Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Jehoshebeath - A Woman of Influence

In our fast paced world where nothing stays the same and no one has enough ‘time’ .. it is hard sometimes to focus on the important things of life that do not change.
It is hard to feel that we can make a difference when we see the tsunami of evil invading every aspect of our society.  We see hearts growing cold and life becoming less and less valued.
But God is not diminished, He is not out of control,  He is not frustrated that His plan is not working out – in fact, the opposite is true.  God’s promises are still true, God is still totally in control, His plans for His children as viable and important as ever they were.


 Is that your question ?  Do you sometimes feel there is nothing that God has called you to do that will make a difference, nothing important enough to even be noted or remembered?
God has given us His word, and He declares that in it is written all we need to understand Him and His ways and to find comfort and guidance in every area of our lives.
He oft ‘teaches’ us through the stories of people who have gone before.  Though they may have lived thousands of years before our time, their situations, the difficult circumstances of their life or the evil around them is oft picturing our own  times.  And we can find answers in their stories that apply to our questions.

Have you heard of Jehoshabeath?  Probably not.  Yet she is immortalized in the pages of our scriptures.  Let me take the facts recorded in II Chronicles 21-23, and read between the lines fleshing out the scanty details we are given, so  that we can ‘feel’ Jehoshabeath’s life and recognize the example she is to us.

Jehoshabeath  was  the daughter of a King and the granddaughter of a King.  We would imagine that her life would have been the sheltered life  of an adored princess, filled with affluence and luxury and servants. 
 But it  wasn’t.  
She was born into a very dysfunctional home. He father, Jehoram,  was evil, feared/hated by all who knew him.  The kind of father you would wish on no child.  Her mother, Athelia,  was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, brought up to think and do what was evil and wicked.

Jehoshabeath, growing up, would have suffered the attitude, reactions and whispers of people who recognized her as the daughter of the hated king, and having  a mother  even more evil than her husband. 

Jehoshebeath  was a tender-hearted girl who loved the Lord.  We wonder how she was able to stay pure of heart and soul living in a home where evil ruled.
I wonder … was Jehoshebeath named for her grandfather, Jehoshaphat?  Did she have a special relationship with him and learn about God at his knee?

When Jehoshaphat was about to die, he divided his wealth among his sons but left the throne to his oldest son, Jehoram.   Jehosebeath was about 13 years old when her father was established as King in Jerusalem.
The first thing Jehoram did upon taking the throne,  was to secure his position by killing all of his brothers.   I can’t help but feel the shock and horror that must have filled young  Jehoshebeath’s heart to witness her father coldly murdering his own brothers. 
Jehoram was  a wicked king,  not following his father’s godly example,  but rather following the council of his wicked wife, Athelia.   

Jehoshebeath must have feared every day what would happen next …  what violence would invade her fragile world.

God stirred up the Philistines and the Arabians to come against Jehoram because of his wickedness.. They came and ransacked the palace taking his possessions and his sons ,carrying them off. Only the youngest by the name of Ahaziah, Jehoshebeath’s brother, escaped. 

Soon after, the invasion, Jehoram,  came to the end of his eight year reign.  God struck him with a horrible, painful condition of his intestines and he died.  His ephitaph was that “to no one’s sorrow, he departed.”  
Did Jehoshebeath mourn her father’s death?   I don't know,  but I think she would have been afraid of what her brother and his mother would do now.   Jehrom’s only remaining son, Ahaziah, took the throne with his mother beside him.

Sometime either shortly before her father died or shortly after – we are not given the time- something very unusual happened in Jehoshebeath’s life.
God was watching over her and had an ‘escape’ planned for her.  Marriage … That in itself is not unusual but what was very unusual was WHO she married.  She married a priest by the name of Jehoiada, who was about 50 years older than Jehoshebeath.

A princess never married a priest!  It was not done. And a priest marrying the granddaughter of Ahab and Jezebel? Never…  I don’t know how God worked circumstances to make it happen – just this once!  … Maybe He spoke to Jehoiada and told him to marry the beautiful young princess who faithfully came to the temple to pray and to bring her sacrifice.  Maybe Jehoiada reminded Jehoshebeath of her grandfather and she longed to ‘be safe’ with someone who loved God as she did.
What we do know is that God had His eye on this girl…  guarding, guiding her through her life because He had a purpose for her to fulfill.

Her brother when he took the throne followed the example set by his father and did wickedly according to his mother’s advice.  God sent Jehu against those remaining of Ahab’s household and all were killed.  Ahaziah hid himself, but Jehu found him and killed him too.
When Athelia heard that her son was dead, she immediately set about to kill all the royal heirs – which would have included her grandchildren.

Someone quickly informed Jehoshebeath what Athelia was doing – or had ordered someone else to do -  and she reacted quickly.
Jehoshebeath snuck into the palace and snatched up her one year old nephew, Joash,  and his nurse and hid them in a bedchamber in the temple.
She and her husband Jehoiada became the only parents Joash would ever know. They  loved and protected him, treating him with kindness.

For six years Athelia ruled.

Then one day, when Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada gathered together men of the tribe of Levi and armed them.  They surrounded Joash as he was taken out of hiding and brought to the temple where he was publically crowned, given the law, anointed and declared king to the shouts and cheers of the people.
Athelia , hearing the tumult and shouting came to the temple to see what was going on. When she saw the boy Joash standing by the  temple pillar, she shouted “Treason, treason!”  but no one stood with her.  Jehoiada commanded that she not be killed in the temple but that she be taken outside and killed. 
And so Joash reigned for 40 years over Judah, listening to and following the godly counsel of his father Jehoiada.  And the people had peace.  I find it interesting that Jehoiada lived to be 130 years old ... so that he could advise Joash for his 40 year reign ..  and maybe to be a husband for Jehoahebeath as long as she needed him?   Even Moses only lived to 120. 

Jehoshebeath’s name means “Jehovah is my oath” .  A very significant meaning.  It was through Jeshoshebeath that God was able to keep His oath/promise to King David , that there would always be a descendant to sit on his throne, until the Messiah came.  If Jeshoshebeath had not rescued Joash, all of David’s descendants would have been killed. And in rescuing him, she brought him under the godly influence of herself and Jehoiada. 

I admire this woman we seldom look at. I love how she stayed true to God, kept her faith in Him, turned her back on the luxury of the palace for a simpler life in the temple.  She rather married a godly man than a prince or man of wealth. She also proves to us that we do not have to be bound by our circumstances or the sin of our parents. 
I also hear her speak  that if God had a purpose for her … He has a purpose for everyone of His children …  Not a one of us is unnecessary in His kingdom, not one life is without meaning.  No matter how dark it looks around us, how hopeless – as it must have for young Jehoshebeath – we know that God is watching over us, guiding us according to His good purposes and covering us with His love and grace.

 "(God), who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began ...  
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. .....  
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. " 
- II Timothy 1:9, II Corinthians 9:8 , Romans 8:28