Almost a century has passed since the kingdom divided between north and south. In Jerusalem, over sixty years of relative peace have coincided with relative faithfulness to the LORD, while four different dynasties have ruled over their brothers to the north. And though Samaria is currently enjoying a period of palace stability – after all, there hasn’t been a rebellion in over 40 years – it is nothing compared to the unquestioned succession of David’s inheritors.
This peace is shattered, though, when Jehoram dies (which concluded yesterday’s reading). Remember that he had married into the family of Ahab, and as prophets warned his father and grandfather, alliances with Ahab’s house never end well. Ahaziah, his son, joins Joram in battle against Syria; Joram is wounded and retreats; and, as it was ordained by God, both of Ahab’s descendants – the kings of Israel and Judah – were executed by Jehu.
But the crisis is not over, because Athaliah – who was Ahaziah’s mother and Ahab’s daughter – executes the remaining men of the royal family and takes the Jerusalem throne for herself. It’s tragically ironic that Ahab’s line continues longer in Judah than it did in Israel. Only through the desperate actions of the High Priest’s wife was one of David’s rightful heirs saved. His coming of age, ascension to the throne, reforms, and eventual downfall, fill the rest of today’s reading.
Notice that the sovereignty of God is becoming a prominent theme in Chronicles. Both Jeroboam’s rebellion and Ahaziah’s execution had been ordained by God. At the end of chapter 24, the Syrians plunder Jerusalem because the LORD delivered it into their hand. Notice also the violence that is overtaking Judah. Ever since the first alliance with Ahab’s family, and with the exception of Jehoshaphat (whose epitaph is hardly complimentary), the ruler of Judah has died in agony. Consider the Chronicler’s interest in portraying this history, against the backdrop of promise, and warning, that had been made to Israel’s first kings.
Our verse for this week is Matthew 25:40: And the king will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.”
2 Chronicles 22 through 24. Now let’s read it!
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’