Summary: A lukewarm heart left unattended will ultimately become cold
Legacy of a Lukewarm Heart: 2 Chron. 25
Homiletical Idea: A lukewarm heart left unattended will ultimately become cold
1. Introduction: How is it with your soul?
While at seminary, I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful Christians from all over the country and all over the world. There is one brother there from India who startled me one day with what I soon discovered was his usual way of greeting people. I am so used to the typical American question, "How are you doing?" usually asked by a questioner who doesn’t even slow the pace to hear the answer. But this man stopped, looked me in the eye and asked, "How is it with your soul, sister?" That opens up a whole different train of thought, doesn’t it?
As we look at our Scripture passage today, I would like to ask you a similar question: How is it with your heart, sister? How is it with your heart, brother?
Let’s turn to 2 Chronicles 25. We will only be reading through verse 20, for the sake of time, but I promise will tell you how the story ends. I will also be making a few comments as we read through, so it might be easier if you do have a Bible to follow along.
2. Amaziah does what’s right
Our passage this morning takes place a little over 200 years after the reign of David. The kingdom of Israel has been divided for well over a century. It’s a little tricky to keep track of the two resulting kingdoms, mainly because the Southern kingdom, which is called Judah, has all the things we would associate with Israel: Jerusalem is there, the Temple is there, the kings are the descendants of David. The northern kingdom, which has none of those things that we would associate with the nation of Israel, retains the name "Israel."
The Kingdom of Judah has been through a rocky time. King Amaziah takes the throne after his father is assassinated. In fact the last 3 rulers before Amaziah were murdered, and so he comes to the throne with some very legitimate concern about how to secure his own power. He has his father’s murderer’s executed, but does not execute the sons of these assassins, a tactic commonly used by monarchs as a "security measure." In obedience to the Law of Moses, Amaziah does not punish the sons for their father’s sins. He did what was right in God’s eyes.
Next, we see Amaziah mustering the forces in preparation for an attack on the nation of Edom. In order to "beef up" the army, he hires an extra 100,000 mercenaries from Israel: big, tough guys, professional warriors. The problem was that Israel had become unfaithful to God. His favor was not with them. The OT consistently teaches God’s people not to make alliances with other nations. To make an alliance with a foreign nation was to fail to trust in God’s ability to help his people. That’s why it was wrong for Judah to make a military alliance with Israel. But when prophet comes and says, "You can’t use these guys. Get rid of them or you’re God will make you fall on your face in this battle," Amaziah obediently gets rid of them. He gives up a quarter of his army and thousands of pounds of silver. He did what was right, at no small cost to himself.
When he goes into battle against Edom, he wins decisively. His victory is a result of God’s fighting for him, and it is a sign of God’s favor, of His honoring Amaziah’s obedience.
We seem to have a portrait of a good king, one who is obediently following God, is being rewarded by God, and receiving favor from God. But then he does something that jolts us: He takes the idols from Edom and sets them up, apparently in their own little shrine, and worships them. He has just had a victory in battle, which came so obviously from God’s hand. He has every reason in the world to be praising God, and God alone, but instead he turns to idols. It is a blatant rejection of the God who had given him victory. He was running good race -- then without warning, he makes a U-Turn.
3. Amaziah turns to other gods (The about-face)
Not only is it appalling, but as the prophet points out to him, it’s downright stupid. If your army beat their army in battle, doesn’t it seem to be proof positive that your God is better than their god? How foolish to worship those gods that couldn’t save Edom from Amaziah’s hand. What could they possibly offer him that God could not?
It was thought in those times, when a nation lost a battle, it was not because the victor’s gods were stronger, but rather, because the loser’s gods had abandoned them and fought on the winner’s side. Removing the gods of a defeated nation was commonly done by the winner to symbolize that abandonment.