2 Chronicles: The Fall of Judah and the Faithfulness of God
Open your Bibles, if you would to Second Chronicles. Second Chronicles. If you got a handout, you'll see why there's a child there on the front in a little bit. But also you will see the themes of Second Chronicles, a little bit of a chapter overview, and also some of the main chapter events. So Second Chronicles is quite the book. I'm looking forward to preaching that this morning.
The title of the message is, “The Fall of Judah and the Faithfulness of God.” The timeframe here is from about 900 BC to 586 BC. So this is just after David and we pick up with Solomon in the first nine chapters. To kind of review a little bit, to go over those books that we've kind of clumped together. First and Second Samuel, you'll remember, was a bridge from the last judge Samuel, to the kingdom, to Judah and Israel under the kings. So that's where First Samuel comes in. And second Samuel is a reign of the Davidic dynasty.
Then we have First and Second Kings, which we've split, you know, into two books. It's the rise and fall of Solomon and the Divided Kingdom. That one relates to Second Chronicles, quite a bit. So you'll see some similarities there and some different emphases as well. And then second Kings, goes over the fall of Israel and Judah even further. First Chronicles, I know this is all review, First Chronicles talks about the genealogies of the 12 tribes, if you are in love with the genealogies of the Old Testament, First Chronicles is your favorite book. It goes all the way up to David and to David's reign as king. And obviously, now that we've gone through, you know, the Davidic Covenant in Second Samuel seven, and repeated further; you know the importance of the genealogies. That it connects all of our church fathers, if you will, in Scripture to the Davidic line and gives David the line. And then it shows forth later how Jesus himself would come from the line of Judah through David. What's interesting about this book, is that Second Chronicles was written 400 years after Solomon. You'll find out why, at the end of the message. And it ties in greatly to what we're going to go over today.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever wondered how much sin a nation can commit before God judges them? You probably started wondering that years ago. But Second Chronicles, with all of the magnificence of David and Solomon bringing peace on every side and kings paying tribute, like sending ships full of cargo that were just precious jewels and gold and timber and the best of the best. We need to remember those times but we also need to understand that these were God's chosen people. What if the nation that rebels is actually God's chosen people? Right, we think about the founding of our nation and how men at least were wanting religious freedom not to debate what that exact religion or freedom was all about. But Christianity was very welcome in the starting of our nation. 400 some years ago, right?
Second Chronicles will provide you a very interesting insight into God's decision making when nations go astray. It will also provide you a contrast between the discipline of his people; how that moves to the rebuke, chastisement, and punishment of his people. And how all throughout that there is the love of God, the steadfast love of God. The Hesed: the love that never fades, the love that never goes away. How does God remain consistent in his character throughout dealing with his people. Well Second Chronicles is going to show us how God keeps his word and his character intact, even when everything seems like it's falling apart. Maybe you can relate to that.
The book starts out though in chapter one, you can turn there with me if you would, Second Chronicles one. It starts out with a review of the glory days. This is the most magnificent review of Solomon's reign as king. And it really just goes over the highlights. If you just read that, and nothing else, you would have thought he was the man after God's own heart. But Solomon here we see begins to build a temple. And I want to ask you a question just right off the bat as we talk about this temple. Was Solomon, greedy? Was Solomon, did he have an insatiable desire for wealth? Did he, himself, pursue this wealth on his own? Well, we're gonna get to verse one here shortly, but Solomon had literally truckloads, or I guess you could say, wagonloads of gold and silver. He had so much gold, as you know, to make the temple, that he even put it on the floor. The floor of the temple! He put it on the walls, he covered furniture with it, he covered shields to symbolize power and put it around the walls. I bet just a little morning light would make the whole temple glow and glisten.
His throne was quite amazing. We have four steps or so to get up here, he had six. His throne was made out of gold. And on the throne, on each step, were lions made out of gold. Six steps on each side with lions. And then his throne, his seat. (I'm not asking for a gold pulpit or microphone, right? That's TD Jakes and others. That's not us.) But Solomon had a throne of gold. His chair, two giant lions, you knew who was in charge. And you have to ask yourself the question. Is this man just all about himself? Like is all that necessary? I think we need to remember that Solomon wasn't just any king. He was God's king. He was God's leader. Scripture says God loved Solomon, explicitly. And God is the one who gave all of this greatness to Solomon.
Look in 2 Chronicles 1:1, “Solomon the son of David established himself in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.” Solomon's greatness came from God. His reign just wasn't about wealth. It was also about worship. 2 Chronicles 1:3, “And Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon, for the tent of meeting of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness, was there.” So now think about this with me, Gibeon’s probably not on your city list in the Old Testament of ones that you know well, but it should be. Gibeon was about five, six miles north of Jerusalem. And that is where the tent of meeting that Moses had made, that's where that tent was, it wasn't in Jerusalem at this time. It was north of the city. We know from David's census that there was, you know, at least five to six million people among the 12 tribes of Israel. Right, we went over how we get to that number last week. But Solomon here, in verse six, is going to offer 1,000 burnt offerings.
So he's a young man. He has great wisdom already as a young man. And he's leading a gigantic caravan five, six miles long, with at least 1,000 animals who wouldn't make the return trip. They were the burnt offerings. And he is telling the people that we need to go and worship God in the tent of meeting because that is where traditionally God has met his people. So Solomon is focusing the people to God. And wouldn't you know it, it was there in Gibeon, at the tent of meeting, where God says, “Ask, what I shall give you.” So Solomon asked for the wisdom to govern, so many people. We see that in 2 Chronicles 1:10, and God was pleased with his request. 2 Chronicles 1:12-13, “‘wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. [This is God speaking to Solomon at the tent of meeting] I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.’ So Solomon came from the high place at Gibeon, from before the tent of meeting, to Jerusalem. And he reigned over Israel.”
This is a fantastic start. A fantastic start. Solomon is asking God for basically wisdom to govern all of these people. It's difficult to govern 50 people, or 100 people, or cities that are spread out of 10,000 people. But not only is Solomon governing millions of people, he's governing millions of relatives. How hard is that? They're all related in some way. Like when you have a family reunion, who's going to show up? Somebody is going to get left off the list.
But this is a fantastic start and the returning exiles needed to hear this. They needed to hear that their king was about worshiping God. That was his priority. 2 Chronicles 1:15 says, “And the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stone.” Now knowing that God gave Solomon the greatness, and God gave Solomon the wisdom, he had so much wealth that he even got more wealth throughout his reign. And he reigned for 40 years. We're not planning on ordering gold chairs. But I just want to poke at the notion a little bit that wealth means greed. Here there's a reason for all of this extravagance, there's a reason for going and offering an extravagant burn offering for the nation. Because he has a wonderful and magnificent God, who was above all other gods. And Solomon knew that. In their obedience, under David and Solomon, there was no better time in history. This type of thinking would fortify us against pursuing wealth for wealth’s sake. And remind us that we need to pursue God for his sake, and for our sake as well.
So in chapter two, Solomon gathers materials, he builds the temple. Make no mistake about it, Solomon was a master leader, with unparalleled organizational skills. He gathered 150,000 workers with 3,600 to oversee them. Now if you've read leadership books, say in the last 50 years, all of them will tell you that middle management is a new thing, after the invention of the assembly line. That we get these buildings and companies so big, that we need to have this layer between the workers and the bosses. And middle management was developed because of our need for industrialization. Solomon had 3,600 middle managers. So we try and take the credit for what is obviously seen in Scripture so many times, but it's not a 20th century construct.
All along the way, Solomon was guided by this principle that we see in 2 Chronicles 2:5, “The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods.” The God that you serve, is greater rather than all gods. There aren't real gods out there, there are gods of wood, hay and stubble. There are gods that we create and make, so that we can worship, just like the Israelites did with the golden calf. But Solomon knew that God was magnificent and that's why he built things the way that he did. If you want to know what the inside of the temple looked like in detail, you can read chapters three to five. But God was absolutely pleased with what you and I would call over the top, exquisite luxury.
Look in 2 Chronicles 5:13, there's celebration, there's singing, the temple is done, the temple is made. There's trumpets, there's cymbals. This is not like quiet, organ music. This is like a gigantic celebration, with thousands and thousands of people. And they are praising the LORD, that is Yahweh, as they sing. And 2 Chronicles 5:14, we see God's blessing on all of this, “the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.” You don’t tell God to come down, like some Catholic mass, you actually let God do his filling of the glory and appearing and showing up on his own. And God gives his blessing and approval over all that Solomon had done, because his glory filled the temple.
See, now we don't have to go up to Gibeon with the tent of meeting, now we can stay in Jerusalem and worship in the temple there. So Solomon fulfills the promise that God gave to David, saying, “that your son will build me a house.” And of course, David started him out with a lot of material. But God is very pleased with all that was going on. You can see this again, this isn't just a one time thing. If you look in 2 Chronicles 7:1-3, you see not only God's glory coming down again, but you see fire from heaven coming down and consuming the burnt offerings that they had laid out as a way of worshipping God. You see that in 2 Chronicles 7:1-3.
Solomon truly understood what it meant to follow God. I think we miss that. I think we just get to look at his whole life and say, “Ah, look at this big giant area of sin. Everything Solomon did must be tainted.” But here's what God's Word says about Solomon. 2 Chronicles 6:13-14, Solomon had made a bronze platform and stood on it. So he made a platform, so stages are okay. You'll see that again when we get to Ezra, he makes a wooden platform and stands on it. So we're within the divine context here. Solomon made a bronze platform and stood on it. “Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands towards heaven.” (It's okay to raise your hands in praise to God. I know we're mostly the frozen chosen here, right? We worship like this. Like, “oh, I saw somebody move.” It's okay. Just do it for the right reason.) “and said, O LORD.” That's Yahweh, L-O-R-D, that's the memorial name of God, given in Exodus 3. [2 Chronicles 6:14] “‘O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart.” Solomon knew it was about the heart. He knew it wasn't about the externals. He wanted to show this grand magnificence because God is grand! There is no greater God!
But it's all about the heart, in relation to a God who keeps his Word and he shows his steadfast love. We might have forgotten just how loving God is when we look around and we see what's going on. We say, “Lord, in my own heart, I see this dirt and this grime and I want to get rid of it.” And we say, “God, where are you? Where is your steadfast love? I need an outpouring of your mercy.” He's always been like this. This is the best relationship with God that we can have. We know a God who keeps his Word. And his followers, listen, our servants who walk before him with all their heart. They serve, they follow God, they walk before him. That's the obedience. And they do it because they have a heart of love for God. That's the message throughout all of Scripture. No matter what book you're in, you will see this is the pattern whenever it's described explicitly, of those who are truly followers of God.
Now, let me show you the context of this a little bit deeper. This book was written, as I said, 400 years after Solomon. Okay. And it starts with this glorious understanding of who Solomon is. Well, it was written probably after 586 BC, we don't know exactly who wrote it, maybe one of the scribes. But the people had been deported. They were in Babylon at that time. And they were in waves, coming back to Jerusalem. Babylon, if a straight road were there, which there is one relatively straight between Jerusalem and Baghdad today. Babylon was10 miles or so south of what is modern day Baghdad, you can look up ancient Babylon on Google. But anyway, that's Iraq. And if there's a straight road, you're looking at 600 miles, through the desert. Anybody walk that much lately? Anybody done the Appalachian Trail, the AT? Yeah, that one's longer than 600. But this is through the desert.
Iraq has some 65,000 square miles of desert. You know, when you're out in the ocean, and you can't see land, you're kind of like, are we still going the same direction? If you've ever been out that far, you don't know which way to go. Well, imagine being in a sea of sand. You don't want to veer off, because you're never gonna get where you're going. That's the opportunity that was put before all the people. After Iraq, they would cross into what is now modern-day Jordan, which is roughly 90% desert. So you're kind of wondering along the way, was this a good idea? We had a house, we had vineyards. They told us, live like you're in your own land, plant vineyards, go to work, raise families, even in captivity for 70 years. But you're gonna ask, is it worth it? Anytime you go on a car ride with little children, you ask, is it worth it? This is a long walk. Should we risk running out of food? Should we risk being robbed on the way? Are these even the right questions to ask? I mean, as practical as they may be, you're not going to carry enough water to go 600 miles, you're gonna have to find water somewhere. Especially if you go through the northern route, which is almost twice as long. And if you start to go the southern route, you stop and you go back because it's worse. Right? You don't go the southern route. Armies didn't even go the southern route most of the time.
So the Jewish people, though, they had a focus at this point. They were told to worship in Jerusalem. Jesus had this with the Samaritan woman, right, John 4, “You say that you're supposed to worship there. We say we worship here in Samaria.” And Jesus says, “We're looking for people who worship in spirit and truth. You kind of get it all wrong.” But at this point, they have a place to worship. They're supposed to go there. Could they have stayed in their own house and still worshipped God? Yes. Would it be better to be together in the house God has put forward where the gathering of the people are to worship? Absolutely! The men were required to show up to Jerusalem three times a year to keep the feasts. Right. It's like built in tourism economy, right, three times a year. They're traveling from all over, if they can make it there, to sacrifice to the Lord to show their continual worship.
The real question is not about water. The real question is not about convenience. The real question is, “Is worship of God my highest priority?” That's the question. And when we answer that question, the trip is a no brainer. To get to where God wants you to be to worship. That is absolutely where you need to be. The glory of God didn't appear in Babylon. It appeared in the tent of meeting. He appeared in his glory in the temple. To show, this is where my presence dwells.
We need to be where God wants us, even if it costs us other things. Right? The gathering, Ecclesia, the Church, the New Testament. Church should be the reason why we miss other things. Well, you can read more about Solomon's gold, glory, and honor in chapter nine when the Queen of Sheba shows up to check things out and see if all the stories are true. But Solomon ruled for 40 years. Solomon died. And if you're wondering if we missed something about all his wives and concubines, no, we didn't. Second Chronicles doesn't review that, that didn't fit the purpose of what Second Chronicles is for. But we kind of get that, in a little bit. And I'll show you why it's kind of in there in a roundabout way.
Solomon’s son in chapter 10. That's where we're at in the story now, chapter 10. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, is not wise to say the least. He is not a good leader. And everything starts to go south very quickly, under Rehoboam. And the nation divides, that is the 12 tribes divide, and they never reunite. Never. Oh, some return. But their lineage is very hard to trace. God has a special protection over Judah, who was among the 12 Tribes. One bad king, changes everything. Why does this happen? Well, this was actually promised of God. During Solomon's life, when he began to turn from God and pursue women. God rose up an adversary against him whose name was Jeroboam. Okay, Jeroboam. Solomon heard about this. And so Solomon, look in, well I'll just read it to you. 1 Kings 11:40 says this, “Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam arose and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.”
After Solomon's death, Jeroboam returns to Jerusalem. What happened, was that God sent a prophet to Jeroboam and said, “Hey, Jeroboam, one day, I'm gonna give you 10 of the 12 tribes, and I'm gonna rip it away from Solomon.” Okay, that's not the kind of adversary you want living in your kingdom. So Jeroboam realizes he's under the death threat now. Thanks for the gift, I got to run for my life. So he runs for his life to Egypt, and doesn't come back until Solomon is dead. Okay. So I don't know exactly how old Jeroboam is, at this point. He's not a young buck. Solomon rules for 40 years. He actually came to Rehoboam, Solomon’s son with the people, willing to submit himself to Rehoboam. But Rehoboam instead of being gracious to the people, decided, I am going to not just whip you with cords. I'm going to whip you with scorpions, and you're going to produce even more for me than you produce for Solomon.
Rehoboam was all about himself. 2 Chronicles 10:15 says, this was God's doing. Turn there with me to 2 Chronicles 10:15. “So the king [that is Rehoboam] did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the LORD might fulfill his word, which he spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite, to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.” It's always a good array of children's names there for you. But what you need to understand, is that God will plan to chastise an entire people group because of their entire sin. It wasn't just that it was Solomon’s sin. All the people deserve this. As you know from a few sermons ago, Solomon built high places all over the land. The Promise Land had temples to pagan idols. So that those who if you so choose, do not want to worship Yahweh (who gave us this land); we're going to set up foreign temples for you to worship, that remained in the land for at least 300 years after Solomon. Probably until Hezekiah, or Josiah took them down.
And this, this chastisement, this evil king, Rehoboam, was brought about by God. What you need to know is that God is sovereign. He is not sitting back just watching. He's not some clockmaker who starts at all working and then watches the show. He is divinely orchestrating the plans and the events of mankind. You and I can either be joyful and happy about that, that we get to worship God here. I mean, I certainly we shouldn't take opening our doors and worshiping God for granted anymore. We did until two years ago. But we should never take that for granted now, even here in the nation that was started by people who wanted religious freedom.
So 2 Chronicles 10:19, we see this, “So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.” Israel here represents the Northern 10 Tribes. Okay, not Judah and Benjamin, which we put together as Judah. That's in the South. The North, top of the Dead Sea, a little further up to beyond the Sea of Galilee. That is, what they would call Israel. They started to war against each other, all the 12 Tribes, God stopped that. By the time you get to w Chronicles 12:1, says, “When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.”
All Israel, one king. If there's anything that we need, its conviction. Because you're not going to be able to see how true and pure your heart is, when there's no fire. See, when you see the fire, when the trials get turned up a little bit, when you got to stretch to make things work the way God is obviously showing them to work. How are we going to walk through the fire? Are we going to have a weak heart that then just goes after other things? “I’m just so burned-out following God. I just need a break from God. I just don't know if I can serve any longer. This is, everybody else gets two full days on the weekend, right? I only get one.” All those types of things. Where are we going to be when the heat gets turned up?
So God punishes them. 2 Chronicles 12:2-3, “In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the LORD, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. And the people were without number who came with him from Egypt – Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians.” Unfaithfulness to God is not a popular point to preach on today. Yet God does not overlook it. He is way more concerned about the nation's rebellion against him than you are.
But for us, we need to think about this a little bit. Are we just too casual in our relationship with God? I realize that's why some people wear a full suit and tie. They don't want to be seen in their personal convictions as being casual in their relationship with God. We serve a holy God. We need to dress like it. And that’s obviously a Christian preference. But in their own convictions, they want to do that. I remember wondering like, what am I supposed to wear to the office? Who's got a book on that? As you know, I don't normally wear a jacket, at least not until about five months ago. I just liked the jacket. But it's a preference, right? It's a total preference. What you wear today is a preference. But do we treat God as holy? Or are we just simply casual in our relationship with the Lord God?
Well, Jeroboam acted wickedly. He controlled the northern 10 tribes. Not only did he act wickedly, he drove out all the priests. He drove out the sons of Aaron, the Levites, and replaced them with whoever he wanted. That's 2 Chronicles 13:9. There is civil war that comes. Judah is outnumbered two to one. Israel finally has had enough, they want control of all the land, and they attack their relatives in Judah, around the city of Jerusalem, including Benjamin. But they defeated Jeroboam 2 Chronicles 13:18, “because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers.”
Finally, see God raised up Jeroboam. And then because the people said, “we're going to trust God no matter what.” God puts down Jeroboam, after the appointed time. Ethiopians wage war against Judah, the next king. And the next king, thankfully is a good king, King Asa of Judah. The Ethiopians in 2 Chronicles 14:9, bring a million-man army, to fight Judah; little, tiny, Judah, compared to them. But he cries out to the Lord in 2 Chronicles 14:11-12, and God delivered them.
Brings us to another point of application. Who do we trust in this country? Who do we trust in this country? It's easier to think about Russia or Ukraine, will they turn to God? Both pagan nations, both have believers in them, largely run by pagan leaders. What about the United States? Who is going to stand up and be a bright light for Jesus Christ? Which among us, here today, right now, is going to stand up and be a bright light for Jesus Christ? In your school, young people. You may go to a Christian school even, they need bright lights for Jesus Christ, not casual Christians. In your workplace, you may be blessed with having one or two other believers there with you, that is an amazing blessing to God. But will you be open and overt about your Christianity? You say, “Well, it's easy for you to say that because you're here.” Well, two things about that. One, the pulpits have never been weaker. The second thing is, I had another career before being a pastor, and was convicted by this all the time.
Will the United States once again be, “One nation under God?” We already are a nation under God. But will we serve God? Will we trust God? Did you know that “In God We Trust,” is still the official motto of the United States and the State of Florida? Go Florida! It was adopted by Congress in 1956. Replacing “E pluribus unum,” which had been the de facto motto since the initial 1776 design of the Great Seal of the United States. I didn't know that was our official motto. How could we forget that? I mean, I’ve heard of the motto, I see it on our money. In 2003, a poll by CNN, USA Today, and Gallup (which shows it’s not bias to conservative thought), shows 90% of the people support keeping the motto. Just as recent as 2003. Will our money continue to say “In God We Trust,” if we keep printing money? Better yet will our hearts continue to say, “In God We Trust?” Will your heart, no matter what, say, “In God We Trust?”
You see, God is most concerned friends, with your heart. He knows you. He knows your thoughts and your life. And he is most concerned with where your heart is, before the Lord. Before him. It's flayed open. There's nowhere we can hide. There's no thought we can suppress. He knows all things. He sees where we go, where we spend our time, what we do. He knows our thoughts, if we're fully engaged. See, I think we need to focus just like when this church had like, 15 people. You want to kind of preach to the seats who aren't here. We just got to grow the church. Like no, that's God's job, right? Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church.” That's his job, we don't take that job.
Our job is to be concerned with our hearts before the Lord. And if our hearts are steadfast to the Lord, God will be pleased with you. Notice, I didn't say that you have to be perfect. That's why God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, to make atonement for sin, so that those who follow him and repent, turn from their sin to Jesus Christ, they receive their salvation by grace. Faith is the vehicle by which it comes, and they get a new nature, a new heart. See, we need to leave the entire country and the world up to God. We shine our little lights wherever we are, with as big a platform as God gives us. But we don't act like if we just shined our light better than the world would totally turn to the Lord. That's God's domain. We pray that is the case. We pray that we have better rules and laws and regulations, and that people can influence the politics. But one king, just one king, turned it all around.
See, God's been doing pretty good for thousands of years now, and will continue long after we're in heaven, with directing the affairs of the world. So God speaks, turn to 2 Chronicles 15:1. God speaks again to Asa, the current king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 15:1, “The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, ‘Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: [there's the connection of Judah and Benjamin] The LORD [i.e. Yahweh] is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him [what does God's Word say?], he will forsake you.”
That rattles the theology a little bit, doesn’t it? [2 Chronicles 15:3-4] “For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest and without law, but when in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them.” This isn't a treatise on election. This isn't a treatise on salvation. This is simply, if you are following God and following after him, the true God (in verse 3), not just any god of our making, but the true God. If you have one teaching the Word of God straightforward to you, not glossing over the hard part, and you understand the requirements of God's Word. Then he will be found by you. But if he forsakes you, that means you've been following something else, not the true God. See, Israel needed good teaching, but they had none. None! They needed what every true Christian needs right now: good teaching, a good church, where they can grow with other believers. Our motto is to “Preach Christ and Make Disciples.” And praise God, they did turn to the Lord. Look in 2 Chronicles 15:12, “And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul.”
Where's your heart today? Really, where is your heart today? Does it seek to be with Jesus Christ? Does it long for his Word like the deer pants for the water? Like, I'm dying here and the only thing – all my faculties, my energy, my thirst, my senses, everything is pointing me to Christ. That's a deer who is thirsty, they just want to get to the water so that they can drink. Why? Because they know they will be satisfied? Do we treasure the Word of God? Like the Pearl of Great Price? Do we long to know Jesus more and more? Have we turned from our sin to the Living God? Are we walking in faith, real faith, solid faith, with other people who are trying to walk in their faith and to grow in their walk with God? Are we striving after those things?
They didn't have teaching. But the current king over Judah, his name is now Jehoshaphat (another great baby name), recognized that the people, they didn't even know the law of God. So what did he do? Look in 2 Chronicles 17:9. This is amazing! This is what we need to do today, as much as possible. He sends teachers with the Word of God all throughout the land to teach the people where they're at. 2 Chronicles 17:9, “And they taught in Judah, having the Book of the Law of the LORD with them.” They made copies of it. And they gave it to all of their teachers. And they said, “Go and teach.” They didn't say, “We needed new ministries to woo the people back to God.” Continuing in verse nine, “They went about through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.” And look what happened in verse 10 [2 Chronicles 17:10], “And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat.”
These people have turned back to God and we know what he can do. They didn't believe in God, the cities that were around their lands, but they knew he was powerful. The simple fact of them turning to God as a people, made these other places not attack. By this time, we get to chapter 20. And all of Jerusalem and Judah are back to worship. And this is how chapters 10 through 36 go. It's like bad and good and bad and good. It's like a roller coaster nightmare that never ends though.
2 Chronicles 20:18, “Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground [sound familiar?], and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD.” We don't face plant and roll around in holy laughter. We face plant and bow our heads to the ground because God is so holy and deserving of our worship that we can't even look upon him. Right? It's as if we're looking this way, that we're not going to see him. And so they did the face plant. And their leader showed them that. Jehoshaphat was a good king. He reigned 25 years in Jerusalem. That is the southern area, and he died at age 60.
I wonder what will be written of our lives when we die? Will on the tombstone it say, “Finally,” or “We Miss Him,” right? We don't want it to say, “Praise God. Now God has to deal with him.” Right? We want it to say, “We miss this guy, he served God all his life.” Will it be said that we served the Lord well and finished strong? Do you want to finish strong? Like every single day of your life? Do you want to be infused with the power of God, to fulfill his will? You say, “What is the key to serving the Lord all of our days?” It's this, that we have set our hearts fully on serving the Lord Jesus Christ. That's it. Not partially. Judah had lots of partial kings. But fully. That we've made no comfortable place for sin in our lives. That we hang up a sign that says, “Sin is not welcome here anymore, a child of God lives here.” Well, the people would go back and forth from serving God, to even forgetting about him. After this, it would get so bad that they didn't even know they were supposed to be looking for the Word of God, they lost it completely. Remember, they made copies and sent it out everywhere. Like, did nobody have an idea of where their Bible was, generations later?
But then, an eight-year-old was made king. 2 Chronicles 34:1-3, “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images.”
An a eight-year-old seeks God and changes the world. That's amazing. You say, did he have great counselors? Well, he must have had someone trying to teach him the Word of God. Because it says he walked in the ways of David his father, so he had to know what those ways were in order to walk in them. So at an early age, he was being taught this is the right way by someone. 2 Chronicles 34:14 says this, “While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priests found the Book of the Law of the LORD given through Moses.” So whoever was teaching him, was teaching him from memory. There were there was no written down catechism to teach Josiah, though that would be a great thing. They actually were just bringing in money and putting it in the storehouse, and wouldn’t you know it, what's this thing here? It's that dusty Bible, right? It's the Book of Moses, the first five books of the Bible.
This would be like a church losing all their Bibles. And going on for a year after year after year, so much so, that people forget to even look for them. You're not going to look for what you didn't know you lost. That's the situation when Josiah, this boy, takes over. God can work through anyone. Doesn't matter how young you are, as long as you can form words, right, people can understand. Doesn't matter how young you are, how old you are, if you're new to Christ, if you've known Christ for 40 or 50 years, God can and will use you and wants to use you for his glory. The question is, “Are you willing?”
So Josiah, 2 Chronicles 34:33, started his reform thing, “And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.”
Unfortunately, that's not the end of the story for Second Chronicles, though we are almost there. You're doing amazing. We're doing amazing. I know we're not just covering two verses this morning. But sadly, after Josiah, they returned to their sin once again, gross immoral sin. They started going down, down the roller coaster again. God was so faithful to them though. 2 Chronicles 36:15, shows how God was faithful. This is hundreds of years of going back and forth with the people by this point, hundreds. What does God do when the nations turn away? 2 Chronicles 36:15-16, “The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. [But what did they do?] But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.”
We don't ever want to get to the last part of that verse, where there's no remedy, where we've worn out the patience of God. Where as a people, we all turn away from God. There are people loving God. There are people serving God throughout the United States and the world. There are people who have not turned their back on God, and we want to worship God with them. Why? God has compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place. It's important to worship where he calls us to worship.
Unfortunately, they were finally hardened beyond remedy and were in exile. 2 Chronicles 36:20, “He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword.” In other words, Babylon comes, and they are the kingdom, and they kill a lot of the people. And those who didn't, those are the ones who went to Babylon, “and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”
God was so tired of their sin, the land even needed a rest from them. They had Jeremiah. They had Isaiah, Hosea, Elisha. I read a list a couple sermons ago of all the prophets. God sent mighty prophets, clear messages. But Chronicles does not end on a sour note. Look in 2 Chronicles 36:22, “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.’”
As we conclude, at this point in their history, this is hundreds of years after Solomon, the temple is destroyed. The gold's gone, the walls of the city are all torn down. But they needed to remember the worship of God and the priority of the worship of God. They needed a fresh start. All they had to do for a fresh start, was move away from everyone they knew, walk 600 plus miles across the desert, show up with old shoes, no money in their pockets, and no way to build anything without a lot of blood, sweat and tears. And if they would do that, then the joy would come. And they did. Wave, after wave, after wave, of people.
You know, I don't know what the Lord has set before you today. But this we do know, he desires your worship. And I just want to say, let nothing stand in your way. Let's pray.
Father God, what a magnificent book. What a magnificent history of the southern tribes of Judah and their faithfulness, their disobedience. And through it all Lord, your compassion to bring them home, so they could once again worship you. Lord, I just pray today that mostly if there's someone who doesn't know you that they would give their heart to you today. That they would receive your salvation by grace. If that's you and you're here today, just cry out to God and ask for his forgiveness. To make you a follower of his.
For those of you who are believers, why don't we just take a moment of quiet prayer right now. And just pray and ask God to help us to make worship our highest priority.
Lord God, we love you. We're so thankful for you. So thankful for the salvation that has been wrought in Jesus Christ. Lord bless us today and help us to live for you and for your glory, by your strength. Amen.
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