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Sunday, January 08, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "Long Live the King!"

“Long Live the King!”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
January 8, 2017 :: 2 Kings 11:1-12:21  

Our ongoing series is called “The King of Kings in the Books of Kings,” and this is message number 24 in that series.

It’s been over a month since our last message in this series, so I don’t expect anybody to remember where we are in the story.

Let me try to catch you up.

Our last message had the happy title, “I Will Avenge the Blood of My Servants.”

Do you remember that one? It was not boring. It was many things but it was not boring.

In that story told in chapters 8, 9, and 10, the LORD raised up a messiah (small-m, messiah, an anointed one) named Jehu who brought the justice that the story had been crying for since 1 Kings 17.

The prophet Elisha sent Hazael to take over the kingdom of Aram from Ben-Hadad in Syria, and he sent Jehu on a mission to take over the northern kingdom of Israel, destroying the house of Ahab by killing Joram and Jezebel and avenging the blood of all of God’s servants whom Ahab and Jezebel had killed.

Does that sound familiar?  Is it coming back to you?

Jehu obeyed. He drove his chariot like a madman and in one day killed, not just the king of Israel, but also the Ahaziah, the king of Judah because they were together that day in the valley of Jezreel.

And he killed more people, too. I think he got kind of carried away. He killed Jezebel, and he killed Ahab’s family, and then relatives of Ahaziah, and then all of the priests of Baal.

In one fell swoop, Jehu changed the political landscape of both kingdoms.

Now, in the next two chapters, the spotlight swings to the South, to the Southern kingdom of Judah.

We’ll return to the North in due course, but the focus, the question, for today’s two chapters is what will happen to the Southern kingdom now that their king has been killed?

Because there are some promises that are on the line.

Remember that God has made some big promises to King David about how he will always have a descendant who will carry the promises of the kingdom.

Even when the kingdom split in two, back in 1 King chapter 11, the LORD promised again about Solomon, “I will give one tribe to [Solomon’s] son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name” (1 Kings 11:36).

But now the Davidic king has been killed by Jehu.

Will David’s line continue or be cut off?

It’s a big question. If you follow along in the parallel books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, you find out that Ahaziah didn’t have very many Davidic family members. His dad, King Jehoram had been eliminating any potential rivals. So Ahaziah didn’t have any uncles left to follow him as king when he died. And like I said, Jehu had killed a bunch of Ahaziah’s family.

There aren’t that many left. But he has several sons, and at least one newborn.

A newborn son. Ahaziah had a newborn in the palace.
He could become king on day.

But he has an enemy.

And his enemy is his grandma.

2 Kings chapter 11, verse 1.

“When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family.”

Athaliah was probably Jezebel’s daughter.

And she acted like it.

She was from the North (Israel), in the line of Omri but she had married into the royal family of the South (Judah).

She had married the old Davidic King and she was the mother of the dead Davidic King, but she hated the rightful new Davidic King.

She wanted all of the power of the kingdom to herself.

And when her son was killed, she saw her opportunity and started having everyone else in her way killed, too.

All of the royal princes who were next in line for the throne.

Verse 1 says, “She proceeded to destroy the whole royal family.”

Remember that stump?

Remember the stump of Jesse that we learned about during Advent season?

Well, this is a stump moment.

The whole line of David is about to be cut off.

And what does that do to the promises?

Verse 2.

“But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.”

God has a plan, doesn’t He?

And he’s got a person on the spot to enact that plan. This lady, Jehosheba, is one of the unsung heroes of the Old Testament.

We should be naming our daughters after her.

When everyone else was running for their lives, Jehosheba ran for Joash, her tiny little nephew.

And she found a tiny little room to stash him away in in the temple complex.

And we never hear from her again.

It’s quite possible that Jehosheba died that day, saving little Joash.

And saving the kingdom and protecting the promises made by God.

Now, I want you to think about the next six years for just a second.

Because for six years, Athaliah ruled the land.

It looked like she had won.

It felt like she had won.

For all intents and purposes she had won!

Everybody knew that her reign was illegitimate, a sham, but nobody knew that the rightful king was still alive. Almost nobody.

There were probably hints and whispered secrets about it.

But the common man in Judah said, “It’s a stump. God’s promises are dead because all of David’s sons are dead. God’s promises have failed.”

Six years.

Do you feel that?

Six years they thought that the promises were dead.

Do you feel sometimes like God’s promises are dead to you?

If not “dead,” then “duds.”

“These promises to me are duds. They just aren’t working. I can’t see this coming together.”

Six years!

But then the big reveal. V.4

“In the seventh year Jehoiada [the high priest, and actually, Jehosheba’s husband] sent for the commanders of units of a hundred, the Carites and the guards and had them brought to him at the temple of the LORD. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath at the temple of the LORD. Then he showed them the king's son.

He commanded them, saying, ‘This is what you are to do: You who are in the three companies that are going on duty on the Sabbath–a third of you guarding the royal palace,  a third at the Sur Gate, and a third at the gate behind the guard, who take turns guarding the temple–and you who are in the other two companies that normally go off Sabbath duty are all to guard the temple for the king.

Station yourselves around the king, each man with his weapon in his hand. Anyone who approaches your ranks must be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.’

[You’re the secret service detail. Guard this boy with your life. You know who he is!]

The commanders of units of a hundred did just as Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each one took his men–those who were going on duty on the Sabbath and those who were going off duty–and came to Jehoiada the priest. [Then he handed out the weapons.] Then he gave the commanders the spears and shields that had belonged to King David and that were in the temple of the LORD.

The guards, each with his weapon in his hand, stationed themselves around the king– near the altar and the temple, from the south side to the north side of the temple. Jehoiada brought out the king's son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, ‘Long live the king!’”

That’s our sermon title for today.

“Long live the king!”

Six years. Six years of Athaliah’s wicked rule.

But now it comes out.

The king is alive. “Long live the king!”

And everybody is so happy. Except for Athaliah, of course. V.13

“When Athaliah heard the noise made by the guards and the people, she went to the people at the temple of the LORD. She looked and there was the king, standing by the pillar, as the custom was. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Then Athaliah tore her robes and called out, ‘Treason! Treason!’”

It’s hard to believe she could say that with a straight face!

Because she was the one was treasonous. V.15

“Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: ‘Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.’ For the priest had said, ‘She must not be put to death in the temple of the LORD.’  So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death.

Jehoiada then made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people that they would be the LORD's people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people.

[And then they started living it out.]

All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars. Then Jehoiada the priest posted guards at the temple of the LORD. He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, the guards and all the people of the land, and together they brought the king down from the temple of the LORD and went into the palace, entering by way of the gate of the guards. The king then took his place on the royal throne, and all the people of the land rejoiced. And the city was quiet, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the palace. Joash was seven years old when he began to reign.”

“Long live the king!”

Now, there’s a lot of things that I could point out about this story that are really interesting.

One of them is that when Joash is crowned, he’s also given his own copy of the covenant or the testimony. When I think of these brothers from the Gideons that we have here today, I think how important it is for each of us to have our own personal copy of the Scriptures. Here in America, we can have so many personal copies. I don’t know how many I have, especially if you include digital ones.

But they didn’t all have their own back then. But the king definitely got one, and it should have been his delight.

There’s lots of things I could point to that are interesting here, but I really want us all to feel this one lesson about who God is, and I hope it’s awfully familiar to you:

#1. GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISES.

That’s the like the theme of the whole Old Testament.

How many times as we’ve trekked through Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, now 2 Kings, have we said, “God always keeps His promises?”

Probably not enough times.

Because we need reminded.

Because often we live in those “six years” when it doesn’t seem like the promises are working.

Are you living in “Athaliah period” right now in your own life?

“It just doesn’t seem like the whole thing is working.

Where is God and where are His promises?”

Well, they are right here, all along.

The rightful king was in the temple the whole time.

God was still keeping His promises, and He always will.

Do you need to hear that this morning? One week into 2017.

“Long live the king!”

God always keeps His promises.

Let me give you a challenge today. Here’s some homework.

What promise of God will you begin to cling to a greater way in 2017?

What has God promised us as His people that you can personally take to heart and cling to in a new and fresh way for this year that is opening in front of us?

Think about that.

Think about what you are facing right now this year and think about what promise if you believe it could make a big difference in how your year goes.

I was visiting with one of you this week, and you said, “I feel alone. But I know that I am not alone.” “Because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” “I am with you always even to the end of the age.” “Nothing can separate us from the love of God...”

What promise do you need to claim and cling to for 2017?

Do you know what God has promised us?

That’s the first step, and then memorize it or put it on a 3x5 card or a post-it note, and get it in front of you, and pray it, and maybe write under it, “Long live the king!”

I’ll tell you what mine is. It’s the same as it was last year. 

John 16:33–“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

“Love live the king!”

Does this story remind you of anything?

There are a number of times in the Bible when they try to kill the little children to stamp out the promise.

Moses in the bullrushes, right?

And what Herod and the Magi?

This weekend is the traditional time to remember the visit of the Magi in Matthew chapter 2. They were looking for the newborn king whose star they had seen in the East.

And Herod said, “Well, I’m told that he’ll be in Bethlehem. Let me know if you find Him, because I want to worship Him, too.”

Herod was just like Athaliah. And he had all of the little kids in Bethlehem killed to try to stamp out the promise of God.

But God always keeps His promises.

He always has a Davidic King.

So the Magi and then Joseph outsmarted Herod. They were the Jehosheba and Jehoiada of the New Testament.

And King Jesus was spirited away to be a refugee in Egypt.

To later be revealed.

“Long live the king!”

Now, we’ve been doing these Books of Kings long enough to know that after a king is crowned, the next thing is to answer the big question, right?

What’s the question?

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Does this king do his one job or does he fail to do his one job?

In verse 17, at the age of 7, King Joash got off to a good start.

They basically reboot the entire nation.

“Jehoiada then made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people that they would be the LORD's people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people.”

Remember who you are and what you are supposed to do.

And then just stick with it.

How did King Joash do? Thumbs or thumbs down?

Chapter 12 tells us that he was at least one thumb up. At least at the start. Chapter 12, verse 1.

“In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash became king [7 years old!], and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years [“Long live the king!”]. His mother's name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him [hmmm]. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.”

Well, he’s at least one thumb up just because of verse 2. “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD...”

However...there is a rider on that statement, isn’t there? “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD...all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.”

The Chronicles make it even clearer that after Jehoiada died, things went downhill.

But at least at first, aside from the high places (which were an longstanding problem) things started out very well.

In fact, Joash did something that none of kings of Judah had done since King Solomon–he took care of the temple.

We haven’t much about the temple ever since Solomon built it in all of it splendor.

Granted, we’ve spent a lot of time in the North, but there just hasn’t been anything about the temple for chapter after chapter.

And it’s fallen into disrepair. Joash means to fix that. Verse 4

“Joash said to the priests, ‘Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the LORD–the money collected in the census, the money received from personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the temple. Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, and let it be used to repair whatever damage is found in the temple.’

[He cares! And when it doesn’t happen. He does something. V.6]

But by the twenty-third year of King Joash the priests still had not repaired the temple.  Therefore King Joash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests [lit a fire under them] and asked them, ‘Why aren't you repairing the damage done to the temple? Take no more money from your treasurers, but hand it over for repairing the temple.’ The priests agreed that they would not collect any more money from the people and that they would not repair the temple themselves.

Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the LORD [where everybody could see it, total transparency]. The priests who guarded the entrance put into the chest all the money that was brought to the temple of the LORD. Whenever they saw that there was a large amount of money in the chest, the royal secretary and the high priest came, counted the money that had been brought into the temple of the LORD and put it into bags.

When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. With it they paid those who worked on the temple of the LORD–the carpenters and builders, the masons and stonecutters. They purchased timber and dressed stone for the repair of the temple of the LORD, and met all the other expenses of restoring the temple.

[And just the temple.] The money brought into the temple was not spent for making silver basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, trumpets or any other articles of gold or silver for the temple of the LORD; it was paid to the workmen, who used it to repair the temple.  They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty.

[Don’t worry, the priests were still taken care of. V.16]

The money from the guilt offerings and sin offerings was not brought into the temple of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.”

One big thumb up for Joash!

Well done.

But. He didn’t stick with it.

When things got difficult and when his mentor had died, the thumb turned downward. V.17

“About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem.”

Does that name sound familiar?

He’s the guy whom Elisha sent to depose Ben-Hadad. He’s the newer ruler of Aram, and Elisha said that he would be a headache and a threat to the Jewish people. And he was. Just like Elisha predicted.

In fact, he’s come to attack Jerusalem.

What does King Joash do in this situation?

He sends him a bribe. He tries to buy him off. He appeases and placates the aggressor. V.18

[Hazael turned to attack Jerusalem...] But Joash king of Judah took all the sacred objects dedicated by his fathers–Jehoshaphat, Jehoram and Ahaziah, the kings of Judah–and the gifts he himself had dedicated and all the gold found in the treasuries of the temple of the LORD and of the royal palace, and he sent them to Hazael king of Aram, who then withdrew from Jerusalem.”

Oh man.  All of that money that he had been raising for the temple, he sent to Hazael?!

It worked! But at what cost?

Is that what Solomon said that the king should do if Jerusalem was attacked?

Do you remember the dedication of the temple, and what Solomon said that God wanted when Jerusalem was being attacked?

It wasn’t send them the money. Send them the treasury.

It was pray to God and God will deliver.

God always keeps His promises.

Don’t try to pay them off. You’ve got God! You belong to Him!

But Joash forgot all of that bailed. And failed his one job.

Here’s the lesson to take home with us. It’s a reminder.

#2. GOD ALWAYS WANTS OUR WHOLE HEARTS.

He doesn’t just want a piece of our hearts.

He doesn’t want half-hearted obedience.

He wants all of us.

He wants our whole hearts.

Psalm 86, verse 11 turns that into a prayer: “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

Or as the hymn puts it:

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

God always wants our whole hearts.

Here’s a question for you for 2017. What are the biggest threats to your wholehearted  faith and obedience in the coming year?

What threatens to take you down?

When I look at Joash, I think that Joash never made his faith his own.

When Jehoiada was living, he lived like Jehoiada wanted him to.

But when Jehoiada was gone, there wasn’t anything there in Joash.

We see this a lot with kids. They are good apparently Christian kids until they hit about 18 or 19 or 20. And then where did they go?

It’s because you have to make your faith your own or you don’t really have faith.

And we parents need to pray that they make their faith their own because they can’t get to heaven on our faith. God has no grandkids. God is not a grandfather, just a father.

And when I look at Joash, I think that Joash never prepared for the hard times.

He should have.

The way his life started?

But he got comfortable. And when Hazael came knocking, he ran in fear to the treasury instead of in faith to the LORD.

What is the biggest threat to your whole-hearted faith in 2017?

What do you need to lay aside or do battle with so that the LORD has your whole heart, your whole attention, your whole you?

Identify it and then take action.

Don’t let it fester.

Don’t let it wait.

The author of 2 Chronicles gives us a lot more of the gory details of where Joash went wrong.

By the time, he died, he was two thumbs down. He even had Jehoiada’s son Zechariah killed. That might have been the son of Jehosheba, his aunt and savior!

So he ended poorly. V.19

“As for the other events of the reign of Joash, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? His officials conspired against him and assassinated him at Beth Millo, on the road down to Silla. [The first southern king to be assassinated.] The officials who murdered him were Jozabad son of Shimeath and Jehozabad son of Shomer. He died and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. And Amaziah his son succeeded him as king.”

Two things going on there at once.

One, he dies an ignoble death because he failed to have a whole heart. And God always our whole hearts.

But, did you catch who the king was after him? Amaziah his son.

There still remains a son of David on the throne.

God always keeps His promises.

We’ve learned again and again that when these kings are at their best, they remind us of Jesus.

But we’ve also learned when these kings are not at their best, they remind us why we need Jesus.

We need a Son of David who does not die, or at least comes back from the dead.

We need a Son of David who has a whole heart of faith and never fails to do His one job.

Because we have failed and we will fail.

And we need a perfect King to take our place and pay for our sins on the Cross, in His body on the Tree.

So that we might die to sins and live for righteousness.

King Joash reminds us that we need King Jesus.

That baby hunted by Herod?

He grew up, live a perfect life, taught about the kingdom of God, and then died on the Cross to pay for our sins.

But He didn’t stay dead.

He was resurrected on the third day.

And now He lives forever with His saints to reign.

Long Live the King!


***

Messages in this Series:

01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King
06. The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom
07. The Two Kings and the Tearing of the Kingdom
08. The Word of the LORD
09. In the Eyes of the LORD
10. The LORD Lives
11. The LORD Is God!
12. The LORD Is Still God.
13. “You Will Know that I am the LORD”
14. "Thus Saith the LORD!"
15. What the LORD Says
16. Is There No God in Israel?
17. Where Is the God of Elijah?
18. How NOT To Relate to God
19. God of Wonders
20. No God in the All the World Except in Israel
21. LORD, Open Our Eyes!
22. "If the LORD Should Open the Floodgates of Heaven"
23. "I Will Avenge the Blood of My Servants"

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