Over the course of these two chapters, we read summaries of the lives and reigns of 3 kings in Judah and 5 in Israel. A couple Kings in Judah do a half hearted job of following the LORD, while others keep up the sins of Jeroboam.
It all wouldn’t be so heart breaking if Israel/Judah was any old nation, but they were the world’s one chance to see who God is. They were supposed to stand out in prosperity and peace, well cared for, fertile, freeing slaves, canceling debts, operating out of abundance instead of lack, serving a God of love who initiated the goodwill. Instead they had been deep in a downward spiral since Solomon adopted the religions of his many foreign wives.
Now they’re just passing time before the exiles. Ahab of Judah even goes as far as to adopt the horrible religion of Assyria. Making friends with “cool guy” over here (Tiglath-Pileser) who is a historical monster.
It’s hard to stop a train racing for a cliff. Just ask Marty McFly. These Kings probably thought pretty highly of themselves and the writer of this book says, “No, you didn’t follow the LORD, you get 4 verses.” They lost sight of what was important so long ago, their story is hardly worth telling.
We are all small blips in history, and it’s safe to say, no lasting book will ever recount the events of our short lives. It’s also easy to use the phrases “downward spiral” and “train racing toward cliff” when assessing our own country’s status, or the status of some churches. We are closer to world war 3 than we’d like to admit.
When God looks at my life, I don’t want to be an Azariah or Jotham; doing right in the eyes of the LORD, but not removing the high places. Now is not the time for half hearted devotion. That slows down nothing. Tomorrow we’ll read about how Hezekiah managed to pump the breaks on Judah’s exile. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t hold back any acceptable idols.
What are our “high places”? What are the influences of culture around us that have stolen worship and trust reserved for the LORD? For Israel it was stuff like, horoscopes, goddess worship, fertility gods and animals. Maybe for us it’s a modern version of one of those things such as vanity, success and power.
The more deeply established high places are, the harder they are to take down, but let me tell you: now is the time to take them down.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” -Psalm 139:23-24