I just finished a study by Angela Thomas called Stronger. One thought stayed top of mind this week from it, a part about being covered by God’s mercy. She had an action step (one of several personal focal points) of doing whatever she had to do to keep Satan outside of her house. I appreciated her focus, and it gave me a lot to think about–ways that I leave the door open for trouble in a household, things that don’t even seem like a big deal at the time.
I noticed in 2 Kings 12-14, how two “households” handled sin issues.
Judah’s kings did what was pleasing to the Lord. Joash in particular followed advice from his mom and a priest, but still he did not destroy the pagan shrines. He was able to bring about change during his rule–notably the restoring of the temple.
Israel’s kings have a record of repeated wrongs–habitually doing what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They brought a lot of trouble and grief upon themselves.
When comparing the two kingdoms, I thought to myself: I want to do what is pleasing to the Lord. I want to have godly advisers. Judah probably shouldn’t have left those shrines standing–seemed like they left the door open for trouble with that. And Israel, wow, they just kept on sinning.
23 Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, began to rule over Israel in the fifteenth year of King Amaziah’s reign in Judah. Jeroboam reigned in Samaria forty-one years. 24 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to commit. 25 Jeroboam II recovered the territories of Israel between Lebo-hamath and the Dead Sea, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had promised through Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath-hepher.
26 For the Lord saw the bitter suffering of everyone in Israel, and that there was no one in Israel, slave or free, to help them. 27 And because the Lord had not said he would blot out the name of Israel completely, he used Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, to save them. 2 Kings 14:23-27, NLT.
Judah’s kings wanted to please the Lord. They accomplished notable things. They died (today’s reading tells the two kings die by assassination). Israel’s kings stay stuck in sin and lead others into it as well. They are often attacked by other armies and there is bitter suffering. They also die. This is an over-simplification to a closing thought: We all have a story to tell–each with varying degrees of success and failure, with hardships that come our way and ones we bring upon ourselves, but God is bigger than all of that.
31 “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. 33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. 36 But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.
39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” John 5:31-39, NLT.
He sends Jesus to save us.
I want to guard against bringing trouble into my house. I want to live a life pleasing to God. But I know that if I mess up (sin), His love doesn’t diminish. I’m covered by his mercy through the blood of Jesus Christ. Through the good and the bad, I have a story to tell of how I am held by the God of the universe. His love endures forever.