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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Athaliah—2 Chronicles 21.

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ATHALIAH.


Spiritual life is not hereditary, but sin is an entail, which, if not overcome, descends from parent to child. Athaliah, the daughter of Jezebel, exceeded, if possible, her wicked mother in wickedness. Our first introduction to her is as the wife of Jehoram, the son of the good king Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat's weakness had been in that he did not separate himself as he ought to have done from those who walked far from God. He had said to Ahab, who had called him to go to battle against Ramoth‐Gilead:

I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses." (1Ki 22:4.)

How should Ahab, "dead in trespasses and sins," believe in the difference between a sinner and a man of God, if Jehoshaphat, a man of God, did not bear witness to it? This grieved God and He sent His prophet to reprove him, saying:

"Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? For this thing, wrath is upon thee from before the Lord." (2Ch 19:2.) It was after this that he espoused his son to Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. This was no accident; Jehoshaphat must have done it with his eyes open. It is impossible to be unfaithful to our calling as children of light, without compromising our witness for God more and more. Jehoshaphat's son undid all the good which his godly father had done. O how little this godly father considered in such an alliance the probability of the loss of his son's soul for ever!

"Jehoram was thirty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab; for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife; and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord." The first mention in God's Book of this wicked woman was her evil influence upon her husband. Perhaps it was by her counsel that he slew all his relations, "and divers also of the princes of Israel" (2Ch 21:4).

God reproved the king. "There came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet" (2Ch 21:12-15), who had been caught up to heaven, which warned him of the terrible sickness by which he should lose his life, and yet this startling message led to no return to God on the part of the king. The influence of Athaliah was stronger than the warning of Elijah; the king's tendency to idolatry stronger than any appeal which came from the living God. But Athaliah, while she hindered her husband from serving God, had no power to help him when under the judgment of God. Athaliah and her false gods could not hinder the fulfilment of God's word; Jehoram "died of sore diseases."

His youngest son succeeded him on the throne, and we read of him: "Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Athaliah, the daughter (or grand‐daughter) of Omri. He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for

HIS MOTHER WAS HIS COUNSELLOR TO DO WICKEDLY."

Insatiate in her wickedness, this abominable woman, having ruined her husband, disregarded the awful lesson taught her by his sufferings, and, in the face of it, set herself to ruin her son!

Those who have worked among the fallen, and amongst thieves, have frequently noticed that the most reckless of women are anxious to save their children from the terrible life which they have lived, and they often hear it said by these lost mothers: "Do what you can to save my child." But here was a woman whose great delight apparently was to bring her husband and children to ruin. It is surely a masterpiece of Satan when all the woman is destroyed in the wife and the mother, and she becomes "earthly, sensual, devilish" (Jam 3:155).

Ahaziah, like Jehoram, was cut off. In the destruction of his cousin, Jehoram, the king of Israel, he, too, fell a victim to Jehu, whom God had raised up to destroy the house of Ahab. This was the moment for which his unnatural mother had long been looking. Her ambitious heart wanted the throne, although every step towards it might be stained by the blood of her nearest relations.

"When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah." But God had said that David should not want a man to stand before him and to sit upon his throne, and no power of wickedness can prevent the fulfilment of His Word. Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from the king's sons that were slain, and for six years he was hidden with Jehoiada the priest and his aunt, all unknown to the wicked Athaliah, who now reigned over the land.

It is an unnatural thing for a woman to seek to be prominent. It is not in God's order for a woman to rule, and every true woman shrinks from the position even when it is forced upon her. It is the devil who makes men unmanly, women unwomanly, and children unchildlike, God's law is never against, but may be above, nature.

Athaliah had her desire. In her unnatural loneliness, with neither husband nor son, nephew or grandson, to dispute her claim to the throne, she realised her aspirations, and wielded the sceptre of Judah, but only just as long as God permitted. And meanwhile idolatry flourished in Judah, and wickedness seemed to have the upper hand. But a testimony for God was being borne by Elisha during these evil days, and schools of the prophets were multiplied; a strong and earnest desire to get rid of idolatry was rising among the generation of the time, and, as soon as all was ripe, God perfected His plan, and laid it upon the heart of Jehoiada to bring forth young Joash, show him to the people, and recall them to their ancient loyalty to the successors of the house of Judah. In one day there was a revolution, and in that day, Athaliah had to learn that

GOD WAS GREATER THAN SHE,

and that the rule of the wicked is short.

The child Joash had been anointed king. The congregation had made a covenant with the king in the house of God. The life‐guards had left their allegiance to Athaliah, and were gathered round the young king, and the Levites kept "the watch of the Lord," and compassed the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand. Joash was crowned with the testimony in his hand. Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and they said,

"God save the king."

Sounds reached the ears of Athaliah which were not familiar, and she suspected treachery. With, perhaps, a trembling voice, she asked the cause of the tumult, and she saw the people run, and heard them praising the king. What should she do? She was too desperate a woman to remain and die in the palace. She came also to the place of concourse, and arrived in the house of the Lord. But when she saw the youthful king, and that all the army, and the priests and the elders of the people were on the side of Joash and Jehoiada, she "rent her clothes," and cried:

"Treason, treason."

Jehoiada the priest had closely calculated; in his reckonings he had reckoned with his God, and what he did was done by God's command, He boldly gave command that the rejected queen should be driven forth from between the ranks, and forthwith executed! and, without one friend, one follower, one subject to stand on her side, the miserable woman died by the sword, and went to render her account to the God whom she had rejected, blasphemed, and withstood.

And yet Athaliah might have been saved. The prophet Elisha was no unknown person in the land. At times Jehoram her husband had hearkened to him, but Athaliah would not. From first to last in her history, not one good thing is recorded. It was a life of unmixed evil, badly begun, badly continued, badly ended. O how fearful such a life must be, looked back upon from the eternal doom which it has merited and inherited! Such is the life of an ambitious woman who rejects God!

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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