And [Amaziah] did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart. 2 Chronicles 25:2
We know King David. And Solomon. Maybe even Hezekiah and Josiah. But there were many other kings in Judah, and admittedly, many were terrible. However, there were some good kings, not perfect kings, but good kings. These good kings can serve as examples of things we can do even in our culture, in our lives to honor God. So far we’ve studied Asa and his son, Jehoshaphat. Last week, we looked at Joash. Today, we’ll look at the reign of his son, Amaziah.
Amaziah followed the Law of Moses rather than customs of the day. One of his first official acts as king was to deal with his father’s assassins. 2 Chronicles 25:4 explains that he executed the servants who murdered his father, but he didn’t execute the children of the assassins. That practice was common in that day, and in all the nations around. (You may remember in Esther when Haman’s ten sons were also hanged as punishment for his plot.)
We live in a time when there is tremendous social and cultural pressure to conform. However, we need to choose daily and in every situation to follow God’s clear instructions and standards revealed in His word.
Amaziah listened to the advice of the man of God. The king assembled an army to face Edom. The Edomites were descended from Esau and were a perpetual thorn in the side of God’s people. To give himself a military advantage, he had hired a hundred thousand troops from the northern kingdom of Israel. An unnamed prophet came to him and said he could either go into battle with help from the troops from Ephraim or with help from Yahweh, but not both… Get rid of the northern kingdom soldiers. Amaziah wisely listened and sent the hired troops home. He won a stunning victory over Edom.
We must be wise enough to follow godly counsel. In Amaziah’s case, that counsel seemed counterintuitive. More soldiers had to be better. Depending on the ungodly for a victory, though, was contrary to God’s plan for His people. Of course, it is critical that the counsel we follow is godly. (Check out some tips on finding a godly counselor)
Unfortunately, the great victory over Edom led to some grave sins by Amaziah. He brought Edomites gods home and began to worship them. Then he threatened the prophet who called him out for it.
Great victories can also be times of great vulnerability for us, too. We need to be especially vigilant then and sensitive to God’s correction when we get off-course.
Amaziah then thought he could take on the army of Israel which was three times the size of his own army and stood over a million strong. That proved to be a terrible decision with long-ranging consequences. Judah was soundly defeated. Amaziah himself was captured. The northern section of Jerusalem’s wall was destroyed leaving them unprotected from future attack. The Temple was plundered and hostages were carried off to Samaria.
Amaziah was returned to the throne but he was nothing more than a vassal to Jehoash of Israel. Those hostages were used to ensure that. It wasn’t long before the people got fed up with Amaziah and his rule. From the time when he turned away from the LORD they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But they sent after him to Lachish and put him to death there. 2 Chronicles 25:27 Amaziah was assassinated, just as his father had been.
The third lesson from Amaziah is that our pride, our self-sufficiency doesn’t just have negative consequences for us. It also negatively impacts those around us, especially those who depend on our leadership.
Amaziah did what was right but not wholeheartedly. Let that be a caution and a challenge. What motivates us to do what it right? Do we phone it in? Do we check the box and then move on to what really captures our imagination? How do we respond when called out? What does that tell us about where our true loyalties lie?
Amaziah was succeeded by his son Azariah, who reigned for fifty-two years. We’ll dig into his life and reign next week.