Human beings were built to worship. God created us to reverence Him and to revolve our lives around Him. Even people who are not believers in the one true God still worship. Some worship false gods of other religions. Some worship things like money, power, fame, or even family, and some just worship themselves. Since the mental and spiritual connections are there, worship will occur no matter what. And, sometimes, that propensity to worship can get us into trouble just like it did for Amaziah, king of Judah. His story is a cautionary tale that we should all heed against allowing anything else into our lives we “worship” instead of — or even in addition to — God.
King Amaziah’s Sad Story
The story of Amaziah, king of Judah, occurs in 2 Chronicles 25. He got so many things right during his reign, and this is what makes his story so sad. He started out on the right track for God just like you and I are doing today. For example, he followed the Book of the Law of Moses. That meant that he refused to take vengeance on the sons of his father’s murderers. He basically took a risk of their future retaliation in order to follow the scriptures that say, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deuteronomy 24:16).
He also listened to the man of God when he told him to change his battle plans. Amaziah had already spent 100 talents of silver (about 1.65 million dollars in modern money) to hire the Israelites as mercenaries to fight with Judah against the Edomites. Still, the Word of the Lord came to him. He was told to fight the Edomites alone and that God would give the victory. Amaziah obeyed the Word to his own financial loss. He paid the Israelites anyway and took a risk to go to war against a bigger, stronger army at the Word of the Lord. Of course, God gave him a great victory, and the man of God noted about Amaziah’s financial loss, “’…the Lord is able to give you much more than this’” (2 Chronicles 25:9). How true for all of us.
Where He Went Very Wrong
Even though Amaziah did a lot of things right, he failed miserably in one vital area. After returning from the great victory over the Edomites that God had given him, he brought back the idol gods of Seir with him. The Bible says he bowed down to them and burned incense to them. It doesn’t say that he gave up worshiping God, but he added these other idols.
Now, why would he do that? Some commentaries say that God turned him over to it because of his brutal treatment of the captured Edomites. He forced them to walk off a cliff and be dashed to pieces on the rocks below. Some say that pride snuck into his heart at his great victory. When the man of God returned to admonish him about his idol worship, he was arrogant and wouldn’t listen. In fact, he threatened to kill him for trying to give him advice once again. The prophet then let him know that not listening to God and repenting for his idol worship would be his downfall. That prophecy was fulfilled when Amaziah later picked a fight with the king of Israel and lost. Finally at the end of his life, he completely turned away from following God and was murdered in a conspiracy by his own people
The Lesson For Us
But, I believe the reason for his idolatry is actually one the commentaries don’t mention. It’s the same reason people today get involved: to satisfy fleshly desires. In ancient times, there were very specific benefits that people believed they would receive from these little “g” gods. From fertility, financial prosperity, and luck to sexual gratification and protection from harm, all kinds of worldly desires were promised to those who would bow down.
Fast forward to today. How many people worship God on Sundays, and even the rest of the week, but keep an idol or two on the side? Idols that bring comfort, power, material gain, or other worldly benefits but take away time, attention, and devotion for the one true God. If you aren’t sure what modern-day idolatry looks like, check out my blog Modern Idolatry: Meeting Needs Without God. It discusses the four critical areas of need we have (purpose/focus, comfort, connection/belonging, and guidance) and the ways we can use idols to meet those needs instead of God.
Amaziah’s Warning and Ours
But God didn’t appreciate idol worship then, and He doesn’t appreciate it now. When Amaziah turned to idols, God sent the man of God to warn him, but he didn’t listen. Today, Christians need to search our hearts and lives for places God might be warning us about things in our own lives that have taken on a worship-type quality. Listening and repenting is our only course of action because the alternative, just like Amaziah’s story illustrates, could just be our own downfall and eventual apostasy.
The Bible says Amaziah did what is right in the sight of God, but not with his whole heart. Our only hope in these last days to come is to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). We must turn to God with our whole hearts and worship God alone, for He is worthy.
Idolatry has consequences. Check out 9 Reasons God Doesn’t Hear Our Prayers. Don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list in the upper right corner (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read my blogs out loud. I also have a separate playlist of hymns from our talented worship leader Hannah.