Good Kings and Bad Kings

After a long nail-biting evening and a short restless night, America woke up in utter confusion. Hundreds of millions of us were diligent in voting and passionately followed our choices of local and national government, waited for the results, and ultimately had to lay our heads on the pillow in resignation to the unknown and hope the results will favor us.

In the last few months I have been saying to friends and family members that God is sovereign and whatever will be the outcome of the elections, it will not catch him by surprise. God was not on the edge of his throne all night, gripping his scepter with white knuckles, and hoping that we will do the right thing, will choose the right candidates, and will cause the outcome of our decisions to favor his plan.

This morning I took my dad to a doctor and on our way I asked him if he watched the events last night and if he knew the outcome. He told me he watched for a while then he went to sleep. In regards to the outcome he said simply, “God knows!”

Using Scripture as a resource, I would like to share my thoughts about the situation we are facing. It is my hope that you will find it helpful.

Around 930 B.C., the glory of the united kingdom of Israel began to fade with the death of Solomon. The books of 1st and 2nd Kings and 1st and 2nd Chronicles provide a prophetically oriented evaluation of the spiritual and moral causes that led to the political and economic demise of the two kingdoms (Israel and Judah). Rehoboam’s rejection of the Israelites request to lighten their yoke was a great turning point in the history of Israel. From this point on, the Southern Kingdom was known as Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital and the Northern Kingdom was known as Israel. Samaria became its capital. The two kingdoms were at war with each other. The lives of the kings that ruled the divided kingdoms contrasts the lives of those who lived for God and those who refused to do so.

From 931B.C. until the fall of Samaria into the hands of Assyria in 722 B.C., the ten Northern Tribes had a multigenerational string of bad kings. Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Amos and Hosea were the prophets who were tasked to speak on behalf of the LORD against the evil in the land.

From 931 B.C., until 586 B.C., when Jerusalem was destroyed and people were taken into the Babylonian Captivity, Judah had alternatively good and bad kings who took the country and her people on a dramatic journey. Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Daniel, Ezekiel and Jeremiah are some of the important prophets who spoke God’s divine directives to the kings in their prophetic ministry.

Let’s observe how Scriptures introduces some of these Judean kings:

So King Rehoboam grew strong in Jerusalem and reigned. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city that the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put his name there. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite.  And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.”– 2 Chronicles 12: 13-14

Rehoboam reigned for 17 years, and was followed by Abijah.

Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father.” -1 Kings 15:1-3

Abijah reigned for 3 years, and was followed by Asa who ruled for 41 years.

In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah, and he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done. He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. And Asa cut down her image and burned it at the brook Kidron. But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days”. – 1 Kings 15:9-14 

From this slice of history in Judah, I will suggest we consider two things.

First, imagine the life of the common people living in the land. Twenty years of witnessing deliberate sinful practices and deceit at the top of the government. The evils of sin trickles down to the lowly, and eventually everyone suffers. In this time of estrangement from God, the prophets spoke with courage against sin, proclaimed the holiness of God, and imminent consequential wrath of God about to punish disobedience. The prophets were courageous, bold, and always ready to pay the cost of their message from God with their own lives.

Secondly, imagine the relief God provided after such suffering. Asa led the country to healing and restoration for 41 years. In times of hardship, people turn to God, repent, and ask for deliverance. We learn from history about God’s mercy, compassion, and willingness to intervene and preserve his beloved.

Asa was followed by Jehoshaphat a good king who reigned for 25 years. Jehoshaphat was followed Jehoram who, “did what was evil in the sight of the LORD”. – 2 Kings 8:18b“

This cycle of good and bad kings in Judah lasted for about 345 years.

Regardless of their power and might, they remained part of past history. Their acts were captured by scribes on the papyrus scrolls, stories were passed from one generation to another, and all seemed to be swallowed in the flow of time.

But it was not so! In all this period, God was in control of Israel’s history.

In a changeable world, remains immutable and eternal.

Scriptures says that before the act of creation, God in his sovereignty had a plan.

God is sovereign! God is before all things, created all things, sustains all things, transcends all things, and knows all things, own all things, and rules over all things. There are no limits to God’s rule. This is part of what it means to be God. He is self-sufficient and independent. He is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it. He is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss. Whenever God acts, he acts in a way that pleases him. He does whatever he pleases.

The final word in our country’s dilemma hinges on this:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:16-17

Whatever the end of this chapter in our country’s story will be, be of courage, God is in control. In the meantime it will serve us best to take the advice from the prophet: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8