Lessons from the Kings of Judah
Along the front façade of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris were 28 sculptures of the Kings of Judah. Of course, we don’t know what their physical appearance was, but 2 Chronicles gives insights as to what they were like on the inside. The Books of Chrionicles (one book originally) are sermons, based on the factual history of Israel and Judah. The author lets the facts speak, and what they say edifies us. 2 Chronicles is a great read, and has glaring lessons for the reader to learn. Here are some:
1. The battle is the Lord’s. The kings who acted on this found truth that God gave them victory; those who forgot the lesson, believing that they could succeed without the aid of God, were reminded, at great cost, of their own inability. (See 20:13, 14:11, 18:31, 25:8, 32:8). I have a friend who each morning in his quiet time with the Lord, by faith, puts on the armour of God. As Francis Ridley Havergill wrote: “each piece, put on with prayer.”
2. None of the kings of Judah was sinless. There were some wonderful men amongst the kings, but all had their faults. Even some of the royal children of godly kings became ungodly themselves. Each King of Judah must have left people longing for the coming of the King of kings, who would be pure, sinless and undefiled. They all point the way to His royal birth, and His kingly reign. The truth is that all Scripture is about Jesus.
3. Kings who started well, did not necessarily end well. To my mind the saddest reading in 2 Chronicles is when good and godly kings in their youth, lost their submission to God’s ways as they grew older. Some were not able to be trusted with the blessings that God gave (e.g. 26:16). As someone said, ‘We are always shaping our future, and reaping our past.’ Usually the kings who went astray did so because they made affinity with ungodly monarchs. Putting their confidence in the wrong people was their besetting sin. (See 16:3, 18:1-3, 20:35, 21:6, 35:20).
4. When a leader sinned, tragically ordinary people suffered. (25:22 & 33:9). There is great responsibility therefore for leaders (whether in a nation, or the Church) to live in a godly way, and set an example that is worth being followed. Notice how the nation needed kings, priests and prophets, to enjoy God’s blessings, for behind the scenes, Satan is at work.
5. No matter how wicked a king had been, when there was true repentance there was abundant mercy. God used affliction to humble wicked Manasseh (33:12). God sees all things, and works when there is humility and a tender heart. This certainly encourages us to pray despite the horrid waywardness of our nation at the moment. (12:12, 20:3 and 34:17). If Judah is similar to the church, then there is a challenge here to all Christian leaders, and the promise of blessing when there is true repentance.
6. It was necessary at times to purge the land of accumulated sin. Time and again the nation of Judah allowed an infiltration of spiritual neglect and idolatry (14:2 & 17:6). There had to be a complete purging of all evil from the nation, to enjoy God’s blessings again. (15:17 & 20:33). Prosperity in the land came through seeking the Lord (26:5 and 31:10). The nation demonstrated the New Testament truth that you reap what you sow (cf. 21:20). Five times revival came during the reign of the godly kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah.
7. Even in times when most prophets were apostates, there were some who fearlesslessly and faithfully spoke the word of God, whatever the cost. The monarchs, the prophets, the priests and the people, had to discern whether what was being proclaimed was indeed the word of God rather than the dreams and thoughts of mere men (15:1 – 3, 18:13 & 26, and 20:37).
The value of 2 Chronicles is that God wants to foster a right relationship between Himself and His people through the sermon based on real history. Through the recording of this period of history, there is a selection of events, and then a proclamation of the pattern of failure and judgement, as well as grace and restoration.