For the Love of God, Volume 1/October 29

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By D.A. Carson About Devotional Life
Chapter 304 of the book For the Love of God, Volume 1


2 Kings 10—11; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

IN THE TWO DESIGNATED PASSAGES for this day we find a study of two grandmothers.

The first is Athaliah (2 Kings 11). She is the utterly vile mother of Ahaziah, the king of Judah who was killed by Jehu (as we saw yesterday) in the mayhem precipitated by the insurrection in the northern kingdom of Israel. One could imagine a lot of different actions that a queen mother might take on learning of the assassination of her son. Athaliah’s reaction is to kill her entire family. She so commands the palace guard that her dead son’s children and grandchildren are wiped out, save for her infant grandson Joash, who is saved by an aunt (who herself may have been killed) who hides him with his wet nurse. Thus Athaliah secures power for herself.

A few years later, when Joash is still but a lad of seven, Jehoiada the priest arranges to bring the child out and have him declared the rightful king, protected by military units loyal to Jehoiada and his determination to preserve the Davidic line. When Athaliah discovers the plot, her cries of “Treason!” (11:14) ring a little hollow. For the sake of power, this evil woman was willing not only to commit murder (not a rare thing), but to murder her children and grandchildren—a much rarer thing, immeasurably more callous—and now she charges with treason those who call her to account.

Contrast the mother and grandmother briefly mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:5. Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice are women of “sincere faith,” according to Paul, and they have passed this heritage on to their son and grandson, Timothy. How they did this is not detailed. But judging by patterns laid out elsewhere in Scripture, the least they did was display personal example and provide concrete instruction. They passed on both the teaching of Scripture and the pattern of their own “sincere faith”—not only the pattern of their own walk with God, but the integrity that characterized their lives as a result. Indeed, hidden in this passage lies hope for men or women in mixed marriages. According to Acts 16:1, Timothy’s mother Eunice was both a Jewess and a Christian believer; his father was a Greek, apparently a pagan. The Christian influence prevailed.

Not all women are as evil as Athaliah; not all are as faithful as Lois and Eunice. Among both men and women, however, are not a few who, in home, at work, even in church, are much more interested in power than in anything else. They may not stoop to murder, but they will lie, cheat, and slander to gain more authority. They will face God’s judgment. But blessed are those whose sincere faith stamps the next generation.

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