Doubling down on a losing hand
2 Chronicles 28: If I worship the gods who helped Damascus, those gods just might help me too.
Good king Jotham is laid to rest and his son Ahaz takes over. His years in power are marked by spiritual and national failure and he leads his people into idol worship and detestable practices. Darkness descends as God withdraws his blessings on Judah. Neighboring Damascus betrays Ahaz and grinds Judah into the ground, humiliating it by taking treasures from the Temple. Ahaz, who’s turned his back on Jehovah God, stupidly concludes that the gods of Damascus are preferable to the idols he’s been worshipping. He copies their idols and brings worship of them to Jerusalem. What’s wrong with this guy? He dumps the Lord God and then wonders why he and his nation are no longer blessed. Then, to add insult to injury, rather than return to the God of his father, he decides to try out the gods of Damascus. This guy is begging for judgment and he gets it. The old wisdom is that the first thing to do when one finds himself in a hole is to stop digging. Ahaz doesn’t get it, so when he finds himself in trouble for rejecting God instead of stopping and reconsidering his course of action he doubles down on it making matters doubly worse. The thing is that this is exactly what I see people do today. They ignore God and go their own direction. Then, when things don’t work out instead of repenting and returning to God, they double down and move even farther away from the Lord than they are already. There are a lot of young adults who were raised in the church and know better who keep adding one bad decision on top of another. Sad to say in them Ahaz has lots of company.
Take Away: Adding one minus to other minuses will never get us a “plus” result.
One chapter lives
2 Chronicles 27: Jotham’s strength was rooted in his steady and determined life of obedience to God.
Jotham comes to power before he ascends to the throne. His father Uzziah’s affliction keeps him from running the government and Jotham rules in his father’s place. After seven years of this arrangement, upon the death of Uzziah, Jotham ascends to the throne. He gets high marks in both the 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles accounts of his reign. However, both accounts are rather brief. Jotham does some significant construction and has a couple of major military campaigns. The bottom line of his life is that his “strength was rooted in his steady and determined life of obedience to God.” If a person’s life is to be summed up in one sentence, that’s a pretty good sentence to hear. Words like “strength,” “steady,” determined,” and “obedience of God” leave us wanting to hear more about this good man. One nice thing about the account of Jotham’s life is that there’s no “but…” after the epitaph I’m considering today. I wonder what words will be used to someday describe my life? Unlike Jotham I’ll never be a famous person or a national leader. By the grace of God, though, “steadiness, determination, and obedience of God” is within my grasp. Even people who live “one chapter lives” can make that chapter count for something worthwhile.
Take Away: A life lived for the Lord is a life well lived.