2 Chronicles 23:16-21 (Part 2) – Is God Really A Brutal God in the Old Testament?

Posted: September 30, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 23:16-21 (Part 2 of 2)

Jehoiada’s Religious Reforms

Opening Illustration/Comments

Why is it that all the bad people in the Old Testament are summarily killed in the Old Testament? Here, we see an admittedly evil queen get deposed from the throne that she took by force. It was a throne that she had no right to take, of course. She was a bad seed. She was not God’s representative king for the people of Judah. She was intent on pursuing her own interests and her own religion and forcing all of that on the people of Judah. She deserved to be deposed. But did she deserved to be taken out by the sword or whatever means of death it was? There seems to be a lot of steely-edged vengeance in the Old Testament that God either directed or He condoned. Why?

I think the answer lies in the fact that God is only patient with us to a point. When God created the world, it was perfect and sinless until Adam and Eve sinned. In ruining the state of perfection of the Garden of Eden and thus the whole world, it seems that God should have ended it all right there. Adam and Eve should have died in their imperfection in the presence of a perfect and holy God. the first man and woman should have died right then, but God is patient and gave them a “grace period,” covering their sin by sacrificing animals (when He made coats of skins in Genesis 3:21) in their place; sin is punishable by death, so something had to die (Hebrews 9:22). Abel followed this pattern (Genesis 4:4), as did Noah (Genesis 8:20), Abraham (Genesis 22:13), and the Israelites. These animal sacrifices were not sufficient to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4)—only a perfect, sinless sacrifice, fulfilled in the death of Jesus Christ, could (Hebrews 4:15, 9:13–14). It was Christ’s sacrifice alone that was sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). The infinite Son died to pay the penalty for the infinite punishment from an infinitely Holy God.

In the time of the Great Flood, the people were offered the Ark but almost all rejected it. Only Noah’s family had the faith to embrace God’s way. The people who died in the flood were without excuse. In Sodom and Gomorrah, God was willing to spare the whole region of people if there found to be even 10 righteous people. The entire region rejected God as there were no righteous people to be found. Even if just 10 were found the whole area would have been spared. The plagues of Egypt could have easily been avoided if the Pharoah would simply have acknowledged that he was inferior to the one true God. On entry to the Promised Land, the Canaanites were actively rejecting God. The Amorites’ sin had reached its full measure and it was time for judgment. Leviticus 18:2–30 points out the horrendous crimes that were going on in the land of Canaan. They were having sex with their mothers, sisters, and so on. Men were having sex with other men. They were giving their children to be sacrificed to Molech (vs. 21). They were having sex with animals (vs. 23). So it is impossible to make the claim that those tribes were innocent and undeserving of punishment. Again and again, throughout the Old Testament, we see that God is a patient God but that man continues to shake his fist at Him and eventually the sins of the rejectors in the Old Testament were allowed to suffer the consequences of the rejection.

Even in the New Testament era in which we live, God has provided a means of salvation from the eternal destiny that we all deserve. However, man continues to reject God. How long will God’s patience continue. All that God wants is for us to understand that He loves us and only wants the best for through our obedience to His decrees and commands. Yet, we live in a time where man continues on his quest to deny the existence of God and to seek our own pleasures and coat in a covering of enlightened tolerance of all things and all behaviors. We feel today that we have outgrown God and that self-actualization (being all that we desire ourselves to be) is the true god of man. For us today, we think that anything that inhibits my own self-expression is intolerant and wrong. How much like the Old Testament rejectors of God are we?

It is that idea of God being a patient God but all patience, even God’s, is limited that I thought of this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 23:16-21. Let us read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

16 Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and the king and the people that they would be the Lord’s people. 17 And all the people went over to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They demolished the altars and smashed the idols, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

18 Jehoiada now put the priests and Levites in charge of the Temple of the Lord, following all the directions given by David. He also commanded them to present burnt offerings to the Lord, as prescribed by the Law of Moses, and to sing and rejoice as David had instructed. 19 He also stationed gatekeepers at the gates of the Lord’s Temple to keep out those who for any reason were ceremonially unclean.

20 Then the commanders, nobles, rulers, and all the people of the land escorted the king from the Temple of the Lord. They went through the upper gate and into the palace, and they seated the king on the royal throne. 21 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was peaceful because Athaliah had been killed.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that that Athaliah met with a gruesome end. It seems always to be the case whether in Old Testament times or not, evil implodes upon us when we participate in it. It is the reason that God is against that which is evil. He knows that it will cause us pain and suffering and will eventually lead to our own ruin. When we actively reject Him, we will follow our own sinful heart’s desires. When we think only of ourselves, like Athaliah, in a world full of interconnected people, we cause damage to all with our own selfishness. God is calling us to Him through His patient love, but He will allow us to suffer the consequences of our sins. He is not a vengeful God. He simply allows the consequences of our sins to take their course. If we persist in rejecting Him and embrace evil, selfish desires, all of it will eventually snowball over us and destroy us in its avalanche.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is that we must not read the Old Testament as God being a vengeful God. We should see how incredibly patient God is with His people and with people in general. By all rights, God should be pretty fed up with us as a human race. We really have messed things up pretty badly. God’s patience is limited and He will put an end to the existence that we know one day. He is patiently waiting for all of us to see the light and the way out of sin’s consequence that He provided in salvation through Jesus Christ. Let us then look at the Old Testament as a way to look at ourselves and our world. The Old Testament is a mirror to mankind of how desperately evil we are and how evil we are to each other. The Old Testament should point us to a patient and loving God who provided us the ark of salvation in Jesus Christ. Take the life line and be drawn to the ark from the seas of evil and sin and come aboard God’s safety and security for eternity.

Amen and Amen.

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