In Need Of A Savior.
2 Kings 13-14, Galatians 3
Then Jehoahaz sought the favor of the Lord, and the Lord listened to him, for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them. (Therefore the Lord gave Israel a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians, and the people of Israel lived in their homes as formerly. – 2 Kings 13:4-5 ESV
One of humanity’s greatest shortcomings has been its inability to recognize its need for a savior. There is no doubt that men have always sensed their need for salvation – from war, poverty, oppression, disease, defeat, and even death. But the problem has always been that that men tend to seek salvation from all the wrong sources. Rather than turn to God, men have turned to themselves, false gods, military might, and a host of human saviors offering deliverance from whatever problems were facing them. But God never meant for mankind to seek or find salvation from any source other than Him. Yet He has allowed us to repeatedly discover just how unreliable our pseudo-saviors really are by permitting mankind to seek salvation in anything and everyone other than Him. Even God’s people were guilty of turning to sources other than God for help in time of need. Yet, when things got bleak and their false saviors failed to deliver, the people of God tended to turn their attention back to God. In the 13th chapter of 2 Kings, we read of Jehoahaz, king of Israel, faced with the unrelenting oppression of Syria, who finally turned to God for help. He “sought the favor of the Lord, and the Lord listened to him” (2 Kings 13:4 ESV). God saw their oppression and “gave Israel a savior so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians” (2 Kings 13:5 ESV). God didn’t do this because they deserved it. He didn’t save them because they were worthy of salvation. In fact, we’re told that Jehoahaz “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 13:2 ESV). And in spite of God’s salvation, the people of Israel “did not depart from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin, but walked in them; and the Asherah also remained in Samaria” (2 Kings 13:6 ESV). God’s salvation was not conditional. It was not based on their behavior or merit, but was an expression of His mercy, grace and compassion. It was in fulfillment of His covenant promises to Abraham and David. “But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now” (2 Kings 13:23 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about God?
God is gracious, loving, compassionate and faithful. In the face of man’s idolatry, spiritual adultery, and persistent unfaithfulness, He continued to show undeserved mercy and grace. That God would provide a “savior” for the people of Israel after all they had done is amazing. Over and over we read of the sinfulness of God’s chosen people. Each successive king did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. On rare occasions, we read of the isolated example Amaziah, who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 14:3 ESV), but his obedience was incomplete and impartial. Nothing really changed. Yet God never fully abandoned His people. He continued to love them, watch over them, and protect them. Even when He eventually sent them into exile for their sinfulness, He never took His hands off of them. He ended up returning them to the land of promise, despite all they had done to rebel against Him. When we read of the history of God’s people, it provides us with a backdrop against which to view the amazing grace and mercy presented in the Gospels. The coming of the ultimate Savior of Israel stands in stark contrast to the sinfulness and rebellion of the people of God. John 3:16 reminds us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Elsewhere, Paul writes, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ESV). Even thought Israel so often failed to turn to God for their salvation, God was always there, ready to provide it. And while men have consistently and stubbornly refused to seek God for their salvation from sin and death, God has so graciously continued to offer it to those who would believe.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Man has an innate need to try and save himself, or at least to determine who his savior might be. The Israelites were guilty of turning to false gods for help. They even turned to other nations, like Egypt, to bail them out of their difficulties. Sometimes they turned to representations of God, like the Ark or the Temple, to find security and salvation. But God has always wanted men to turn to Him in times of need, and the crux of the issue is just that… NEED. We must see our need for God. We must recognize our desperate need for salvation. That was the whole reason God gave the Israelites the law. It was a God-given, written code of conduct that clearly articulated God’s moral standard for living. And it was non-negotiable. The law required perfect and complete obedience. It was not enough to obey partially. Perfection was the criteria for success, and no man could measure up. “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Galatians 3:22 ESV). The law was holy and good because it was given by God. It was an accurate depiction of God’s righteous standard for holy conduct, but the problem was that no man was capable of living up to that standard because of the presence and power of sin. God’s law revealed just how sinful man really was. When Jesus came to earth, He offered an invitation to the Jewish people. He stated, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV). He was speaking to a people worn out and burdened down a lifetime of attempting to keep the law. They were weary. They were laboring under the sheer weight of the law’s righteous expectations. But Jesus offered them rest. He offered salvation. All they had to do was admit their own sinfulness and their incapacity to save themselves, and believe in Him.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Man has never been able to earn a right standing with God. Our own sinfulness makes it impossible. God’s holiness and righteousness requires that man be sinless and righteous in order to stand in His presence. And while we might convince ourselves that something or someone else might save us from our predicament, it is not until we admit our weakness and sinfulness that we will realize our salvation comes from only one source: Jesus Christ. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 ESV). We can’t earn our salvation. No one else can provide it for us. We must place our faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ alone. He alone can save. He alone can make us right with God. He alone can provide us with the righteousness we need to stand before God as holy, sinless and fully acceptable in His sight. “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4 ESV).
Father, thank You for the reality of salvation made possible through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You for doing for me what I could never have done for myself. Now help me to realize that this new life You have saved me to live, is only possible through the power of Your Spirit. I am no more able to live righteously on my own than I was able to save myself from sin. Make me ever more dependent upon You for my daily salvation from sin and self. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men