This is the third part of a study called _False Images – Your Future is not Cast in Stone_. First we looked at Rachel and her inability to let go of the false images of her father. Next we looked at Ruth and how she determined to embrace her future. This section is subtitled ‘A Reason for Treason’. This time we will look at Athaliah & next time Jehosheba. While you may have heard of Rachel and Ruth, Athaliah and Jehosheba may be less familiar. Two women, faced with choices. They are both real life characters in a dramatic, suspenseful story but, the roles they play are totally different. Athaliah is the villainess while Jehosheba is the heroine.
If you asked most people who the most evil woman in the Bible was, chances are, most rarely would think of Athaliah. After this study however, that might change. She is violent, deceptive, murderous and possibly the epitome of evil. Before we enter into the action of the story, let’s have a bit of background.
Many scholars agree that she was the daughter of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. She had learned Jezebel’s wicked ways and embraced them as her own. Remember we always have a choice. She had a choice. She was married to Jehoram the son of the Godly King Jehoshaphat. Jehoram had a choice as well. He forsook the ways of his father and under the influence of his evil wife undid a great many of the good things that King Jehoshaphat had accomplished during his reign. Excuse me for just a moment while I pause to pray for the women whom my five sons will some day marry. Although I’m being a bit facetious at this moment, I truly do this on a regular basis. Oh the influence of a wife on her husband (and vice versa of course).
When her husband died, their son Joash became king. She was no longer the Queen but, she was the Queen Mother and this satiated her appetite for power. But, then everything changed. While she was not Jezebel herself, she had that same spirit of manipulation and hunger for power. When her hold and influence were threatened she took action. Awful, terrible, horrific action. She intended to keep control AT ANY COST.
“When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of the royal family.” (2 Kings 11:1 NLT)
Just in case that isn’t perfectly clear, let me clarify. She killed in cold blood all the royal seed. Anyone who could have a claim on the throne was annihilated. She murdered her own grandchildren. I can hardly type the words without my heart lurching in horror. She was so determined to have what she wanted, she destroyed her own future and sacrificed those she should have protected. Selfish, self-centered, deceptive, manipulative, usurper! She became the king. This was indeed a reason for treason, there was an imposter on the throne!
I’m so thankful to say that this isn’t the end of the story. After this bloody scene of murder and mayhem, the curtains close and reopen to reveal Jehosheba, our heroine. I can’t wait to tell you all about it next time. Until then, I want you to stop and think of the choices you have before you. Just like every lady we will look at in this study, you may have a family heritage of sin, dysfunction and shameful acts. You do not have to claim those false images as your own. When you are tempted to, stop and ask yourself, “What’s a Girl to Do?”. There are options, there are always options. You do NOT have to be what has been before you. You have a new heritage as a child of the King. You can be redeemed, purchased with a price and set free from the heritage of sin. Even if you yourself have already made choices that you regret, this is not the end of the story.
When I talk to my children about family trees, I developed a unique method of explaining it. I would draw a tree with branches and roots. I always tell my children that they have roots of their own biologically that are different than mine and Henry’s. Those roots helped determine the color of their eyes, the height of their stature, the shape of their mouth. But, as an adopted child, they are grafted in to our family. I always stop and add a branch at that point. I explain that while we did not determine the color of their eyes, we will help them to see truth and recognize right from wrong. While we didn’t have any part in how tall they stand physically, we can help shape them and make them spiritually strong. We didn’t contribute to the shape of their mouths either, but we hope to encourage them to smile, to choose their words carefully and lift their voices in praise.
This same illustration applies to us spiritually. The roots are there, roots of sin, roots of pain, roots of despair. They’ve had their influence, we might as well not deny it. But, that is not the end of the story.
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5 NLT)