2 Chronicles 21-23:21
The story of Jehoram and the next two rulers of Judah is an example of what can happen when we do not consult the Lord or do not do things God’s way. We know from 2 Chronicles 17:3 that Jehoshaphat, Jehoram’s father, started his reign by following the ways of the Lord. He sought after God and followed his commands, but when it came to selecting the next King of Judah, Jehoshaphat failed to obey God’s law.
In Deuteronomy 17 God established the criteria for selecting the next king. Deuteronomy 17:15 says, “be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses.” Jehoshaphat chose Jehoram simply because he was the firstborn. Being first born is not sufficient criteria for becoming a king and leading the people of God. As far as we know, he did not consult the Lord when choosing his predecessor. In 2 Chronicles 21: 13 God says of Jehoram, “…And you have even killed your own brothers, men who were better than you.” I think we can safely assume that perhaps one of his brothers would’ve been a better king.
Jehoram committed evil and faced God’s wrath. Because he set Judah on an evil path that would last for the next 8 years, he died in agony. Jehoram is the one responsible for the choices he made, but I can’t help but wonder what might have happened had Jehoshaphat consulted God and appointed the king that God chose.
If we will learn to consult God first and follow his leading, we can avoid pitfalls and hardships. In his book Walking with God, John Eldredge shares a story about their annual tradition of cutting their own tree for Christmas. God had been impressing on Eldredge to pray about every day decisions. He and his wife prayed about when the best time would be for them to head to the mountains for their tree. They both sensed God telling them to go the Saturday after Thanksgiving. They ignored God’s counsel and went the following weekend. Their trip was a disaster. They ended up encountering a blizzard, ran off in the ditch which took more than an hour to get out of, two flat tires, a can of frozen Fix-A-Flat, subzero temperatures, and a dead battery. To top it all off, the tree was 3 feet too tall. In hind-site, he wishes that they had followed God’s leading and went when he prompted them to. Seeking God’s counsel and following it is always a safer route than doing things on our own.
In verse 22 we are shown two characteristics of God, his kindness and his sternness. Kindness, in the original Greek, is a reference to moral goodness, integrity, and benignity. God is all these things, but he is also stern which means severe, rough, and rigorous. If we only focus on God’s kindness, we tend to view him as a doting father, but if we focus only on his sternness, we might see him as a ruthless tyrant. We must consider all of his attributes to begin to grasp who God is.
There are hundreds of names for God and each one exemplifies who he is. Here is a partial list of Hebrew names for God and their English meanings:
Adonai: The Lord our Sovereign
El – Elyon: The Lord Most High
El – Olam: The Everlasting God
El – Shaddai: The God who is sufficient for the needs of his people.
Jehovah – Elohim: The Eternal Creator
Jehovah – Jireh: The Lord our Provider
Jehovah – Nissi: The Lord our Banner
Jehovah – Ropheka: The Lord our Healer
Jehovah – Shalom: The Lord our Peace
Jehovah – Tsidkenu: The Lord our Righteousness
Jehovah – Mekaddishkem: The Lord our Sanctifier
Jehovah – Shammah: The Lord is Present
God is complex and his love for us is great, and yet he is also a holy God who will judge us in the end. We can’t cling to one aspect of his character and ignore the others. If we do, we end up with a skewed view of who he is and what we can expect from him. He is multi-faceted.
The encouraging thing about all of it is this great, magnificent, all-powerful, and multi-faceted God makes a way for all men to share in his mercy. He has grafted the Gentiles into the vine of his kingdom and for that he is worthy of praise!