Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah

Today’s Readings: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28, Romans 12:1-21, Psalm 22:19-31, Proverbs 20:8-10

As a seven year old, King Joash was careful to follow the advice of the high priest, Jehoida, and things went well. Upon Jehoida’s death, King Joash yielded to pressure from his nobles and turned away from God to worship Baal and Asherah. God then issued a warning to the king and other leaders.

20 Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands and keep yourselves from prospering? You have abandoned the Lord, and now he has abandoned you!”

It was not so much a prediction of the future as it was a promise that God will continue to act as He had always acted. Judah had turned away from seeking God, stopped following God’s ways, and worshiped other gods, repeating the pattern of three steps in the wrong direction that we have seen many times.

What was Zedekiah’s reward for speaking God’s word? He was stoned to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple? As he was dying, he cried out, “May the Lord see what they are doing and avenge my death!”

This in fact happened. King Joash was wounded in a battle the Judah lost badly, then was assassinated by his own people. For some reason, they installed his son, Amaziah, as king and he was ambivalent.

Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly.

In fact, after defeating the nation of Edom, for some reason he decided to set up and worship their gods rather than his own.

14 When King Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought with him idols taken from the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down in front of them, and offered sacrifices to them! 15 This made the Lord very angry, and he sent a prophet to ask, “Why do you turn to gods who could not even save their own people from you?”

He then threatened the life of the prophet who had the courage to speak out against his behavior. Like his father, King Amaziah followed God part-time. I think this is a challenge for all of us. I think it is easier to start down the path of following God that it is to persist for a lifetime. King Joash yielded to pressure from his nobles to follow other gods. To me this seems like the constant pressure in our society to embrace as right behaviors that God clearly identifies as either “sin” or “abomination”. King Amaziah was distracted by shiny objects – the idols from Edom. For me this could well be the tendency to trust in material security or to focus on some person lesser than God for my hopes – a political figure, a sports star or team, or a spokesperson from the media.

What if the Spirit of God comes upon you or me with a message of warning or caution for those in authority over us? Perhaps this has already happened, but if I ignore this, it will become progressively more difficult for me to hear and follow the Lord in the future. If, on the other hand, I have the summon my courage  like Jehoida, the priest, then I will have the opportunity to see God act, in a way that may involve personal risk from the very people that God wants to heal, protect and deliver.

 

 

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