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May 1st, 2010

Dream of Martyrs

Last night just before falling asleep, I asked God to fill my dreams with beautiful images of the Jewish temple.

I had been reading about the rescue and restoration of little King Joash and reflecting on the wonderful temple in Jerusalem. This is the temple which hid the infant king for 7 years thanks to God and the priest Jehoiada and his wife Jehoshabeath. "It was in that same temple that Jehoiada's son was later stoned to death by the same king Joash," I thought, as I drifted off to sleep.

I woke up this morning with a shuddering dream on the edge of my mind.

I dreampt that I met a Christian who had lived in a hostile region and had been horrifically persecuted. He had come to visit my family while he was resting and recovering in our country. I had to close my eyes when they showed us evidence of the persecution because it was too much for me.

I am a real weakling when it comes to pain. At the first signs of headaches, I run for the Tylenol. And I still hide under a pillow during movies when there's violence. Somehow, at the same time, when I was young I used to have a falsely glamorized image of martyrdom. It seemed to be glorious like the depiction of Enjolras' death in the Broadway musical.

The past few weeks, I've had a fear rising in the back of my mind - that of religious persecution. While I live in a safe country, there are many overseas who do not. Christians suffer every day in various places around the world. Had I been born elsewhere, I would be one of them. And perhaps one day I will even become one of them. I shudder as I think of the faithful men and women listed towards the end of Hebrews 11.

Is this fear the whisperings of the evil one, trying to shake my faith? Is it my own anxiety about taking up my cross to follow Christ in this fallen world? Is it God trying to open my eyes to see His Church and encourage me to pray for my brothers and sisters? Perhaps all of these factors are at work in me.

This morning I cleaned out my email by canceling subscriptions to numerous listervs that I never read anymore and I joined a weekly email sent out by The Voice of the Martyrs. May I learn to serve as a priest of God by holding these souls close to my heart and offering the sweet incense of prayer to my Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:11-12
"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Athaliah

Lines from the play Athaliah, by Racine, trans by Cairncross, published by Penguin Books, 1970. (Links are mine, spacing is original.)

"In this dire peril and in this turmoil
For whom do they prepare the diadem?" lines 1205-1206

more lines behind the cut!Collapse )
This is just a posting of miscellaneous notes that I don't want to lose track of.

Given that Jehoiada the priest was 130 years old when he died, and that he died sometime during the reign of King Joash, that means that Jehoiada was born sometime around the end of the United Kingdom and/or the beginning of the Divided Kingdom. If so, he would have seen the reigns of the 8 kings who ruled after King Solomon - Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah (queen), and Joash. He would have seen years of conflict in the early Divided Kingdom, years of peace when Judah sought the LORD, and years of compromise that resulted in horrible bloodshed when the house of David allied itself with the house of Ahab.

Jehoshabeath, on the other hand, was much younger. Her father was born during the reign of her great-grandfather, King Asa. Her youngest brother seems to have been born during the reign of her grandfather, King Jehoshaphat. I'd venture to guess that she was born around the same time as her brother. This means that she was born somewhere around 70 years after the division of the kingdom, during the period when the house of David and the house of Ahab were allied.

Jehoshabeath's family.
It seems like Jehoshabeath's grandfather wanted to ensure peace by allying with Israel (is that my assumption?), but we see that making friends with sin only brings trouble. Jehoshabeath's uncles were killed by her father (2 Chronicles 21:4). Her father "passed away, to no one's regret" (2 Chronicles 21:20). All but her youngest brother were taken and killed by enemies (2 Chronicles 21:17). Her brother, King Ahaziah, and the sons of her late brothers were killed while away in Israel (2 Chronicles 22:8-9). Her brother King Ahaziah's children were killed by their grandmother (2 Chronicles 22:10). That drama makes me dizzy. What loss in the House of David!

I wonder if Jehoshabeath found comfort in the temple? I wonder what it was like for her to live as the wife of the priest and as a princess in the midst of all that? To think that she took the risk to rescue her nephew even after all of this tragedy must indicate something of her devotion to David's house and to hope in the midst of hopeless times.

And what would it be like to be married to a man who was said to have "done good in Israel, both toward God and His house"? (2 Chronicles 24:15-16, 2 Chronicles 24:2) Was she the mother of Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, the priest and prophet?

Most passages call Jehoiada "the priest." In my quick search, I could only find 2 Chronicles 24:6 where it refers to him as "Jehoiada the chief priest." Does that mean that he was the high priest? I get rather confused when I dabble in the genealogy of the priests.

Timeline: Prophets in the Reigns of Kings of Judah and Israel

To the law!

Isaiah 8:20
"To the law and to the testimony!
If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."

My brother and I are up to chapter 8 in our daily reading through the Bible (a chapter from each section - Law, history, poetry, prophets, and New Testament). That means that we've read 40 chapters so far! :D

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