Saturday, May 18, 2013

CXLIX - II Kings 11, 12 - Joash, King of Judah

In the last post we studied about Jehu, king of Israel.  He was a violent warrior and I expressed that I thought that Jehu was exactly who and what Israel needed at that particular time.  Although he was not a Godly man like David, he was obedient to God in that he obeyed Him in fulfilling a difficult commission, under extremely difficult circumstances.  We concluded that God uses whomever is most able and willing to serve His purpose, which often is not the Godliest of people.

Now we shift focus from Israel to Judah.  We will study in this post an entirely different type of personality - Joash.  Joash reminds me somewhat of King Tutankhaman (King Tut) of Egypt because he was so young when he was crowned king of Judah.  He was only seven years old, but wise beyond his years.  But we will also discover what the death of a person in a leader's life can influence him.  When the priest Jehoiada died, Joash seems to have lost his "compass", and his reign as king took on a different face.

Chapter 11  -  In the very first verse of this chapter we're introduced to another personality, Athaliah.  She was the only woman who reigned in Judah or Israel.  She was Ahaziah's mother.  She took over the throne when Ahaziah died of the wound that Jehu and his soldiers afflicted him with.  Athaliah pronounced herself as queen of Judah and she became drunk with power, having no intentions of giving any of it up.  As we should already know, bloodlines have an impact on who we are and how we think.  Our parents and ancesters hand down traits that are difficult to ignore, and more difficult to change.  In this case, Athalia's parents were Ahab and Jezebel.  Her father Ahab was the king of Israel, and Athaliah married Jehoram, king of Judah.  She was treacherous in all of her dealings.  She was so desparate to keep her newly-acquired position of power that she ordered all blood relatives of her own son to be killed.  Her own grandchildren.  This eliminated any legitimate claim to the throne she declaired to be hers.  {Had she totally accomplished this, not only would all of her grandchildren be killed, but the bloodline of King David would have been eliminated.  That is the same bloodline from which our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus was born.}  Vs 2  -  Athaliah would have succeeded had it not been for her sister Jehosheba.  Jehosheba took a big chance and stole away the youngest of all of the heirs, Joash, who was an infant at the time.   Ahaziah had all of Joash's brothers, sisters, and cousins murdered.  Because Joash was just an infant, he was easy to hide and was kept in Jehosheba's bed chamber until he became too big to hide, at which time he was moved to the temple (vs 3) and successfully hidden there for six years.  This was a huge secret to keep for that long.  Just a very few realized this child being raised in the temple was the rightful king of Judah.

In verse 4 we see another important character introduced.  Jehoiada was the high priest in Jerusalem at this time.  Although being the busy high priest, Jehoiada must have become fond of Joash over the years, having watched him grow up in his presence.  Jehoiada chose this time to launch a revolution in Judah, which would overthrow Athaliah as queen and place Joash as the new king of Judah.  {I'm not certain of the reason Jehoiada chose this particular time.  I don't believe there is anything special about the age of seven.  That is still too young to rule an entire nation.  I believe Athaliah had just gotten increasingly evil and out of control, prompting Jehoiada to act immediately, which seems sudden.}  In verses 4--> we see how much care Jehoiada took in planning this revolution.  His highest priority was to assign the best soldiers to protect the young Joash, as he knew that queen Athaliah would quickly turn to violence.  He also used the military to spread the word quickly and with enthusiasm to all of Jerusalem that the rightful king did in fact exist and he was annointed and crowned king that very day.  Everything had gone as planned.  Joash was crowned king and there was jubilation in all of Jerusalem.  In the palace, Athaliah heard the noise of the celebration and rushed to see what was going on.  When she realized what was happening she cried, "Treason!", hoping to stir her military to action, but the military was already made aware that there was now a ligitimate ruler of Judah.  {As evil as Athaliah was, it is easy to assume that she ruled by fear.  Her court, military, and her subjects were probably relieved to see her reign come to an end.  Living under fear must have been terrible in Jerusalem for these seven years.}  Under Jehoiada's orders the soldiers took her into custody and executed her.  Judah had a new king - Joash.

Verses 17-21  -  Jehoida was the High Priest, and truly a wise man of God.  He did "first things first".  Immediately following the coronation Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord, the king, and the people.  It called for a commitment of the king and the people to God and a commitment of the king and the people to each other.  {This was an important first step.  He was laying a foundation of Joash's rule that would have make his reign successful for decades to come.}  After ratifying this covenant the people destroyed the temple of Baal along with its altars and idols in Jerusalem.  They also killed Mattan, the priest of Baal in Jerusalem.  So Joash began his reign with a "clean slate", having had all the official parts of Baal worship in Jerusalem destroyed.  It says in verse 20 that the city was calm.

Chapter 12,  Verses 1-16  -  Repairing the Temple

It says early in this chapter that Joash did what was right in the sight of God, but is quick to remind us that he failed to rid the nation of the high places in Judah where people continued to burn sacrifices to strange gods.  However, as an expression of his zeal to reform Judah, King Joash attempted to repair the Temple, as it had been grossly neglected for years.  An offering was collected from the people to restore the Temple, providing the priests with the resourses to make the needed repairs as time allowed.  But this plan failed because the priests were not making the repairs as fast as new ones popped up.  And Joash made his displeasure known to the priests.  But Joash was wise enough not to place blame unfairly.  From that time forward, a continual collection was to be made at the Temple, allowing the people to give all the time as they felt led.  Joash made a wise decision that this money from these offerings was to be used only to hire skilled labor, and nothing else.  {When offering money is placed into a "general fund" and not isolated for its intended purpose, the money always seems to make its way to something else.  Not that anyone plans to abuse the money, but there is always a need arising, making it easy to rationalize using funds for the immediate.  After a while that money is gone and the original objective is never realized.  I think this is the reason Joash put it into Temple Law that the money taken from these collection chests were not to be used for anything else.  (Look what happened to our Social Security money.)  this very move that Joash made convinced me of his wisdom.}
Verses 17-21  -   Joash Falters

I want to make a point at this time that the parallel passage in II Chron. 24:2 says, "And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest".  This is significat toward the remainder of this chapter.  Up to this point, which I'll guess would be between the 25th and the 30th year of Joash's reign in Judah, there had been peace both from within and without.  Judah had experienced no serious threats from other nations.  So Joash had no experience in dealing with such threats, and his mentor Jehoiada had died a number of years earlier.  Even in the parellel passages of Chronicles, we don't get a lot of details about the reign of Joash.  However, at this time the Syrians, under Hazael, conquered Gath and was threatening to take Jerusalem.  Joash should have consulted God and wise council within his grasp.  But fear caused Joash to act in haste.  Joash decided to try to bribe Hazael, so he stripped the Temple of all its treasures and gave them to Hazael.  Although this bribe worked and Hazael withdrew his threat, the price Joash paid was too high.  These treasures were sacred objects dedicated to the Temple by many of his predecessors.

In brief conclusion to the reign of Joash, the "boy king", his reign began with violence when his grandmother Athaliah was overthrown, and it ended with violence, as Joash's own servants conspired against him and killed him while he was travelling.  His son Amaziah succeeded him on the throne of Judah.

Next post  -  Johoahaz and Jehoash, kings of Israel

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