In “Hey Look at Me!” I related the story of the unidentified deliverer who God provided to rescue Israel from the power of the Arameans. That’s impressive. One deliverer defeats a whole nation to deliver another nation. It sounds like a great story line for a blockbuster action movie. Sadly, the epilogue turns this great hero story into a tragedy.
But they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit; they continued in them. 2 Kings 13:6 (NIV)
Instead of turning to God in gratitude for the great deliverance, they went right back to the actions that got them into trouble in the first place. It seems like our hero, the deliverer, wasted his time.
Was he doing God’s will? Obviously. Was he doing it for the right reasons? No reason to think otherwise. Did he do it well? It sure sounds like it. Why did it end in failure? You can’t control the actions or reactions of others.
You have to wonder why God used him in this way. God knew how the people would respond; it seems like a wasted effort. There are many unhappy endings in the Bible. Moses led Israel for 40 years and at the end of his life God tells him the people will turn to other gods. Joshua and all the judges had similar results.
Perhaps we don’t understand success. I think the point we miss is that God does not call us to successful results but to obedience. (This is not an excuse for sloppiness or ineffectiveness.) We will be rewarded for following him and trusting that He knows what’s best. Many people who were ‘failures” were commended for their faith in Hebrews 11. If we are disappointed in the results when we do God’s work, maybe it’s because we are looking at the situation from our perspective rather than His. Maybe His goal is really to change us.
By the way, I am grateful that we have God that doesn’t give up on people even though He knows they will disobey. He never gave up on Israel and he won’t give up on us.