In 2 Chronicles 25, we find a young man who has been appointed to leadership. Amaziah was 25 years old when his father was killed and he became king of Judah. This is how the text describes him:
And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart. ~2 Chronicles 25:2
Do you know anyone like this? These ones are half-hearted, half-committed living in halfway halftime all the time. It’s no way to be in any area of life, but when it comes to spiritual matters, halfway halftime will never cut it. Let’s learn from one who did it wrong.
Apparently Amaziah wasn’t all in when it came to his dealing and disposition toward God. It sounds like he just got by with a few good deeds here and there and perhaps a friendly front in regards to his maker. Matthew Henry says, “The general character of Amaziah: He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, worshiped the true God, kept the temple service a going, and countenanced religion in his kingdom; but he did not do it with a perfect heart, that is, he was not a man of serious piety or devotion himself, nor had he any zeal for the exercises of religion. He was not enemy to it, but a cool and indifferent friend.”
This chapter tells us of a couple things Amaziah did and it reveals his not so whole heart in the process. The first thing we are told is that Amaziah obeyed the law of Moses by sparing the children of those who assassinated his father. Next, we learn that he calls the army of Israel to help him in battle, but reneges at the counsel of a prophet. He actually pays these guys to come fight with his army and then, because the prophet warns him to trust in God instead, he sends them home.
One has to wonder why he called these guys in the first place.
Amaziah was going out to fight the Edomites. This was a people known for their idolatry. They were the descendants of Esau – Jacob’s twin who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. Anyway, just 50 or 60 years prior to this conquest, Judah’s army had been 3 or 4 times more numerous. Sin had so enveloped these people that their army’s number was one fourth what it had just previously been. “Sin weakens a people, diminishes them, dispirits them, and lessens their number and figure.” Matthew Henry
Amaziah would not have even gotten himself into this issue of paying Israel’s soldiers, sending them away, losing his money, and having to deal with their rioting and mischief-making afterward if he had just first considered the lack of help any of his ancestors had in using them as allies previously. Some just don’t learn from past mistakes I guess.
Calling in men in addition to his own was distrust of God. Matthew Henry says, “If he had made sure of God’s presence, the army he had of his own was sufficient.” Not only that, but particularly these men he was not to call. They were not trustworthy and therefore no good and godly favor could ever be expected by their employment.
So he listens to the prophets and the extra troops go home before the battle. When Amaziah got back from the battle – which he won without Israel, by the way – the very first thing he does is worship…the idols of the Edomites. What??!
Yep. God gave him victory and he just couldn’t wait to get home and set up the idols of the men he just conquered and worship them…because…those false gods saved the Edomites so well…right.
This is completely ridiculous!!! But this is the kind of thing humans do. God, in his mercy, sends Amaziah yet another prophet. Here’s how it goes:
Therefore the Lord was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?” 16 But as he was speaking, the king said to him, “Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” So the prophet stopped, but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.” ~2 Chronicles 25:15-16
This time, Amaziah does not heed the prophet’s true words. He tells him to stop talking. He asks this prophet who he thinks he is. He goes so far as to warn him that if he doesn’t shut up he will be killed.
“So the prophet stopped…”
That’s the saddest line in this entire account. “Those that will not take advice from the word of God, which would guide them aright, will justly be left to the bad advice of those that will counsel them to their destruction. Let those be made fools that will not be made wise.” Matthew Henry
When the true prophet stops talking, it is time to fear. It is time to start looking over your shoulder, Amaziah. You are in a bad place.
The prophet does stop talking, stop instructing, stop leading Amaziah. He gives one final warning and he lets God have at it with this hell-bent idolator.
Wait. What?! Isn’t this the guy who just obeyed another prophet at his own personal expense and embarrassment? Isn’t this the guy who just won a great victory? It is. But a prophet asking him to forsake his money and his reputation did not strike at the heart of this half-hearted not so religious guy like the one asking him to forsake his idols did. Herein we find his true god which was no god at all.
Some men can put on a good show of religion until someone comes along and strikes at the heart of their true god.
In the end, Amaziah was killed by the very men whom he had tried to employ and trust in in the place of God’s presence. Truly though, it was his pride and his lack of willingness to listen to sound, godly counsel that ultimately destroyed him.
There was something terribly wrong with Amaziah’s heart. It was not whole. Such is the lot of many a broken man trying to lead. If you don’t get that thing fixed, and quick, the fate and pride of Amaziah may find you out. Go to the master mechanic – Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can fix a not so whole heart.