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Messages from Men of God (4): A Message of Separation: Amaziah

E Baijal, Wick

(2 Chronicles 25)

In this series we have been drawing lessons from messages delivered by servants, described in the Scriptures, simply as "men of God".

Amaziah grew up in difficult days where leadership among the people of God was not all that it ought to have been. His father, Joash, was a sad example of a man who started well, but finished extremely badly. Having been valiant for God and repairing the house of God, he rejected the word of God and centred his affections elsewhere once the priestly influence of Jehoiada had been removed from his life. May we be given the humility to recognise our weakness, and the grace to keep on going (Heb 12.1).

At the age of twenty-five Amaziah took the throne. He then had to make decisions regarding what course and character his reign would take, and initially acted showing his obedience to the word of God (v.4). That is a good start for any aspiring leader, for a pattern of quiet continuance will be required if the people of God are to be led successfully (1 Tim 6.12).

Leadership is often defined by attitude and by action in difficulty. The major issue we read of Amaziah having to face was war with Edom. The Edomites had of course been those who had blocked the progress of the people of God into the inheritance, when they ought to have been supportive, given their common history (Num 20.14ff). Amaziah correctly identified that he had to do battle with Edom. However, he was in danger of attempting to do the work of God in the wrong way. He began to number his army, which was, in itself, sensible (Lk 14.31); it is always sensible that we realise our limitations, and the fact that victory will not be accomplished in our own strength.

A problem then arose. Problems frequently arise if we are involved in "battle" for God, which, in a New Testament sense, is how every avenue of service is viewed (see for example 2 Timothy 2.3). We can expect to know conflict with the flesh, the world, and the devil. Sadly, we sometimes also experience conflict amongst the people of God. However, as we often do, Amaziah made the mistake of trying to tackle the problem in his own strength. We are not told exactly how large the army of Edom was, but Amaziah concluded that his army was deficient in numbers and needed to be increased by around twenty-five percent. He decided to tackle the issue by hiring a hundred thousand soldiers from Israel for a price of one hundred silver talents (v.6). That was a decision that made sense according to the logic of the natural man, but was not of God. While the leaders of the people of God ought not to be devoid of common sense, they must ensure that they display the "wisdom that is from above" (James 3.17).

The man of God, previously unannounced, then arrived with a direct message for King Amaziah. His message was simple yet powerful: While Amaziah could go into battle if he so desired, he should not go relying on help from Israel: God was not with Israel but was able to give the victory to the armies of Judah.

What was Amaziah to do? He had paid for hired help. Should he simply send the armies of Israel home? Would he lose his investment? The man of God answered the question. The King should understand that God was able to give him much more than the hire price of the soldiers.

If we pause to reflect on the message delivered to the king it is striking how such simple statements altered the approach to battle. That is how it ought to be when the Word of God, often in simplicity but profundity, cuts across our path. We ought to be willing to alter the way we live and serve so to conform to what God requires.

In this case, it had seemed eminently sensible to Amaziah to prepare for battle by strengthening his army with Israelite reinforcements. The message from the man of God was that it was not acceptable to join forces with those of whom God did not approve to try to further the work of God. The northern tribes were marked with idolatry, rejection of truth, and, as has been seen in a previous article, an apostate system of worship. From the divine standpoint it was not the will of God that his purpose should be furthered by association and reliance on those not submitting to divine truth. The end did not justify the means. The message from the man of God was a call to separation, calling Judah to sanctify themselves from the hired help.

This is a principle worth taking time to consider. When we seek to further God's work we must remember it is God's work. Our ideas on the best way to achieve results are ultimately irrelevant. What matters is the divine view and pattern of how God's work ought to be progressed (see for example 2 Timothy 2.5). We live and serve in a day when the people of God are encouraged to compromise and enter joint ventures with the friendly face of the world, or Christendom at large, on the basis that this seems to be the best way to make progress in God's work. Most readers will perhaps accept this application so far as the world is concerned, but may question its validity in relation to Christendom. The writer accepts that teaching on ecclesiastical separation is not popular. However, we are simply contending that God would not have us sacrifice truth with some commendable end in view, and that separation from doctrinal error, properly understood, is not to do with a believer considering themselves superior to another believer. It should rather simply reflect a conviction in a believer that fundamental doctrine cannot be compromised if they are to engage in service.

God is able to give help. He does not need us to look for help elsewhere. Is it not an affront to the character and strength of God that we invest in the help of man, as Amaziah planned, as opposed to relying on the deliverance of God?

It is worth noticing that when Amaziah listened to the message from above, the hired help did not understand. In fact, they were angry at being sent home. So it has been throughout the history of time that the divine will is not always understood. Ultimately, however, individual believers and individual assemblies are accountable to God, and convictions formed from His Word should not be sacrificed.

The message was proved to be true. God gave the victory over Edom. However small we are, however weak we feel, God will give the strength so that his purpose can be fulfilled. Assemblies may be smaller, and it may seem that we lack focus and spiritual strength, but the people of God ought to take heart: "God hath power to help, and to cast down" (v.8).

Catastrophe then struck. The king to whom God spoke, and the king who appeared to have obeyed the word of God, saw the victory accomplished and then failed to give God the glory. Amaziah bowed down and worshipped the idols of Edom.

It seems to the writer that one of the critical reasons why God was not with Israel was their idol worship. Amaziah separated from the false system of worship, but then having known the blessing of God, reverted to the sin.

Sometimes there has been a carnal pride among the assemblies of the saints that we have remained "separate" going into battle. While the separation may be correct, can we see the folly and dissimulation if we publically separate from those who reject truth, but then fix our affections on "the idols of Edom"? If God gives us victory in all our weakness, our affections should be centred on Christ. The lesson from Amaziah's idol worship surely must be that we could fight the right way outwardly, and experience great victory, but actually have affections in the wrong place.

It is worth reflecting on the message delivered by the man of God, and give honest answers to the issues that arise. Are we seeking to advance God's work in the wrong manner? Are we willing to separate and trust God as we serve? Do we believe God can give us the victory in all our weakness? Are our affections centred on the one who gives the victory?

May we be helped to listen to the message of separation brought by the men of God.



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