Joash was the son of the Ahaziah King of Judah, and the story of his rise to power and fall from grace is truly remarkable.
When King Ahaziah died, his mother Athaliah began destroying any contender to the throne (2 Chronicles 22:10). Athaliah wanted to be the last woman standing so that she could rule as Queen of Judah. Her plan almost worked. She was able to assasinate all contenders but one, Joash. The Bible says Joash spent 6 of his first 7 years of life hiding from his grandmother. Then, when the time was right, Jehoiada the priest staged a coup and installed 7 year old Joash as the rightful King of Judah in place of his wicked grandmother Athaliah (2 Chronicles 23:1-15).
As King, Joash did many right and godly things. He made a covenant with the people and the LORD (2 Chronicles 23:16). He destroyed the house of Baal (2 Chronicles 23:17). He restored worship at the temple (2 Chronicles 23:18-19). He even decided to restore and repair the temple itself (2 Chronicles 24:4). The Bible says, “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” (2 Chronicles 24:2)
It almost sounds like a fairy-tale, happily-ever-after sort of ending. There was just one problem. Jehoida the priest died many years before Joash died. And while it is true that Joash followed the LORD during Jehoiada’s life, the same cannot be said of the final part of Joash’s reign. The Bible says that many princes of Judah came to pay homage to Joash after the death of Jehoiada. The Bible also says, “The king listened to them.” (2 Chronicles 24:17) Joash could no longer listen to Jehoiada, nor would he listen to the LORD. Now he chose to listen to the princes of Judah.
The last part of Joash’s reign was tragic. After restoring the temple, he led the people to abandon the temple (2 Chronicles 24:18). Instead of worshiping the LORD, he led the people to worship the Asherim (2 Chronicles 24:18). He refused to listen to the prophets who called him to repentance (2 Chronicles 24:19). He even commanded that the son of Jehoiada the priest be stoned in the temple courts (2 Chronicles 24:21). In the end, Joash was wounded in battle and assasinated by his own servants (2 Chronicles 24:23-27).
Here is what I learn from this story:
- I need people like Jehoiada the priest in my life. Clearly Jehoiada the priest was a positive spiritual influence on Joash. Yes he saved his life, yes he installed him as King of Judah, and yes he provided him with a family. But most importantly he helped Joash to walk in the ways of the LORD. I need people in my life who can help me follow the LORD. People who will encourage me, rebuke me, teach me, and challenge me. I need people like Jehoiada in my life, and so do you.
- I need to beware of influences like the princes of Judah. Reading between the lines, the princes clearly came to manipulate Joash. Yes they came to pay homage, but this action was disingenuous. They were clearly a major part of Joash’s tragic turn from the LORD. I know there are influences in my life that do not encourage me to walk in the ways of the LORD. I must constantly watch out for anything that hinders my love for Jesus Christ, and so must you.
- Joash is not the King I need to rule over my life. Joash was just like all the other good, godly kings of Judah and Israel. He had is own sins and struggles and shortcomings. As you read about these monarchs, you can’t help but wonder about the final refrain from the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Then you read about wicked Saul, adulterous David, idolatrous Solomon, half-hearted Joash … These are not the kings we need to rule our lives! We need Jesus! We need the King who one day will rule all kings and all of creation!
Originally published July 29, 2015 on landoncoleman.com.