On Finishing Well: Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah

August 20, 2013 at 8:19 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Personal Testimony, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Today I read the stories of three different kings in Judah, all who began well but didn’t finish well.

Joash began to reign when he was only seven years old.  He followed the reign of his evil grandmother Athaliah, daughter of Jezebel, and was a great turn for the better.  Joash was raised by his aunt and his uncle Jehoiada, who was a godly priest.  They raised him and counseled him so that he began as a godly king.  “Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem.  . . .  Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.”  (2 Chron 24:1-2 ESV)  Notice however, it was only during the days of Jehoiada.  In fact, “After the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king.  Then the king listened to them.   And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols.  And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs.”  (vv17-18)  Joash lost his godly counselor, replaced him with spoiled royal counselors instead, and they persuaded him to abandon the LORD.

Joash’s son Amaziah became the king, and like Joash, he too began a godly reign.  “Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem.   . . .  He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.” (25:1-2)  It seems Amaziah had an interest in other gods, and that’s why he was never wholeheartedly devoted to the LORD.  “After Amaziah came from striking down the Edomites, he brought the gods of the men of Seir and set them up as his gods and worshiped them, making offerings to them.  Therefore the LORD was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, ‘Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?'” (vv14-15)

Then Amaziah’s son Uzziah followed the same footsteps.  “Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem.   . . .  He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.”  (26:3-4)  However there was a pride that became his downfall.  “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.  For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God.” (v16)

One man lost godly counsel, one followed a curiostiy about other gods, one became proud of his successes; none finished well.  Here I am at middle age (a euphimism for getting old but not wanting to admit it!), and I want to finish life strong.  I must let these negative examples instruct me how to do that.  Lord, help me to finish well; may I keep godly counselors around me, may I follow you alone, may I give you glory for any successes that come my way.

Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time

August 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Books and Movies | 2 Comments

My family has just finished reading together Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.  It was a fun and clean family read that everyone enjoyed.  I’d seen the title listed by at least two other families as a favorite read together book, so we gave it a try.  It was a tale of adventure and of good versus evil.  We had a lot of fun reading it and hope to read more of the books in the series.

Because it is considered a classic by many, because it is seen on some of these Christian family read together lists, and because it contains so many references to and quotes of the Bible, some people might think that A Wrinkle in Time is a Christian book.   However there are some elements of the story that, though respectful of the Christian scriptures, are distinctively non-christian, and it’s those I want to consider here.  This is not intended to dissuade anyone from reading good literature; it is intended to make those who want to read it aware of the subtle differences between the popular religion expressed and genuine Christian truth.

In the book three children, Meg, her little brother genius Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin meet up with three strange ladies who send them on an adventure traveling through time and space to find Meg and Charles’ father who has been missing for a long time.

I began to wonder if the strange ladies, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, were supposed to somehow represent the Trinity.  Whatsit, the leader of the three, as the Father, Who as the Son, and Which as the Holy Spirit; in two cases it was easy to see the resemblance, but Mrs. Who seemed to have no connection to the Son whatsoever.  (The thought that these ladies might represent the Trinity sent my mind back to The Shack, where the Father is represented by a lady!)  However, in this book, no such connection can be made.  When Calvin begins to bow to Mrs. Whatsit, she clearly tells him, “No.  Not to me, Calvin.  Never to me.”  And later when the children are trying to describe these ladies to creatures from another world, Calvin (again) recognizes what they are and calls them angels — messengers from God, and not God himself.

At one point, when the children realize their battle is going to be harder than they first thought and is against a terrible darkness, the three ladies tell the children that there have been great fighters of darkness from our world.  They remind the children of the Apostle John’s words, “The light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”  Calvin notes Jesus as a great fighter of darkness, but then other historical figures are listed as well.  There is no recognition of Jesus as the victor over darkness, the creator of light and the sovereign of the universe; there is only a recognition that he, along with many others, has fought the battle against darkness.  That kind of Jesus is a popular religion Jesus and not the Jesus of genuine Christianity.  In fact the John quote, from the King James Bible, misses part of the meaning.  That’s why many translations end the phrase not as “the darkness could not comprehend the light,” but as “the darkness could not overcome the light.”  Darkness cannot overpower Jesus.   He is not only a fighter of darkness; he is the Sovereign Lord who has overcome darkness.

Finally, the book seems to teach that the love we have for each other can conquer the worst of evil.   That simply is not true.  The One who defeats evil is Jesus.  Our love for each other, if it is genuine love, is only an extension of Jesus’ love for his people whom he bought when he conquered darkness on the cross.  Love may cover a multitude of sin, but genuine love is rooted in God’s love.  Our self-generated love, no matter how strong, cannot overcome evil without God’s help.  Genuine Christianity teaches that there is nothing good in us apart from Jesus.

A Wrinkle in Time is clean, fun and worth the time to read.  But don’t ever think of it as a Christian book.  If you want to read it as a family, please do.  But discuss these matters as you do.  Feel free to use the material in this post as fodder for great family discussion.

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