Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 79. Jezebel Killed, The Royal Line Of Judah Preserved

Prophets And Kings
Day 79
Jezebel Killed
The Royal Line Of Judah Preserved

Today a prophecy from 1st Kings comes true bouts the wicked Queen Jezebel. Athaliah, mother of the now-slain King Ahaziah of Judah, assumes the throne herself and tries to wipe out the royal family. But the Lord is faithful to Hims promise to David and Him protects a member of the family to carry on the line that will someday lead to the Messiah.

2 KINGS 9:
The newly anointed king of Israel, Jehu, has killed King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah outside the city of Jezreel. Now he goes into the city on the hunt for the Queen Mother, Jezebel. "Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, 'Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?'" (2 Kings 9:30-31) When we studied 1 Kings 16 we met this fellow Zimri. He was an official who commanded half the chariots of King Elah of Israel, and he conspired against the king and slew him, taking the throne for himself. Jezebel is calling Jehu "Zimri" to accuse him of the same things. Jehu was a high official in the army of King Joram but has now killed his master and has taken the throne for himself.

Some scholars speculate that Jezebel is still a stunning woman, perhaps relying on her good looks to charm Jehu into sparing her life or even taking her as his own wife. It was an ancient custom for the new king to take over everything that belonged to the previous king, including his queen and his harem. Jezebel's beauty has no effect on Jehu. "He looked up at the window and called out, 'Who is on my side? Who?' Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. 'Throw her down!' Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot." (2 Kings 9:32-33) Eunuchs were employed to guard queens and harems because their neutered state rendered them unable to have sexual relations with the women, Kings and wealthy men could feel safe leaving their women in the care of eunuchs. Jezebel's eunuchs, however, hate her enough to obey Jehu and throw her from the window. She was a wicked, spiteful, and demanding woman who probably made their lives hell on earth. These men were likely quite glad to be rid of her.

Jezebel's fate fulfills the prophecy spoken by Elijah regarding Ahab and Jezebel and their dynasty. Elijah spoke these words after Jezebel had the innocent man Naboth executed because he didn't want to sell his land to Ahab. "Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel." (1 Kings 21:23) This is about to happen while Jehu refreshes himself inside the house. "Jehu went in and ate and drank. 'Take care of that cursed woman,' he said, 'and bury her, for she was a king's daughter.' But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. They went back and told Jehu, who said, 'This is the word of the Lord that He spoke through His servant Elijah the Tishbite: 'On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel's flesh. Jezebel's body will be like dung on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, 'This is Jezebel.'" (2 Kings 9:34-37)

There is probably some symbolism about the scavenging dogs turning their noses up at Jezebel's head, hands, and feet. While she lived she possessed a mind that devised murderous plots. She had hands that shed innocent blood. She had feet that were quick to rush to evil. King Solomon had something to say about this type of character, "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community." (Proverbs 6:16-18) Jezebel was guilty of all these things the Lord hates and not even hungry mangy dogs lurking about the city gates wanted to eat the guiltiest parts of her.

No one will ever be able to stand by a tomb and visit the resting place of Queen Jezebel. Not even her ardent followers: the priests of Baal and the temple prostitutes of Asherah, will have a place to go where they can honor and mourn their queen. Jezebel perished without honor because she refused to honor the Lord. 

Next we see what's happening in the household of Ahaziah king of Judah after his death. "When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah." (2 Chronicles 22:10) Her own family line perished with King Joram and so she wants to wipe out any male of Judah who can lay claim to the throne upon Ahaziah's death. She intends to sit on the throne herself and so preserve the royal line of her own family.

"But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Because Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada, was Ahaziah's sister, she hid the child from Athaliah so she could not kill him. He remained hidden with them at the temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled the land." (2 Chronicles 22:10-12) Athaliah is so wicked she had her own grandchildren killed, with the exception of this one whom Jehosheba managed to rescue. Joash is only a year old when he is rescued because 2 Chronicles 24 tells us that he's seven years old at the end of Athaliah's six-year reign of terror. It's hard for us to imagine a woman so evil she would try to kill her own infant grandson as he lies in his crib, but as always God has His people in every time and in every circumstance. The godly woman Jehosheba saves the child's life and flees with him to the temple, where he is hidden until the Lord sets him on the throne.

Ever since Satan heard the Lord say to Eve that her offspring, the Messiah, would crush Satan's head and would bring salvation to mankind, he has attempted to eliminate the Messianic line. He led Cain to kill Abel, believing Messiah would spring from the godly Abel, but instead Jesus' lineage is reckoned from Seth, the child the Lord gave Eve in place of Abel. Later on, when Jacob had his twelve sons, only one of them was godly and so Satan incited the jealousy of Joseph's brothers against him. He tried to influence them to kill Joseph but, failing that, managed to tempt them to sell him into slavery. But once again he miscalculated because the Lord intended to bring Messiah from Judah's line, not Joseph's. Next Satan used a wicked Egyptian king to enslave all twelve tribes of Israel, bringing a spirit of paranoia upon the king to the point of killing newborn sons of the Israelites. But Moses' mother protected him as long as she could and then sent her daughter down to the river with him in a basket, later to be rescued by Pharaoh's own daughter, and thus the Lord raised up a deliverer to bring His people out of Egypt, preserving the tribe of Judah along with the other eleven tribes. Between the years of the exodus and the setting up of a king over Israel, the people fought with their neighbors and they fought among themselves. Time and again Satan tempted the people to sin and he tempted the nations around them with a spirit of anti-Semitism, hoping that the people would either sin so much God would reject them or that the other nations would destroy them. When Israel chose her first king, Saul of the tribe of Benjamin, the devil may have thought he had succeeded in turning their hearts aside, but he soon learned that God's chosen man was David of the line of Judah, and so he set out to kill him by using Saul and his paranoid delusions. But God rescued David and placed him on the throne, making him a promise that He would never let David's line die out, making an even more awesome promise that Israel's eternal King would come from David's descendants. But we see in today's passage that Satan is still at work, trying to cut off David's line, trying to make void the promises of God. It cannot be done. What God has said will stand forever. No one, not man or the angels or the devil himself can undo a single promise of God. 

The gospel according to Matthew gives the royal lineage of Jesus and in this genealogy he skips over several of the bad kings of Judah, including Joash who was saved by his aunt today. It was common to leave out persons whose actions were shameful and we will learn that Joash only follows the Lord while his uncle the priest is alive but he goes horribly astray after Jehoiada's death. Also his son, Amaziah, is left out of Jesus' genealogy, because he was an idolater. The genealogy of Jesus picks up with Amaziah's son, King Uzziah, who reigned over Judah for fifty-two years. He went astray at the end of his life but because his reign was long and prosperous and he was faithful to God until his final years, his name is included in Jesus' genealogy by Matthew. 

When the godly woman Jehosheba saves the life of her infant nephew today, she is acting within the will of God. She's an instrumental part of His plan to preserve the royal line of Judah. Her faithfulness to God is a part of Him keeping His promise to David. Joash himself will not be a godly king but keeping him alive is keeping God's promise alive. Both good kings and bad kings will spring from the line of Joash but the most important King of all is yet to come: the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Deliverer of God's people Israel and the Deliverer of mankind, the Savior and Messiah. No plot will ever succeed against the word of God. No scheme of hell will negate God's promises. The King will come. 

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