IT WAS a terrible time in Jerusalem, the city where God’s temple stood. King Ahaziah had just been killed. It is hard even to imagine what Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, then did. She had Ahaziah’s sons—her own grandchildren—murdered! Do you know why?— * So that she could become the ruler instead of any one of them.
However, one of Athaliah’s grandsons, the baby Jehoash, was saved, and his grandmother did not even know about it. Would you like to know how?— Well, the baby had an aunt named Jehosheba, who hid Jehoash in God’s temple. She could do this because her husband was High Priest Jehoiada. So together they made sure that Jehoash was kept safe.
For six years, Jehoash was secretly kept in the temple. There he was taught all about Jehovah God and his laws. Finally, when Jehoash reached seven years of age, Jehoiada took action to make Jehoash king. Would you like to hear how Jehoiada did this and what happened to Jehoash’s grandmother, wicked Queen Athaliah?—
Well, Jehoiada secretly called together the special bodyguards that kings in Jerusalem had at that time. He told them how he and his wife had saved the baby son of King Ahaziah. Then Jehoiada showed Jehoash to those bodyguards, who realized that he was the rightful ruler. And a plan was made.
Jehoiada brought Jehoash out and crowned him. At that, the people “began to clap their hands and say: ‘Let the king live!’” The bodyguards surrounded Jehoash to protect him. Well, when Athaliah heard all this rejoicing, she ran out and objected. But at Jehoiada’s command, the bodyguards put Athaliah to death.—2 Kings 11:1-16.
Do you think Jehoash continued to listen to Jehoiada and to do what was right?— He did as long as Jehoiada was alive. Jehoash even saw to it that people gave money to repair God’s temple, which had been neglected by his father, Ahaziah, and his grandfather Jehoram. But let’s see what happened when High Priest Jehoiada died.—2 Kings 12:1-16.
By then Jehoash was about 40 years old. Rather than continue keeping company with those who served Jehovah, Jehoash became friends with those who worshipped false gods. Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, was Jehovah’s priest by that time. What do you think Zechariah did when he learned about the bad things that Jehoash was now doing?—
Zechariah told Jehoash: “Because you have left Jehovah, he will, in turn, leave you.” Those words made Jehoash so angry that he ordered that Zechariah be stoned to death. Just imagine—Jehoash had been saved from a murderer, but now he himself had Zechariah murdered!—2 Chronicles 24:1-3, 15-22.
Can you see lessons for us to learn from this account?— Well, we never want to be like Athaliah, who was hateful and cruel. Rather, we should love our fellow worshippers and even our enemies, just as Jesus taught us to do. (Matthew 5:44; John 13:34, 35) And remember, if we start out doing what is good, as Jehoash did, we need to continue to make friends with those who love Jehovah and who encourage us to serve him.
^ par. 3 If you are reading with a child, the dash provides a reminder to pause and encourage the child to express himself.