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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Good and Bad, or Vice Versa

The Good or Vice Versa

In the scheme of things, I find myself reading in the Bible books of Kings and Chronicles.

Recently, the pastor I serve with (supply/part-time) preached a sermon on one of the "good" kings - Joash. So many look to him as an inspiration especially regarding his care for God's house and his use of the "Joash box," "chest of Joash," or "Joash offering" as I have variously heard it called.

Joash as you may recall became king at the ripe age of 7. He did have the misfortune of being the grandson of Athaliah, daughter of wicked king Ahab of Israel, who killed all of his brothers and "reigned" as queen of Judah - the only sovereign of that nation who was not a descendant of David (other than Saul, the first king). She would have killed Joash, but he was rescued by his aunt who also was the wife of the priest. It is an interesting story, but for my purposes you will find it in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22.

Now, 2 Kings 12.2 records an interesting fact: "And Jehoash [Joash] did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him."

Yes, he was a "good" king as long as his uncle the priest was alive, but in the New Testament his most heinous act is recalled: "Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar." (Matthew 23:34-35)

No less than Jesus, Himself, uses this act of "good" king Joash to describe the closing verses of the Hebrew scripture. Interestingly enough, the book of Kings omits this event, which is found in 2 Chronicles 24.20-22.

The Bad or Vice Versa

Now, we move on to one of my more favorite kings - wicked king Manasseh.

Just a few generations after King Joash, we find Manasseh also taking the throne at a young age - 12. The book of 2 Kings wastes no time in describing his life: "And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel." (2 Kings 21:2) The following verses go on to describe some of his wicked acts until he passes from the scene.

Now, why in the world do I like him. Just as Kings failed to record the "bad" of King Joash, it also fails to record the "good" of Manasseh. For the rest of the story, we have to again turn to 2 Chronicles: "And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God." (2 Chron. 33:12-13)

That's what I like, Manasseh, another story of God's grace. Why? Because I too am a story of God's grace.

Yes, of course, it's good to be "good" and it's bad to be "bad," but in the end the truly important thing is God's grace. So, whether you are "good" (and scripture reminds us that good is not good enough) or whether you are "bad" (enough even to be called "wicked"), do what Manasseh did - certainly not Joash - and "humble yourself greatly before God, pray to Him, and know that the Lord, He is God."