2 Chronicles 27-28, 2 Timothy 4
…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. – 2 Timothy 4:2-4 ESV
When Jotham took over the throne from his father, Uzziah, he was only 25-years old, but he would prove to be a king who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 27:1 ESV). He would become a powerful king, “because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 27:6 ESV). But sadly, he would refuse to enter the Temple of God, perhaps because his father, Uzziah, had been banned from entering it due to his leprosy. And while Jotham appears to have been a good and somewhat godly king, “the people still followed corrupt practices” (2 Chronicles 27:2 ESV). As king, he failed to lead the people well or influence them toward faithfulness to God. He compromised his God-given authority and allowed the sins of the people to go unchecked.
His son, Ahaz, would prove to be an even worse example as king. “He did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord…but walked in the ways of the kings of Israel” (2 Chronicles 27:1-2 ESV). Ahaz took the sin of compromise to a whole new level, making altars to Baal and even burning his own sons as sacrifices to false gods. And even when God brought punishment on Him for his sins, allowing the Syrians, Israelites, Edomites and Philistines to attack and defeat Judah, Ahaz “became yet more faithless to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:22 ESV). Rather than turn back to God, he worshiped the gods of the nations who had defeated him, and locked the doors of the Temple of God.
What does this passage reveal about God?
The kings of Judah found themselves constantly surrounded by enemies. There were always threats to the security of their kingdom. Edomites, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Assyrians, and other nations were a constant presence and provided a real-life opportunity for the kings of Judah to either trust God and allow Him to provide protection, or to compromise their convictions and turn to someone or something else for deliverance. God had promised to be there for the people of Judah – if they would remain faithful and worship Him alone. But if they chose to worship other gods, He had vowed to punish them. He had warned the people of Israel that when they entered the Promised Land, they would need to completely eradicate the pagan nations that occupied the land. Otherwise, the people of God would be tempted to compromise their faith by worshiping the gods of their enemies. And that is exactly what happened. When faced with a difficulty, rather than trust God, Ahaz would turn to the Assyrians for help. When defeated by the Syrians, he would worship their gods rather than the one true God, justifying his actions by thinking, “because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me” (2 Chronicles 28:23 ESV). But his actions would prove futile, doing nothing more than provoking God to anger and bringing further judgment on himself. God would not tolerate his compromise.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Compromise is always a danger for the people of God. We will always find ourselves surrounded and threatened by the enemies of God. That reality should never surprise us. But we need to recognize that our God is greater than our enemies and more powerful than any perceived threat on our existence. Ahaz could have placed his faith in God and allowed Him to provide deliverance in his time of need. He could have trusted God and watched as He miraculously stepped into his circumstances. But it was easier for Ahaz to compromise his convictions and place his faith elsewhere. Paul would warn Timothy that a time was coming when even Christians would compromise their convictions, rejecting sound teaching based on the Word of God, and seeking out teachers who would tell them what they want to hear. These people would go out of their way to find teachers and preachers willing to sell out the Word of God in order to peddle half-truths and outright lies that appealed to the personal passions and sinful desires of the masses. But Paul warned Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete and patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2 ESV). Paul wanted Timothy to stand firm and to fight the good fight, standing strong even while all those around him caved in and compromised their faith out of convenience and self-gratification. Paul wanted Timothy to keep the faith, always remembering that his reward was laid up for him in heaven – a crown of righteousness that would be awarded to him by Christ Himself. But many will fail to remain faithful. Many will give in to the temptation to compromise their faith. But even if we find ourselves standing alone and completely deserted by those who have claimed to be followers of Christ, we must take to heart the words of Paul. “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Compromise is always a real possibility in my life. It is so much easier to give in than it is to stand firm. And my compromises can sometimes be very subtle and self-deceiving. I can find myself listening to the messages of this world and allowing them to make sense when, in reality, they stand diametrically opposed to the Word of God. When faced with difficulties, it is so easy to turn to someone or something else other than God. I can find myself placing my hope, faith, trust and confidence in the things of this world. Like Ahaz, I can convince myself that world's ways really do work. But when I start trusting the ways of this world, I am no longer trusting God. I am compromising my convictions and placing my hope in the wrong things. I want to fight the good fight. I want to finish the race. And while there will always be the temptation to sell out and blend in to the world around me, I pray that God will give me the strength to stand firm, keeping my eye on the prize: “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 ESV).
Father, help me remain true to You regardless of whatever trials and troubles may come into my life. Don't allow me to compromise my convictions or place my hope and trust in anything or anyone other than You. I can't remain faithful without Your help. I need Your Holy Spirit's strength to stay the course and to remain faithful to the end. Help me keep my eye on the prize and focused on the reward to come. Amen