February 17th, 2013
2 Chronicles 28 (2 Kings 16; Isaiah 7:1-14)
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. — Leviticus 19:18
- Ahaz rules Judah for 16 years, from about 732 to 715 B.C. (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 574)
- He did not plunge into idolatry for want of good advice. The greatest of the prophets stood beside him. Isaiah addressed to him remonstrances which might have made the most reckless pause, and promises which might have kindled hope and courage in the bosom of despair. Hosea in the northern kingdom, Micah in Judah, and other less brilliant names were amongst the stars which shone even in that dark night. But their light was all in vain. The foolish lad had got the bit between his teeth, and, like many another young man, thought to show his “breadth” and his “spirit” by neglecting his father’s counselors, and abandoning his father’s faith. (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 215)
- The Chronicler’s account of the reign of Ahaz is of considerable strategic importance in his treatment of the history of Judah. It was the period during which the Northern Kingdom went into exile; though the Chronicler is silent on that subject, it paved the way for his portrayal of a reunited Israel under Hezekiah (29:8-10; 30:1-31:1). (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 219)
- In the whole history of the southern kingdom up to this point, “only the reign of Ahaz” (says Williamson) “is recorded without a single redeeming feature”. (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 235)
- (vss. 1-4) Ahaz had become as evil as the Canaanites of long ago whose evil practices had brought the divine judgment of Israel’s conquest against them (see Gn 15:18-21; Dt 18:9-12). (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 406)
- (v. 3) This valley outside of Jerusalem, part of the ancient boundary between Judah and Benjamin, had an evil association with idolatrous practices, and particularly with human sacrifice (see 33:6; Jer 7:31-32); its name in Hebrew, Gehenna, became another word for hell (for example, Mt 5:22; Mk 9:43; Jas 3:6). For Ahaz to offer incense (the same Hebrew word is used in 38:2 and in 26:16, where Uzziah’s sacrilegious act is described) in this evil place confirms that he is not merely a passive participant in obscene rites, but an active leader. (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 207)
- (v. 3) The ritual of child sacrifice was associated with the Ben Hinnom Valley (33:6; Jer 7:31-32); other passages also allude to the practice (Lv 20:1-5; 2 Kgs 3:26-27, 23:10; Mic 6:7; Ez 16:20-21). The purpose of such offerings is not known, though the context of Dt 18:10 suggests they were used at least in part for divination. (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 221)
- (v. 5) The Chronicler links religious apostasy and military defeat as cause and effect. Ahaz breaks the first two of the Ten Commandments by using images in his perverse worship of alien gods. He incurs the covenant curse of defeat in battle. (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 358)
- (v. 9) The northern prophet “Oded” is otherwise unknown, but he was God’s spokesman for warning the Ephramites that those who serve as the Lord’s instruments for punishment must not exceed their appointed mission (cf. Is 10:5-19). Their own standing, he observed, was hardly guiltless (2 Chr 28:10, 13). (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 527)
- (v. 9) The expression reaches to heaven probably had two connotations in this context. It meant that their rage was very great and that it had gained the attention of heaven (see Ezra 9:6). The Chronicler already indicated the large numbers of Judeans who lost their lives; the prophet announced that this excess had not gone unnoticed (see Zec 1:15; Is 10:12; 40:2). (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 408)
- (v. 10) Enslaving fellow Israelites was forbidden in Mosaic Law (see Lv 25:39-55; Ex 21:8; Neh 5:8). This accusation was particularly poignant in light of Northerners’ resistance to the labor policies of Solomon and Rehoboam (see 11:4). (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 408-09)
- (vss. 16-18) King Ahaz now found himself set upon from all sides. In the north there was the menace of Israel. From the northeast king Rezin of Aram had put the king of Judah squarely in his sights. Sensing a golden opportunity, the Edomites in the south threw off the Davidic yoke that they had sporadically labored under for so many years (v 17; see also 2 Kgs 16:6). Even the Philistines were able to make territorial gains among the towns of Judah in the western foothills (v 18). (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 322)
- (v. 19) The Chronicler seems to assume that in the course of the period covered by chapter 28 the series of northern kings came to an end with the collapse of the northern state and the deportation of many of its inhabitants to the other side of the Assyrian empire (cf. 30:6). From now on until the fall of Judah there was only one royal personage for the covenant people. The Chronicler appears to be making a threefold declaration of this new phenomenon toward the end of the chapter by calling Ahaz “king of Israel” (v 19) and speaking of his subjects as “all Israel” (v 23)–but in a bitterly negative context–and even calling the span of Judean monarchs “kings of Israel” (v 27). (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 360)
The questions to be answered are . . . Why is Pastor Keith so geeked about this chapter? What can we learn from 2 Chronicles 28? Why should we even care to spend the time looking at this obscure OT story?
Answer: Pastor Keith is geeked about 2 Chronicles 28 because he has discovered that Jesus was geeked about 2 Chronicles 28. And since Pastor Keith is a disciple or a Christ follower, and has endeavored, as much as he is able, to make Jesus’ passions his own, Pastor Keith has spent considerable time trying to discover what was going through Jesus’ mind when he made reference to this story. I believe a thorough investigation of 2 Chronicles 28, not only will give us a better understanding of our desperate need for Jesus, but will also help us to grasp a little more clearly what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. We should spend time looking at 2 Chronicles 28 because the theme of Jesus’ legendary parable of the Good Samaritan is based upon this passage.
The Word for the Day is . . . Reform
What do we need to learn from 2 Chronicles 28 that will better help us understand the teaching of Jesus?:
I. Ahaz invested in a wrong reformation by walking in the way of the Kings of Israel. WHO WILL YOU FOLLOW? (2 Chr 28:1-5a)
While his grandson Manasseh might have excelled him in his devotion to the more unsavory aspects of idol worship, Manasseh at least came to repentance later in life. For Ahaz, we see no shaft of light whatever to relieve the gloom. His sins were so great that, in the end, Judah was unable to recover from them. As a promoter of evil among his people (28:19), he had produced a wound Jeremiah the prophet would later pronounce “incurable” (Jer 30:12). (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 314)
Ahaz could not make the godly boast, as his ancestor Abijah had once done to Jeroboam and the Israelites, “The LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him” (13:10). Instead, he was guilty of all the same things for which Abijah had long ago reproved his brothers to the north. He made cast idols just as Jeroboam had done (v 2; compare with 13:8). He sold his soul into the service of gods that were not gods (vv 2, 4, 23-25; compare with 13:9). He practiced and promoted idolatrous worship on the high places (v 4; compare with 1 Kgs 13:33, 34). Worst of all, just like Jeroboam, Ahaz prevented his people from finding God in the temple, the only place where the true God could be found (28:24, 25; compare with 1 Kgs 12:26-30). (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 315)
Taking his cue from Kings, the Chronicler views Ahaz as an OT version of Judas. No other Davidic king is portrayed in such disparaging terms: he is another Saul or Athaliah. Ahaz’s reign is a picture of the potential of human nature to debase itself and crash headlong into a barrier of providential reprisal. Davidic kingship reaches its lowest point in the person of Ahaz. It is not surprising therefore that a motif of exile runs all through this chapter. (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 358)
Perhaps the most striking comment in this resume is the observation that King Ahaz is guilty of perpetuating the very sins for which God previously judged the indigenous Canaanites (28:3; cf. Dt 18:9-13). The remark foreshadows the Babylonian exile, given the threat attached to the so-called “vomit theology” of the Mosaic code. Imitating the abominable practices of Canaanite religion will put Israel at risk of divine judgment and jeopardize their claim to the land of covenant promise (cf. Lv 18:24-28). (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 574-75)
The idolatry of Ahaz has even greater affinities to the reign of King Ahab of Israel, however, in that both Ahaz and Ahab “institutionalize” the worship of false gods as the state religion of their respective kingdoms. In each case, the kings “provoke the anger of the LORD” and set in motion a course of events that inevitably culminates in exile (note 28:9, 11, 13 on “the anger of the LORD;” cf. 1 Kgs 16:32-33; 2 Chr 36:16). (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 578)
Contrast the fortunes of Jeroboam (“God delivered them into their hand, and Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter,” (13:16-17) with those of Ahaz (“he was delivered into the hand of the king of Israel who smote him with a great slaughter,” 28:5). At the time of Abijah it was Israel that was subjugated (13:18), whereas at the time of Ahaz, it was Judah (28:19). Ahaz is the only king of Judah for whom the Chronicler does not mention at least some redeeming feature; Ahaz is the antithesis of Abijah and the shadow of Jeroboam. (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 220)
II. Ahaz invested in a wrong reformation by seeking an alliance with Assyria. WHO DO YOU TRUST? (2 Chr 28:16-21)
It’s at this point that Ahaz committed the greatest political and spiritual blunder of his life. “King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help” (v 16). This demonstrated about the same intelligence as the chicken who invited the wolf into the hen house because she was tired of all the other hens picking on her. (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 322)
His brothers in Israel had heard stern messages of hard judgment and had responded in repentance and faith (28:12-15). Ahaz, by contrast, heard a message full of comfort yet responded in rank unbelief. God invited him to ask for a sign to confirm the gracious promise of help. And when Ahaz refused, right across the face of his unbelief God wrote the greatest sign of all: the sign of the virgin-born Immanuel (Isa 7:14).
Never had a king received so much and done so little with it. Ahaz preferred the help of a vicious Assyrian tyrant to the help of a gracious God. (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 322-23)
It seems unlikely that these verses refer to the same incident as that in 2 Kgs 16:10-14. There we are told that King Ahaz was summoned to Damascus to meet his overlord. Tiglath-Pileser. While in that city, his faithless heart was captivated by a magnificent altar. He sent back plans of it to Uzziah the priest so that a copy of it could be erected in the temple of the Lord. (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 324)
In order to regain some semblance of security, Ahaz made a deal that backfired on him. He entered an alliance with Assyria, which was creating havoc in the Northern Kingdom. Assyria was more than willing to take all the treasures out of the Temple which Ahaz offered in payment. The king even worshiped the Assyrian gods–and received nothing in return. Of all the nations that conquered Israel from time to time, the Assyrians were the most barbaric and least trustworthy. (Broadman & Holman Pub, Shepherd’s Notes, 1, 2 Chr, 80-81)
One gets the impression that for the Chronicler each generation contained within it the seeds of exile, which it might cultivate into noxious weeds or with God’s help firmly suppress. The former, negative potential finds sinister illustration in the reign of Ahaz. Indeed, God’s help was so disdained that the Assyrian king–and later “the gods of Damascus” (v 23)–was put in His place, and to Judah found that it had leapt out of the frying pan only to land in an Assyrian fire. The Chronicler is preaching a strong warning of the awful fate that can overwhelm the apostate. (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 359)
The heavy losses suffered at the hands of the invading Israelites and Arameans (28:5-15) force Ahaz to seek the “help” (28:16) of Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria (745-727 B.C.). This dangerous diplomacy of playing one ancient superpower (i.e., Assyria) against another (i.e., Egypt) as an ally in petty border wars with neighboring nations was a ploy of the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II–a tactic soundly condemned by Hosea the prophet (Hos 7:11). (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 576-77)
Ahaz’s “time of trouble” (2 Chr 28:22) affords the king the opportunity to seek the Lord in penitent prayer–a providential act of divine grace, in a way. But instead of turning to God and heeding Isaiah’s injunction to fear the Lord (Is 7:13), he strays even further from Yahweh’s covenant moorings by worshiping the gods of the victorious Syrians or Arameans (2 Chr 28:23). (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 577)
In 734 B.C., in an act that amounted to a breach of faith with God, Ahaz threw himself at the feet of Assyria’s rulers for rescue and help. Isaiah had opposed this ill-advised act as being both useless and faithless (Is 7:4-7). By his course what Ahaz really did was to place Judah under the iron heel of Tiglath-pileser to cause the deportation of three and one-half of the tribes of Israel to Assyria in 733 (2 Kgs 15:29), followed by the remaining six and one-half tribes eleven years later (17:6) and eventually, in 701, to bring about Judah’s own devastation by the armies of Senacherib (18:13). (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 527)
III. Israel invested in a wrong reformation by thinking they could plunder Judah. WHAT CAN TRULY BRING REFORMATION? (2 Chr 28:1-5a)
As far as Oded was concerned, at issue here was the question, Who is my brother, and how should I treat him? (See v 11, where “fellow countrymen” would better be translated “brothers.” The same word is also found in v 15, where the NIV translates it as fellow countrymen again, and in v 8, where the NIV has “kinsmen.”) (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 318-19)
At that key moment, some of the leaders in Israel stepped forward. Struck by the prophet’s words and horrified by what they saw, they confronted their own army: “You must not bring those prisoners here,” they said, “or we will be guilty before the LORD” (v 13). Clearly these were men who had heard the prophet’s warnings–not only Oded’s, but also the warnings of all the prophets whom God had sent to Israel. They recognized that they were a nation out of plumb and ripe for judgment, just as the prophet Amos had said (Amos 7:8). “Our guilt is already great, and his fierce anger rests on Israel” (v 13). (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 319-20)
Arrogance and faith make poor bedfellows, for divine love and human humility are simultaneously affirmed by faith and denied by arrogance. “Do not boast,” warned Paul, or else these smart alecks would find the present fate of the Jews their own. (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 362-63)
According to Dillard, Israel oversteps its bounds in the excessive zeal shown in the wanton slaughter of the Judahites (28:9). Beyond this, enslaving fellow Hebrews was forbidden by law of Moses, thus, Israel adds to its guilt and risks divine wrath (28:10-11; cf. Lv 25:39-55). The Chronicler’s positive portrayal of the northern kingdom should not go unnoticed, as he links both Israel and Judah to the same God (Yahweh [NIV LORD], 2 Chr 28:10) and identifies the citizenry of each as “fellow countrymen” (28:11). (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 576)
The story of the returned exiles is meant, not to redeem the northern kingdom, but to shame the community of the faithful. Even these northern sinners, who freely acknowledge their sin, can act in accordance with the righteous dictates of God. True, they act out of self-interest, to avoid divine wrath. But nonetheless, they do good. Christian readers may be reminded of Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37), which indeed may have been inspired by this passage in Chronicles. There as here, expectations are confounded. Goodness turns up in unexpected places, shaming those who should themselves have been the examples of righteousness. (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 209)
When as they are about to enter in unbrotherly triumph, a prophet of the Lord went out to them; of no great importance, as men generally would have judged; single-handed, with none to back him. He goes forth, and addressing not the chiefs alone with whispers of policy, but the host great and small, calls on them to forego their brethren whom the fortune of war had put into their power. His argument is striking. There is no mention of Assyria, as there might have been, and of the importance of a united front; no flattery or appeal to desire for generous fame. Solemnly he points out that Judah’s defeat is the penalty of Judah’s sin. That in the slaughter of such multitudes as they put to death they have already committed crimes enough. That to enslave their brethren would be to provoke the anger of their Father God still more, and therefore they should liberate those whom they intended to enslave. (Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator, 2 Chronicles, 126)
Oded deserved to succeed, for he had said to the victors that they ought to forgive because they themselves needed to be forgiven (v 10), and had told them that the captives were their brethren (v 11). (Abingdon Press, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol. 3, 517-18)
CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What does this message have to do with Christ and me?
A. Any reformation that fails to see Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life will ultimately demonstrate itself to be a wrong reformation. (Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tm 2:1-7)
I think God is saying, “I want you to meet the needs of other people with all of the joy, all of the eagerness, all of the urgency, all of the ingenuity, creativity, and industry with which you meet your own needs. That’s the standard. That’s how I want you to live your life.” (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 40)
The reign of the house of David was nearing its end and the promise had not been fulfilled. The chronicler prepared his reader well for that conclusion. At this stage in the book, the readers had come to expect that the fulfillment of the promise to David lay in a future Davidic King far removed from the present kings of Judah. The hope of the chronicler and his readers was not tied to the shifting moorings of the historical kingdom. His hope was in the One called the “Prince of Peace,” whose kingdom will have no end (Is 9:6-7). (John Sailhamer, Everyman’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 105)
Christian exclusivism imparts a comfort and a sense of security perilously close to complacency and self-sufficiency. (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 363)
To find help from anyone but God was to rebel against God. In this regard, the Chronicler’s perspective was very similar to that of Isaiah (see Is 30:1-5; 31:1-3). Only God was to be the source of help for the people of God, but Ahaz turned to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria for assistance instead. (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 411)
What is the meaning of the unrest and distraction that marks the lives of most of the men in this generation? Why is it that you hurry from business to pleasure, from pleasure to business, until it is scarcely possible to get a quiet breathing time for thought at all? Why is it but because one after another of your gods have proved insufficient, and so fresh altars must be built for fresh idolatries, and new experiments made, of which we can safely prophesy the result will be the old one. You are seeking what you will never find. The many pearls that you seek will never be enough for you. The true wealth is One, One pearl of great price. (Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator, 2 Chronicles, 130)
The multiplicity and specificity of the connections are just too strong to ignore. But a mere drawing of linking lines between people, places, and events hardly illumines the hermeneutical significance of Jesus’ utilization of the Chronicles tradition in his parable. Of course, the issue may not really be a hermeneutical one at all. Conceivably one could claim that Jesus simply employs the furniture of the Chronicles narrative for illustrative purposes and that his parabolic message is essentially independent of his OT source. But this rather cavalier approach to OT material is not characteristic of Jesus’ teaching methodology taken as a whole, and we feel that further research into the above parallels between 2 Chronicles 28 and Luke 10 will demonstrate a real sensitivity on Jesus’ part to the broad structural and thematic context of the Chronicles passage and how this context relates to the emphases of the parable of the Good Samaritan. (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 321-22)
The lawyer inquires after Jesus only because “he desires to justify himself” (v 29 ). Typical of the Pharisaic mind-set as depicted in the Gospels, this legal expert imagines himself to be thoroughly self-righteous. He merely seeks clarification on the identity of his neighbors, not to learn and grow in righteousness, but in order to corroborate his own smug personal appraisal that indeed he had already fulfilled the stipulations of the second great commandment.
But Jesus throws the self-satisfied lawyer off-guard. He tells the parable which unmistakably features the noble deeds of a hated Samaritan (from the lawyer’s perspective) and follows by asking the lawyer: “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Lk 10:36). The lawyer, choking on the obvious response, replies with the circumlocution, “the one who had mercy on him” (v 37 ), rather than uttering the loathsome name, “Samaritan.”
The impact is undeniable. Jesus faithfully answers the lawyer’s question by circumscribing the true scope of neighborliness: it even extends to the despised Samaritans (Question: “Who is my neighbor?” Answer: “The one who showed mercy” = Samaritan). This strikes a shattering blow at the lawyer’s self-pronounced justification. If the second great commandment entails loving Samaritans, then he and virtually all Jews must confess to being transgressors. The final exhortation, then—”Go and do likewise” (v 37 )—does not encourage the lawyer to emulate the Samaritan’s kindness as much as it calls for kindness to be shown to the Samaritan, in fact all people, regardless of distinctions. (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 342)
Loving God is the key to loving others and, in fact, the key to all proper ethics and conduct. This has been the ancient understanding of the church, summarized by St. Augustine in his famous epigram, “Love, and do what thou wilt” (Homily 7,8 on 1 John 4:4-12). Augustine had every confidence that if one truly loved God, one would do the right thing in the rest of his life. ( R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 98)
Definition of love that takes God into account and also includes the feelings that should accompany the outward acts of love: Love is the overflow of joy in God which gladly meets the needs of others. (John Piper, Desiring God, 103)
The church is herself only when she exists for humanity…She must take her part in the social life of the world, not lording it over men, but helping and serving them. She must tell men, whatever their calling, what it means to live in Christ, to live for others.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In fact, let me issue a warning: you’re inevitably headed for bitter disillusionment if you try to live out the Golden Rule under your own power, without allowing God to expand your heart and work through your life. If the Golden Rule appeals to your altruistic side and you’re thinking about pursuing it out of your own secular zeal, forget it.
When people don’t reciprocate, when they fail to express gratitude, when they take advantage of your generosity, when nobody seems to care that doing something kind for others is eating up your time, energy, and resources, you’re going to start getting cynical and wondering why you’re bothering.
But the apostle John wrote this about Christians: “We love because (God) first loved us.” He did something for us, and then he does something through us. (Lee Strobel; God’s OUTrageous Claims, 161)
So while she drinks up, he puffs up. While she has ample love to give, he has no love to offer. Why? The (Luke) 7:47 Principle. Read again verse 47 of chapter 7: “A person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Just like the jumbo jet, the 7:47 Principle has wide wings. Just like the aircraft, this truth can lift you to another level. Read it one more time. “A person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” In other words, we can’t give what we’ve never received. If we’ve never received love, how can we love others?
But, oh, how we try! As if we can conjure up love by the sheer force of will. As if there is within us a distillery of affection that lacks only a piece of wood or a hotter fire. We poke it and stoke it with resolve. What’s our typical strategy for treating a troubled relationship? Try harder.
“My spouse needs my forgiveness? I don’t know how, but I’m going to give it.”
“I don’t care how much it hurts, I’m going to be nice to that bum.”
“I’m supposed to love my neighbor? Okay. By golly, I will.”
So we try. Teeth clinched. Jaw firm. We’re going to love if it kills us! And it may do just that.
Could it be we are missing a step? Could it be that the first step of love is not toward them but toward him? Could it be that the secret to loving is receiving? You give love by first receiving it. “We love, because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19 NASB).
Long to be more loving? Begin by accepting your place as a dearly loved child. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us” (Eph 5:1-2 NIV)
Want to learn to forgive? Then consider how you’ve been forgiven. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph 4:32 NIV)
Finding it hard to put others first? Think of the way Christ put you first. “Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God” (Phil 2:6 NLT)
Need more patience? Drink from the patience of God (2 Pt 3:9). Is generosity an elusive virtue? Then consider how generous God has been with you (Rom 5:8). Having trouble putting up with ungrateful relatives or cranky neighbors? God puts up with you when you act the same. “He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Lk 6:35 NIV). (Max Lucado; A Love Worth Giving to You at Christmas, 20-24)
The secret of a happy Christian life is to realize that it is all of grace and rejoice in that fact. ‘So likewise ye,’ says our Lord in another place, ‘when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you say, ‘We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do”.’ That is His view, that is His teaching and is the secret of it all. Was not that His own way? It was, according to St. Paul, who says: ‘Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus’. You see what that means. He did not look at Himself, he did not consider Himself and His own interests only; He made Himself of no reputation, He laid aside the insignia of His eternal Glory. He did not regard His quality with God as something to hold on to and say: ‘Come what may I will not let it go’. Not at all, He laid aside, He humbled Himself, He forgot Himself, and He went through and endured. . . That is the secret, Not watching the clock, not assessing the amount of work, not keeping a record book, but forgetting everything except the glory of God, the privilege of being called to work for Him at all, the privilege of being a Christian, remembering only the grace that has ever looked upon us and removed us from darkness to light. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, 132)
We find our happiness by helping others find theirs. (Patrick Morely, Ten Secrets for the Man in the Mirror, 117)
Those who have a future are those who look outside of themselves. They risk new approaches. They service new people. They exist for others and not themselves. In some ways, it is the safest route to survival. (Leith Anderson, A Church for the 21st Century, 186)
B. Any reformation that fails to promote confession and repentance and allow Christ to make a loving new heart from a sinful, depraved heart will ultimately demonstrate itself to be a wrong reformation. (Psa 51:17; Isa 57:15; 66:1-2; Mt 4:17; 11:20-24; Mk 1:15; Lk 5:23; 10:13-16; 11:32; 13:1-5; 24:46-49; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Rom 2:4; 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Pt 3:9)
Certainly there were other kings who did not heed the call of God and did not repent when they were punished. What is important to see at this stage in the narrative is that the chronicler has made a special point of bringing that feature of Ahaz’s reign into the light. In doing so he is saying that the end of the house of David in the Exile was a result of the kind of hardness of heart exemplified in the reign of Ahaz. He is showing what David has said much earlier: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart” (Ps 51:17). Only when such a King comes will the walls of Jerusalem be rebuilt and will God again delight in burnt offerings (Ps 51:18-19). Until then, the Davidic throne is better left idle than idolatrous.
It is certainly not by accident that the most vivid of all the OT prophecies relating to the coming Davidic King (Messiah) were made during the reign of Ahaz (Is 7:1-12:6). (John Sailhamer, Everyman’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 106)
The conviction of sin, through which Judah has repeatedly been brought back to God, now for the first time comes down upon Israel too. Conviction leads to repentance, and repentance to action: the northerners “took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all that were naked among them; they clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them; and carrying all the feeble among them on asses, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees” (28:15). This astonishing verse, shining like a good deed in a naughty world, is one to which we shall return. (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 237)
It is now the northerners who have the military ascendancy over Judah (vv 5-7), who receive the ministry of a prophet (vv 9ff.), who are susceptible to the appeal to repent and who, in measure, show reverence to the God of Israel (vv 12ff.). Abijah’s boast “we have not forsaken him” (13:10) finds a sad echo in 28:6. What emerges from the role-reversal is that the northerners, despite their long-standing and consistent apostasy, are not guilty, in principle, of any worse an offence than the southerners in their times of unfaithfulness. The way back for all of them (significantly, their relationship is described as that of “kinsfolk”, or more accurately “brothers”, vv 8, 11) is the same, that of repentance. (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 226)
The stereotype of the southerners as good guys and the northerners as bad guys, which the chronicler has partially taken over from his contemporaries, is surprisingly discarded and even reversed at some points. In 28:5 Ahaz experienced “a great slaughter,” which was the fate of the northerners at the hands of Abijah and his people in 13:17. Moreover, formerly Judah received the ministry of the prophet Semaiah and repented in self-humbling in accord with the model of 7:14 (12:5, 6)–and Israel rejected Abijah’s implicit counsel to the northern army to cease their backsliding. Now Israel was privileged to hear the prophet Oded and took a step in the right direction by confessing their backlog of sin and complying with his counsel to “return” the prisoners (28:9-15). It is not difficult to see here subtle echoes of the injunction of 7:14 to “turn from their wicked ways.” (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 361)
The Christian reads verse 15 with a sense of déjà vu. He recalls the parable of the Good Samaritan in Lk 10:25-37. Really the boot is on the other foot: this passage seems to have provided Jesus with literary inspiration for His parable. He spoke it in a century when religious relations between Judah and Samaria had degenerated much further. Yet in the parable it was the Good Samaritan, as we call him, who reflected the love of God in neighborly love, rather than the Judean priest or Levite who both “passed by on the other side.” There is the same reversal of roles as in the Chronicler’s overall story, and both it and our Lord’s parable expound each other well. The northerners’ actions were “works befitting repentance’ (Acts 26:20) or “fruits worthy of repentance” (Mt 3:8). (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 363)
If ever the Chronicler shocked his readers, it must have been here. In this portion of his history the Chronicler had compared the negative behavior of Judah’s king with the evil kings of northern Israel (see 28:2). He also depicted the ruthless attack of Israel against Judah (see 28:5-8). But suddenly the portrait of these Israelites changed dramatically, once they heard the word of a prophet, they turned in radical repentance. This story would have given pause to any post-exilic Judahite who had excluded the possibility of repentance among the northern tribes. The Northerners were fully capable of responding to the call of the prophetic word. (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 410)
The returnees should learn from this contrast that the restored community still faced the dangers of infidelity like Ahaz and those tribes outside the restored community may still find the favor of God through repentance. (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 414)
(1) The author in 2 Chronicles 28 strongly emphasizes that the Israelites, of all peoples, should have known better than to oppress their Judean brothers. After all, these Jerusalemites of southern Palestine were Israel’s fellow-countrymen who had only been delivered into northern hands because of the judgment of God upon Judah’s sins—sins with which Israel herself was all too familiar. Both Oded’s speech (vv 9–11 ) and the reply of the Ephraimite leaders (vv 12–13 ) confirm the appalling unreasonableness of the Israelites’ harsh treatment in view of Israel’s own iniquitous state. Such reaction corresponds with the parabolic implication that of all people, the priest and Levite, as servants of the Lord, should have moved with compassion toward the victim in the ditch rather than spurn the opportunity to minister.
(2) 2 Chronicles 28 does highlight the response of Israel’s leaders to Judah’s suffering. To be sure, the writer does not feature priest and Levite, but rather prophet (Oded) and rulers (Ephraimite chieftains); nevertheless, the focus on leadership provides some bridge with Luke 10. However, we must still admit the antithetical responses of Israel’s leaders in Chronicles and Luke. Chronicles portrays them exhorting the northern soldiers to extend duty-bound, loving ministry to their Judean brothers. Far from displaying the inexcusable apathy of the parable’s priest and Levite, the Chronicler’s prophet and rulers admirably fulfill their expected ministries of benevolence toward their injured neighbors.
Do we then abandon any linkage between Luke 10 and 2 Chronicles 28 at this point? Not necessarily. We must not overlook the possibility that Jesus exploits this dramatic contrast, saying in effect: “We all know from 2 Chronicles 28 how Israel’s leaders should and in fact did respond to their hurting brothers. The incredible situation today is quite the reverse. Would that the contemporary priests and Levites deport themselves as the prophet and rulers of 2 Chronicles 28!”
(3) Though not explicitly discussed in the 2 Chronicles 28 passage, an implied emphasis on cultic personnel may lurk in the not too remote background and still prove significant in relation to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Well-known among the distinctive elements of the Chronicler’s historiography is his special interest in the ministry of the priests and Levites, generally depicted in a favorable light. (F. Scott Spencer, “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 322-23)
If we assume a thorough acquaintance with the entire Chronicles corpus on the part of Jesus and his audience, it may not be stretching the point to claim that Jesus draws a subtle parallel between the priest and Levite in Jerusalem of his day and those of Ahaz’s time. The priesthood of the Chronicler’s description, normally faithful in discharging its duties and expected to continue on that path, shockingly falters in 2 Chronicles 28 and becomes worthy of judgment. Likewise, the priesthood of Jesus’ day, while expected to carry out beneficent duties, ignores its responsibilities by “passing by on the other side” and qualifies for judgment just as surely as the unfaithful clerics in Ahaz’s day. (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 325)
The prophet and rulers in Chronicles respond with active attention favorable to the victims, sternly calling for their release and succor; on the other hand, the priest and Levite in the parable respond with passive indifference to the beaten traveler, totally unconcerned with his plight. Do we then jettison the parallel on the basis of this antithesis? The structural similarities between Chronicles and Luke seem too strong for this approach. A more prudent conclusion substantiates our earlier suggestion that Jesus purposefully exploits this contrast between the prophet/leaders in Israel of Ahaz’s day and the priest/Levite in Israel of his own period. A poignant implication results concerning how the priests and Levites should have responded, namely, in consonance with the actions of Oded and the Ephraimite chieftains in 2 Chronicles 28. (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 327-28)
Most certainly the hostility between Jews and Samaritans had fully matured by the time of Jesus. Neither group would claim the other among its “neighbors.” (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 328)
On the one hand (cf. Keil), due to their rapacious militarism, the Israelites stand guilty before the Lord and just as meritorious of his wrath and judgment as the Judeans they have slaughtered. The speeches of Oded and the Ephraimite leaders make this plain (vv 9–13 ). But the story does not end here; the Israelites realize the error of their malicious treatment and repent. The Samaritans’ gracious ministry of vv 14–15 then ensues, creating a moving scene of repentance and obedience set off in dramatic contrast to the apostasy and disobedience of King Ahaz (cf. Coggins). Others appreciate this element of repentance by the Israelites, notably Williamson, who sees 2 Chr 28 as a momentary fulfillment of Abijah’s invitation in 2 Chr 13 calling for the Northern Kingdom’s return to the Lord.
How does this “repentance” interpretation of the Israelites’ ministry square with the parable of the Good Samaritan? Interestingly, some NT interpreters envision the central thrust of the parable as Jesus’ appeal to the lawyer to repent of his unloving mentality and become truly obedient to Lev 19:18. B. Van Elderen articulates this position built on the linkage between the lawyer’s question—”And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)—and the subsequent parabolic presentation of the Samaritan as the model neighbor. (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 341)
Any interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan must seriously take into account the input and impact of 2 Chr 28:5–15, not simply as supplying circumstantial baggage, but as providing an ideological foundation for the key topics of love, brotherhood, obedience, repentance, and anticlericalism. We contend that Jesus was sensitive to these thematic connections by virtue of his acquaintance with and appreciation for the broad literary setting of the ministerial episode in 2 Chr 28:5–15, including the structural and theological contexts of the entire 2 Chronicles 28 chapter and the books of Chronicles as a whole. No theory of haphazard proof-texting is sufficient to account for the numerous parallels of thought (not merely language and circumstance) we have drawn between the Chronicler and the Parabler. In short, Jesus proves himself a most responsible exegete and expositor of the Chronicles passage. (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 347)
A divided house cannot stand. But if so, how can civilized, let alone noble, life proceed? After all, surely everyone suffers from dividedness. Nobody loves God with a wholly pure and undivided heart. Nobody loves neighbors perfectly. Nobody’s marriage is quite free of contaminants. If dividedness tends to break us down, how do we manage to hold up and go on?
Ideally, by repentance and renewal of mind and heart–that is, by the grace of God working through spiritual disciplines and the support of others. (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 46)
“God justifies the ungodly. And that means that when you are justified, when you are absolutely righteous and loved, absolutely accepted, in yourself you are absolutely unworthy, absolutely sinful’ you’re ungodly, and therefore there is within you absolutely nothing that is the basis of this justification. Nothing!
Now, people have a lot of problem with that. They say, “O my goodness! I’ve got to be good a little bit.”
I once had someone say to me, “If I believe what you believe I would have no incentive to live a good life. And by the way, there are plenty of people who have said that to me over the years. If I believe that I was totally saved , and it had nothing to do with the way that I lived, if it was completely free then I would have no incentive to live a good life.
And here is the proper (I think) response: If when you lose all fear of punishment, you also lose your incentive for living a good life, then the only incentive you had to live a good life was fear. See, if when you lose your fear, you lose your incentive to be good, then the only incentive you had to be good was the fear.
And here is the ironic thing. The fear is selfish. Fear is always selfish. Because I might lose, this might happen, that might happen; I’d better be good. But what is goodness? Goodness is unselfish living, unselfish service to God, unselfish service to be poor, unselfish service to my neighbor. I’m scared that I might be lost unless I’m good, but what is goodness but being unselfish. But don’t you realize that’s incredibly selfish.
When you live a good life so that God will bless you and take you to heaven, it is by definition not good. Because it is all for you. All for you. You’re not helping the poor, you are helping yourself. You’re not helping God, you are helping yourself. This is the reason why the Belgic Confession, an old reformation document from the 17th century puts it like this:
Far from making people cold toward living in a holy way, justifying faith so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned. (a sermon by Tim Keller; “Justified by Faith” 26:30 into the sermon)
The Spirit calls us to an even higher way, to love our neighbor. If we love our neighbor, of course we will not covet what is his, nor in any way do him harm. The Spirit does not just command; He imparts the ability to love–He imparts His love. Jesus did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it–He came to lift us above the Law; He came to give us the power to exceed its requirements. (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 175)
You are to love your neighbor as yourself. You are not to love our neighbor because they are like yourself. What do you mean when you say, “I love you”? Do you mean I love you or do you mean I love what little bit of me that I can detect in you? Which in reality, is not love but arrogance, ego, pride, vanity, and narcissism.
– Pastor Keith
In answering the question of whether he will ever see his wife again, Dosteovsky ignores traditional arguments – from the resurrection of Jesus, say, or need to balance the scales of justice – and turns the document into a kind of personal confession. No one lives up to the ideal, he admits. No one can perfectly love his neighbor as himself. No one can fulfill the law of Christ. God cannot ask so much and be satisfied with so little. We are made for that which is too big for us. It is for this reason, he concludes, that he must believe in an afterlife. Without such belief, our futile struggle to fulfill the law of Christ would have no point. It is our very longing, our failure, our sense of incompleteness that forces us to throw ourselves on God’s mercy. Our imperfection in this life calls for another, more complete realization of that ideal. (Philip Yancey; Soul Survivor, 144)
I know of only two alternatives to hypocrisy: perfection or honesty. Since I have never met a person who loves the Lord our God with all her heart, mind, and soul, and loves her neighbor as herself, I do not view perfection as a realistic alternative. Our only option, then, is honesty that leads to repentance. As the Bible shows, Gods’ grace can cover any sin, including murder, infidelity, or betrayal. Yet by definition grace must be received, and hypocrisy disguises our need to receive grace. When the masks fall, hypocrisy is exposed as an elaborate ruse to avoid grace. (Philip Yancey, What’s so Amazing About Grace? , 204)
When people are right with God, they are apt to be hard on themselves and easy on other people. But when they are not right with God, they are easy on themselves and hard on others. — John Newton.
Until you see you can’t really love you can’t really love. You can only really love when you come to realize you can’t really love. — Tim Keller
C. True reformation can only take place when you discover how much God loves you as demonstrated in the work of Christ on the cross. (Jn 3:16; Rom 5:6-8; 1 Jn 3:16-18; 4:7-21)
In Lk 10 our Lord tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. That memorable story is rooted in this historical account. Both accounts speak to the lawyer’s question, “And who is my neighbor?” (Lk 10:29). Both also answer the question, Who truly belongs to Israel? It is not simply the title, “priest” or “Levite,” that rendered one fit to be counted among the faithful. If a priest’s lack of compassion for a brother in need led him to pass by on the other side, he showed that he had no sense of God’s mercy in his heart. And if a Samaritan–someone who by birth had no right to be counted among God’s people–should come along and demonstrate his faith, then he showed even to the most prejudiced observer that he was a true Israelite indeed. No one truly fears God and deals justly with his neighbor except those who know that their immense debt of sin has been graciously pardoned. (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 320)
Again, the structural similarity between Lk 10:30–35 and 2 Chr 28:5–15 confirms the illustrative value which the Chronicles passage serves for the point Jesus makes. This analysis simply shows that the ministry of the Israelites to their Judean brethren provides an apt OT precursor of the Samaritan’s deeds of love in the NT parable. In both cases, true benevolence moves to totally restore helpless sufferers by overturning every evil effect of violent injury. (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 331)
. . . the Good Samaritan exemplifies what it means to be obedient to the OT law as a true lover of the oppressed neighbor. (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 334)
An apparent disparity, however, arises between Chronicles and Luke when we note the slightly different messages which the ministers of healing are exhorted to obey. The Chronicler’s “Samaritans” are called upon to heed the challenge: “Love your brother” (or “kinsfolk” vv 8, 11, 15). On the other hand, following closely the letter of Lev 19:18, the NT parable cries for action consonant with the injunction: “Love your neighbor” (vv 27, 29, 36).
Nonetheless, a closer examination of brother-neighbor terminology in the ancient world as well as the larger context of Leviticus 19 reveals a tight linkage between 2 Chr 28 and Lk 10 on this matter of obedience to OT law, even to the point of suggesting that Oded, like Jesus, consciously refers to the Lev 19 section of Pentateuchal legislation.
We must not drive a wedge too sharply between the ideas of “brother” and “neighbor” in biblical thought. Examples from the Hebrew OT, LXX, and QL (with a special eye to Lev 19) will suffice to disclose an intimate correlation between “brother” and “neighbor”. (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 335)
Describing both 2 Chr 28:5–15 and the parable of the Good Samaritan as exposition of Lev 19:18 unquestionably strengthens the claim that the 2 Chronicles passage in some way underlies the parable. If this is so, then we find Jesus employing the hermeneutical technique of explaining Scripture (Lev 19:18) with Scripture (2 Chr 28). Furthermore, he identifies his own interpretation of Lev 19:18 (manifest in the parable) with that of Scripture itself (manifested in 2 Chr 28). (F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 337)
In dealing with this lawyer, Jesus had to break down his pride and conceit, rather than to teach him to be kind, helpful, humanitarian, and benevolent. The lawyer did not need a lesson in helping someone in need; rather he needed a lesson in what it means to be human within the framework of the grace (and the law) of God.
The lawyer is not instructed by Jesus primarily to do as the Samaritan did (i.e., help someone in need), but rather to fulfill the commandment of love for his neighbor who, he must recognize, can be a Samaritan—the very person his pride refused to accept. (B. Van Elderen as quoted in F. Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 343)
We need to further explore the power of human love to feed our divine love. Rather than seeing marriage as a cosmic competitor with heaven, we can embrace it as a school of faith. Maximus the confessor (580-662) observed that the love we have for God and the love we have for others are not two distinct loves, but “two aspects of a single total love.” Jesus suggested the same thing, when in response to a question about the “greatest” commandment he declared that there is not just one, but two–not only must we love God, but also our neighbors. (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 267)
But we must be very clear that the great biblical passages on love–those already cited and others, including 1 John 4–do not tell us to act as if we loved God with our whole beings, and our neighbors as ourselves. Such an attempt, without the love of God indwelling us, would be an impossible burden. We would become angry and hopeless–as, in fact, happens to many ministers and their families, trying to be “nice.” (Dallas Willard; The Great Omission, 123-24)
You can only love when you know you have been loved. And only then can you love to the degree that you know you have been loved. — Steve Brown
If you have to ask who your neighbor is it shows your heart. A person who is motivated by love is looking for anything he can do to help his neighbor to satisfy his needs because love is his MO. The lawyer wants to know the minimum standard of what it means to be neighborly in order to satisfy righteousness. But to even ask such a question reveals that you do not love at all but that you are only wanting to do what is necessary to get God off your case. — Pastor Keith
A Black Bishop Preacher in DC one time explained the three views towards money that comes from the 10th chapter of Luke’s Gospel — the story of the Good Samaritan. He said that the view of the thief was “What is yours is mine and I’ll steal it from you if I want it.” The view of the Levite and the Priest was, “What is mine is mine and if you need it you can’t have it.” And finally, the view of the Samaritan was, “What’s mine is yours and if you need it you can have it.”
Spiritual Challenge: Begin to realize that truly loving your neighbor as yourself means that you endeavor . . . “to meet the needs of other people with all of the joy, all of the eagerness, all of the urgency, all of the ingenuity, creativity, and industry with which you meet your own needs” (Tim Keller). How ya doin? Me too! Repent. Seek the Lord. Look to Jesus for hope, encouragement, your righteousness, and your sanctification.
Worship point: Your worship will be in Spirit and in truth in direct proportion to your comprehension of your inability to perfectly obey and Jesus’ ability to perfectly fulfill Leviticus 19:18 as well as your understanding of the vicarious merit of Jesus’s life and death . . . for everyone who trusts in Jesus.
Quotes to Note:
The Chronicler is prepared here to make use of a theological motif, to be found for example in Jer 3:6-11, in which Judah, which ought to have been the faithful people, fails to learn wisdom from the example of Israel’s judgment, and so falls to be even more greatly condemned than the apostate north. What Amos says (3:2) of the requirements of God from his chosen people, what Jesus says of the leniency appropriate to Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt 10:15), are further examples of the same comparative judgment. Implicit too is the recognition, to be picked up in the next section, that there are those in the north who have remained faithful and who can, if they will, be restored to the true community. (Peter R. Ackroyd, 1 & 2 Chr, Ezra, Neh, 177-78)
Deeply calculating, the pagan mindset wants to see immediate value for its worship dollar. If the gods of Aram seem to “work,” then it will want to worship the gods of Aram (v 23). If they fail, it will try some others. It is impatient with calls to walk by faith (Is 7:9) and with mysterious signs that invite believers to put their hope in things unseen (Is 7:14). It has no use for the glory of the cross, because the glory of the cross is not the kind that can be seen. Above all else the pagan mind must see, hear, or feel that the god it worships will give the required help. (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 325)
It is vitally important for us also to remember the Chronicler’s other point of emphasis in this chapter. If there were those in Israel who could respond to God’s Word even at the eleventh hour, we can be confident that there will be some who will also hear and believe in our own gray and latter days. And so we continue to preach the Word, just like the Chronicler, whether it seems in season or out of season. (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 327)
It is very noticeable that those who, in their early days, have resisted holy influences generally turn out the most wicked of men. This, indeed, is a fundamental law of character. Just as a good man, who is good notwithstanding a very bad up-bringing, and despite the most pernicious examples around him, is not infrequently one of the best of men, so a youth who has come from a godly home, and turns out evil himself, is one of the worst characters you can meet with. (Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator, 2 Chronicles, 124)
The kings of Syria and Israel were determined to have the Judean army with them in a coalition for defense against the might of the Assyrians which loomed over them. Ahaz refused, sought Assyrian support by paying tribute, later paid honor to their gods in Jerusalem, and they were the ruin of him. It was enough for the Chronicler to reiterate his standing accusation: failure to rely on God alone. The general application is that when men in difficulties have recourse to what they know to be evil, “the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2 Pt 2:20). (Abingdon Press, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol. 3, 518)
By the end of 2 Chronicles 28, the Northern and Southern Kingdoms occupy an amazingly similar position. They both stand guilty of forsaking the Lord and offering unacceptable worship. (Though the north has displayed a spark of repentance in vv 9–15 , this hardly classifies as total spiritual renewal.) Furthermore, they both reside essentially in “exile,” that is, under foreign domination. In fact, an “exilic atmosphere” pervades the entire 2 Chronicles 28 narrative, signaled by repeated references to either “prisoners,” “captives,” or “slaves” (see vv 5, 8, 10–11, 13–15, 17–18 ). The exilic milieu of the Chronicler’s own time no doubt accounts for this phenomenon, thus establishing a bridge between the author’s day and the reign of Ahaz. In both periods, distinctions between north and south are somewhat obliterated. They find themselves equally ensnared in the trials of foreign subjugation, and consequently, together, as “all Israel,” they seek the blessings of restored Yahweh worship in Jerusalem under a united Davidic monarchy. (F. (Scott Spencer; “2 Chronicles 28:5-15 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan” Westminster Theological Journal, #46 Fall 1984, 346)
In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus commands the love which cannot be commanded. — Tim Keller