HOW IS YOUR HEART (2Chronicles 25)

Diḇre haYamim Bet/2 Chronicles 25

Shalom everyone, praise be to YHWH our Elohim as we can come together in fellowship and give all esteem and praise unto Him. It is good to be together, aměn! How are you all doing tonight? Most of the time when asked how are you, a quick response of ‘O.K thanks’ is the seemingly easiest and best option to respond with as it requires nothing in return, except maybe a ‘and how are you doing?’ with the expected similar response of, ‘yeah I’m fine thanks’. This quick greeting and response allows the individuals to continue to communicate on a level where no boundaries are tested and even the most severe issues buried deep within the heart are conveniently avoided and supressed in order to prevent any unwanted convictions to change! Often when asked ‘how are you?’ there is not even a chance to respond as the questioner is so fast at continuing the conversation that the question has no relevance! It has simply become a means to start a conversation as opposed to actually caring how one is! But what happens when someone does come along and looks you in the eye and with sincere concern asks you ‘How is it going with you, what is going on in your heart?” – well that opens up a whole new or different train of thought, as you can just say ‘ok’ as always, or you can truly respond with the reality of what is going on – and be able to share the intimacy of what is on the inside – whether it be positive or negative. My message tonight is called, “How is your heart?” and with that question in mind please turn with me to Diḇre haYamim Bet/2 Chronicles 25 as we are all challenged to look at our heart in the mirror of His Word! (Pray & Read)

As we can see from this chapter on the life of Amatsyahu, son of Yo’ash, we can learn a great deal from these accounts recorded here as well as in Melaḵim Bet/2 Kings 14:1-6. The introduction of a character in Scripture is often the key to understanding the outcome of the events that takes place in their lives, and so it is with this thought that as we see in verse 2, Amatsyahu did what was right in the eyes of YHWH, but not with a perfect heart! No with a perfect heart… what does that mean? What are the effects of this imperfect heart and what does it mean for us as we walk before and serve YHWH today? Well, let us look at this more closely and then see the need for us to have perfect hearts before YHWH!

In a nutshell, the essence of this passage relates as follows: Amatsyahu becomes the 9th king of Yehuḏah, succeeding his father who was assassinated after the defeat of the Syrians, where his own officials conspired against him and killed him for murdering Zeḵaryah, the son of the likeable prophet Yehoyaḏa, after being told that YHWH had left him. So Amatsyahu, which means strength of Yah, whose mother was Yehoaddan, which means ‘YHWH is delighted’, became king and did what was right in the eyes of YHWH, and in a sense we see here how he started out right. He killed those who struck his father yet did not put their children to death, obeying the Torah which tells us that each one dies for their own sin and that children are not put to death for their fathers, nor fathers for their children.

Amatsyahu seemingly started out well, and in Melaḵim Bet/2 Kings we see that it records for us that Amatsyahu did what was right in the eyes of YHWH but not according to his father Dawiḏ, but according to Yo’ash and did not break down all the high places of false worship. In other words, he permitted idolatrous worship to continue!!!!

Amatsyahu sets up his army and gathers 300,000 men from Yehuḏah to go in to battle against the Edomites or people of Sě’ir. This was not enough men in his eyes and so he hires 100,000 men from Yisra’ĕl for 100 talents of silver, approximately around 23 million rand today! He wanted more men and started devising his own plans, a sign his heart was not wholly after YHWH. YHWH sends a prophet to warn him, telling him that YHWH was not with Yisra’ĕl, as they had whored after other mighty ones, and if he took the soldiers he would not succeed and YHWH would make him fall. He listens to this advice and sends the 100,000 troops from Yisra’ĕl back, after asking, ‘but what about the money?’ to which the prophet tells him that YHWH has more to give him than this.

So, Yisra’ĕl leave angered and enraged, and Amatsyahu goes to war and gets great victory for Yehuḏah against Edom having destroyed the Edomites and killing 20,000 of the men, and this is where it all starts to go pear shaped or downhill!!!

He raids the Edomites cities of Sě’ir and brings all the idols back, sets them up and worships them! This was a stupid move! You got to ask yourself, why would he bring back the enemies idols!!! It was often the belief in Ancient Near East that victorious people viewed their defeated enemy’s deities as having abandoned their people to help the enemy and so capturing their idols and worshipping them was a way of thanking the enemy’s deities for victory! This as we know makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and Amatsyahu knew this, and the prophet of YHWH came and asked him what he was doing with the enemy’s idols. This angered Amatsyahu and told him to stop. The prophet then told him that Elohim has counselled to destroy Amatsyahu because he did not listen to YHWH’s prophet!

Hard hearted Amatsyahu, now full of pride challenges Yisra’ĕl to battle. He just wanted to fight and prove he is king! The king of Yisra’ĕl send back a riddle basically saying that Amatsyahu is all puffed up from a battle yet he is just a thistle who was demanding a daughter from Yisra’ĕl for his son to show the superiority of Yehuḏah over Yisra’ĕl, yet he would be trampled upon by a wild beast which was Yisra’ĕl. Amatsyahu didn’t listen and was smitten and taken captive, he turned totally away from YHWH and eventually was killed by his own people.

What started out as a seemingly obedient life, turned nasty…why? Because his whole heart was not in it for YHWH!

The lessons we can take from this are many, showing that the danger of a heart not being perfect, in other words a lukewarm heart can become cool and then eventually stone cold! A stone cold heart is a hard heart, an unteachable heart, deafened to the truth, disrespectful and lawless! And we certainly see a lot of stone cold hearts in the world today, even those who are seemingly serving YHWH! The Word calls for us to serve YHWH with a perfect heart!

But, you may ask, is it possible to serve YHWH with a perfect heart, are we not all sinners unable to be perfect?

Berěshith/Genesis 17:1 “And it came to be when Aḇram was ninety-nine years old, that YHWH appeared to Aḇram and said to him, “I am Ěl Shaddai – walk before Me and be perfect.

Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:48 ““Therefore, be perfect, as your Father in the heavens is perfect.

Be perfect, often a hard expectation if understood in the wrong way, but what is it to be perfect or have a perfect heart?

‘Not a perfect heart’ often speaks of one who began well yet did not endure to the end – one who does not carry on to completion that which they are called to! It can be a ‘doing right, but…’ kind of scenario. There are to be no ‘buts’ in our committed life unto YHWH!

What does perfect mean? It can mean, flawless as in a flawless diamond, accurate, faithfully reproducing the original, pure complete, mature etc.

In the Hebrew there are two words for which we translate as perfect:

1 – Shâlêm – which means pure, complete, perfect, whole, finished. This is used in the Hebrew as an adjective, as in a perfect heart:

Melaḵim aleph/1Kings 8:61 “Let your heart therefore be perfect to YHWH our Elohim, to walk in His laws and guard His commands, as at this day.

2 - Tâmîym – this is a verb that translates over 90 times as perfect, without blemish, complete or full:

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 18:13 “Be perfect before YHWH your Elohim

Understanding these two Hebrew words used interchangeably throughout the Scriptures in referring to perfection in serving YHWH we can understand that the meaning is to be upright, totally obedient, to finish what was started and have a constant obedience. Having a perfect heart is having a responsive heart – one that answers quickly to YHWH’s call, His whisperings and His warnings. I sent out a warning this morning – about why we are not to celebrate Christmas and sadly many people are not ‘responsive’ to the Truth and incline to follow after the traditions of men and discard quickly the commands of Elohim for the sake of following after the world, caring more to please man rather than YHWH. At this point let me ask again, ‘How is your heart?’

In Hebrew the word heart (lev) is not only seen as the seat of emotions, as we would understand it in our culture, but also as the seat of thoughts, whereas we see the brain as the seat of thoughts. To the ancient Hebrew the heart was the mind including all thoughts and including emotions. In other words to love YHWH with all your heart is not simply speaking of an emotional love, but rather an exerted continual effort in keeping all of our emotions and thoughts working for and unto Him. Mattithyahu 5:8 tells us that blessed are the pure in heart or those with a clean heart fro they will see Elohim. Dawiḏ in Tehillim 24 asks who can ascend the mountain of YHWH and stand in His set-apart place – those with innocent hands and a clean heart,

To be pure in heart means to be single minded in our devotion to YHWH and in our determination to love Him wholeheartedly. The Hebrew word ‘Tâmîym’ comes from the word ‘tâmam’ which means to be complete and comes from the root ‘tâm’ which means to be mature in thought and in action. So when we are told to be perfect (tâmîym), we are told we are to be complete, and be mature in our thoughts and actions. We are to move on to maturity which comes through the perseverance of trials in order to be complete and not lack anything. It is those who are immature – those who stay on the milk of the Word, who cannot walk perfect before YHWH. Although many ought to be teachers by now, they have not moved on to maturity in the Word and stumble continually in the man-made traditions that have held people captive on milk. The church today is in large feeding people milk, and not even pure milk at that – but rather a ‘formula’ – which is man-made as opposed to the pure milk of a mother and never allows people to be weaned of the milk and think for themselves!

We know that Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah tells us in 17:9 that the heart is deceitful above all things – and perhaps that is why we can often so easily say everything is ok, when it is not! Yet Shemuʼĕl Aleph/1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that YHWH looks at the heart. So as YHWH looks at your heart – what does He see?

The problem with Amatsyahu was that his heart was not perfect before YHWH – He did not serve only YHWH but he wanted to mainly serve Himself! This was seen in the fact that he did not destroy the high places he should have and as a result ended up worshipping other mighty ones of the enemies – he was not wholeheartedly faithful unto YHWH. He was in it for himself! It was a ‘what can I get out of this relationship with YHWH’ approach, and today it is exactly the same with so many professing followers of the Messiah! They are only thinking of self and what they can benefit out of walking with Him – that is why so much emphasis is placed on the ‘prosperity gospel’ and ‘Word faith’ movements as it is self-seeking for the benefits of walking with YHWH. Now we certainly know the blessing of obedience, yet it is not for the blessings that we are obedient, it is out of our expression of love toward the Almighty for delivering and redeeming us unto Himself, and so we humble ourselves before Him in wholehearted committed devotion with a perfect heart! We clearly see the contrast in his reign (Amatsyahu) with the reign of other good kings who were before him. There is a contrast between the faithfulness of those who walked in righteousness and Amatsyahu who, in a nutshell, was not faithful in all. Where others rebuilt, Amatsyahu saw destruction as the walls of Yerushalayim were torn down, where wealth was previously poured in to Yehuḏah, it was now being plundered. We see how from victorious of faithfulness went to defeat from unfaithfulness and where a loyal population turned to conspiracy and assassinated their king! This is a result if an imperfect heart!

We can look at this and think ‘how stupid was he?’, and yes you are right, how stupid was he to go and worship other deities, especially after great victories that YHWH had given – he was really stupid!!! But before we gloat over his stupidity, many of the beliefs today are just as stupid. Astrology, spiritism, new age, the whole kundalini move in the charismatic churches today as well as many other systems that promise to help the hopeless, yet are bankrupt and unable to help anyone. What is sad and a reality is that those who reject YHWH simply do not want to know the Truth!

As we look at the errors in Amatsyahu, we can certainly be warned not to allow the same errors to come creeping in to our lives, which calls for a heart that is perfect, perfect in devotion and commitment to loving YHWH with all!

During the reign of Amatsyahu – a man whose name meant strength of Yah, yet did not live up to his name and tried to do things in his own strength, we can see critical errors he had in life that we are to avoid:

1 – His Paganism – He continued to worship false deities, even after YHWH gave him success. Today there are many, especially at this time of year that claim to be following YHWH yet are worshipping pagan deities, bringing them into their homes and worshipping them. Yes you all know what I am talking about – tomorrow the world celebrates Christmas, along with millions of people who are serving YHWH – but not with a perfect heart. Aharon thought he was serving YHWH when building a golden calf and saying, tomorrow is a feast unto YHWH and to YHWH this was an abomination!!! You cannot mix worship. Amatsyahu thought he could and look what happened to him! Please do not find yourself ever being attracted to taking on pagan worship of any kind – do not worship YHWH the way the world has adopted worship practices from pagan cultures, we are to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth – in the Truth as He has given us through His Word. So many today can have the greatest victory in battle and find themselves praising themselves and falling into idolatrous practices neglecting YHWH – be warned not to let your heart become lukewarm in your fervency for Him, for that lukewarm heart may cause compromise in worship and lead to a cold stone heart that has lost trust and faith in the very One who has given you the greatest victories!

2 – His Pride – When you start worshipping other things, even self and neglect to have a perfect heart of worship unto YHWH then pride has a nasty way of settling in a cold heart. Amatsyahu in his pride refused the warnings and challenged Yisra’ĕl to war trying to prove his own strength! A perfect heart toward YHWH has no room whatsoever for pride! Pride will kill you. The meek will inherit the earth, the proud fall!

3 – His punishment – Amatsyahu was captured, His pride led to his downfall. He was plundered, the city walls were broken and his idols couldn’t save him from the hand of the Almighty. The punishment for sin is death, if Amatsyahu had simply humbled himself and repented, I believe that he would have been restored, but it is very hard for a stone cold heart to repent. Yahushua took upon Himself our punishment, and we must humble ourselves and serve Him with a perfect heart, or else we too may face the punishment of walking rebellious and in pride as a result of lukewarm living! We know the end of the Lukewarm – He (Yahushua) will spit them out!!! “Away from ME you workers of lawlessness, I never knew you!!!

So how do we keep a perfect heart before YHWH. It starts with being open before YHWH, allowing Him to deal with those imperfections that are in our heart:

Tehillim/Psalms 139: 23-24 “Search me, O Ěl, and know my heart; Try me, and know my thoughts; 24 And see if an idolatrous way is in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

Dawiḏ was willing for YHWH to search him and try his heart: a perfect heart is a searchable heart, which means we allow YHWH to penetrate and examine deeply into our thoughts and emotions. The false teachings today tell you that as long as your heart doesn’t condemn you then you are ok and the Blood of Yahushua has cleansed you, yet they fail to neglect what it says prior to this:

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 1:6-7 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and are not doing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yahushua Messiah His Son cleanses us from all sin.

His Blood cleanses us yes, but we are to be walking in the light as He is – we are to be walking in His instructions with a perfect heart inclining to walk in the perfect knowledge of His Loving Word!

But looking at the life and example of Amatsyahu we can learn 7 keys or steps to a perfect ‘Shâlêm’ heart that will cause us to be perfect ‘Tâmîym’ in our daily walk: I call these the 7 ‘do-rights’

1 – Do right even when you feel that you have been wronged!

Amatsyahu served YHWH and chose to obey YHWH with his life, initially that is, and showed obedience to the Torah by not taking revenge on the children of his father’s murderers. How many of you have ever been wronged? Come on we all have!!! But how many times are you so tempted to give back just what you got? Do right, even when you are wronged and yes it was not your fault and you are right when you stand and say, ‘but it is not fair, I did nothing wrong!’ Continue to do right!

2 – Do right even when you feel unappreciated!

There are right choices to make even when nobody appreciates your faithfulness, they may even despise and reject you. Still do right according to the Word. People may ridicule you, speak all kinds of false things about you, despise and reject you and persecute you for simply being obedient to YHWH! Yahushua tells us that we are blessed when we are persecuted for His Name’s Sake, for just as they persecuted the prophets who were before you so will do to you – but we are blessed through it – for we carry His Name. They hated Him and therefore the world will hate us and not appreciate His Word in us, that is ok – still do right!

3 – Do right even when it does not make much sense!

Bigger may always seems better but is not always the case. Amatsyahu was told to send the 100,000 troops of Yisra’ĕl home. That was taking away ¼ of his army – it may not have made sense to him, yet he obeyed and did what was right in YHWH’s eyes – which brought the victory! Even when we have made a blunder in our walk, when we come and turn to YHWH and walk fully in His Word, he promises us the victory for the battle is His! His ways are higher than our ways and most of the time his way may not make much sense – still do right and the understanding will come in the doing!

4 – Do right even if it requires sacrifice!

Amatsyahu had given 100 talents of silver – the equivalent of around 23 million rand – not small change – what about the silver he asked. The answer was simply – YHWH is able to give you more than this. Do what is right, even if it costs you and you seemingly lost something because of wrong choices that were made in ignorance or in the flesh. I wonder today, perhaps a silly example yet a valid one, how many would, if they bought a ticket to a world cup final and it cost them thousands, only to realise and discover that it was on a Sabbath, would actually not go and tell their friends why they cannot go and realise that the money is gone, and perhaps some of the friendships too?

5 – Do right even if not politically or socially correct!

After the victory over the Edomites, Amatsyahu proceeded to kill a further 10,000 captured enemies, wiping out the enemy totally – in today’s standards that would not necessarily be politically correct. The Word of YHWH always takes priority over what is seen as politically or socially correct! What is seen as politically and socially correct today? Among other things, abortion, same sex marriage, gay rights etc. are all seen as politically and socially correct. We are to follow after the Truth and do right by the Word of YHWH which calls these and many other things abominations before Him!

6 – Do right and give YHWH all the praise when He has blessed you with victory!

This is where Amatsyahu faltered - rather than giving praise to YHWH, he bowed and worshipped the idols of his enemies! Crazy I know – he served YHWH yet not with a perfect heart – a perfect heart does not compromise worship and always gives praise to YHWH, and will not bow down to another – a word many in the world need to here, even tonight as they bow down to idol worship of pagan traditions of Christmas, calling it worship unto YHWH – yet He calls it an abomination! Let us not give praise to another, but only unto YHWH!

7 – Do right even when it seems there is no battle to fight!

Keep on fighting the good fight of faith! Amatsyahu must have thought that since he had the victory, he could do whatever he pleased and he felt he no longer needed the services of the Almighty! How sad this is, yet such a valid reality in our day. He thought as many do today that he could take a vacation from war and worship the gods of imagination!

Too many place more emphasis and make worship of imaginations than on the real and true Almighty Creator, YHWH of Hosts is His Name!

Amatsyahu went from a lukewarm heart, one that compromised and ended up with a cold stone, hard heart that refused to hear from YHWH. Once he would listen, yet hardened he became deaf of hearing the Truth. There are many who are doing what is right in YHWH’s eyes today, yet not with a perfect heart – they say the right things and even do the right things, yet there are little deliberate compromises that they refuse to give up and so end up with lukewarm worship. It is one thing to have the appearance of doing the Torah, by showing up for Shabbat and study and prayer, but a perfect heart does those things and lives it out fervently every day of the week, even when others are not watching…. YHWH is always watching, and so I ask you again… How is your heart?

Perhaps you too have been doing what is right in the eyes if YHWH yet not with a perfect heart, you have perhaps been doing what needs to be done, because you know you should yet it has been out of duty and not out of a pure heart. I encourage you to learn from the account of Amatsyahu not to follow YHWH with a half-hearted approach, but rather with all you have and give Him your all with a perfect heart, one that will finish the race set before you with great joy and expectancy of Him meeting every need and strengthening your hand for every battle. Perhaps you too have seemingly ‘lost’ out on much that you have ‘spent’ on trying to get ahead, get over it and realise that YHWH has much more to give you than what you could ever engineer, but it is going to take a willing, ever obedient perfect heart.

As the question rings true in your heart – how is your heart? Be open before the Father and draw close to Him now and let Him refresh and cleanse you and give you a new breath to serve Him perfectly as He leads and guides your every step and may we heed His voice telling us to be perfect as He is perfect!!!

Let us walk perfect and have a perfect heart before YHWH – look at the following Scripture where Dawiḏ commissions Shelomoh to do the same:

Diḇre haYamim Aleph/1 Chronicles 28:9 “As for you, my son Shelomoh, know the Elohim of your father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a pleasing life, for YHWH searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you do seek Him, He is found by you; but if you forsake Him, He rejects you forever.

Let us ‘do right’ in the eyes of YHWH, with a perfect (Shâlêm) heart that we may be perfect (Tâmîym) before a perfect (Tâmîym) Elohim and teach others to do the same. Take this word and live it out perfectly and show those who are not how to as they follow your example as you follow Messiah.

Shalom to you all – YHWH bless you and guard you, YHWH make His face shine upon you and give you favour, YHWH lift up His face to you and give you peace, may He give you His shalom.