« PreviousContinue »
from the temple, and put her to death. After this Jehoiada put away all the worship of Baal in Judah, he ruled the land well for Joash, and there was great peace and contentment on all sides.
As long as Jehoiada lived Joash prospered. He gathered tribute through the land in order to restore the Temple, and was very steadfast in serving the LORD. But when Jehoiada died, being a very old man, Joash let himself be led astray by some of his nobles, and fell back with them to idol worship. The LORD sent them warnings by His Prophets, but they would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, and he spoke to the king and all the people, saying, “Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper ? because ye have forsaken the LORD, He hath also forsaken you.” Then in his anger Joash forgot how he owed his throne and everything to Zechariah's father, and he conspired against Zechariah, and caused him to be stoned to death in the court of the LORD's house. But God sent judgment upon the wicked king. At the end of that same year the Syrians came up against Jerusalem, and with a small company of men destroyed a very great host of the men of Judah, because the Lord delivered His disobedient people into their hand. Joash meanwhile was lying in bed, very sick, and two of his own servants killed him there, to avenge Zechariah.
THE DEATH OF ELISHA.
When Jehu died, his son Jehoahaz came to the throne. He was a wicked man, and for his sins and those of his people, the Lord gave them into the hands of Hazael, king of Syria. Jehoahaz reigned seventeen years, and left his kingdom in a very poor state to his son Jehoash, who was no better than his father. During the king's reign Elisha's last sickness came on, and when he was dying, Jehoash came to see him, and wept over the downfall of Israel, saying, “O my father! my father ! the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof."
Then the Prophet bade Jehoash take bow and arrows, and open the window eastwards.. Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands and bade him shoot. And as Jehoash shot, Elisha said, “ The arrow of the Lord's deliverance,
and the arrow of deliverance from Syria ; for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou hast consumed them.” Then Elisha bade the king take the arrows, and smite with them upon the ground. Jehoash obeyed, but he only smote three times, and Elisha was wroth, and said, “Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times, then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it; whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice."
This was the last living act of the venerable Prophet. He died and was buried. It was a year after, that, as certain of the people were carrying a corpse to burial, they were alarmed at seeing a band of Moabites in the distance, and in their haste they cast the dead body into Elisha's sepulchre. As soon as the dead man touched Elisha's bones, he revived, and stood up alive. Thus even after death, the wonderful power with which the LORD had gifted His servant was exercised. It has been remarked, that as Elisha received a double portion of Elijah's spirit, so Holy Scripture records exactly twice as many miracles worked by Elisha as by Elijah.
It was during Jehoash's reign that Joash king of Judah died, and was succeeded by his
son Amaziah. Once again war between Judah and Israel began. Amaziah had conquered the Edomites, and he sent a challenge to Jehoash. Israel gained the battle, and coming upon Jerusalem, Jehogsh broke down the wall, and pillaged the temple, and the king's palace. GoD permitted all this, because Amaziah chose to follow his own will in his wars instead of obeying the LORD's Voice. From that time Amaziah never prospered, and his own servants conspired against him. He fled from Jerusalem to Lachish, but they pursued and killed him there.
Then the people took Amaziah's son, a lad of sixteen, called Uzziah, (or Azariah,) and made him king. He was a good man, and during his long reign,-of fifty-two years,—he did much to strengthen and improve the land of Judah. But towards the end of his life, Uzziah's heart was lifted up with pride at his prosperity, and through that pride came his destruction. The king took upon himself to usurp the priest's office, and went to the Temple to burn incense upon the altar. Then the High Priest Azariah, and eighty other priests, went in after the king, and withstood him, saying, “ It appertaineth not unto thee,
Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests, the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for thou hast trespassed, neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God."
But Uzziah was angry, and stood there holding the censer in which he was about to burn incense. Then God's Hand was seen punishing his presumption and irreverence, for as he stood there in his anger, the leprosy rose up on Uzziah's forehead in the sight of all the priests. They made haste to put him out of the sanctuary, and he himself, now awestruck, and conscious that the Lord had smitten him, hasted to go away. From that hour Uzziah was a leper, and spent the rest of his days in a house apart, cut off from entering the temple because of his loathsome disease, and obliged to give up the government of the kingdom to his son Jotham, who became sole king when Uzziah died.
There is little told us about Jotham, king of Judah, but that little is very important. " He became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.” Sixteen
Sixteen years he reigned, and then his son Ahaz became king. Ahaz forsook the Lord for Baal, and therefore