Our Gracious God.
“But the LORD was gracious to the people of Israel, and they were not totally destroyed. He pitied them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And to this day he still has not completely destroyed them or banished them from his presence.” – 2 Kings 13:23 NLT
If I were God … I know, that’s a dangerous statement to make, let alone finish. But when I read through the history of the kings of Israel and Judah, I can’t help but think what I would have done to the people of God if I had been in God’s place. Extending grace is NOT one of the things that comes to mind. Even when I was a kid I would read some of these stories and think how ridiculous it was that God didn’t wipe these people off the face of the earth for their stupidity and stubbornness. He could have started all over with some other people group. But He didn’t. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that these stories are less about the falibility of men, than the faithfulness of God. These brutally hones portrayals of the lives of the kings and their people allow us to see just the kind of God we worship and follow. Over and over again we see their infidelity. And over and over again we see God’s faithfulness – His commitment to keep His promises – in spite of the actions and attitudes of His people. Today’s reading is a perfect case in point.
We read that Jehoahaz, the king of Israel, was just as wicked as the kings who came before him. And it resulted in punishment from the hand of God. “So the LORD was very angry with Israel, and he allowed King Hazael of Aram and his son Ben-hadad to defeat them time after time” (2 Kings 13:3 NLT). But Jehoahaz, unlike most of his predecessors, sought God. ” Then Jehoahaz prayed for the LORD’s help, and the LORD heard his prayer” (2 Kings 13:4 NLT). God heard and God responded because of His grace and mercy. “The LORD could see how terribly the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. So the LORD raised up a deliverer to rescue the Israelites from the tyranny of the Arameans. Then Israel lived in safety again as they had in former days” (2 Kings 13:4-5 NLT). God sent a deliverer – literally, a savior – to rescue the people. He gave them what they didn’t deserve – which is the basic definition of grace. They deserved punishment, but instead God extended mercy and rescued them from their oppressors. And in spite of God’s grace and mercy, the people continued to turn against Him. His mercy was met with ingratitude and rebellion.
But even in the days of Jehoahaz, as the people continued to reject God, He continued to fulfill His covenant promise that He had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “But GOD was gracious and showed mercy to them. He stuck with them out of respect for his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He never gave up on them, never even considered discarding them, even to this day” (2 Kings 13:23 MSG). He never gave up on them. And He never gives up on you and me! God keeps His promises. He remains faithful to His commitments. He shows us mercy and grace, when we deserve nothing less than punishment. He continues to extend grace even in the face of our ingratitude. Because that is who He is. He is faithful. He is merciful. He has made a promise to His people and He has and will keep it. God’s faithfulness to His covenant resulted in the arrival of the Messiah. His faithfulness to His promise made possible salvation to all those who would accept it. When Israel and Judah were unfaithful, God was faithful, and we are the beneficiaries of that faithfulness today.
Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Without it, I would not be here. Without it, I would never have been given eternal life and forgiveness of my sins. You remained faithful so that we might have a chance to experience the faithfulness of Your Son, who died on a cross in our place. Thank You! Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men