How Edom Lost, But Won

Amaziah…did what was right…
but not with a loyal heart…

2 Chronicles 25.1-2

When Edom posed a threat to Judah, King Amaziah did what a king should do: he raised an army to meet the threat, which included 100,000 mercenaries from the northern kingdom of Israel. When a prophet brought word from God that the northerners were not to go with Judah to the fight — Who needs Israel when God is on your side (2 Chronicles 25.7-8)?! — Amaziah sent the Israelites home. Leading only his Judeans, Amaziah won a great victory over the Edomites in the Valley of Salt (somewhere in the vicinity of Petra). But then we read, “Now it was so, after Amaziah came from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the people of Seir, set them up to be his gods, and bowed down before them and burned incense to them” (2 Chronicles 25.14). On the opponent’s home turf (the Valley of Salt, Petra) and against all odds, Judah won the game going away. Then they hired Edom’s coach. Does it get anymore insane than that?

The Chinese have a saying that in war, enemies tend to swap vices. And it’s true: in fighting an evil, we can easily become evil. Amaziah crushed Edom’s army but adopted Edom’s gods. And the reason they did is revealed in the second verse: Amaziah did right, but his heart wasn’t in it, and eventually, what was in his heart came out. It doesn’t matter if we’ve conquered paganism on the battlefield if paganism has penetrated and conquered our hearts.