Love Came Down with Choice

2014-10-22 16.17.17Choices. Life is all about choices.

Today is Election Day, here in Canada and by nightfall, millions of Canadians  will have made an individual choice for the political party who will lead this nation.  By midnight, all ballots will be counted, reported, celebrated or wept over as Canadians choose the ideology which will frame Canada’s future.

Choices matter.

In Judah, King Jehoshaphat made a terrible choice when he aligned Judah with the idolatrous house of Ahab. Like a bad scene out of the drama Dallas, Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, married Athaliah,  Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter, in a vain attempt to restore peace after generations of war between the Judah and Israel.

Some partnerships should just never leave the idea stage.

So why was this such a big deal?

Here lay the problem: Athaliah’s  mother, Jezebel, was a Sidonian princess who systematically destroyed Israeli worship of Almighty God to establish the occult worship of Baal and Ashtoreth.  Biblical history records how Jezebel massacred the prophets of God in Israel as she violently established Baal worship as the only state sanctioned religion.  Once Jezebel enshrined Baal worship over Israel,  she outsed the prophets and Levitical priesthood, then allotted Israel’s royal budget to include food and housing for eight hundred and fifty pagan priests despite the curse of severe famine over the land (1 Kings 18:19).

2013-10-20 17.17.13Unimpressed, God sent Elijah to establish Israel’s faith in the Lord with the famed battle of “God versus Baal” on Mount Carmel. Despite extraordinary efforts by the Baal’s priests all day, their histrionics failed to catch a fiery response. Israel’s sacrifice upon the altar of God was consumed by fire from heaven in a dramatic answer to Elijah’s quick but fervent prayer. Elijah immediately commanded the priests of Baal to be executed at the Kishon Brook (1Kings 18:17-40) though he fearfully stopped short at demanding Jezebel’s head. Years later, Jezebel was tossed out the window by her own attendants at Jehu’s command (2 Kings 9:30-37) as judgment on the house of Ahab was exacted at the word of the Lord (2 Kings 9:12).  Her daughter remained safe in the royal court of Judah, immune to Jehu’s wrath.

After Jehoshephat and Ahab’s kingdom alignment through marriage of their children, death and destruction dominated the two kingdoms for two brutal generations of kings.  Jehoram  took the throne with massive familial bloodshed, as he slew all his brothers whom his father had blessed with wealth and cities throughout Israel:

 When Jehoram established himself firmly over his father’s kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the officials of Israel. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD (2 Chronicles 21:4-6).

Judgment came to Jehoram, as prophesied by Elijah (2 Chronicles 21: 12-15). Eight years into his reign, he died from a terrible disease of the bowels “to no one’s regret”( 2 Chron. 21: 20).  What an epitaph.

Then, just as death had visited his brothers, so all of King Jehoram’s sons were murdered by raiding Arabs with the exception of Ahaziah.  You would think Ahaziah could have realized that being a king of Judah required loyal worship of God Almighty. Instead, Ahaziah obeyed his grandmother and parent’s practices and worshiped Baal.  The chronicler glumly states Ahaziah “ did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father’s death they became his advisers, to his undoing”(2 Chronicles 22:4).

In Israel, King Ahab’s seventy sons were beheaded and piled in baskets at the gates of Samaria at Jehu’s command. When King Ahaziah and his nephews went to defend Ahab’s son, King Joram, their cousin, against Jehu, “that was God’s occasion for Ahaziah’s downfall” (2 Chron. 22:7). The house of Ahab was destroyed.

When Jezebel’s daughter, Athaliah, heard about her son’s death, the Queen Mother seized the kingdom of Judah.  Quickly she murdered all the royal heirs of Judah, seeking to destroy Judah just as her mother had tried to destroy Israel.  Though King Jehoshaphat may have sought an alliance for peace, his compromise, to mix the pure worship of God with the pagan cult of Baal in royal marriage brought utter destruction.  Like her mother, Athaliah amassed an army to crush the people of God and established Baal as supreme god over Judah.

rainbow and fire treeGod wasn’t wringing His hands at this turn of events.  In the midst of terror and tyranny by Athaliah, one brave Judean princess, Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada, intercepted the destruction of the house of David and hid the only remaining heir, the babe Joash, (meaning “whom Jehovah bestowed”) in the barely operating temple of the Lord. For six years the child and his nurse remained hidden in the temple of God, and like the tales of King Arthur and the round table, Jehoiada sought out loyalty to the crown through covenant until that seventh year when they overthrew the wicked queen.

For many years, while the holy priest Jehodiah remained alive, the people and the king worshiped the Lord. Judah enjoyed peace from their enemies within and without. Yet once Jehodiah died, it was as if all godly covering was removed.  King Joash reverted back to the pagan ways of his parents and idolatry dominated the Judean landscape with high places of pagan worship.

When Jehodiah’s son, Zechariah, challenged the king for disobeying God’s law, Joash executed him. Judgement broke out against Judah as just a handful of Syrians rampaged the towns and villages. War broke out and like his father before him, Joash was wounded on the battlefield.  In revenge for Zechariah’s death, his servants killed Joash to avenge the holy Jehodiah’s lineage.

Choices. Mercifully, God comes and gives us choices: Choices to obey God and reap life or choices to follow our own blind course and reap sorrow.

Throughout this election, I have heard the Lord whisper: choose life.  Choose Life!

I wonder what amount of courage it took for that royal daughter to risk the fury of Athaliah and scoop up that baby before the soldiers could run him through?  I wonder what kind of bravery compels the Christian Iraqi’s and Egyptian to declare Christ, though it cost them all?

Choices. If as kings and priests unto God, our prayers, our love walk shifts kingdoms, then out choices matter a  great deal, don’t they?

2013-10-20 17.18.33Let’s Pray: O Father, forgive us when we have sought peace through compromise, at the cost of integrity or righteousness.  Holy Spirit, those who are sons of God are led by you, so we pray this day, “Lead On!” Lord Jesus, we are limited in our understanding of how our choices impact the generations before us, let alone the days ahead. Lord, more than ever, we need Your counsel and Your wisdom to navigate this life which is mired in idolatry and selfish temptation. Father, seal Your heart upon ours, that our passion for You will guide our living. May we live holy, ready like Jehosheba, to arrest the forces that seek to crush future generations of the royal priesthood of God. May our ears be open to Your voice and our hands be ready to hold whatever and whoever You place in our care. Thank You for Your great mercy, Lord God Almighty, that You never give up on us, Your royal kids. Amen.

Last Week’s Reading:  1 Chronicles 20-30

This Week’s Reading (Oct 19- 23):   1 Chronicles 31 -Ezra 9

Study Questions:

  1.  Do these questions help you?  Is the blog too long?  Are the reading passages too much?  Please comment so I can improve our journey through the Bible together.
  2. What did Jezebel and Athaliah both crave?  What did they do to get the power they craved for?  Do you crave for power?  Where does God enter this conversation.
  3. Throughout this story, you see the longterm implications of ungodly covenants and their impact of generational curses.  Can you identify some patterns through the generation of the kings?
  4. When a generation makes a covenant to idols, all their children for many generations are affected.  Did you know you can renounces these covenants and get free from generational curses?  Try praying this:  Father God, I come to you in the blood covenant of Jesus Christ, whom I claim as my Lord and Saviour.  I ask You, Almighty Father, to open the books on my life, on all my covenanted partners, on my mother’s lineage, my father’s lineage and my spouses’ lineage, and I ask You to look upon all the ungodly covenants that I, my children, my spouse, my parents and all their ancestors have made.  I repent and renounce all these ungodly covenants as sin in the Name of Jesus.  I ask you Father to forgive me, my partners, my parents and my ancestors for our idolatry and for making ungodly covenants for personal and spiritual gain.  I ask you to send all Your just curses for their sin and mine and my children, both spiritual and physical, to the cross of Jesus Christ, that His blood would now atone for all our sin.  I ask you to nullify all agreements made with Death and Sheol through these ungodly covenants.  I ask You, Father, to cleanse me, my covenant partners, my parents, and their ancestors with the blood of Jesus from the contamination of our iniquity.  In Your Grace, I ask You to release the righteous inheritance from all my ancestors who walked in righteousness to me and to my descendants.  I thank You, Lord God for you mercy and grace and ask for Your favor and blessing to overwhelm me and my children to a thousand generations, as You have promised those who love and obey You.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

 

2 thoughts on “Love Came Down with Choice

  1. Your comment, “I wonder what kind of bravery compels the Christian Iraqi’s and Egyptian to declare Christ, though it cost them all?” I wonder with the stunning election results yesterday if this is a prophetic picture of the kind of bravery that God is growing in us to COMPEL US as Christians to really rise up and be the people of God.

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