The first king in this section was Judean, he came to the throne after his father was assassinated, and became one of Judah’s great kings. Of the five kings of the Northern Kingdom listed here four of them killed their king to become king. This is the noxious fruit from almost three hundred years of apostasy in that kingdom. Some of these killer kings brought material prosperity to their kingdom without a drop of godliness.
There are characteristics about the Christian faith that are not truly found anywhere else on earth. Two of them from this section, are waiting on the Holy Spirit’s directions, and doing without directions while waiting. Here the leaders in the Antioch Syrian church ministered while waiting for direction and received the command to send out Barnabas and Saul to a specific work. Once they gained confirmation they acted. Too often we act in our own wisdom and timetable because we have neglected these two distinctives.
Even though the names and chronological order is very confusing in this chapter, the lessons from the Holy Spirit abound! First there is the southern kingdom’s King Amaziah. Just like his father Joash, he had every opportunity to do well as a godly king and completely ruined it. He was called a thistle compared to a cedar by the king in the north (Jehoash), who defeated Amaziah, but he himself was also an apostate idolater.
Herod Agrippa I, the one who had James the apostle killed, and also sought to do the same to the apostle Peter, traveled to Tyre and Sidon to address a political matter and during his speech to the people they chanted that his was the voice of god, and since he relished in this God struck him with judgment. But the church grew. The one who persecuted the church not only failed to destroy Christianity but was struck dead.
The story moves back in time, from King Joash of Judah, to kings in Israel (northern kingdom). Then we come to the death of one of Israel’s greatest prophets, Elisha. News reaches the palace of king Joash (northern kingdom), and he visits Elisha. In a heartfelt meeting the king honored the prophet but not the prophet’s God. Elisha, terminally ill, gave instructions to the king which were done without zeal enough.