The Lord’s People
“Jehoiada then made a covenant that he, the people and the king would be the Lord’s people.” 2 Ch. 23:16
Baal worship obviously was introduced to the nation by the previous kings who had made an alliance with the north, and Athaliah appeared to take over the practice as well. Had she been the Lord’s person, she would not have done all the evils that she did, for people are predominately defined by whom they worship. Baal as a deity couldn’t care less about correcting his worshippers’ moral behavior. In fact, the demons hidden behind man-made idols are thrilled when they see idolaters engaging in all kinds of corruption.
“Be holy, because I am holy.” “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Indeed, we must be adorned with holiness to see the Lord, and the sole purpose of the incarnation was to make God’s people holy so that they could meet the Lord.
“Jehoiada then made a covenant that he, the people and the king would be the Lord’s people.” Holiness has the connotation of separation, and the ones who vow to be holy must keep themselves from being polluted by the unclean things of the world or worldliness.
It wasn’t a covenant that people could take casually, really. After it was established, the Lord would hold both their inward thoughts and outward actions accountable. It would take the Israelites daily vigilance in holding onto the Lord and guarding themselves from engaging in worldly corruption to remain the Lord’s people. This is by no means that easy to accomplish.
We must determine who we would like to be and remind ourselves daily that we should be consistent in our belief and practice. Being the Lord’s people is a lifelong commitment from which there is absolutely no retirement. It’s not merely an occupation or profession; it’s rather an identity by which we are recognized. It’s the essence of our being.
Is it even optional whichever we choose to be?
Had I been given a choice whether I wanted to be my father’s son or not, I might have had second thoughts about the whole thing, yet there is absolutely nothing on earth or in heaven that can change the fact that I am my father’s son. My family name has been given to me, and it makes no difference whether I like it or not. That’s who and what I am.
Why do we even want to reinvent ourselves by giving ourselves an entirely different identity or by adopting another father who isn’t our father at all? It’s rather bizarre and irrational.
Making a covenant with the Lord was merely an outward thing, really; it was a homecoming for wayward children of God. However, what was needed for them to become the Lord’s people was repentance.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 7:24:00 AM
“So they seized her as she reached the entrance of the Horse Gate on the palace grounds, and there they put her to death.” 2 Ch. 23:15
She should have been content to be a mother of a king and the grandmother of all her grandchildren, yet whatever she possessed, which far surpassed most people at the time, wasn’t quite enough. She wanted a lot more than what she was entitled to have. She desired to rule the entire nation, and her son’s untimely death seemed to present her with an opportunity to do just that.
My grandfather was semi-illiterate, yet he seemed to have aspirations for politics in his old age and decided to run for mayor of our village. It was such a big deal for the family that my dad made a point of calling me to come home to vote. He became a mayor for two terms and became well respected in my hometown. What drove him to run for an office that didn’t seem to have any tangible reward? I often wonder. Surely it wasn’t ambition for power that drove him to it; perhaps it was his hunger for recognition and popularity that motivated him to do it. My grandfather was a good man, and I applaud him for doing what he did, and it was therapeutic for him to find something to do in his old age.
What if my elderly grandfather had had an opportunity to become a king over a nation - would he have done all things possible to attain the goal? I think the answer to this is rather simple. But come to think of it, what difference would it have made had my grandfather become a king, not merely a mayor of a seaside village? Not all that much, for sure. I flew home to attend his funeral and there were quite a few dignitaries present. After all the ashes of burnt paper money were swept away, my grandfather didn’t leave anything behind except a few memories treasured by his offspring.
Surely it’s not my intention to denigrate my own grandfather. I was merely mentioning him for the sake of argument. Athaliah was caught by surprise what the plot to get rid of her occurred and she was executed quite unceremoniously at the end. What good did it her to have been sitting on the throne for a number of years? Nothing at all, except she would be judged by the Almighty for what she had done to acquire the position.
So her end would mark a new beginning when she would have to face the Judge and encounter the ones whom she had mercilessly murdered who would be serving as witnesses and exhibits during the trial of her earthly crimes.
Greed and ambition surely don’t pay if we look at them from the perspective of eternity, and all the sinful actions done in our flesh to fulfill our earthly ambition will not be left unaccounted for or unpunished. We must be vigilant in guarding our interior and exterior life, for the present and the future are closely connected, and eternity is only a breath away.
Friday, February 24, 2017 7:38:00 AM
“They went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites and the heads of Israelite families from all the towns.” 2 Ch. 23:2
Jehoiada the priest obviously had a plan to carry out what he wanted to do, which was to get rid of Athaliah and put the king’s son on the throne. His main concern was to make sure a descendent of David was sitting on the throne so the promise of God would remain true throughout the generations. Athaliah was in control of the country at the time and what Jehoiada was doing was rather dangerous. It took careful planning to pull the whole thing off, and a small misstep along the way could have gotten everyone involved killed. Surely the business he was undertaking was quite risky.
Was the priest doing it out of his hunger for power? That probably wasn’t the case, for he was merely grooming the young son of the king to be the future ruler of Israel. He could have taken over the kingship had he intended to do so, since he had every opportunity to achieve the goal had he so desired. The priest was doing it out of his fear of the Lord and the glory of God’s kingdom, we can only conclude.
At the very first he approached military leaders to form a covenant with them, for he realized that he needed to have the military’s support. Then he turned to both community and spiritual leaders in all the towns of Judah to solicit their assistance as well. He knew the time was right to take decisive action when all these things had been accomplished.
When the action was taken to enthrone the king’s son, Athaliah didn’t stand a chance. The ship had already sailed and her fate was determined. The fatal woman had tasted the bitter sweetness of power and was poisoned to death at the end.
Athaliah might have been too naïve to know the intrigue of courtly politics and, more importantly, she had no idea the sovereign God would exact his divine justice one way or another. Her sins would eventually catch up with her and God’s justice would prevail.
“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.” This was indeed the case with Athaliah; and it will be the case with all rulers and leaders of nations who have no regard for God and no respect for his mercy and justice.
Isn’t it a blessing that we only have to suffer ungodly leadership for the duration of four to eight years here in the States, and the ones who have led unjustly will suffer ill-consequences eternally? It’s indeed frightening to be in their position, for surely they will be held accountable for how they lead the nation, and the all-seeing eyes of the Almighty sees that the emperor wears no clothes, no matter how ardently he is admired by the masses.
Thursday, February 23, 2017 7:10:00 AM
To Get Involved
“In the seventh year Jehoiada showed his strength. He made a covenant with the commanders of units of a hundred…” 2 Ch. 23:1
Jehoiada could have stayed away from politics and avoided getting involved in the struggle and intrigue of the throne. Such action was extremely dangerous and, being a high priest, Jehoiada might not have been equipped for such a daunting task. He could have lost his life in the process.
Surely Athaliah was a ruthless woman and there was nothing she wouldn’t do to keep the position she had achieved through murdering the ones who were entitled to the throne.
Put yourself in his position. What would you have done? The choices the high priest had were rather simple: he could lay low, side with Athaliah, and not rock the boat, or he could oppose the king’s mother and put his life and his entire family in serious jeopardy
I know exactly what I would have done. I would have chosen to protect my family by remaining silent. I suppose a lot of people would have done the same thing. Self-protectiveness is our natural instinct, isn’t it?
Unless we are called to do the unusual and the unexpected during a time of great crisis, what we do may make a great difference to the survival of a society or even a country.
I suppose Jehoiada didn’t just do these things out of the blue while the royal family was being butchered left and right. Unless the woman was stopped in her tracks, God’s promises to David would have been voided.
In that case, Jehoiada would have had no option but to follow God’s leading and to take appropriate action during a time when following the Lord was a very dangerous thing to do. He and his wife did just that.
We are indeed called to be proactive in all aspects, including getting involved in the political process. Getting involved should start in our own neighborhood by doing the smallest thing to help the helpless, the underprivileged, and the disenfranchised.
We surely didn’t go out and seek this Mexican family, yet they started coming to our church and the least we can do is to start praying and helping this family the best we can. As a body of Christ composed mostly of foreign students and Chinese immigrants, we must reach out to the ones who are targets of discrimination and social injustice.
What Jehoiada and his wife did made a tremendous difference to the viability of the nation of Judah.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 7:28:00 AM
“When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah.” 2 Ch. 22:10
Was it a normal way for a mother to react to her son’s death? We can hardly imagine that. Yet that was the way it happened. The woman must have lost her mind, for “she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah.” What was the reason behind the heinous act? It is rather obvious, isn’t it? Athaliah wanted to make sure there was no one standing in the way of her becoming the ruler of Judah, period.
The woman was clearly “unsexed” as invoked by Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s tragedy. She wasn’t a mother or a grandmother anymore; she turned into a power-thirsting monster who would do anything to keep the throne. Such is the deadly seduction of absolute power and a deed such as that hasn’t been all that uncommon in human history if we make a survey of all the chronicles of kings both from east and west.
Is power really that deadly seductive? I guess I will never know since I have never been placed in that kind of a position. I have always been rather powerless and have learned to dislike power of any kind since it’s so blind and manipulative. I have been victimized by it one way or another my entire life, so how can I be seduced by something I have come to hate so much?
I suppose there is no need for me to experience the seduction for power personally to know its validity and potency. It’s merely akin to all other kinds of temptations of sin that know no bounds until they achieve their ultimate purpose, which also includes the total ruin of the tempted. Obviously, such a temptation was engendered in Athaliah’s heart when her son lost his life and his throne. She was actually pondering about the possibility since the day she became one of the kings’ wives and the seduction would run its course until the end. The ambition to take over the throne became an overarching preoccupation in her life, which drowned out all the other things that made her human, including her relationships with her husband and children. Ambition for power has a tendency to make all things natural unnatural and turns love into hatred. When the lust for supremacy is kindled, it scorches all things beautiful on its way and turns humans into beasts.
“When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah.”
This is a clear portrait of what the temptation of sin can do to a human being. We know how potent and deadly the power is when it turns a mother against her son and a wife against her husband. It sure happened to Athaliah, and it could happen to anyone who is put in her position.
Monday, February 20, 2017 7:27:00 AM
“He then went in search of Ahaziah, and his men captured him while he was hiding in Samaria. He was brought to Jehu and put to death.” 2 Ch. 22:9
Ahaziah could have stayed in Jerusalem and been safe, for it was a trip he didn’t have to make. Yet out of his enthusiasm for the north and his affection for Ahab’s son, he went and it turned out to be his downfall. Whether you can call it international politics or otherwise, it became the last journey the king would ever take. He was buried in Samaria, and forever remained a stranger in a foreign land even after his death.
Ahaziah was only twenty-three years old and his reign in Judah only lasted for a year.
He could have been killed like all his brothers, yet his life was spared merely for a year so that he could assume the kingdom and enjoy a brief moment of fame and glory. What difference did that make anyway, for it would have been far better had he been taken away before he had received any opportunity to commit more sins and to accumulate more sinful acts? There was not a whole lot to know about the young king except his unholy alliance with the north and his eagerness to imitate the ungodly nation.
Why do we even crave longevity if we fail to put our earthly time into good use? Unless we intend to serve the Lord with the days we are given, we will just sink deeper into the black hole of worldliness, causing us to journey farther and farther from the presence of the Lord.
Isn’t it what Eliot was trying to convey when he wrote: “But nearness to death no nearer to God?”
What would the king have done with the earthly days he possessed had he known he only had one year left? Surely he wouldn’t have wasted his time and energy waging war or taking a long trip to bring condolences to a wounded foreign king. Time was preciously short and he would have prioritized what he was going to do.
Was being a king over a nation for one year more desirable than being a poor peasant who had to labor under the sun all day for a living? It probably didn’t make a whole lot of difference to both, for the shortness of time and fleetingness of fame and fortune would render all earthly pleasure rather meaningless. What should have occupied his mind was how to make the connection between time and eternity.
We would have a greater sense of urgency in preparing ourselves to meet the Lord if we realized we only had a year left, but would relax a bit if we thought we still had ten or twenty. Come to think of it, should it even make any difference?
Thursday, February 16, 2017 7:58:00 AM
“He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father’s death they became his advisers, to his undoing.” 2 Ch. 22:4
Perhaps the fatherly advice his godly grandfather had left behind wasn’t enough for the new and ambitious king. He intended to carve a path for himself and, in order to do that, he had to forsake the old worn-out ideas and seek for new input elsewhere. So he turned to the north where idolatry was thriving and people seemed to be taken hold of by liberalism and new found freedom.
Leading a godly life seems to be rather boring and stale, and bathing in air of liberation is what we seek, isn’t it?
By forsaking the limits and boundaries established by Asa and Jehoshaphat, Jehoram and Ahaziah had to reinvent the country and her culture by bringing in new thoughts and novel ideas. So they pushed the limits of the nation more and more to the left and eventually got to the precipice of a moral boundary, where there was no place to go but go down to the deep end.
We seem to thumb our noses at moral stability and enjoy swimming in the pulsating pool of moral fluidity. Uncertainty and unpredictability about reality is what makes our palms sweat and our hearts race fast, and to create meaning of things at each encounter is what we do the best. Life is all about composition and improvisation, isn’t it?
Obviously, this wasn’t the first time this had occurred. Didn’t Rehoboam do a similar thing by not heeding the elderly people’s advice, the ones who used to advise his father, and chose to follow the suggestions from the younger generation? We all know what transpired at the end.
I have gotten to the point that I quit offering advice to my children, for there seems to be a generation gap existing between the young and the old, and it’s wise for us elderly to remain silent. I pray that they will always seek godly advice elsewhere when crucial decisions are to be made. Seeking wise counsel is what the wise should do.
“He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father’s death they became his advisers, to his undoing.” Seeking advice from the household of Ahab became Ahaziah’s undoing and, as a result of listening to wrong advice, the king suffered a great loss and his death was closely linked to his advisers.
When it gets to the point when our teenage children cease to listen to our advice, it’s paramount that we should steer them toward a peer group where they can get good counsel and godly advice. Providing for them a wholesome environment where they are educated and a group of good friends with whom they are associated is the least we can do for our children.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 6:49:00 AM
“He too followed the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him to act wickedly.” 2 Ch. 22:3
Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram, became king after he father passed away. He became one for lack of a better choice, for all his brothers were killed by raiders and Arabs. Ahaziah became king by default.
He obviously had a choice to make when he assumed the kingship. He could start a reformation by bringing the country back to the worship of the Lord and by keeping away the influence of Baal worship from the North, yet he did just the opposite. We have no idea how much actual power he had as a king since there was a powerful mother sitting behind the throne - Athaliah, mother of the king.
Indeed, Athaliah wasn’t content with being just the mother of the king; she evidently had an agenda of her own, for she was an ambitious woman who was hungry for power.
Such a woman is dangerous.
Had she had the best interest of her son in mind, she would have done things rather differently. I suppose the best thing she could have done for her son was to stay away from the throne as far as she possibly could. Yet she was impacted by Ahab’s household way too much and the seed of evil had sunk too deeply into her heart. She really couldn’t help herself. The power of evil in her simply couldn’t have been easily suppressed.
Evil will always run its natural course unless it is violently resisted.
Athaliah became more and more corrupt and she brought her son down with her. When Ahaziah was no more, it appeared she had no remorse; she gladly took power and her evil influence was greatly expanded. Judah was in a dire situation under Athaliah’s leadership.
One can easily be ruined by his or her desire and ambition for power. Indeed, its ferocious taste knows no bounds and it can also turn motherhood into something unnatural and sinister. I suppose before Macbeth was Macbeth, there was a Lady Macbeth; and, by the same token, before Ahaziah was Ahaziah, there was Athaliah. Instead of being a comfort and nurturer to her son, Athaliah contributed to Ahaziah’s downfall by her corrupt teaching and encouragement.
“Unsex me here,” Lady Macbeth prayed, invoking the spirits; “make thick my blood,” she pled. Indeed, her womanhood was taken away and in its place was placed a hunger for power and thirst for blood.
The narrative of Athaliah and how she related to her son should cause us to ponder about the nature of motherhood and how to avoid making the same fatal mistake committed by this wicked woman.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 7:37:00 AM
To No One’s Regret
“Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret…” 2 Ch. 21:20
The king had to be evil beyond belief that not a single soul felt sorry for him when he died. Even though he had suffered a lingering and painful illness before he finally passed away, there was no sound of mourning heard in the streets of Jerusalem and, to no one’s surprise, people seemed to be cheering at the news of Jehoram’s death. He reigned for eight years and was forty years old when he died; what he left behind was nothing but his soiled name and all the evil deeds he had done.
It would have been far better for him to have been born into a poor peasant’s family and led an ordinary life than to be placed in a royal family. He was given an opportunity to commit all kinds of evil deeds and died a miserable man, ultimately remembered as someone infamous and loathsome. Not a tear was shed at his death.
Things would have been so different, however, had the man had a sharper awareness of what he was going to become toward the end of his life and in what manner he would like to be remembered by the following generation and by his family and friends.
He made a wrong turn in the early stages of his reign and his decision to form a close tie with Ahab appeared to spell his doom from the onset. After the first domino fell, things continued to go south and, even if he had wanted, he couldn’t have stemmed the tide from rushing toward the sea of perdition. People can easily lose control of their lives and they may get to the point of no return quicker than they think. Even their intention to repent may not be compelling enough to thrust them into taking radical action and altering their life’s direction in midstream. After they have been made, wrong decisions have a snowball effect and one leads to another until it turns into an immovable hunk, remaining intact till the end.
It may get to a point when we become what we have always been and what we will be our entire lives, and our so-called transformations may just be recycling of our old selves. At my advanced age, my greatest fear has always remained the same, which is my dread that I will remain the way I am, half-baked and a mixed bag of old and new, when I meet the Lord. Time seems to be getting short and something drastic has to be done
It matters not how old we are, don’t we all have a sense of urgency to become far better and holier than we are? Reading about Jehoram’s ending frightens me a great deal, for unless I repent and turn my repentance into decisive action daily, I may meet my end not all that different from the infamous monarch.
Monday, February 13, 2017 6:07:00 AM
Follow the Way
But you have followed the ways of the kings of Israel, and you have led Judah and the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves…” 2 Ch. 21:13
It wasn’t for lack of godly examples in Judah that King Jehoram went astray; he in fact had two good people within his immediate family to emulate, namely his father and grandfather, two of the best kings in the Southern Kingdom. Surely he must have witnessed how his own father Jehoshaphat had followed the Lord his entire life and, more than likely, he must have heard something about the godliness of his grandfather Asa. We can only speculate why he decided to turn away from his own ancestors and carve his own path as a king over Judah.
Being godly isn’t always that appealing, I suppose. The stats are rather astounding, but it’s nonetheless a fact that stares us right in the eyes. It says that over eighty percent of young people who were raised in Christian homes and went to Christian schools quit attending church after they go off to college.
Come to think of it, the greatest desire of young people who are raised in the city of Lubbock is to put the cow town in their rearview mirror as soon as they are able, and the thought of ever returning to their hometown to live is almost an anathema to them. In fact, even coming home for the holidays is more out of necessity than anything else. “There is just nothing to do here,” I’ve been told more than once.
The city suits me just fine, for the air is clean, albeit occasionally tinged with a faint smell of cow droppings. The sky is always blue and the beauty of the sunrise and sunset is beyond comparison. If comfort and beautiful scenes are readily accessible, why continue to look at the horizon far off, imagining grass is always greener elsewhere.
I guess the reason why Austin is more appealing to the young generation is because people there decided to keep her weird, and people thumb their noses at Lubbock because we are determined to keep her decent. Of course this is merely a light-hearted speculation, and no insult to any given city intended.
Could King Jehoram have been a true romantic, who developed a strange yearning for Samaria of the north, and for her exotic women and her strange beauty of idolatry? The king might have gotten tired of observing the law of the Lord and regularly participating in temple worship and all the rest involved in the practice, and the desire to emulate the liberal Israel gradually became a fatal temptation.
Consequently, the king turned to the north for stimulation and inspiration as soon as he assumed the kingship, and things went downhill at a rapid speed after he tied the knot with Ahab’s daughter. His sin grew to full-bloom and death was ushered into the nation.
Friday, February 10, 2017 6:43:00 AM