Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 26-28:27; Romans 13:1-14; Psalm 23:1-6; Proverbs 20:11
King Uzziah does a lot of very good things during his lengthy reign as ruler of Judah. The fact that God gave him 52 years on the throne indicates that He was pleased with him (2 Chronicles 26:3).
One of the good things Uzziah did was to seek God (2 Chronicles 26:5). All success starts with seeking God. Yes, its possible to have success in this life without God – many atheists are quite successful. But that is success as defined by human standards, which are never as high as God’s.
More proof that God was pleased with Uzziah – He helped Uzziah fight Judah’s enemies (2 Chronicles 26:7-8). Nothing can make a person more successful than getting help from God.
But as we’ve seen so many times before in our Bible reading this year, success breeds pride and in 2 Chronicles 26:16 Uzziah becomes the latest to fall into this trap. When confronted about his sin he reacts with anger which belies his pride and immaturity (2 Chronicles 26:18-19). In response, God inflicts him with leprosy. No matter how close we walk with God for a while, God will not tolerate sin. We don’t accumulate “credit” with God for our good works so that we can offset our bad ones later on.
The next king of Judah is Uzziah’s son Jotham who was also pleasing to God for he followed in the footsteps of his father’s early days (2 Chronicles 27:2). We’ve seen a few kings who followed the godly example of their fathers. We’ve also seen a few bad kings who followed their father’s poor examples. From this we see the influence a father can have on his son. With divorce rampant in our society and many women choosing to be single moms, not to mention same-sex couples adopting children, the presence of fatherly influence in our society is fading. God calls men to be leaders of their families but we are raising a generation of boys who will become men without knowing how to lead.
Of course, a godly father is not guaranteed to sire a godly son and that brings us to King Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:1-2). Despite having a father and grandfather who did pretty well, Ahaz does some detestable things including sacrificing his own sons in fire (2 Chronicles 28:3). This refers to sacrifices made to Molech who was a false-god (aka “demon”). People sacrificed children by placing them on the outstretched arms of a metal statue of Molech then lighting a fire around the statue. The fire heated up the metal thereby burning the child to death. Abortion is our modern-day equivalent only instead of fire we use a vacuum.
Due to the sin of Ahaz, God lets Judah suffer defeat at the hands of the very ungodly Israel (2 Chronicles 28:6). This is a sobering thought. The spiritual health of our leaders has a direct relationship to our success as a nation. If our leadership is godly, we will enjoy successes. If our leadership is ungodly, we will have problems. I wonder how many people consider this on Election Day.
Speaking of authority, God gives us some commands regarding how we are to behave towards our leaders in Romans 13. All authority on earth comes from God (Romans 9:1) so our behavior towards authority figures reflects on our attitude towards God (Romans 9:2). This should not be interpreted to mean that God only gives us good leaders. We know He does not. He gave Israel Saul, their first king, who was terrible. He also gave both Israel and Judah some really bad kings later on.
I think God gives us poor leaders in order to get us to realize that we cannot put much stock in human beings. I don’t think we learn that lesson though. Poor leaders should cause us to turn to God but I don’t see that happening despite, in my opinion at least, some really bad government leaders (at all levels) over the past few decades. I’d really like to see a strong Christian become President or a congressional leader just to see how the fortunes of the United States might turn during his tenure.
God also requires us to pay our taxes (Romans 9:6). This has to be one of God’s least popular commands. But God says to do it, and therefore do it we must.
Finally, we are not to live like the world (Romans 9:13). We are to stand out as followers of Christ (Romans 9:14). This is tough for everyone but I think it is especially tough for young people who have so much peer pressure. We all face many crossroads every day: will we blend in with the crowd or will we stand up for Christ?
We read the very famous Psalm 23 today. There are many promises in this Psalm but they are all predicated on Jesus being a person’s shepherd. If someone is not one of Jesus’ sheep, then these wonderful promises are not for them.
Notice that Jesus leads the sheep to wonderful places: green meadows (good for grazing), peaceful streams (good for drinking). Jesus guides the sheep (Psalm 23:3). When things get a bit scary the sheep need not be afraid because it knows from prior experience that Jesus will not let anything bad happen to it. Notice too that Jesus prepares a feast for the sheep. The word “prepare” indicates that this was done beforehand – before the sheep was even ready for it. Jesus is way ahead of us – taking care of our needs before we even know we have the need.
A long time ago a read a great book about this Psalm called “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23“. I highly recommend it.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post