Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The cost of self-driven agendas

But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up, and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another in battle at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah. And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home.
2 Kings 14:11-12

This is a brutal civil war. Generations after Israel has split into two kingdoms, at a time when no outside threat was around to intimidate either Israel or Judah, this gruesome fight breaks out. God's people go at one another. Both Amaziah king of Judah and Jehoash king of Israel have experienced military victories that allowed them to recapture territories from historic enemies. Those enemies are now preoccupied with the new threat from Assyria.

Cocky and over confident, both Jewish kings are feeling the tensions of the split kingdom. The civil war starts with a "diplomatic" suggestion by Judah to Israel. The offer is rejected and Amaziah storms down to Jerusalem for all out war. The city wall is torn down for a substantial section. The temple is ransacked and Amaziah is humiliated. It is really sad to see God's chosen people reduced to hatred and infighting.

After this battle, the northern kingdom of Israel emerges as the military power. Judah limps along as a religious and cultural vanguard. It is clear that lines have been drawn and everybody now knows their place. The sad thing was that all of this was a direct result of the abandonment of the covenant by the Jewish people. The Law was meant to bring peace and civil prosperity, But death and offense was what came when God's Law was ignored.

There are always great costs to be paid when we choose to direct our own lives. Idolatry is costly and painful. And the horror of this civil war pictures the painful tragedy that comes in the wake of our sinful choices.

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