2 CHRONICLES 25:1 – 27:9 and ACTS 13:1–52
2 Chr 25
Amaziah, the son of Joash comes to the throne at the age of 25. His total reign will be for a period of 29 years. He is cited for doing that which is right in the sight of the Lord but not with a perfect heart. One of his first orders of business was to slay the servants who conspired against his father. He did spare their children in obedience to the command of Moses regarding the children not being responsible for the sins of their fathers (Deu 24:16). There is a similar account given concerning Amaziah in 2 Kings 14. Amaziah then assembles a great army in preparation for war against the Edomites. The problem with his army is that he has hired 100,000 men out of Israel to the north. A man of God came to Amaziah and told him not to go to war with this group seeing that God was not with them. If he were to persist in going to war he would fall in battle whether by many or by few. This speaks again to the subject of alliances. God wanted Judah to have no taint of Israel with them in battle. He could not justify a victory for them if they were to hold this alliance. The money that was spent was not to be returned; the Lord promising even much greater returns if they were to obey. Amaziah sent back the army from Ephraim and they were not happy. It must have taken much time and preparation to prepare for such an endeavour only to be told to turn back. Amaziah went to battle against Edom (Seir) and brought forth a victory.
In verse 14 Amaziah brought the spoils from Edom and set them up as gods. They bowed down to these idols and burned incense before them. The Lord was angry with Amaziah for lifting up idols that were not even able to deliver the Edomites. A prophet came to Amaziah who was not of the King’s Counsel and rebuked him for his idolatry which led Amaziah to threaten his life for such a Word. The following is an italicized summary of vs 17-28 as taken from the commentary from 2 Kings 14.
The scene now shifts to Amaziah who is king of Judah. He comes to the throne during the 2nd year of Joash, King of Israel. The reign of Amaziah will be for a period of 29 years and he is noted as having a reign that was right in the sight of the Lord. He did not measure up to the reign of David due to not removing many of the high places. He executed the men who slew his father earlier but spared the lives of the children in accordance to a Mosaic Law. (Deu 24:16) In verse 8 he sends messengers to Jehoash so that they can meet together. Amaziah, fresh off his victory over the Edomites refuses to listen to the words of Jehoash, which were spoken as a parable in verse 9. They go to war and Judah comes off the worse and flees from Jehoash and Israel. Jehoash came to Jerusalem with his prisoners which included Amaziah and his son Ahaziah. He also took gold and silver from the house of the Lord and soon returned to Samaria. They probably took key people to hold as ransom. They did not remain in Jerusalem probably figuring that they could not hold the city for long. They humiliated Amaziah and plundered their resources. This was a war that was not initiated by Jehoash and Israel. Amaziah dies 15 years after the death of Jehoash and his son Ahaziah comes to the throne at the age of 16 (vs 21).
2 Chr 26
The next king in line was Uzziah, son of Amaziah who was 16 years old when he came to the throne. He is mentioned as Azariah in the account in 2 Kings 15. King Uzziah had the longest reign among the Kings of Judah lasting 52 years. He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord being likened to the early reign of his father Amaziah. He sought God in the days of Zachariah the prophet and prospered as long as he sought the Lord. Zachariah the prophet could have been the son of Zachariah, the son of Jehoiada who was slain by Joash. He had victories against the Philistines at Ashdod and Gath while building cities around them (vs 6). His fame continued to grow as he gained victories against the Arabians. The time came where the Ammonites gave gifts unto him which is a sign of favor and blessing upon a king and nation. He built towers in the desert, dug wells and excelled in husbandry. His armies continued to grow and the cities under him became even more fortified. He continued to receive honor and support from other nations.
The danger with a rapid and expanding growth is the tendency for pride to enter in. His reign to date was marked with victories in war, expansion of territory, favor from nations and beautifully built cities. He sought the Lord early in his time as king which helped to position him for such success. Sadly, his heart became lifted up with pride. This pride culminated in his assuming the office of a priest when he went into the temple to make an offering unto the Lord (vs 16). He clearly knew better than to make such an assumption. Only King David had the privilege of functioning in the dual capacity of king and priest. King Uzziah, though a good man, was no King David. Azariah and 80 other priests confronted the King in his folly. They made very clear that he was violating the commandment from God and that it was only the sons of Levi who could perform in this office. King Uzziah was not pleased with this challenge and as he was taking issue with their rebuke a leprosy came upon his forehead. He was immediately ushered out of the sanctuary due to the Lord having smitten him. The leprosy was to remain upon him till the end of his life. He was relegated to a leper’s house for the remainder of his days having now been cut off from the king’s house. We come to find out that Isaiah had things to write about Uzziah as well. The most famous verse from Isaiah that alludes to Uzziah is from Isa 6.
Isa 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
This was the chapter where Isaiah had an extraordinary revelation of the throne of God in heaven. It is a scene where Isaiah is privy to the glory and holiness of God as seen in verses 3-4. He then has a simultaneous revelation of himself as being undone and unclean in the area of his lips (Isa 6:5). King Uzziah was at the height of his power; he achieved much but was obviously filled with pride. We all need to have a fresh revelation of who God is in light of who we really are. What did Isaiah do in this situation which helped to prepare him for his calling? He acknowledged his iniquity; he saw himself as undone and of unclean lips in the midst of a holy God. This was not seen with Uzziah; he was proud, lacking humility. Isaiah had insight into Uzziah and surely learned something from his example. Interestingly, Isaiah saw himself as being undone and of unclean lips. The Lord then purged Isaiah in the area of his lips, the same lips that He would use in being His mouthpiece. I personally feel that Isaiah had insight into the life of Uzziah and learned from it. May it be the same with us.
2 Chr 27
Jotham, the son of Uzziah now comes to the throne at the age of 25. His reign will last for a period of 16 years (vs 1). We do see some priestly linkage in that his mother Jerushah was the daughter of Zadok. Jotham was cited as being a good king likened unto Uzziah his father. He did not make the same mistake of his father in entering into the temple of the Lord. His rule however did not stop the others from being corrupted. He fortified the high gate of the house of the Lord which helped to keep foreign enemies at bay. Jotham did go to war against the Ammonites and prevailed against them. The victory resulted in tribute money being paid to Judah for an indefinite period of time. His reputation continued to grow much like that of his father but he did not sin by going into the temple of the Lord. The Fear of the Lord was upon him and upon Judah as he continued to prepare his ways before the Lord. The Bible is very kind to Jotham in this account from 2 Chronicles. We do see in 2 Kings 15:35 that the high places were not removed during his reign; overall though his rule seems to be an honourable one.
There is a gathering of prophets and teachers at Antioch which is where we also find Saul and Barnabus. Up until now it was Barnabus who had the primary calling. He was instrumental in helping to establish Saul into his new role as a believer and teacher of the gospel. In verse 2 the Holy Ghost strongly impresses upon those gathered men to separate, to set aside Barnabus and Saul for the work. It should be noted that these brethren were intentional in their pursuit of God; they fasted and spent time in prayer. This helped to pave the way for the Holy Spirit to have expression and be heard. There was a notable cohesion concerning these two in the things of the ministry. It probably came as a surprise to no one when this directive from the Holy Spirit came forth. Soon after this was decided upon the brethren gathered around Barnabus and Saul and laid hands upon them. This is a format that needs to be implemented in the sending forth of workers for the ministry work. There is an impartation and covering that can be realized when things are done in a proper order. There can be clear words of prophetic direction and insights that can be given at such times while being under a proper covering which will help ensure protection.
It was the Holy Spirit that was directing their path as they began their journey towards Seleucia to Cyprus. There was some opposition from a false prophet in the isle of Paphos who was named Bar-jesus. There was also another man by the name of Elymas who was a sorcerer who sought to keep the deputy of the area from being exposed to the faith. This deputy was named Sergius Paulius who was a good man and was the one who called for Barnabus and Saul so that he could hear the Word. Saul did not mince words as he looked upon this sorcerer with contempt and told him that he would now become blind. Saul was filled with the Holy Ghost when confronting this man. He was made blind and this further convinced the deputy (Sergius Paulius) to believe all the more in the doctrine of the Lord (vs 12).
Paul and Barnabus continued their journey towards Perga and Pamphylia. It was here where John Mark departed from them which would later be a point of contention between Paul and Barnabus. Whatever the reasons may have been it was early on in this their initial missionary journey. We will consider this in a bit more detail before the 2nd missionary journey. It was at Antioch in the synagogue where Paul gives a brief review of Biblical history to the men gathered there. He highlights events from the Old Testament in verses 17-22. He then speaks of Christ by tracing New Testament events from verses 23-32. He puts emphasis on the ministry of John the Baptist and then the ministry of Christ up till the time of his death, resurrection and ascension. There are similarities in his discourse to that of Stephen’s when he gave his defence in Acts 7. The mini survey that Stephen gave had a great impact upon Paul. He consented to his death and yet it is the message that Stephen gave that had great impact upon him. In verses 33-41 Paul shows his ability in being able to link Old Testament prophecies to New Testament fulfilment. His emphasis centers on the Psalms and how Christ can be seen in them (vs 33-35). What a transformation that has taken place in the life of Paul. This particular teaching insight helps lend credence to his being the author of Hebrews where Old Testament shadows and types become clearly illustrated in New Testament realities. Paul had an amazing ability to adapt to his audience as well as to situations. The early signs of his future effectiveness as a New Testament minister are on display at this early juncture of his ministry.
Paul and Barnabus began to gain a wider audience amongst the Gentiles which caused consternation amongst the Jews. They became envious at the growing crowds that were coming to the synagogues on the Sabbath days. The Jews sought to contradict the ministry of Paul and Barnabus but it only made them bolder in their efforts (vs 45). They clearly told the Jews that since they have rejected the Gospel and the ways of everlasting life the message will henceforth go forth to the Gentiles. Naturally the Gentiles were glad to hear this but it only stirred up the Jews to greater resentment against the two ministers. Once again, in the midst of opposition and resentment the Gospel message goes forward in the power of the Holy Ghost. God was making a distinction and it is this kind of distinction that will be seen in the last days. How will today’s church respond to a 2nd Pentecost?