When evil people oppress God’s people, it’s sometimes easy to think – Where is God? Doesn’t God see what is happening? Why doesn’t God do something to stop this? But, as Hazael’s story shows, God is never shocked or surprised. By ANYTHING! And, even wicked people can only do what God allows them to do.
It might be hard to understand why, but God hand-picked Hazael from the very beginning to be king of Aram (1Ki. 19:15)… even though God knew Hazael would inflict terrible suffering on His people. Hazael was one of Ben-Hadad’s officials, and had been sent to ask Elisha whether the king would recover from an illness. Elisha told Hazael that he would become king… and that he would do terrible things to the people of Israel.
When Elisha told Hazael what he would do, Hazael objected. He believed (or wanted to believe) he was a decent man who would never do such terrible things. Yet,
The day after after Hazael returned to the king with Elisha’s message, Hazael suffocated the king… and took his place on the throne (2Ki. 8:7-15). And he periodically oppressed God’s people over the next 45 years.
Hazael eventually captured all of Israel’s territory east of the Jordan River (2Ki. 10:32,33), and even Judah’s capital city of Jerusalem would have been attacked by Hazael had he not been paid a large sum of money to withdraw (2Ki. 12:17,18).
How could all of this happen? The Bible makes it clear: God Himself allowed Hazael to discipline His people for their sins (2Ki. 10:32; 13:1-3). And, in doing so, God was only giving them the consequences of their own actions.
But, even in the midst of their punishment, God was still in control… ensuring that what happened did not exceed what God had decided should happen (2Ki. 13:4,5,23).
By the way, soon after Hazael died, the people of Israel were able to take back much of the territory they had lost to Aram (2Ki. 13:24,25).
Like Hazael, we may deceive ourselves or others into thinking we are incapable of blatant sin. We think we have the self-control to prevent ourselves from sinning. But, our own actions show us different.
Rather than patting ourselves on the back for our perceived goodness, we should take an honest look at ourselves… and admit our sinful potential. We need to be reminded – often – that only God is capable of delivering us from evil.
* We need God’s strength to resist temptation in all its guises.
You can read Hazael’s story in 1Kings 19:15-17; 2Kings 8:8-15,28,29; 9:14,15; 10:32; 12:17,18; 13:3-25; Amos 1:4.