When you read through the Bible, you find that you can divide the kings of Judah into two classes: those who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”, and those who “did NOT do what was right in the eyes of the Lord”.
I find it interesting that though these kings reigned sometimes as long as fifty years (King Uzziah—see 2 Kings 15:2), their entire life’s work is summed up in these few words.
Throughout most of these reigns, it is noteworthy that when a king “did what was right”, the kingdom prospered. This can be seen clearly in the reign of David. David was a man after God’s own heart (see 1 Sam 13:14), and during his reign, all of Israel’s enemies were trodden underfoot. Later, Hezekiah followed in David’s steps, and again, the kingdom prospered: “Hezekiah TRUSTED IN THE LORD, the God of Israel . . . And the LORD WAS WITH HIM; he was SUCCESSFUL IN WHATEVER HE UNDERTOOK.” (2 Kings 18:5-8 NIV).
Conversely, when kings “did NOT do what was right in the eyes of the Lord”, the kingdom suffered. Consider King Ahaz, father of Hezekiah: “Unlike David his father, [Ahaz] DID NOT DO WHAT WAS RIGHT IN THE EYES OF THE LORD. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel . . . following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites . . . Therefore the LORD his God HANDED HIM OVER to the king of Aram. The Arameans DEFEATED HIM AND TOOK MANY OF HIS PEOPLE S PRISONERS . . . He was also GIVEN INTO THE HANDS OF THE KING OF ISRAEL, who INFLICTED HEAVY CAUSUALTIES ON HIM.” (2 Chron 28:1-5 NIV).
Quite a contrast, isn’t it? And throughout the books of the Kings and Chronicles you will find similar patterns.
But not always.
Wait a minute! Not always? I thought you said . . .
Yes, I did say there is the general pattern of God-fearing kings prospering and non-God-fearing kings failing. However, let’s consider for a moment one king in particular, Jotham: “In the second year of Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham son of Uzziah king of Judah began to reign . . . He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done.” (2 Kings 15:33-34 NIV)
So far so good, right? He followed in the steps of a king who also did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (see 2 Kings 15:3). Of course if you read on, you will find that Jotham was human: “The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there . . .” (2 Kings 15:35 NIV). But hey, nobody’s perfect and if you go back to the story of his father Uzziah (AKA: Amaziah), you’ll find that exactly the same thing is said of him (see 2 Kings 15:4).
So what’s the point?
The point is, as you read through the story of Jotham, you will see that he wasn’t blessed by God during his reign! “In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah against Judah.” (2 Kings 15:38 NIV)
Hum. Although Jotham was known for doing “what was right in the eyes of the Lord”, although he followed in his father’s footsteps, his reign wasn’t blessed . . .
Could it have to do with the fact that he didn’t remove the high places?
Maybe, but then, his father didn’t remove them either . . .
Or could it be that God expected more of Jotham than he expected from his father? Could it be that God isn’t happy with keeping the “status quo”?
Let’s see what the apostle Paul has to say on the subject: “ONE THING I DO: FORGETTING WHAT IS BEHIND AND STRAINING TOWADS WHAT IS AHEAD, I press ON TOWARD THE GOAL to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13,14 NIV)
Friends, it wasn’t good enough for Jotham to do what his father did. God wanted him to “press onward”, to do more. But Jotham was happy to follow in the steps of his father, no more, no less. He was happy keeping the “status quo”. And as a result, he didn’t enjoy the fullness of the blessings God reserved for kings who wholeheartedly strove to do more.
We are no different. It isn’t good enough for us to keep the “status quo” either. It isn’t good enough to do what our fathers did, to blindly stumble on with the traditions of our parents, to accept Christ into our lives and never move on to the rich, full life He has for each of us. God wants to keep revealing more and more truth to us; He wants us to keep pressing onward, taking more and more steps towards perfection. Let’s remember that the apostle Paul goes on to tell us: “All of us who are mature should TAKE SUCH A VIEW OF THINGS . . . let us LIVE UP to what we have already attained.” (Phil 3:15-16 NIV)
Where are you in your walk with Christ, friends? Are you maintaining the status quo? Or, like Hezekiah and Paul, are you straining towards what is ahead, pressing onward towards the goal? Think about it!
May God bless each of you abundantly as you strive to move beyond the “status quo”.
In His love,