Devotional Week 7 Thursday
“The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”
Exodus 13: 21, 22
“The woods were dark and the night was black
And only an owl could see the track;
But the cheery driver made his way
Through the great pine woods as if it were day.
I asked him, ‘How do you manage to see?
The road and the forest are one to me.’
‘To me as well,’ he replied, ‘And I
can only drive by the path in the sky.’
I looked above, where the tree tops tall
Rose from the road, like a wall;
And lo! A beautiful starry lane
Wound as the road wound and made it plain.
And since when the path of my life is drear,
And all is blackness and doubt and fear,
When the horrors of midnight are here, below
And I see not a step of the way to go,
Then, oh! then, I can look on high
And walk on earth by the light in the sky.”
Amos R. Wells
“If we will walk with Christ in the sunshine, He will walk with us in the shadows.”
Today’s Study Text:
“(Amaziah) slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand…then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, King of Israel, saying, ‘Come, let us look one another in the face. And Jehoash the King of Israel sent to Amaziah King of Judah, saying, ‘The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy da?ughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and rode down the thistle. Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?’ But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash King of Israel went up. And he and Amaziah King of Judah looked one another in the face at Bethshemesh which belonged to Judah.”
II Kings 14: 7-11
“Unholy Alliances” – Part 4
“Pride Goes Before the Fall”
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Proverbs 16: 18
Has there ever been a time in my life when I allowed my “haughty spirit” to blind me to God’s guiding hand directing my life?
In what ways does a spirit of pride make me think I’m capable of running my life all by myself?
“It is our self-importance, not our misery, that gets in (God’s) way.”
“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next (person).”
C. S. Lewis
When I was young, our family went years without having a T.V. set. When we finally got one, it was a small black and white box with “rabbit ears” as we called the antenna. I know this probably makes me sound like a “fossil” but as a young girl, T.V. sets were deemed luxuries not necessities. And since music wasn’t optional in my parent’s home, getting a stereo set rated higher on the family priority list.
Once we finally had a T.V., one of our family viewing favorites was the show, “Candid Camera.” Some of you may remember the theme song which went like this:
“When you least expect it
You’re the star today.
Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.”
As I was working on today’s devotional, this song popped into my head for it could just as easily have been penned about the Bible. For when we least expect it and where we least expect it, God sends a message directly to our hearts with “real live” examples portrayed in living color by His children throughout history.
It’s more than interesting to uncover the fact that in I & II Kings as well as I & II Chronicles, we have come upon some of the most important lessons on learning to live Godly lives than anywhere else except the Psalms in the Old Testament and the four gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
And yet, when I began writing the devotionals, almost nine years ago, I never had it in my original plan to tackle these four Old Testament books which contain such a detailed record of the downfall of God’s children as they stumbled from one disaster into another which inevitably led to the Babylonian captivity.
Today’s story is another one of the hidden treasures which we only uncover with thoughtful study and prayer. As we learned yesterday, Amaziah, the King of Judah followed after his father Joash who had done what was “right in God’s eyes.”
However, we also learned that during Amaziah’s rulership of 29 years in Jerusalem, he left the “high places” undisturbed – elevated worship land marks where idols very still in vogue. As author Dale Ralph Davis shared, the ruler had what he called the “Amaziah Complex” which is diagnosed by less than a 100% devotion to God.
The fact is that Pastor Davis is on to something when he reveals that although Amaziah “did what was right” at least from an outward appearance, it was the king’s lack of complete and whole devotion which became a serious problem for him and the people of Judah as well.
Our study passage today begins with King Amaziah slaughtering 10,000 of the Edomites, a foreign nation who was a plague to both Judah and Israel. But instead of giving God credit for the victory, the self-righteous and self-assured Amaziah obviously came to the conclusion that he was quite the military giant. As was once observed, “There is no room for God in him who is full of himself” and this is exactly the situation Amaziah should havebecome aware he was in. However, Amaziah came to an opposite conclusion. His arrogance was his blind spot!
No one explains this situation better than author Dale Ralph Davis:
“Amaziah’s impressive record goes on. He wiped out the assassins of his father but did so with the restraint the law in Deuteronomy required. He pulled off a smashing victory in Edom, inflicting many causalities and conquering a strategic site. Then comes the ‘Then…’”
Yesterday we found how important a word like “howbeit” can be in alerting us to upcoming trouble. Today it is the word “then.” After conquering the enemy and securing his throne against potential adversaries, Amaziah sent a message to the King of Israel – Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu King of Israel. Now I want to stop for just one moment and go back to II Kings 9 which begins with the prophet Elisha sending one of the young men at the Schools of the Prophets to Ramothgilead with one task to perform: he was specifically instructed by Elisha to anoint Jehu king over Israel. In fact, II Kings 9: 3 states: “Thus saith the Lord, ‘I have anointed thee.” This wasn’t some man-made errand. Nor was Jehu chosen to be Israel’s king by popular vote. This was God’s identified ruler and we had best remember this fact as we find out how Amaziah approached the heir of Jehu, King Jehoash.
Amaziah sends a message over to Israel with this directive, “Let’s look each other in the face.” Please understand, this wasn’t some sweet invitation to come have afternoon tea. Quite to the contrary – this was a confrontational approach to say the least. As author Davis explains, “Amaziah is not asking for a summit but wants to stir up hostilities.” The bottom line of this “request” was that King Jehoash of Israel informed the arrogant Amaziah that no such meeting would take place. Here’s the fascinating way author Davis writes about this event: “Jehoash tried to paint Amaziah a picture to show him how stupid his saber-rattling was.” King Jehoash came up with a story about a briar patch that is one of the most unique fables recorded in the Bible. As Davis explains: “In (King) Jehoash’s little fable there appears a briar, a cedar, and a wild beast – they are in Lebanon. The briar demands the cedar’s daughter as a wife for his son – a wild beast passes by and tramples the briar. It’s as if Jehoash says, ‘Did you hear that “squish,” Amaziah, when the beast walked over that puny thistle? That’s you, Amaziah. You keep on with lame-brained war plan of yours and you’ll get the “squish” yourself’…Jehoash’s fable was really quite a put-down.”
However, it was Amaziah’s high-minded pride that got the ball rolling in the first place. Once he thought he was such a big-deal because “he” conquered Edom, he let the win go to his head and Jehoash told him so when he made this statement in II Kings 14: 10, “Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up.”
How I love God’s Word for its practical application to our lives today.
There have been times in my own life when I’ve surveyed what I accomplished and thought to myself, “You did it girl!” It’s not wrong to work hard and be pleased with what our labor has brought about. But oh what a fatal mistake it is to ever, even for one moment, forget that it is “the Lord who gives us power.” Everything I do is because of my Father’s blessing and when I slide myself over and push my Father out of the way, I do so at great peril. As author Davis underscores, “Amaziah became arrogant and cocky…and insisted on stirring up trouble.” As Thomas Adams so correctly points out, “Pride thrust proud Nebuchadnezzar out of men’s society, proud Saul out of his kingdom, proud Adam out of paradise, proud Haman out of the court and proud Lucifer out of heaven.” But as Augustine penned, while “Pride changed angels into devils, it is humility that makes men and women as angels.”
In his book Holy Ambition, author Chip Ingram gives us this insight: “Pride is rooted in self-dependency and self-focus. Pride can be strutting our stuff: “I don’t need God. I can do this on my own.” He then continues with this observation: “There is only one center of the universe worthy of all our attention, and that center is God. If we make anything other than God the center of the universe, we are engaging in what the Bible calls pride and arrogance.” In the words of Thomas Manton: “Pride is against God’s sovereignty.” In your life and mine, may we choose to have our Father and Creator at the center for all time. PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!
“Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man’s erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
What the weak head with strongest bias rules,
Is Pride, the never-failing vice of fools.”
“If you want to please the devil, begin to admire yourself.”
“Take from us. O God, all pride and vanity, all boasting and self-assertion and give us the true courage that shows itself in gentleness, the true wisdom that shows itself in simplicity, and the true power that shows itself in modesty, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“O Lord, put no trust in me, for I shall surely fall if You uphold me not.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus