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We’ve tracked Joash’s reign over Judah all the way to his death. A little refresher and then we’ll move to Israel and see how Jehu has been faring. Remember, Jehu had killed both Joram, king of Israel, and Ahaziah, king of Judah, and had taken over the throne of Israel.
The throne of Judah had been taken over from Ahaziah, Joash’s father, by evil Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mom, who killed Ahaziah’s children – her grandchildren – so she could be queen. The infant Joash was rescued by his aunt who put him in the care of her husband, the priest Jehoiada and their sons.
Joash, who started out as good king, ended up listening to bad advisers and turning from the Lord after the death of Jehoiada; he even had Jehoiada’s son Zechariah killed. “Because of this sin, divine anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem” (II Chronicles 24:18b, NLT). The Aramean army came in and attacked Judah and “Although the Arameans attacked with only a small army, the Lord helped them conquer the much larger army of Judah” (II Chronicles 24:24a).
How’d the Arameans manage such a victory? “The Lord helped them” because “The people of Judah had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so judgment was carried out against Joash” (II Chronicles 24:24b). God used the Arameans as His instrument to inflict punishment on the unfaithful people of Judah. Joash, already wounded, was murdered in his bed by one of his own people in retaliation for his murder of Zechariah.
Even though Jehu got off to a bloody start as a leader, he was the one chosen by God to lead Israel. And despite all the housecleaning Jehu performed, he did a job as Israel’s king, destroying “every trace of Baal worship from Israel” (II Kings 10:28).
“He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin. Nonetheless the Lord said to Jehu, ‘You have done well in following My instructions to destroy the family of Ahab. Therefore, your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation” (II Kings 10:29-30).
Here’s another guy who had the opportunity to be personally blessed beyond measure and see the same blessings poured out on God’s people. All he had to do was set the right example by obeying the Lord. “But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit” (II Chronicles 10:31).
“Jehu did not obey… with all his heart.” Brothers in sisters, there’s no such thing as partial obedience – you’re either IN God’s will or AGAINST it. And the price for opposing God is a steep one.
The Lord began to deal with Jehu’s disobedience, again using the Arameans (Hazael) as His instrument. “At about that time the Lord began to cut down the size of Israel’s territory. King Hazael conquered several sections of the country east of the Jordan River, including all of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh. He conquered the area from the town of Aroer by the Arnon Gorge to as far north as Gilead and Bashan” (II Kings 10:32-33).
By the time of Jehu’s death, the Arameans were a constant thorn to the Israelites. Even so, Scripture says nothing about how Jehu died, so apparently his death was a natural one: “When Jehu died, he was buried in Samaria. Then his son Jehoahaz became the next king. In all, Jehu reigned over Israel from Samaria for twenty-eight years” (II Kings 10:35-36).
Things could have been so much better had the Israelites only chosen to live according to God’s instructions. Likewise for believers living today.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates