“Moreover Amaziah gathered Judah together, and made them captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, according to the houses of their fathers, throughout all Judah and Benjamin: and he numbered them from twenty years old and above, and found them three hundred thousand choice men, able to go forth to war, that could handle spear and shield. He hired also an hundred thousand mighty men of valour out of Israel for an hundred talents of silver. But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim. But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down.
And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this. Then Amaziah separated them, to wit, the army that was come to him out of Ephraim, to go home again: wherefore their anger was greatly kindled against Judah, and they returned home in great anger.
And Amaziah strengthened himself, and led forth his people, and went to the valley of salt, and smote of the children of Seir ten thousand. And other ten thousand left alive did the children of Judah carry away captive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they all were broken in pieces.” (2 Chronicles 25:5-12)
In preparation for a major battle, Amaziah the king of Judah thought it would be a great idea to enlist the help of strong men from Israel. But it turned out to be a bad idea since at this time in Israel’s history they were in open rebellion against God and God was not in their favor. Since the Lord wanted Judah to win the battle, he sent a prophet to warn Amaziah that forming an alliance with pagan Israel in war would be his demise. Amaziah did not realize that ultimately it is the Lord that could bring about victory or defeat depending on the choices that an individual makes.
After being confronted by the prophet, Amaziah acknowledged his mistake but was concerned about all of the money he put into gathering help from Israel. The prophet explained that God’s favor would far surpass any money he wasted on forming his unholy alliance. So Amaziah sent the Israelite troops home and God gave Judah the victory in battle.
Those of us who follow Christ must be careful about who we form alliances with. So often we, like Amaziah, forget to consult God first when we are facing a major battle to find out how he wants us to proceed. Sometimes we jump ahead into unholy agreements and then later find out we have to backtrack to sever the alliance after wasting time and resources.
This happened to a church I attended in the past. They wanted to build a new building and enlisted the help of a secular organization to pay for the costs and ended up sharing the facilities with them. The agreement worked for awhile, but eventually the church wanted to start a ministry project that required permission from the city council. Unfortunately, the secular organization that was part owner of the building made public that they did not agree with what the church wanted to do and betrayed the church’s leaders. Their alliance had to be severed. It caused a lot of people to be offended, but worked out for the church’s favor in the end.
Another example of an unholy alliance happened when I was volunteering for a parachurch college outreach ministry many years ago. The ministry was organized to help college students and was sharing facilities with a United Methodist Church. In the beginning things were fine, but after awhile the United Methodists, who owned the property, made the demand that whoever used their facilities had to welcome openly gay individuals to be a part of their organization without speaking against their lifestyle. This presented a dilemma for this particular outreach ministry I was part of since they wanted to stick to principles established by the scriptures to help the college students they were ministering to. The demands made by the United Methodists placed the ministry in a position where it was necessary for them to find a different building to use for their ministry work and they eventually cut their ties to the United Methodists.
When it comes to social issues we tend to compromise also. In our battles against abortion and gay marriage, believers have enlisted the help of religious and secular organizations for public protests that don’t believe in Jesus Christ. Some of our churches and parachurch organizations in recent years are also relying on government grants to accomplish certain goals. Many times these grants have strings attached that can stand in the way of what God wants. Do we rely on non-
Christians because our faith in God is weak? Do we think God is unable to help us or that he just doesn’t care? Could it be that we think we can only be guaranteed a victory based on the number of people we can recruit? Maybe it’s time for us to examine our alliances to see if God is really pleased with them.
For another perspective on partnerships and agreements, click here.
–Harry A. Gaylord–