Reading the accounts of the Kings of Israel can be like a roller coaster. We go from a golden age of righteousness in the land to abominations and idolatry in a few verses. When we see the words “he did right in the sight of God” we breathe a sigh of relief. But it wasn’t until just a while ago that I noticed a disturbance in this pattern. Usually when I see those words, I read about a man who was upright and righteous, who led the people of Israel to follow the Lord and reject their idols.
This time King Joash took the stage. His life was one of reform and promise. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but only while the High Priest Jehoiada was alive. “Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass” (2 Chronicles 24:17-18).
On the other hand, we have King Manasseh. I would venture to say this man is as infamous as Judas Iscariot. He was not only an idolater; he “seduced” Judah “to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord has destroyed before the children of Israel.” But God mercifully humbled him and as we read in 2 Chronicles 33:12-16 he repented and led a nationwide revival.
We are often discouraged when a seemingly righteous leader, one who we would call a man of God, falls short and turns out to be false. And many times we see a newly converted Christian struggling against sin and we shake our heads as though they’ll never make it. What God is teaching us in the accounts of these two kings is that the beginning of someone’s story isn’t important. What matters is the end.
A preacher, Richard Owen Roberts, called this “the glorious ending.” Examine your own walk with the Lord. Maybe you’re one of those Christians who experienced a “lightning bolt” conversion. Maybe you can even remember the very day you were saved. Or maybe, like me, it was a gradual, gentle conquering of your heart till one day you woke up and realized that you belonged to Someone else. Regardless of how you began, there will come a time where you will be tempted to take your foot off the pedal and coast along at a leisurely pace.
We cannot afford to do this. Christ did not die so that we could glide carelessly through the gates of paradise or fizzle out after the first initial spark of closeness to God. Our Savior is strong, and He saves us to a strong salvation.
Here are two motivations to strive for a glorious ending:
1. It is the evidence of your salvation. Joash’s faith was not genuine, therefore, his end was inglorious. There are many people who profess to be Christians that do not live up to the name. Their actions are contrary to the commands of God, their desires are contrary to the desires of God, and they are okay with that. They feel no need to change, except maybe to make them look good and respectable. Because their religion is built on the expectations of other people, once those expectations are gone their religion crumbles, like Joash when Jehoiada died. But if your faith holds out to the end, and your life matches the dictates of Christ, and He is firmly set on the throne of your heart, then your entrance into His presence will be glorious. Hold onto Christ, pursue Him, and don’t rest until He draws near to you day by day.
2. God has glory to get from you. When you walk through the doors of God’s throne room, you carry the righteousness, reputation and identity of Christ with you. There will be no knowing glances or whispered remarks about your sinful earthly life among the throngs of angels there – they will be in awe of Christ’s work in you. For every saint that enters into the presence of God, God’s glory is that much more reflected. In this, He gets greater glory. Strive to uphold the honor of Christ in your life in anticipation of this entrance into the royal halls of eternity! He put His mark, seal, and Name on you. He staked His very reputation on you. Each step you take is costly, and will either bring Him great glory or great dishonor. The weight of eternal splendor lies on your shoulders every morning when you wake, the terrible and glorious privilege of a saint. Live in such a manner that when you die, it will be a glorious ending.