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 (Manna 60: Money)
The Disgrace of King Joash
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The Disgrace of King Joash

Rebecca Lee—Vancouver, Canada

Joash had a unique reign as king of Judah, where he took over the throne at the age of seven. He was raised by a priest, and, at a tender age in his youth, he set his heart on repairing the temple of God.

In three separate verses, the Bible records that Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which Jehoiada the priest was alive and instructed him (2 Kgs 12:2; 2 Chr 24:2, 12). Jehoiada adopted Joash when he was only an infant, after his father King Ahaziah had died.

As a matter of fact, Joash’s existence was not known until he became king. He was hidden in the temple of God because his grandmother, Athaliah, had massacred all of Ahaziah’s children in order to take the throne. 

Joash grew up under the care and instruction of Jehoiada, who must have instilled in Joash a solid understanding of God’s statutes and commandments. As king, he led the people in serving God and repairing the temple.

Unfortunately, everything changed for Joash shortly after Jehoiada’s death. In a dramatic turn of events, Joash left the house of God to serve idols instead. Consequently, when he died, Joash was not buried in the tomb of the kings.

In contrast, Jehoiada the chief priest was buried “in the City of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God and His house” (2 Chr 24:16).

How did this come about? What caused Joash’s change of heart?

A Dependent Faith?

One way to explain this change of heart is that Joash’s faith had not been independent and rooted but had been based on Jehoiada. Perhaps Joash knew only how to be a good king under Jehoiada’s instructions. Perhaps, like a puppet, he only knew how to take orders from Jehoiada.

In fact, every time a big decision was made or where money from the house of God was concerned, the Bible records that it involved “the king and Jehoiada” (cf. 2 Chr 24:6, 12, 14). Joash’s two wives were even brought to him by Jehoiada. Perhaps Joash was lost without the guidance of the only father he ever knew.

But wasn’t Joash the one who took the initiative in repairing the house of the Lord? The Bible records that “Joash set his heart on repairing the house of the LORD” (2 Chr 24:4). He also took the lead in setting up a system for contributions to fund the repairs (2 Chr 24:5-8).

So, it appears that Joash’s faith was not completely dependent on Jehoiada, even from a young age. He had been taught well by Jehoiada.

This makes it more difficult to comprehend why Joash could so easily forsake the commandments of God that he learned at a young age. After all, it wasn’t until after the twenty-third year of his reign that he fulfilled his dream of repairing the temple (2 Kgs 12:6).

What could have possibly snatched away the word of God from his heart so quickly and made void his long and dedicated efforts in repairing the temple of God?

He Listened to Them

The turning point in Joash’s life came after Jehoiada died: “Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them” (2 Chr 24:17).

It seems counter-intuitive that after “the leaders of Judah came and bowed down” to Joash that he would turn around and listen to them! It appears as if Joash had been desperate for someone to quickly replace his deceased father, who had always provided him with sound advice and guidance throughout his life.

The most powerful men in the country came to offer Joash support. Having the leaders of Judah stand behind him meant that his political future would be secure. Such an opportunity is something a young king could only hope for.

In fact, Joash was probably flattered when the leaders of Judah bowed down to him. However, in turn, they actually made him bow down to them! Consequently, they were able to easily influence him.

With this critical mistake, Joash and the people “left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols” (2 Chr 24:18). But this begs the question: Why didn’t the leaders of Judah come and bow down to Joash before? Was it a mere coincidence that they came to Joash immediately after Jehoiada had died?

The leaders of Judah most likely came to Joash with a hidden agenda. Had they truly wanted to honor him and the ways that were established through Jehoiada, the direction of his ruling would not have changed so drastically—from the worship of God to the worship of idols—in such a short period of time.

When Jehoiada was still alive, he was a powerful and influential advisor to Joash, so bowing down before Joash and getting him to listen probably would not have worked. But as soon as Jehoiada was no longer around, the leaders of Judah went to Joash and led him to serve other gods, which was utterly against his beliefs. Despite all the time he spent under Jehoiada’s instruction, he had not established a faith that could stand on its own.

This insidious method employed by the leaders of Judah reminds us of temptations today. They don’t come at you full throttle; they bow down to you first. They wait until you are all alone in your faith, when you let your guard down, when you feel desperate or lonely, when you are unsure of yourself, and when you are not close to God.

When temptations invite or bow down to us, the most natural feeling is not repulsion but flattery. They make us feel good about ourselves first, in hopes that we will hand over the steering wheel to our lives. Whether it is the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, or the pride of life, these temptations are all around us in our daily lives.

We must be careful not to be like Joash, heeding the call of temptation instead of holding on to our beliefs, and leaving behind years of obedience and truth for temporary gain.

He Did Not Remember

Recall that Jehoiada the priest took Joash in as his own son when he was only an infant. Jehoiada and his wife, Jehosheba, had saved Joash from the hands of his wicked and murderous grandmother, Athaliah.

Joash was supposed to be killed, but his life was spared by grace. Jehoiada and Jehosheba must have spent much patience and effort in raising him secretly in the temple of God. After all, they had to teach him to become a good king, for they knew this was the only way to remove Athaliah from the throne along with all the wickedness and idolatry she used to mislead the people.

But flattery from the leaders of Judah had such a profound influence on Joash that he “did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him” (2 Chr 24:22). All the guidance, care, and instruction that Joash had received from his beloved father was forgotten for the remainder of his reign as king.

Had Joash’s faith been patterned after Jehoiada’s, Joash would have done much better in comparison to his unfortunate end. He would have been able to recognize the wrongdoing that stemmed from the leaders of Judah. He would have known that the idols should have been removed from the high places (2 Kgs 12:3). He would have relied upon the statutes of God, which he knew by heart. Instead, he remembered neither his father’s kindness nor God’s commandments.

The Lord was actually merciful to Joash and His people because “He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the LORD” (2 Chr 24:19a). One of the prophets was Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada. However, Joash was so lost in his faith and unwilling to listen that he commanded the people to stone Zechariah to death in the court of the house of the Lord!

In the same way, our Lord Jesus is always merciful to us and gives us opportunities to return to Him, but how often are we willing to listen? 

Sometimes we may be so blinded by the flattery of sin that we may not remember the kindness and grace of our heavenly Father, who sent His only Son to die for our sins. We were supposed to be killed by the evil one, but through the blood of Christ “[we] died, and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).

We should learn from Joash, who forgot this amazing grace when he fell in sin.

He was Not Remembered

Not only did Joash sin, he died in disgrace. His own servants conspired to kill him, and he was not buried in the tomb of the kings (2 Chr 24:25). Despite all the good that he had done, including repairing the temple of the Lord and leading the people by example to offer for the house of the Lord, his failure to keep his faith until the end is what defined him.

As it says in Ezekiel 18:24:

            “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.”

We need to always remember the love of our Lord Jesus so that the evil one will not be able to snatch away the words of God from our hearts or make void all of our efforts in servitude and holy work. We must cherish our beliefs and understand the importance of our faith so that we will be strong enough to withstand the wiles of sin.

We also need to be vigilant in our own faith, being firmly rooted in the truth. Otherwise, we may stray when our spiritual guardians—the Jehoiada in our lives, such as our family members, spouse, brothers and sisters in church, pastors, or religious education teachers—are no longer around.

Furthermore, if temptations come when we are not watchful, we may turn to them easily and forget everything we have learned before, regardless of how much knowledge or experience we may have gained in the past.

Thus, we must persevere to the very end, despite whatever temptations may come our way and how flattering they may be. Only then can we say to our heavenly Father, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).

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Author: Rebecca Lee