Bible Readings for December 23rd
In today’s reading, we find one of the rare times a story about the northern nation of Israel is recorded in the Chronicles. In 2 Kings 16 we read the account of Judah’s King Ahaz, and there, we found many details about his interaction with Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria. But here in 2 Chronicles 28, we read about the faithfulness of the northern Israelites—faithfulness that stands in stark contrast with the unfaithfulness of Judah’s King Ahaz, who was so wicked as to burn his own sons as offerings to the pagan gods (2 Chron. 28:3).
Because of Ahaz’s evil, Yahweh hands him over to be defeated by the kings of Syria and Israel (2 Chron. 28:5–6). Pekah, the king of Israel, inflicts great losses on Ahaz’s military, so that the southern nation of Judah loses 120,000 men of valor in a single day of battle—and all of this happens, the author of 2 Chronicles reminds us, “because they had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 28:6).
But even more than the wickedness of killing their own brothers in battle, Israel’s victory also enables them to take two hundred thousand of the people of Judah into slavery (2 Chron. 28:8), despite the fact that the people of Israel were forbidden from enslaving their fellow Israelites (Lev. 25:35–55). In response, a faithful prophet rebukes the people of Israel: “Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you” (2 Chron. 28:10–11). Additionally, certain chiefs of the tribe of Ephraim refuse to allow the slaves to be brought into their cities, saying, “You shall not bring the captives in here, for you propose to bring upon us guilt against the LORD in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel” (2 Chron. 28:13).
On the one hand, we are meant to see here that the wheels are coming off the tribe of Judah, so that they will continue to be handed over to greater defeats the further they rebel against Yahweh. But we are also meant to see that there were indeed faithful members from the northern tribes of Israel. Seeing Yahweh preserve a remnant who fears him and obeys his commandments ought to give us hope as we witness the church fall into all kinds of unfaithfulness and immorality in our own day. God will continue to build his church, even when that church survives as only a remnant at times, until the last day when Jesus Christ will return to judge the living and the dead. Pray that God might give you the grace to persevere with the saints to the end, no matter how badly things might go around you.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.