The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–the Lord, the Triune God of the Christians–is very gracious and gives many second chances. Sometimes people do not think of God’s actions in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, as gracious, but look at this passage from 2 Kings:
Jeroboam, the son of Israel’s King Joash, became king in Samaria in the fifteenth year of Judah’s King Amaziah, Jehoash’s son. He ruled for forty-one years. He did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes. He didn’t deviate from all the sins that Jeroboam, Nebat’s son, had caused Israel to commit. He reestablished Israel’s border from Lebo-hamath to the Dead Sea. This was in agreement with the word that the Lord, the God of Israel, spoke through his servant the prophet Jonah, Amittai’s son, who was from Gath-hepher. The Lord saw how brutally Israel suffered, whether slave or free, with no one to help Israel. But the Lord hadn’t said he would erase Israel’s name from under heaven, so he saved them through Jeroboam, Joash’s son.
Just as a reminder, the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat were the two golden calves that were set up in Bethel and Dan. These were not just idols to other gods, but they were called idols of the Lord. By the time Jeroboam II takes the throne, they have been in place and worshiped as the Lord for about 150 years in the Northern Kingdom. Despite the fact that Jeroboam II worshiped these idols as the Lord, God still gave him victory over Israel’s enemies and preserved the kingdom. This is grace indeed.
But this grace goes deeper. This is the third time in 2 Kings that a similar statement has been made. All of Jeroboam II, his father, and his grandfather all had something similar said about their time on the throne. Jehu (written about yesterday) was the Lord’s instrument of judgment on the house of Ahab. For the next three generations his dynasty is given second chances by the Lord. Each time the phrasing is very reminiscent of the Book of Judges. The people sin; they cry out to the Lord; the Lord sends a deliverer; they are rescued from distress.
This would imply that the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, which was about to happen, was not a foregone conclusion. The people could have repented and the Lord would have established them because “the Lord hadn’t said he would erase Israel’s name from under heaven.” The Lord continued to provide gracious second chances for quite a bit of time in the hopes that the kingdom would whole-heartedly turn back to him.
This is a wonderful reminder to us that the Lord is graciously willing to provide second chances to us, no matter what we have done. With God, our judgment is never a foregone conclusion. We always have an opportunity to repent in this life. If you need a gracious second chance with God, turn to him and ask. He will listen, and he will forgive.