A theme I have noticed recently which keeps recurring throughout the Old Testament, is that when God’s people seek Him, and serve Him with a whole heart, He in turn is found by them and is with them against their enemies; but if they forsake Him, He forsakes them. Maybe not forever, but long enough so that their suffering causes them to seek Him again.
The story of Joash, king of Judah, is a good example. He was saved by his nurse when his grandmother, the wicked Athaliah, murdered all her grandchildren so that she might rule in Judah herself. She was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and mother of Ahaziah, king of Judah. When he was killed, she not only usurped the throne of David, but established the immoral Phoenician religion throughout Judah, just as her mother Jezebel had done in Israel.
Joash was raised by the high priest, and proclaimed king when he was seven years old. Athaliah was killed, and as long as the high priest lived, Joash served the Lord. But after the high priest’s death, the chiefs of Judah did obeisance to Joash in exchange for Joash’s help in restoring Athaliah’s idol worship in Judah.
Joash agreed. Now this might seem surprising, but Phoenician idol worship was just a religious form of what we have in the world today. Immorality was encoded within the religious rites. Today’s secularists who live by the “if it feels good, do it” motto would fit right in. Serving the Lord, however, translated into keeping the Law of Moses: [s-x]ual purity, perserving life, fairness, truth, ethics, justice.
Those chiefs of Judah had enjoyed their if it feels good, do it lifestyle under Athaliah, and chafed observing God’s morality under Joash and the high priest, and wanted a return to their previous “freedom”.
So the Lord sent prophets to warn both people and king to repent, but Joash would not listen. Now the new high priest was Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, the high priest who had raised Joash, and the king’s foster brother. The Spirit of God came upon him, and he reproved the king, saying, “Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you can not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you.”
This reproof made Joash so angry, that at his command, the people stoned Zechariah to death, while he was in the court of the Lord’s Temple (840 BC). Thus Joash did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada had shown to him, or the brotherly love which he had once held for Zechariah. As the high priest lay dying, he cried to the Lord, to require Joash’s ingratitude from his hand.
In punishment for this crime, the king of Syria came up against Joash, and the host of Judah was defeated with a great slaughter. The very chiefs of the people, who had conspired with Joash to restore idolatry in the land, were slain by the Syrian host, and Joash was gravely wounded. Joash gave them all the treasures of his palace and the Temple, so the Syrians departed from Jerusalem. The enemy thus caused much suffering for the people of Judah, who blamed Joash, and his base murder of Zechariah, for bringing them such misfortune. His own servants murdered him in his bed after the Syrians were gone (839 BC). You can read the whole story of Joash in 2 Chronicles chapters 22 through 24.
Throwing God and His ways under the bus is never a good idea. I was thinking about this when I saw a little news item in The Hill today:
Wal-Mart, GOP forsake God, groups say Some Christian conservative groups say both Wal-Mart and the Republican Party have “forsaken God.” And just as the GOP took a hit in the elections earlier this month, the groups say the retail giant’s lower-than-expected November sales figures are the wages of that sin.
Why are sales below estimates? “It is for the same reason things went south for the Republican Party this past election cycle,” read a statement by the Rev. Flip Benham and Pat McEwan, with Operation Save America and Operation Save Wal-Mart. “Wal-Mart has forsaken God and it has forsaken the people who love Him.”
The groups led protesters on Nov. 24 to picket the “gates of hell” that is, Wal-Mart stores around the country. They say Wal-Mart, like the GOP, has strayed from its founding principles, set by founder Sam Walton, citing Wal-Mart’s dispensing of “Plan B” contraception and the fact that the retailer is a corporate member of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Democratic senator Chuck Schumer said yesterday that the Reagan philosophy is now dead (broken link, active on November 29, 2006). Reagan embraced and honored God, and Reagan conservatism joined with the Christian majority in this country from his presidency. If it is true that the Rs have rejected Reagan and his God, then the Rs are also dead as a majority party. I know that if there were a third party in this country, who embraced God instead of being embarrassed by Him, as I get the distinct impression the Rs are, I would vote third party in the next election.
And maybe Walmart being a corporate member of the Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is why the retailer is stocking that horrible book I mentioned yesterday. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but now it does.