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July 8, Day 190 – Pride Goes Before a Fall

In today’s reading of 2 Kings 14:23-15:38, we see a whole line of evil kings ascending the throne successively in Israel, whereas, by contrast, only three righteous kings come to the throne in Judah during that time. This pattern should be a warning to us today. Beginning with Jeroboam II, we see another king of Israel “who did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam [i.e., Jeroboam I] son of Nebat” (verse 24). It seems that, under these evil kings, conditions continue to worsen, for we also read that “the LORD had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel – whether slave or free – was suffering; there was no one to help them” (verse 26). The only thing that these Israelites had in their favor was that “the LORD had not said He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, [so] He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash” (verse 27). This truth is an example of God’s mercy and is based completely on what He did not say. In mercy and by compassion, God withheld His Word; – otherwise, Israel would have been consumed (cf., Lamentations 3:11). In chapter 15, we see that Azariah [also known as Uzziah] ascended the throne in Judah. “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD” (verse 3), but 2 Chronicles (which we will read later on) informs us that “his pride led to his downfall” (cf., 2 Chronicles 26:16). In the rest of this chapter, we read about Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah – the next five evil kings of Israel – three of whom ascended the throne by assassinating their predecessors. Here, we note that Pul – King of Assyria – invaded the land and extracted tribute from Israel (verse 19). The kingdom of Israel is coming apart quickly - to its end. The chapter closes with Jotham, “who did what was right in the eyes of the LORD” (verse 34) when he came to the throne in Judah, but “in those days, the LORD began to send Rezin and Pekah against Judah” (verse 37). At this point, the days of both kingdoms are numbered.

Today we come again to Proverbs 16 – verses 18-27 - where we find the root problem that led to Azariah’s downfall – pride. In our family, my late wife drilled Proverbs 16:18 into the minds and hearts of our children: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Over and over again, we have seen the truth of this verse. Why? Of all sins, God hates the sin of pride the most because pride is the proponent of all sins – every sin begins with some form of pride, which is “an excessively high opinion of one’s own worth or importance.” We must consciously and constantly guard ourselves against pride, and for human beings, counteracting pride is difficult.

In Acts 25:23-26:23, we see an inordinate display of puffed-up pride when King Agrippa, “with great pomp” enters the audience room (verse 23). He desires to be in the spotlight. But in his address, Paul emphasizes the humility of Christ when he refers to the persecutions and sufferings of the Messiah – Who is truly God Himself. God, the exalted King and Creator of all the universe, condescended and humbled Himself to become a man in order to redeem man from his pride, arrogance, and sin – all of which has separated us from God since man’s first act of prideful sin. Paul describes his righteous life as a Pharisee which served as its own testimony before the Jews, and they could certify this truth, “if they were willing” (verse 5). Paul also presented his conversion to Christ along the Damascus road, and he cited the truth of Scripture – “the prophets and Moses” as evidence that “the Christ would suffer, rise from the dead, and proclaim light to His own people and to the Gentiles” (verse 23). What will Agrippa do?

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