2 Chronicles 15:5 “And in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands. 6-7 So nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity. But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”
As with most other scripture in the Bible, this one speaks on many levels and with layers of meaning. I present it to you today in its role as prophesy. It was originally written as an historical record, a chronicle of events that had occurred in Israel’s past, in particular, in a time when the people had “forsaken” God. In chapter 15 Azariah, a profit of God, is warning the king, Asa, that he sees the same pattern of “forsaking God” taking shape in the Kingdom of Judah.
The pattern is familiar and repeated throughout the old testament, the Bible and through all the written history of man in his relationship with the living God. The judges of old, the prophets, and the apostles, all addressed this problem of apostasy among the people of God. The cycle begins in suffering, when the people cry out to God in earnest, pleading for His help. God hears their cry and in His mercy, He rescues them from their own foolishness, protecting them from the consequences of their own sinful desertion. They repent, He forgives, they obey, He blesses, they travel a road He has made straight for them, finding their way back to prosperity, abundance and self reliance. Self reliance leads them to apostasy, the people turn their backs on God, seeking their own way, seeking their own pleasure. They turn their backs on God and God turns His back on them, thus they are returned to suffering, the very state in which they began their journey.
In the scripture Azariah warns Asa of impending disaster, but the record of his warning is historical. In creating the chronicle, the Jews of his posterity were warned and in their turn the early Christians and then Paul warns the Romans in the first chapter of his letter to the church in Rome. Thus the pattern, the cycle of apostasy, and the warning about its consequences echoes through the ages to every generation, right up to the present. In his letter, Paul speaks very specifically to the people of this age, who are about to experience the suffering that comes from “forsaking” our relationship with the Living God. In his warning he describes the state of affairs as follows:
“For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.
Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.” (Romans 1:18-25)
If I read the signs correctly, the suffering we see in the world today is nothing compared to what is soon to come. So, knowing that, how will you respond? I urge you to repent, to fall on your face before the Living God and cry out to Him for his mercy.
“We beg you please, don’t squander one more moment of the marvelous life God offers. As He reminds us, ‘I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me I was there to help.’ Don’t wait another moment. I tell you now is the time of God’s grace. Today is the day of salvation!” (Paraphrase 2Cor. 6:1-2)