We read about Amaziah’s life and reign as Judah’s eighth king in 2 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 25. Many Bible students are more familiar with his son, Uzziah, than they are with Amaziah. What kind of person was Amaziah? In general, he did what was right in God’s sight, but not like David (2 Kings 14:3).
Here are three memorable occasions associated with King Amaziah which are recorded in 2 Chronicles 25: (1) He led Judah to a decisive victory over the Edomites, (2) following that triumph, he carried home and began serving Edomite idols, and (3) lifted up with pride because of his defeat of Edom, he challenged the king of Israel to battle, which turned out to be a disastrous decision for Amaziah and Judah. Judah’s defeat at the hands of the Northern Kingdom in this instance was not an accident, a coincidence, or bad luck: God caused it to happen “because they sought the gods of Edom” (25:20).
What are some takeaways and spiritual reminders that we can observe in the life of Amaziah?
God’s evaluation: Amaziah did what was right, but “not with a loyal heart” (2 Chronicles 25:2). God wanted all of the king’s heart, not just a portion of it (Deuteronomy 10:12). God’s desire is not only for us to take the right action and say the right things, but for all of it to flow from our heart, that is, be done in sincerity/with the right spirit (Mark 7:6).
God’s messenger declared, “. . . the LORD is not with Israel” (25:7). In this case, “Israel” was the Northern Kingdom, and the Lord was instructing Amaziah not to employ Israel’s soldiers in his army. Here is the spiritual lesson: When the Lord tells His children that He is not with them, they need to ask, “Why not? Why has He left us?” In every instance, the reason, the only reason, is sin. When God’s people choose not to submit to Him (and as a result leave Him), that causes Him to forsake them.
That same messenger of God told Amaziah, “. . . God has power to help and to overthrow” (25:8). The context: If Amaziah insisted on fighting against Israel, he would lose . . . God would make it happen. The reminder for all people of all eras: the Creator cares about the affairs of men and has power to act. He has power over nations (Daniel 2:21; 4:17) and power over individuals (1 Peter 5:5,6). He can exalt or bring down on a national or person level. For those who seek Him according to His will, He is a great Helper (Psalm 46:1); for those who demonstrate a spirit of rebellion against Him, He is a great Overthrower. If God says, “I am against you,” that is not good news for the one(s) to whom He is speaking! A wise man, a wise family, a wise nation all declare, “We want to be on God’s side.”
The man of God further said to the king, “The LORD is able to give you much more than this” (25:9). The context: Amaziah had paid a large sum of money to mercenary soldiers from Israel. If those men did not end up fighting for Judah, all of that money would be down the drain. Not to worry, the Almighty can provide more than what you lost, Amaziah. The Bible says our great God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). He causes our cup to “run over” (Psalm 23:5). He makes us “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). If we think the spiritual blessings which He provides for us in this life are great, just wait until we see what He has in store for us in heaven!
In Amaziah’s action, we are reminded of the folly of imitating false religious practices. Hear what the king did: “Now it was so, after Amaziah came from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the people of Seir, set them up to be his gods, and bowed down before them and burned incense to them” (25:14). It is not a shocker to read in the next statement that “the anger of the LORD was aroused against Amaziah” (25:15). The Creator is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) — He will not share with anything or anyone the loyalty which should be given to Him alone.
Seriously, Amaziah, you think it is a good idea to worship lifeless, powerless idols?! Amaziah, you are a child of the living God, what are you doing?! Amaziah, you should know better! In fact, you do know better. “But the worshippers look so happy.” So do folks who worship the sun, sea, or other parts of the material universe. “But the worshippers are so sincere” (so was Saul of Tarsus when he still was lost). “But there are so many worshipping like that” (“You shall not follow a crowd to do evil,” Exodus 23:2). Friend, the criteria always must be, “What pleases the Lord?” Amaziah lost sight of that truth and got caught up in the practice of imitating false religious practices. It was a costly route to go.
“Amaziah turned away from following the LORD” (25:27). What a sad thought! No mistake in life is greater. It reminds us of when so many of Jesus’ disciples called it quits and chose to walk no more with the Master (John 6:66). Trying to understand what causes a particular person to turn away from the Lord can be a complex matter, but know this: anytime even one sheep leaves the Shepherd, it is a tragedy. Amaziah’s fateful choice reminds us of that reality.
— Roger D. Campbell