September 2, Wednesday

Editor’s Note: AMI devotionals from August 31-Sept. 4 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

2 King 14:23-29

In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher. 26 For the Lord saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter, for there was none left, bond or free, and there was none to help Israel. 27 But the Lord had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash. 28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam and all that he did, and his might, how he fought, and how he restored Damascus and Hamath to Judah in Israel, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers . . .

2Jeremiah (12:1) once complained to God, saying, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?” Perhaps, he thought of Jeroboam II whose penchant for evil rivaled that of his predecessor Jeroboam I who, to avoid losing his power, introduced a counterfeit religion to Israel (i.e., worshiping golden calves, non-levitical priesthood) “that led to . . . its destruction” (1 Ki. 13:34).  And for that, God rightfully punished him (14:10-13).

When compared to how God treated Jeroboam II, however, maybe Jeroboam I got a raw deal because God, instead of punishing Jeroboam II, blessed him like no other kings before or after him.  Under his regime, Israel enlarged its territory like never before, extending its border as far as the Sea of Arabah near Jordon and Damascus.  And according to Amos (1:1) who prophesied during this period, it was a time of unprecedented economic prosperity.  People had winter as well as summer mansions adorned with ivory (3:15); they “dine[d] on choice lambs and fattened calves” (6:4). As for the king himself, unlike other evil kings who suffered a tragic ending, he died peacefully (2 Ki. 14:29).

So, why did God bless Jeroboam II and Israel despite their continued rebellion?  He was calling them to repent!  Now, this may come as a surprise to those who equate God’s call to repentance to warnings of dire consequences if not complied to.  While that is not untrue, we mustn’t forget that God is always “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Lk. 6:35), thereby giving them an opportunity to experience His unmerited favor (i.e., grace) that would elicit the kind of response the fisherman Peter had upon realizing that the man responsible for his large haul of fish was the Christ: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” (5:8).

Unfortunately, Israel’s response was just the opposite: Thinking that they deserved everything they got, they fell into pride and callousness.  And that’s when God came with a sword: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it” (Amos 6:8).

One word of advice: Respond to God when He is being “nice” to us!  Repent. Today.

Prayer

God, how awesome it is to be given this privilege of knowing and worshiping You.  How amazing it is that You show the best of Your grace when I deserve it the least.  I am in awe of your unfathomable ways in which You continue to favor me on account of your Son Jesus Christ.  Thank you.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 10

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Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 2:3-4: Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

2 Cor. 6:1: Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

Jude 1:4: For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Question to Consider

  1. What is the spiritual logic behind God’s kindness leading us to repentance?
  2. Describe what God was doing for Jereboam II and Israel by blessing them in accordance to Romans 2:3-4?
  3. What is the worst thing we can do with God’s grace? How are you handling it at the moment?

Notes

  1. When we do wrong, our conscience (unless it has been desensitized) is bothered and we expect to be caught and then punished. Let’s assume that a policeman stopped you for a traffic violation.  But instead of issuing the ticket, he gives you a pep talk about safe driving and a piece of bubble gum to boot—now, that’s kindness!  And when the officer is leaving and says, “Drive safely,” we say, “Yes sir!”
  2. God was forbearing, being kind and patient with Jeroboam II and Israel so that they would repent.
  3. The worst thing we can do with God’s grace is to receive it in vain and then abuse it with this type of thinking: “Since He is not willing to punish me for my sins, I’m going to continue in them.” Don’t forget: “You may be sure that sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23).

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 Evening Reflection

In the same way that fish may not be conscious of water that surrounds it, we may not be all that conscious of God’s grace and mercy which we receive from Him daily.  Look back to this day and recall the times when it was evident that God was being gracious and merciful to you.  Thank Him.

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