So [Joash] was hidden with [Jehosheba] in the house of the LORD six years, while Athaliah was reigning over the land.
2 Kings 11:3
When Ahaziah was killed, his mother, Athaliah, decided to stage a government takeover. She killed all of the potential successors to the throne. But she missed one: Joash. Joash, based on the math (Athaliah reigned for six years and Joash was seven when he was declared king), was only one year old when Athaliah — Joash’s grandmother — killed all of his siblings. It was only because Jehosheba — Joash’s aunt — took him to the temple of the LORD that Joash was saved. The account does not mention anything that Athaliah did during her rule. She is a footnote ruler. Worse, she was a person without natural love. She killed her own grandchildren. Everything that is recorded about her leaves the impression that she was the worst variety of person. Athaliah was so far removed from any worship of the LORD that it never even occurred to her in six years to just wander into the LORD’s temple. Not. Once.
I want to look at Joash, but his reign really begins in the next chapter, so I need to consider what Athaliah’s footnote reign and shriveled little heart have to teach me.
The worship of idols leads to the death of all affection for others, including natural love. Athaliah is selfish in taking the throne, that is a fact, but killing her own grandchildren to do so is a step beyond. So, it should not surprise me when people who are worshiping one idol or another do things that baffle me; things that betray a lack of natural love. The first example that comes to mind is women who kill their unborn children in the name of convenience. I am thinking of abortion, but a specific case. I am not thinking of women who are forced to make the agonizing choice between preserving their own life or their unborn child’s. I have compassion for them and wish I knew how to save them both. I am thinking of the women who have an abortion because the child is inconvenient. We in Westernized society have created a cult of convenience and we worship whenever it is convenient for us to do so. Men have destroyed their marriages and families in the pursuit of something they might not be able to name. All idols ultimately reflect us. We want what we want and we metaphorically carve the image to match. And all our love for others dies on that altar.
By contrast, worship of the LORD leads to love for others. Not worship of Who I think the LORD is, but of the LORD as He is. If I worship Him as I think He is or how I want Him to be, I am merely setting up another idol. But worshiping God as He is — in all of His holiness and righteousness and justice and compassion and love and mercy — will lead me to love Him and to love others, for God is love (1 John 4:7-8). And my God is not the milquetoast version of love portrayed in media — that is yet another idol — but the strong, enduring, ferocious love of the LORD Who would come and allow Himself to be crucified by His own creations in order that He might redeem us and cleanse us and win some of us to Himself.
Any idol would only bid me do as I wish and sate my desires for the moment — the idol is, after all, crafted in the image of me and my desires. The True and Living God bids me do as He does: take up my cross, follow Him, and He will make me like Him — i.e. I will learn to really Love.
Let me examine myself and see if I, like Athaliah, am worshiping some idol or another that is killing love in me. If so, let me tear it down and turn myself back to the True and Living God that I might Love.
Father, thank You for the examples in Your Word — even, and sometimes especially, for the bad examples. Please search me and reveal any idolatry in me. Tear those idols down and enable me to Love as You Love.