Jehu is ruling in Israel while Athaliah, the mother of the former king Ahaziah (who was killed by Jehu), has taken over the throne in Judah and tried to kill off her own family members, including Ahaziah’s children – her grandchildren – to secure her seat of power. This daughter of Ahab and Jezebel knows no bounds when it comes to evil.
Unbeknownst to Athaliah, however, “Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king’s children, who were about to be killed. She put Joash and his nurse in a bedroom. In this way, Jehosheba, wife of Jehoiada the priest and sister of Ahaziah, hid the child so that Athaliah could not murder him. Joash remained hidden in the Temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled over the land” (II Chronicles 22:11-12, NLT). But the power struggle wasn’t over.
“In the seventh year of Athaliah’s reign, Jehoiada the priest decided to act. He summoned his courage and made a pact with five army commanders: Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zicri. These men traveled secretly throughout Judah and summoned the Levites and clan leaders in all the towns to come to Jerusalem. They all gathered at the Temple of God, where they made a solemn pact with Joash, the young king.
Jehoiada said to them, ‘Here is the king’s son! The time has come for him to reign! The Lord has promised that a descendant of David will be our king. This is what you must do. When you priests and Levites come on duty on the Sabbath, a third of you will serve as gatekeepers. Another third will go over to the royal palace, and the final third will be at the Foundation Gate. Everyone else should stay in the courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. Remember, only the priests and Levites on duty may enter the Temple of the Lord, for they are set apart as holy. The rest of the people must obey the Lord’s instructions and stay outside. You Levites, form a bodyguard around the king and keep your weapons in hand. Kill anyone who tries to enter the Temple. Stay with the king wherever he goes.
So the Levites and all the people of Judah did everything as Jehoiada the priest ordered. The commanders took charge of the men reporting for duty that Sabbath, as well as those who were going off duty. Jehoiada the priest did not let anyone go home after their shift ended. Then Jehoiada supplied the commanders with the spears and the large and small shields that had once belonged to King David and were stored in the Temple of God. He stationed all the people around the king, with their weapons ready. They formed a line from the south side of the Temple around to the north side and all around the altar.
Then Jehoiada and his sons brought out Joash, the king’s son, placed the crown on his head, and presented him with a copy of God’s laws. They anointed him and proclaimed him king, and everyone shouted, ‘Long live the king!’” (II Chronicles 23:1-11).
People of God, don’t miss the important significance of Joash’s upbringing. At great personal risk, Jehosheba rescued Joash, the infant son of her brother before Athaliah could have him murdered. Joash was then hidden in the Temple where he was raised and taught by Jehosheba’s husband, the priest Jehoiada and his sons. No doubt Jehosheba also did whatever she could for little Joash.
At last Jehoiada was sure it was time to anoint the rightful king and heir to David’s throne. Jehoiada and his sons crowned the young king and immediately placed in his hands “a copy of God’s laws,” the words of which little Joash had been taught from the moment Jehoiada began to take care of him.
Most experts believe a child’s basic personality is formed by the age of six. From infancy Joash was taught to love God’s Word. And this would prove to be a blessing for all of Judah.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates