A God You Can Trust – 2 Chronicles 21-22
So my niece – who’s about 8 years old – called me a few days ago and she made it clear right from the beginning that it was not a social call. The conversation started off with her informing me that she had done extremely well at school, coming 3rd out of a class of about 50. My throat immediately went dry, because I knew what was coming.
The next question she asked before I could get a word in was “when are you bringing me my present?” I fumbled, looking for ways to escape, but she had no time for her uncle’s nonsense. So she carved out a promise on my heart that I would indeed bring her a present when I visit her in Harare. The only victory that I managed to salvage was delaying the day of my “execution” to a date early in September, rather than this past week as she had originally decreed.
It only struck me afterward that, if I want to build trust in my relationship with my niece, as someone she can rely on in any situation in her life, I cannot by any means, fail to fulfil the promise I made. Because that is how trust is built, when we keep our promises. Come hail or thunder, I must stay true to my word.
But what she may not yet realize is that trust is not only built when someone keeps the “nice” promises, but also the painful ones. She may not like it when her parents keep their promise to discipline her in love when she is naughty, just as they would reward her when she is well-behaved, but by keeping both promises, the good AND the bad, they show her that they are reliable, and can be trusted in any circumstance, good or bad.
Our passage for this morning was written to a nation whose trust in God had been shaken right to the core because of the exile and many of the events which followed. They knew the promises which God had made to them as a nation, including the one in 2 Samuel 7 where God had promised David that:
…12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever … my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”
They were well aware of this promise, but, by the time of 2nd Chronicles, Israel had no king on her throne. She was no longer a world superpower but a mere shadow of what she had been under David and Solomon. So how then could they trust God when his promises had seemingly failed?
And how can you trust God in your own life, when things don’t go the way you want, and it seems like God is breaking faith? When life gets harder and harder by the day, and you find yourself enduring more and more hardship? When your plans all turn to dust, and those things on which you once relied – your health, your job, your education, your family –disappear, one by one, and you are helpless to do much about it.
The message of 2 Chronicles chapters 21 and 22 says to you this morning that you can and must continue trusting in God, because he doesn’t break his promises.
You can trust God because He keeps his promise to discipline
God Keeps His Promise to Discipline
These two chapters are a somewhat depressing account of the history of Israel’s kings. After Jehoshaphat’s largely godly and faithful reign as the king of Judah, he was succeeded by his son Jehoram, of whom we are told in verse 4
4 When Jehoram had ascended the throne of his father and was established, he killed all his brothers with the sword, and also some of the princes of Israel. (2Ch 21:4 ESV)
Right from the beginning, it is clear that Jehoram was going to be an evil king. Not only did he murder his brothers, verse 6 says he didn’t walk in the good ways of his father Jehoshaphat, but rather, he followed the wicked king of the northern kingdom, Ahab, who was a truly terrible, sinful man. King Jehoram encouraged the people of Israel to turn away from God and to worship idols and live in direct rebellion against Him.
And when he died, his son Ahaziah, not only succeeded his father’s throne, but he also did exactly as his father. Chapter 22:4 summarizes his reign, saying,
(Ahaziah) did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done. For after the death of his father they were his counsellors, to his undoing. (2Ch 22:4 ESV)
He did what Jorum warned us against last week – he made alliances with the enemies of God and followed their bad advice instead of listening to God.
But both these evil kings forgot that God keeps his promises. Not just the good ones, but the painful ones as well. When He made his covenant with the Israelites through Moses in Deuteronomy 28, he warned the nation that if they did not remain faithful to Him and obey his commands, God would
…send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.
22 The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. (Deu 28:20-22 ESV)
And so God kept his promise and judged King Jehoram, causing the nations that had once been under his rule, to rebel against him. In verse 9, we are told that the Edomites revolted, followed by another city called Libnah. God also caused the Philistines and a group of African Arabs to invade Judah, taking away all of King Jehoram’s possessions and family, except for his youngest son, Ahaziah.
Still, worse punishment was to come. God struck Jehoram with a terrible disease for two years – it may have been some sort of cancer – verse 20 says
In the course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony. (2Ch 21:19 ESV)
Yet, no one felt any sympathy for him and even though they buried him in Jerusalem, he was not buried in the tombs of the kings because he had been an evil king.
As for Ahaziah his son, his reign was also short-lived. Ahaziah and the king of the north with whom he had made an alliance where defeated by a man called Jehu, whom God used to bring his punishment. Even though Ahaziah tried to run and hide, there was no escape and in verse 9 we read that Jehu
“…searched for Ahaziah, and he was captured while hiding in Samaria, and he was brought to Jehu and put to death. (2Ch 22:9 ESV)”
All in all, Ahaziah’s reign was pathetic and short. He was king for only a year before he was killed.
So, God kept his promise to punish sin, and he did so ruthlessly with Jehoram and Ahaziah.
And this ought to be a warning to all of us. If you are here this morning and you are not a Christian, let me tell you what God says about those who hate him and refuse to bend their hearts and bodies before Him.
As the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers.
42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
(Mat 13:40-42 NET)
And for those of us who are believers, it is true that we will not suffer judgment as unbelievers will – there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. But still, when we rebel and sin, as a father does to a son, God will discipline us and it will be painful, which why I titled this point “God keeps his promise to discipline, rather than to punish his children. Hebrews 12:7 says:
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Heb 12:6 ESV)
So then, can God be trusted? Yes. Why? Because He keeps all his promises. But not just the painful ones, but also the beautiful ones, which is the second reason why you should trust God.
God Keeps His Promise to Bless
The evil kings Jehoram and his son Ahaziah were not just being sinful against God. I dare say they were being used by Satan to try and destroy God’s promises. We’ve already seen how when Jehoram succeeded his father Jehoshaphat as king, he promptly murdered all his brothers, which meant that apart from himself, Jehoram was the only descendant of David who was left.
Satan probably thought that God would then immediately put Jehoram to death for his evil and completely destroy David’s lineage, and therefore, destroy any chance of God fulfilling the promise which he had made right from the beginning in Genesis 3:15, to one day raise up a Son who would defeat sin, death and Satan himself.
As we saw earlier, in 2 Samuel 7, this Son who would rule on God’s throne forever, would be a descendent of David. And so if David’s lineage was cut off, the Son would never rise to the throne, and God’s promise would have been broken.
But God is not a fool. In chapter 21:7, it says
Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever. (2Ch 21:7 ESV)
The Lord did not rise to Satan’s bait, but chose to show mercy and patience and to not punish Jehoram until he had borne children of his own. It was only after God had made sure that David’s line would continue, that he punished Jehoram for his sins.
Even then, the promises of God were still under threat. In verse 1 of chapter 22, we are told that when the Arabians attacked Jerusalem after Jehoram died, they killed all of his sons, except for the youngest, Ahaziah, who became as wicked as his father.
And when Ahaziah himself died, Satan again tried to ruin God’s plans by using the wicked queen Athaliah, King Ahaziah’s mother, to murder all the royal family of Judah, including her own grandchildren. But God, through her daughter called Jehoshabeath, rescued one of Ahaziah’s sons named Joash and she hid him in the temple for six years.
This was certainly not the first time that Satan has tried to disrupt God’s plans. He also tried it through Cain murdering Abel, as well as through King Harold attempting to kill Jesus, and numerous other times.
But God prevailed as he always does and he kept his promise to bless David and Abraham and their descendants forever. He protected his lineage, and when the right time came, Jesus Christ the Messiah was born. He crushed the head of the serpent as promised, and saved many from death into life. And again as promised, He ascended to sit on God’s throne, on which he rules forever and ever.
As they read the account of God’s faithfulness in preserving David’s line, the discouraged Israelites would surely have had their hope fanned to flames as they realized that God does indeed keep his promises.
And so should your faith in Him also be made stronger, therefore
Trust God to Keep All His Promises
If God kept his promises so faithfully by guarding David’s family from being destroyed in spite of all odds and every attempt by the evil one, will he not keep his every other promise that he has made to you?
Romans 8:32 preaches the gospel to weary hearts saying of God
“32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39 ESV)”
He promises that his faithful love will endure all trials and all hardships. You can trust him when he says he will not abandon you, even when you sin like David and Jehoshaphat. He will most certainly discipline you as a father does his child – but he will not reject you. The apostle John wrote that you can trust God, saying:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1Jo 1:8-9 ESV)
And when you are perplexed and worn down by the trials of your life, you can trust that God will never leave you nor forsake you, nor will he allow you to be destroyed, even though life crushes you with the blow of its hammer. He is the Lord your God who says
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. (Isa 43:1-3 ESV)”
Though you may suffer, he does not leave you to suffer alone, he goes into the flames and into the flood with you. Indeed, Jesus became a man and shared your every human experience so that you can turn to Him for help when you need it.
And for you who is yet to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour and the only means by which you can find life, if you repent and believe, you can trust Jesus when he says
All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (Joh 6:37 NIV)
He will forgive all your sins, past, present and future and will not hold them against you. God does not condemn those who belong to His son. He will set you free from sin, disciplining you with love as He makes you pure and holy through the blood of his Son, by the power of his Spirit.
My relationship with my niece will be built up in trust only if I keep my promises. Your heavenly Father has never broken a promise, whether it is to discipline or to bless.
He is indeed, a God you can trust.