2 Chronicles 24
I heard a very good sermon recently about how God sometimes protects us in an ultimate, eternal sense by not protecting us physically in the here and now. This, of course, can be a very difficult concept for us to understand and grasp. We tend to want that "instant gratification" sort of protection, and quite often, we’re shocked and grieved when we don’t get it.
I wonder if that’s what Zechariah felt like: "Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, 'This is what God says: "Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you."' But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple. King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, 'May the Lord see this and call you to account.'" (vs 20-22)
King Joash had run off the rails. He started out so well, so promising. All the years that Jehoiada lived, Joash did "what was right in the eyes of the Lord." (vs 2) But after Jehoiada’s death, Joash’s reign went terribly wrong, and he actually killed the son of the man who saved his life. Jehoiada had risked his own life for six years by hiding Joash from Athaliah in the temple, but Joash had either forgotten about that or didn’t care any longer.
When Zechariah went to confront him about what he was doing, he wasn’t doing a foolish thing... or even acting on his own. The Bible says "the Spirit of God came on" him. In other words, he was following the Spirit’s direction in his life. He was doing something God wanted him to do. Doesn’t it seem odd, then, that he ended up on the wrong end of a pile of stones?
It seems that way to us, doesn’t it? We expect that when we follow God, good things should happen to us. After all, isn’t that what we teach our children? We tell them that to follow Jesus brings joy and peace—and it does, but it often doesn’t bring protection in this life. In fact, when we are really following the Lord, we are probably at greater risk of attack from the enemy. (Just ask Job.)
That was certainly Zechariah’s experience. God told him to go on a mission, and it got him killed. God doesn’t always protect us. So, how should we respond to that reality? Should Zechariah’s death be labeled a tragedy—even though he was doing what the Spirit led him to do? Should we expect God to always grant us temporary protection when we are doing His will? Or can we trust His promise to provide for our ultimate protection—regardless of what happens to us in the here and now?
God is most concerned about and working to ensure our ultimate protection. And sometimes He may be best able to accomplish that goal by forgoing our temporary protection in this life. Given the choice, which kind of protection would you rather have? Are you willing to trust God to do what’s ultimately best for you?