Every once in a while I grow melancholy reflecting on the moral decay of the nation and the world as a whole. It hurts to see how much immorality has become acceptable in mainstream society and just how bold some have become in flaunting their wickedness. But the problem with all such pondering lies in the lack of historical perspective we bring to such problems. As bad as the world is, it is not like the days of Noah (Gen. 6:1-4); it has not yet reached the depths of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19); it has not even matched the immorality of the Roman Empire to date. This does not excuse this world’s current downward spiral of spirituality, but it does provide some hope. The world has been a much nastier place. But more than this, Christians need greater perspective about how we are to live in a world such as this.
Judah enjoyed some decent leadership as opposed to Israel’s universal record of spiritual decay; however, this did not mean they were immune to spiritual challenges. Jehoshaphat had served well as king but failed to train his son and successor. As a result, Jehoram led the kingdom into evil, adopting the idolatry of Baal through the influence of his wife. During much upheaval and violence, only his youngest son remained to succeed him, and Ahaziah proved just as wicked as his father because he fell under the same evil influence of Athaliah (2 Chr. 22:1-6). Going to war as an ally of his wife’s family, Ahaziah died at the hands of Jehu after only one year on the throne (2 Chr. 22:7-9). Athaliah then seized this moment, and the wicked advisor to two kings ordered the royal heirs murdered so she could rule instead (2 Chr. 22:10). However, Jehoshabeath, a princess who had married a priest, hid Joash, the one year old son of Ahaziah, for six years. While Judah suffered under the usurpation of Athaliah, Jehoida the priest, Jehoshabeath’s husband, worked behind the scenes to prepare for the future (2 Chr. 22:10-12).
It may not seem like much, but Jehoshabeath acted with compassion, righteousness, and courage while surrounded by all kinds of wickedness. She and her husband had to wait several years, slowly and patiently making preparations and acting with wisdom. But their perseverance would make all the difference—not just for one child and not just for one nation, but for the protection of the lineage through which the Savior would come. Living uprightly as the world descends into greater wickedness, persevering in teaching your children righteousness despite how much evil surrounds them, and taking a stand against error when so many choose to compromise may not seem like much, but it is a great thing in the sight of God. Never forget that.