Text: 2 Chronicles 21-24
After Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah, we read of his son, the evil king Jehoram, who establishes his kingdom and then kills all his brothers. He marries a daughter of Israel’s king, Ahab and does much evil in God’s sight.
When Jehoram forsook the Lord, God struck him and his kingdom. Edom and Libnah rebelled against Judah, the Philistines and Arabs attacked and Jehoram’s wives and sons were carried off. He himself becomes very ill and dies in great pain. Only his youngest son, Ahaziah is left to become king. Ahaziah keeps his father’s advisors and continues in the evil path of Jehoram.
The Lord raised up Jehu to execute judgment on the house of Ahab and since Ahaziah joined Israel’s king Joram in battle against Jehu, he was killed. Upon his death, Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, saw a window of opportunity and killed all his sons and proceeded to take the throne for herself. She ruled 6 years.
But secretly, Ahaziah’s youngest son, baby Joash, was rescued and hidden in the temple of God, safe from Athaliah’s murderous hand. Under the guidance of the priest Jehoiada, Joash becomes king at 7 years old and Athaliah is put to death. As long as Jehoiada is alive, Joash does well and even leads the effort to restore and reinforce the original design of the temple.
But after Jehoiada the priest dies, the officials of Judah take his place in advising impressionable Joash. Together they abandon the temple and worship Asherah poles and idols so God sends prophets to warn against their guilt. Despite all he had done for him, Joash kills Jehoiada’s son, the prophet Zechariah.
Consequently, God allows a small Aramean army to attack and take Judah, even though they had the larger army. Joash was left severely wounded and his officials conspired against him and killed him. His son Amaziah then came to power.
The author of Chronicles is laying out the correlation between the success of the king and the prosperity of Judah with the faithfulness of their hearts to God, the temple and the covenant. Writing to the returned exiles who have recently rebuilt the temple, it is so important that they remember this correlation so they remain faithful to God and so prosper.
We can see the success of the kings of Judah depended greatly on their advisory relationships. Jehoram’s downfall was his relationship with Ahab, the king of Israel’s northern kingdom. Ahaziah’s downfall was in keeping his father’s advisors. Athaliah had no legitimate claim to the throne and her own selfish and tyrannical nature was her downfall (much like her mother, Jezebel). Only Joash, when he was advised according to the covenant of God by the priest Jehoiada, was able to prosper. But he too was corrupted by bad advisors after Jehoiada died.
Regardless of the nation’s faithfulness, God kept His promise to David that a ruler from his bloodline would continually be on the throne. Even when it seemed like Judah’s line was cut off and tyranny was prevailing during the rule of Athaliah, the daughter of Israel’s king Ahab and his wife Jezebel, God was moving behind the scenes, using a man of God (Jehoiada) to raise up a child in David’s dynasty (Joash) to take back the throne. Of course God's promise to David was, and is, ultimately fulfilled in the everlasting King, Jesus.
We see from today’s reading how God sometimes moves behind the scenes. For the 6 years of Athaliah's tyrannical reign, no one in Israel knew the hidden hope of the baby king being raised and prepared for his rightful throne until the day Joash's kingdom was restored to him. Likewise, in today’s world there is no shortage of tyranny and corruption and some may feel desperate and abandoned to chaos. Despite all the madness, the truth is God is active and on the move—sometimes hidden behind the scenes, sometimes gloriously out in the open—to spread the knowledge of King Jesus in the world to spread the dominion of His Kingdom.
So too in our personal lives we experience seasons of God’s hiddenness and God’s manifestation. We might refer to the manifestation seasons as “mountain top experiences” and they inspire and prepare us for the hidden season, “valley” times that may look like ordinary, daily living.
Are you experiencing God’s hiddenness or His manifestation in your life right now? Why do you think God works this way?
Lord, thank you that no evil plot in the world is hidden from you. You are not surprised by tyranny and you are prepared for it. Thank you for the hope of Jesus. May our relationship with Jesus be our hope and may our dedication to making Jesus known to those around us be hope for the world.
Song: Jesus, Hope of the Nations
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.