All parents want their children to make the right decisions. But to do this, children must first learn to make their own decisions. Making bad ones helps them learn to make good ones. If parents make all the decisions for their children, they leave their children without the skills for wise decision making when they are on their own. This problem seriously affected Joash. He had great advice, but he never grew up. He became so dependent on what he was told that his effectiveness was limited to the quality of his advisers.
When Joash was one year old, his grandmother Athaliah decided to slaughter all her descendants in a desperate bid for power. Joash was the only survivor, rescued and hidden by his aunt and uncle, Jehosheba and Jehoiada. Jehoiada’s work as a priest made it possible to keep Joash hidden in the temple for six years. At that point, Jehoiada arranged for the overthrow of Athaliah and the crowning of Joash. When the old priest died, he was buried in the royal cemetery as a tribue to his role.
But after Jehoiada’s death, Joash didn’t know what to do. He listened to counsel that carried him into evil. Within a short time he even ordered the death of Jehoiada’s son Zechariah. After a few months, Joash’s army had been soundly defeated by the Arameans. Jerusalem was saved only because Joash stripped the temple of its treasures as a bribe. Finally, the king’s own officials assassinated him. In contrast to Jehoiada, Joash was not buried among the kings; he is not even listed in Jesus’ genealogy in the New Testament.
As dependent as Joash was on Jehoiada, there is little evidence that he ever established a real dependence on the God Jehoiada obeyed. Like many children, Joash’s knowledge of God was secondhand. It was a start, but the king needed his own relationship with God that would outlast and overrule the changes in the advice he received.
It would be easy to criticise Joash’s failure were it not for the fact that we often fall into the same traps. How often have we acted on poor advice without considering God’s word?
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Carried out extensive repairs on the temple
- Was faithful to God as long as Jehoiada lived
Weaknesses and mistakes:
- Allowed idolatry to continue among his people
- Used the temple treasures to bribe King Hazael of Aram
- Killed Jehoiada’s son Zechariah
- Allowed his advisers to lead the people away from God
Lessons from his life:
- A good and hopeful start can be ruined by an evil end
- Even the best counsel is ineffective if it does not help us to make wise decisions
- As helpful or hurtful as others may be, we are individually responsible for what we do
- Where: Jerusalem
- Occupation: King of Judah
- Relatives: Father: Ahaziah. Mother: Zibiah. Grandmother: Athaliah. Aunt: Jehosheba. Uncle: Jehoiada. Son: Amaziah. Cousin: Zechariah
- Contemporaries: Jehu, Hazael
Key verses: “After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and worshipped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came upon Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 24:17, 18).
Joash’s story is told in 2 Kings 11:1-14:23 and 2 Chronicles 22:11-25:25.