“Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” (2 Chronicles 24:1-2)
In the Bible, we read of a certain king of Judah named Joash. He was seven years old when he began to reign, but as we can see from the above two verses, the success of his reign really depended upon a more righteous man than he, namely, this priest Jehoiada. I am fascinated by this statement that “Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (verse 2). It is an explicit and rather glaring statement concerning what was really behind Joash’s success.
Reading just a little further in the passage, we come across this statement, which, at first glance, appears to elevate Joash above Jehoiada the priest.
“So the king called Jehoiada the chief priest, and said to him, ‘Why have yo unot required the Levites to bring in from Judah and from Jerusalem the collection, according to the commandment of Moses the servant of the LORD and the assembly of Israel, for the tabernacle of witness?'” (v. 6)
Something was “undone” within the priesthood. Money was not brought in. Work needed to be done to restore the house of God that had fallen into a state of disarray (shambles), due to Baal worship.
Here, Joash is rebuking — or at least exhorting — Jehoiada. One might even get the impression from this verse that we would have to re-evaluate verse 2, in which it says that the success of Joash really rested with this priest Jehoiada. But alas, there are many reasons why Joash may have said what he said to Jehoiada in verse 6, and we are given no assurance whatsoever that Joash’s motives were pure in what he said to Jehoiada (they may have been, but we don’t know).
Again, in verse 14a, we read:
“And when they had finished [doing the repair work to the house of the Lord], they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada, whereof were made vessels for the house of the LORD, even vessels to minister, and to offer withal, and spoons, and vessels of gold and silver.”
Then, in 14b,
“And they offered burnt offerings in the house of the LORD continually all the days of Jehoiada.”
Again (in verse 14b), it is Jehoiada that gets the spotlight. No mention is made of Joash. Indeed, this is a special man. So special is this man, that, two more important things are mentioned of him:
1. He lived a long life. “But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old was he when he died .” (2 Chronicles 24:15)
2. He was buried among the kings — even though he himself was not a king. “And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house.” (2 Chronicles 24:16)
Look what happens after Jehoiada dies. Knowing that the king was, in fact, a bit “wishy-washy” in his convictions, some wicked men approached the king to try and persuade him to do evil. And their plan works.
“Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes [leaders] of Judah, and made obeisance [they bowed down] to the king. Then the king hearkened unto [listed to] them. And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves [wooden images] and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass. (2 Chronicles 24:17-18)
Without the help of Jehoiada to “prop” him up, Joash’s true character shines through: He is weak and wishy-washy, without really any convictions of his own. He is failure. Look what happens now!
“Yet he [God] sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear. And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it [ie. ‘may God execute justice’].” (2 Chronicles 24:19-22)
The story is a sad one, and I hope we can learn a few lessons.
1. Jehoiada may not have been the king, but God honored him as king, because of the influence he had in the kingdom. Indeed, it was because of Jehoiada that things went well. You may not be the president of the company where you work, or the vice-president, or even the manager, but, because of your righteousness, in the end, God may well ascribe to you honor that is due the president! Think about that. (Don’t worry that you’re not the president!)
2. In God’s eyes, being the “king” is more a matter of how you behave in terms of your godliness and influence, rather than your actual “title”. Jehoiada was not the king, yet, in the end, he was buried in the tombs of the kings. God honored him as king.
3. For those of you who are indeed kings, and presidents and vice-presidents and managers, will God honor you as such in the end? Will your work and your righteousness testify for or against you?
God bless you as you consider these things.