Jeroboam II: Israel's Covenant God Relents from Disaster
Israel’s northern kingdom had 17 monarchs before their exile in 722/21 B.C. Two of these kings were named Jeroboam--the first reigned from 930-909 B.C. and the second from 793-753 B.C. In between them are 9 kings representing some 120 years of idolatry.
Over a century of habitual rebellion is a long time. But in truth, Israel’s defiance had been far longer. God had warned His people years ago in Deuteronomy 28:58-68--even before they were in the promised land--of the penalty of exile for disobedience. After endless immorality, violence, and religious syncretism (mixing the worship of God with idols), we arrive at the reign of Jeroboam II to find a covenant God still patient and willing to show mercy to an obstinate people (2 Kings 14:23-27).
Some may be surprised to find the prophet Jonah in this 2 Kings account. Pages away from the book that bears his name, Jonah isn’t sent to an enemy nation with a word of judgement but is sent to his own people to announce blessings. Israel was oppressed by hostile powers and, as was the case in Exodus 3:7 and Judges 2:18, God sees the affliction of His people and draws near to rescue. Jonah is sent to proclaim God’s help to none other than wicked King Jeroboam II (2 Kings 25-27). In accordance with Jonah’s prophecy, Jeroboam II overcomes Israel’s enemies and extends the northern territory to what it had been in the time of Solomon (2 Kings 14:25, 28).
Reading 2 Kings 14 brings to mind Jonah 4:2; there, Jonah calls God gracious and merciful, “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” The description captures God’s hesed or steadfast love. Jonah’s phrasing is seen throughout Scripture but first appears in Exodus 34:6 during God’s covenant renewal with Israel. The Northern Kingdom was called to belong to a patient God who relents from disaster. God’s far-reaching kindness elects to help a rebellious king and his people. In Jonah’s ministry, we can see God’s mercy extended to those who are far and near: wicked Nineveh and wayward Israel are helped. Who then is beyond God's grace?
The steadfast love of the Lord is most clearly and ultimately demonstrated in the giving of His son. God relents from disaster, so He poured His just wrath against sin on Christ so that those who cling to Him alone in faith might know His mercy (Isaiah 53:10). If you are in Christ today, then let God’s steadfast love and grace inspire your obedient praise (Romans 6.1-2). If outside of Christ, please “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. [But] blessed are all who take refuge in him” Psalm 2:12.
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