2 Kings 3
The story of King Joram is a reprise of yesterday’s lesson on choosing sides. Joram put away the Baal of his father, no doubt somewhat concerned based on the judgment his father faced. But he didn’t choose to repent and serve God. He continued the worship to graven images. He tried to straddle a fence between paganism and worship of Yahweh.
His response in difficult times was to hide from God for fear of judgment instead of seeking God through repentance. When he was trying to avoid God, King Jehoshaphat recommended they seek Elisha, the man of God.
Sadly, we can fall into this same trap. We know the consequences of blatant sin, so we try to tone down our sin rather than putting it to death. We want to worship God, but in our own way, in the ways that feel most comfortable to us, with traditions passed down and rituals that are familiar. God hasn’t called us to reduce our sin production by 50%, as if we are reaching a performance goal that will result in His blessings. He has called us to die to ourselves, the sin that drives us and the earth-bound perspective that blinds us to things of eternal value.
It really is all or nothing with God. If He isn’t LORD of every single area of our life, then He isn’t LORD of our life at all. While we are not immediately perfect when we ask Him to be our LORD, we must “work out our faith with fear and trembling” by allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal new areas of our life every day that need to be put under His Lordship. This isn’t to make Him love us any more, and our failures don’t make Him love us any less. He proved His love for us once and forever on the cross.
The chapter ends with the Moabite king offering his son and heir as a pagan sacrifice in full view of the troops that are besieging his city. His message is clear: He is eliminating any heir to throne and is willing to do anything to fight to the final breath. They will have to kill every man, woman, and child in order to take the king. His gruesome and desperate display leaves his opponents stunned into silence. In the face of such evil, they simply consider the battle won and go home.
Displays of evil have a way of leaving us feeling speechless and defeated. Whether it is ISIS beheading believers or a gunman shooting into a crowd, the weight of such visible evidence of evil in our world can be crushing.
We must remember that God will ultimately have the victory. He demonstrates that He is victorious every time one of His followers shows love and compassion and kindness. When the fruit of the Spirit overflows in our lives and spills out on the people around us, we show them that evil does not win. When we offer forgiveness to those who have done us the most wrong, we prove that love is victorious. When we give sacrificially, not for what we can gain or because someone deserves it, but because God gave to us when He had nothing to gain and when we did not deserve it, then we offer the world a picture of how weak and pathetic evil is when it is set beside God’s goodness.