The Boy King
2 Chronicles 23: They were to be God’s special people.
Anyone who thinks these “king books” of the Old Testament are dull needs to turn on their imagination and read some of these passages anew. A wicked woman rules Judah and for six years she terrorizes those who seek to serve God. Right under her nose at the Temple a baby boy, the rightful heir to the throne, is being raised in secret. When the boy turns seven the supporters of righteousness decide that they have to act before Queen Athaliah finds out about the child and takes his life. A plot that involves mostly priests and Levites is put into place. There are secret meetings and an ancient cache of weapons dating back to Joash’s great ancestor, David, is prepared for battle. In hopes of attracting as little attention as possible the work schedules at the Temple are manipulated. Armed men secure the Temple grounds and guards escort the boy to the entrance of the Temple where he’s crowned King of Judah. The people cheer their release from oppression. Queen Athaliah hears the commotion and rushes to the Temple shouting “Treason!” Before long she’s dead and the Boy King sits on the throne of Judah. The old priest Jehoiada guides the lad and his subjects in their steps back to God. Worship activities are restored at the Temple and revival sweeps the land. Now, I know that Joash’s story doesn’t end well, but it certainly has an exciting beginning. Our kids know about David and Goliath, maybe we need to tell them about how a seven-year-old boy became the King of Judah.
Take Away: The Lord delights in using unlikely people to do great things.
2Kings 12: Why haven’t you renovated this sorry-looking Temple?
The sample we’re given of Joash’s leadership of Judah is his faithfulness to repair the Temple of God. Any building will deteriorate if it is not cared for and Joash realizes that the Temple is overdue for some serious work. He orders the priests who serve there to use offerings for that purpose, but it never happens. Instead of being used on the building, the money is absorbed in the everyday operations at the Temple. When Joash sees this, he changes tactics and creates a system by which money can be given for this specific purpose. The people respond and during his reign Joash sees the Temple restored to much of its former glory. So what do I see in this incident? First, I’m reminded that the building where worship takes place needs regular attention and that the Lord gifts some people for this task. The church needs to recognize that and both finance and empower these people for their work. Second, I see that without leadership things gradually fall apart. In this case, not only is the building deteriorating, but the plans for financing the renovations also come apart without Joash’s leadership. It isn’t enough for him to have the vision and then put a plan together. He has to be sure that the plan continues to completion. Third, I see that the best way to finance such an operation is with money specifically given for that purpose. The expenses of the Temple continue even through the building project so the money has to be given above the regular offerings. Finally, I see that people are willing to give to such a project. People don’t have to be brow beat to give if they see the need and that something is really happening. Clearly, these are good principles for today even as they were good so long ago.
Take Away: Leadership not only provides vision and plans. It also stays engaged as the vision is made reality.
2Kings 11: Jehodiah now made a covenant between God and the king and the people. They were God’s people.
A seven-year-old boy sits on the throne of Judah. His mentor is the priest Jehodiah, a man committed to God. As Joash is installed as king the priest makes a covenant with God on behalf of the young king and his people. Joash will rule the nation “under God” and the people will view themselves as “God’s people.” A second covenant promises that Joash will rule justly and the people will willingly live as citizens under his rule. These covenants will stand for 40 years, throughout the lifetime of Joash. Covenants are powerful things. They bind people together and commit them to certain courses of action. They create a roadmap for relationships and behaviors. Covenants are commitments between two or more parties, a contract of sorts. The people of Joash’s day are impacted by the covenant for a lifetime. What am I committed to that has that level of impact? Or, maybe better said, is what I’m committed to worth the effort? How about you? Are your covenants worth keeping? The Lord has offered one covenant that is worth everything. It’s the one sealed with the blood of Jesus.
Take Away: Are the covenants of my life worth keeping?
Ready or not, here it comes
2Kings 11: Athaliah, oblivious to his existence, ruled the country.
Jehu’s purge nets both Joram, wicked king of Israel, and Ahaziah, the king of Judah who has become a partner with Joram in his sinful leadership. Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, takes her son’s place, not only on the throne but also as one committed to evil. Her first act is to kill anyone in her family who might contest her claim to the throne of Judah. It appears her plan has worked, and it would have, except for the bravery and quick action of Jehosheba who hides the infant Joash from his own grandmother’s murderous intention. Now, six years later, it’s time to act. Intrigue abounds as plans are made to dethrone the pretender Athaliah and elevate Joash to his rightful place as boy king. As this takes place we’re told that Athaliah is “oblivious” to it all. I think the Lord often works like this. Ordinary people and even the wicked pursue their goals, pressing on, thinking everything is working out as anticipated. Meanwhile, God is at work in the underground. Big things are coming and we’re “oblivious” to it all. For Athaliah it means that her hijacking of the throne of Judah is soon coming to a bloody end. For followers of the Lord, it means that we’d better keep our eyes on Jesus and be ready for — well, be ready for “whatever” comes next.
Take Away: Even when we can’t see it, the Lord is at work, preparing for the next big thing.