Today: [2 Kings Chapter Eleven] Don’t Let the Enemy Pick Your Battles. In this chapter we turn again to the history of the southern kingdom. Jehosaphat is dead and his heir has died at the hands of king Jehu in Samaria. Jehosaphat’s wife kills all the surviving males of the line of David save one infant who is hidden by the High Priest Jehoiada. Jehoiada waits six years while Queen Athaliah champions Baal worship and pursues the establishment of a death cult in Jerusalem. When he does move to proclaim the young boy king the victory is complete because he chose not to react to what was going on around him but to wait on God’s timing.
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[2Ki 11:1-21 KJV] 1 And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons [which were] slain; and they hid him, [even] him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain. 3 And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land. 4 And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the LORD, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the LORD, and shewed them the king’s son. 5 And he commanded them, saying, This [is] the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you that enter in on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king’s house; 6 And a third part [shall be] at the gate of Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard: so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down. 7 And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath, even they shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD about the king. 8 And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand: and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain: and be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he cometh in.
After the death of Jezebel we now see the ongoing consequences for the southern kingdom of Judah concerning Jehosaphat’s friendship with Ahab. Jehosaphat joined Ahab many times in battle saying “your people are my people” and “I am as you are”. When Jehosaphat would commiserate with Ahab his son and future heir Jehoram (alternately referred to as Joram) no doubt became aquainted with Ahab’s heir Ahaziah and they became into an even closer bond than did their fathers. When Jehu assassinated Ahaziah, king of the northern tribes he took the southern king’s life as well. What took place in the southern kingdom after this reveals the fateful influence of Jehosaphat’s decision to be in confederacy with Ahab. When Jehosaphat’s son is killed by Jehu because of his fidelity to Baal – his mother, one of Jehosaphat’s wives or concubines killed all the royal sons and took the throne. She is following in the footsteps of Jezebel. So we see that not only did Jehosaphat’s sons admire Jezebel and Ahab, but Jehosphat’s wives and concubines also became infatuated with the culture of idolatry and Baal worship that prevailed in the north.
What can we learn from this? There is a lesson from the law given by the prophet Haggai that makes an important point for us:
[Hag 2:12-14 KJV] 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If [one that is] unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So [is] this people, and so [is] this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so [is] every work of their hands; and that which they offer there [is] unclean.
In other words – holiness is not transferrable by association but unholiness, or uncleanness is. Jehosaphat for political reasons joined with Ahab and Jezebel and their idolatrous ways infected the royal house. What was the extent of this? When Jehosaphat’s surviving wife adopted Jezebel’s ways the bloodline of David was extinguished down to one remaining infant hidden in a bed chamber. Do you realize the importance of this? God promised that Jesus himself would be born of David’s bloodline and now it survives in the person of one infant hidden by a kings daughter and sheltered by a nursemaid from a raging queen who is killing every surviving grandson of her now deceased son who was killed by Jehu along with the northern king. All because Jehosaphat looked the other way in his relationship with Ahab and Jezebel. For all Jehosaphat’s righteousness in his relationship with God the compromise he did allow himself almost cost all humanity the dearest gift of all – Jesus himself.
You might do well to consider the compromises that you may be making in your life right now. In matters of personal holiness and accountability the church is so weak that we dare not suggest how the word of God might be applied in the arena of even the most devout person’s private life. But we do feel within our bounds to suggest that for every Christian that personal holiness matters and suggest that every one of us must make a determination – a prayerful determination as to what accountability to God looks like in terms of our own private lives, relationships, lifestyle choices, entertainment, habits of life and ethical and moral choices. The consequences of our choices will be seen in the conclusions drawn by those who are watching us – our children, our children’s children and others. Jehosophat was a godly king – but the compromise he allowed himself out of expediency brought the entire line of David and the line of Jesus himself into the greatest jeopardy in it’s entire history right up to the massacre of the innocents by king Herod after the birth of Jesus.
9 And the captains over the hundreds did according to all [things] that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. 10 And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give king David’s spears and shields, that [were] in the temple of the LORD. 11 And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, [along] by the altar and the temple. 12 And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and [gave him] the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king. 13 And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard [and] of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the LORD. 14 And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner [was], and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason.
Now that Athaliah has declared herself queen, the boy Jeohash is hidden for six years in the temple of the Lord while Baal worship again flourishes. Now that the child is just old enough to take the throne Jehoiada the High Priest calls in the elders in Jerusalem and members of the army and captains over hundreds and arms them with the ornamental shields and spears belonging to David that Solomon had placed there generations before. Can you imagine these men armed with veritable antique weapons while no doubt Athaliah’s forces were armed with the latest modern weaponry? Under armed guard and force of arms Jehoiada declares Jeohash the sole surviving son of the line of David as king over Jerusalem. Athaliah taking her queue from Jezebel cries treason but know one comes to her aid.
You can see similarities in this situation to the spiritual dynamics in our own day. From the houses of government right down to your personal life you no doubt have to deal with wickedness and secularism in high places. Decision makers and policy makers at all levels do not defer to God and in fact in our day openly mock God and the standards of the scripture. What is our response to be? If the king’s daughter had confronted Athaliah when she was killing all the royal children then she simply would have died along with the infant Jehoash. If Jehoiada the High Priest had come out openly against Athaliah he would have been executed and the boy king hidden in the temple would have been exposed and killed as well. In our culture we set value on open social confrontation when we should rather give way to discretion and preparation in prayer for the right time and the right circumstance to stand up and make our case for godliness whether in our personal situations or on the world scene. If we don’t learn this then we let our enemies choose the time and place where our battles will be fought and as a result lost. The church’s gullible and reactionary nature contributed as much to our failure in the abortion issue and more recently successful LGBT legal challenges as much as anything else. The church reacted and the abortion lobby and LGBT demographic triumphed because we let the world pick our battles. We should learn the lessons found in this chapter to pray, prepare and wait on God’s timing. Because Jehoiada waited now Athaliah is defeated and about to be slain by those loyal to the line of David.
15 But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the LORD. 16 And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king’s house: and there was she slain. 17 And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD’S people; between the king also and the people. 18 And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD. 19 And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down the king from the house of the LORD, and came by the way of the gate of the guard to the king’s house. And he sat on the throne of the kings. 20 And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet: and they slew Athaliah with the sword [beside] the king’s house. 21 Seven years old [was] Jehoash when he began to reign.
Jehoiada not only installed Jehoash as the rightful king but he promptly made a covenant with the entire nation that they would be the Lord’s people. It was not Jehoiada’s place to do this but there was no one else. Many times we make decisions or fail to make them because we say “this is not my problem and not my responsibility”. Jehoiada put himself at risk to fight a battle he could have easily and justifiably declined from. He could have turned the child over to Athaliah. He could have looked the other way at the continuing Baal worship in Jerusalem. He could have let someone else put themselves in harm’s way but he didn’t. There is a deep vein of protectionism in Western Culture that provokes us to decline to get involved in something that is not our immediate concern. This was how Hitler came to power and how unrighteousness has reigned in the halls of government for centuries. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. However the actions we take cannot be patterned after the reactionary example of the world, neither can we allow the world and its interests to dictate to us what the battle is or the timing of the choices we make. The church has shown itself to be completely tone deaf in this area and as a people group we have seen our values tromped on, mocked and completely defeated in the courts and in the voting booth. We must follow the example of Jehoiada and the king’s daughter who sheltered Jehoash. Pray. Prepare. Wait for God’s timing as it will surely come when righteousness and those who stand up for righteousness will have their moment in history to assert the claims of Christ afresh and anew from a position of influence and not failure.
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