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2 Kings 14:1-29 - Homilies By D. Thomas

Significant facts in God's government.

"In the second year of Joash," etc. In this chapter we have a sketch of a succession of kings both of Judah and Israel. Here are two kings of Judah—Amaziah and Azariah; and Joash, Jeroboam, and his son Zachariah, kings of Israel. The whole chapter suggests certain significant facts in God's government of mankind.

I. THE ENORMOUS FREEDOM OF ACTION WHICH HE ALLOWS WICKED MEN . Here we learn:

1. That God allows wicked men to form wrong conceptions of himself . All these kings, although descendants of Abraham, who was a monotheist, became idolaters. "The high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places." Golden calves, symbols of Egyptian worship, still stood in Dan and Bethel, at the extremities of the dominions. Terribly strange it seems to us that the Almighty Author of the human mind should permit it to think of him as some material object in nature, or as some production of the human hand. What human father, had he the power, would permit his children to form not only wrong but wicked impressions of himself? For what reason this is permitted I know not, Albeit it shows God's practical respect for that freedom of action with which he has endowed us.

2. That God allows wicked men to obtain despotic dominion over others . All these kings were wicked—Amaziah, Azariah, Joash, Jeroboam, and Zachariah, and yet they enjoyed an almost autocratic dominion over the rights, possessions, and lives of millions. Here we read of Amaziah slaying ten thousand men, capturing ten thousand prisoners, and taking Selah, the capital of the Edomites, and of Joash King of Israel using harshly the rights of the conqueror. "He came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate." It is said of Jeroboam, who reigned forty-one years, that he "did evil in the sight of the Lord, and departed not from the sins of his father." Antecedently one might have concluded that, if a wicked man was allowed to live amongst his fellows, he would be doomed to obscurity and to social and political impotence; but it is not so. Why? Who shall answer?

II. GOD PUNISHES WICKED MEN BY THEIR OWN WICKEDNESS .

1. A wicked man is punished by his own wickedness . Amaziah's conduct is an example. Elated with his triumph over the Edomites, he sought occasion of war with the King of Israel. "He sent messengers to Joash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, King of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face," etc. About fifteen years after his defeat he fled from Jerusalem to Laehish to escape assassination, but the assassin pursued him, and struck him dead. It is ever so. Wickedness is its own punishment. The wicked passions of a corrupt man are his tormenting devils. Sin is suicidal.

2. A wicked man is punished by the wickedness of others . The thousands whom these despotic kings reduced to anguish, destitution, and death, were idolaters and rebels against Heaven, and by the hand of wicked men they were punished. Thus it ever is. Devils are their own tormentors. Sin converts a community of men into tormenting fiends; man becomes the avenging fate of man.

CONCLUSION . Learn:

1. Humanity in this world is obviously in a morally abnormal condition . It can never be that he whose power is immeasurable, whose wisdom and goodness are infinite and radiant everywhere above us and below us, could create such a state of things as we have here. He originates the good alone, permits the evil, and will ultimately overrule it for good.

2. Faith in a future that shall rectify the evils of the present seems essential to true religion . Genuine religion is a supreme love for the Supreme Existence. But who could love a Supreme Existence, which could permit forever such a state of existence as we have here? There must come a day of rectification: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him," etc. ( Matthew 25:31-46 ).—D.T.

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