Last night I was reading in Spurgeon’s Mornings and Evenings devotional. As would be expected from Spurgeon, every page seems to be loaded with spiritual gems and theological nuggets. It is amazing how much Spurgeon was able to glean from the Word of God.
In one of his devotions (June 9, evening) he discusses John 5:39 where Jesus talks about searching the Scriptures. Spurgeon says we must diligently search the Word of God if we are to get its gold: “No man who merely skims the book of God can profit by it; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hidden treasure.”
He continues, “Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye it glows with splendour of revelation, like a vast temple paved with beaten gold, and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems.”
I fully concur. As just one example, this morning I continued my reading in 2 Chronicles. The stories of the kings found there are rich in spiritual lessons, and one biblical truth after another seemed to leap off the pages. It was a rich feast indeed. The truth is, this is not just dry history from a long time ago but living lessons for the people of God at any time. The spiritual lessons and deep truths of God are to be found in every chapter.
The stories of course are mainly about the various kings, prophets and priests of the time. And bear in mind that only Judah, the southern kingdom, is covered in 2 Chronicles 10-36. While what we read about was specific to a certain time and place, the accounts provide valuable lessons for the believer today. Let me just share a few of these spiritual gems from my past few days of reading.
-2 Chronicles 13 tells the story of Abijah King of Judah. Jeroboam the king of Israel (the northern kingdom) attacks Judah both at their front and rear. The people of Judah cried out to the Lord and then “God routed Jeroboam and all Israel” (v. 15). The reason for the victory is clearly stated (v. 18): “The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors.”
This is how God always operates. It is not by vast armies, or great planning, or wonderful strategies, or lots of money, or military might, but by devotion to the Lord that victory is achieved. As we read in Zechariah 4:6, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
-2 Chronicles 17 tells the story of Jehoshaphat King of Judah. We are told in verses 3-5 that the Lord “was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The Lord established the kingdom under his control.”
Of interest is what we find in v. 10: “The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not go to war against Jehoshaphat.” When God is put first, and godly leaders stand against sin and idolatry, then the Lord can even bring peace to them. As it says in Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
-2 Chronicles 20 speaks about how Jehoshaphat defeated Moab and Ammon. In response to the news that a vast army was coming, we read this in vv. 3-4: “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”
Now that was a very good move indeed. And in v. 12 we find these wise words: “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
And in verses 15-17 the word of the Lord coming to the king: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you’.”
Strange but effective military tactics were then employed (vv. 21-22): “Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’ As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”
Notice that the men had to take their positions and stand firm, but God brought about a great victory. Men work, but God works as well. We do what we are told to do, and trust God for the rest. That is how Canaan was taken, and that is how we achieve victory in the Christian life today.
-2 Chronicles 24 presents us with the story of King Joash. He started off well and repaired the temple. But later he and the people turned against Yahweh and turned to idols. We then read this in vv. 19-20:
Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.’”
Their response is found in v. 21: “But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple.” We then read about how the army of Aram marched against Joash. As can be imagined, because of Judah’s sin, they succeeded.
The theological commentary given by the writer of this book is very revealing indeed (v. 24): “Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the Lord delivered into their hands a much larger army. Because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, judgment was executed on Joash.”
Here we find more key spiritual truths. As we find so often stated in Scripture, God rejects those who reject him. And when a people are in that position, the smallest, weakest army can easily defeat them. When we move away from God in sin and disobedience, we certainly cannot expect his help when we come under attack. Only repentance and turning from sin can get us back to where we should be.
In my next article I will offer more amazing spiritual lessons to be found in these stories of the kings of Judah: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/05/14/lessons-2-chronicles/