7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:7-10 NKJV
Jesus is our Good Shepherd, watching over us as our strength and shield, our keeper, and the shade at our right hand (Psalm 121:5). He protects us against the attacks of the evil one and restores to us what has been taken away.
God placed other good shepherds in the lives of the Old Testament kings to preserve the eternal line of David and to root out where the thief has wormed his way in.
After the death of Jehoshaphat, one of the good kings of Judah, there were many palace intrigues and murders among his successors. His eldest son was married to a daughter of King Ahab and Jezebel from the Northern Kingdom, and the evil fruits of that marriage were threatening to end the royal line.
First, this eldest son, King Jehoram, killed off all of his brothers who could compete with him for the throne, then ruled Judah in idolatrous ways that Ahab and Jezebel would approve of.
6 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 7 Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever. 2 Chronicles 21:6-7 NKJV
After two years, the Lord removed King Jehoram from the throne, taking his life just as he had taken his brothers’ lives. But this did not solve the problem in the palace, as now his wife, Queen Athaliah, was calling all the shots. As her older sons had all been killed in battles with Arabian raiders, she installed her youngest son, Ahaziah, on the throne of Judah. She had raised him up in the ways of Ahab and Jezebel, and he learned his lessons well.
3 He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly. 4 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done. For after the death of his father they were his counselors, to his undoing. 2 Chronicles 22:3-4 NKJV
After one year, God judged King Ahaziah as well, striking him down as he went to war alongside the Northern Kingdom. When his mother, Athaliah, Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter, learned that her son was dead, she decided to eliminate all of her own heirs in order to rule on the throne herself. She succeeded in doing this for six years.
10 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family of the house of Judah.
Now the thief had truly entered the house of Judah through the back door. The line of David, the genealogy of Jesus, was now at the point of elimination as Jezebel’s daughter reigned unopposed. Ahab’s evil line had been judged by God in the Northern Kingdom, so now through stealing, killing and destroying, it sought to enter God’s regal line in Judah.
But David’s line was ultimately preserved through the brave actions of two “Good Shepherds” – Jehoshabeath, one of the daughters in the king’s family, and her husband, Jehoida, the priest. They took the king’s youngest son, the new born Joash, and hid him in the temple, away from the evil Queen and her murderous wrath.
12 And he remained with them six years, hidden in the house of God, while Athaliah reigned over the land. 2 Chronicles 22:12 NKJV
When the child turned seven, Jehoida the priest courageously gathered the other priests of Judah, who all vowed to put the child under twenty-four-hour protection. Then, they proclaimed the child Joash King of Judah, negating the self-proclaimed rule of Queen Athaliah. A great and joyful celebration took place, with many people shouting and the noise of trumpets.
When Athaliah heard the noise and saw the child wearing a crown, she cried out, “Treason!” But Jehoida the priest then brought out the captains of the army, who took Athaliah to the horse gate of the city and put her to death. The house of Ahab and Jezebel was fully judged, and no longer had a hold on the line of David.
The good shepherd Jehoida brought up King Joash in the ways of the Lord, counseling him with a divine wisdom. As a result, the Lord sheltered both of them and the land of Judah with much favor and blessing. The old priest lived to be 130 years old, a phenomenal age in this era. Unfortunately, once the priest died, bad counselors who followed the ways of Ahab returned to the temple and gained Joash’s ear, leading him and the nation to return to idolatry. This led to a serious decline in God’s favor and blessing towards Judah and Jerusalem. The good shepherd was now gone, and the thief was back in the palace.
Life is a constant battle between good and evil. The Good Shepherd is always reaching out to us follow Him, but we often choose to follow the ways of the Thief instead. If we fail to turn back, it will sometimes lead us down a steady path of destruction.
As long as we have breath, it is not too late to turn back to seek to follow the Lord and His ways. Many divine blessings and much favor will follow when we choose to take even a small step of faith.
Lord, we now choose to follow You, our Good Shepherd, the One who gently leads His sheep. We seek to follow and honor You today. Help us to say “No” to the temptations of the thief, who promises wonders but only comes to steal, kill, and destroy your lambs. We ask You to be our shelter and shield, our Rock, and our strength. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.