Monday, October 13, 2014

"What will YOUR legacy be?"

Day #290:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - October 14th

Scripture Reading:  II Chronicles 21 - 24 ...

Have you ever heard of a man named Jehoiada?  If you were asked to name an influential man in the history of Judah, Jehoiada's name would probably not immediately come to mind.  But his legacy is something to talk about, especially when contrasted with the legacy of another man who was his contemporary ... King Jehoram.  As you look at the lives of these two men you quickly see how important devotion to the Lord our God is.  Their lives were radically different and their influence was felt far beyond their own personal acquaintances.  And their legacy ... their legacy reveals the unmistakeable connection between the choices you make in life and how you are remembered at your death, by people AND by God!

Let's look first at Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.  Jehoshaphat had been a relatively good king, but his son, Jehoram, married a daughter of Ahab, who had been one of the most wicked kings in Israel, the northern kingdom.  When Jehoram became king in Judah "he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the princes of Israel" (21:4).  He was so evil that God would have destroyed his family except for the fact that He had made His covenant with David and God cannot break His promises.  "He (God) had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever" (21:7).  It brings to mind the words of the angel Gabriel when he spoke to Mary, the mother of Jesus, before His birth:  "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David ..." (Luke 1:32).

Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, condemning him because of his behavior and predicting his death.  And just as God predicted, Jehoram died, and it was said of him, "He passed away, to no one's regret" (21:10).  What a legacy to leave behind!  No one cared that he was gone.  It was, "Good riddance!"  How many people live that way?  And even those who may leave people behind who loved them and shared life with them have to wonder what GOD thinks of their passing from this life to the next.  What are you doing for God, for His kingdom?  What are you leaving behind that will last for eternity?  THAT's your legacy!

Now let's turn to another man ... to Jehoiada.  After Jehoram died the people made his son, Ahaziah, king in his place.  His mother's name was Athaliah and she was a wicked woman.  Ahaziah was twenty-two when he became king and reigned for only one year.  Why such a brief reign?  Because he was evil and joined the king of Israel in battle at the wrong time!  God was already judging Israel for their rebellion against Him, and now Ahaziah joined with Joram, the wicked king of Israel.  God's plan and intention was that both would be killed, and so it happened.  Be careful whom you align yourself with!  Hearing that her son was dead, Athaliah attempted to gain power in Judah herself!

How would she accomplish such a thing?  "She proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah" (22:10).  That sounds bad enough, but you have to remember God's promise that a descendant of Judah would be the Messiah, the promised Deliver, the Savior, God's anointed King!!!  That couldn't happen if the whole royal family of the house of Judah was killed.  This is where Jehoiada comes in.  King Ahaziah had a sister named Jehosheba.  Her brother, Ahaziah, had a son who was just a baby ... his name was Joash.  When she saw that Athaliah was going to kill the whole royal family (the male heirs), she grabbed Joash and took him and his nurse (caretaker) and hid them. Her husband was Jehoiada, a priest in Judah, and together they kept the child hidden for six years!!

Imagine that!!  For six years they hid the rightful heir to the throne of Judah.  This was not just any child.  This was the only surviving male heir to David's throne.  Without him, the line of David would end and God's promise would fail ... the Savior would not come and all mankind would perish.  This was no small matter.  Then, in the seventh year, Jehoiada made a covenant with the commanders of units of the army of Judah and "when they came to Jerusalem, the whole assembly made a covenant with the king (Joash, who was now eight years old) at the temple of God" (23:2).  Jehoiada said to them, "The king's son shall reign, as the LORD promised concerning the descendants of David" (23:3).    God used Jehoiada and his wife to preserve the line of David!!

"Jehoiada and his sons brought out the king's son and put the crown on him; they presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king.  They anointed him and shouted, 'Long live the king!'" (23:11).  When Athaliah heard all the noise she went to the temple to see what was going on and cried out, "Treason! Treason!" (23:13).  Jehoiada commanded some of the soldiers to take her away from the temple and to put her to death.  Then he "made a covenant that he and the people and the king would be the LORD's people" (23:16).  Jehoiada was the counselor of the young boy, Joash, who was king.  The sons of the wicked Athaliah had broken into the temple and had used the vessels dedicated to the LORD to worship the false gods around them.

Now, with Jehoiada's influence and at the king's command, a chest was placed outside the temple and people brought donations for its repair.  The king entrusted the money to Jehoiada and he gave it to the men who carried out the work at the temple.  "The men in charge of the work were diligent, and the repairs progressed under them.  They rebuilt the temple of God according to its original design and reinforced it"  (24:13)  Because of the faithfulness of one man, the line of David was preserved and the worship of God restored.  "As long as Jehoiada lived, burnt offerings were presented continually in the temple of the LORD" (24:14).  Then we read, "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" (24:15-16).

If Jehoiada watched over Joash for seven years and Joash was still reigning when Jehoiada died, that means Jehoiada was somewhere around 90 years old when he took his stand and mentored this young king and brought Judah back to God, bringing about what could only be called a revival.  Sadly, we read in the remainder of Chapter 24 that after Jehoiada died, both Joash and the people turned away from God.  In fact, when Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, confronted Joash, Joash had him killed.  What a tragedy!  But there is a valuable lesson to be learned here for those of us who live in this world today as we serve God:  we are leaving behind a legacy ... what legacy are you leaving?

Jehoram, Ahaziah and others left nothing of value behind.  It was said of Jehoram that "He passed away, to no one's regret, and was buried in the City of David, but NOT in the tombs of the kings" (though he was one).  On the other hand, it was said of Jehoiada that he "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 (even though he wasn't a king), because of the good he had done in Israel for God and His temple" (24:15-16).  Two men, two different paths, two radically different legacies.  What will YOUR legacy be?

God fulfilled His promise to preserve the line of David and finally, in the fulness of time, Jesus Christ was born from the line of David to be the Savior of all who believe.  We who know the true God today are called to stand firm in our faith, as Jehoiada did, and to labor for His kingdom, building up His body, the Church, and testifying to the world that our God reigns and His plans cannot be thwarted.  We are called to stand in the gap, as Jehoiada and his wife did, to risk our lives or even to give up our lives for the sake of our King Jesus Christ and for the glory of our God.  May we be found so doing as we leave a legacy for those who come after us.

"Heavenly Father, each of us is given just so much time here on the earth, and what we do with that time is our legacy.  Give us wisdom to pursue Your kingdom and Your righteousness, that our lives may be used for Your purposes and for Your glory.  I ask You, Father, to help me make my life count, knowing that living without You has no meaning and no lasting purpose.  Give me grace, Father, to trust You and to serve You with all my heart and with all my strength.  In Jesus' name, Amen" 

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