>But after the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and bowed down to the king, and the king listened to them. They abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols; so wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their guilt.
So they conspired against him (Jehoiada’s son Zechariah) and at the command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord.
When they (Arameans who had attacked Judah) had departed from him (for they left him very sick), his own servants conspired against him, because of the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest, and murdered him in his bed.
Now these are those who conspired against him: Zabad the son of Shimeath the Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith the Moabitess.
(2 Chronicles 24:17-18, 21, 25a & 26)
As I read this chapter, I was struck by more than just the motivation behind the actions of the people who claimed to be serving God and then turned from him. I was also struck by the source of each of the actions in the narrative.
Many of the kings of Judah were led astray from the outside. Even Solomon was led astray by foreign wives. Shortly before the story of Joash, we see a king led astray by his Israelite wife. She was the daughter of one of the worst kings in the history of Israel, and the king of Judah allowed himself to be allied with that family line. Were it not for the hand of God, Joash himself would have been murdered by this woman, his own grandmother, as she sought to eliminate the line of David.
Joash, however, was different. Joash was led astray by his own people, fellow rulers of Judah. The very people who should have been marked as set apart, servants of the Most High God, instead influenced their king to fall away from God and turn to false gods.
The children of Israel never were consistently faithful to God in all of their turbulent history. So, their lack of faithfulness in this story wouldn’t be remarkable were it not for the narrative to follow.
God had promised His people prosperity if they would remain faithful to Him. Jehoiada’s son Zechariah was fully aware of this. The Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied to the king, questioning Joash’s lack of faithfulness to God. He informed Joash that the Lord had forsaken him. Joash didn’t like this, so he and the officials of Judah had Zechariah stoned. The leaders of God’s people stoned a prophet. Like I said, this was nothing new, but there were some in the land who were unhappy with this murder.
The interesting thing about this is that these men who were upset about Zechariah’s death are not the people you would expect. Their names were Zabad and Jehozabad. They were servants to the king, and they sought revenge for Zechariah’s death. They saw an opportunity – Joash was ill and vulnerable. They took their chance and assasinated him.
Again, this is nothing spectacular. The history of Israel is replete with assasinations, many by servants. What is interesting about this particular situation is the geneology of the assasins. Typically people in Scripture are listed with the name of a male ancestor. Father, grandfather, whoever was prominent and appropriate in the situation. Not Zabad and Jehozabad. They were listed as the sons of their mothers. Their fathers are not even mentioned. What’s more, their mothers are aliens! One is an Ammonitess and the other a Moabitess, and their native people had a long-standing emnity with the people of God. The fact that there is no mention of their fathers leaves room for a great deal of speculation. I would have to wonder if they knew who their fathers were, and even if they did know, I would question whether there was any public recognition of the parentage. Their mothers could have been spoils of war and their fathers could have been soldiers killed in battle or could have been rowdy and less than moral Judahite soldiers celebrating a victory. Scripture does not tell us, but it is obvious that Scripture also does not connect them in any way to a Judahite heritage. I find that very interesting.
In all honesty, it’s not surprising that these two men would desire to assasinate the king. But, their motivation is what is surprising. They assasinated him in revenge for the death of the prophet of a nation not their own and the defense of a God not their own. They, in their own way, were defending the one true God when they were, essentially, aliens among His chosen people!
The people who should have stood for the way of the Lord turned quickly away and began to serve idols, even murdering the one who questioned them. The people who had no reason to defend the way of the Lord were the ones who did. They didn’t necessarily do it the right way, but they did it.
In today’s society, we as God’s people have stood back and sought defense from the world. We have fought our battles in secular courts. We have tried to elect presidents who would do our job for us. We have fussed and cried when things haven’t gone our way. But, we have not made our own stand. We have not lived with the conviction that we have been called to live apart and to stand out. We have allowed ourselves to be led into the patterns of this world, merging ourselves into an unholy society. Meanwhile, judges and lawyers and others in the world are standing up to defend what we should be defending, and they are doing it the wrong way. It’s our turn to stand up for truth ourselves! It’s our turn to be like Zechariah, even if it costs us our lives! It is our turn to be truly holy. To be truly set apart. To be truly the children of God. Let’s not leave it to those who don’t truly belong to Him! Let’s not leave it to those who are going to do it the wrong way! Let’s take action and do our jobs instead!