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Do you remember King Jehoshaphat’s son who married wicked King Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah? Well, after Jehoshaphat died, that son, Jehoram, became a bad king. Then once King Jehoram died, his son Ahaziah became king. He was bad too, and he was the king of Judah that Jehu got rid of on his ride toward peace.
After that, Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, decided to take control and just make herself queen (sounds like something Jezebel would do, huh?).
Athaliah started killing everyone next in line to be king — all of David’s royal heirs to the throne! Wait a minute! God had made a promise to King David that he would always have a child on the throne? Wicked Athaliah can’t pull a fast one on God and change His promised plan. Let’s see what God does about this.
There was a very wise, loving, and courageous priest named Jehoiada serving God at the Temple during this time. Jehoiada was married to Ahaziah’s sister, Jehosheba. And when she found out about wicked Athaliah’s plan to make herself queen, Jehoiada and Jehosheba sprang into action.
They rescued one of the little baby boys who was next in line to be king. (Yes, one of David’s descendants!)
They hid him away in a storage room full of blankets with a nurse to take care of him. (That sounds like a cozy place to stay safe, doesn’t it?)
The wicked Athaliah didn’t even know there was a little baby boy prince still alive! It was a secret. This little baby prince was named Joash.
Sometimes in the Bible he might be called Jehoash too. This is a good time for us to stop and mention something. In the same way that you might know several people named John or Josh, there are many repeated names in the Bible too. During this time of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, there are many repeated King names. There are 2 Joashes (also called Jehoash), 2 Ahaziahs, 2 Jehorams (also known as Joram), and 2 Jeroboams… just to name a few of the repeated names you’ll find in your Bible. This happens a lot in history, especially over hundreds of years. So, just be aware of that when reading your Bible and don’t let that confuse you.
As little baby boy Joash grew, he stayed hidden in the Temple, God’s House! What a great place to grow up!
Jehoiada and Jehosheba protected and took care of little Joash for 6 years while he grew. They were very careful to keep the little prince a complete secret, secret, secret. Shhhhhhh! If they weren’t careful and blab, blab, blabbed about the secret prince, Athaliah might find Joash.
After keeping their secret for 6 years, in the 7th year, it was time! Wicked Athaliah had been queen too long already. So Jehoiada came up with a bold plan.
First, he got together the army officers. “Psssssst. Meet me in the Lord’s Temple. But shhhhhh. It’s a secret.”
When they got there, he said, “I have something very important to tell you, but I need you to all promise that you will be loyal and trustworthy about what I’m going to show you.”
The men all agreed, so Jehoiada stepped over to a nearby doorway and motioned for the men to step closer… hiding behind in the little room was… the little prince Joash!
After Jehoiada told the men the secret of the little boy prince, the officers promised their loyalty to the Lord’s House and to the new king. They went throughout the land and gathered all the Levites and family leaders and brought them to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Jehoiada divided all the priests and Levites into groups. Usually they took turns having some days off, but not now. Jehoiada gave everyone a job to do protecting the little future king. He also gave them the shields and weapons which David had put in the Temple long before.
Jehoiada instructed them all, “Guard the palace. Guard the gate. Guard the guards. And most importantly guard the Lord’s Temple and protect the new king! Surround, surround, surround him — each of you with your weapon in your hand. You must go with the king wherever he goes. And deal with anyone who approaches your row of guards.”
Once everyone was ready and in place, Jehoiada gathered the people together. The priests and Levites and all the guards carefully guarded the prince and the Temple. They never left their posts (that’s their assigned position).
As the people gathered together, excitement was growing. The time had come to tell, tell, tell the secret! Jehoiada led the little secret prince out in front of everyone. Then as everyone watched, Jehoiada placed on the little boy a crown and the kingly symbol. Then, he poured oil on prince Joash and declared him the new king.
“Long live the king!” The people celebrated, blew trumpets and shouted joyfully.
There was one lady who didn’t quite know what was going on yet though. When she heard the shouting, she pushed her way through the crowd and said, “Hey, what’s going on?”
It was the wicked Athaliah. Once she got to the front of the crowd, she saw exactly what was going on. The little prince was standing in the place where kings stood, with a new shiny crown resting atop his little curls.
Athaliah shouted, “Treason, treason, I’m the one in charge here!” She looked left. She looked right. Searching for someone to help her. But by this time she was powerless. Everyone was now on the side of Jehoiada and the new King Joash.
Jehoiada commanded, “Seize that women, get her out of here!” So out, out, out of God’s House they took wicked Athaliah, never to cause trouble again.
Jehoiada the priest, then wrote down a covenant between the Lord and the king and people, saying that everyone should be loyal to the Lord God.
Up and down and around the streets in a big parade the bodyguards and the people led the new King Joash to his palace where he sat down on his throne.
All the people of the land celebrated and the city had rest now that the wicked Athaliah was gone.
Jehoiada the priest had made a bold plan against the queen, but he knew God’s City, His House, and His Promises should be protected.