Finding the Good among the Bad.
Just a head’s up, the trail winds around a lot as you read the scripture for today. I follow the One-year chronological bible, NLT version. (2 Kings 14:28-29, 15:6-38; 2 Chronicles 27:1-9; Isaiah 6:1-13, Micah 1:1-5)
I must admit, writing over the next 40 days about this time period in history, is going to be pretty rough. There are very few heroes. Fathers kill their own sons. The Lord is desperately distraught at the ongoing sin among both nations, Israel and Judah. We hear from prophets like Isaiah, Micah, and Oded as they beseech their grief of these nations’ rebellion. But among the rubble we can still find a few good men. Today I want to talk about these glimpses of light in the darkness.
The year is now 740 BC. Our first sacred soul is the king of Judah. His father taught him what was good, how to obey the Lord. However his father sinned a grievous sin against the Lord, and was struck by leprosy. But somehow his son, Jotham, didn’t forget the good his father did in his early days. Jotham became king at age 25, did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, rebuilt part of the Temple, and conquered neighboring enemies. Verse 6 of 2 Chronicles 27, tells us the “King Jothan became powerful because he was careful to live in obedience to the Lord his God.” He continued to live the narrow path among the corrupted nation, and stayed true to the Lord the rest of his life.
Sacred soul number 2 and 3: our prophets. During this time period lived our celebrated prophets, Isaiah and Micah. It was the year of Jotham’s father’s death that Isaiah saw the Lord and was called to give God’s message to the people. Isaiah didn’t hesitate to lift his hand after seeing God in all his splendor, and say “Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) And Micah, our other dearly beloved prophet receives Godly messages and visions also during Jotham’s reign as king. As the trail winds through the OT, we will hear much more from these prophets, especially after Jotham’s son becomes king. Spoiler alert, his son is not so good.
Our last sacred souls: 4,5,6, are not kings or prophets. They are regular men. Leaders, but still regular men. They heed the call of a prophet and take his advice. Prior to their meeting with Oded, the prophet, the king of Israel decided to proclaim war upon its neighbor, Judah. Maybe not such a good idea, since these people were their relatives. And as they returned with prisoners of war they ran into a prophet of the Lord, Oded. He warns them that making these people slaves is a very bad idea, especially since these people were their own relatives. Not smart. Not smart at all. And then out of this story appears our sacred four: four leaders of Israel ( 2 Chronicles 28:12 15) They speak amongst themselves, “We cannot afford to add to our sins and guilt. Our guilt is already great, and the Lord’s fierce anger is already turned against Israel.” These young men decide to go against the grain, provide clothing and sandals, food, and drink among the prisoners. They take care of the weak and take the prisoners back to their homeland.
Our six individuals, the only good we see among complete and utter corruption and rebellion. What makes a person different? What makes a person want to do good? What leads one to walk the narrow path, go against the grain, help the poor, listen to God’s call, live obediently? I don’t know the answer. I only know what lives among my heart. How my heart feels when I have sinned. It’s hard to ignore. My heart feels the anguish. My heart aches when I transgress. So few people, during this time period, kept the Lord close enough for him to invade their hearts. The Lord gave their ancestors directions to keep the laws near, to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind. But just so few remembered this call. We still have this same call today. We live in a world that rebels. We have to be the light in this darkness, just like these six men.
Our music today comes from musician Tauren Wells. The song is “Known”. The words ring true of how God may have seen the heart of these four young men and how He may see your heart. The first verse goes ….”You see right through the mess inside me. And you call me out, to pull me in. You tell me I can start again. And I don’t need to keep on hiding. ” Our four young men in our story above, started again. They did the right thing. “They were fully known and fully loved,” just like you. “He doesn’t let go, no matter what we do.”.
“It’s so like You to keep pursuing.
It’s so like me to go astray.
But You guard my heart with Your truth
The kind of love that’ bulletproof
And I surrender to You. “