2 Kings 12 – Week Eleven
“A grandmother is a remarkable woman. She’s a wonderful combination of warmth and kindness, laughter, and love. She overlooks our faults, encourages our dreams, and praises our every success.” – Anonymous
Hopefully, all of us have or had at least one grandmother that would fit that description. Grandmothers, generally speaking, are the source of unconditional love, excessive indulgences in all things fun and frivolous and the first person children want to call when their parents are in a bad mood. I had a grandmother who was truly one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever known. She was not only an amazing grandmother, but she was a Godly woman who, though she much preferred to be behind the scenes, was a great influence on those whose lives she intersected.
Our focus today is on Joash and before we get to the scripture for the lesson, let’s go back into Joash’s family history to get a better understanding of his roots. Remember King Ahab and Queen Jezebel? Worst, most evil king and queen EVER! Ahab ended up having seventy-plus children; three of them were with Queen Jezebel- 2 boys and 1 girl. The girl’s name was Athalia. You may recall that the kingdom was split. Ahab had been the king of the Northern Kingdom known as Israel. Athalia ends up marrying Jehoram who is the king of the Southern Kingdom known as Judah. He’s a bad guy. But that marriage would have formed a bit of an alliance between the two kingdoms.
King Jehoram and Queen Athalia end up with two children; a boy and a girl. This King Jehoram (I have to be specific because Queen Athalia had a brother who was also a king and was also named Jehoram.) died as a result of an incurable disease of the bowels as God had promised he would. After his death, the son that King Jehoram had with Queen Athalia becomes king. His name is Ahaziah. (This King Ahaziah is not the same one we talked about last week. Confused yet?) 2 Chronicles 22:3 NKJV “3 He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother advised him to do wickedly. 4 Therefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab;
Ahaziah only reigns for one year and then he is murdered by Jehu. 2 Chronicles 22:9b ERV “Ahaziah’s family had no power to hold the kingdom of Judah together. 10 Athaliah was Ahaziah’s mother. When she saw that her son was dead, she killed all the king’s children in Judah.”
I don’t know how many children this entailed but understand this. She was ordering hits on her own family, including her grandchildren- anyone who had rights to the throne. In fact, her own daughter took one of the grandchildren, an infant boy by the name of Joash and she hid him and his nurse with the priests inside of the temple. By no coincidence, Joash’s uncle Jehoiada was a priest who took him under his wing. Little Joash stayed hidden for six years with the priests while his grandmother, Queen Athalia sat on the throne.
|Queen Athalia||King Joash||Priest Jehoiada|
|-daughter of Ahab & Jezebel|
-married King Jehoram of
Judah (South Kingdom)
-mother of King Ahaziah
& grandmother to King Joash
-mother-in-law to Jehoiada
|-grandson of Queen Athalia|
-son of King Ahaziah & Zibiah
-nephew of Jehoiada
-son-in-law of Queen Athalia
-uncle to King Joash
-father to Zechariah
When Joash is seven years old (yes, 7!), his Uncle Jehoiada forms this alliance with military officials, and they vote to make seven-year-old Joash king. This was a bold move on Jehoiada’s part. This would have been considered treason and he could have been killed for even suggesting this be done. And just think as to what he proposes. “Hey! I’ve got a great idea! Let’s dethrone the wicked and dangerous queen and let’s crown my 7-year-old nephew!” But, here’s an interesting God-wink. What we don’t want to overlook here is that because Athalia had gone on her murdering tirade, Joash is the sole remaining descendant of King David. God had previously promised King David that his throne would be established forever. (2 Samuel 7:16) That couldn’t happen if there were no descendants so it’s obvious that God had a hand in protecting Joash because we know that God keeps His promises. What Jehoiada is suggesting isn’t for his own benefit or his own agenda, he is simply being obedient to God and working with God to fulfill His promise.
2 Chronicles 23:11 GNT “Then Jehoiada led Joash out, placed the crown on his head, and gave him a copy of the laws governing kingship. And so he was made king. Jehoiada the priest and his sons anointed Joash, and everyone shouted, “Long live the king!”
Just so no one has missed out on any detail so far, the king of Judah is murdered. His mother, wanting the crown all to herself, seeks to kill rightful heirs to the throne. That includes but isn’t limited to her own grandchildren. (I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that most people haven’t had this kind of a grandmother.) Joash, as an infant, was hidden away from his murderous granny. His uncle, a Godly man, names him king at the ripe old age of seven. I find it hilarious that they gave him a copy of the laws of being a king assuming that the youngster could even read! Well, as the jubilation is occurring, the Queen overhears the ruckus. She hears the cheering and she hurries to the temple to see what the fuss is all about. There, she sees her grandson, not having a clue that he was still living, and he’s been crowned as king. People are rejoicing, they’re celebrating and she starts shredding her clothes in anguish.
The priest, Uncle Jehoiada, didn’t want his mother-in-law, the Queen killed in the temple area so he instructed that she be killed outside the holy area. And she is killed with a sword. Grandma didn’t get run over by a reindeer; Grandma got stabbed by a soldier.
That brings us to 2 Kings 12.
“It was seven years after Jehu had become the king of Israel that Joash became king of Judah. He reigned in Jerusalem for forty years. (His mother was Zibiah, from Beersheba.) 2 All his life Joash did what was right because Jehoiada the High Priest instructed him. 3 Yet even so he didn’t destroy the shrines on the hills—the people still sacrificed and burned incense there.” (2 Kings 12:1-3 TLB)
This week was back to school for most kids and Facebook was full of pictures of little ones (and big ones) holding up signs indicating their first day of kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, senior year, and so forth. Can you just picture little seven-year-old Joash holding up a sign that read, “First day of being king!” He was a child, incapable of taking care of himself much less a kingdom. But Scripture tells us that his uncle, Jehoiada the High Priest, instructed him and as long as that was occurring, Joash did what was right. Well, almost. Verse 3 tells us that he allowed the altars or the shrines on the hills to remain. These altars had been and were still being used to make sacrifices to Baal. Joash’s grandmother, Queen Athalia, was much like her mother, Queen Jezebel in that she worshipped Baal. Baal worship was still very prominent in both the North and South Kingdoms. Of course, many were still worshipping God, but they had resorted to doing so in various places that were much more convenient for them. In the middle of the Southern Kingdom stood the temple that Solomon had built some 125 years prior. The temple that God had ordained to serve as the place of worshipping Him.
At some point in King Joash’s reign, he looks around at the temple and saw that it needed repair. 2 Chronicles 24:5 TLB “One day King Joash said to Jehoiada, “The Temple building needs repairing. Whenever anyone brings a contribution to the Lord, whether it is a regular assessment or some special gift, use it to pay for whatever repairs are needed.”
We don’t know how old King Joash is at this time or how long he’s been king. What we do know is that he takes a good look at God’s temple and sees damage, neglect, wear and tear and he seeks to fix that. This had been his home, his hideaway, his safe place. And throughout the years, his home, God’s temple was gradually showing signs of vandalism and damage. At some point, the Israelites stopped noticing the chips in the stone blocks that made up the walls. They ignored the splintered cedar floors, the dust embedded in the crevices of the carved cherubim. They stepped over the broken chains that had once adorned the front of the inner sanctuary and eventually kicked them off into a corner. They dismissed the fact that the brass was now tarnished, and the gold and silver didn’t reflect the light like they used to. The temple needed not just a facelift; it needed repairing from the inside to the outside.
Many churches will remodel or revamp their sanctuary or other parts of the church property from time to time for various reasons. Sometimes, like in our church at the current moment, there is a structural and safety issue that needed to be rectified. Other times, it may be necessary to enlarge an area or repurpose an area because the church is growing. Maybe it’s just cosmetic – a fresh coat of paint, new carpet or flooring, etc. Regardless of the reason, remodeling, repairing, or revamping will take place because someone noticed that it was needed and made it into a project. That’s exactly what Joash has done. He instructs that funds collected from the Israelites are to be used to cover the cost of the needed repairs. But the urgency to make the repairs isn’t shared.
2 Kings 12:6 TLB “6 But in the twenty-third year of his reign the Temple was still in disrepair. 7 So Joash called for Jehoiada and the other priests and asked them, “Why haven’t you done anything about the Temple? Now don’t use any more money for your own needs; from now on it must all be spent on getting the Temple into good condition.”
We don’t know the amount of time that had passed between when King Joash first orders that repairs are to be made and now, twenty-three years into his reign when nothing has been accomplished. We know that money has been collected during that time, and resources were given, but they weren’t used for the repairs or restoration of the Temple. King Joash now orders that all resources be used for the Temple and not on the personal needs of the priests.
2 Kings 2:8 NLT “So the priests agreed not to accept any more money from the people, and they also agreed to let others take responsibility for repairing the Temple.
9 Then Jehoiada the priest bored a hole in the lid of a large chest and set it on the right-hand side of the altar at the entrance of the Temple of the Lord. The priests guarding the entrance put all of the people’s contributions into the chest.”
From that point on, all of the resources that were gathered were used for the restoration of the Temple. “King Joash got to the heart of the problem – the building project was plagued by poor administration and financial mismanagement. Through Jehoiada the priest, he implemented a system where the money would be set aside, saved, and then wisely spent for the repair and refurbishing of the temple.”[i]
Scripture reveals to us that the people cheerfully invested in the project and that the workers were paid for the materials and for the restoration of the Temple. The project of repairing the Temple seems to have been a great success. King Joash had done a good thing under the guidance of his uncle, Jehoiada. Once the Temple had been repaired, the monies were brought to Jehoiada, and he took those funds and had vessels made for the Temple for the purpose of sacrificing to God. All throughout Jehoiada’s life from that point on, burnt offerings were made continuously in the Temple. But alas, all good things must come to an end; including the life of the priest, the influential uncle, Jehoiada. He dies at the age of 130 and is buried “in the City of David with the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God and His house.” (2 Chronicles 24:16 MEV)
That leaves King Joash without his mentor. But surely, we think, the king continued on with the good he had been doing. He had been all about repairing and restoring the Temple. He had been passionate about the reformation, but unfortunately, he had not been as passionate about the revival of worshipping God.
2 Chronicles 24:17 MEV “17 After the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king. At that time the king listened to them. 18 Then they abandoned the house of the Lord and God of their fathers, and they served the Asherah poles and idols. And divine wrath was on Judah and Jerusalem because of this guilt. 19 And God sent prophets to return them to the Lord. These warned the people, but they would not listen.”
King Joash no longer had the benefit of his uncle’s influence and he was easily swayed by others to turn his back on God and pick up the worship that his evil and wicked grandmother and great-grandmother had promoted. The rest of Joash’s story isn’t pleasant. God used King Joash’s cousin, the son of Jehoiada to confront him and the others. The cousin, Zechariah, passes along the message from God. 2 Chronicles 24:20 CEV ““Why are you disobeying me and my laws? This will only bring punishment! You have deserted me, so now I will desert you.”
This doesn’t sit well with the king or the other people living in Judah. There is a motion made that Zechariah is to be stoned to death and the king orders that it happen. Zechariah, the precious son of Jehoiada who had loved, protected, and mentored King Joash, is taken to the courtyard of the Temple and killed. 2 Chronicles 24:22b CEV “As Zechariah was dying, he said, “I pray that the Lord will see this and punish all of you.”
God answers that last prayer of Zechariah. Within the next year, the Syrian army, although it was considered quite small, was empowered by God to invade Judah and all of the nation’s leaders were killed. The Syrians stole anything of value and took it to their king in Damascus. King Joash wasn’t killed, but he was severely wounded. As he lay in bed trying to recover from his injury, two of his officials take the opportunity to avenge the death of Zechariah and they finish off Joash. King Joash is buried in the City of David; however, he is not buried in the royal tombs. What started off as a Godly-influenced reign as king ended in a murder of betrayal because Joash failed to honor God as king of his life.
King Joash’s life had been preserved by God and protected by Jehoiada. He was crowned at a very young and extremely influential age and God had ensured that Joash had an influential and God-fearing man in his life to steer him in the right direction. When Joash sought to repair the holy Temple, resources were given and he made sure that all that could be seen was made like new again. That had to have made Jehoiada proud and happy as he pondered the truth of the wise words of King Solomon, “Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6
As promising as that verse seems to be, there is an underlying truth to it. “Godly training is the parents’ responsibility; a child’s response to it is not.”[ii] Jehoiada was diligent about training and influencing Joash in a manner that steered him to God. Joash, however, was more diligent about putting on a good show because when that influence was gone, when Jehoiada passed away, Joash quickly abandoned his commitment to God. Richard Pratt says this about Joash “like other kings, Joash proved unfaithful once his kingdom was secure.”
The Temple was physically restored, but the Temple wasn’t spiritually revived. That wasn’t a priority for Joash. Joash had been given a Godly influence and resources to not only reform the Temple building but also the spiritual temple within himself.
1 Corinthians 3:16 GNT “Surely you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you!”
Most of us have had the benefit of a Godly, influential person in our life. It may have been a parent, a pastor, a youth leader, a Sunday School teacher, or even a grandmother. Hopefully, you’ve been the Godly influencer in someone’s life. Guiding them, instructing them, and encouraging them to put God first.
From the outside, it may seem that the influence has made a difference. There are changes. The cuss words decrease, and the attitude seems to be better. There are more references to God and more “Christian” activities. As far as anyone can tell, the temple that God has given us to reside in has been repaired and revived. Areas of life that were dulled by sin seem to be now polished. What was broken now appears to be fixed. The cracks caused by poor decisions look to have been spackled and a fresh coat of paint applied. At a glance, it seems as if the one being influenced, whether it is someone else or yourself, is a new and improved creation. But walking in someone else’s shadow prevents us from seeing the Light for ourselves.
It’s what we do with the influences and the resources God provides that matters. It’s about repentance and revival, not just repairing and restoring. It has to do with a personal, one-on-one relationship with God from the inside that makes the repairs and the restoration genuine.
All of us have had resources that God has provided to clean up, refurbish and reform our life. We go to church on a regular basis, we participate in Bible Study, we listen to Christian music, we pray, and we read the Bible. We can make use of all these resources to make better the temple God has given us. But we must be careful to not be like Joash and waste those resources. We must allow God to personally work in our lives, penetrate our lives and then seek to serve Him and worship Him on our own. Too often, people will ride on the spiritual coattails of someone else. They take advantage of resources to make their “temple”/their life look restored and repaired, but underneath the surface is emptiness waiting to be filled. That’s how it was with Joash.
Joash was greatly influenced by Jehoiada. But as soon as Jehoiada was gone, Joash was greatly influenced by Baal-worshippers. Joash had only a secondary relationship with God. He didn’t have a personal relationship with God. Warren Wiersbe said this: “Joash is a warning to all who profess to do God’s will but really don’t have the love of God in their hearts. If your faith is propped up by someone else, what will we do when our prop is gone?”
Not even one of us stands proud of all that we’ve done in life. If we are honest with ourselves, there have been moments of great disobedience underneath a mask that we put on. Galatians 6:7 CEV “You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant.” But here’s the thing. God is so gracious that He will have our paths cross with a Jehoiada to influence us, to guide us. God will send a Zechariah to steer us back into the will of God.
James 4:17 ESV “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” It’s more than knowing the right thing to do; it comes down to doing the right thing for the kingdom of God.
“You don’t have to be a ‘person of influence’ to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” Scott Adams
At most times in our life, we are either being influenced, or we are doing the influencing whether that’s our intention or not. It’s important to HAVE Godly influences and to BE a Godly influence. “To influence others toward a godly life, one must first follow such a pathway himself.”[iii]
Ask yourself: What kind of an influence are you having on those whose lives you touch?