When my grandmother passed away when I was pregnant with my first son, I knew I was in trouble. See, my grandmother was one of those people who didn’t just say she was praying for you. She actually did.
Not that I wasn’t blessed with others who prayed for me (specifically, my parents), but she was a prayer warrior. Maybe you have one of those in your own life – that person who goes to battle daily on her knees.
A Tough Beginning
Joash had someone he relied on too – to guide him, to direct him, to point him in the right direction.
You can find the story of Joah in 2 Kings 11-12 (here he is called Jehoash) and also in 2 Chronicles 22:10 – 24:26. Unfortunately for Joash, his grandmother wasn’t like mine. In fact, once her own son was dead, Athaliah decided to kill off all her grandchildren so she could have the throne. I know – nice right?
A quick thinking aunt saved Joash by hiding he and his nurse in a bedroom. She then sneaked him into the temple where Athaliah wouldn’t find him.
It’s at this point that Joash comes under the guardianship of his mentor, the priest Jehoiada. Jehoiada did more than just watch over little Joash. When the little boy turned seven, Jehoiada organized a coup and overthrows Queen Athaliah and the army captains put her to death.
When he turned 7 years old, little Joash became king when the priest, Jehoiada, organizes a coup and overthrows Queen Athalia by putting her to death. He then sets Joash on the throne as the rightful heir and king.
Life as King
Spending his formative years in the tabernacle had a profound influence on Joash, and he and the priest Jehoiada had a close bond. Once Joash became king, he was obviously too young to really rule at the age of 7, so Jehoiada was right there to advise him and guide him. Joehoiada even procured two wives for Joash when the boy king came of age.
One of the things Joash was remembered for was restoring the Temple. During previous reigns of his own father and his less than loving grandmother, the house of the Lord had been vandalized. Sacred objects had been used for profane purposes. So, Joash decided to gather the priests and Levites back together and restore the temple.
I’ve this part of the story before, and I have read the stories of the kings of Israel and Judah. Yet, I missed these words that appear in both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.
“Joash did what was right int he sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” 2 Chronicles 24:2
“Jehoash did right int he sight of the Lord all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” 2 Kings 12:2
Did you notice it too? Joash did the right thing as long as Jehoiada was around to instruct him. Maybe it’s because my son is college-aged, or maybe it’s because God continues to show me and teach me and grow my faith even at the age of 44, but it hit me that while mentors and discipleship is important, our faith shouldn’t be wrapped up in a person – no matter how wonderful that person is.
Leaning Too Hard
Joash became a king at the age of 7. Nobody would argue that he needed some help, guidance and instruction. But apparently, Joash continued to lean on Jehoiada for his faith, his knowledge and knowing what was the right thing to do.
Maybe Jehoiada was also culpable. Maybe he got so used to being Joash’s guide and helper, he didn’t realize he was crippling the young king.
This lesson can be applied in so many different ways – as a parent, as a mentor, as a spiritual leader.
Personally, I am seeing it large and upclose in my role as a parent. It is so easy to keep stepping in and guiding when we should be stepping back and taking our hands off the wheel. You think that it will get easier once your child graduates from high school, but those early adult years can be some of the most challenging – mostly because you have to stay silent when you want to speak and you have to be still when you want to intervene.
Joash’s story shows us the importance of allowing that child, that mentee, that person you are discipling to step up and out. While Joash’s story began well, it doesn’t end well.
In 2 Chronicles 24:17, it says, “But after the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and bowed down to the king, and the king listened to them.”
In the void that Jehoiada’s death left, Joash turned to other counselors – ones that weren’t quite so wise. Sadly, in verse 18, it says, “They abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols so the wrath came upon Judah and Jersualem for this their great guilt.”
Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, was a prophet and God sent him with a message about how displeased God was with Joash’s behavior. In a truly tragic irony, Joash had Zechariah stoned.
Jehoiada offered Joash sanctuary and made him a king. In turn, Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah got no mercy from the king whom his father saved.
“Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which his father Jehoiada had shown him but murdered his son.” 2 Chronicles 24:22
Joash appeared like a good, strong king, but when his prop, Jehoiada, died, it became obvious that the wisdom and strength he had weren’t really his own. He had placed his trust in a mortal man, and in the end, it ruined him.
Is there a relationship where you need to step back? Or maybe, you are on the other side of the equation, and you are leaning too heavily on a parent, a mentor, a friend when you should be leaning on God. It’s time to stop relying on a person and start relying on Someone who will never leave you, never forsake you, and always has the right answers.