Scripture Focus: 2 Kings 11.1-3
11 When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. 3 He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.
Reflection: Hidden Co-heirs
By John Tillman
A wicked leader sets out to slaughter heirs to the throne, including babies who could one day be a threat. But one child is miraculously, bravely, hidden away until the throne is reclaimed and evil confronted.
We’ve seen this familiar story dressed up as a fairytale, played out in magical realms, and soaring through space in science fiction epics. The “hidden heir” has many faces. Cinderella. John Snow. Luke and Leia. Harry Potter.
Biblical versions of the hidden heir include Moses, David, and Joash. All were secretly saved or hidden and one day rose to restore righteousness and destroy evil.
There are multiple wicked kings and queens in scripture. Athaliah is less well-known than Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, despite the fact that she more than equals Jezebel in evil. Not content to influence a king, Athaliah takes Judah’s throne herself in a bloody massacre. She rules by violence and bloodshed, reminding us that ruthlessness and violence are not solely male traits.
Bravery and decisiveness are also not gendered traits. They are exemplified by Athaliah’s faithful sister, Jehosheba, who takes dangerous and necessary action to save Joash. Joash is hidden in the Temple and raised by the priest, Jehoiada.
Are all leaders raised up by God? In a way. However, God allows some wicked leaders to worm their way to the top, only to be thrown down. God often uses those hidden away in obscurity to topple those who manipulate their way into powerful positions. Judging which type of leader is rising can be a challenge to our discernment.
The greatest hidden heir is Jesus. Jesus was hidden in the womb of a brave woman, in the indignity of a manger, in the refugee community in Egypt, in the despised town of Nazareth. And finally, hidden in the grave before being marvelously revealed as its conqueror.
In one way, Jesus is our Temple and priest and we are hidden in him. In another way, Jesus hides himself in us and we must bring him out, proclaiming his rule to the wicked kings and queens of this world.
May we proclaim and reveal the hidden-in-plain-sight kingdom of Jesus. Those with eyes to see will follow his light. Those with ears to hear will rejoice at his words. Wickedness and evil will be thrown down and all who follow him will be co-heirs with him when he is marvelously revealed. Amen.
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us saying: “Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me; I will certainly not reject anyone who comes to me, because I have come from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me. Now the will of him who sent me is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me, but that I should raise it up on the last day. It is my Father’s will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and that I should raise that person on the last day.” — John 6.37-40
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
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