Amaziah Rebuked for Idolatry
14 Now after Amaziah came from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought the gods of the sons of Seir, set them up as his gods, bowed down before them and burned incense to them. 15 Then the anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah, and He sent him a prophet who said to him, “Why have you sought the gods of the people who have not delivered their own people from your hand?” 16 As he was talking with him, [h]the king said to him, “Have we appointed you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” Then the prophet stopped and said, “I know that God has planned to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.”
Amaziah Defeated by Joash of Israel
17 Then Amaziah king of Judah took counsel and sent to Joash the son of Jehoahaz the son of Jehu, the king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us face each other.” 18 Joash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, “The thorn bush which was in Lebanon sent to the cedar which was in Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son in marriage.’ But there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon and trampled the thorn bush. 19 You said, ‘Behold, you have [i]defeated Edom.’ And your heart has [j]become proud in boasting. Now stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, would fall and Judah with you?”
20 But Amaziah would not listen, for it was from God, that He might deliver them into the hand of Joash because they had sought the gods of Edom. 21 So Joash king of Israel went up, and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth-shemesh, which belonged to Judah. 22 Judah was defeated [k]by Israel, and they fled each to his tent. 23 Then Joash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash the son of Jehoahaz, at Beth-shemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem and tore down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate, 400 [l]cubits. 24 He took all the gold and silver and all the utensils which were found in the house of God with Obed-edom, and the treasures of the king’s house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.
25 And Amaziah, the son of Joash king of Judah, lived fifteen years after the death of Joash, son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel. 26 Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, from first to last, behold, are they not written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel? 27 From the time that Amaziah turned away from following the Lord they conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there. 28 Then they brought him on horses and buried him with his fathers in the city of Judah.
God gave Judah a mighty victory, and gave them every reason to return and trust Him. Instead they take home the idols of the people they had vanquished and worship them. In all this foolishness, there is a lesson for us.
Whether we’ve been taught this overtly, or whether we just came to our own conclusions, it might be tempting to think God is out to get us. That if we do something wrong, God is just waiting to “smite” us with lightning or fire from heaven. But for all their unfaithfulness, the people of Israel (and Judah) teach us something very different. God is abounding in love and slow to anger and wrath.
God told the Israelites from the beginning what the punishment would be for rebellion. He even modeled it in the fifth commandment, where the penalty for dishonoring father or mother was death by stoning. Again and again God warned them of coming judgment, that he would send nations against them if they continued in their rebellion.
Here in this passage, God sends a prophet straight to Amaziah the king. Amaziah is so full of himself and so intent on having his own way that he silences the prophet. Somewhat surprisingly, the prophet stops, but not without one last quick rebuttal. You can almost hear the heartbreak in the voice of the prophet, echoing the heart of God, as he realizes Amaziah is beyond rescue.
Amaziah goes even farther and provokes Israel to war, despite Joash of Israel warning him against this rash action. In the end, Amaziah does see the consequences of his actions, though the people are only plundered, and not carried into captivity. No doubt many died for their rebellion, but nothing compared to what would come later when God’s patience was finally exhausted.
Ultimately, we can choose to view God as an angry ogre, or as the loving father that He is. What we say and believe does not change the truth, but when we open our hearts to the fact that God loves us as a father, it is an incredible realization. God wants to smile upon us, He wants to bless us with a loving relationship. His desire is not to judge us, or abuse us. He is no earthly drunkard who cannot contain his wrath in his disappointment. For disappoint Him we will, but he is forever waiting for us to run back to his arms and experience how full his love and mercy is.