The Lady Who Saved Christmas

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On 30 September 2005  12 cartoons were published by a Danish newspaper showing the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in a variety of humorous or satirical situations.

Diplomatic protests by governments of Islamic countries started in October 2005, escalating to the closure of embassies.

The cartoons were neither shown on TV nor published in the national papers in the uk.

A few months before the BBC was at the centre of controversy over its plans to air Jerry Springer: The Opera - a show depicting Jesus as a vulgar, incontinent, homosexual in nappies. The BBC decided to go ahead with the broadcast in January 2005.

As christians how do we reconcile those two facts? How do we deal with situations like that? In a so called Christian country protecting Mohammed and ridiculing Jesus? Do we, as the American pastor suggested, burn the Koran? Do we do nothing? Do we complain about the injustice of it all?

Lets have a look at What the bible has to say Continuing our studies in 2 Kings and this week we are in 2 Kings 11 and so it would be great if you could have your bibles open there.

You may well have noticed over these chapters the author of Kings bounces between the northern and southern kingdoms. A couple of weeks ago we saw both their kings get wiped out in an act of judgement. Last week we saw how that judgement continued in the northern kingdom.

But now in chapter 11 the scene changes, the camera focus shifts from the northern kingdom to the south. What's going to happen there? Their king is dead who's going to replace him? Is he going to do good or evil in the sight of the Lord?

Well lets find out under the following three headings:-

There will always be opposition to Gods Kingdom

God will establish his promised king

God's promised king will re-establish his covenant

So firstly There will always be opposition to God's kingdom

Now if you know kings at all you will already know that there is a certain phraseology, a way of talking about the death of a king and the introduction of his successor. You would expect chapter 11 to start something like:-

In the something year of king Jahu king of Israel, X son of Y began to reign in Judah. He did good/evil in the eyes of the Lord.

But look down at what v1 says:-

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family

Things aren't looking good for the nation of Judah, they have lost their king and now the queen mother is going about killing off what is left of the family in an attempt to steal power and authority. In the political unrest of their kings death, Atheliah stages a bloody coup d'etat. A coup to steal the throne.

And the situation becomes far more grave when you remember who this royal family is. These are the last of the decedents of King David. The very decedents that God had promised would rule forever.

You see what Athaliah is doing here is far more harrowing than simply murdering her grandchildren (as shocking as that is) she is setting herself up in opposition to God and the kingdom he has promised. If these children die, so does the promise of God. In one sense Athaliah does not have much of a job left to do. her husband has done much of it already. Before coming to power he killed all his brothers. To firm up his position. With him now dead, Atheliah simply has to deal with the grand kids and she is done. The Lord's promise would be broken, she would be victorious.

The promise of God seems to be hanging by a thin thread and Athaliah is determined to sever it.

Now Atheliah is extreme, but she is not unusual, there will always be opposition to God's kingdom.

And that's something that many of us know already don't we. Sure it may not be an evil coup but we know what it feels like to be cut off at work. Deal with those cutting comments from colleagues or overlooked for promotion for no reason.

We know what it is to face social and political opposition to what God's word holds as true. I forget how many times, when we built this church here we had the lead on the roof stolen.

It does not take a genius to realise that its getting  Harder and harder to live holy lives in a society that is saturated by materialism and lust, living for the moment.

Jesus said "Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (Jn 15:20)

There will always be opposition to God's kingdom, so expect opposition, but don't surcome to it, becausepoint two God will establish his promised King, despite all opposition. [v2-16]

Look down at vv 2+3.

'But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. 3 He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.'

Unbeknown to the evil queen Athelaih her step daughter Jehosheba has taken one of the male grandchildren and saved him from execution and taken him to live in the temple with her and her husband.

The plot thickens the queen thinks she has won, she begins her tyrannical reign in Judah. Atheliah, a Baal worshipping queen, thinks she has defeated Yahweh and is safe in her position as queen. Little does she know that just a few miles away the rightful king is waiting to take back his throne.

7 years pass and the time comes. The chief priest orchestrates it all with the military and we'll pick up the story in v11

The guards, each with his weapon in his hand, stationed themselves around the king—near the altar and the temple, from the south side to the north side of the temple.

Jehoiada brought out the king's son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, "Long live the king!"

When Athaliah heard the noise made by the guards and the people, she went to the people at the temple of the LORD. She looked and there was the king, standing by the pillar, as the custom was. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Then Athaliah tore her robes and called out, "Treason! Treason!"

Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: "Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her." For the priest had said, "She must not be put to death in the temple of the LORD."  So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death.

The king is crowned the usurper is dead, Gods promise that had been hanging by a thread has shown to be solid as iron. But notice how that promise was upheld, not by sending thunder bolts and striking down Atheliah, not by plagues or floods, but by the faithful acts of his people in the face of opposition. By Jehosheba being faithful and saving the child, Jehoiada the priest organising a second coup, by the guards obeying the priest in spite of danger to themselves.

You see so often the Lord works through the small works of his people doesn't he? That small word here or there. That act of loving kindness you show to a colleague, the simple sentence "you should come to my church." You may think those are small things, insignificant things, but it is through them that Gods Kingdom can grow.

You see it was because of these seemingly small works of Jehosheba that 840 years later there was another decedent of David born. Another promised king who, like Joash, was hidden as a baby for fear of his life. Like Joash, this King would reclaim his throne from those who would steal it, a king who will over overthrow all his enemies even death itself. That King is Jesus as we know there will come a say when he will return and all will see his kingship. Like Atheliah, nations and organisations, State and celebrity may live as if he is not their. Maybe even some of us live as if he is not there. But one day all will see the true king, and for those who resist him, just like with Atheliah, there will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Like Joash, Jesus is the promessed king who has been and who will be established.

There will always be opposition to Gods Kingdom, God will establish his promised king and finally and much more briefly God's promised king will re-establish his covenant v17 - 18

Jehoiada then made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people that they would be the LORD's people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

For the last seven years, the people had been ruled by a Godless queen. They had been convinced that their God is at best impotent, at worst not their at all. Baal worship is thriving and the people are alone, without hope and without God. Imagine their relief when they see that throughout these last seven years that Gods man has been waiting to retake his throne. Imagine the awe when they realise that God, their God is not defeated or impotent, but quietly working out his plans for the salvation of his people.

And at the point of the king taking his rightful office Jehoiada makes an agreement between the people and their Lord, that they will be God's people and He will be their God.

What is the result of this covenant? They begin to think like God, Baal becomes utterly repellant to them. It is no surprise that when they are committed to the Lord, their first act is to wipe idolatry from the land. Its ruthless and violent and totally appropriate. The very idea that there would be a temple of idolatry in God's land, amongst God's people is totally abhorrent to them.

And that's strange isn't it because we too, if we know Jesus, have seen a king re-instated, we've entered into a covenant with him, that He will be our God and we will be his people. And yet , if we are honest, we seem far less repulsed by our idols. The bigger house, the better gadget, the respect of those we work with, being seen as holy. We don't wipe them out, we kind of like them.

There was once a pig and a chicken walking through the slums of Bombay. As they walked they were struck by the poverty around them and decided that something had to be done. "I know" said the chicken "We can make them bacon and eggs" The pig looked at him and replied "That's all right for you, you only need to give an egg but for me that requires complete commitment"  - complete commitment. Let me ask you, when it comes to God are you a pig or a chicken? Is it complete commitment or are there area's of your life you hold back, little idols that you put in front of God? That car, that house, that family, being seen as holy, being respected, all good things until we put them in Gods place. What idol is it in your life that you need cut out? Are you going to be a pig or a chicken?

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