Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Now the word of the Lord came to Jehu son of Hanani against Baasha: ‘Because I raised you up from the dust and made you ruler over My people Israel, but you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have caused My people Israel to sin, provoking Me with their sins’” (1 Kings 16:1-2 HCSB)

In the third year of his reign, Jehoshaphat sent his officials-Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah-to teach in the cities of Judah.  The Levites with them were Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah; the priests, Elishama and Jehoram, were with these Levites. They taught throughout Judah, [having] the book of the Lord's instruction with them. They went throughout the towns of Judah and taught the people.” (2 Chronicles 17:7-9 HCSB)

Remember playing follow the leader as a kid?  Whatever the leader did, you did, or you were out of the game.  It was good cheap fun, and resulted in exercise—unlike today’s games which consist of sitting in front of a big screen TV and playing expensive video games.

In the Divided KingdomIsrael and Judah—people tended to follow the leader, spiritually and morally.  If the leader were an idolater then the people practiced paganism.  If the king were a worshipper of Yahweh, then the nation would follow suit.  We see that example of “Follow the Leader” in our Scripture portion for today—but it wasn’t a game.  It was deadly serious.

There is a pattern that develops between the two kingdoms that is observed.  Every king from the Northern Kingdom of Israel is a bad king.  Without exception, they are all evil, the degeneracy is evident and the result is a steep drop into the abyss of judgment.  The capitol city of Samaria will fall to the hands of the Assyrians eventually and the people will perish or be carried into captivity.

In the Southern Kingdom of Judah, the decline is more gradual, because there are a few notable exceptions to the overall pattern—kings who would lead the people to God, rather than from Him.  An occasional good king would arise, and this would move the nation back to higher ground, and away from the pit.  The Southern Kingdom would, accordingly, endure longer than their cousins to the north.  But, because the trend was toward sin, they too would finally be conquered and Jerusalem will fall to the new bully on the block, Babylon, with execution and enslavement the lot of the Jews.

Consider in these few chapters how the difference in direction of the kingdoms mirrored the spiritual state of their leaders.  It is a contrast between the instability of Israel—cycling through king after king—each seemingly worse than his predecessor, and the relative stability of Judah with only two kings during this period—both good kings, Asa and his son Jehoshaphat.

INIQUITY AND INSTABILITY mark the course of the nation of Israel.

During the reigns of two men in Judah—Asa and Jehoshaphat—six different kings came to the throne in Israel (there would eventually be a seventh).  That instability was due to their iniquity.  It is like what Jesus described when you build a house on sand.  The foundation of the nation was not solid and so Israel could not stand.  The nation followed their leader.  Leadership matters.  As we look at the peril our nation faces today, it would be wrong to think that the election of a president is all that matters, but likewise foolish to think that it doesn’t matter.  Who controls the reins of power, directs the policies that lead the nation—and we will be taken toward God or away from Him.  We won’t stand still.  Will we be like the Northern Kingdom? 

The gravity of sin would pull them down, like an airplane that has lost its engines.  The crash would be horrible.  The pilots were fools.  At any time they might have restarted the engines by fueling them with faith in the living God.  Instead they don’t even glide in, put push the wheel forward into a steeper and faster  nose dive.  Bad for the pilots—but, the passengers on board are in for the same fate.

SPIRITUALITY AND STABILITY chart the course for the nation of Judah.

After the failed leadership of Rehoboam, where the nation was divided and that evil king of Judah took the people away from God, the Lord raised up two kings in succession that brought the people out of their backsliding.  The foundation is shored up with faith in the living God.  In fact, Jehoshaphat is so concerned about leading the people to the Lord, that he sends priests throughout the nation, the Word of God in their hand, to teach the citizens the truth of Scripture.  A people’s beliefs and their behaviors are inseparably linked.  A nation that is grounded in God’s principles will grow in His goodness and be guarded by His grace.  This is what we observe in the reigns of Asa and Jehoshaphat. 

The Southern Kingdom will be like a ship taking on water, the water of wickedness—and it will one day sink—but, not this day, for the hole has been plugged and the water pumped out.  The ship of state is sailing on with a strong hand at the rudder.  The course has been set by the compass of truth, charted by the Word of God.

Let us be challenged to look for leaders to elect as presidents and senators, governors and commissioners who are like Jehoshaphat.  May we pray for the Lord to raise up leaders in business, education, media, and church life who will exhibit the traits of that godly leader.  It is the great need of this grave hour.  The ship of America has hit the rocks, the sea of sin is rushing in, and we have little time to act.

Many thought it could never happen to America.  We have lived with the expectation that each successive generation will have a better life than the preceding one.    

It was also once believed that the Titanic could not sink.


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