Series: Thru the Bible
Message – Athaliah – Queen of Judah
***Video is HERE***
The Kings during Elisha’s Ministry Pt. 1
Scriptures covered: 2Kings 11; 2Chron. 22:10-23:15
Last week we ended with 2 Chronicle’s account of the death of Ahaziah King of Judah.
Now remember, we are dealing with a divided Israel with two kings. One king ruled over Judah and Benjamin – and that king is generally called the King of Judah. Then the other King is generally referred to as the King of Israel because he reigned over all the other tribes of Israel.
Now, when we ended last week, God had fulfilled His pronouncement of judgement over the house of Ahab – which included ALL the males of Ahab’s house as well as Jezebel his wicked wife. Both Ahab and his evil, manipulative wife Jezebel are good intros into tonight’s topic and in fact are major contributors to the judgment of God upon Judah.
Now, in Ahab’s place God had anointed Jehu as King of Israel and appointed him to be the one to fulfill God’s pronouncement of judgement over Ahab’s household.
All of this was covered in last week’s message which you can easily reveiw by following this link – The Kings during Elisha’s Ministry Pt. 1.
Tonight, we are picking back up in 2Kings 11 which shows us the first and only queen to reign in Israel, or more specifically in Judah.
Approaching a passage with some foresight
Now we know according to scripture that God reigns supreme in the affairs of men and those who rule do so at His appointment or His allowance.
Romans 13 makes it clear that those who rule do so by God’s decision – it is not by succession, by war or even by vote – but by God alone that people rule.
Sometimes this is for blessing and sometimes it is for judgment.
The fact that we have a woman taking the throne in Judah, what does that tell us? Is God blessing Israel or judging them?
Isaiah 3:12, “Youths oppress My people, and women rule over them. My people, your leaders mislead you; they confuse the direction of your paths.”
Now of course, this verse read outside of its context “could” mean anything, so we will circle back around and read the ENTIRE chapter so as to make it clear that this statement was one of God’s judgment against Israel.
Athaliah Reigns in Judah
“(1) When Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to annihilate all the royal heirs. (2) Jehosheba, who was King Jehoram’s daughter and [former king] Ahaziah’s sister, secretly rescued Joash son of Ahaziah from the king’s sons who were being killed and put him and his nurse in a bedroom.
So he was hidden from Athaliah and was not killed.
(3) Joash [given by the Lord] was in hiding with Jehosheba [Jehovah has sworn] in the LORD’s temple six years while Athaliah ruled over the land.”
Joash Anointed King in Judah
“(4) Then, in the seventh year, Jehoiada sent messengers and brought in the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, and the guards. He had them come to him in the LORD’s temple, where he made a covenant with them and put them under oath.”
Okay, now we have a new term – Carites. In some of your bibles it no doubt says captains. This is ok, but not the best or clearest translation. We really do not know that much about the role of a carite, but we do know that they were some sort of special military unit and that, at least in this case, they supported a king against treachery.
“He showed them the king’s son (5) and commanded them, “This is what you are to do:
- one third of you who come on duty on the Sabbath are to provide protection for the king’s palace.
- (6) A third are to be at the Sur gate
- and a third at the gate behind the guards.
You are to take turns providing protection for the palace.
(7) Your two divisions that go off duty on the Sabbath are to provide protection for the LORD’s temple.
(8) You must completely surround the king with weapons in hand. Anyone who approaches the ranks is to be put to death. You must be with the king in all his daily tasks.”
(9) So the commanders of hundreds did everything Jehoiada the priest commanded. They each brought their men–those coming on duty on the Sabbath and those going off duty–and went to Jehoiada the priest.
(10) The priest gave to the commanders of hundreds King David’s spears and shields that were in the LORD’s temple.
(11) Then the guards stood with their weapons in hand surrounding the king–from the right side of the temple to the left side, by the altar and by the temple.
(12) He brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, gave him the testimony, and made him king.
They anointed him and clapped their hands and cried, “Long live the king!”
(13) When Athaliah heard the noise from the guard and the crowd, she went out to the people at the LORD’s temple.
(14) As she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar according to the custom.
The commanders and the trumpeters were by the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets.
Athaliah tore her clothes and screamed “Treason! Treason!”
(15) Then Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of hundreds in charge of the army,
“Take her out between the ranks, and put anyone who follows her to death by the sword,” for the priest had said, “She is not to be put to death in the LORD’s temple.”
(16) So they arrested her, and she went out by way of the Horses’ Entrance to the king’s palace, where she was put to death.
(17) Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD, the king, and the people that they would be the LORD’s people and another one (covenant) between the king and the people.
(18) So all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They broke its altars and images into pieces, and they killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, at the altars.
Then Jehoiada the priest appointed guards for the LORD’s temple.
(19) He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they brought the king from the LORD’s temple.
They entered the king’s palace by way of the guards’ gate.
Then Joash sat on the throne of the kings.
(20) All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet, for they had put Athaliah to death by the sword in the king’s palace.”
“(10) When Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to annihilate all the royal heirs of the house of Judah. (11) Jehoshabeath, the king’s daughter, rescued Joash son of Ahaziah from the king’s sons who were being killed and put him and his nurse in a bedroom.
Now Jehoshabeath [Jehovah is an oath] was the daughter of King Jehoram and the wife of Jehoiada the priest. Since she was Ahaziah’s sister, she hid Joash from Athaliah so that she did not kill him. (12) While Athaliah ruled over the land, he was hiding with them in God’s temple six years.”
A side note here, you might have noticed that the account of 2Chron. differs from 2Kings in the name of the daughter of Jehoram. However, both names mean essentially the same thing and that may be the source of the discrepancy.
Names were important for their meaning – not how they sounded. 2Chronicles being written nearly 200 years after kings, they may have sought to preserved the meaning of the name, and maybe even the pronunciation since languages change with time. One way or another, this easily accounts for the difference in the two names.
[Chapter 23] (1) Then, in the seventh year, Jehoiada summoned his courage and took the commanders of hundreds into a covenant with him:
- Azariah son of Jeroham,
- Ishmael son of Jehohanan,
- Azariah son of Obed,
- Maaseiah son of Adaiah,
- and Elishaphat son of Zichri.
(2) They made a circuit throughout Judah. They gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah and the heads of the families of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem.
(3) Then the whole assembly made a covenant with the king in God’s temple.
Jehoiada said to them, “Here is the king’s son! He must reign, just as the LORD promised concerning David’s sons. (4) This is what you are to do:
- one third of you, priests and Levites who are coming on duty on the Sabbath, are to be gatekeepers.
- (5) A third are to be at the king’s palace,
- and a third are to be at the Foundation Gate,
and all the troops will be in the courtyards of the LORD’s temple.
(6) No one is to enter the LORD’s temple but the priests and those Levites who serve; they may enter because they are holy, but all the people are to obey the requirement of the LORD.
(7) You must completely surround the king with weapons in hand.
Anyone who enters the temple is to be put to death. You must be with the king in all his daily tasks.”
(8) So the commanders of hundreds did everything Jehoiada the priest commanded. They each brought their men–those coming on duty on the Sabbath and those going off duty on the Sabbath–for Jehoiada the priest did not release the divisions.
(9) Jehoiada the priest gave to the commanders of hundreds King David’s spears, shields, and quivers that were in God’s temple.
(10) Then he stationed all the troops with their weapons in hand surrounding the king–from the right side of the temple to the left side, by the altar and by the temple.
(11) They brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, gave him the testimony, and made him king. Jehoiada and his sons anointed him and cried, “Long live the king!”
(12) When Athaliah heard the noise from the troops, the guards, and those praising the king, she went to the troops in the LORD’s temple. (13) As she looked, there was the king standing by his pillar at the entrance. The commanders and the trumpeters were by the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets while the singers with musical instruments were leading the praise.
Athaliah tore her clothes and screamed, “Treason, treason!”
(14) Then Jehoiada the priest sent out the commanders of hundreds, those in charge of the army, saying, “Take her out between the ranks, and put anyone who follows her to death by the sword,” for the priest had said, “Don’t put her to death in the LORD’s temple.”
(15) So they arrested her, and she went by the entrance of the Horses’ Gate to the king’s palace, where they put her to death.”
So this requires a little unpacking!
Why a Priest?
First let’s address the priest taking control of the army.
By what authority did he do this?
Well, each king has a commander of the armies of their kingdom – they are the ones in charge of the various troop leaders – some troop leaders were over less than 100 men and others of hundreds and others still over thousands. ALL of them however, were either directly or indirectly accountable to and under the authority of the chief commander – who in turn was in close association with the king.
In this case the “king” was a “queen” and whoever her chief commander was – you can be certain he was loyal or she would have already been dead!
Now this whole affair in it’s more simple and straightforward account, IS a matter of keeping the law of the Lord. Those in charge of teaching the law were the priests. Since the chief commander was not honoring God’s law, the priest took the matter into his own hands and took the commanders of hundreds into his counsel.
In “normal” circumstances, this would have been a breach of authority, but since the head authorities in the land were already compromised, it fell to the religious leaders to redirect the people’s hearts to obedience to the law of the Lord.
Prayer is sometimes a mistake
Did I really just tell you that? Yes I did, but hear me out.
I want you to notice that nothing says that this priest prayed about what to do and what he did took a life, so this is no small matter!
So often people miss God because in their praying, they ask God for direction regarding something they should already know.
For example, I do not need to ask God in prayer if it is okay for me to rob the local convenience store. God has already spoken to this – “Thou shalt not steal”. So to pray reagarding something God has already spoken to, is to invite an answer which runs contrary to His revealed word! In short I am dishonoring God’s Word by my prayer AND setting myself up all at the same time!
In this case, the priest knew God’s will and word. He knew that women were not to rule over men. In addition to this, he also knew God’s promise to David, that one of his sons would continue on the throne of Judah…and Joash was David’s only living male descendant. So there was no need to pray – he needed only to summon his courage and act!
A woman rules over them – God’s judgment
Now, for the rest of this mess – You have an ungodly king dying and at his death, the queen mother usurps control by means of manipulation and brutality. This woman is decidedly NOT going to win the mother/grandmother of the year award!
Now as to why it was wrong, a straightforward answer will not serve us as well as would some illustrations…so we will begin with that.
You may remember that, the role of “queen mother”, hasn’t worked out that well up to this point. [1Kings 2:19-24; 15:13; 2Chron. 15:16]
At least two kings whose mothers were still alive, sat in their presence in a place of honor and were referred to as queen mother.
Now there was nothing necessarily wrong with this. These men were honoring their mothers as they should!
The problem came in when these mother’s tried to influence changes in the kingdom from the side by “mothering” their sons. They would use their position as mother, to make manipulative suggestions to their sons in ways they were relatively certain their sons would agree to… which was also practiced by wives of kings as was the case of Jezebel – who the world holds up as a standard for women to live by!
Thank God, in the case of Solomon he did not listen to his mother and in the case of Asa he removed his mother from her honorary throne.
Now, as to why was it wrong for these women to attempt to rule from the side…
Well first and foremost it has to do with God-given and God delegated authority. Secondarily it had to do with HOW it was being done.
Let’s be clear…there would have been nothing wrong with making a request of their son the King in a clear, honest and fully transparent manner. There would be nothing wrong with asking him to consider their counsel in a matter either.
The evil was found in attempting to usurp authority by trying to rule from the side.
Now, I know…we have spent a great deal of time on this subject, but this is the first time we’ve actually read through this account of Athaliah in a lesson which was intended to study the passage and so it is important that we revisit it tonight.
Authority by design
We have it on the authority of scripture that Jesus created everything for the Father and for the collective pleasure and purposes of the Godhead.
One of those purposes was to create a family of creatures who would share in Their likeness. As such it is part of our design to represent various persons and attributes in the godhead. Furthermore, some of those roles are distinctively male or female. There are many ways in which the Father God is seen in men. Contrawise there are many ways in which the Holy Spirit is exemplified in women. BOTH are beautiful, perfect and BY DESIGN!
The Holy Spirit does not take the lead in the godhead. For whatever reason, within the Triunity of God the ways of the Holy Spirit are more supportive and enforcing than leading. This does NOT make the Holy SPirit less God or less important – just different.
In like manner, Jesus submitted to God the Father in all things. This did not make Jesus LESS than the Father or less God. It was simply what was appropriate given the circumstances.
So, in creating mankind, God made both male and female. He gave them gender distinctive appearance, gifts, abilities, function and authority. They were dsigned to work in concert with each other, and paint an accurate picture of the persons of the Godhead.
From eternity past the members of the Godhead have worked in concert with eachother and They have always worked to honor One Another.
In our creation, when they said amongst themselves, “Let Us make mankind after Our likeness”. They took counsel with Each Other not to ask, but to proclaim the only honorable thing to do with humanity, since its purpose was SO lofty, was to honor One another by making us in Their likeness. It was a matter of praise of adoration or worship.
It is said that, imitation is the HIGHEST form of praise.
By making us like Them – They were loving on Each Other…praising Each Other and showing Their mutual and deep, admiration for One Another.
So we have male and female. When we work against our God given distinctions we in effect take a razor across the image of God’s face and distort our likeness to Him. This, if you will, “preaches” a gospel contrary to the truth and bear testimony about God that is false!
Now in our creation, God was doing several things.
1st honoring the other members of the Godhead
2nd creating a family who would of a freewill love, honor and show deep respect for their Creators becasue they know Them.
3rd – to answer a question.
To answer a question you ask? Yes!
Part of the purpose for our creation this was to answer the core question behind the rebellion of Lucifer who, due to pride and vanity questioned God’s right to rule over His creation. If you remember, Lucifer wanted to have a throne and rule himself. [Isa. 14:13]
So it kinda makes sense that when God created humanity, He did so in such a way as to answer Lucifer’s question by way of illustration.
By the way, that is one reason why Angel’s are paying SO much attention to us and why we, as the body of Christ will one day be the ones judging the angels.
It also explains passages which otherwise seem a little odd…like 1Cor. 11:7-12,
“(7) A man, in fact, should not cover his head, because he is God’s image and glory, but woman is man’s glory. (8) For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man; (9) and man was not created for woman, but woman for man. (10) This is why a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head: because of the angels. (11) However, in the Lord, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman. (12) For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman, and all things come from God.”
This passage reveals equality among the genders while acknowledging our individual and God ordained roles of authority and submission.
So in light of all of this – It makes perfect sense that this very purpose and order of God is the thing Lucifer (satan) makes the focus of his lies, distortions and attacks on humanity.
If you remember, God told all men in Adam that they must take the lead – which of course Adam nearly immediately failed to do.
Lucifer was present at creation and knew that Adam was created first [1Tim. 2:11-13] and that he was the head of their union. So he naturally circumvented Adam’s authority and went directly to Eve to tempt her to make a decision which would impact all humanity.
Now don’t let this slip by you!
Paul said, we are NOT to be ignorant of satan and his devices. So knowing not only what he will do, but WHY he is motivated to do it, is very helpful for us!
Here we have Lucifer’s FIRST ACTION with humanity – was to tempt them away from God’s appointed order of authority.
Why did he do that? Well, to understand his motives we need to go back to his fall!
What do we know of satan’s fall?
Satan’s fall was one of pride and vanity which led to a questioning of authority.
That should immediately cause all of you to have an “a-ha” moment!
A Pattern emerges – know your enemy
Do you see a pattern?
Like we said on Sunday, the only thing that comes out of the pinata is what is in it!
Satan tempts man and woman with pride, vanity and desire for control because that is what is in him! It is what instigated his fall!
Both then and now, satan’s focus is to distort the clear lines and purposes of authority – using pride and vanity as the motivating force behind the rebellion.
So back to our two humans in the garden… Satan attacks the order of authority by going to Eve. By doing this, he is continuing with his question of “why should God rule and reign”, by attacking the authority of the man who represents the Father God.
By going to Eve RIGHT IN FRONT of Adam – his temptation itself was a flaunting and arrogant attacking question asking, “Why should Adam rule? I will go to Eve and get her to rule from the side.”
Now, as you know, Adam was present at that temptation and said NOTHING.
He did not assume his role of protector and provider. He simply watched and then followed Eve’s lead right into sin – thus making his sin the greater sin!
Eve was deceived… actually Paul said she was completely and utterly deceived. [1Tim. 2:14]
Adam however, followed her into sin with eyes wide open!
This too is a pattern!
God created man to be greatly attracted to the woman -to be intoxicated, if you will, by her beauty and grace. More than one movie has demonstrated this propensity in men to do and act foolishly because they were distracted by a beautiful woman. One of the things that makes humor funny is because it is often a slightly exaggerated example of a known truth.
So naturally Lucifer seeks to use this attraction to manipulate the man.
Again our two driving forces appear – pride and vanity from which spring all kinds of sub-evils like envy and manipulation.
So… after their fall God confronted them both… you remember how it went, but we are currently focused upon the woman right now due to how it impacts our understanding of the passage we just read.
Why is it wrong for a woman to lead? Why, when it happens, is it a judgment of God?
Well, after their sin, God told all women in Eve, that their desire will be to manipulate and govern men in general and their husbands in particular, but that men must rule over them.
Paul and Peter both in the New Testament, spoke by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to remind us that this same thing applies in the church in 1Timothy 2 & 1Peter 3
Women here are told to:
- Be silent – Learn in silence (which means quietness of heart – not disrupting or causing dissension)
- To learn with all submission (hupotasso)
- They are to never be in a position to teach a man (which is all together different than teaching boys).
- They are to never exercise authority – acting like a governor over man. (This has FAR reaching implications)
Paul and Peter both explain that godly women should also see to it that they dress modestly, and walk shamefaced before men.
Now what does shamefaced mean? Well it does not mean they are to feel ashamed – it is an old english term which means modesty and reverence. The way it is acted out is by not being loud, boisterous or forward with men.
Isn’t it interesting how the clear directives of scripture are understood better by the world than the church in that their attacks against God’s words and ways are so precise and on the mark?
The strength of a man was given to him to provide for and protect the woman. This is why the world is pushing back against the strength and provision of the man. Women and young girls are being taught by movies, books and society at large that they need to be strong for themselves, never look to a man for strength and NEVER be vulnerable – “you need to provide for yourself” – is the ongoing mantra.
A song created I believe as a spinoff of the movie Frozen which was the most audacious illustration of this ungodly way of thinking had lyrics like this…
I dreamed of daring quests
Seeing the world from east to west
Instead we just sit inside
Stuck in this princess stereotype
Now is our time let them know
They were wrong
We are strong
Let it show
Let it go!
Why does every princess
Need to have a prince
It’s the same old story
But I’m just not convinced
Why keep on assuming
Men will save the day
We can be the heroes
And do it our own way
Why be confined to be hiding behind true love
I’m who I am
I don’t need a-
This distorts the image and purpose of God in womanhood. God created the woman FOR the man and she is appointed by God as the glory of the man. [1Cor. 11:7]
In womanhood you have beauty and grace and inner strength with submission and the ability to build up others.
This was to be a living example of the body of Christ and their role in relation to the Lord Jesus our groom and husband. This is why Peter in giving instructions to wives told them to submit to and obey their husbands in all things even as the church submits to and obeys the Lord.
This order of things was by Creation of God and was intended to be a living and immersive learning environment…and these roles come so naturally that we don’t have to be taught them – we will do them by instinct. We have to be taught to live contrary to it… and the world is going out of its way to instruct us in evil!
So, even as the strength of man was given to him to provide for and protect the woman, the woman’s beauty and grace was given to provide for and please the man.
All of God’s gifts are outward – they are to serve others, they are not intended to serve oneself or advance our own agenda.
It is interesting how our passage in Isaiah, which we read earlier and will read in its entirety here in a moment – that it addresses these same two things regarding women – How they dress and how they act towards and around men.
Isaiah 3:1-26, “(1) Observe this: The Lord GOD of Hosts is about to remove from Jerusalem and from Judah every kind of security: the entire supply of bread and water, (2) the hero and warrior, the judge and prophet, the fortune-teller and elder, (3) the commander of 50 and the dignitary, the counselor, cunning magician, and necromancer. (4) “I will make youths their leaders, and the unstable will govern them.” (5) The people will oppress one another, man against man, neighbor against neighbor; the youth will act arrogantly toward the elder, and the worthless toward the honorable. (6) A man will even seize his brother in his father’s house, saying: “You have a cloak–you be our leader! This heap of rubble will be under your control.” (7) On that day he will cry out, saying: “I’m not a healer. I don’t even have food or clothing in my house. Don’t make me the leader of the people!” (8) For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen because they have spoken and acted against the LORD, defying His glorious presence. (9) The look on their faces testifies against them, and like Sodom, they flaunt their sin. They do not conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. (10) Tell the righteous that it will go well for them, for they will eat the fruit of their deeds. (11) Woe to the wicked–it will go badly for them, for what they have done will be done to them. (12) Youths oppress My people, and women rule over them. My people, your leaders mislead you; they confuse the direction of your paths. (13) The LORD rises to argue the case and stands to judge the people. (14) The LORD brings this charge against the elders and leaders of His people: “You have devastated the vineyard. The plunder from the poor is in your houses. (15) Why do you crush My people and grind the faces of the poor?” says the Lord GOD of Hosts. (16) The LORD also says: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, walking with heads held high and seductive eyes, going along with prancing steps, jingling their ankle bracelets, (17) the Lord will put scabs on the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will shave their foreheads bare. (18) On that day the Lord will strip their finery: ankle bracelets, headbands, crescents, (19) pendants, bracelets, veils, (20) headdresses, ankle jewelry, sashes, perfume bottles, amulets, (21) signet rings, nose rings, (22) festive robes, capes, cloaks, purses, (23) garments, linen clothes, turbans, and veils. (24) Instead of perfume there will be a stench; instead of a belt, a rope; instead of beautifully styled hair, baldness; instead of fine clothes, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding. (25) Your men will fall by the sword, your warriors in battle. (26) Then her gates will lament and mourn; deserted, she will sit on the ground.”
So in our passage tonight we have an illustration of a woman reigning as Queen in Judah…and we know that if she is ruling, God either appointed it or allowed it. So what do we do with this?
So what had Judah done to incur God’s wrath and judgment?
Well if you will remember, the last two kings of Judah were Jehoram and Ahaziah – both of whom walked in the ways of Ahab who God had just judged! Yet, here Ahab was, in effect, still ruling in that men who had learned his evil ways over greater Israel were now corrupting righteous Judah and leading the people into sin. Also, part of Ahab’s sin was to (like Adam) follow after the leading of his wife. he allowed her to lead from the side.
It is a pattern we see SO OFTEN in scripture that it requires no defense – that God will MOST OFTEN judge us by handing us over into the hands of those we admire. The Israelites admired and wanted to be like the Assyrians or Babylonians or the Moabites…etc. and so God in response would turn them over into captivity to them, so they might learn not to desire ungodly things! Here we have God doing the same thing, by allowing a woman to rule in Judah!
Notice at her death not a single person in the kingdom mourned her passing! Quite the contrary, they rejoiced!
These former kings were wicked men, who promoted evil in Judah and God had – had enough of Ahab and his corrupting ways! So He placed Judah under a woman and so brought them to a place of repentance!
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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