"Now JEHOIADA was old and full of years, and he died at the age of a hundred and thirty. He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple." 2 Chron. 24:15-16

That must have been a remarkable spectacle in Jerusalem, when this funeral procession was seen wending along the ridge of Mount Zion, on its way to the sepulcher of the kings. No 'royal' head had bowed to the stroke of death--and yet the gates of that sacred mausoleum, which holds the dust of David, Solomon, and the succeeding kings, have that day been flung open to receive an addition to its silent trust!

Who can be the newly-embalmed and shrouded occupant for the 'long home of silence'? For whom has a nation decreed this strange, unusual honor? Honor, indeed, it was; for zealously were these precincts guarded against unworthy entrants. Royalty itself was not always a passport through these gloomy portals, if life had been stained with dishonor or crime. The very last king who died in his palace in Jerusalem (though the blood of David flowed in his veins) was deemed unfit to repose along with the dust of his sires. After an inglorious reign of eight years Jehoram was buried, we are told, "in the city of David, but not in the sepulchers of the kings," (2 Chron. 21:20).

Who, then, is this honored subject for whom regal funeral rites are appointed, while his master is left to his long slumber in a common resting-place? No regalia, no imposing symbols of royalty, are carried alongside that casket; yet the long funeral crowd, and the undisguised, sincere lamentations, truthfully proclaim that "a prince in Israel has fallen."

True, JEHOIADA, in his official position, as God's high priest, was worthy of all honor; yet, most of the Jewish pontiffs passed to their graves in strict privacy, without leaving in the sacred chronicles even a register of their death or burial. It was his character and worth, not his position, which gathered that mourning crowd, and opened that place of honored interment! We are summoned in thought to the funeral of a faithful public servant--a venerable patriarch--a minister and man of God--one who, for the long period of one hundred and thirty years, had lived out that great definition of spiritual existence, "to be good and to do good."

His name was not associated with great hero-deeds or brilliant martial exploits. He had a better and nobler vocation. By his piety and zeal, his prudence and sagacity, he had steered the ark of God amid environing storms. Half a generation--thirty years--had passed, since he had been able to engage in active duty; but even that long "sunset"--that period of deepening twilight--was one, also, of sacred and momentous influence. Alas! no sooner had his hand left the helm, and death sealed his eyes, than the ark was once more among the heathen. His brother Hebrews, therefore, had not miscalculated his worth when they followed his body to its grave with tears, and decreed to him a regal funeral.

The funeral is all left to imagination. The sepulcher on Zion has long ago moldered with the royal dust which for ages it enclosed; but the epitaph on Jehoiada's shrine is still left deathless and imperishable on the pages of Scripture--"Now Jehoiada was old and full of years, and he died at the age of a hundred and thirty. He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple." As we read his eulogy let us select, among others, three features of his character which stand out with special prominence--his faith, his courage, and his unselfishness.

I. HIS FAITH. His lot, as we have just said, was cast in a stormy period of Judah's history. It will require a brief historical summary to put the reader in possession of the ecclesiastical and political exigencies of the time.

One of the basest and most unscrupulous of tyrants (a disgrace to her sex) swayed at this moment the usurped scepter of the house of David. It was the only blot in the fair fame of good Jehoshaphat, that, from motives of worldly policy (oh, how many in a similar way blight and ruin their children's prospects), he brought about an unhallowed marriage-union between his son and successor to the throne and a daughter of Ahab and his infamous queen Jezebel. Athaliah inherited alike the depraved nature and practice of her Syrian mother; she obtained a speedy control over the facile mind of Jehoram, who, obliterating all memory of his father's goodness, plunged into the wild excesses of the house of Ahab--importing to Jerusalem Phoenician idolatries, and stripping the very Temple to decorate a shrine for Baal.

Ahaziah's name means "God-exalted," but by his own guilty deeds he became rather God-forsaken. Philistines and Arabians were stirred up to inflict on him the divine retribution. They sacked the palaces, dragged his wives and children into captivity--Athaliah and her son Ahaziah alone being left.

Ahaziah's reign was a brief and inglorious one. He fell, mortally wounded, on the heights of Jezreel, and was buried in Samaria. On his unexpected decease, the artful queen-mother, as the only means of perpetuating her power, and of gratifying an unnatural ambition, resolved on the desperate and unscrupulous measure of consigning the remaining seed-royal to a cruel and indiscriminate massacre. "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she may not have compassion on the son of her womb? She may forget," (Isa. 49:15). Yes, she did forget! It was her own unhappy grandchildren whose blood had to answer the bloodthirsty edict! "When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she set out to destroy the rest of Judah's royal family." 2 Chron. 22:10

Good old Jehoiada the high priest, at an age extending to nearly a century, looked on in dismay at the inauguration of this reign of terror. He was himself united in marriage to a daughter of Jehoram; and they were jointly cognizant of a fact that had escaped the knowledge of the murderer--that is, that one infant child of the king still survived the cruel extermination. They knew God's promise, and they had faith to believe that it would not fail. "The Lord has sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it. Of the fruit of your body will I set upon YOUR THRONE," (Ps. 132:11). It was a perilous experiment--a bold venture, whose discovery would cost them their lives; but they resolved (confiding the fact to a select few) to hide this only remaining descendent of David's line, with his nurse, in one of the chambers of the Temple. Meantime they would watch the favorable moment, to wrest for him the scepter from the hands of the usurper, and invest him with his hereditary rights--"But Ahaziah's sister Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah's infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king's children, who were about to be killed. She put Joash and his nurse in a bedroom. In this way, Jehosheba, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, hid the child so that Athaliah could not murder him." 2 Chron. 22:11

We can imagine that nothing but a devout faith in God could have instigated this pious pair to so perilous a resolve. It was, of all others, a subject for the exercise of faith. The very spot in the sacred corridors where that little one night by night was rocked asleep, seemed to be a pledge of safety and success. Was it not of the temple-courts the Lord Himself said, "THERE will I make THE HORN OF DAVID to bud; I have ordained a lamp for my anointed," (Ps. 132:17). Might not this be the sacred lullaby his aunt loved to sing in the sacred chamber over his cradle, "In the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle he shall hide me?" (Ps. 27:5) Yes! God HAD "ordained a lamp for his anointed." That lamp was flickering. It was reduced to one feeble spark in the person of a little infant. The extinction of that spark would be the extinguishing of God's promise. But they knew that "what God had promised, he was able also to perform." That tiny lamp was confided to their custody. They would do all they could, looking to Him for a blessing, to preserve it from being quenched by the fury of the oppressor. Did not the parents of Moses, in similar circumstances, and in the face of an exterminating massacre, hide their child for three successive months, and "were not afraid of the king's commandment?" In a like spirit, undeterred by the certain vengeance which disclosure of their plot would entail, they are "strong in faith, giving glory to God," (Rom. 4:20).

Oh, for a spirit of similar faith in the midst of difficulties--believing God's declarations, trusting His faithfulness, and with our finger on His promises, saying, "Remember this word unto your servant, on which you have caused me to hope!" God often puts us in perplexing positions for the trial of our faith. He brings his people, or his Church, into exigencies, where "vain is the help of man," just that we may, with unswerving confidence, cast our burdens upon Him, saying, with the Psalmist, "This I know--God is for me. In God will I praise His word; in the Lord will I praise His word. In God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid what man can do unto me," (Ps. 56:9-11).

II. Let us note Jehoiada's BOLDNESS and COURAGE.

Boldness in action is the necessary result of faith. It is the principle of faith bearing fruit. Doubtless, Jehoiada had often and again commended his enterprise in prayer to Him "who dwelt between the cherubim," and was encouraged, by an appeal to the Urim, to go boldly forward.

It was on a Sabbath morning--when the sacrifice was laid on the altar, and the crowd were standing round the outer temple-gates. The fresh relay of priests and Levites had just come in; and the others, whose weekly course that day expired, according to custom, remained inside the sacred enclosure until evening. Thus a double guard--a double force was secured, for the carrying out of the bold plot. The secret, wisely and judiciously confided to a confidential few, had been whispered in other favoring ears. "These men traveled secretly throughout Judah and summoned the Levites and clan leaders in Judah's towns to come to Jerusalem. They all gathered at the Temple of God, where they made a covenant with Joash, the young king. Jehoiada said to them, "The time has come for the king's son to reign! The Lord has promised that a descendant of David will be our king." 2 Chron. 23:2-3

The votive trophies of battle--spears and swords which king David had placed in the temple-armory--were taken down from the walls on which they had for a century hung. Making use of these weapons, the enrolment of a volunteer band of priests and Levites was speedily completed. These were posted at the several avenues, to guard alike against confusion or attack. On a raised seat or platform, adjoining "the king's pillar," with massive golden crown on his head, and God's law in his hand, stood an innocent boy of seven years of age. It was young Joash, the alone survivor of the murdered family! But there he was, God's own pledge that the fruit of David's body should "sit upon his throne!"

And now the astounding fact, (for six years carefully concealed from the populace,) that in these priestly chambers there slumbered, night after night, an heir of the throne of Judah, was made known! It spreads with the speed of a conflagration. The shout "Long live the King!" rises first in the Temple-court. It is caught up by the dense crowd thronging the gates. The strange, unusual commotion floats across the valley, and is wafted in at the palace windows to the ears of the queen. In a few moments she has crossed the bridge connecting palace and temple. A glance of her infuriate eye reads the whole truth. "Treason! treason!" she cries in vain, to her speechless, unpitying, unsupporting guards.

Her life of guilt is fast ebbing to a close--her die is cast. As the shouts of a patriot people are ringing a welcome to their young king, the infamous Athaliah is dragged outside the sacred enclosure to pay the just penalty for her crimes. She lies weltering in her own blood!

2 Chron. 23:9-15--Then Jehoiada supplied the commanders with the spears and shields that had once belonged to King David and were stored in the Temple of God. He stationed the guards around the king, with their weapons ready. They formed a line from the south side of the Temple around to the north side and all around the altar. Then Jehoiada and his sons brought out Joash, the king's son, and placed the crown on his head. They presented Joash with a copy of God's laws and proclaimed him king. Then they anointed him, and everyone shouted, "Long live the king!"

When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and the shouts of praise to the king, she hurried to the Lord's Temple to see what was happening. And she saw the newly crowned king standing in his place of authority by the pillar at the Temple entrance. The officers and trumpeters were surrounding him, and people from all over the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Singers with musical instruments were leading the people in a great celebration. When Athaliah saw all this, she tore her clothes in despair and shouted, "Treason! Treason!"

Then Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders who were in charge of the troops, "Take her out of the Temple, and kill anyone who tries to rescue her. Do not kill her here in the Temple of the Lord." So they seized her and led her out to the gate where horses enter the palace grounds, and they killed her there.

We cannot sufficiently admire the calm forethought, the consummate prudence, and the determined courage of Jehoiada. It was an enterprise which required a wise head and a strong hand, as well as a pious heart. We would naturally look, at all events, for the accomplishment of such a plot to other than one whose head was whitened with the snows of a century. In this respect, it is a deed unparalleled in the annals of sacred history. Such exploits generally demand the prime of manhood, when the sun of life is at its meridian. We look for quiet bars of purple and gold--emblems of repose--when that sun is going down--then "the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow themselves, and those that look out of the windows are darkened; when fears are in the way, and the grasshopper is a burden, and desire fails," (Eccles. 12:5).

The stirring ambition, as well as the physical endurance, requisite for such deeds, have then generally declined; and when they occur, we must look for some stronger than any impelling natural principle. GOD had evidently nerved that old man's arm. He had girded him for the battle. He had, with reference to his old age, verified the truth of that unfailing promise--giving "strength" equal to his "day." He had answered his prayer--"O God, you have taught me from my youth--and hitherto have I declared your wondrous works. Now also, when I am old and grey-headed, O God, forsake me not, until I have showed your strength unto this generation, and your power to every one that is to come." (Ps. 71:17, 18).

It belongs not to God's ministers to intermeddle with political intrigues, except in the gravest emergencies, when His cause and His Church are concerned in the issue. But it is a remarkable and encouraging fact that, in all great and momentous crises of His Church's history, when its bulwarks have been assailed by enemies without or traitors within, He has ever raised up men adequate for the exigency; sage in counsel; firm in principle; bold and fearless in action; who have, like Jehoiada, not only been instrumental in sheathing the sword of oppression, "stilling the enemy and the avenger," but in vindicating truth, upholding the cause of righteousness, and transmitting a heritage of spiritual blessings from generation to generation.

III. Let us further mark Jehoiada's UNSELFISHNESS. Duty and self-interest are often in conflict and antagonism. It was so with Jehoiada. Had he been a selfish man--guided (as the world too often is) by policy, and sacrificing all that is sacred to base and unworthy personal ambition, he was the very last who would have shown any anxiety to shield Joash from the general massacre. Though he himself had no royal blood in his veins, yet (by marrying the sister of the former king) his own son Zechariah was (failing the children of Ahaziah) the heir-apparent to the throne of Judah. If, therefore, on principles of base worldly expediency, he had been careful to hide anyone from the vengeance of Athaliah, it would have been his own child rather than Joash. But this good and honored man would spurn such sordid baseness. Though he had the strong temptation of the golden crown glittering on the brow of his own son, with a noble unselfishness he takes with parental fondness the unprotected orphan and rival under his nurturing roof, and does all in his power to prevent a cruel tyrant stretching forth her hand against the Lord's anointed.

Noble lesson here, also, in the midst of a world and an age of selfishness! When we see so many grasping with unscrupulous greed any tempting bribe--from avaricious monarchs grasping kingdoms, to avaricious and unscrupulous citizens in private life building their own reputation and fortune on the ruins of another--stooping to base craftiness, godless "expediency," unprincipled policy, in attaining their ends--oh, it is refreshing to turn to these staunch examples in the olden days, where self-interest spurned to climb the coveted heights on the ruins of a man's life, or means, or character--willing, unselfishly, to give way, although another rather than themselves be bettered, if the will and cause of God be promoted, submitting to any amount of sacrifice for private and public good. "All seek their own" is the too truthful motto of these degenerate times; but the noblest feature in a man's character is abnegation of self--if his fellows can point to him and say, "That man is as much interested in the welfare of others as in his own."

If we have dwelt mainly on the one public act of Jehoiada, it is not to the exclusion of the more strictly religious traits of his character and history; for it is evident from the sacred narrative, that what embalmed him most in the memories of Israel--what summoned forth the warmest tears on that day of his funeral--was his great work in connection with the repairing of the house of the Lord. His sacred influence had happily been brought to bear upon the young king. He summoned the priests and Levites and gave them these instructions: "Go at once to all the towns of Judah and collect the required annual offerings, so that we can repair the Temple of your God. Do not delay!"

The king and Jehoiada gave the money to the construction supervisors, who hired masons and carpenters to restore the Temple of the Lord. They also hired metalworkers, who made articles of iron and bronze for the Lord's Temple. So the men in charge of the renovation worked hard, and they made steady progress. They restored the Temple of God according to its original design and strengthened it. 2 Chron. 24:5, 12-13

Happy for a nation, happy for a church, when they have in their rulers, civil and ecclesiastical, this combination of political sagacity and manly piety--unflinching alike in their fidelity to the throne and the altar, "rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's"--who, moreover, imbued with the great truth that it is "righteousness" alone which "exalts a nation," deem it the loftiest mission in which they can be embarked, to "lengthen Zion's cords and strengthen her stakes."

How many there are whose life-long ambition is posthumous fame--that, like Jehoiada, they may be "buried in the city among the kings," and on storied urns or marble monuments their names may be handed down to successive generations! God's Great Ones have a truer and nobler immortality; but if you would have the most enviable immortality earth can bestow--if you would aspire to live in the memories and hearts of those that come after you--let the eulogy on the old priest of Israel be the coveted epitaph on your lowlier grave-stone--it may stimulate others, as they read it, to follow your steps–"He had done much good for God and his Temple."

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