Athaliah hears the sounds of Joash’s coronation. She comes running out to confront this usurper. Her execution is her only ‘reward’.
Athaliah’s words on discovering a new king has been crowned are ironic. She cries out “Treason! Treason!” (verse 13b). Her very existence as Judah’s queen is treason. She stole the throne for the rightful rulers by killing all the possible heirs, or so she thought. She should NEVER have sat on the throne.
But while thinking about this my spirit was awakened to some facts. God’s plan included Athaliah and her murderous reign.
First of all, Ahaziah’s cousins who might have sat on the throne were tainted by the years of living under Jehoram and Ahaziah’s leadership. God had allowed to be ‘torn down’ what Jehoshaphat had made. His son made sure that happened and his grandson was all too happy to follow Ahab’s example.
Secondly, Ahaziah’s age also made it impossible for one of his children to be of age to take the throne. He was 22 when he became king and only ruled for one year before he was killed.
Finally, God was able to do a complete reset in the heart of Joash. Jehoiada, the priest, raised Joash in the Temple. EVERYTHING Joash encountered was permeated with the Lord. Even his meals were made following the requirements of the Law. The political knowledge he learned was presented with an eye on how it intersected with the Law. I would bank on him learning to read by reading the Law. Joash breathed the Lord into his very being through the incense burned in the Temple. Talk about being bathed in the Spirit!
God was not able to remove every drop of Ahab’s blood from the line of David but by allowing Athaliah her murderous rampage and Joash’s hiding, He removed all the influence from Judah. Joash carried Ahab’s diluted DNA but his spiritual DNA was straight from the tribe of Levi, who was devoted to the Lord.
Athaliah had fulfilled her part of the Lord’s plan and now it was time to remove her. She was killed at the Horse Gate to the palace. I wonder if there is significance in the choice of location for her execution or if it was simply the most expedient place, once outside the Temple. I imagine all the gates into the palace were kept clean but if any weren’t it would be this one. It was used to move animals back and forth and would no doubt be a normal place to find animal droppings. Her blood spilled out and mingled with left over horse poop. A fitting testament if you ask me.
There are times in our lives when God uses bad things to bring about good. I won’t go so far as to say that He makes the bad things happen but He does allow them. And then, when we let Him, He uses them to bring about change in us that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
In my life, my divorce was one of those catalysts for change in me. I have always been a strong willed person. Just ask my mom how hard it was to teach me not to bite! But when I became a single parent I learned a different kind of strength. I learned how to stand up for myself, and my children, using reason, patience and logic. No longer could I afford to alienate someone with my demands for what I wanted. There was no one there to smooth over my outrage and/or illogical expectations. This change didn’t come easy or overnight. It took me bumping up against many obstacles before I learned that reason works MUCH better than ranting. I don’t believe I would have internalized this lesson if no for the need to protect my children, and myself, on my own.
Could God have taught it to me a different way? Maybe. Did I enjoy it? NOT IN THE LEAST! Am I grateful now for the lessons, regardless of the road it took to bring them to me? ABSOLUTLY. That time in my life started me saying something that still holds true today. “God knows what He is doing, even if He doesn’t tell me about it first.” I TRUST Him with my WHOLE life, no matter what He uses to bring me my lessons.
Father God, THANK YOU that YOU have EVERYTHING in control. There is NOTHING that surprises You or catches You off guard. Even the worst things the enemy can do to me can have a positive impact when I give it to You and allow You to work in my life. There is NOTHING we can’t handle together! There is PLEANTY I can’t handle on my own though. PLEASE help me remember this and to ALWAYS share my life with You. I give YOU control. Without You I would be drifting, like a ship without a sail.