Friday, April 29, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 82. Joash King Of Judah

Prophets And Kings
Day 82
Joash King Of Judah

The author backs up a bit today to remind us of how the late king Ahaziah's mother tried to kill all his heirs. Ahaziah's youngest son, Joash, was hidden away by his aunt. Today the young boy Joash is crowned king of Judah.

2 KINGS 11:1-12
"When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land." (2 Kings 11:1-3) What a wicked woman Athaliah daughter of Ahab and Jezebel is! What a dreadful mistake King Jehoshaphat made when he arranged a marriage between his son Jehoram and Ahab's daughter Athaliah. This is the fruit of that terrible decision. 

But the Lord saves the royal line of Judah by the actions of a godly woman. The Lord made a promise to David and He intends to keep it. Jehosheba manages to rescue the youngest prince and hide him at the temple where her husband, Jehoiada, is the high priest. 

"In the seventh year Jehoiada sent for the commanders of units of a hundred, the Carites and the guards and had them brought to him at the temple of the Lord. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath at the temple of the Lord. Then he showed them the king's son." (2 Kings 11:4) It would appear that the whole nation believes all the sons of Ahaziah are dead. Athaliah herself must believe that Joash is dead or else I think no stone would have been left unturned in looking for him. When men were sent to kill all the royal princes, the men must have believed all the princes were accounted for. It could be they were confused about the number of them, or they miscounted, or it never occurred to them that anyone would hide one of the children away. I like to think this confusion was a divine confusion, sent upon the men by God in order to protect the infant Joash. 

Jehoiada brings the commanders to the temple and makes each of them swear an oath of secrecy before showing them the heir to the throne. Then he sets forth his plan. "He commanded them, saying, 'This is what you are to do: 'You who are in the three companies that are going on duty on the Sabbath---a third of you guarding the royal palace, a third at the Sur Gate, and a third at the gate behind the guard, who take turns guarding the temple---and you who are in the other two companies that normally go off Sabbath duty are all to guard the temple for the king. Station yourselves around the king, each of you with weapon in hand. Anyone who approaches your ranks is to be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.'" (2 Kings 11:5-8) Jehoiada knows Athaliah will stop at nothing to hold onto the throne. She was willing to do anything, including killing her own grandsons, in order to sit on the throne. The king must be heavily guarded to prevent any of Athaliah's henchmen from breaking through to him.

The nation is not happy with the wicked Athaliah ruling over them but up til now there has been no one strong enough to wrest the throne from her. But a living heir of the king has the right to the throne and these men are more than happy to help Jehoiada with his plan. "The commanders of units of a hundred did just as Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each one took his men---those who were going on duty on the Sabbath and those who were going off duty---and came to Jehoiada the priest. Then he gave the commanders the spears and shields that had belonged to King David and that were in the temple of the Lord. The guards, each with weapon in hand, stationed themselves around the king---near the altar and the temple, from the south side to the north side of the temple." (2 Kings 11:9-11) The Sabbath is the best day of the week to announce the new king because it's a day when people gather at the temple. The biggest possible crowd is available on the Sabbath to hear the announcement. 

"Jehoiada brought out the king's son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, 'Long live the king!'" (2 Kings 11:12) Jehoiada goes about this coronation in the proper way. He presents Joash to the people as their king and crowns him in their sight. He then gives Joash a copy of the covenant according to the Lord's command for kings in Deuteronomy 17:18-20, "When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel." 

Joash, being only seven, needs someone to write out a scroll of the law for him, so Jehoiada presents him with the covenant. A king old enough to write it out for himself was to do so in order to better imprint the words on his heart. As the author of Psalm 119 says, "I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You." (v 11) The king was to further hide the word of the Lord in his heart by reading from it every day of his life. The Lord made a great promise to any king who obeys this command, that he will reign a long time on the throne and his descendants will reign a long time after him.

What a momentous and joyful day this must have been for the citizens of Judah. A new and rightful king will now sit on the throne and that awful woman Athaliah will perish in tomorrow's passage. Joash will be a good king for Judah as long as his uncle Jehoiada lives. Because Joash is only seven years old when he ascends to the throne, the priest is his adviser for many years. But later, after Jehoiada dies, Joash listens to ungodly advisers and goes astray. He will have Jehoiada's son stoned to death and because of this some of Joash's own men will assassinate him. The reign that began on such a happy note will end with Joash not even being buried with the kings.

Some of Judah's kings were good and some were wicked, but through it all we see the Lord keeping His promise to David. Not all the men who wore the crown were worthy of it, but still the Lord honors His word. He honors His word for David's sake. And He honors His word because a King is coming of the royal line of Judah, a King who will give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, a King who will make the mute talk and the handicapped walk, a King who will call the dead back to life, a King who will buy our souls back from the slavery of sin and give us new life and a new hope. A King is coming. Long live the King!

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