Saturday, April 30, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 83. Wicked Queen Athaliah Meets Her Death

Prophets And Kings
Day 83
Wicked Queen Athaliah Meets Her Death

Yesterday the high priest Jehoiada and the army commanders brought out the young boy Joash, the only survivor among all King Ahaziah's sons, and they anointed him and crowned him king of Judah. Today Athaliah, who is sitting on the throne in place of hers dead son, hears the commotion at the temple. She meets hers doom today.

2 KINGS 11:13-21
When we left off yesterday, Joash had been crowned king outside the temple on the Sabbath, a day when the most citizens would be present. The people were happily shouting, "Long live the king!" Athaliah hears the noise and goes to see what's happening. "When Athaliah heard the noise made by the guards and the people, she went to the people at the temple of the Lord." (2 Kings 11:13) Being a devoted Baal worshiper, it took this great noise to get Athaliah anywhere near the temple of the Lord.

"She looked and there was the king, standing by the pillar, as the custom was. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets." (2 Kings 11:14a) None of this has to be explained to her; Athaliah knows what she's witnessing. Imagine her shock, for she believed she had managed to eradicate everyone with a legitimate claim to the throne. She is a woman so sinful that she ordered all her grandsons killed because she saw them as her rivals. Now, at the discovery that her youngest grandson is alive, she is deeply grieved not by her own actions but by the fact that an heir remains to take the throne from her.

Can any of you parents or grandparents even imagine what an evil heart would do the things Athaliah did? She ordered all her son's children killed, from the oldest to the youngest, just because power meant that much to her. She had no regard for the lives of these children who were her own flesh and blood. Had it not been for the godly woman Jehosheba, even a one-year-old boy in his crib would have been murdered by the queen's soldiers. But by the grace of God and according to His promise to David, He instructed a faithful woman to preserve the royal line of Judah and she did so. She did so even knowing that, if her "crime" were discovered, it would mean her own death. Her faithful husband Jehoiada, the high priest, hid the child for six years in the temple. He hid the child knowing that if this were found out, Athaliah would have him, his wife, the child, and all the priests killed. The faithful priests who served at the temple helped to hide the child, knowing this secret meant their life or death. Yet all these were more than willing to stand up for what was right. They were willing to risk their lives in order to perform their parts in God's plan for Judah. I praise the Lord because He calls out a people for His name in every generation! No matter how wicked the world grows, no matter how much lawlessness abounds, in every generation we will find those faithful to God. We will find those willing to take a stand for Him and for the honor of His name. We will find those ready to risk it all for the cause of Christ.

At the sight of Joash's coronation, Athaliah is beside herself. "Then Athaliah tore her robes and called out, 'Treason! Treason!'" (2 Kings 11:14b) What a hypocrite she is. Athaliah herself committed more treason against the crown of Judah than anyone before her. Yet she has the nerve to call it treason that the rightful king now stands crowned before the people. 

"Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: 'Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.' For the priest had said, 'She must not be put to death at the temple of the Lord.' So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death." (2 Kings 11:15-16) Jehoiada had warned the men ahead of time not to shed blood on the temple grounds, for the temple grounds were consecrated to the Lord. This is a holy place, not to be desecrated by the blood of a wicked queen.

Having taken Athaliah out of the way, Jehoiada is able to get on with the business of swearing in the new king. "Jehoiada then made a covenant between the Lord and the king and people that they would be the Lord's people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people." (2 Kings 11:17) The king takes vows to serve the Lord, then he takes vows to serve the people. After that the people take vows to serve the Lord and their king. 

Strengthened by the hope of a better Judah and by their promises to the Lord, the people move on to tear down the temple of Baal in their land. "All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars." (2 Kings 11:18a) It's been a bad week for Baal in both Judah and Israel. Earlier in the week we saw King Jehu of Israel and his men tearing down the temple of Baal in the northern kingdom. Today Baal's temple is torn down in the southern kingdom of Judah. And the men don't care about shedding blood and desecrating Baal's temple because Baal is a lie and his followers are deceived by a false religious system. In fact, they want to desecrate Baal's temple so no one can reuse the site for a new temple.

"Then Jehoiada the priest posted guards at the temple of the Lord. He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, the guards and all the people of the land, and together they brought the king down from the temple of the Lord and went into the palace, entering by way of the gate of the guards. The king then took his place on the royal throne. All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the palace. Joash was seven years old when he began to reign." (2 Kings 11:18b-21) What a day of rejoicing in Judah! Because a few godly people have done what is right in the Lord's eyes, a revival breaks out. Imagine then what might happen if God's people prayed daily for revival and healing in our nation. Sometimes we think to ourselves, "What can I do? How can the feeble prayers of one person accomplish anything?" But we learned this week that the feeble prayers of one godly woman accomplished much. Led by the Lord, Jehosheba rescued the infant prince at the risk of her own life, and now Judah is rejoicing and praising the Lord because this young boy is crowned king. One priest, willing to risk it all to play his part in God's plan of keeping the royal line of Judah alive, will now lead the nation back to the Lord while he lives. He will advise the young king in the ways of the Lord. 

James, the brother of the Lord Jesus Christ, promises us, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16) More than ever before I feel an urgency to pray for our nation. What if we, as God's people, devoted a portion of our day each day to pray for America? I'm not suggesting we spend hours on our knees in fervent prayer, although if the Lord ever leads you to do so, by all means do it. But a few minutes spent each morning in sincere sprayer for our country could make a world of difference. Let's pray for revival. Let's pray for the Spirit of the Lord to fall on our people like never before, that there would be a turning back to Him, that all hearts would say of the Lord Jesus, "He is my King. He sits on the throne of my heart, crowned with many crowns. Long live the King!"

Below is a song that never fails to thrill my soul because it speaks of the One who is worthy to sit on the throne, the One who will reign in righteousness over this world someday. To Him be all the honor and glory forever.

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