And [Jehoram] did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever (2 Chronicles 6-7).
After faithful Jehoshaphat died, his first-born son, Jehoram, became king of Judah who then killed all of his brothers so that no one would challenge his throne. The royal line of David was dangerously thin – and lay in the hands of a murdering madman who rebuilt the high places and led the people into idol worship. Great.
But it gets worse.
All of Jehoram’s sons were killed in battle except for Ahaziah – who took the throne upon Jehoram’s death. Ahaziah made an alliance with the evil son of Ahab and was killed by the same man who was ordained to destroy all of Ahab’s family. Ahaziah and all of his brothers were killed and there was no one to rule Judah!! So Ahaziah’s evil mother, the daughter of Ahab, took control of Judah and killed everyone in the royal family.
What??!!... The entire royal line of David was destroyed because of their alliance with Ahab’s evil family?? What about the promise that a Royal Branch of David would rule in peace forever??
Ah! We have to keep reading… The narrative continues like a Shakespearean play as we discover that Ahaziah’s sister (who was married to the faithful priest, Jehoiada) hid Ahaziah’s infant son from the royal mother’s massacre. There is one from the line of David who lives! And in tomorrow’s reading, he will take the throne in dramatic fashion!
Goodness gracious!! This is the tragic history of Israel. Paul argues in Romans 4:15 that “the Jews, who had the written law, had even greater responsibility for their sin and as great a need to be saved from God’s wrath and justified by faith*.” The tragic events detailed in today’s reading definitely make it clear that all of Israel had a great need to be saved!
Paul teaches in Romans 4 that all people need to be saved by faith – that the Jews couldn’t trust in their possession of the law – or in their sign of circumcision – to save them. But that Abraham was justified by faith before he was circumcised and before the giving of the Mosaic law (Romans 4:11).
Paul’s argument is clear. Heritage and Circumcision do not make you righteous. That is evident from the horror of today’s Old Testament passage! Rather, it was Abraham’s faith that was credited to him as righteousness.
Paul says that we, also, can be counted as righteous when we “believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord” (Romans 4:24).
We are given credit for being righteous – only because of our faith – not because of our actions. It is a strange exchange. It’s an exchange based on grace!
*quoted from note on Romans 4:15 from the ESV Study Bible, Crossway