the reign of Jehoram. Was Amaziah working to restore Judah’s power base?
Amaziah was so successful that he wanted to correct another rebellion; that of Israel. This decision would get him into serious trouble. I was wondering why God allowed Amaziah to be defeated by Jehoash of Israel in battle. But then I started thinking about what it would mean if Israel was reunited.
First of all, Amaziah didn’t consult the Lord on his plans. He decided that HE (Amaziah) had enough strength and confidence in his own men to do the job; pride and arrogance. God is the one who allowed Israel to be split in two. Their sins brought this about and those sins hadn’t been resolved yet. It wasn’t in HIS (God’s) time yet.
Second, Amaziah broke the peace that had been going on between the two kingdoms. King Jehoshaphat started peace talks between the two kingdoms but his son Jehoram completed them by marrying one of Ahab’s daughters. This was NOT an enhancement in the eyes of the Lord as Israel’s sins bled over into Judah. If it was my decision, I would have applauded breaking this bond of idolatry between the two. But Amaziah’s war put ‘brother against brother’ once again.
Third, the full sins of Israel would come flooding back in if the two kingdoms were reunited. If Judah had won this war the people of Israel would once again be united with those of Judah. The golden calves of Jeroboam, Baal, and the Asherath would still stand if the boundaries were moved. I see king Amaziah trying to woo the people back from their idols instead of enforcing compliance. The people’s sins hadn’t been dealt with by the Lord and they would pollute Judah if reunited.
The most important reason this battle didn’t go Amaziah’s way, even though he was called a ‘godly king’, was because it wasn’t in God’s time yet. Israel needed disciplined for their rebellion. Judah would receive discipline too but a little later.
Looking at Jehoash’s response to Amaziah I can’t say as I blame him for acting rashly. Jehoash pretty much called him a ‘nothing’ or ‘inconsequential king.’ He didn’t have to be so condescending with his answer. It wasn’t that long ago when Israel had 50 horsemen, 10 chariots and 10,000 footmen for their WHOLE army. He could have found another way to say no that wouldn’t have been so insulting.
Amaziah paid for his arrogance by losing his throne. He was carried away in battle and kept for some time. Judah suffered at the hands of Jehoash too with the destruction of a portion of the wall of Jerusalem and the theft of articles of value from the Temple and the house of the king. This doesn’t even take into account all the people Jehoash took captive. The people paid dearly for Amaziah’s wounded pride.
Amaziah outlived Jehoash of Israel but we are not told when and how he was returned to Judah. The people of Judah were apparently not content to let him rule over them again and they conspired against him. He saw the writing on the wall and fled but the people were still not content. They went after him and killed him. Judah needed a new king and they couldn’t crown one until Amaziah was dead.
I was curious about the term Elath that Azariah was said to have restored so I checked out my Bible helps for this verse. The helps didn’t immediately go into this issue but instead commented on the probability that Jehoash held power in Jerusalem until his death. There was a span of 15 years before Amaziah followed Jehoash in death but he did no significant work in Judah during that time. It took his sixteen year old son taking the throne to begin to reclaim strength in Judah. “Elath” was a port in the northern end of the Red Sea. This was part of rebuilding Judah.
The biggest lesson I can take from our reading today is GOD is in charge. He knows the timeline and storyline that leads to the end HE has authored. HE is in control. He is STILL in control today. He has already written the end for us and we can be CERTAIN that He will keep His promises in what is to come. His plan is not ‘a walk in the park’ but the end is worth the trials along the way. Hold fast to His hand and ASK what He would have you do. Trust where He leads and don’t fight against His ‘No’ answers.
Father God, lead me where I am to go. I do NOT want my pride to take me down a path of destruction. Thank You that You hold today and tomorrow in Your hands. I can be certain that You will work ALL things out to bring Your promises to fulfillment. I’m looking forward to ‘the end of the book.’