Script for the June 5th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.
Welcome to the June 5th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.
Today’s reading is in 2 Chronicles 23-24 and John 15. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.
2 Chronicles 23
As we begin this chapter, wicked Queen Athaliah is on the throne of Judah. As we read the Old Testament stories, we realize that God’s judgment in this life is an ever-present reality. But we are also reminded that God has a great deal of patience that pushes His judgment off for a season as He waits for repentance.
So, as we read about wicked Queen Athaliah, we know that she is directly in the line of fire of God’s justice. But His patience is waiting for her to repent. Will she repent? Or will she reap the just consequences of living in defiance of Almighty God?
As we read the first few verses of this chapter, we observe that a priest of the Lord will lead in a coup against such a wicked leader.
2 Chronicles 23:1-3 (CSB): “Then, in the seventh year, Jehoiada summoned his courage and took the commanders of hundreds into a covenant with him: Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zichri. They made a circuit throughout Judah. They gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah and the family heads of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. Then the whole assembly made a covenant with the king in God’s temple. Jehoiada said to them, ‘Here is the king’s son! He will reign, just as the LORD promised concerning David’s sons.’”
When we read in the first verse that it was in the seventh year, and when we read in 2 Chronicles 24:1 that Joash was seven years old when he began to reign as king, we realize that he was a baby when he was taken to the Temple to hide him from Athaliah. So, Joash is now seven years old, and Jehoiada is prepared to declare him king.
But if his coup was unsuccessful, he and all of those who helped him try to make Joash king would be killed. And even young Joash would be killed. So this coup had to be well-planned.
Long story short, Jehoiada orchestrated a plan to have a very large number of Levites, priests, and troops in the Temple on a particular Sabbath. Most of these men were holding weapons. The Levites were to surround Joash, protecting their new king with their lives. If anyone else entered the Temple, they were to be killed.
Then came the moment of truth from which there was no turning back.
2 Chronicles 23:11 (CSB): “They brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, gave him the testimony, and made him king. Jehoiada and his sons anointed him and cried, ‘Long live the king!’”
But as they celebrated, everyone wondered when Athaliah would hear and show up. How many leaders and troops would remain loyal to her? Would she try to make a speech to win back the hearts of some of those currently protecting Joash?
2 Chronicles 23:12-13 (CSB): “When Athaliah heard the noise from the troops, the guards, and those praising the king, she went to the troops in the LORD’s temple. As she looked, there was the king standing by his pillar at the entrance. The commanders and the trumpeters were by the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets while the singers with musical instruments were leading the praise. Athaliah tore her clothes and screamed, ‘Treason! Treason!’”
I want to yell into the story and say to Athaliah: “That’s all you got? That’s all you could come up with? You didn’t even attempt to gain control of the situation?”
Jehoiada didn’t cower. Maybe his heart felt like it was about to beat out of his chest. But he maintained control of the situation. He called for her to be arrested and taken out of the Temple. He also made it clear that if anyone followed those who were taking Athaliah out, they were to be killed. So, Athaliah was taken to the King’s Palace, where she was put to death.
So, now Judah has a seven-year-old king but the priest, Jehoiada, is obviously the strong man. It is not difficult to think of a scenario in which Jehoiada would make Joash, the young new king, a pawn on a chessboard while Jehoiada took charge and wreaked havoc.
But that’s not what happened. Jehoiada was a good man and wanted what was best for Judah. He loved the Lord and wanted the people of Judah to follow Him. Jehoiada would not be a threat to Joash. Instead, he would protect him, advise him, encourage him, and do everything possible to improve Judah’s standing with the Lord.
Just listen to some of what Jehoiada did.
2 Chronicles 23:16-17 (CSB): “Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, the king, and the people that they would be the LORD’s people. So all the people went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed its altars and images and killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, at the altars.”
Then, Jehoiada put the Levitical priests over the Temple. There were even Levitical gatekeepers so that anything unclean would not be allowed into the Temple. Jehoiada is giving Judah a good spiritual cleaning, providing an opportunity for each of Judah’s citizens to follow the Lord.
Once again, we are reminded that Jehoiada wasn’t out to get Joash’s job. He wasn’t going to use Joash as a pawn. Instead, he was going to do everything he could to clean things up so that Joash’s reign wouldn’t be corrupt like the previous three rulers.
2 Chronicles 23:20-21 (CSB): “Then he took with him the commanders of hundreds, the nobles, the governors of the people, and all the people of the land and brought the king down from the LORD’s temple. They entered the king’s palace through the Upper Gate and seated the king on the throne of the kingdom. All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet, for they had put Athaliah to death by the sword.”
Friend, there are plenty of self-centered people in this world who don’t have a problem at all using people for their own purposes. But folks like Jehoiada are rare. Let’s commit to being like Jehoiada. Let’s do everything within our power to work toward a serious spiritual cleansing in our family, our churches, and other places where we can exercise that oversight. And yet let’s be people who are not a threat to those who are legitimately in charge. Instead, let’s be a blessing to them.
2 Chronicles 24
Let’s start by reading the first two verses in which Joash’s reign over Judah officially begins. But I want you to pay particular attention to the influence that the priest, Jehoiada, exerted.
2 Chronicles 24:1-2 (CSB): “Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beer-sheba. Throughout the time of the priest Jehoiada, Joash did what was right in the LORD’s sight.”
Did you catch that? As long as the priest, Jehoiada, was alive, Joash did what was right in the Lord’s sight. And that’s what we see play out in Joash’s reign. The kingdom of Judah was strong and secure as long as Jehoiada, the priest, was alive. But when he died, things immediately showed signs of declining.
But let’s not get to the negative part too quickly. There was much good that happened before Jehoiada died.
The primary activity that the writer of Chronicles tells us about is the repairs made to the Lord’s Temple. Under Athaliah, the Temple had fallen into disrepair, and many of the Temple treasures had been used to worship Baal.
So Joash and Jehoiada came up with a plan to set a chest at the entrance to the Temple. The people of Judah would come and put the temple tax in the box. The people were apparently excited about getting the Temple repaired because they gave generously to complete the work.
Finally, the Temple repairs were completed. The extra money was brought to Joash. But listen to how the following verse ends.
2 Chronicles 24:14 (CSB): “When they finished, they presented the rest of the silver to the king and Jehoiada, who made articles for the LORD’s temple with it—articles for ministry and for making burnt offerings, and ladles and articles of gold and silver. They regularly offered burnt offerings in the LORD’s temple throughout Jehoiada’s life.”
There it is again! It doesn’t say that things went well through King Joash’s life. It says that things went well, and Temple offerings were made “throughout Jehoiada’s life.” Apparently, Joash either lacked godly character, or he lacked leadership competence. The spiritual tone and direction of the nation should have depended upon him, the king, rather than the priest. The priest had a vital task in the Israelite community, but the king set the tone, except in Joash’s case.
Listen to how it played out.
2 Chronicles 24:15-19 (CSB): “Jehoiada died when he was old and full of days; he was 130 years old at his death. He was buried in the city of David with the kings because he had done what was good in Israel with respect to God and his temple. However, after Jehoiada died, the rulers of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them, and they abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and served the Asherah poles and the idols. So there was wrath against Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs. Nevertheless, he sent them prophets to bring them back to the LORD; they admonished them, but the people would not listen.”
When we read that last line about how he sent prophets to bring the people back to the Lord, it seems that Joash was speaking out both sides of his mouth. Joash seemed to have taken a spiritual nose dive when the priest died. And as we saw with previous kings, God often sent someone to point out their sins and call them to repentance.
In verses 20-22, we read an emotionally charged account of how Joash was confronted with his sin. The prophet who spoke was none other than Jehoiada’s son. Jehoiada had been such a blessing to Joash and the people of Judah so one would think that they would respectfully listen and possibly comply.
2 Chronicles 24:20-22 (CSB): “The Spirit of God enveloped Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood above the people and said to them, ‘This is what God says, “Why are you transgressing the LORD’s commands so that you do not prosper? Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.” ’ But they conspired against him and stoned him at the king’s command in the courtyard of the LORD’s temple. King Joash didn’t remember the kindness that Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had extended to him, but killed his son. While he was dying, he said, ‘May the LORD see and demand an account.’”
Joash’s reign had started so well. We had hoped that he wouldn’t be like the queen and two kings that had gone before him. But he ended up doing what was evil in the Lord’s eyes, and he would be punished for it.
In verses 23-24, we are told that the Arameans came against Judah. Even though the Aramean army was inferior to Judah’s army, Judah was dealt a resounding blow. How is it possible that the Arameans defeated the people of Judah?
2 Chronicles 24:24 (CSB): “Although the Aramean army came with only a few men, the LORD handed over a vast army to them because the people of Judah had abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors. So they executed judgment on Joash.”
But the people of Aram didn’t kill Joash. They wounded him, but he didn’t die at their hands. Instead, his own servants saw his compromised position and assassinated him while he was in his bed. Why would they do such a thing? Because they didn’t believe that someone who had killed Jehoida’s sons should live.
Finally, we are told that Joash’s son, Amaziah, became king.
If John assembled this chapter chronologically, then we understand that Jesus was teaching His disciples after He left the upper room and was heading to the Garden of Gethsemane. In John 15, we hear Jesus say some wonderful things. So let’s spend some time here.
In verses 1-8, Jesus said that He was the vine and we are the branches. Many years ago, I spent quite a bit of time studying these eight verses and saw in them the key to enjoying our Lord and growing spiritually. So, for the first eight verses of John 15, let’s take them one verse at a time.
John 15:1 (CSB): “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”
Here, Jesus simply sets up this analogy. He said that God is the gardener who watches over the grapevine. Jesus also said that He is the true vine. This means that He is the one life source that grows out of the ground.
John 15:2 (CSB): “Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.”
What or who are the branches? That’s everyone who is saved. If you are saved, you are a branch that grows from the vine. Your very life source is Jesus. If you were to be disconnected from Jesus, you would have absolutely nothing to sustain your life.
But in this verse, Jesus talked about branches that don’t produce fruit. This is referring to those folks who claim to be saved, they claim to be a Jesus-follower, but they aren’t. How do we know that they aren’t saved? Because they aren’t producing the fruit, the evidence, of being a believer. So Jesus removes them. They are lost and have no part in Him.
Then, we read that He prunes each branch that does produce fruit so that it can produce more fruit. This is speaking about how Jesus brings things into the life of true believers that causes them to hate sin more, love Him more, and grow as Jesus followers. James 1:2 tells us that we can get happy when God sends trials our way because we understand that those trials are what He is using to make us more like Him.
John 15:3 (CSB): “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
Periodically, vines need to be cleaned because they are lying on the dirty ground. But Jesus said that each of His eleven apostles was already clean. They were saved. They had heard His message and were resting their trust in Him.
This is the same principle Jesus was addressing when He was washing the disciples’ feet. When Peter sarcastically resisted and said to give him a bath, Jesus said that he was already clean. This means that people who are saved are truly forgiven and declared righteous. Saved people are spiritually clean.
John 15:4 (CSB): “Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.”
If we are saved, Jesus is abiding in us. He is within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He will never leave us. But when He is abiding in us, we may not be abiding in Him. We may not be sensing our utter dependence upon Him and our joy in Him.
A growing believer realizes that they can do nothing apart from Jesus, just as a branch can do nothing but wither and die if it becomes disconnected from the vine. So, a growing believer realizes they can do nothing apart from Jesus, and so they seek to take steps to express their dependence upon Jesus moment by moment. Praying all the time is just one clear way that we can express our dependence upon Jesus and stay connected to Him.
John 15:5 (CSB): “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.”
This verse just clarifies even more succinctly what Jesus has just said. When we are saved (Jesus is remaining in us) and we are enjoying fellowship with Him (remaining in Him), then Jesus is free to help us bear the fruit of a true believer. Others will be able to see what we do, hear what we say, and so much more and will clearly see that we belong to Jesus.
But apart from Him, we can do nothing. Even the religious activity that we might do apart from Christ is utterly worthless in Heaven’s eyes.
John 15:6 (CSB): “If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
This verse is powerful. It tells us that someone who is truly saved will remain in Jesus. They will express their dependence upon Him. They might slip away into spiritual apathy or sin, but they will go back to Jesus because they realize that they need Him.
But those who don’t have a dependence upon Jesus demonstrate that they are not saved. So, they are gathered and will be thrown into the fire after they breathe their last breath on earth.
John 15:7 (CSB): “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.”
Here, we learn another prayer principle. We are told that there is a scenario in which we can ask the Lord for something and get what we asked for. What is that scenario? It is when we are growing in our dependence upon King Jesus (remaining in Him) and are spending much time developing a mind and heart that is informed by the Scriptures (“My words remain in you”). The Lord knows that if we are chasing after the Living Word (Him) and the Written Word (the Bible), He can promise to grant our prayer requests because they will be the things He would want us to ask for.
John 15:8 (CSB): “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.”
Jesus was always about the business of glorifying His Father. All that means is that Jesus lived in such a way as to demonstrate the character and goodness of God to a watching world.
In verse 8, we realize that we can join Jesus in the work of showing the character and goodness of our God to a watching world. We do it by spending much time in our relationship with Him and in our Bibles so that we demonstrate in so many ways that we belong to Jesus.
Friend, chasing after godliness isn’t merely for personal benefit or as a source of blessing to those around us. It also shows to a watching world who our God is and what He is like.
Then, in verses 9-11, we hear Jesus tell us to enjoy His love for us and to love others.
John 15:9-10 (CSB): “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
In these two verses, Jesus says that He has the same perfect, soul-satisfying love for us that the Father has for Him. So our duty is to “remain in (His) love.” It is quite possible to be loved fully by the Lord and yet not feel that love. So we are told to appropriate His love for us.
And then we are told that if we are obedient to His commands for us, we will be free to experience His love and favor. A child who disobeys his parents remains the object of his parents’ love. Yet, that love is not felt because of the discipline they must administer. So, if a child wants to continue to feel the parents’ love, then obey them. That’s how it is with our walk with Jesus.
John 15:11 (CSB): “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”
This is it. Jesus wants us to be happy. He wants us to have joy. And He knows that the way to that happiness is through appropriating his love for us by being obedient to Him. Friend, God really does have our best in mind. Why in the world do we periodically, willfully stumble into sin when it robs us of the joy that it falsely promises?
Then, in verses 12-17, Jesus tells us to love each other as He loves us. If we are experiencing His love for us, then why not share it with others?
But Jesus never wants to sell us a bill of goods. He never wants to mislead us. So after speaking about love, we may be tempted to think that a life of seriously obeying King Jesus will be nothing but a blessed life. He seeks to correct that misunderstanding.
John 15:18-19 (CSB): “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.”
In these verses and the few verses that follow, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that if we seriously follow Him, we will enjoy a relationship with Him and possibly with other believers. But it sets us up to be hated by the world. However, we realize that whatever persecution comes our way in this world is only short-lived and will end when we step into our eternal home.
This chapter ends with Jesus talking about the Holy Spirit (“Comforter”) again. Why does He speak about the Holy Spirit after talking about persecution? Because we would not be able to endure persecution if it weren’t for God’s Holy Spirit. He is given to us so that we might endure whatever persecution comes our way as we continue to follow King Jesus.
King Jesus, thank You for loving us with the exact kind of love that the Father has for You. Help us resolve to read and obey Your Word as we desire to live in a relationship with You. Only then can we experience Your love and allow You to produce many signs of spiritual maturity in us. But we cannot do this on our own. So thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit who can enable us to live for You. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.
The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!