1.  Rehoboam
2.  Jeroboam
3.  Asa
4.  Jehoshaphat
5.  Ahab
6.  Jehu
7.  Joash
8.  Uzziah
9.  Hezekiah
10. Josiah



The Lord taught his disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Any attempt to enjoy God's kingdom without the rightful king will always end in disaster. The church has historically failed to learn to bend the knee before God. Until the millennium, the only kingdom of any importance and significance is the internal one within the boundaries of the human heart. Until that heart is brought into subjection, any hope of peace within the political borders of humanity is futile.

However, without the benefit of marching armies, without the bombardment of fusillades, or a rain of bullets, without a single shot being fired, the internal turmoil of a troubled heart can end as each soul surrenders to the sovereign will of God Almighty. A peace that passes all understanding can rule and reign in our hearts if we will only remove self from the throne of the invisible kingdom, and the King of Kings is enthroned and acclaimed Lord of Lords.

Actually, even though declared Lord, the Second Person of the Trinity never sits upon the throne of our heart. He is the Lord who has gone away on a journey (Matt. 21:33, Mk. 13:34; Lk. 19:11-13). The Third Person of the Trinity stands by the throne of the human heart as the unseen power behind a surrendered will. He is our guide and comforter (Jn. 14: 26) and he whispers in the ear of the submissive saint "this is the way, walk ye in it" as was promised to Isaiah (Isa. 30:21).

Although Israel will one day enjoy the promised kingdom that we commonly call the millennium, there is another more important kingdom for today; it is the kingdom within. (Jn. 18:36; Mk. 12:34).

History of both the Old and New Testaments, and beyond have graphically evidenced the failure of human nature to govern without God. Swords and chariots are as deceitful as the riches spoken of by the Master in Matthew 13. Should some turn of events place you upon some throne of authority, never take your seat until first you have knelt before the one to whom all authority is given (Matt. 18:18). Parent, Teacher, Employer, King, each sphere of influence affords an opportunity to act only as the king's emissary and never the king himself. And should some office, title or ministry be forced upon your head by human circumstances, realize it is merely a paper crown. Paper crowns are easily blown by the wind, and God makes the wind. Hold your head upright in a posture of responsibility, not with pride, haughtiness, or arrogance, but only in order to wisely balance with grace what has come from the hand of grace.

No great spiritual leader ever aspired to such a position. We have every reason to be suspicious of the so-called saint who grasps for the scepter, or strives for a crown. God knows where to find you. David, the least of Jesse's sons was found in the sheep fold and would not escape the search of Samuel. Gideon was hiding in the threshing floor, Moses in the wilderness, and Peter was working the sea of Galilee. Jesus explained this when he told his disciples, "you have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain" Jn. 15:16. God does the calling. When men aspire to positions of spiritual leadership they violate a delicate principle and are immediately disqualified. Many are preaching who are not preachers, and teaching who are not teachers, and the problem is not with their method, but with their motive. Moses was once rejected by the very people he tried to help. When he tried


to stop the Hebrews from fighting among themselves they turned on him. Humanly speaking, Moses was never in a better position to be of assistance to this pitiful population of slaves. It was not until forty years later, after God had emptied Moses of any dillusions of grandeur or illusions of personal power or ability that a bush burst into flame in a lonely desert and God called him to be a leader of his people. Spiritual leadership may involve governing a kingdom, or guiding a child. It may involve being an expositor of the Scriptures or an example. God has a calling for each of us and every soul is a kingdom.

How bloody was the Jewish crown! It too often was knocked off one head, and briefly set on the brow of another. Too often it misunderstood grace. Too often it became a trophy, a goal, and a grave. A study of the chaotic kingdom period is more than a study of history, it is a study of the human spirit. He who reads the book of Kings, often reads his own heart.  The darkness of lust, greed, and pride can lurk in the shadows of every man.  Sinner and saint alike, each is a little kingdom. Our only hope against such a darkness is the light. Our only light is God's word. We have little control over what takes place in kingdoms and countries half a world away, but when it comes to the kingdom that is nearest us, let us pray that, at least in our own hearts, His kingdom will come.

When God wanted to reveal himself to the world of nations he began with a single man named Abraham. From his loins there came a nation. First there were the patriarchs, then came the judges. After the judges, came the kings.

The patriarchs lived in tents. They for the most part, had the spirit of Abraham who "looked for a city, which had foundations, who's builder and maker was God." Events led the family of Abraham into Egypt where they would learn in slavery what they failed to appreciate in freedom. As the survivor of Nazi Fascism carried an awful reminder of human depravity on their persons in the form of a tattoo (a type of mark of the beast) a generation of Jews bore the scars of Egyptian slavery on their spirits. Sinful human nature is incorrigible. It must not settle for anything less than crucifixion and new-birth. All attempts of government from below would fail. What the patriarchal fathers failed to do in taming and controlling the tyranny of self, so too failed the Judges.

The period of the judges was a period of two hundred years during which tribes lived with an autonomy during times of peace, and solidarity during times of crisis. It is also called the charismatic period, for God called upon and raised up charismatic individuals to champion the cause of peace, and integrity of the people.

Deborah was used to defeat the Canaanites as Megiddo. Gideon was used to defeat the Midianiates, and Samson to defeat the Philistines. During this time the capital was in Shiloh which eventually was overrun by enemies and the precious ark of the covenant was carried away. Samuel was the last judge in Israel.

Constant attack (raids) by Moab, Ammon, and the Amramaeans led to the clamor for a central monarchy. The smallest tribe would give one of her sons to be king. The first king was named Saul. Perhaps it was Benjamin's central location, or his unpretentious personality that permitted the other tribes to agree with this choice.   Later David who was from the southern part of the kingdom seemed to govern in a way that appeased the northern tribes enabling him to pass along a completely united country to his son Solomon.  It did not stay united for long.  The divided church might learn some lessons that come from the confusion that results from carnal leadership and contaminated character and cross-currents of fallen human nature.  When God is not permitted to be King the result is always chaos.



Each day begins as a blank page. By the time the sun goes down words we have spoken will have filled its borders and a history will have been written. Every man is given a single sheet of paper. A prince and a pauper will each make history by the end of the day. For the most part, our words will determine our destiny. Words are what make us the crown of God's creation. The ability to communicate enables us to live closer to heaven than any of God's other creatures. God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul. That living soul is what makes man god-like, and in the given ability to make words man is given, in measure, the gift of creation.

Our choice of words can start a war or build a world. An inspirational word can light a fire that empowers the movement of an industry or an army. A single word can lance the boil of a wounded spirit, or revive the smoking flax of hope in someone's heart. It can refresh, but a word can also kill, break, and destroy.

If we understood how much "power God has given unto men" (Matt. 9:8) perhaps we would be more appreciative and perhaps more careful in how we use that power. Perhaps we would see each day as our own Genesis, and our words, either good or evil, as the ink of our own holy or unholy history.

Rehoboam killed his own kingdom with harsh words. He should have studied his father's textbook, which is itself, a divine and holy treasure of words. He would have done well to mark, meditate upon, and mind the advice of Solomon, and realize that "soft answer turneth away wrath" (Prov. 15:1). He should also have considered the counsel of the ages and been forewarned about the wrath that would come from his own grievous speech.

When Jeroboam and the delegation of disgruntled subjects stood before him, Rehoboam had an opportunity to build or break a kingdom. His words had the ability to heal or hurt his todays and tomorrows. His own words would write his history.

The Northern tribes used the opportunity of Rehoboam's recent coming to the throne to appeal for tax relief and restraints on conscription. After obtaining foolish counsel he ridiculed the suppliants and triggered a rupture of the kingdom. This division was, of course no surprise to God, who not only knew Rehoboam's heart but predicted the rebellion through his prophet Ahijah. His continual enemies were the Northern tribes which rebelled against him, and Egypt led by Shishak founder of the 23rd Dynasty. Shishak invaded Judah many times and is said to have carried away the golden shields made and hung by Solomon (1Ki. 14:26) along with the treasures of the temple.

Rehoboam listened to the counsel of Shemaiah and dismissed an army he raised to war against the secessionists, and accepted the rift as the punishment of God. He took eighteen wives and sixty concubines of which were born twenty eight sons and sixty daughters.

All the Levites throughout the North made their way into Judah as they were expelled from their homes by Jeroboam.

This was the silent dispersion. Jeroboam wanted to silence any voice that would threaten his authority. By doing so he expunged the land of the only moral conscience and hope of recovery they had (2Chron. 11:13-14). In their place Jeroboam set priests, unqualified in every respect. They purchased their positions with the price of seven rams or one bullock (13:8).

God has his servants. They are never hirelings. They are, not unlike the Levites, set apart for a special ministry and work. The prostitution of the ministry with uncalled and unqualified men is ever a danger in any age. While we accept and cherish the principle of the "priesthood of the believer" we also recognize that God has given "gifts unto men." The true church has pastor/teachers, evangels, ministers and servants. They are voices crying out in the wilderness, they are guides and counselors; they are moral consciences of spiritual integrity. Every age has its Nathans who are not afraid to warn even kings of the higher law of heaven. Not any man was qualified or capable of pointing his finger at David and say "thou art the man."  Only an Elijah dare stand up to the prophets of Baal, and live to tell about it.

There are not enough bullocks in the world to purchase a commission from heaven, but should it fall upon some willing instrument of humanity, no power on earth can stop it.

Terror should have filled Jeroboam's heart when he saw the holy men disappear into the distance and leave his land without a witness. Instead he set up his own religious institutions and invented a denomination of deception, armed by legion of pseudo-priests who bought their bishoprics with mammon, as so many Judas' purchasing fields of blood. Godliness, and holiness are not for sale. (Acts 8:19-20).

Christendom today is not unlike the divided kingdom of Israel. Ten renegade tribes who have set up counterfeit altars officiated by pseudo-priests and pretend ministers who have purchased their credentials from earthly schools, seminaries, and organizations. The seven rams or a bullock have been replaced by seven semesters and certain tuitions and the "ministry" has become a profession and a trade.

Jeroboam was said to have made priests of the "lowest of the people" (1Kings 12:31). Any ordination is only as divine as the hand from which it is received.  Much of Christendom has apostatized in the spirit of Jeoroboam and yet continues to offer sacrifices, and dispense benedictions, and lift prayers that are not only worthless but also powerless.

Jeroboam failed to realize that he was a tool God was willing to use for good. He was the earlier equivalent of Esther who came to high places of power and influence "for such a time as this." As Esther was used to save Israel by her compassion, Jeroboam could have been used to save Israel through chastisement. He failed to realize that he had been lifted up for God's good not his own.

Had Judah repented for the failure of Solomon in introducing heathen practices and setting up pagan altars, Had the shock of Jeorboam's ordination and coronation resulted in lamentations things might have been different. If Jeroboam had only sought God's counsel about perpetuating the institutions of worship of Jehovah by acceptable means the result might have been revival, not ruin. But as power corrupts when taken up by unholy hands, Jeroboam brought a curse instead of a blessing.

The wrath and apostasy of Jeroboam drove "such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel" into the camp of Rehoboam (2Chron.11:16). These holy hearts held up the fragile kingdom as they brought with them

God's grace. Rehoboam failed to make the most of this opportunity.  Perhaps Rehoboam imagined that it was his ingenuity, skill, or efforts that secured his success failing to realize that it was indeed an unseen hand of omnipotence? We need only to study our own ungrateful hearts to realize how dangerously we also have come to "presume" that we are somehow responsible for our achievement. We do know that for three years God used godly men to "strengthen" even foolish Rehoboam and made his kingdom strong.

Rehoboam married his half sister and his aunt (v18) Then he married another half sister the daughter of Absalom of whom was born Abijah the future king. Samuel's prophecies came true as Kings are given to indulgence and Rehoboam "desired many wives" (11:23).

In the first verse of chapter twelve we find the hole of which Jesus must have spoke when he said, "If the blind lead the blind that both shall fall into the ditch." And how deep a hole it was! "And it came to pass, when Rehoboam, had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him."

"He did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD." 2Chron. 12:14 The sins of Rehoboam may be found lurking in every heart. Every saint has two natures. As long was we are still in this world, these sins are a danger. They are more likely dormant than dead. Perhaps stunned by the news of the presence of the King of Kings somewhere within the realm the old nature, merely retreats to strike again. Let us all beware of the sins of Rehoboam, they are legion.

1. Arrogance has often brought a man's house down upon his own head. So it was with Rehoboam. Had he been gentle, had he been kind, had he been sympathetic things would have been different. "Titles are empty things," wrote Defoe, "the good of subjects, is the end of kings." No man or people can long endure tyranny. Every husband, every teacher, every parent would do well to lay flowers on Rehoboam's grave and remember the results of oppression. The New Testament leader is warned not to "Lord it over God's heritage." Elders are admonished to be "gentle." Had he been alive at the time perhaps Isaiah would have counseled this novice to be "reasonable." "Come now, let us reason together saith the Lord" Isa. 1:18.

2. Counsel is only as good as the well from which it is drawn. Rehoboam failed to listen to the Elders. He gave ear to his own generation who had ideas of how to hold the reigns of government. When the northern tribes sought relief they found none. They asked for bread and were given a stone, they asked for a fish and were given a serpent (Matt. 7:9-10). We would do well to listen to the gray headed saint even though he lacks degrees or credentials for if he be a man of the Spirit he has all the essentials. Young people should not take counsel from young people for even the best intentioned advice does not have the benefit of experience.

3. Tyranny. History is replete with bloody lessons and gruesome scaffolds have all too often seen a monarch's head severed by the guillotine, or neck stretched by a rope, yet men are too often maddened by power and authority until they are toppled. Tyranny drives, love leads. Tyranny terrorizes, love lifts.

Tyranny is of hell, tenderness is of heaven. Even if Rehoboam's motives were right (and they were not) his tactics violated most basic of principles. Paul must have sought to temper the evil instincts found in some fathers when he counseled them not to "provoke" their children to "wrath." Some fathers too soon forget what it was like to be a son.

4. Anger. Rehoboam acted in anger. If he had read his father's words he should have remembered that "he who hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls." If a man cannot rule his own spirit he is a poor candidate to rule anything else. Once he erupted the kingdom was rent in two.



Solomon's building program was extensive. He not only built the beautiful temple unto Jehovah, he unfortunately built homes and palaces , fortifications, and stables for himself. Worse, he built shrines and temples for the gods of his heathen wives. Years before, Samuel had predicted that kings could be expected to behave exactly as Solomon had done. The stones for these altars were paid for by the blood, sweat, and tears of his citizens. His oppressive taxation and conscription policies exasperated the people who were pushed to the brink of rebellion by his thoughtless policies. They needed only a leader to act as a catalyst for rebellion. That leader was to be found in Jeroboam who was master builder and director of public works. He rose through the ranks of administrators until he stood at the pinnacle. He was a captain of industry (1Ki. 11:28). His ambition was the key Satan would use to enter his heart in the fullness of time.

Satan has many tools at his disposal. The spirit of Judas is not confined to one dispensation. That a good God allows man to play into the hands of the Prince of Darkness is no indictment against righteousness. Grace is available to every man sufficient to allow the King of Glory to come in, and it is only that presence that can prevail against the onslaught of the evil one. That Jeroboam was used of darkness is only the fault of Jeroboam. His heart was ripe for the picking. Tired of service for his master and disinclined to work for a fool, he was a prime candidate to raise the flag of rebellion. God never pours out his vengeance without warnings. First comes the thunder, then the rain. 

Unfortunately, Solomon, and his son neglected to heed the signs. Then God spoke directly to Solomon for the "LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel." God's lightning never comes out of the blue. The words of warning rolled in like an ominous storm front, "Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statues, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant." The story of David and Saul was being repeated. But Solomon would not listen. He was too busy building. God would use this chief architect to bring a kingdom down. This disapproval of God was evident in the message he sent by his servant Ahijah. Ahijah sought out Jeroboam. The prophet found the son of Nebat in a field just outside Jerusalem, perhaps with maps and charts in hand, wearing a brand new garment. Ahijah took the robe off the startled civil servant and tore it to shreds before his eyes. Handing ten pieces to Jeroboam he predicted that he would be ruler of Israel, ruler of all except two tribes which were represented by the two strands of fabric that remained.

Even though this son of a widowed mother, seemed to be caught up in the white water of divine providence that swept him and Israel down stream, in what appeared to be a hopeless current, God's grace branched off in a tributary of deliverance should he choose safer waters. This boat did not have to rush over the water falls and break upon the rocks beneath. The offer to Jeroboam was as bonafide as the offer of salvation to every man. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." As awful as this calling appeared to be, Ahijah delivered a gospel of hope to this would-be monarch, "If thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and my statues and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee. And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever. (1Ki. 11:38). Jeroboam was no puppet, he was responsible for every act and deed. "And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth..."

Jeroboam was to be an instrument of chastisement, but he could have also been a celebrated hero of truth and righteousness. He failed to use the opportunity God had given him for good. He turned beauty into ashes.

When Solomon heard of the anointing of his lieutenant by Ahijah he, in the spirit of a later king named Herod, sought to slay God's anointed. Jeroboam likewise found refuge in Egypt. Shishak welcomed the talented and valorous fugitive and saved him for a better day when he would himself rise up against Israel at the death of Solomon. Hearing of the death of the son of David Jeorboam was invited back to be spokesman for the northern tribes in an audience with Rehoboam. Entreaties were met with reproach and recriminations and the cry arose "to your tents, O Israel." The kingdom was broken.

Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim. He set up substitute altars fearing that the people would return to Judea in order to practice worship and pray. One altar was set up in Beth-el and the other in Dan. He made priests of the lowest and commonest people (1Ki.12:31) and threw away God's blessing and traded it for a curse. He also changed the calendar in an attempt to squelch any religious sentiment or nostalgia. He designed calves not unlike that of Aaron in his moment of apostasy.

Jeroboam was a chief builder of the walls of Jerusalem. If ever a man knew that lines must be plumb it was he. If there ever was a man who knew that buildings must have good foundations, it should have been Jeroboam. "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" is the advice of one builder to another.  Jeroboam built Jerusalem upon a rock, but his own life upon the sand. When the storm came it was washed away.

The very prophet who had baptized him with blessing now returned to curse him. Ahijah came to cry against the altar of Jeroboam. He predicted that the sons of the priests would have their bones burned upon those very altars in divine judgment. Brought to his feet, and in a rage, Jeroboam raised his hand in anger against the prophet, perhaps as he was about to unleash his guards upon the holy man, but that very arm became dead and withered. Even after cries for pity, and an apparent repentance, and after receiving again the use of his limb, the foolish Jeorboam failed to change his ways (1Ki.13:33)

God is gracious. If the king would not listen to the sermons of one prophet, God would send another. Perhaps hatred made his heart deaf to the words of Ahijah, as men attempt to justify foolish behavior and become jaundiced and jaded with the voice of ministers who tell them things they don't want to hear. God sent another messenger with the same message. It is sadly still common for saints to hate God's servants who bring to light things hidden in our hearts. Many seek only "comfort" messages and will even set up false altars in order to hear them.

Jeroboam's sins were black, but none blacker than leading others to hell. It is one thing to choose to be the fool or the fiend yourself. It is quite another to raise a dark flag around which other rally (1Kings 14:16). It is a frightful thing to be a king when we consider the power of influence. Our children follow our spirit as much as our example. Jeroboam's legacy was not that he sinned, but that he "made Israel to sin."

No one knows the boundaries of God's grace. While God's attributes might appear to be measureless and as infinite as he is, Scripture is clear that even grace has its limits.

"My Spirit will not always strive with man." There is such a thing as crossing a line beyond which prayers are not heard, and entrities unanswered. Jeroboam crossed that line.

When his son Abihah became sick he longed for a blessing and healing from God. He remembered better and more innocent days when he looked into the eyes of God's servant. Those eyes had now grown dim in this world , but still saw light in another. He sent his wife in a disguise to visit a blind Ahijah, but she found no more good news from God. God may ask us to do difficult things, but never impossible things. Some men are natural born leaders. Some men begin as builders and end as breakers. Jeroboam started laying stones for walls, buildings, and temples. He ended with a legacy of loss. Let every man be careful how they build. Some use gold, silver and precious stones (1 Cor. 3) others wood, hay, and stubble. Like Jeroboam, we are all builders. Let us all be careful how we build, what we build, and with what we build. Don't turn errands into errors.

The fact that Jeroboam was skilled, industrious, and ambitious made him a natural leader. He was recognized by the king himself as a rising star (1Ki. 11:28). Servants must feel that they are doing a useful, meaningful, and important work. Jeroboam became vexed in building up pagan temples (vs. 27). His dissatisfaction with such questionable work caused the first crack in the earth which would eventually open up in an ugly breach. Both Solomon and Jeroboam mistook liberty for license. It is not enough that we build the walls of Jerusalem, or the temple on top of Moriah. God is interested in everything we are doing.

There is no room for other gods in our kingdom.

God never intended for Jerobaom to set up golden calves on Dan and Bethel. The flesh can never finish what grace has begun. Making golden calves was an act of the flesh. It was an act of folly. Much latter, Judaism would be held together by the Sabbath and the Synagogue, without priest and without altar. There were alternatives Jeroboam had not considered. Let us not mistake Christendom for the Spirit of Christianity. It needs not cathedrals, stained glass, altars, or even pulpits. It only needs Christ.

What Rehoboam did with the golden shields, Jeroboam did with the golden men. He replaced the chosen priests of God with men of baser metals. He lowered the standards until men spiritually crawled in the mud. It is a mistake to fill a holy office with an unqualified soul. It is a mistake to replace God's best with our best.

Every problem and crisis is an opportunity to learn and grow. Even after we experience a breach or inherit a broken kingdom there is hope. Failure, sickness, financial loss, broken homes, and divorce are not the end of the world for those who humbly return to God. To carry our mistakes into another kingdom is tempting but foolish. Even the judgment of Judah would be used of God for some greater good.

Nothing is harder than admitting we are wrong. The world still kills its prophets. Should some prophet, or voice of God condemn a sinful behavior repent before ruin comes. Sacrifices were being made at Bethel,



The reign of Abijah was uneventful except for a testimony of faithful adherence to the prescribed form of worship. Abihah seemed to have more than the right form, he seemed to also have the right kind of faith (2Chron 13:12). When surrounded in a battle by the forces of Israel, his armies looked to God for deliverance. "And when Judah looked back behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets...that God smote Jeroboam...God delivered them into their hand." Jeroboam never became strong again, and the holy history tells us the "Lord struck him, and he died."

Abijah would also die, but under more natural and peaceful circumstances and is said to have "slept" with his fathers.

Asa seemed to have greater spiritual sensitivities and sensibilities than his father. He sought in his heart to return to the Lord. In the spiritual realm, where we are headed is more important than where we are. Many a man has outwardly sat in a church building while his heart and soul lusted and longed for the world. Other men, godly men, like the Apostle John, were in heaven in their spirits while their legs were in irons on Patmos. Asa, like all saints before and after, turned his heart toward God.

It is said of Asa that he rid the land of Sodomites and removed their idols. Sodom was consumed in the days of Abraham, but Sodomites still roam the earth. Sodom still exists in darkened hearts. The lure of Sodom was strong in Lot's generation, it is still just as strong. The lights of Sodom still burn, attract, invite, and entice those who live too close to its gates. The flashing neon lights illuminate the desert, like some electronic oasis of promise. The sound of mindless laughter masquerades as happiness, and moral-less masses seek pleasure through shallowness and sensual self indulgence. Asa "put away the Sodomites" 1Ki. 15:12. Today this godly king would be branded as "hateful, intolerant, and homo-phobic." Woe to the land, that allows perversion to parade brazenly through its streets, pretending to be "kinder" than God. The danger is that the spirit of Sodom invades our hearts and homes and rob us of the protective shield of personal holiness. As Asa searched the land to rid it of moral decadence, we should search ourselves for anything that would grieve God or defile our minds and lives.

The second accomplishment of Asa was to remove idols from the land wherever they might be found. Idols are any false god. They can be small or large. They can be material, or mental. They are found in the sanctuary of the human heart. They attempt to replace God as the center of our moral, spiritual, social, or intellectual universe. There is only one center and only one moral sun in a human solar system. Christ must be that sun. Asa removed his mother from being Queen because of her involvement with the worship of Asherah. Nothing must eclipse God's sun. (Gen. 22:12; Mat. 10;37).

Baasha, king of Israel moved against Judah. His forces got as far as Ramah (four miles from Jerusalem). None of us can sleep well at night if the enemy is digging in at our gates. We must keep worldliness at some distance. Once Satan settles at our door, it is but a small step into the city itself. Sometimes the forces of darkness lay siege on someone very close to us, we must pray for their relief. There is always a Baasha, who will not leave us in peace. A city under siege must have resources to survive. The well stocked soul can "hold-out" until the enemy withdraws. Jesus said, "I have meat to eat, ye know not of."

What Asa did seemed to be the lesser of two evils. He raided his treasury and bought military relief. He paid

tribute to another enemy, Ben-hadad of Syria and formed an alliance. The result seemed to work. (2Chron 16:5). It was a very pragmatic move (1Ki. 15:21). An attack by Syria upon the territory of Israel from the north required Baasha to leave off his ambitions of building a fortress in Ramah. There had to be another way, however, for it is never right to do wrong. . We can only speculate that his cry to God would have opened the heavens with blessing and opened up the earth and swallowed the enemy as it once did the sons of Korah.( 2Chron. 16:7). Asa, sad to say, looked to Syria

He should have known better for when the Ethiopians came against Judah he "cried unto the LORD" 2Chron. 14:11). His prayer was beautiful, his logic lovely, and his theology perfection "LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude, O LORD, thou art our God."

It would do us well to remember that "it is nothing" for God to help." It does not drain, exhaust, or tire Omnipotence to help us. God does not need our forces to be large, trained, or mighty (though he can and will use a prepared person). He can work just as well with the weak and the powerless, and more often than not, delights to do so. Not only were the invaders destroyed, the armies of God came back with an abundance of wealth (2Chron. 14:15).

Many fare better in adversity than in prosperity. After his victory God sent a prophet named Azariah with a warning. "The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you" (2Chron. 15:2) We could learn from that holy sermon. We dare not rest on our laurels or lean on our oars. We dare not try to live of past victories and expect triumph today. This is not to say that Christ's sacrifice is not sufficient, but it is a warning to stay close to the crucified one. The sheep should not wander off from the shepherd, for there are still wolves about. Peter reminds the saints that the Devil, like a roaring lion is going about, seeking whom he may devour. Paul said "I keep my body under, least by any means when I have preached to others I myself shall become a cast-a-way."

God then sent another prophet with a stern rebuke. This time the king did not like the sermon. He imprisoned the messenger and impaled himself upon his own error. Again, we can only guess what might have happened had he repented, but pride is the hardest sin to overcome and it overcame Asa. He never had another day of peace in his life. The holy writer tells us that he became "diseased in his feet....yet in his disease, he sought not the LORD, but to the physicians." (2Chron. 16:1). In these words we cannot help but remember Paul's description of the church at Corinth "for this cause, many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep" 1Cor 11:30. Asa failed to walk with God and ended his life unable to walk at all. Peter once received a gentle rebuke from the Lord, when the proud disciple tried to escape the humble basin of the Master. "You shall never wash my feet," he said. "If I wash you not, you can have no part with me" replied the Savior, and then Peter relented. Disciples and Kings are always in need of the basin. Each is alternately in need of washing and being washed. Instead of anger and rage towards Hanani who came with the painful truth, Asa should have wept tears of repentance and wiped the prophets with the hem of his royal robe if not the hairs of his head. Today, as in days of old, Kings are more likely to assign the messenger of heaven a place in prison (2Chron. 16:10) before a position in the palace



No one fights for a place on a cross. It is always the throne to which mortals aspire. James and John were thinking about thrones, not crosses, when the asked to be one on the right and the other on the left. Had Jesus granted them their wish, they would have taken the place of the two thieves. It is good that God does not always give us what we ask. James would soon enough follow Christ, not in ministry, but in martyrdom. He was the second Christian martyr. Stephen was the first. The name Stephen comes from the word stephanos which means crown. Perhaps that was not the crown the first deacon expected but it was placed upon his head by the loving hand of providence. Even still, God is not giving out diadems to ambitious disciples. Jesus said, "if any will come after me let him take up his cross and follow me." But should the plan of God for you include some throne or seat of power and authority, sit upon it lightly. There is something about a throne that brings a man's real character to the surface. It is a crucible in which the human heart is made molten. And as the fire causes the slag to come foaming to the top, more often than not, too much power brings out the worst in us.

Every father should govern his home as Jehoshaphat governed his kingdom in the early years of his reign. Such a home would be a safe, happy and holy place. Every father will give account of how well he kept his kingdom.

1. A leader must be clear. He "made his position over Israel firm." Nothing so confuses our colleagues, our constituents, or our congregations more, than fuzzy borders. Jehosophat found, fixed, and fortified the boundaries of his authority and power. He defined his position and therefore "strengthened" it. Children are happiest when they are given guidelines and limits. Children need to know where the enemy lines are and what are the outer limits of safety. In this life we must take and secure certain "positions." Satan is a master in erasing boundaries, positions, and out posts of beliefs and behaviors. There are lines that must not be crossed. There are positions that must be defined and defended. There are beliefs that must be carefully fortified and cities that must be fenced.

The first step in any game is to establish the boundaries or draw the baselines. Everyone playing needs to know what is "out of bounds." The evangelical's belief in grace should never lead to disgrace. Liberty does not mean "without law." The prophet Ezekiel wrote stinging words of judgment when he pointed out grievous violations. "Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things; they have put no difference between the holy and the profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them" Ezk. 22:26

2. A leader must be prepared to defend important positions. "He placed forces in all the fenced cities." Truth and righteousness are always under attack. The enemies are always at our borders. Therefore, a leader must man his outposts. When we abandon certain garrisons far from the daily center of our lives it is only a matter of time before the enemy is at our gates. In the ecclesiastical kingdom of orthodox Christianity "verbal, plenary, inspiration of the Bible" is a position that must never be surrendered. Once that position falls the kingdom falls for then nothing in Christianity can be defended.

In the home, marriage vows must be held as sacred vows. They must be defended at all costs. Once comfort

becomes more important than defending the covenant and convenience capitulates to the anarchy of uncontrolled emotions the home is in danger of collapsing. Nothing should be allowed to breech the walls of the marriage contract. Surrender should not be an option.

Other strategic positions must be defended at all costs. The moral integrity of our testimony, must be guarded against all enemies. The wars against pornography, depravity, drug addiction, and domestic violence, and a hundred other vices are lost one battle at a time. One moral fortification and outpost is seen in Psalm 101:3 "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me." When that position is abandoned, the enemy shall come in like a flood.

Leaders need to know where holiness ends and worldliness begins. They must draw lines and nothing offends the rebel more than a line, a limit, or a fence. Yet, that is what leadership is all about. They must defend important strategic positions. "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" Eph. 6:11.

3. Leaders must lead. Leadership is not passive but active. He "sought the God of his father." Much of government is reaction to crisis. Most legislation is drawn to correct problems. Here lies the weakness of government "by the people and for the people." As good as our worldly governments might be, they are far inferior to constitution of God's kingdom. There is only one law in the kingdom of which there is no end. That law is love.

It is said that Jesus "went about doing good." There is an active aggression in every life governed by God. Jesus told his disciples they were to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" Lk. 6:31. Jehoshaphat actively "sought" after God, and he who finds God must find him in the light of good. Those who find God's will are those who are willing to be obedient to what they find. God sends us all on active errands of goodness, for that is how God is glorified. "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" Matt. 5.

4. Spiritual leaders are not ashamed of their positions. "And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord" 2Chron. 17:6. The words "lifted up " in his heart means pride. This is not a pride of self (which is sin), but a pride in God and his greatness. Believers have nothing to be ashamed of. Young people who are exposed to peer pressure are often mocked and ridiculed because of their innocence. The serpent was condemned to slither in the dust because he beguiled Eve. Christ gives us wings and bid us to "mount up with wings as eagles." Saints should never be ashamed of wings. Only angels have halos, but every redeemed saint of God should rejoice in God's holiness.

5. Leaders remove stumbling blocks. Before the army advances the engineers must clear the road. No father who is a spiritual leader allows the road of their children's success to be obstructed with debris. Any temptation that might cause children to stumble or go astray are removed. Jehosophat removed the "high places" of Baal. These so-called "high places" are always in fact morally "low places" and must be removed. Our homes and kingdoms must be searched for idols. Satan's groves must be torn down and his altars removed. Anything in our homes that will dull of fervor for God and righteousness, or compete for our holy affections must be removed. Music, literature, worldly amusements and entertainment are often rocks that bloody the feet of little pilgrims.

6. Leaders are teachers. "And they taught in Judah" (v 9). What Jehoshaphat had taught was the book of the law. The love of God shall never be appreciated unless the law is first taught. Only a man who knows he is

a sinner can be saved. Even Paul made it clear that the law is "good." It cannot save, but it is good in as much as it plows up the field before the gospel seed is planted.

Leaders are responsible for passing on trues as well as traditions so the light and legacy of today will burn upon the altars of tomorrow. "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all thing I have command you" Matt. 28:19-20.

Now it was Jehoshaphat's turn. He became the fourth King. With high positions come many presents. "And all Judah brought Jehoshaphat presents" (2Chron. 17:5). Then as now, "the rich have many friends" (Prov. 14:20). It is impossible to judge the motive, behind these many gifts, but human nature has not changed much. Using the holy history as a gage of character, it is clear that mankind's morals have known nothing of evolution. Special interest groups are forever in the antechambers of authority with their gifts, (Ecc. 7:7; Deut. 16:19). But even if we ascribe the highest and noblest of sentiments and sincerity these offerings and tributes, any high hopes were soon disappointed, but not initially.

Jehosophat began his reign on a high note of religious enthusiasm and an initial high tide of moral enthusiasm. He cleared the land of the "high places" and commissioned teachers, priests, and Levites to spread the Word of God throughout the land (2Chron 17:6-9). This is the first recorded missionary society.

This fourth King of Judah saw his kingdom prosper, and he was said to have "waxed great exceedingly." Spiritually (v.9), militarily (v. 10), politically (v.11), economically (v. 13) and domestically (v. 14), he seemed to find success. Jehosophat was where Solomon had been in at his pinnacle of prestige and power, but perhaps the air is too thin on such lofty mountains. For some reason he let go of God's hand as he reached out for Ahab's.

After all, who knows a king and his problems more than another king? Tradesmen join guilds, and workers join unions, ministers form associations. This king or the south sought sympathy and support from this king of the north, and never realized that he "broke fellowship" with God in order to do so. Foolish son of Asa, that which is begun by faith must be continued by faith. That which is flesh is flesh, and that which is spirit is spirit.

Many times a church begins in faith and enjoys the grace that God gives to the humble. With that grace there often comes a measure of prosperity. With that prosperity comes a danger, and a time of testing. Pastors who were once humble, meek, and spiritually mighty have all too often become heady with the heights of success. Soon one sees himself a king and holds summits with other kings even if they are from Samaria. Then they fall.

Even on the midst of his folly, Jehosophat revealed a smoking flax of spiritual reason. Before uniting with Israel in battle against Syria, he asked Ahab to enquire of God, about the feasibility of such a war. Ahab had been given complete assurance by the four hundred false prophets of Samaria that victory would be theirs. Jehosophat did not give much credence to ministers with questionable credentials. "Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? (2Chron. 18:6). The temperamental monarch admitted that their was One such, "but I hate him." Darkness ever hates the light, and sinners always love the shadows more that the sunshine.

Every man who ever marched to hell had first to stop his ears along the road to ruin. God always has his voices



When Asa king of Judah persuaded Benhadad I to attack the northern boarders of Israel he ended Baasha's ambitious efforts at Ramah. Elah reigned after Baasha's death until his own death two years later when he was assassinated by one named Zimri while Baasha's generals were laying siege on the Philistine city of Gibbethon. Zimri crowned himself king. Upon hearing of the coup, Omri, general of Elah's armies marched on the city of Tirzah. In a panic, Zimri committed suicide after reigning for merely seven days.

Omri secured Tirzah, but had to deal with another rebellious ruler who set himself up as the leader of Israel. His name was Tibni and was never crowned king. Omri waged war against this renegade for four years.

The Aramean state was becoming frightfully strong and stabilization seemed to come to Israel just in time to prevent a Syrian invasion of the northern kingdom. At the same time another threat was developing on the political horizon in the east. The Assyrian empire was beginning to rise and become restless. While it did not encroach upon Israel until later, it did begin to press Tyre and Sidon during the rule of Ashur-nisir-pal (883-859). Omri established a new capital for the northern kingdom on a militarily strategic hill top and named it Samaria. Its ruins still speak impressively about the might of Omi. Secular history speaks of Omri in the Moabite stone. The Moabites paid tribute to Omri. The Arameans were quiet (no doubt, a type of tribute in itself), and the Phoenicians looked to Israel for an alliance against Damascus. The trade that resulted was advantageous for both parties. Phoenicia traded timber for grain giving Israel access to the cedars of Lebanon. These ancient treaties were often sealed by marriage, and this one was no different. Omri's son Ahab married a Phoenician princess named Jezebel. To this day her name is synonymous with the worst possible attributes of all that is despicable. From her ruthless undisguised ambitions to her lack of moral inhibitions; from her painted face, to her pointed rancor, she personified evil, ugliness, and ill will.

And here in lies the legacy of Ahab, who otherwise might have been a man with some redeeming qualities if administrative equity counted. Ahab was the king who danced upon a string and was controlled by an evil and heartless woman.

Jezebel brought heathen idolatry into Israel and raised it to what amounted to the official faith of the land.

Four hundred prophets of Baal ministered in debauchery about the Queen and conditions cried out for judgment. It was during Ahab's reign that there was no rain as God shut up the very heavens. God sent a spokesman to predict a terrible drought.

As awful as the moral and spiritual state of Israel was, God had not yet abandoned her. When Syria attacked the forces of Ahab they were defeated. Benhadad was advised by his counselors to fight Israel in the valley rather than on the mountains for they said that Israel's God was not the God of the valley but only of the hills (1Kings 20:23). There is encouragement enough for every believer in the truth of Israel's experience. Our God is not only the God of the mountain top He is just as lofty in the lowlands. Saints throughout the ages have found comfort in knowing that the Syrians were wrong and have many times proved them so.

The armies of Israel appeared as two little flock of lambs about to pounced upon by and innumerable army

of wolves from a human point of view, but God was still gracious and gave his stubborn children another chance. God spared Israel until another judgment day. Once God has judged, judgment may only be delayed but never cancelled (1Kings 21:27-29).

Ahab was a pitifully weak man. The story of Naboth's vineyard is a tragic portrait of a king void of character. It is also a story of how the ear of the king must guard the way to the heart of the king, for what we listen to will often determine what we do.

It seems there was one prized piece of property that the king desired and attempted to appropriate though various means and methods. Naboth owned a vineyard that was especially beautiful, and productive which was near the kings own vineyards. Naboth was not interested in selling it. Upon hearing of her husband's stalled business aspirations, Jezebel reproached the king and challenged him at his most vulnerable place: his pride. This appeal was successful and through duplicity, and deceit, he arranged to have Naboth arrested and his property seized upon his conviction and execution.

Prophets were the champions of the oppressed. They were the conscience of the nation. The blood of Naboth cried out for justice and justice always comes. Ahab got his vineyard, but the vintage would be bitter indeed. Men often fight to take control of the wine press and the vineyards of this world, little realizing what awful dregs they must drink as a result. "Dogs will lick thy blood" said Elijah(1Kings 21:19). No king could find a sadder end than that. "Thou has found me, O mine enemy?" said Ahab to the prophet. The world ever thinks God their enemy. They are forever running from him. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." We have more to fear from the preacher who tickles us than from the one discomforts us with the truth.

When Ahab later joined his all-to-often enemy Benhadad as an ally it was for his political advantage to oppose the greater foe found in Assyria. It was in a fierce battle in Raymoth-gilead that Jehoshaphat made the mistake of joining with the King of Israel in this battle and almost lost his life in the process as he was mistaken of the Northern King. Ahah, in many respects, must have appeared to be a very different man than he was early in his reign. He was humbled by the word of a prophet and slipped out of church "softly" and in "sackcloth." For three years he had a reprieve from heaven, then Syria awakened again. "Wilt thou go with me into battle? asked Ahab. Jehoshaphat agreed to go after enquiring of the Lord. Ahab had been warned of his fate, but rode into the battle disguised. No masquerade can mislead omniscience. No disguise can fool providence. The Bible says that an "arrow fired at venture" found its target: Ahab's heart. No armour plate, no coat of mail can protect from the arrows of God's judgment. It is ever true. "Be sure your sins will find you out."

No creature is more tender than the Christian woman, that "weaker vessel" spoken of by Peter. God has made woman to be man's helper, love, and confidant. The had that rocks the cradle, indeed rules the world. No one has more influence upon men, than do woman. That influence may be for good or for evil. The marriage partner can be the millstone or the gemstone. She can polish or pulverize. She can exert and a power that can make of break a man. Nothing is more horrific than the heart of Jezebel. Nothing is sadder than the destruction that is born of a woman who has hardened her heart to God.

The first man was brought down by a woman. The strongest man was destroyed by a woman. David was broken by a weaker vessel. Solomon, the wisest man was ruined by the frailer sex. Let every Christian woman consecrate her life to God, and pray that her life, which is so delightful to man, is dedicated only to good. Let her read 1Peter 3 and "adorn" her inner person. May her eyes be less painted so as to charm man as pointed to seek God. Let a "quiet" and "gentle" spirit rule the kingdom of her heart.



"Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord."

Jehu's zeal is infamous. His passion was more powerful than the horses that pulled his chariot. As he thundered across the plain of Jezreel he left a cloud a dust that still captures the attention of all who see him.

Zeal is like a burning bush, no, it is more like a hearth so ablaze that the flames are larger than the furnace. As the fire roars and fills the room with its light and heat we become a little nervous that the fire may have become too large and set the house on fire. A burning bush evokes reverence and bids us take off our shoes for we stand on holy ground. A house on fire causes us to look for help.

Some men burn with a zeal or passion and in a dark world all can see their light. Some men like Jehu are so filled with enthusiasm and energy that they draw other men in from the cold to warm themselves by their roaring fires.

While we love to see men who burn with zeal , strong beliefs and convictions, we should beware of drawing to close to flames that are fueled by such crude oils.

The lights in the temple were fed with pure and holy oil. The fires of the Holy Spirit are never mixed with tainted motives or immoral acts. "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God"James 1:20.

Much of the fiery rhetoric, diatribes, and renunciations of our opponents is not from heaven. Even much of what is passed off as religious enthusiasm, is often fueled from reservoirs of the flesh and selfish ambitions.

It is difficult for the Christian to study the bloody plains of Jezreel, and pick through the pile of skulls of Ahab's children for a principle. It is hard to gaze upon the lifeless and arrow pierced Ahaziah in Megiddo. It is painful to watch as the unsuspecting princes of Judah see their vacation end in such awful violence, but let us remember that ever still "the wages of sin is death."

Let us not become so sentimental that we swoon listening to the sermon on the mount. The beautiful words of Jesus are beautiful still, and to be sure he is the "Good" Shepherd; but let us be ever mindful of the axioms of the Almighty and tremble as we read the Holy Book, " evil shall slay the wicked."

Ahaziah tried to flee the anger of Jehu, but died in his chariot at Megiddo. When God finally unleashes the angels of death on judgment day, no man will out run them. When the day of mercy ends and the sunshine of grace sinks beneath the horizon, the rising moon shall turn blood red and the night shall bring a darkness most horrible. Judgment day is as sure as salvation and the darkness of that coming judgment makes the sunlight of God's grace all the more amazing.

Jehoram retired to his summer home at Jezreel to recover from wounds received in battle with Hazael king of Syria. While he survived that conflict he would not survive the zeal of Jehu. Jehu was a warlord and general of Jehoram's armies. As he sat around with his captains at Ramoth Gilead a strange messenger burst in and

requested a private audience with the General. As the two stood alone, a son of the prophets poured oil on the startled warrior's head. "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel" II Kings 9:6.

Then as rapidly as he appeared, like a man who had lit a fuse to a stick of dynamite, he fled. The explosion that resulted would shake both Israel and Judah.

Jehu rejoined his captains, but this time his hair was moist with the anointment of God. "Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee?" asked his companions. Many a minister of God has been mistaken for a madman as he has moved among the circles of society upon some holy errand. "Much learning doth make thee mad" said Festus to Paul (Acts 26:24). But it is the world that is crazy as it chooses the darkness over the light.

Jehu told his compatriots of the secret coronation and they immediately threw their lot with him. To preclude any news of these events reaching the ears of Jehoram before he did, Jehu rode in a thundering speed to the city of Jezreel. A watchmen on the tower in Jezreel was the first to see the dust kicked up by Jehu's chariots. Riders were sent out as a precaution. Two, upon hearing the designs of the approaching forces pulled up on the reigns and in resignation merely watched the drama unfold. Recognizing his general, and perhaps anticipating some news about the Syrians, Jehoram himself rode out accompanied by Ahaziah king of Judah who just so happened to be visiting.

"Is it peace?" again perhaps thinking of Hazael, Jehoram never imagined the answer he received. "What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?" (II Ki. 9:22) The harsh answer or the fire in his once loyal servant's eye caused Jehoram to wheel about and flee, calling out to his house guest "There is treachery, O Ahaziah."

Jehu drew upon his bow string with "full strength" and fired and arrow that sailed clear through the heart of the fleeing monarch. The Passion of Jehu was not only in his chariot driving, but also in the strength of his bow. Many men never know such passion. Even when they fix their eyes upon some desired target, even when their aim is accurate they ever fail to pull back "full strength" and miss their mark.

"Whatever thy hand find to do, do it with all thy might" Ecc. 9:10. Much failure is not the result of failing to do the right thing, but failing to do it with all our heart. Every saint would do well to consider the zeal of Jehu for this un-saintlike deed, and desire that as much passion be found in us for good as for evil. "Neither yield ye you members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" Rom. 6:13.

As was already said, it is difficult to remain comfortable as we witness such violence. It is difficult for us to also imagine judgment day, or stand at the foot of the cross and behold the wrath of God, but we must.

Jehu was no angel of light, he was as the angel of death and fit in to the economy of God's plan. Unfortunately his zeal had mixed motives, and his violence went beyond vengeance. Too bad his passion and enthusiasm could not be better directed and his fire better controlled. It did not last.

All too often religious zealots burn briefly. Masses are attracted to their zeal and willingly warm themselves by their fire, but too soon the rage, the indignation, the anger seems to consume them and they are quickly reduced to smoldering ashes. Then the chilled look for another fire.

Too often religious zealots are passionate in denouncing the sins of others, but have no penchant and little patience to renounce their own. The heads of all opposition are brought in baskets and piled in heaps outside the gates of their Jezreels, but there is little true love for righteousness within the gates of their own hearts.

God has his instruments and many tools to accomplish his designs. Some fish are golden and come hungry to the surface, some are bottom-feeders. Jehu lived in the dark ages and in another dispensation. Christianity lives in the day of grace. Peter was told to put up his sword. Paul warns us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual and mighty to the pulling down of strongholds." Jesus said "blessed are the meek." Meekness is not weakness, but strength under control.

The nation of Islam has moved across the earth under the sign of the sword and the Crescent. All who stood in Mohammad's way felt thefury of that fanaticism. Unfortunately, the church too, for a time, employed such tactics. The Aztec Indians became converted or were consumed by Spanish steel. The Jews were driven from Madrid if they refused to renounce their beliefs and be baptized. In both cases the motives of the evangelists is suspect as the Gold of South America and the property of the Jew fell into the hands of the evangels.

Like a shark in a feeding frenzy, Jehu killed until there was no one else to kill. Had his motives been pure, he would have been as enthusiastic for grace as he was for gore.

No Christian can travel far on the force of pure emotion. Fanaticism is a fire that is fueled by fleshly passions. The fire that is lit from heaven, the cloven tongues of fire never rage out of control. He will be disappointed who follows Jehu in hopes of staying warm at that fire.

Beware the prophet who has a wild and uncontrolled look in his eye. Beware the man who points to himself and says "Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD" II Ki. 9:16. Stay out of dead churches. Avoid the passionless preacher and prophet, but beware the kind of zeal that calls attention to itself. The best preaching is preaching that shows only the glory of the Lord. The best ministry is the one that runs most quietly. The best ministers are those who judge themselves, before they judge others.

"But Jehu did it subtly" IIKi. 9:19. Duplicity has no place in the work of divinity. It is never right to do wrong, even in order to have a chance to do right. God used the zeal of Jehu to fulfil his word, even as he might use a lion to devour a false prophet.

God used the zeal of this general to remove Baal from the land, and bring down judgment on the house of Ahab. His children were promised a place upon the thrones of government until the forth generation, but the fire of zeal cooled after the last drop of blood dried on the ground.

Let us beware of a faith that is fueled by human passions and self interest. They never can burn long. Soon the human heart become disinterested in one thing and seeks for another. Impure motives are often the cause for temporary successes. A Christianity that is driven by such a zeal goes from issue to issue in order to sustain its enthusiasm. The zeal that comes from above can only be fed from above.

1. Beware a zeal that feeds on temporal circumstances

Experience should teach me to distrust a zeal or enthusiasm that seems to be generated by temporal or external circumstances. Religious zeal can feed on the applause of men, or the smiles of humanity. A good test as to the source of our enthusiasm comes when those smiles disappear. Does our faith falter, does our resolve diminish if the generous gratuities of companions, and compatriots are withheld?

All appeared well with Saul until he heard the lyric of a new song "Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands." We need to be very careful for sinful pride is often content as long as it can feed on praise and plaudits, but like a dog, should its dish be given to another it will begin to growl.

2. Beware a zeal that flags and wilts soon after the sound of a sermon fades, of the admonitions of a friend are forgotten. The coals that are ever in need of the bellows are from the world below and not above.

3. Beware a zeal for ordinances. Many a zealot has carried the banner of a trifle as if he were off to the crusades to free the holy lands from the infidel. Being zealous of, creeds, or even godly deeds is a poor substitute for being zealous for God. Some have deluded themselves in their enthusiasm for Baptism, or the Lord's supper and are not zealous toward the Father or the Son. Some are zealous about their church, but unmoved by thoughts of Christ on the cross. Some are stirred by issues, and ideas. Others become animated and impassioned when they talk of tongues and speak of Pentecost.

4. Beware of a zeal that calls attention to itself. Flee from all that would rob God of his glory. Beware of a man or a movement that sets itself up as the standard, and minimizes other believers as somehow missing the mark or falling short of God's standard. The best praying is that done in secret.

5. True piety need never advertise. It never needs to say "Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord." May we neither say collectively, "Come with us and see our zeal for God."

6. Beware a zeal that is unfeeling and unscrupulous. Hosea makes it clear that Jehu overstepped his commission (Hos. 1:4). The family of Ahab had gone beyond the reach of grace, but Jehu should not have so enjoyed taking them to the guillotine.

7. Be suspicious of a zeal that rages against others but is indulgent with personal faults. True intolerance of evil would have looked within as much as without

8. If Jehu is in hell murder is the fruit not the root. "He took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart. Many a man has tried to go to heaven with half his heart. That is impossible. Any fraction of the heart that remains in this world will rob it of heaven.

His zeal was outward and not from within. It was no different than the zeal of the Pharisee that prayed in the street, or wore long prayer shawls and loved to be called Rabbi. "That Christ may dwell in you heart by faith" said Paul. I find nowhere in Scripture that suggests that Christ will occupy a heart that is not first given to him.

"Is thy heart right?" Jehu asked Jehonadab, but it was a question he should have put to himself. His zeal, enthusiasm, and his activity disguised the fact that his motives were not pure.

"Let a man examine himself," said Paul before he partakes of the elements. "Search me Oh God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, see if there be a wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." To the Romans Paul wrote, "Thou that teachest `thou shalt not steal, dost thou steal thyself?"

On occasion God has called a man of peace to become a instrument of war. These men would rather pour the wine and oil of kindness upon wounds than make them. Such souls take no pleasure in the sometimes painful, but necessary executions. They derive no pleasure in seeing fire fall on the heads of their enemies. These men are reluctant, but obedient warriors who fight only because it is right, and never because they enjoy it.

On the other hand, some men are excited by the smell and the sight of blood. Some men thrive in a strange euphoria of conflict, and are quickened by the smell of gunpowder. They do not avoid confrontation, they live for it. These men are strangely reserved and sullen upon hearing the news of an armistice. Jehu seemed to enjoy his awful errand. Unlike a weeping Jesus, Jehu would shed no tears for the sons of Adam and children of men.

Every church and every movement has its zealots who are animated by motives buried deeper in human psyche and in the flesh than what appears on the surface. The question Jehu posed to Jonadab, the son of Rechab should have been one he pondered himself, for his seemingly outward zeal for righteousness appeared to be fueled by a very low octane of impure motives. A trail of bloody footprints followed him to the throne and no sooner did he take his seat, but what his passion for God and the things of God disappeared.

Sometimes ambition can raise its sail and catch the wind of a reformation or a revolution, and be employed as a means to an end in the same way a merchant employs the elements to get his goods to market. Sometime we are caught up in a convenient current that carries us to our own ends while we care little about the water or waves themselves. It is for this reason that we must be careful we are not actually sailing in the barque of our own aspirations, and pray as did our Savior, "not my will, but thine be done."

Many a sacrifice has been placed upon the altar of party pretending to be principle. Many have preached Christ "of contention." Many an Orphanage, chapel, and hospital has been raised in the name of "enthusiasm for God," which was actually funded and fueled by vanity. And who can tell the number who quietly died in the fires of persecution and who stepped into the flames for their own glory? Only God can tell what is in the heart of man, for the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.

The truth is that all our silver has dross. For that reason, we must fling all our selves good and bad at the Savior's feet. "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling." Therefore, may whatever we do, in word or in deed, be done all to the glory of God. May Jesus always be in the center of our solar system. May we run and flee from all and any glory.

9. Beware of a zeal without knowledge (Rom. 10:2) The Jew sadly misspent their precious zeal because of lack of knowledge. Precious water should be channeled to irrigate the most valuable crops. The history of the church sees her too often watering worthless and unproductive fields. How much zeal has been wasted on external, temporal, and unimportant fruits? A zeal for ceremonies, certain rites, or types of government has wasted precious time and energy which could have been better spent on cultivating the garden of the inner man. Perhaps the zeal that was expended to fight for greater power could have been better spent nursing a neglected vineyard of a gentle spirit.

Satan has raised many a controversy in an attempt to draw the city's defenders to some place on the wall as he fains an offensive, only to storm the undefended citadel which was his actual objective all along.

Let us not so zealously defend one position or principle that we lose the palace. Let us not have a zeal without knowledge. Let us not go to war over minor differences while we allow the stale air of neglect to extinguish the flames on more holy altars.

Satan would have every saint embroiled in squabbles and divisions at the foot of the mountain, oblivious to Christ and to him crucified on its crest.

Would we not all agree that it is a crime when Christians are more zealous to win a convert to their sect than a sinner to the Savior? And would we not all agree that it is a shame to see one more enthusiastic about some method of worship than about the object of worship? Then is it not as serious to turn our eyes too long from a Saviour who died for our sins to gaze too long on the sins of others?

Little things are important and little foxes spoil the vine. We must not neglect those little but important things, but should we ever become as uniformly zealous for the points we should agree on as we are too often jealous over the points in which we differ, the Devil himself would tremble.

10. Beware a zeal that uses unholy weapons. Angry words, recriminations, bitter reproaches, and scathing incitements all betray a spirit that is not from above (Lk. 9:55). Such swords are never holy, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.

11. Beware the heart that knows no zeal. (2Cor. 9:2). A heart that drinks from God's fountains will know zeal. "Out of you bosom will flow rivers of water." May our hearts be a flame of zeal and enthusiasm for God. Let us not say "Come with us and see our zeal for God." Let us rather say, Come and see the God of our zeal and the Lamb who is worthy of our praise."



It would be better if some marriages never took place. And for those who ignore that council, it would be best if such unions never produced children. King Ahab and his wife Jezebel seemed to have produced an offspring with a serpentine nature named Athaliah. Too often evil begets evil and one generation of debauchery leaves a torch of darkness as an inheritance for the next. As hard as it is to imagine, Athaliah far out did the evil of her wicked mother. Her ambitious and evil spirit coiled around the throne like a viper brooding over its nest.

When news of the death of her son by the hand of Jehu reached her (2Kings 11:1) her reaction was neither mournful nor maternal. Instead of a motherly instinct as when a hen gathers her little biddies under her wing at the first sign of danger, she set upon her own grandchildren like a fox let loose in a chicken coup. She killed them all. The fact that her mother had been thrown from the window in Jezreel by chamber maids and was devoured by dogs seemed to make her all the more blood thirsty. As the plagues of Egypt seemed to harden Pharaoh's heart rather than melt it, the heart that heard of the death of Ahaziah had already turned to stone.

She killed off any that might challenge her position and made herself queen. Eight hundred years later another monarch slaughtered the innocents of Bethlehem to protect his position. But as Moses was spared from the wrath of Pharaoh, and as the Messiah too escaped to Egypt, from the anger of Herod, here too one little life is rescued from the slaughter. Jehosheba the daughter of Joram and sister of Ahaziah "stole" baby Joash away and hid him, first in her bedroom and then in the temple.

Six years passed and there was a little secret growing up in house of God. Year after year Joash grew in stature and grace within the holy courts of the temple. Then Jehoiada the husband of Jehosheba decided it was time to let Judah know it had a king.

Evil is ever trying to annihilate good, but the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. When it seems that darkness has triumphed there is always a little spark still glowing in a temple chamber. A smoking flax, he will not quench. The winds of error cannot completely extinguish the flame of truth. Jesus said, heaven and earth will pass away, but my word shall never pass away."

All the babies were dead save one. Let us be assured that God's purposes will never be disappointed. Although is sometimes seems the winter will never end, remember God is the Lord of the harvest. Some seed of hope is silently growing in the ground unseen, awaiting the springtime of redemption.

Though every Hebrew child appears to be dead, there is a little Moses ever being lifted out of the bullrushes. Joash was little, but he was alive. He was a link in the chain of providence. Truth will triumph.

The spirit of Athaliah from time to time sits upon the thrones of this world thinking it has exterminated the royal seed of Judah. Bibles are burned, churches are razed,

and prayer forbidden, yet somewhere in some corner of the kingdom there remains a single copy of the sacred text, a paslm being sung, and a saintly figure kneeling before the throne of grace. Joash lives, and when the fullness of time is come he shall step out of the shadows of some temple and take his rightful place upon the throne.

Jehosheba caught an infant up in her arms and brought him to the temple. The song we sing says it well, "rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave." The innocents are still being slaughtered by the fallen angel who was Athaliah's master: Satan. Every murderer, thief, whoremonger, and idolater, was once in a cradle. Perhaps their destiny was determined by their lack of love. Perhaps they did not have a Jehosheba to take them to the safety of the house of God? While we ourselves might not have been brought into the temple courts as early as we might wish, thank God, at least, we were not brought too late.

We cannot rescue every child from the sword of Athaliah, but we can save some. Perhaps there is a little Joash in your life. If he lives, if he survives, perhaps he will be a Washington who will one day encourage weary troops in their fight against tyranny. Perhaps he will be a Handal who shall write another Hallelujah Chorus what will bring the church together in song around the throne of God. Perhaps a Florence Nightingale shall be saved so she will be able to enlist an army of sisters to tend to the wounds of humanity. Perhaps a John Wesley, or a Martin Luther, or a John Bunyan shall be spared to see a crowning day of some great accomplishment. Our nurseries are filled with "royal seed" and Satan will gladly lift them from their cradles and hold them to his breast if we do not rescue them first.

Athaliah will never take her grandchildren to Sunday School. We need to do all that is in our power to get little Joash to the temple. There he must be brought up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. He must be nourished on the milk of the Word, and then be given meat. He must be told of the King of the Universe and the righteous throne in heaven. He must be taught about his destiny, his duty, and his responsibility. He must be groomed to take his place in the courts of Judah and grounded in the eternal principles of the Almighty. He must be prepared to assume the appointed role of divine opportunity. He must grow in stature of body and spirit to be ready for the day he reaches the age of accountability. He must accept the scepter of God's will for his life, and rule his kingdom well.

There came a day when Jehoiada, the high priest, called men to come out of the darkness to see God's little light. Like an every burning and eternal flame, there is always a light shining in darkness. "And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness (overcame) it not" John 1:5. Let us remember that God is Light and that in him is no darkness at all. At times the world may appear to be in total darkness, especially when Athaliah sits upon the throne, but God's light shines somewhere still.

"And they shewed them the king's son" 2Kings 11:4. Here is the ministry of every priest, and every prophet. Here is the work of the pastor, and every lover of light. "Show them the king's son." He lives. Although a usurper is seated upon the throne, and though this world is held in the grasp of the evil one, the king's son, is quietly awaiting to step out of the inner chambers of his heavenly temple and take his rightful place. Let every saint take comfort when they see the King's son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Guards were made privy of the coming coronation and a carefully calculated plan was devised to insure the safety of the child. Soldiers were stationed around the little monarch "you shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand ; and whoever comes within the ranks shall be put to death. And be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in" 2Kings 11:8.

David's weapons hung upon the walls of the palace for generations. They were trophies of ancient triumphs.



Uzziah held one of the longest reigns. Little is known of this king, yet he is less known for his longevity than he is for his leprosy. He ruled Judah for fifty-two years and beginning when he was but sixteen. His father and his grandfather had both been assassinated.

Kings are always in danger. Some assassin is always near. Why men aspire to sit on thrones is a mystery to me. And yet, why do mouths fly into the flame? It is in their nature. May God quicken the new nature that gladly takes the lower seat. (Lk. 14:7-11). Mortals are fools to take a crown unless first God sends them a Samuel with the holy oil of divine approval. And then, even though wet with the dew of God's good pleasure, a man should seek a fresh anointing every day. That Samuel helped you climb the steps yesterday, is no guarantee you shall not tumble from the steeps today. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall." (1Cor. 10:12).

Uzziah was a very popular figure. "All the people took" him. He was the people's choice. There is nothing wrong with being so attractive and well liked. The Lord, however is less impressed.

Most people never meet Uzziah until to they come to his funeral. Every new believer soon stands in the temple with Isaiah and listen in awe to the testimony of this prophets ministerial call. The story begins with the words, "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord." God lit a firebrand of passion and compassion when he called Isaiah. The prophet's work and ministry is monumental, and his testimony, because it is recorded in the blessed Book, is eternal. Nothing much is said of this great and mighty king who reigned the longest, and then "died."

It does not say much for a man that God would wait for his funeral to start a great work, that God would wait for his demise before such a great sun should arise. Nor was Uzziah's death the flint against which the steel was struck to make a spark, for the text separates the actual death for the vision by making it merely it an historical marker which establishes the time frame rather than the match that brings the light. It was only in the same "year" that the king died that God called the prophet, and touched his mouth with a coal from off the altar. It was in the "Year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple."

Isn't it wonderful to know that though worldly kings come and go there is a throne that is never vacant? The Lord is ever on the throne and the Kingdom of God ever has a King. In a world that is filled with wars and rumors of wars, and where nation is ever rising up against nation it is reassuring to know that God is still

upon the throne.

Uzziah was in the tomb of the kings, but the Lord was "high and lifted up." When we are tempted to become troubled by trouble upon lesser and lower thrones we have but to lift up our eyes, and see that all is well. And should there be a look of consternation, or confusion upon the faces of worldly sovereigns, we are ever assured there is never a worried look upon His brow.

Uzziah, at least, for the most part, acted like a king. There is nothing worse than a peasants heart to be beating beneath purple robes. Uzziah was neither ignorant nor indolent. He was every inch a king. He was industrious, and determined, and he gave Judah direction. He restored broken walls (2Chron. 26:9), raised battlements, and built towers. He raised a mighty army and established Judah as a world class military power. He listened to godly counsel through the days of Zechariah (when one voice falls silent, God raises another 2Chron 24:20),and he prospered as long as he "sought the Lord."

Uzziah caused his enemies to tremble. He broke down the walls of Gath and Ashdod. The Philistines trembled at the sight of this Judean giant. The Arabians, the Mehunims,and the Ammonites brought tribute to this king of the Jews. His life was one of amassing weapons of war, and his engineers even erected catapults upon the ramparts of Jerusalem capable of hurtling arrows and stones great distances at any enemy foolish enough to attempt to attack the City of David (2Chron.26:14).

His wealth was evident at the sight of his "much cattle" for which he dug many wells (v.10). His vineyards and his farm lands were testimonies to his ability to insure a certain domestic tranquility in the land. With his wealth, and with his mighty rule came a great reputation that "spread abroad" (v. 15).

The secret of his success was simple. He looked to God. His fall in faith should cause every king to pause and wonder. Where is the continental divide that runs though a kings character that causes him to be a continent away from the happy shores where he once began? Where is the dangerous zenith from which the sun can only sink? Where is the line that marks the boundary between "God's mercy and God's wrath?" Uzziah found it. Uzziah crossed it. No one knew but God. Uzziah himself was, no doubt, unaware that he had lost his way, until he saw the first leprous spot appeared upon his forehead (v.19) like some "mark of the beast" (Rev. 13:16).

A man does not go from to victory on a throne to a violation of the temple in a single step. The road to hell is long. The road to hell is also steep. Once the king left off the "straight and narrow" it was only a matter of time before he

would attack the temple. He did not come to overturn the altars, and he might have interpreted his behavior as one of devotion, but that makes his crime all the sadder. Here was Cain coming once again with his carrots and onions, only to find that God has not changed his requirements, not even for a king.

How did Uzziah begin his fall? How well the ancient Greeks understood that mortals were never meant to fly so close to the sun. Uzziah "marvelously helped, till he was strong" (v.15). Perhaps the Apostle Paul remembered the story of Uzziah when he wrote "When I am weak, then I am strong" (2Cor. 12:10). In another place James wrote "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" and "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up" (James 4:6,10). Peter also knew well the principle : "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exault you in due time" (1Pet. 5:5-6). He went on to say, "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever."

Let us never forget the one who said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." The moment we become "strong," the moment we ascribe some success to our selves and rob God of the glory, is the moment we step out of the sunshine and into the shadow. Only God knows how long grace will hold back the leprosy and its attending horrors.

The leper feels no pain. The sickness eats away at the flesh and the body's appendages literally fall off. One's own life become loathsome as limbs rot and effuse with offensive odors and appearance become disgusting to even those who love us.

When the King "was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense." (v. 16). With a censer in his hand he was withstood by the High Priest and twenty four valiant men who prevented him from continuing his intrusion. Uzziah was "wroth" and against his anger came a greater anger from heaven. Uzziah became a leper. He was cast out of the temple, never to return again. Neither did he return to his life as he knew it for he thereafter lived apart from the holy assembly and filial society, spending the remaining days on earth as an outcast. From such Dear Lord deliver us.



The life of Hezekiah is proof that neither salvation nor damnation is in our heritage, but rather in our heart. His father's impiety was a pity to behold, but it did not imprison the son. A reading of the Kings should be enough to convince us that environment, and biology have less to do with conversion than private and personal choices of the inner man. Hezekiah's father heard the voice of Isaiah and yet was unmoved. While we all may or may not have an influence on those around us, the ultimate responsibility of every soul is its own.

Ahaz made sacrifices to the gods of Damascus and broke the utensils of the house of God "in pieces" 2Chron. 28:24. He then "closed the doors of the house of the LORD" and set up altars of convenience in every corner of Jerusalem.

Many false professors worship at the altars of pragmatism. If success falls to the children of Damascus they are quick to bow down to her deities. Success is everything to such men. If God, for some reason does not perform and fulfil their fantasies they are quick to abandon Him and close the doors to the house of God. A whole generation left a sad legacy "Our fathers have been unfaithful and have done evil in the sight of the LORD our God, and have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD , and have turned their backs" (29:6). Turning one's back on God is all to common. "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love," said Wesley. It is a breech of social etiquette to "give your back" to someone; how much more an egregious offence to give one's back to God.

It is for this reason that the message of the prophets was so often a one word sermon "Repent." Repent simply means "turn around." In times like ours, it too should be our text.

Hezekiah took over at a very low spiritual ebb. He inherited darkness, but he found a light. One of the very first acts of this great king was to once again "open the doors of the house of the Lord and repair them." (2Chron. 29:3). While other reformers often began by attacking idolatry and doing battle with enemies without, this one started with enemies within. "Judgment must begin in the house of God" (1Pet. 4:17).

Too often reforms are attempted from without, when they need to begin within. Destroying the prophets of Baal does little good if those killed are only at Carmel and Kishon and not those more near our heart. Real revivals start in the heart, and the heart is the only temple that still stands today.

The priests were summoned by the king and instructed to cleanse the temple, and sanctify it, but they had to begin with themselves (29:5). It does no good for us to seek for spiritual renewal in others until we have it ourselves.

As Jesus began his ministry by cleansing the temple, so Hezekiah also started with consecration. "Carry out the filthiness from the holy place." So it must be with us. If our kingdom is to be clean, we must be clean. If our kingdom is to be right, we must be right. "Search me, Oh God and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." (Ps 139:23-24).

Hezekiah "opened the doors" of the temple and discovered that it was not ready for worship. He discovered that revival comes in stages. First there must be consecration, then confession, then cleansing. God will not be worshipped upon a dirty altar.

The sin of Judah was the forsaking of the house of God which is called the "habitation of the LORD." Many a man has remodeled his own habitation while the house of God is in ruin. While the state of the chapel building is a reflection and, to a degree, an indication of spiritual devotion, the condition of the heart is our first priority. A clean chapel building does not necessarily mean those who gather there have clean hearts. (At the same time, an ill kept chapel, is a sad testimony to the indifferent hearts that gather there).

The first thing we notice when we enter the holy place ( as the Holy Spirit allows us to do as we read the sacred text) is that the lamps were extinguished (v.7). Lights are usually out when nobody is at home. It is sad when our conversation and manner of life gives no indication that God dwells within and our lamps are dim. Jesus said, "Let you light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Many times we come away from a conversation with an unsaved person, sadly convinced that there is "no light there." We listen to the words, and hear of the interests of their heart, and look in vain for a little light burning in the temple, but see none. Sad it is as well to speak with a believer who has "closed" his doors to God and to you. The lamps have been put out, and the incense of praise, thanksgiving, and prayer no longer burns on its altars which have become cold.

The troubles of Judah could all be traced back to the coldness of Jewish altars. Hezekiah sought to rekindle them, he sought to bring revival. Notice again, how it all started in one man's heart. "Now it is within mine heart to make a covenant with the LORD." Covenant theology is not possession of one group, denomination, or Christian tribe. Those who would chop up the church into systems and sects are always in danger of ending up with extra pieces here and there. The dispensationalist and the reformed should be less concerned with a temple that no longer stands in Zion and more concerned with the holy habitation of heart.

Every conversion is a miracle, and yet, every conversion is a covenant with God. And every Christian heart is a temple that must be carefully kept by the priests of the mind, will, and emotions if they would seek to please the Holy Occupant. Lamps must be lit and shine forever, and holy altars burn with morning and evening sacrifices of praise. Courts and chambers must be continually swept clean, and the doors ever open that all may know it is "Christ in you the hope of glory."

The scrub oak stubbornly holds on to its leaves when all other trees have shed theirs in the breeze of Autumn. Refusing to give in to the winds of winter, though often blanketed with snow and ice, they survive the worst elements of nature and endure the cruelest of winters. Yet what outward forces failed to do, life flowing within does. The spring awakens the juices of life and a quite stirring of life within causes new buds to force old leaves to loose their grip and the seemingly dead-like bush is born again.

Reformation without revival within is tedious and frustrating work. Trying to pull stubborn dead leaves off reluctant trees is near impossible, but should the tree awaken within, it shall make easy work of renewal, and the miracle within will eliminate the difficulties of a thousand troubles without.

Hezekiah declared his intentions during the first days of his rule. The best time to let business associates know of your holy covenant is early on. Many have attempted to shut the doors to their testimony in the school and workplace. Because of their silence, and deceptive countenance none of their associates ever suspect that there is a holy temple within them. Their eyes never glow from the holy light within, and their mouths never offer up the incense of praise. For all practical purposes, they live as atheists for eight hours a day, as if there is no God. Such a soul is in need of revival.

Let us not be "negligent." "My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense" (v.11).

Some temples are destroyed by invading infidels, as with Nebuchadnezzar's armies, others are ruined by neglect. To be negligent of the care of the chambers of the inner life is tantamount to a silent surrender to evil. Every Christian becomes a son and is enjoined to "stand before him and serve" because "the LORD hath chosen" him to do so.

Through the leadership of Hezekiah, Judah once again renewed worship to its rightful place in the center of the kingdom. The land was filled with rejoicing and "So the service of the house of the LORD was set in order" 2Chron. 29:36. From the center, renewal spread. The Passover was re-instituted, and then idols were destroyed throughout the land, offerings poured into the temple and there was no lack. Hezekiah was at the helm of government and God was blessing the people. "And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered." Again the secret is in the word "all" his heart. Revival never comes to the half-hearted.

If the enemy fails to destroy our faith from within, he attempts to do it from without. But remember that no problem riding up to our gates is larger than the Lord of the gate. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria marched into Judah swallowing helpless cities in his path. Then the heathen army turned its jaundiced eye upon Jerusalem itself. Sennacherib employed frightening threats that were designed to break and resolve to resist him.

He sent his ministers to the foot of the wall and spoke such awful things that even the king, upon hearing them, "tore his clothes , and covered himself with sackcloth . (2Kings 19:2). Hezekiah sent the elders to Isaiah and asked the prophet to pray for the "remnant." Hezekiah had faith in God, yet this faith was undergoing a test of his lifetime. "This day is a day of distress, rebuke, and rejection; for the children have come to birth, and there is no strength to deliver" 2Kings19:3. Many a woman has died in that valley. They have carried the baby to term, but now they expire in exhaustion unable to survive the ordeal. Would God, allow Hezekiah such a fate? Not every saint has survived the lion's den. God's ministers know many martyrs.

After soliciting the prayers of the prophet, Hezekiah goes directly to the Lord himself, and so real was his faith, that he spread out Sennacherib's letter before the Lord, as if omniscience had to read it personally (2Ki. 19:14).

We would do well to so lay our burdens before the Lord. Who has not experienced a day of "distress?" What saint has not had the life knocked out of them by a scathing "rebuke?" Who has not been vexed in their spirit by the reproach of some blasphemy (2Ki.19:3).

In the process he challenged the God of Israel and that was a mistake. God answered the prayers of Hezekiah and Isaiah for "His own sake" (2Ki. 19:34), and promised to "defend this city." No ship can sink in which the Lord Jesus in the Captain, and no city can be taken if the Lord is on its ramparts. Paul said, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" The LORD sent an angel (2Chron. 32:21). Are they not his ministering spirits (Heb. 14). One angel is all it took to stop an invading horde. Let us rest assured that help is available "in the time of need." God can use one angel, or one word to stop the forces of darkness. Someone said that the purpose of every prayer is that God would be glorified in the answer. If seeing Jerusalem in rubble would bring the greater glory to God, than it should be our prayer that not one stone should remain upon another

(Matt. 24:2). "And thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (2Chron 32:22). This was the high water mark of this monarch's life. The miracles which followed, although spectacular, were foot notes. It is not for us to judge if it was a mistake for Hezekiah to request a reprieve from death, which he was granted. Those who live in tents never bemoan having to leave them for a better place. Those who live in palaces have more difficulty.

We are "looking for that blessed hope" and the glorious appearing of our Lord, who has gone to prepare a place for us. And when he bids us come, through whatever door of pain, sickness, or of sorrow, we know we enter into a far better place.



Josiah began to reign when he was eight. Eight years later at the age of sixteen he began to seek after God (2Chron. 34:3). Any year is a good year to begin such a quest as Josiah. He experienced a personal revival and dedication of life to God.

He cut away at the underbrush of spiritual indifference that had overgrown the land. He cleared out the brush arbors of idolatry and thus set the stage for a renewal. The temple, unfortunately, had fallen into disrepair once again. Josiah oversaw a refurbishing of its stones and altars. In the midst of the temple another startling discovery was made. This time it was not a little king growing up in the temple courts; it was a copy of a forgotten book, the "book of the law of Moses" (2Chron. 34:14). It was discovered by Hilkiah, the priest. Hilkiah's name should be listed with those great discovers of history. The Bells, Edisons, Wright Brothers, and Einstein's found nothing in their lights and flights, and talking wires when compared to the Book of Books, the Bible.

Many a man has personally discovered this King of Books in some dusty corner and discovered that it has power to save a soul, be it of a country or a single seeker. Luther, that troubled monk of the middle ages, made the same discovery in his generation. When Martin Luther opened that Book, he opened the door to the prison cell of religious superstition and set a whole generation free. In that book he found the key to salvation. In Jesus Christ he found God's grace.

Repairing the church building and installing stained glass of the greatest inspiration will do little good unless the people who gather there find the blessed Book. Saints find revival when they rediscover the Lord, but we can not discover the Lord without His precious Word.

Hikiah the priest gave the precious treasure to Shaphan the scribe, who in turn read it before the king. What he heard was all law. The result was similar to when Hezekiah heard the words of the Assyrians, "he rent his clothes," Not because he trembled at what the Syrians might do to the city of God, but because he

recognized what sacrilege the he and his people had been guilty of. The law was designed to break a sinner's heart with guilt. Mercy was designed to fix it. It is a mistake to expect a revival which discovers grace before it finds truth. Of what interest is the balm until one feels the burn? Of what value is the salve, if there is not first a wound?

Some today would have the love without the law and Christ without the creeds. They are quick to point to the dispensational hour glass and remind us that the sand of grace still marks the time. While we enjoy this church age and marvel at the mercy, we must remember the means which lead to the end as well as the end itself. It is impossible for the law to save, and that was never its intention. The ministry of the law is to condemn. If kindness removes the law from the preface of God's Book of Grace , the spectacle of Calvary makes little sense and has no meaning. The law is the light that reveals the loathsome wounds of sin and causes us to cry out in grief. It is only then that the grace and mercy of God can be appreciated when God offers his relief.

When Bunyan's Pilgrim discovered the Book, he too felt its fire and heard its curse. It was because of that coming curse that he set out searching for the remedy, and was so skillfully directed by Christian to find relief. The message Josiah heard was terrible indeed for he heard "all the curses" 2Chron. 34:24. John the Apostle knew full well of that message for he would later write "He that believeth not is condemned already" John 3:18. Isaiah knew it when he cried "Woe is me for I am undone." Peter knew it when he said "depart from me, for I am a sinful man." Paul said it in his letter to the Romans "Oh, wretched man that I am." It is a mistake to attempt to dilute the truth with grace.

It was Robert McCheyne who said, "It takes a broken hearted sinner to receive a crucified Christ." It is a foolish man who replaces a burned out fuse with a copper penny just to keep the lights turned on. God has given men, saved and unsaved, a conscience; and conscience, on occasion, must do its work by throwing our comfort zone into darkness. The conscience is God's protective fuse that prevents the house from burning down. The law is the manual that describes the proper use of each appliance.

The revival in Josiah's day began as every revival does. Revival is a returning and a renewal. Its very name suggests the problem for which it is the remedy. Hearts have become cold and indifferent toward God. Love is the product of revival not its cause. Every revival is fueled by a discovery of God's Word. Every spritual recovery begins with conviction of sin for which God himself is also the solution. Every sinner who ever found salvation first found himself a sinner, and then cried out for relief. Every one who every discovered the eternal Word of God found very quickly, upon reading its pages, that God is holy.

The Bible had become lost to Josiah's generation. He helped find it. The Bible has a way of becoming lost even still. Instead of being cared for as a precious treasure it is too easily misplaced. The Bible can become lost to a nation when it becomes banned and outlawed and its possession becomes illegal, or it can be banned by our own indifference. Our own government has banned the blessed book from our classrooms and children are feed with wisdom of the world instead of the wisdom of the ages.

Some generations lose the book through carelessness and neglect. Some put it away because it said something to offend them and they have sworn never to open it again. Some so fill their stomachs with the candies and sweets of worldly amusement that they have little appetite of the bread of heaven. Some have allowed it to slip beneath a pile of temporal priorities, which is ever growing higher and have little time to search beneath that mountain. Once it is lost it is forgotten, once it is forgotten, the heart grows even colder to the things of heaven and draws close to this world's campfires to warm themselves, as Peter did in the courtyard where he finally denied Christ.

One need only to visit the classroom to which the Bible is lost and see the sad results, or knock at the door of the broken home that knew not the "the Scriptures nor the power thereof" (Matt. 22:29). We need but walk the darkened, disease-ridden streets of our cities, listen to the wail of police sirens that sound like the lamentations of Jeremiah crying out against a nation that forgot God, to see what happens when a society once founded upon the precepts and principles of the Holy Scriptures, has misplaced and lost that precious Book. A generation that has lost the Book is a lost generation.

Where is the Pilgrim? Where is the Luther? Where is the Josiah that will rediscover the Book and light again the fires of hope and deliverance?

Josiah sought to understand the deeper meaning and ramifications of the words of the book. It is a savor of life unto life for some and a savor of death unto death into others. While the thunder from Mount Sinai is frightening and terrible, there is mercy near on Mt. Calvary. "Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and ...wept ... I have heard thee, saith the LORD." 2Ki.22:19. There is healing in the words that come from heaven when they fall upon a humble heart.

No generation is lost that finds God's Word and seeks to understand and obey it. There is no kingdom that cannot be saved if it but first find the Holy Book so long forgotten. It is God's intention all along that his kingdom be the only one, his Word the only law, and his Son the only Savior.

"Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book."

When the kingdom of your heart seems to be overgrown with the underbrush of neglect and indifference, when the cares and affairs of the world begin to choke the life out of all spiritual sensibilities, then it is time for some Hilkiah to rediscover God's book. Every kingdom needs a constitution. Every kingdom needs a king.



Peace. Peace is the spirit that rules God's kingdom (Col. 3:15). The kingdoms of this world, and the inner kingdoms of men's hearts will never know peace without Christ. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. He is a divided kingdom. A double minded man is a man of indecision and is out of harmony with heaven, and eventually with himself and others.

Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters" Matt. 6:24. The Gadarean demoniac (Mark 5) was a mad man who was listening to a thousand voices. Such a person is unpredictable in behavior and considered insane at best. Jesus cleansed him by exorcising the demons of the chaotic kingdom of his soul. The results were dramatic, apparent, and impressive. The man was calm, relaxed, and focused. The Bible describes the man as being "in his right mind" (Mk. 5:15).

Many of our troubles today, stem from double mindedness or a divided kingdom syndrome. Husbands and wives argue because they cannot agree. Children, unsure of what they want are in a constant state of restlessness. Anarchy reigns in the school and other civil and domestic societies because the spirits are "legion" (Mk. 5:9).

The most important kingdom is not found in some outward expression of government that can be enshrined in marble or crowned with a gilded rotunda. The most important kingdom is that which is set up in every heart.

God has called us to peace. We are disciples of the one who is called the Prince of Peace. It is a mystery of grace, that every child of God may know perfect peace within, even though a war rage around him. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isa. 26:3). We are to seek peace and pray for peace, yet the peace of the Bible is more than an absence of trouble. Shalom, means completeness, soundness, and well-being, and therefore implies peace, prosperity and safety.

The world is chaotic and in confusion because of sin. When an individual finds God's peace his spirit becomes a becalmed sea. All without may be in a turmoil and a tempest, yet all within is tranquil. Jesus is the answer to the unrest that rages as a result of original sin. He is the Prince of Peace and rules over an eternal kingdom of peace.

There are many enemies of peace. Sometimes they storm the gates of our tranquility. Sometimes they fire darts over our walls in an attempt to disrupt our quietness. Sometimes they send messengers with disturbing news, threats and misinformation. All this is allowed by God. Sometimes God allows, a "thorn in the flesh" to trouble us in order for us to learn greater lessons of His grace (2Cor. 12:7-9). Sometimes a "messenger of Satan" attempts to buffet us and sometimes to baffle us. Sometimes, unfortunately, if we are not careful, there is chaos in the camp when we respond in the wisdom of the flesh and not the wisdom of the Spirit.

Every king of Israel and Judah affords us a spiritual case study (1Cor.10:11) from which we may benefit. Every Christian should learn from the mistakes of Rehoboam and Jeroboam. All should be encouraged by the prayers of Hezekiah and the revival of Josiah. Every saint must remember that there are enemies without,

and enemies within. The world and the Devil are without, the flesh is within and is our greatest enemy. "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls" (Prov. 25:28).

Satan is at war with God. Every war on earth is a battle that is a result of that war. Evil is at war with good. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war..." James 4:1

Every war ever fought, first began as a fire in someone's heart. There are times when God employs nations as instruments of good to fight against evil. There are times when God marshals his armies and there are days when David must face Goliath, but for the most part, we are called to live peaceably with all men. "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom. 12:18). Unfortunately, that is not always possible.

When the Prince of Peace came into the world, the Prince of Darkness attempted to extinguish his light. The cross was the greatest battle field the world had ever seen. It only appeared that evil was the victor. Above the lifeless body was the superscription "King of the Jews." Little did darkness realize that the cross was both an altar and a throne. The Lord is risen and reigns. Every heart is a kingdom and Jesus must be the King.

The kings of the Old Testament must not be compared with one another, but rather with the King of the New Testament. Every action must be measured, not by the wisdom of man, but by the wisdom of God. To search among the kings of Israel for the greatest king is as foolish as searching among the disciples to determine who is "greatest in the kingdom of God." Comparing ourselves among ourselves, "we are not wise" (2Cor. 10:12). Our standard is Christ, and him crucified.