‘But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the LORD is not with Israel – not with any of the people of Ephraim. Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overthrow.”
Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?”
The man of God replied, “The LORD can give you much more than that.”’ – 2 Chronicles 25:7-9
A Divided Heart
The character of king Amaziah is summed up by the chronicler in this damning epigram: “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not wholeheartedly” (2 Chronicles 25:2). As a young king, Amaziah set his heart on conquering kingdoms around him. He put together an army to achieve his ambitions. “He also hired a hundred thousand fighting men from Israel for a hundred talents of silver” (2 Chronicles 25:6).
At this point a man of God came to him and told of God’s disapproval of his alliance with Israel. His reason? “The LORD is not with Israel – not with any of the people of Ephraim.” Instead of yielding to the prophet’s counsel, the king parried it with a misplaced question, “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?” He didn’t bother to check whether the advice he just received was right or wrong, or whether it was in conformity with, or in opposition to, the will of God. That doesn’t come as a surprise because this king followed God, but not wholeheartedly. A half-hearted devotion to God will always lead to considering options that are at variance with God’s will. How many times have you also considered what you stand to lose by choosing to obey God? No one can successfully serve God with that kind of heart. Like someone has said, “If he is not Lord of all then he is not Lord at all.” Obeying him will from time to time feel optional. And it was the undoing of Amaziah.
Neither was this kind of dual loyalty new to the people of God; years earlier, King Saul was similarly plagued. When Samuel confronted him with his failure to totally destroy the Amalekites as God commanded, his chief concern was his reputation: “I have sinned. But please honour me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God” (1 Samuel 15:30). It was clear to him that he had sinned and contravened God’s instruction. However, instead of looking for how to correct his error, he was preoccupied with what he would lose – his reputation in the eyes of the people. O that what Jesus called “the first and the greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38) – the wholehearted love of God – would be fulfilled in us.
The Inexhaustible God
Our focus here is not mainly on the king’s poor attitude but on what the prophet’s response to him reveals about God. The king was concerned about his money: “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?” If I choose not to be unequally yoked with those who God disapproves of, what will I lose? I have invested money in this relationship, how can I lose it? I have spent so much on this girl; even though the relationship is adulterous, if I say I have repented and I break up with her, what about the money I have spent on her? I have gone very far into this venture, how can I shut it down? What about my investment?
The prophet replied the king: “The LORD can give you much more than that.” Not just more, but much more. He can. This is a call for faith in the inexhaustible riches of God. Whatever he has given you, his resources have not been depleted, there is more in the storehouse, much more than your barns can hold.
God, through the Prophet Nathan, said something identical to David when he took Uriah’s wife: “I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more” (2 Samuel 12:8). You need to have this firmly settled in your mind: You cannot exhaust God. It was like the prophet saw through the kings half-hearted devotion and unbelief and he pointed him to God’s resources. Paul says God is able to “achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream and exceed your wildest imagination!” (Ephesians 3:20).
An Antidote to Compromise
The prophet’s response also goes to the heart of many of the compromises that the people of God make – a subliminal distrust in the ability or willingness of God to meet our needs. If the king’s heart was settled that God was able to give him much more than whatever he was losing by obeying, he would obey without questions.
When people steal, is it not a lack of faith in God’s capacity to give them much more than what they steal? The lady that is giving her body to a man in exchange for money doesn’t believe that God can give her much more than she gets from compromise. “See how old I am becoming, if I don’t say yes to this man, even though he is an unbeliever, where will I get another husband?” Dear sister, “The LORD can give you much more than that.” The student who cheats in an exam doesn’t know that God has wisdom enough to give them much more than they already have. The Bible says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). What about those who get into wrong businesses, sometimes with unequal yoking like Amaziah, but are unwilling to shut down when confronted with the truth? It is due to fear of the unknown and a lack of faith in God. Beloved, “The LORD can give you much more than that.” There is nothing you have that God cannot give you more.
A Spur to Give All to Him
Even beyond compromise, the knowledge of God’s immeasurable ability and willingness to give is essential to yielding our all to him. When an opportunity to give comes our way, this monster rears its head, and it is more common than you may think. “If I give this much as offering or for this cause or to this person, how will I survive till the next payday?” Cheer up, “The LORD can give you much more than that.” “If I answer the call to serve in missions, who will pay my bills?” When Jesus was asked to pay the temple tax, he told Peter, “Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give to them for my tax and yours” (Matthew 17:27). He knows about your tax; he has provided for it.
Peter spoke for many of us when he asked Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you! What will there be for us?” Jesus gave him essentially the same response as what the prophet told king Amaziah. He said, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:27-29). That promise ought to free us from holding back ourselves at his command. Give yourself and your resources to him who did not spare his only Son but gave him up for you. God will out-give you; he has an infinite ability to give and a willingness to match it. He is not a man; he will always pay you your due. God is not indebted to anyone. Always remember this: “God is not unfair. How can he forget your hard work for him or forget the way you used to show your love for him – and still do – by helping his children” (Hebrews 6:10).
A Closing Word
When the prophet said to Amaziah, “The LORD can give you much more than that”, did he, for instance, mean that God would give the king say, two hundred thousand talents of silver for the hundred thousand he was to lose in abandoning his partnership with Israel? No and yes. God has many ways to make up that loss to Amaziah and to you. He will certainly not allow you to be a loser by obeying his command. A firm, unshakeable belief in God’s all-sufficiency to bear us out in our duty, and make up abundantly all the loss and damage we sustain in his service will make the bearing of his yoke easy, and his burden very light. You need to trust God’s wise judgment to decide how to pay you back much more. God may decide to pay back for example, two hundred talents of silver or by any other way. Trust him!
And never lose sight of what the ultimate reward is. Paul, in 1 Corinthian 15:19, told the believers, “If the only benefit of our hope in Christ is limited to this life on earth, we deserve to be pitied more than all others.” Our hope transcends this transient life. Jesus told his disciples that anyone who leaves anything for his sake and the gospel’s would, in the life to come, receive eternal life (Mark 9:29-30). That is the greatest pay.