Every morning before classes start, I sit in a chair outside my office and greet sleepy students as they enter the building. Often, those students will stop by to talk, and we’ll have lighthearted conversation—either that or they’ll complain about the tests and quizzes they’ll be facing throughout the day. Sometimes we talk about serious things. They let me know what’s hard about a class or difficult about being a teenager at that particular moment. They ask for advice, and usually, I can give them some.
This morning I had one of those serious conversations. I was reading over 2 Kings 11–13 when some students walked in and asked me what I was doing. So I told them about this piece of writing I needed to work on, the one you’re reading now. I explained the story in all of its literal gory details, which led to a discussion about how the kings were “so dumb.” Why were they so blind to the fact that when they remained faithful to God, things went well for them and their people? Why couldn’t they muster the courage or care to be faithful?
There we were—me sitting in my chair, them leaning in the doorway, gripping backpacks—all of us shaking our heads in disbelief at the unfaithfulness of God’s people. Sure, there were some bright spots in the line of the kings, but for the most part, they were a bunch of idolaters. Even in their attempts to remain true to God they were ultimately inept and tolerated idolatry in the kingdom. So we railed against them, my students and I, feeling pretty good about ourselves as we did so. But by the time I reached 2 Kings 13, it was pretty hard for me to maintain that attitude.
“But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them,
and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now” (2 Kings 13:23).
God was willing to destroy because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because of Him, the covenant would hold true. Then it dawned on me: I’m still counting on His keeping His covenant of love. That is the crux of my faith.
Our disbelief at the kings’ unfaithfulness was misplaced. We should have been shaking our heads in disbelief at how God did not cast them away from His presence, nor did He destroy them right there on the spot. That’s what is truly shocking. In the same way, even though I deserve worse than physical death because of my sin, because of Christ’s work on the cross, I am not cast out but invited to draw near to Him (Romans 5:8; Hebrews 4:16). It’s a covenant that is in tact by His pure grace and compassion alone—not my ability to be faithful.
Written by Matt Redmond