Thoroughly Equipped: From Generation to Generation

Today’s reading includes 2 Kings 15:1-16:20, Acts 19:13-41, Psalm 147:1-20, Proverbs 18:4-5.

Today, we continue to see the division of the tribes of Israel, along with the history of their various kings.  To recap, the kingdom of Judah consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.  The kingdom of Israel consisted of all the other tribes.  The division took place when Rehoboam went to Shechem to be crowned the new king of Israel.  Jeroboam, who used to have a high place of honor in the kingdom, approached the new king asking for reduced taxes and kinder conditions.  Rehoboam arrogantly and harshly replied to them, announcing that the burdens would be even greater under his kingship.  The majority of the people revolted and made Jeroboam the king of Israel.  Only the tribe of Judah (and then the tribe of Benjamin) remained loyal to Rehoboam.  They became the kingdom of Judah.

When Jeroboam led the people, he set up his capital in Shechem.  Fearing that he would lose his power when the people went to worship at the Temple of the Lord, he decided to set up two golden calves and convinced the people that the Temple of the Lord was too far away and they should content themselves to worship the golden calves.  This, of course, was grievous sin before the Lord.  This idolatry led by Jeroboam had great and devastating effect on the people of Israel for many generations.  Throughout many generations, we see words similar to these repeated over and over:

But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. 

                                                                                    2 Kings 13:2

And in the next generation…

11 But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to commit.

                                                                        2 Kings 13:11

And so, the idolatry continued from generation to generation.

In the Kingdom of Judah, we see a more righteous line, though they, too, struggled with idolatry.  They did not, however, give themselves over to it.  They still tried to follow God and His ways.  For example…

Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not like his ancestor David. Instead, he followed the example of his father, Joash. Amaziah did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there.

                                                                                    2 Kings 14:3

In the kingdom of Judah, the leaders still sinned.  But they tried to please God.  Yes, it is important to try to please God.  We just need to realize that on our own, we can’t.  We will never be good enough, holy enough.  The kingdom of Judah had an advantage in the holiness department.  They carried the seed of the Savior to come.  And it is only Jesus, who can redeem us, reform us, and equip us to serve God in a holy way.  It is not in our righteousness that we are able to stand as holy and beloved children of God—it is in the righteousness of Jesus that we are able to stand.

And still, we have a responsibility to submit to the process of sanctification—to grow more holy and righteous through the help and covering of the Holy One.  And it matters that we continue in this process of sanctification.   It matters for our lifetime and it matters for future generations.  Our choices, our allegiances matter, for they will likely be passed on to the next generation and the next and the next, just as the evil choices of Jeroboam were passed down, and just as the righteous choices of David were passed down.  Sadly, we can’t ever let down our guard in this endeavor.  And we learn this truth through the example found in today’s reading.

Uzziah[a] son of Amaziah began to rule over Judah in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem.

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done. But he did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there. The Lord struck the king with leprosy,[b]which lasted until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house. The king’s son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land.

                                                                        2 Kings 15:1-5

We will read more of the story of King Uzziah in the book of 2 Chronicles, as well as in the book of Isaiah.  But what we know from this passage is that Uzziah started out strong.  He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as he had been taught.  But along the way, he got arrogant and proud.  Along the way, he began to trust in himself and in his own abilities and power.  And along the way, he messed up a righteous heritage.  He disobeyed the Lord when he arrogantly tried to play the role of priest and as a result, he was punished with leprosy, which took away his authority and thrust him into isolation.

What can we learn from all this?  We can’t rest on our previous laurels.  We can’t rely on our past record of sanctification.  Sanctification is an ongoing process which must be tended to and guarded throughout our entire lives.  Lest we be overwhelmed by this baton we must guard and then pass on, meditate on these words:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

                                                                        Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

                                                                        Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT


PS  I found a condensed list of the kings of both kingdoms on  Compare the following lists of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah:

KINGS OF ISRAEL: Jeroboam I, bad, 931—910 BC
Nadab, bad, 910—909 BC
Baasha, bad, 909—886 BC
Elah, bad, 886—885 BC
Zimri, bad, 885 BC
Tibni, bad, 885—880 BC
Omri (overlap), extra bad, 885—874 BC
Ahab, the worst, 874—853 BC
Ahaziah, bad, 853—852 BC
Joram/Jehoram, bad mostly, 852—841 BC
Jehu, not good but better than the rest, 841—814 BC
Jehoahaz, bad, 814—798 BC
Joash, bad, 798—782 BC
Jeroboam II (overlap), bad, 793—753 BC
Zechariah, bad, 753 BC
Shallum, bad, 752 BC
Menahem, bad, 752—742 BC
Pekahiah, bad, 742—740 BC
Pekah (overlap), bad, 752—732 BC
Hoshea, bad, 732—722 BC

Rehoboam, bad mostly, 931—913 BC
Abijah, bad mostly, 913—911 BC
Asa, GOOD, 911—870 BC
Jehoshaphat (overlap), GOOD, 873—848 BC
Jehoram/Joram (overlap), bad, 853—841 BC
Ahaziah, bad, 841 BC
Athaliah (queen), devilish, 841—835 BC
Joash/Jehoash, good mostly, 835—796 BC
Amaziah, good mostly, 796—767 BC
Uzziah/Azariah (overlap), GOOD mostly, 790—739 BC
Jotham (overlap), GOOD, 750—731 BC
Ahaz, wicked, 735—715 BC
Hezekiah, THE BEST, 715—686 BC
Manasseh, the worst, 695—642 BC
Amon, the worst, 642—640 BC
Josiah, THE BEST, 640—609 BC
Jehoahaz, bad, 609 BC
Jehoiakim, wicked, 609—597 BC
Jehoiachin, bad, 597 BC
Zedekiah, bad, 597—586 BC

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