a tale of four kings

When you read Scripture, ask questions. Obvious questions. Unexpected questions. Silly questions. Non-sensical questions. Dumb questions.

Just do yourself the favor, and ask away. It sets your brain in action.

What’s the use in reading the Bible if you’re not thinking about it?

“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”

Isaiah 1:1

Who are these kings? Why are they listed here? How does this vision pertain to their reigns? Why doesn’t Jotham’s name have a “Z” in it?

Check it out for yourself in 2 Kings 15-20. Who knew a few chapters about four kings could reveal so much? May not be what you were looking for. Actually, it may be that none of your questions get answered. Yet. But at least you’re thinking.

First up? Uzziah. Otherwise known as Azariah. Started young and enjoyed a long reign. Minus the leprosy, which seems to have been triggered by the fact that the people under his rule continued to offer sacrifices to idols of their own making. I mean, Uzziah was a good enough king. But spending one’s final days diseased and isolated doesn’t sound like the most dignified of options.

Next we have Jotham {poor guy should’ve been named Zotham}. His leprous father reigned so long, Jotham didn’t get started till he was twenty-five. Sure, he made it on the “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” list. But the problem remained. The high places of worship were still there. And the people were still offering sacrifices to their gods.

crown 4

Now somehow Ahaz shows up in this bunch. Comparatively speaking, he didn’t do so well. Like his dad, he reigned sixteen years. Sixteen satisfactory years of wickedness and selfishness. He was glad his daddy didn’t tear down the high places. Ready-made, new favorite, idol worship location. Ahaz even went so far as to offer his own son. On the altar. To a false god. Much is said of Ahaz, as it seems he quickly became the new ringleader of the worship of these false gods.

The reign of Hezekiah tells a far different story.

He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah.

He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.

For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses.

And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered.

2 Kings 18:4-7

Hezekiah learned a thing or two from his father and grandfathers. He saw firsthand that idol worship destroys, because there is only one God, the Great Judge who is jealous for His glory and will not be dethroned.

As for Hezekiah, he decided he would worship God alone. But he didn’t stop there. He exercised his kingly authority and removed those altars altogether.

What Ahaz did, Hezekiah could never do, because he trusted in the Lord.

What Uzziah and Jotham didn’t do, Hezekiah did. Because he trusted in the Lord.

And so my thoughts go from Isaiah 1:1.

To four kings from 2 Kings.

To Ephesians 5:5-15.

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

. . . for because of these things the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience.

Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.

Walk as children of light . . . and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.

It’s a lesson that bears heeding.

[image credit: wikipedia commons & journeyoftheword.com]

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