Wednesday, February 01, 2023

2023.02.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 14:23–29

Read 2 Kings 14:23–29

Questions from the Scripture text: In what year of whose reign, in which southern kingdom, did who become king of what northern kingdom (2 Kings 14:23)? Whose son was this Jeroboam? Where was his capital city? How long did he reign? What was Yahweh’s assessment of him (2 Kings 14:24)? Why, from what did he not depart? What did he do politically/militarily (2 Kings 14:25a)? According to what (verse 25b)? Why had Yahweh promised this, what two things did He see (2 Kings 14:26)? What did He not do (2 Kings 14:27a)? What did He do instead (verse 27b)? What other acts had Jeroboam done (2 Kings 14:28)? What is not done with them here? With whom does Jeroboam lay down in 2 Kings 14:29? Who reigns in his place?

Why do good things happen to bad churches? 2 Kings 14:23–29 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord’s compassion is so great that it breaks out in surprising moments of great mercy even to the most feeble and least faithful instances of the visible church. 

Northern Joash had named his son Jeroboam (2 Kings 14:23). One wonders if any of the Kings material was available by the time he did that. How could someone name his child after one whom God repeatedly identifies as the instigator of centuries of sinful, man-made religion? But still there are many who name their children things like “Judas,” and many “Christian” children who learn to be in the church but not of it. We shake our heads, but we’re not particularly surprised when Jeroboam 2.0 does not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam 1.0 (2 Kings 14:24).

What is remarkable is that despite doing “evil in the sight of Yahweh,” Jeroboam 2.0 reigns 41 years and recovers so much of the land (2 Kings 14:25a) that had been lost to Hazael. Perhaps you have correctly understood that there are no good people, and so you have gone from asking the skeptics question (“why do bad things happen to good people?”) to asking the worshiper’s question (“why do good things happen at all, since there are only bad people?”). 

Here is another question like it: “Why do good things happen to bad churches?” This is not the same thing as asking about their attendance or budget. Swelling those numbers isn’t necessarily a mercy. But God does come, sometimes, in such preaching as they have and proclaim Christ and convert people. And He does come sometimes and bring renewed repentance and growth among what believers are there. Does this mean that their man-made worship isn’t offensive to God, or that their man-made religion is useful for sanctification? No, it just means that God is merciful. 

Despite longevity and victory, Jeroboam 2.0 isn’t treated as a big deal by the text. If the seven verses that he gets here, four of them are spent on the customary formulae, and 2.5 of the remaining three verses aren’t about J2 so much as about why Yahweh even let such a king be powerful or useful.

This restoration/recovery didn’t happen because Jeroboam was clever, but because God had said that it would happen (2 Kings 14:25b). And God had said that it would happen, because He is compassionate (2 Kings 14:26). He is “Yahweh God of Israel” (2 Kings 14:25), and He sees and cares about their affliction (2 Kings 14:26). 2 Kings 14:27a gives us what by rights would have happened: “blot out the name of Israel from under heaven.” But verse 27b gives us what happened instead, “He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.” Jeroboam gets no more credit than a marionette. It is the abundantly compassionate God Who pulls the strings to use the hand by which He saves.

Why do good things happen at all? Because God is full of compassion.

What do you deserve? What does your church deserve? What are some examples of good that the Lord has done for you instead? Why would He do this?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for the greatness of Your compassion even upon Jeroboam II. Forgive us for when we repeat the same sins that churches have committed for centuries. We praise You for Your abundant mercy that You often show even to such churches. Forgive us for taking this mercy as an excuse for our sin. Though Your patience is great, You are holy and just, and if You were to destroy our congregation altogether, we could not open our mouths against You. So, we marvel at Your goodness, and come to You through Christ asking forgiveness for our sins individually, and for the sparing and prospering of our congregation corporately. In Your faithfulness and justice, forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all our unrighteousness, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH72A “O God, Your Judgments Give the King”

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