Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athalaih, Joash, and Amaziah. These are the next kings up in the parade of kings to rule God’s people. They were surrounded by a cast of characters, some good and some not so good. Of these kings, Joash walked in the ways of the Lord as long as he had someone of faith to hold him accountable. His son Amaziah also walked in the ways of the Lord but not wholeheartedly. This is a cycle we will see repeated until both the northern and southern kingdoms have been disciplined by the Lord and sent off into exile. So let’s take a look at these kings.
Jehoram’s brothers are listed…all of them sons of Jehoshaphat. He did as his great grandfather did. He gave the kingdom to his firstborn and then distributed gifts, extravagant gifts to his other sons. This was to satisfy each of them since only one could become king. Jehoram strengthened himself as the king and in his thirst for absolute power he had his brothers executed. He also went after and killed distant relatives. Jehoram walked in the ways of Ahab and Jezebel whose daughter he had married. But we also see here the steadfastness of the Lord. Even though Jehoram was exceedingly evil, God kept His promise to David concerning his house staying intact. It seems that Jehoram was so busy being powerful he didn’t mind the business of the nation and the Moabites revolted. They had been paying tribute to Judah for many years and were tired of it. The Moabites surrounded Jehoram but he managed to escape under the cover of night. There has been tension between Judah and Moab ever since. But Libnah also revolted against Jehoram because he had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers. Even worse, scripture tells us Jehoram caused God’s people to prostitute themselves and he led the people astray. Israel’s covenant with the Lord was the same as a marriage covenant and when they worshiped other gods they committed adultery against the Lord. In this case they openly rebelled against the Lord, acting like prostitutes. 1 and 2 Kings pays considerable attention to Elijah the prophet but Chronicles only mentions him here. Because Jehoram walked away from the Lord, He brought the Arabians against him. These people most likely came from as far away as modern day Yemen. They lived across the Red Sea from the Ethiopians. The Arabians carried away every possession in the kings palace and his wives and sons…all except Ahaziah. And as promised Jehoram became ill with a painful disease that caused his intestines to come out. When Jehoram died it was to no one’s sorrow or regret. This speaks volumes about his reign and his character. He was buried in the city of David but not with the other kings. This was the people’s way of saying he was not kingly or worthy of this honor.
Jehoram was succeeded by his son Ahaziah who only reigned one year. He too walked in the ways of idol worship because his mother encouraged him to do so. When you think back to Deuteronomy 6 and the command to teach the laws, statutes, and commands of the Lord, Athaliah failed miserably. Not only did his mother advise him but so did his father’s evil advisors. The people of Judah were being led farther away from the Lord. Ahaziah’s visit to his dying uncle, Joram son of Ahab, proved to be his downfall. The family connections are complex between the northern and southern kingdoms. Jehu was an officer in Israel’s army who participated in the campaign against Ramoth-Gilead. He was anointed there as king by a servant of Elisha the prophet. Elijah had prophesied that Jehu would become king of Israel. 1 Kings 19:16. Elisha carried out the commission through his servant, telling Jehu to remove Joram from the throne and to eradicate the entire Omri dynasty. 2Kings 9:7-10. When Ahaziah became aware of the slaughter of the northern dynasty and even some of his own relatives who happened to be in Jezreel, he fled to Israel’s capital, Samaria. Jehu found him there and murdered him. In one day, both kingdoms lost their rulers. The people buried Ahaziah, honoring him in this way only because Ahaziah was the grandson of the godly king, Jehoshaphat. This left the house of Ahaziah with no one to assume power over the kingdom. His mother Athalaih took over in place of her son. She was the only woman to rule over Judah. Athaliah was the granddaughter of Omri and the daughter of Ahab. Her first act was to murder the royal family, most of whom were her own grandchildren. She sought to wipe out the Davidic dynasty and bring Judah back under Israelite control. But this could not happen while Jehu was was in power in the northern kingdom. And it would not happen because of the promise the Lord made to David. As is always the case, there is a remnant of faithful believers. In this case that was Ahaziah’s sister Jehoshabeath and her husband Jehoiada the high priest. They managed to save Ahaziah’s infant son Joash who would be hidden in the temple of the Lord until Athalaih was gone. Joash was the sole survivor of the Davidic line.
Joash’s rule marks the restoration of the throne from Athaliah back to the rightful Davidic king. It also marks Judah’s return to her covenant commitment to the Lord. Spiritual reform occurs in large part because of Jehoiada, who is Joash’s uncle, counselor, and high priest. Everyone did as Jehoiada commanded and the people returned to worshiping the Lord. The priests and Levites served the Lord in the temple and God blessed His people. The people tore down the house of Baal worship, his altars and the Asherah poles. There is great rejoicing when Athaliah is put to death by the sword. Joash was seven years old when he began to reign. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord but he had a great advisor in Jehoiada the high priest. The temple of the Lord had fallen into disrepair because there had been no priests or Levites to tend to it. And previous kings had used it and defiled it in worshiping idols. Now Joash called the priests and Levites together to send them out to collect the money annually due from all of Israel. This collection was the atonement money the Levites collected for the temple and its services. See Exodus 30:11-16. The priests and Levites were slow to act so at the kings command they built a wooden chest and set it outside the gate at the house of the Lord. A proclamation was given that the people of Jerusalem and Judah should bring the collection that Moses, the servant of God had imposed in Israel in the wilderness. And the people rejoiced, brought their contributions and put them into the chest until everyone had given. The Chronicler wants his readers to see God’s service at the temple not as a burden but as a joyful duty. The money was given to pay those who were working on the temple restoration. The revival of the temple and worship lasted all the days of Jehoiada. He lived to be 130 years old. Because he had done good in Israel toward both God and His house Jehoiada was buried with the kings in the city of David.
And then everything fell apart. Without his guidance Joash became a proponent of idol worship and he would not listen to God’s rebukes. Because of this God abandoned the Judeans to their evil ways. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and proclaimed a message from the Lord. The people had forsaken the Lord and now the Lord would forsake them. Zechariah’s reward for this was to be stoned in the courtyard of the Lords temple. In Matthew 23:34-35 Jesus spoke of Zechariah son of Berechiah as one of a series of prophets who was murdered in the temple court. This could be the Zechariah who wrote the Book of Zechariah which says nothing about his death. Zechariah son of Jehoiada also died a martyr in the temple court. Besides forgetting all the good Jehoiada had done for him, Joash had killed his own cousin. This once good king had sunk to the level of his evil grandmother Athaliah despite decades of faithfulness to God. The weakness of his own convictions did him in. As long as he received good advice and counsel he did well but once it was gone, he abandoned God. God arranged for Israel’s defeat and Joash’s death in fulfillment of Zechariah’s dying cry for justice. Judgement of evil, does not always come quickly, but it is just as inevitable no matter how long it is delayed. Here is the irony. Joash, like his grandfather was excluded from the royal cemetery because he fell far short of the Davidic ideal. But, Jehoiada who was not a king at all was buried among the kings because of his faithfulness to God.
Amaziah reigned next but not wholeheartedly. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord but not with a loyal heart. He hired 100,000 men of valor from Israel to help fighting any enemy that might come along. However, a man of God came along and warned Amaziah not to do this. He was out money but did manage to listen to the man of God. The Lord had abandoned the Israelites of the northern kingdom long before and by having them fight with him, the Lord would not bless Amaziah. He sent the Israelite men of valor home. They were very angry and raided border cities, took much spoil and killed 3,000 people. In the meantime the Lord gave Amaziah victory over the people of Seir. The people of Seir were Edomites, descendants of Esau. Feeling proud and unbeatable Amaziah set out to attack Israel. He was warned not to go but failed to listen. Judah was soundly defeated by Israel and Amaziah was captured. They took him to Jerusalem and broke down the north wall of the city. This allowed them to gain access to the temple and its treasures. They took the treasures dedicated to the Lord and the kings private wealth as well as state monies that would have been kept in the kings palace. Amaziah died trying to hide from those who sought his death, possibly those who were angry with him for not following in the ways of the Lord.
Once again we see the consequences that occur when people follow and worship the Lord and when they don’t. The choices are blessings or curses. God lets His people choose. Sometimes we don’t choose so well.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W