Today's reading from 2 Kings 14.
How bad have things gotten for the chosen people? Amaziah, king in Judah, felt a little salty after defeating the Edomites in battle. What does he do with his newfound swagger? He challenges Jehoash, king of Israel. That's right. His idea of progress was to challenge their brothers in Israel.
It could be that Amaziah was just feeling a bit arrogant after the battle in the Valley of Salt, and thought he might be powerful enough to reunite the tribes. Maybe it was some sort of jealousy or just the longstanding animosity that drove him to do it. Regardless, the outcome was not what he desired. The Israelites defeated Judah on their home turf, tore down part of the wall around Jerusalem, and seized hostage and treasure.
Yet, as the accounts of the kings continue to be told, we move from civil war to the rise of another monarch bent on doing that which was evil in God's eyes. This king, Jeroboam of Israel, reigns for 41 years, perpetuating the generational sins that had become entrenched in Israel. This is not so surprising. What is truly remarkable is the fact that this is one of the most prosperous times Israel had seen in forever.
This is the era of the prophets Jonah, Hosea, and Amos. The region is quiet due to coups and power plays among the foreign strongholds. In this small window, the people enjoy unhindered trade, increased revenues, and sin on another level. However, God oversees and causes this, not because the people are worthy, in fact the text says that there is really no one that can help Israel. Instead, God is doing this in spite of the people. He had made a promise, and He would not at this time allow Israel to be blotted out.
Time and again, we've seen that the people were, in many ways, their own worst enemy. Imagine how the Old Testament would be different if Israel could have remained faithful. Imagine how things might have been had they kept their side of the covenant, and remained a powerhouse in their region, but that was never God's plan. Even if those things had happened, we would have still needed a Savior. Prosperity was a blessing offered if the people would be faithful, salvation was the plan of God in spite of faithlessness.