In one of the more tragic scenes in the Bible – scarcely a decade before Israel, the Northern Kingdom, fell – Israel & Judah went to war with each other.
I. Adamant Apostasy (2Chron. 28:1-4)
Ahaz, the 12th king of Judah, became a fanatical idolater, worshiping Baal… even sacrificing his own sons to the false god.
II. Attacking Armies (2Chron. 28:5-15)
– The Defeat by Aram (v.5)
– The Defeat by Israel (v.6-15)
The battle itself was bad enough; according to the Chronicler, 120,000 sons of Judah died in God’s punishment for Judah’s unfaithfulness. But, Israel intended to pile on insult on top of injury, enslaving a staggering 200,000 survivors from Judah.
But, one prophet – Oded – stood in the way.
Oded was a prophet of Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom. He watched in horror as his countrymen returned from battle, having brutalized their neighbors – their brothers! – to the south. Horror turned to fury as he confronted the triumphant army on its way home. To Oded’s way of thinking, divine punishment was one thing – but Israel had gone way beyond that, turning an already ugly battle into outright slaughter! Even worse, they planned to humiliate the surviving men, women and children by making them slaves.
Oded would have none of it. He knew the law of Moses: An Israelite was not to enslave another Israelite (Lev. 25:39-43). Politics may have separated the 2 kingdoms; but, in Oded’s eyes, they were all still the same people! God’s people!!
Remarkably, Oded’s words had their desired effect, humbling an entire army into obedience. It helped that some of Israel’s own military leaders joined Oded in condemning their army’s behavior. So, the captives were fed and clothed, their wounds were treated, and they were taken back to Judah. This incident was a reminder that no political divide could erase the Israelites’ kinship with one another.
Perspective is ALWAYS a good thing! The ability to pull back… to step back… to pause and take a fresh look at a problem… is a good thing.
Israel – and Judah – had lost perspective. They had forgotten they were brothers first. They had forgotten they should have been standing side by side, rather than nose to nose.
In the midst of debate – or even argument – take a step back… and put things in proper perspective.
You can read Oded’s story in 2Chronicles 28.