To me, the history of Ancient Israel and Judah is thrilling and enthralling. This true story is better than any blockbuster Hollywood could imagine. It is the drama of God’s love, His promise, and His keeping of that promise to redeem His people. It is a thrilling love story filled intrigue as the antagonist tries over and over to destroy Jesus and His bride. But God promised salvation and the enemy will not and cannot win. Let’s delve into another exciting chapter of the this epic story.
After Jehu killed Ahazia and Joram, he reigned in Israel, but what happened in Judah? Ahazia was killed and someone had to reign in his place. His mother saw that her son was dead and she didn’t mourn, she didn’t cling to her grandchildren for comfort, she decided it was her turn to rule. She couldn’t risk losing the power she enjoyed and wanted more of it. Verses 1-3 read,
“Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king's sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death. 3 And he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the Lord, while Athaliah reigned over the land.”
Athaliah decided she had to reign, she became a false queen to Judah. Like Pharaoh who feared the Hebrews and Herod who feared a king greater than himself, this evil woman tried killed the entire royal family, her own children and grandchildren so that she would not lose power. And like Miriam did for Moses and Joseph did for Jesus, Jehosheba rescued baby Joash from mass murder. She escaped death and sacrificed her life to save the people of Judah and the Davidic line.
The child was raised in The House of the Lord, taught by priests and cared for his nurse and his aunt. For six years he stayed hidden there while Athaliah reigned and claimed to be the rightful ruler of Judah. But she forgot that The Lord had promised David that his throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16). We cannot thwart God’s plans. We cannot undo His Word. So The Lord would make sure David’s line stayed on the throne. Athaliah declared herself the queen, but the true king was coming. Her feigned reign went on for six years. Verses 4-12 continue the story.
“But in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of the Carites and of the guards, and had them come to him in the house of the Lord. And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the Lord, and he showed them the king's son. 5 And he commanded them, “This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king's house 6 (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards) shall guard the palace. 7 And the two divisions of you, which come on duty in force on the Sabbath and guard the house of the Lord on behalf of the king, 8 shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever approaches the ranks is to be put to death. Be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in.”
9 The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.10 And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David's, which were in the house of the Lord. 11 And the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house on behalf of the king.12 Then he brought out the king's son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”
It is the seventh year, the Sabbath year God brings rest and freedom from captivity, slavery, and tyranny. Leviticus 25 describes both the Sabbath year (the 7th year) and the year of Jubilee (the seventh 7th year). The year of Jubilee brought redemption from debt and slavery. People could be redeemed it was a foretaste of Heaven and the coming Messiah.
In the seventh year of Joash’ time in hiding it was time for the true king to be revealed. The guards only had to be shown that Joash was alive and the real king to win their allegiance. They carried out their plan on the Sabbath Day. They brought the young king to the courtyard and crowned him in front of all the people who had come to worship the Lord. There was a lot of celebration, the noise was so loud that Athaliah heard it. Verses 13-16 continue the riveting story.
“When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the Lord to the people. 14 And when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” 15 Then Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and put to death with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the Lord.” 16 So they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses' entrance to the king's house, and there she was put to death.”
When Athaliah heard the celebration and came to see what was happening she saw the anointed king and understood immediately that she had been usurped and her monarchy was over. She accused the people of treason, the very same crime she had committed. I think that is the case for many of us, lost or saved. We point the finger at people who are committing the sin we are committing ourselves. The false prophet will accuse Christians of idolatry because we refuse to worship the image of the beast. Athaliah charged the priests and guards with treason, the act she committed to make herself queen. The lost accuse the saved of hypocrisy while they ignore the contrasts in their own lives. Christians accuse one another of false piety or pride and overlook the fact that the accusation makes us self-righteous and prideful.
Athaliah’s blood would not sully the Temple, she was brought to the palace and executed there, along with anyone who followed her. Then with their rightful king in his place, the people of Judah rededicate themselves to the Lord. Verses 17-21 read,
“And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and people, that they should be the Lord's people, and also between the king and the people. 18 Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest posted watchmen over the house of the Lord. 19 And he took the captains, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they brought the king down from the house of the Lord, marching through the gate of the guards to the king's house. And he took his seat on the throne of the kings. 20 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king's house.
21 Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign.”
Their rededication, renewed the covenant or reminded them again that they were God’s people and He was their God. It was not just a ceremony, a declaration, or lip-service. It was backed up with action. They removed Baal. They removed the false queen from the throne and placed the rightful king in his rightful place. When we make Jesus our Lord, whether it be the first time or the seventh time, we have to intentionally remove the idols from our lives, take ourselves (our false monarch) off the throne of our hearts and put Jesus, the True King there instead. The declaration that Jesus is Lord is not enough, He must actually be the Lord to us. Romans 10:8-10 puts it this way,
“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
Saying it alone is just empty words. It is the addition of understanding in your heart who Jesus is and putting faith in Him to be who He is that justifies and saves.
God’s Word cannot be undone. He made a covenant with David that his throne would be established forever. Jesus Christ reigns on that throne today. We can put our faith in Him, the King of kings, Faithful and True, or we can put our faith in the false monarchy of ourselves. We can be allegiant to money and our own strength or we can put our trust in The LORD.
God’s Word will always come to pass. One Day Jesus Christ will return and the false king and false prophet and everyone who followed them will face the price for their treachery. But whoever puts their faith in the Lord will be saved. Where is your allegiance? Who is really on the throne of your heart? Is it Jesus Christ or you?