February 18th, 1962 @ 7:30 PM
2 Chronicles 23-24
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Chronicles 23-24
2-18-62 7:30 p.m.
In the Book, turn to 2 Kings, chapter 11, 2 Kings, chapter 11, and if your neighbor doesn’t have his Bible, share it with him. We shall read together 2 Kings, chapter 11 beginning at verse 17 to the end of the chapter, reading about Jehoiada, Jehoiada the high priest, about Mattan the priest of Baal; 2 Kings, chapter 11, beginning at verse 17. Now all of us reading it together:
And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord’s people; between the king also and the people.
And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the Lord.
And he took the rulers over the hundreds, and the captains, and the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down the king from the house of the Lord, and came by the way of the gate of the guard to the king’s house. And he sat on the throne of the kings.
And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet: and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king’s house.
Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign.
[2 Kings 11:17-21]
And to add to it, the second verse of the twelfth chapter, and Jehoash, Jehoash usually in the Bible: "And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him."
Now, that’s the center of the story in the Bible that brings to us the subject of Forgotten Mercies. We’re going to follow that chronicle in the second of the Chronicles, chapters 23, and 24. The story is parallel, only it is fuller in explanation and in detail in the 2 Chronicles, chapter 23 and 24. The end of chapter 22, in 2 Chronicles describes the brutal and the cruel work of Athaliah.
Jehoram is the king of Judah. He was a vile and a wicked monarch. He married Athaliah, who was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. And as though Jehoram were not wicked enough in his own desolate life, this woman Athaliah, who was a true daughter of Jezebel, made him to sin even more.
Now, she had a son, named Ahaziah, and upon the death of her husband Jehoram, her son Ahaziah ascended to the throne. In Jezreel the king of Israel was sick, whose name also was Jehoram. And Ahaziah went down to Jezreel to see his uncle and Ahaziah had reigned but one year when he went down to see his uncle who was king of Israel, who was sick in Jezreel. And it happened to be while Ahaziah was there that Jehu was anointed king over Israel at Ramoth-Gilead and he drove with Bidkar, the captain of his hosts and with the army of Israel to the gate of Jezreel.
It was there that Jehoram, the king of Israel, and Ahaziah the king of Judah came out to meet Jehu, and Jehu slew Jehoram the king of Israel with an arrow shot from his bow, and his soldiers ran down Ahaziah and slew Ahaziah, both of the kings, the descendants of Ahab and Jezebel.
Now, when Athaliah, the mother, saw that her son Ahaziah was slain, she immediately took all of the male household of the king in Jerusalem, and slew them. One of the vilest and wickedest things that mind could imagine. And she made herself the usurper of the throne of David. Had it not been for a providence of God, the line of David would have been extinct under Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. But it happened to be in the goodness of God, and in the fulfillment of the prophecy to David that he would never lack a son to sit upon his throne. It happened to be in the providence of God that there was a woman, the daughter of king Jehoram and the sister of Ahaziah. Her name was Jehosheba. She was married to Jehoiada, the high priest. And when Athaliah, that cruel queen, through the bodyguard and through the mercenaries slew all of the male members of the family of the king of David, this woman, Jehosheba, the wife of Jehoiada the high priest, stole away a little infant, a baby by the name of Jehoash.
And she hid the little child, as Moses was hid. She hid the little child and he was brought up in the high priest’s house immediately adjoining the holy temple of God, hidden away. Nobody but the high priest and his wife knew that the little infant, the son of Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of the line and lineage of David, nobody knew that he was alive, but just the high priest and his godly wife.
For six years Athaliah reigned: a usurper over Judah. She was as vicious and as vile and as cruel in her life as was Jezebel. She slew God’s prophets. She broke down the house of the Lord. She made great breaches in its wall and in its structure. And she built up a great house of Baal and taught the people to worship the foul Ashtoreth translated in the King James version, "groves." The foul goddess Ashtoreth and the male god, Baal.
That continued for six years and in the seventh year, Jehoiada the high priest took the little boy, Jehoash, and set him on a platform and put a crown on his head and put the Bible in his hand. Isn’t that a remarkable thing? Set the boy on a platform before the house of the Lord, put a crown upon his head, and put the word of the testimony of the law of God, put the Bible in his hand. And the little six-year-old boy in his seventh year stood there on the platform, before the house of the Lord, with a king’s crown upon his head and with the Bible in his hand.
Now, Jehoiada had instructed the Levites in their courses, when they came to that great high day of festivity to remain, and not to go home as their courses were dismissed, and he had instructed the mercenaries, and he had instructed the captain of the guard to be true and faithful to the word of the Lord. And when Jehoiada the high priest blew the trumpet and announced to the people that one of the seed royal of the house of David had been spared, and that he was alive, and there he was, the child six years of age, the people lost themselves in ecstasy and in rejoicing and in gladness. The whole city and the whole land there gathered at that day of high festivity. They went beside themselves in gladness and in rejoicing. And it came to the queen’s ear the noise of the shouting and the blowing of the trumpets and she asked what, and they said, "Of the seed royal, one has been spared, Jehoash."
And she rushed out of her palace into the courts of the Lord and saw there the young king who had been anointed and crowned. She rent her garments and she cried, "Treason, treason." And Jehoiada the high priest said, "Open a way. And they opened a way on either side down to the king’s gate and the captain of the guard and his men in the temple court took her down to the king’s gate and beyond and slew the usurper. And Jehoiada crowned the boy, Jehoash, king over Israel there in the courts of the Lord. And Jehoiada made a covenant between him and between the people and between the king that they should be the Lord’s people.
Why, you can just hardly imagine anything as magnificent, anything as blessed, anything so ordered by the fullness of the love and mercy of God, as the preservation and the crowning of that little fellow, Jehoash. Oh, how he had an opportunity!
He grew up having everyday the sight of those white robed priests before him – seldom ever away from the fragrance of perfume incense; hearing every day the glorious songs of the Levitical singer. I repeat, oh, if we could have been there, five thousand of them. As glorious as these men are, think what they’d sound like, five thousand strong. And the prayers that daily went up to God, how impressionable the little boy was and what an incomparable opportunity did he have growing up in the home of his aunt and his uncle Jehoiada and Jehosheba.
Well, all of the days of Jehoiada, the little boy growing up and now into manhood did magnificently – one of the finest, one of the most virtuous, one of the godliest, one of the holiest of all of the kings of Israel. And he noticed that the house of the Lord was broken down and great breaches in its walls. He said to Jehoiada, "Gather funds from the people that we may erect the temple to the Lord."
Jehoiada himself was slow and when the young king cried at his uncle, Jehoiada got a big chest and put it at the entrance of the gate into the temple and bore a hole in the lid. And it was that as the people came up to worship in Jehovah’s house that they dropped in an offering in that chest and the money was more than enough to rebuild all of the bridges and to repair the destroyed and desolate house of Jehovah. And they had money left over to buy pots and pans and instruments of gold and silver. Oh, what a thing and what a happiness and what a gladness and with what peace and prosperity did God crown the years of the ministry of Jehoiada and the years, beginning years of the reign of young Jehoash!
Now, the day of the inevitable came and Jehoiada waxed old, one hundred thirty years. And he died, and they buried him in the tomb of the kings – this glorious high priest, Jehoiada. Then – and I cannot believe it – and then it is astonishing beyond any way to describe it. And then when Jehoiada died, Jehoash the king buried his piety in the grave of his uncle. Jehoash, that king, forsook the God of his fathers and the Lord of his people. And turned, leaving the house of God to worship the filthy and the vile Ashtoreth and the male god Baal. I can hardly believe it when I see it in the Book. Now, that’s my subject: forgotten, forgotten mercies.
I read this week of an officer in India. And he had in his house a pet leopard, a little cat. He had taken it when it was born, and he had loved it and was fond of it, and the leopard grew up in his house. And now a full-grown lethal cat, domesticated, fawning, loving its master, it went everywhere in the house day and night. Softly those padded feet, but tame and harmless, the leopard.
And upon an evening his master, this officer of the army, fell asleep and his hand fell down by the side of the couch. And the leopard came by and began to lick his master’s hand. And as the leopard licked his master’s hand, his teeth, sharp like a razor, his teeth inadvertently cut, scratched a place on his master’s hand. And the hand being lowered, blood dropped from the little place. And the leopard licking the hand, tasted the blood and all of those wild and untamed and carnivorous impulses that are in all beasts’ nature came to life, and in no time, blood flowed as the officer was torn in pieces by the savagery of that domesticated leopard; that old nature, that old depravity, down deep and enjoins.
That came about like this. After the death of Jehoiada, came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. And they – ah, what did they say? This is what they said, "Oh, royal sir. At last, at long last you are free. We congratulate you upon your liberty. We went to the funeral of the old fossil, Jehoiada. He hadn’t made any progress in a long lifetime. He clung to the God of his fathers and he worshiped in the way of the ancient tradition. But you, sir, we congratulate you, royal sir, upon the breaking of those bands of the past. And now, royal sir, we want you to be abreast of the times. We want you to live modern, ill and empty." Wouldn’t that thrill you?
And instead of King Jehoash saying, "But I can never forget Jehoiada, and I can never forget the God of the high priest, and I can never forget the Jehovah of my fathers," they did obeisance to him. And they flattered him and they convinced him that the old virtues were out of date, that all of the holiness and the sanctity and the godliness by which the throne of the king had been crowned with the jewels of God, they convinced him that this is a new day and this is a modern era and this is another time and we are to live in keeping with the times and abreast of the age.
And Jehoash erected again the Ashtoreth that he cut down and Jehoash built again the house of Baal he destroyed. And Jehoash made again an image of the male god with the female Ashtoreth and he and his house and the people bowed down before the filthiness and the dirt of the new age and the modern time. That old nature, never get beyond it – never!
And the Lord, loving Jehoash; and the Lord, loving the house of David; and the Lord, loving His people – sent prophets. And they testified and they pled with the king, "Come, come, back to God and be a joy to the people to get right with God." And the Lord raised up prophets and sent them to speak and to plead and finally, and finally the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah, the high priest, the son of Jehoiada.
And it was upon a day when the king and his people were passing by the court of the house of the Lord and the Spirit of the Lord came upon Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he said, "Thus saith the Lord God, Why do you transgress My commandments? Because you have forsaken the Lord, the Lord will forsake you." And he pointed to the king, and when he did – when Zechariah the prophet the son of Jehoiada – when Zechariah pointed to the king, the king stopped and he called his guard. And he said, "That priest, cut him down where he is. Stone him till he’s dead as he stands. He’s there to rebuke the king."
And there in the house of the Lord, and in the courts of Jehovah, they stoned Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, at the commandment of the king in the court of the Lord’s house. Thus Jehoash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. That was a crime that Israel never forgot. Our Lord God cries 850 years after this; referred in the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew to that awful and heinous murder and you can read of it in the Talmud of time and time and time again, that awful crime.
The Talmud says, and of course this is legend, but it shows how it was fixed in the minds of that Jewish nation, the town hath said that the blood of Zechariah never dried up. But the years and the years and the years, however many sacrifices and however the blood of the priest might flow, the blood of Zechariah never dried, never dried – until Nebuchadnezzar came and destroyed the house and destroyed the temple and destroyed the city and destroyed the nation and carried the people away into captivity – the blood of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada.
Thus, Jehoash, the king, remembered not the kindness which [Zechariah’s] father had done to him, but slew his son. Can you believe those things? Can you believe those things? There is an element, there is a part, there is a nature, there is a depravity in us all. May God help us and remember us. "And he remembered not the mercies and the kindnesses of Lord."
Well, I would have thought Jehoash preserved as miraculously as he was, like Moses, I would have thought he would have been as great a blessing. And it came to pass at the end of the year, in a year, in a year. And I remember Jehoash now is in the prime of his life and it came to pass at the end of the earth that a small band of Syrians came and overwhelmed the armies of Judah and destroyed all that they had possessed, and carried away as trophies and as booty and as loot and as spoil into Damascus. And when they left him, they left Jehoash in great diseases, and his servants conspired against him and slew him, and he died. And they buried him in the city of David, but they didn’t bury him in the sepulcher of the kings where godly Jehoiada, though a priest and not a king, was laid to rest awaiting the great resurrection day of the Lord. Oh, oh, oh, when we forget the mercies and the kindnesses and the remembrances of God!
There is a man whom I went to see in one of my pastorates. There is a man and he was stricken unto death, and I sat by his bed and he said to me, "Pastor, if God will raise me up and if God will remember me, and if God will be kind to me, I will come down that aisle. I will consecrate myself again to the Lord. I will work and pour my life into this ministry. I will be God’s servant, if the Lord will just raise me up. If He will."
I knelt down by the side of that bed and prayed that God would lay hands of healing upon him and raise him up. And God answered that prayer, the Lord raised him up, gave him his strength and his health again. Did he remember what God had done? Did he reward the kindness of God by the keeping of the vow that he made? He didn’t. And in no time and in no time, there came such a tragedy of the house of that man as to break the hearts of a hundred thousand people.
Thus, Jehoash the king remembered not the kindnesses of God in preserving his life, in making him a king, in lifting him up through the kindness of that godly priest Jehoiada. O, O Lord, O Lord, that we might remember Thee! Have you made a vow to God? Have you? Have you made a promise to God, have you? Have you said something to God, have you?
Then as God liveth, and as God is able and merciful, ask Him to help you keep that vow and that promise inviolate. Did you promise to give Him your life? Give it to Him. Did you promise to follow after Him? Follow after Him. Did you promise to serve Him? Serve Him. Did you say upon a day, "Lord, I will make Thee first?" Make Him first. Did you say, "All else in my life shall be cast aside as refuse and rubbish? I shall hereafter and hence forth serve Thee, O God my Lord and my king?" Did you ever tell the Lord that? Do it.
Here am I, O God, empower me and bless me and may the spirit of intercession and love and devotion and godliness fall upon me. And has the Lord spoken to your heart of a faith in Him? "I’ve called you," says the Spirit. "I knock at your heart’s door," says the Spirit. And this is God’s time for you, then respond with your soul and your life. "Here I am and here I come. I can’t fight this battle by myself but God my helper, I put my hand in Thine, O Lord. And here I come and here I am."
Would you do it tonight? Would you make it now? While our people sing. And while we prayerfully lay before your heart this appeal, would you do it, now? Would you do it, now? Would you make it tonight? "Here I am and here I come. With God’s help, in His blessing, and in His goodness, and in His promise, here I come." Is there a family you? "Pastor, this is my wife and these are my children. All of us are coming tonight." Is there a couple you, or just one somebody? As the Spirit of Jesus shall bear to your heart, the appeal, make it now. Come tonight. While we stand and while we sing.
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Chronicles 23-24
1. Wicked king in Judah
2. Married Athaliah, wicked daughter of Ahab and Jezebel
3. Their wicked son, Ahaziah became king of Judah when Jehoram died
4. King of Israel’s name was also Jehoram
1. Jehu slew Jehoram of Israel and Ahaziah
2. Athaliah became queen in Judah
3. Athaliah slew all descendents of David except one
1. Wife of high priest Jehoiada
2. Sister of evil queen Athaliah
3. Hid away the last line of David, baby Jehoash
1. Crowned Jehoash king
2. Called for the death of evil queen Athaliah
1. Raised by godly high priest Jehoiada and his wife Jehosheba
2. While Jehoida was high priest the temple was restored
3. When Jehoiada died, Jehoash turned from God to Baal
VI. God’s mercy
1. God sent Zechariah to plead with Jehoash to turn back to God
2. Joash slew Zechariah
3. Jehoash never remembered the kindness of God