Jotham takes the place of his father, Azariah/Uzziah, as king of Judah. He follows in the ways of the Lord but not completely, still.
We get a quick overview of Jotham’s reign in Judah. The most important thing we learn about him is that “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (verse 34b). He still didn’t tear down the high places where the people offered sacrifices and offerings. He did as good as his father’s in terms of commitment to God but not as good as David had done.
I’m always looking for more when we get these quick synopsis looks at the kings. My bible helps tells me that we will see quite a bit more of the wars between Syria, Pekah and Judah when we reach the book of Isaiah.
Something that interest me is that we are told “the Lord began to send Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah” (verse 37b). Although Jotham did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, he still fell short of what the Lord wanted from His people. The people were worshiping wherever they wanted and however they wanted. God called for His people to worship Him in Jerusalem when He put His name on the Temple that Solomon built for Him. He had established a place for His Tabernacle previously and had instructed the people to seek Him there. On rare occasions He called for an altar or a sacrifice in a different place but it was always in response to a significant event. An example that springs to my mind is in 2 Samuel 24. David is told to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah. This was a sacrifice of repentance to halt the plague God sent in response to David’s sin. This sacrifice was outside the normal parameters covered in the Law. GOD directed this altar be made; NOT David. God DID NOT direct altars be made under every tree and on every hill top. God was disciplining His people through Rezin and Pekah. I wonder if Jotham sacrificed on the high places or if he simply didn’t stop the people from doing so.
God’s correction through war doesn’t get into high gear until Ahaz, Jotham’s son takes the throne. Jotham was walking in the ways of the Lord but his son wouldn’t. He NEEDED the discipline! We will see more about Ahaz’s walk next time we get together. He was a very BAD king, especially by Judah’s standards.
We learn of one other project of Jotham from today’s reading. That project was the rebuilding of the upper gate of the House of the Lord. Was this gate part of the wall surrounding Jerusalem that Jehoash of Israel broke down when he took on Amaziah? There was a large section of the wall that fell under the siege. Part of it was already repaired by previous kings but the gate apparently was still in disrepair. Jotham saw to it that this was corrected.
When thinking what to take from today’s reading I was reminded that we ALL have issues that God is dealing with in our lives. NONE of us have reached perfection. Jotham was doing what he knew to do for his own walk with God but he had a responsibility to lead the people back to the correct path AND he had the authority to do it. But he chose not to ‘rock the boat’ in that area. God wanted him to step up and do what he knew to do.
I don’t have the power or audience Jotham did but there are issues in my life and in how I share His words that He deals with me on. No matter what our sphere of influence or daily practices, there is a higher place He is calling us to. Jotham didn’t get a full frontal assault like his son would but he was given ‘correction’. God disciplines His children because He LOVES them.
This DOES NOT mean that God is out there trying to strike us with some calamity or beat us down. He starts small just like a good parent would. A gentle reminder. A redirecting word. He builds or adjusts as our resistance dictates. A stern look. A time out. And He can get downright firm in the face of stubbornness. A ‘spanking.’ He prefers the gentle approach but because He loves us He won’t give up until He gets through our ‘thick skull.’
Father God, thank You for NEVER giving up on me. Thank You also that there is ALWAYS a step further You have for us to develop in our relationship. I KNOW I’m not perfect. When I stand before You I want to be as close to that point of perfection as possible. I can only get there by allowing You to work in my heart. I pray I learn from the gentle reminders and redirecting words and avoid the ‘spankings’. I’ve had more than my share of them over my lifetime. None that weren’t well earned though.
Thank You also for my parents who weren’t afraid to discipline me. I KNOW I challenged them in many areas but they too have never given up on me. They weren’t perfect but they were what You planned for me and just what I needed AND STILL NEED to bring me closer to You. They were my first models of Your love.
I pray for all the children in the world who didn’t get a good model of Your love from their parents or family. I pray that You send someone into their lives that can be that for them. Someone who will love them unconditionally. Someone who helps them see what they can be and motivates them to strive for a better tomorrow. Someone who will introduce them to YOU; the Ultimate Father. One day and one lesson at a time.