************ Sermon on 2 Chronicles 27 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 22, 2015
2 Chronicles 27
2 Chronicles 27:6
"Walking Steadfastly Before the Lord"
Jotham was one of the lesser known kings of Judah. His life and reign are recorded in 2 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 27. Jotham was the eleventh king of Judah.
I Two Righteous Kings
A To understand and appreciate Jotham we have to spend a few moments looking at his father, King Uzziah. Uzziah "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chron 26:4); in other words, he was a godly man. Uzziah masterminded the construction of fortress towers in Jerusalem at various points on the walls. He also undertook massive agricultural projects in the desert as well as the foothills and plains. He reorganized the army. He pioneered the use of advanced weapons such as catapults to hurl arrows and large stones a great distance.
Uzziah's power and accomplishments led to pride, which proved to be his downfall (2 Chron 26:16; cf Prov 16:18; 18:12). In his pride he presumed to offer incense in the temple, something which only the priests could do. Azariah the priest and eighty other courageous priests of the Lord confronted him and condemned him for this (2 Chron 26:17-18). Uzziah responded in rage. While he was raging at the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead. The Lord's judgment declared the priests to be right and Uzziah to be wrong. The leprosy rendered Uzziah ceremonially unclean so he had to leave the temple at once (2 chron 26:20).
You know what Uzziah did? He offered unauthorized fire. Maybe he thought to himself that it was okay because it was fire to the Lord. But the Lord does not take it lightly when fire is offered to Him at a time and place and by a person who is not authorized. Do you remember what happened to Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, when they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord? Though they were the sons of the high priest, fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them (Lev 10:1-3).
Uzziah offered unauthorized fire and was struck with leprosy. So, until the day of his death, Uzziah had to be quarantined. He lived in a separate house. He continued to look after his livestock, fields, and vineyards, but it was his son, Jotham, who presided over the government. Even in death Uzziah was ostracized because of his disease and was buried near his fathers, not with them (2 Chron 26:23).
We learn from Uzziah that even the godliest of men can fall into the most serious of sins. The man and woman of God must constantly be on guard lest they fall the way Uzziah did. As Paul warns us, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Cor 10:12).
B Jotham was 25 years old at the time his father was struck with leprosy. He became king in all but name. Yet, Jotham was careful to honor his father. Our Bible reading tells us it was Jotham who conquered the Ammonites and that for three successive years he compelled them to pay an annual tribute of a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand cors of wheat, and ten thousand cors of barley (2 Chron 27:5). Yet, one chapter earlier it is reported that the Ammonites brought their tribute to Uzziah (2 Chron 26:8). By forcing the Ammonites to do this, Jotham continued to recognize his father as king. He loyally observed the fifth commandment by ruling in his father's name.
It does not surprise us, then, to read that Jotham "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chron 27:2). Jotham was a godly king whose name appears in the genealogy of Jesus (Mt 1:9).
Jotham was a godly king, just like his father Uzziah. "But unlike him he did not enter the temple of the Lord" (2 Chron 27:2). That is, he did not offer unauthorized fire. He did not presume to do the duties of the priests. By continuing his father's building projects and by conquering the Ammonites he showed himself to be just as successful as his father; yet, he did not allow pride to take over.
C In Jotham, Judah had a godly king. However, the Bible tells us Judah did not have a godly people: "The people, however, continued their corrupt practices" (2 Chron 27:2). What is Scripture talking about? The great prophets -- Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah -- exercised their ministries in Jotham's days, and in their pages we have graphic pictures of the moral condition of the time. What was happening? The increasing corruption of the northern kingdom was permeating Judah. For instance, the people were offering sacrifices and burning incense on high places (2 Ki 15:35); that is, they were practicing idolatry. The order of the day included unjust laws, oppressive decrees, the poor were deprived of their rights, widows were preyed upon, the fatherless were robbed (Is 10:1-2). They looked to Egypt and Pharaoh for protection rather than to the Lord (Is 30:2-3). There is faithlessness, cursing, lying, murder, stealing, adultery, and bloodshed (Hosea 4:1-2).
It must have been a struggle, but Jotham was a righteous man in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
II Jotham's Walk
A The focus of our text this evening is Jotham's godly walk before the Lord: "Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord" (2 Chron 27:6).
This means Jotham followed a road or path. A road or path speaks of two things. It speaks of the journey itself. And, it speaks of the destination.
"Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord" (2 Chron 27:6). First of all, the journey. By the grace of God, he chose to walk the path of righteousness. By the grace of God he chose not to walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight was in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditated day and night (Ps 1:1-2). He did not move to the left or to the right but kept his life and his feet on the path of the Lord. He was unwavering in his commitment.
"Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord" (2 Chron 27:6). Secondly, the goal. By the grace of God, he sought first the Kingdom and its righteousness. He set his heart on things above, not on earthly things.
Jotham had a choice, of course. He could have chosen to walk the same path and have the same goal as did the people of Judah.
"Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord" (2 Chron 27:6). How do you walk? What is the path you are following? What is the goal of your life? Do you follow the path of righteousness? Do you live as one who has been raised with Christ? Do you set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God?
B "Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord" (2 Chron 27:6). The name for Lord is YHWH. This is the name of the Lord God Who made the heavens and the earth. This is the name of Lord God Who made man in His image. This is the name of the Lord God Who made a covenant with mankind. This is the name of the Lord God Who came looking when man first fell into sin. This is the name of the Lord God Who announced that the seed of the woman would crush Satan's head. This is the name of the Lord God Who keeps all His promises. This is the name of the Lord God Who so rules all things that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty come to us not by chance but from His Fatherly hand. This is the name of the Lord God Who loves us in Jesus Christ.
Jotham walked steadfastly before this Lord.
C "Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord" (2 Chron 27:6). A literal translation is "before the face" of the Lord. This suggests that as Jotham ordered his ways he was conscious of the presence of the Lord. He constantly looked to the face of the Lord to see what pleased Him and then ordered his life accordingly. Think of a little child who keeps an eye on his parents to see what pleases them, and acts accordingly. Jotham did this with the Lord God.
"Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord" (2 Chron 27:6). He did this his entire life. Unlike his father, Uzziah, who faltered towards the end of his life, Joatham kept his eyes on the Lord. Uzziah took his eye off the path and off the prize and for this he was struck with leprosy.
The question is: Do we walk steadfastly before the Lord? The Lord is also our God. The covenant that He made with Israel is still in force today. It is no longer limited just to the Jews but is a covenant with Jew and Gentile alike. So, where are your eyes focused? On the world? On your friends? On TV? On work? On the internet? On video games? On sports and recreation? On money? On family and children? Do you consciously and deliberately keep your eyes on the Lord and the things of the Lord?
"Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord" (2 Chron 27:6). Can this be said about you?
III Jotham Grew Powerful
A By every measure, Jotham was a successful ruler. He expanded and strengthened the kingdom. It was a time of great prosperity. He had a personal relationship with the Lord. He practiced what he preached. Our text sums this all up by saying "Jotham grew powerful" (2 Chron 27:6).
The phrase "grew powerful" is used in various passages with various kings of Judah. It means to be confirmed or established. It involves gaining firm control over the reins of government and even gaining power over the surrounding nations. For example, for a time David was king only of Judah and not Israel. And, after David became king over all Israel, he also subdued the surrounding nations that had plagued Israel over several centuries.
This was also true for Jotham. For a while he ruled under the shadow of his father. But when his father died he took effective control of the reins of government. He strengthened Judah militarily. He conquered the Ammonites.
B Now, our text says "Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God" (2 Chron 27:6). Don't misunderstand this to mean that Jotham earned the blessing of the Lord. This was not a blessing Jotham earned. It was a blessing of grace received on the basis of the atonement of Christ which was to come. It was a blessing of God's covenant relationship with Jotham.
Within this covenant relationship, Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord and was richly blessed.
C In this, Jotham was a type of Christ. More than anyone else, it was Jesus Who "walked steadfastly before the LORD his God." He walked the way of the cross and the grave. He lived a life of perfect obedience. He never once took His eyes off the Father and His will.
Because Jesus walked steadfastly before the LORD His God, He too grew powerful. That is, God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:9-11). Unlike Jotham, this blessing on Jesus was earned. It was God's great blessing on Jesus for His perfect life and perfect sacrifice upon the cross.
IV Possible in Christ
Within the covenant relationship we, too, are called to walk steadfastly before the Lord and we, too, will be richly blessed. Again, this is only a gift of God's grace. It is not a gift that we earn.
Do you walk steadfastly before the LORD? This is only possible in and through and because of the power of Christ. By ourselves, you see, we are powerless. Due to our depravity we would never walk in the ways of the Lord and would always keep our eyes on something or someone other than God.
What has God done? By the grace of God, you and I have died with Christ and have been raised with Christ. We are renewed in the power of the cross and the grave so we can order our paths according to God's covenant ways. This does not happen automatically but only as we cling to the cross and the grave.
So what happens? We put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature. We put on the new self. We set our minds on things above. We clothe ourselves with the compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love of Christ. This is what happens when we cling to the cross and the grave.
How amazing! How wonderful!
So let me ask again: Do you walk steadfastly before the Lord your God?
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