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Pride comes before the fall. We see this with the next two kings, Amaziah – he reigns from 796-767 BC – and his son Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16). Both kings begin good, but end evil, just like Joash. Both kings have great success and come to great power, which goes straight to their head. Success is the cause of their pride. As a result of their pride there is a lack of trust in the LORD, for the two cannot go together.
Amaziah King of Judah
The conspiracy to which Joash fell prey was against him and not against the royal family. That’s why Amaziah succeeds his father without further ado (2 Chronicles 25:1). He is twenty-five years old when he becomes king. The number of years he has ruled is, as usually happens, told to us right at the beginning. Amaziah has ruled for twenty-nine years. Also the chronicler, as he often does, mentions the name of his mother, Jehoaddan, and the place where she comes from, Jerusalem.
The life of Amaziah is summarized in one sentence: “He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart” (2 Chronicles 25:2). In this he resembles his father Joash (2 Kings 14:3). The first part of the sentence is positive. That is also said of his father Joash. With Joash it is then said that doing what is right in the eyes of the LORD is limited to the duration of the life of Jehoiada. With Amaziah there is also a limitation, which is that he is not dedicated with all his heart to the LORD (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:19). The Lord asks our whole heart. Half or divided hearts lack what is due to Him. He wants us to be all for Him.
Amaziah needs some time to get used to his new position (2 Chronicles 25:3). The sudden death of his father brings him suddenly to the throne. He will have watched the actions of the officials and their dealings with his father. Now that he himself is in power, he must learn to deal with them. He seems to have succeeded in getting the kingship firmly in his hands. This will certainly include the study of the law.
When he feels strong enough as king, he acts against his father’s murderers and lets them kill. Those murderers are called “his servants”. So he had to tolerate them for some time in his vicinity as his staff. All this time, however, he has not lost sight of the fact that these are his father’s murderers. In their execution, he does not go beyond what the law says (2 Chronicles 25:4). He only executes them because the LORD has commanded in the law of Moses that not the whole family should be cut off, but only the guilty should be killed (Deuteronomy 24:16; Jeremiah 31:29-Amos :; Ezekiel 18:19-Proverbs :).
It is also important for us to first reflect on our position as a believer and the responsibilities that go with it. That means we have to concentrate on God’s Word. The knowledge of God’s Word is necessary to make good decisions. When it comes to the condemnation of evil in the church, discipline over public evil has to be executed according to the norm of God’s Word. However, it must also be righteous, in accordance with the seriousness of the offence and applicable only to the person concerned.
God Has Power to Help
Amaziah proceeds to a military action which, as we will see later, is directed against Edom (2 Chronicles 25:5; 2 Chronicles 25:11). The reason for this is not clear. Amaziah assembles Judah and appoints an army of the best men from twenty years old and upward (cf. Numbers 1:2-Leviticus :). There appear to be 300,000 men who qualify and who can handle spear and shield. This is a considerable army, but it still does not reach to the armies of Asa and Jehoshaphat who had an army of 580,000 and more than 1,000,000 men respectively (2 Chronicles 14:8; 2 Chronicles 17:14-Nehemiah :).
Perhaps Amaziah has those numbers in mind when assessing the size of his army. In any case, he is not convinced that he can defeat the Edomites with this army. Therefore he complements his army with mercenaries from the northern empire, for which he pays a hundred talents of silver (2 Chronicles 25:6). In his calculations, however, there is no room for the LORD.
Although Amaziah does not count with the LORD, He in His goodness sends a prophet, a man of God, to him (2 Chronicles 25:7; cf. 2 Chronicles 16:7; 2 Chronicles 19:2). The name of the man of God is not given. His name doesn’t matter, because it’s about what he has to say. He warns Amaziah not to rely on the soldiers of Israel and not to take them with him. The reason is that “the LORD is not with Israel [nor with] any of the sons of Ephraim”. Because there is no place left for Him in the northern kingdom, He cannot be with them either. If we deny the Lord the first place in our lives, He cannot help us in what we do.
The man of God tells Amaziah that he is free to fight with Edom despite the warning, and use of the soldiers he hires (2 Chronicles 25:8). If he wants to, he must do so. Then he must encourage himself to be strong in battle. But he must also know that he will lose the battle because God will bring him down before the enemy. For God has power to help, but if he refuses to use that power, God will prove His power by bringing him down.
Amaziah is almost convinced. The only question he still has is what about the money he has invested in this expedition (2 Chronicles 25:9). To this question the man of God gives the beautiful and encouraging and also comforting answer: “The LORD has much more to give you than this.” Amaziah may choose: loss of money or loss of the battle. The choice between these two possibilities is in reality the choice between fighting with or without the LORD. We may know that the Lord will pay double for all we leave for Him. Every loss to Him is amply compensated by Him. The only question is whether we trust Him in that promise.
Amaziah made his choice (2 Chronicles 25:10). He wants to go out with the LORD and thus without the troops from Ephraim. He dismisses the mercenaries so they can go back home. We might think that the hired troops like that. They have their money (2 Chronicles 25:6) and can, without having to do anything for it and therefore without the chance that they will be killed in battle, return home. It is not like that, however. They get angry at Judah that they have been sent away.
The question is answered and the choice is made. Through the words of the prophet Amaziah takes courage and leads his people away to the Valley of Salt to fight against Edom (2 Chronicles 25:11). Nothing is said about the battle, but about the result is. That’s all very well. Amaziah defeats the sons of Seir – those are the Edomites, named after the area where they live – 10,000 men. Another 10,000 are taken away as captives (2 Chronicles 25:12). These prisoners are taken to the top of a cliff and thrown down from the top of the cliff. They are all dashed to pieces by it, by which, so to speak, their corrupt inner being comes out.
Edom or Esau (Genesis 36:1) is a picture of sin, the old nature or flesh. Edom has always behaved as a merciless enemy of God’s people, and will be judged for it. The whole of Obadiah’s prophecy is devoted to this (Obadiah 1:1-Ecclesiastes :). We cannot feel sorry for sin, but must judge it mercilessly. Scripture calls us to kill our members which are on earth (Colossians 3:5). This means for us that we must learn to judge ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:31) and also to judge sin in the church (1 Corinthians 5:13).
Then the chronicler makes another comment about the mercenaries sent home by Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:13). We have seen that these men have become furious about their sending away (2 Chronicles 25:10). From what we read now, we might conclude that the cause of their burning anger is that by sending them away they will miss a great booty. They are therefore going to get the loss of profit and compensate themselves by attacking the cities of Judah. There they kill a large number of men and plunder much spoil.
How could such people be a help to God’s affairs? People with selfish motives can never be a help in the struggle that children of God have to fight. They inflict losses on Amazia. We may wonder what about the LORD’s promise that He has more to give than Amaziah lost by sending the mercenaries away. That promise will be fulfilled. The LORD has also given Amaziah a great victory. Yet there is no complete trust in the LORD, as the sequel shows.
Amaziah and the Idols
When Amaziah has defeated the Edomites, he returns home (2 Chronicles 25:14). He takes the gods of the defeated enemies with him. If he were to destroy them after that, it would be a tribute to the LORD who stands above all idols. But instead of honoring the LORD and thanking Him for the victory he has given, Amaziah commits the folly to set up the gods of his conquered enemies for himself, to bow down before them, and to burn incense to them!
In doing so, Amaziah is committing spiritually harlotry. Therefore the wrath of the LORD burns against him (2 Chronicles 25:15). The anger of God is the flip side of His love. Again He sends a prophet. He points out to Amaziah the folly of praying to gods who have been unable to save their people from his hand. It is too crazy for words, we would say. How does someone come to such a stupid thing.
However, Amaziah is not amused by such remarks. It seems that he does not even let the prophet speak the full message, but gags him (2 Chronicles 25:16). The prophet must be well aware that he does not speak to the first one the best. How does he dare to take the place of advisor to him, the king! Amaziah does not allow himself to be dictated by some chatterbox. He decides for himself who he listens to.
Then the prophet stops his admonition. He sees that Amaziah does not want to listen and concludes that God wants to destroy him. Rejecting good advice is a sign of destruction. This does not mean that God wants destruction, but that He has decided that whoever rejects admonition will end up in destruction (Proverbs 15:32). Amaziah himself has made the choice for destruction and God confirms that choice. The prophet says what God does, while what God does, comes from Amazia’s refusal to listen to admonition and to repent.
Amaziah Defeated by Joash
Instead of following the Divine counsel of God’s prophet, Amaziah goes to others for counsel (2 Chronicles 25:17). Those with whom he consults are not mentioned. Nor is it about those others, but about Amazia’s attitude. Because He has said goodbye to God, He is working on the destruction that has been promised to Him.
The counsel he is taking is about a war he plans to wage with Joash, the king of Israel. A reason for that war could be the raid in Judah by mercenaries from the northern empire (2 Chronicles 25:13). We also see that his victory over Edom has made him proud, as Joash notes (2 Chronicles 25:19). The result of the counsel is that Amaziah sends messengers to the king of Israel to challenge him to fight each other.
Joash’ answer comes in the form of a fable (2 Chronicles 25:18). The thorn bush, good to throw in the fire, that’s Amazia. The cedar, mighty and good for building, that is Joash. The wild beast that was in Lebanon is Joash’ army. Carelessly the thorn bush is trampled. Joash lets Amaziah know why he is looking for the battle. He reminds him of his victory over Edom and that this has made him overconfident and he thinks he can also win from Israel easily.
Joash himself is no better than Amazia. We see that wicked people can see through the motives of other wicked people. That is because they are driven by exactly the same motives. Joash is as proud as Amazia. He predicts disaster for Amaziah and advises him to stay at home (2 Chronicles 25:19). Joash is as certain of victory as Amazia. Both men speak diluted language; with both dependence on the LORD is completely lacking.
Amaziah has not listened to the prophet and he certainly does not listen to the warning of Joash (2 Chronicles 25:20). God has His hand in this, for He is going to use Joash to punish Amaziah for seeking the gods of Edom. When it turns out that Amaziah doesn’t want to listen, Joash goes up (2 Chronicles 25:21). They face each other at Beth-shemesh, where they fight each other. Amaziah suffers the defeat and the soldiers flee, each to his tent (2 Chronicles 25:22). Joash captures Amaziah and takes him to Jerusalem. What a humiliation it will have been for Amaziah to enter there as a prisoner.
More humiliations will follow. A large part of the wall of Jerusalem, “from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate, 400 cubits”. (2 Chronicles 25:23), which is on the north and north-west side of the wall, is torn down. Many of the treasures of the house of God, which are entrusted to the care of Obed-edom, are robbed (2 Chronicles 25:24). Joash also takes hostages with him, to guarantee that Amaziah keeps calm. Then he returns to Samaria. The punitive expedition is over.
We see in this history how much is lost when, through victories given by the Lord, we become arrogant and fight for our own honor. If we are deaf to warnings given by the Lord, the disaster is complete. We then suffer losses in all areas. Our esteem is impaired and with it the Name of the Lord Whom we confess to know and serve.
We also lose the spiritual blessings that are stored for us in the house of God and that we can enjoy there. In fact, as ‘hostages’ we are held by the enemy who has gained power over us. This means that we have lost our true spiritual freedom. What a loss, for ourselves, but above all for the Lord, Who does not receive from our lives the honor He is so worthy!
The Death of Amaziah
After his humiliating defeat, Amaziah has fifteen years to live, counting from the death of Joash, king of Israel (2 Chronicles 25:25). That his death is related to the death of the king of Israel, shows how much Amaziah has become dependent on the king of the northern empire. What Amaziah has done more than what is described of him in this chapter is described “in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel” (2 Chronicles 25:26; cf. 2 Chronicles 16:11; 2 Chronicles 28:262 Chronicles 32:32).
Since his departure from the LORD Amaziah has no rest anymore (2 Chronicles 25:27). He is always in fear of a conspiracy that is forged against him. A conspiracy is very threatening. There is always the threat of being killed, but it is not known where, when and by whom it happens. To escape the conspirators he flees Jerusalem and goes to Lachis. After a restless time of fear he thinks he might find peace there. But the conspirators know how to find him, and he finds death instead of the desired rest. Thus the life of a man who has started well comes an inglorious end.
His body is brought on horses to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 25:28). There he is buried with his fathers.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Chronicles 25". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter