When I observe the increasingly secular political and cultural climate in America, I can easily assume that we’re doomed. I watch the sad pattern of disobedience and decline playing out all over again. When I look at history, I see that most empires eventually fall apart. From Egypt to Rome to Israel, a tragic flaw does the kingdom in.
The common denominator? These empires rebelled against God’s commands.
Yet, a surprising section of Scripture offers me a glimmer of hope. Reading in 2Chronicles, I witness how a Godly few — concerned men and women — can radically change a nation. This somewhat obscure book of the Bible recounts the story of Judah’s rulers descended from King David. The kings we hear about are a mixed lot. Many are extremely evil — but not all of them.
What’s puzzled me as I’ve read is why good kings were inspired to follow the Lord after a generation or more of unrestrained immorality and disobedience. Ungodly, immoral kings somehow managed to put sons on the throne who charismatically followed the Lord.
King Joash is one early example of just such Godly leadership. Beginning in 2 Chronicles 22, the story unfolds of how Joash’s sinful grandmother, Athalia, killed the entire royal family except for him. In hiding for seven years, he lived with the priests in the temple until Athalia was overthrown. We learn that Jahoiada, the priest, and others faithful to the Lord protected Joash and raised him according to Biblical Truth. The results? Throughout Jahoiada’s life, Joash remained a Godly king.
We see a similar story played out later on, when Josiah became king at age eight. His father Amon and grandfather Manasseh were both among the most evil kings in either Israel or Judah. However, because of Godly people like the priest Hilkiah in his life, Josiah proved an exceptionally wise and Godly king.
In the lives of both Joash and Josiah, a small remnant faithful to the Lord helped point the entire nation in the right direction. By working quietly behind the scenes for years, they ultimately made a huge difference in the running of their country. Even though we don’t hear about them, I suspect similarly dedicated groups of people kept God’s law alive in hard times throughout Judah and Israel’s history.
Although the moral unwinding of America seems inevitable to me somtimes, the narratives in 2 Chronicles uncover a positive reality. Even when people who believe in the Truth aren’t in power or don’t make up the majority of voters, we can still have a constructive influence on history.
By reaching the Joashes and Josiahs in our lives through prayer, persistence, and patience, we too can work behind the scenes to point our nation toward renewal. It’s not glamorous, but I know my perspective has changed based on this truth. I see that my individual contribution — and those of others like me — can make a lasting difference.