Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Daily Bread for May 16, 2 Chr 21-24

Today's readings are 2 Chr 21-24

Jehoram takes over as king of Judah after Jehoshaphat dies. He immediately kills all of his brothers, along with some of the leaders of Israel. Jehoram is no better than the wicked kings of Israel (2 Chr 21:1-7). Edom and Libnah, to the West, revolt.

Jehoram leads Judah away from God. The Philistines and the Arabians, tools in the hands of God, attack from the East (2 Chr 21:8-17). What becomes evident in these scenarios is that God’s people suffer when they neglect their relationship with Him. He removes their protection and frequently uses pagan people to inflict hardship and oppression.

Emphasizing the point, Elijah prophesies a plague on Jehoram, his family, and his people. Elijah accurately predicts that Jehoram will die painfully from a "disease of the bowels" and the prophecy is fulfilled when Jehoram dies an agonizing death. Whatever slippery slope his father was on is accelerated in Jehoram, ultimately ending in his doom as well.

Here's another lesson learned in this. When one generation compromises, the next generation takes that as the norm, then makes their own compromises...and so it continues until someone repents and turns back to the Lord. Jehoram's scriptural epitaph is one of the saddest and most tragic in the Bible, "...he departed with no one's regret" (2 Chr 21:20).

Jehoram's son, Ahaziah (not the same as Ahaziah, the king of Israel), assumes the throne of Judah. His mother, Athaliah, is his primary counselor. She is wicked, just like her husband. Keep in mind that Athaliah is the daughter of evil King Ahab of Israel. Jehoshaphat, a good king of Judah, allied himself with Ahab and allowed his son, Jehoram, to marry Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. They have Ahaziah. Athaliah leads Jehoram astray, then leads her son astray as well. The situation deteriorates. Ahaziah dies at the hands of Jehu, a God-ordained executioner (2 Chr 22:1-9).

Ahaziah's mother then kills the entire royal family except for one, making herself the sole heir to the throne. Note, her anger and ambition are so great she murders her own family to get what she wants. Scripture warns about marrying people outside the faith. This whole mess started when Jehoshaphat, allowed his son to marry the daughter of Ahab. Now, both kingdoms are struggling and are operating outside of God’s blessings and protection.

Athaliah is now queen. Joash, one of Ahaziah’s sons, has been
 secreted away by Jehoshabeath, Athaliah’s daughter or step-daughter and wife of Jehoiada, the priest. Joash grows up, hidden in the Temple, protected from the queen.

When Joash is seven, Jehoiada rallies the priests and the military commanders to establish Joash as king, by virtue of his sonship (2 Chr 23:1-7).

Athaliah is executed. Jehoiada forms an alliance between the priesthood and the military to protect Joash and bring Judah back to the Lord while the young king grows up (2 Chr 23:16-21).

The amazing thing about this complicated story is that God has brought the consequences of their actions down upon the wicked kings (and queen) of Judah while, at the same time, making good on His promise to keep a descendant of David on the throne.

2 Chr 24 gives us some background information on Joash that is not revealed in 1 Kgs 12. We find that the king’s slide backward starts when Jehoiada, the priest and his mentor, dies. Judah ends up "abandoning the house of the Lord" (2 Chr 24:18).

God sends a prophet, Jehoiada's son, to draw Joash back in line. Instead of repenting, Joash kills him. Syria invades, and Judah's army is defeated because they had forsaken the Lord (2 Chr 24:23-24). Joash, a good king gone bad, is assassinated by his servants.

Joash's story shows us that our faith must be our own. While it is scripturally appropriate to have mentors, they should never be the focus of our faith nor the source of the strength of our convictions. Evidently, Joash was a godly man while his mentor was alive but turned to ungodly counsel upon Jehoiada’s death. Whether it was intentional on Jehoiada’s part or not, Joash seemed to rely on the counsel of his mentor rather than his own relationship with God. A mentor should point us toward the Lord, not his own teaching.

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