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During my second year of teaching English to High School sophomores, I quickly learned that the problems I had as a teenager not only still existed but were now magnified. From clicks to friendship and bullying, it has been hard to see the wave of anxiety, fear, depression, suicide, abuse, and family issues pressing upon their weak and weary souls.
While I, as an educator, have faced grave exhaustion in noting these grievances, one thing that hasn’t changed over the decades is my students’ understanding of fickle allegiance. Although kids are quick to realize that Bob isn’t a real friend and should not hang out with him, I wonder why peer pressure causes them to do what they don’t want to do. To be faithful to some and faithless to others.
In Romans 7, Paul explains this dynamic complex as a war between our flesh and spirit:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:15-20, NIV).
In the book of 2 Chronicles, beginning at chapter 33, king after king demonstrates this principle of doing what we ought not to do, even though we know we ought not to do it.
From Hezekiah to Manasseh and Amon, this book reveals that the kingdom is divided into two nations after Solomon’s death. In an attempt to explain what God thought of the kings of Israel and Judah, it is clear that the people of both Hebrew nations sin, and God punishes them by sending them into exile. Regardless of the king in charge, they were primarily unfaithful to the King of Kings. Their allegiance for long-lasting periods was not only wayward and unreliable but greatly bewailed the generations to come.
Today, I think about how quickly a new king would turn from the last in disobedience to God. Even if the king before them chose to do good in the Lord’s eyes, all the work completed to destroy the idols would be replaced by rebuilding them. Manasseh is merely one example of this faithless devotion.
Burning his sons as sacrifices, participating in witchcraft, consulting mediums, and bowing down to idols, I wonder how in the world someone could choose in his heart such wrath. Why do people choose evil over good day after day?
But as much as we are tempted to think we would never commit such heinous acts, we do it all the time.
We spend more time gossiping and complaining when we should be praying.
The number of hours we do ministry may grow, but are we ministering to familial kin?
Our conversations with the Lord have grown dim, foggy, and uncomfortable because we fear what will be brought into the light.
We never take the time to stop to listen for the apprehension of what might be heard in the silence.
Because as much as we’d like to pretend we aren’t like the kings of 2 Chronicles, I have also asked myself these questions in evaluating how I live my life. Like King Manasseh, we have all strayed in time, commitment, and faithfulness to Jesus, even if we fail to admit it. And even when God convicted Manasseh (or myself), we’re kings and queens at ignoring the rebuke.
Shortly after Manasseh paid no attention to the Lord’s warnings, Scripture tells us that the Lord brought against him and his people the army commanders of the king of Assyria. Taking him away with a hook in his nose and bronze shackles on his feet, Manasseh was taken to Babylon.
Only from within his distress did Manasseh turn to the Lord, and I have to wonder how many of us wait until that point of havoc to surrender to His will today.
On the surface, our pride tells us we aren’t like these kings. We are white porous with faults hidden in the cracks like nobody will notice them. But deep down, hibernated in the crevices of hearts beating and thoughts swirling, we know that as Manasseh needed to seek the Lord in his agony, so too do we.
“But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13, NLT)!
Shortly after Manasseh prayed and committed his life to the Lord alone (and meant that), he rebuilt places, removed foreign gods, and restored altars. He encouraged people to serve the Lord and worship Him as the one true God.
Because maybe, sometimes, God tests our allegiance to Him? Perhaps He’s waiting to see what you’re willing to give up, move, and budge on to see His will for your life fulfilled. To know that whatever your occupation, hobbies, status, you are committed to serving and sacrificing your life to God alone– not your anxiety, fear, debilitating illnesses, or unforeseen and unknown roadblocks and destinations along the way.
“After this Manasseh rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, from west of the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley to the Fish Gate, and continuing around the hill of Ophel. He built the wall very high. And he stationed his military officers in all of the fortified towns of Judah. Manasseh also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the Lord’s Temple. He tore down all the altars he had built on the hill where the Temple stood and all the altars that were in Jerusalem, and he dumped them outside the city. Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He also encouraged the people of Judah to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. However, the people still sacrificed at the pagan shrines, though only to the Lord their God” (2 Chronicles 33:14-17, NLT).
Fickle allegiance is a paradox, a contradictory evolution of being committed but not entirely. God doesn’t want you to be half-heartedly dedicated to Him; He wants your whole heart. As a noun, allegiance is loyalty to some cause, person, nation, or ruler. As an adjective, fickle is quick to change one’s opinion or allegiance; insincere; not loyal or reliable.
Scripture tells us in James 1:7-8 of the TPT that a restless or disengaged spirit is a fickle one:
“When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. Can you really expect to receive anything from the Lord when you’re in that condition” (James 1:7-8, TPT)?
God wants you and your life to be committed to Him no matter the cost. You don’t have to be a Pastor to hear from the Lord, nor do you need to be famous to make a difference for the kingdom at hand. All God asks for is a heart committed to Him.
In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. For the course of the world leads to death, but the route of the Godly leads to life, wisdom, prosperity, and growth.
“Vindicate me, Lord, because I have lived with integrity and have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Test me, Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind. For your faithful love guides me, and I live by your truth” (Psalm 26:1-3, CSB).
Help us to live by your truth, Lord, in wholly surrender to an allegiance worthy of your name.