I'm not one for New Year's resolutions. I suppose I don't like the disappointment when I don't meet my own impossible standards. But I do like to reflect on the previous year and look forward to the one ahead of me. As the year turned from 2014 to 2015 I was reading through the stories of the kings of Judah and Israel in Kings and Chronicles. It's hardly reading that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside as you start a new year. If you are familiar with their history, after King Solomon died, Israel and Judah split into two separate kingdoms. The tribe of Judah had one set of kings. The remaining tribes of Israel had another. Every king in Israel was unfaithful to the Lord, while Judah had periodic glimpses of God's continued work.
Even in the midst of rebellion and idolatry, God was still faithful to his promises to his people. He could have wiped them out. But he didn't. He sustained the Davidic line in order to pave the way for the one true King, Jesus.
But what has stuck with me as I think about the coming year is that even the faithful kings of Judah stumbled at the end of their lives. Solomon was loved foreign women and was led astray by them (1 Kings 11:1-8). Asa failed to remove the high places (2 Chron. 16:17) and then at the end of his reign failed to repent of his sinful reliance on the Syrian King (2 Chron. 16:7-14). Jehoshaphat joined with the king of Israel (2 Chron. 20: 35-27). Amaziah did not follow the Lord with his whole heart and became a wicked king (2 Chron. 25). Uzziah became proud when he became strong (2 Chron. 26: 16). Hezekiah boasted of his successes and flaunted his resources (2 Kings 20:12-21). The list could go on.
Every one of these kings at one point followed the Lord. Every one of these kings started well. They knew the scriptures. They knew what was expected of them. Yet they fell away. As I start a new year I don't want to think that I am not susceptible to the same soul-destroying pride that pulled them away from the true God.
Of course, in all of this there is a greater story being told, isn't there? In Judah's sordid history is a scarlet thread that tells us that a greater king is coming. King Jesus never fell away. King Jesus never grew proud of his power and might. King Jesus never sinned, thus never needed to repent. So if you feel the weight of the same sobering truth, that you are prone to wonder just like me, rest in this amazing truth: the same Christ who called you will keep you. The same Christ who died for you will sustain you. The same Christ who bore the curse for you will convict you when you fall away. Left to ourselves we are just like those wicked kings of Judah, the best of intentions, but no means of fulfilling them. Christ is our means. That is a New Year's Resolution that has already been done for us.
What a great hope for a busy new year.