In reading 1 and 2 Kings, patterns emerge. In a recent blog essay I'd mentioned that reading the books of the Kings is like watching the tide go in and out. The king was good, the borders enlarged. The king was bad, the borders came in. In and out. Repeat.
Another pattern is seen in the LORD's declaration of where on the spectrum the king's goodness or badness was. Sometimes the King was declared by God as outright evil. Very bad. Sometimes not so bad. Sometimes good. Here is an example. In 2 Kings 3:2a this is what is declared of Jehoram the son of Ahab who became king over Israel in Samaria:
"He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, though not like his father and mother,"
Why wasn't he as bad as Ahab and Jezebel? After all, "he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made." (2 Kings 3:2b). But Jehoram also clung to the sin of Jereboam which had made Israel sin, and this angered the LORD.
The lesson is twofold. Leaders set the example and when they are below reproach, the followers follow suit, also falling below reproach. In addition, you can't repudiate some sins, you must repudiate ALL sins. There is no picking and choosing.
Now, how about Jehu?
"Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin—that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. And the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin." (2 Kings 10:28-31)
Did you catch that? "All His heart". King David was a man after God's own heart. (Acts 13:22). This is a high honor bestowed on a man. Why was David given such an honor in the bible? He loved and feared the Lord. He had absolute faith in God. You might wonder, David was a great sinner, how could he be deemed a man after God's own heart? He sinned, but he repented, fully. His heart was always pointed toward God.
David loved God's law. (Psalm 119:47-48) He delighted in it! Yet you note that despite Jehu doing what was in the LORD'S heart, he "was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD."
David was grateful for God. God was not a means to a kingly end for David, God was the end. (Psalm 26:6-7; Psalm 100:4).
In another case of the LORD deeming a king pretty good, we see Amaziah. "And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not like David his father." (2 Kings 14:3). Amaziah did not remove the high places and the people still sacrificed to other gods there. (2 Kings 14:4). However he did follow through on a point of God's law whereupon 'he struck down his servants who had struck down the king his father' but correctly did not kill the children of those, as the Law states. (2 Kings 14:5-6).
As you read through the Kings the recurring theme is worship of other gods on the high places. The First Commandment is to have no other gods before Him. That the King worshiped God wasn't good enough, he must set the example by destroying the altars of other gods. Leaving them in place is an implicit agreement with them.
This theme is seen in most of the NT books whereupon the Apostles or authors of almost every book decries false teaching. Following false teaching is following another god. Failure to repudiate false teaching is also a sin. See Revelation 2:20,
"But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols."
The church at Thyatira knew this woman, a Jezebel-type, was teaching falsely, and they tolerated it. They themselves weren't following her, which was good, but they did not strike her down from her high place, as it were. The Lord commended them for not following actively (Rev 2:24) but was still against them that they didn't dig out the cancer of her false teaching and protect the daughters of hell she was making. (Revelation 2:23).
Discernment is active on all fronts. It means relying on the Spirit to open our eyes to false teaching, and actively asking Him to do this. It means practicing discernment by reading the word and testing what teachers teach against it (Acts 17:11). It also means when you see brethren falling under the beguiling sway of false teachers, to do something about it. Don't tolerate it. If you do, thee Lord has that against you. Do what it right in the sight of the Lord!
"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." James 4:17)
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