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JOASH CROWNED KING IN JUDAH
Athaliah's tyranny was borne with for six years, when finally Jehoiada the priest took the lead in gaining the support of the military leaders in Judah, to plan the crowning of the young boy Joash. Messengers went throughout Judah to gather the Levites from the many cities, and the chief elders of the people to Jerusalem (v.2). This was done without the knowledge of Athaliah.
The assemblage came to the temple, where they made a covenant with Joash that he should be king, in accordance with the Word of God that the ruler must be of the sons of David (v.3). Detailed plans were made as to how the crowning was to take place. One third of the priests and Levites were to keep watch over the doors, one third were to be at the king's house and one third at the Gate of the Fountain. The people were to be in the courts of the temple, but only the priests and Levites who served in the temple were to be allowed inside (v.6). But all the people were to keep watch, for this is typical of the concern of the saints of God that the Lord Jesus should be fully honoured, with nothing allowed that would in any way compromise that honour. The Levites were to surround the king, having weapons also for his protection. If anyone attempted to come into the house without authorisation, he was to be put to death (v.7).
Thus Jehoiada had everything organised, and the Levites and all Judah co-operated fully. Jehoiada gave to the captains spears and large and small shields which David had provided to be put in the temple. When all had been put in order, then they brought out Joash, crowned him and gave him the Testimony, a copy of the law of God, and proclaimed him King of Judah, saying, "Long live the King!" (v.11). Of course this is a picture of the recognition of Christ as King when He will displace every usurper at His coming in glory. The power for reigning was not in Joash, however, as it will be in the One who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
THE USURPER JUDGED
Athaliah had been kept unaware of what was taking place until she heard the noise of people running and praising the king. This great celebration brought her to the temple, where she saw Joash standing, crowned, by the pillar with leaders and trumpeters beside him. Trumpets and other musical instruments were accompanying the singing of the many rejoicing at the inauguration of the King (v.13). The poor woman tore her clothes and cried out "Treason, treason." But she herself was the only person guilty of treason, and guilty also of murder and many other crimes.
Jehoiada the priest, not a government official, gave orders to the captains of the army to take Athaliah outside under guard and ki1l her there. The work of a priest is to "have compassion on the ignorant who go astray" (Hebrews 5:2), but in this case a priest was to proclaim sentence against an evildoer. Similarly, when the Lord Jesus is seen as ready to judge the world, He is clothed in priestly garments (Revelation 1:13), showing that His judgment will not be merely carried out in righteous anger, but rather will be a judgment consistent with His character of goodness and compassion. It is goodness that abhors what is evil and judges faithfully for God Athaliah's judgment came far more suddenly than she expected, but it confirms the truth ofProverbs 29:1; Proverbs 29:1, "He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Jehoiada also gave orders that anyone who followed Athaliah should be killed (v.14), but we are not told that anyone followed her.
ORDER AND QUIETNESS RESTORED
Jehoiada took the lead in making a covenant between himself, the people and the king, for the king was really a ward of Jehoiada, being of such tender age (v.16). The covenant was in opposition to the idolatry of Athaliah, and consistent with the law of Moses, stressing that Judah should be the Lord's people, not an idol worshipping people.
Such a covenant required the destruction of the temple of Baal, which the people promptly accomplished, breaking in pieces its altars and images, and killing the priest of Baal (v.17). This negative work was necessary, just as was the execution of Athaliah, before the positive establishment of the true worship of God, as follows in verses 18-20. Jehoiada the priest was a faithful man, who gave back into the hand of the priests and Levites the oversight of the house of the Lord, consistent with the assignment of David in his insisting that the law of Moses should be obeyed in the offering of burnt sacrifices to the Lord.
Where there has been departure in our present day from the truth of the Word of God, how vital it is that we should return, not merely to what our fathers may have practised, but to the truth laid down in the New Testament as to the character and practice of the Church of God. Israel was to return to recognise the beginning of their history under law. The Church should return to realise the character of its beginning under grace, to act consistently with what God established in the Book of Acts and the epistles of James, Peter, Paul and John.
It is good to see that when Jehoiada re-established order in the house of the Lord, this was accompanied by rejoicing and singing (v.18). But also gatekeepers were set at the gates of the house of the Lord, to keep outside that which was unclean (v.19). This godly care is important in the Church of God today also. Such work may not be appreciated by many, but we must not ignore it on this account. We always need discernment as to what should be allowed in and what must be refused entry. For if the enemy once gains admittance, even in a small way, he will take advantage of this to gain further ground, causing corruption in the Christian testimony.
The Lord thus being given His true place in Judah, the nobles and governors of the people brought the king from the house of the Lord to the king's house, and set him on the throne of the kingdom (v.20). The orderly way in which these things were all done was a great credit to the faith of Jehoiada. The people of the land responded with great joy and the city was quiet, in contrast to the trouble Athaliah had caused. How instructive is the fact that when a wicked ruler dies the people rejoice!
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 23". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
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