“Jehoiada lived to a very old age, finally dying at 130” (II Chronicles 24:15, NLT).
From Joash’s infancy, Jehoiada the priest and his sons had kept Joash safe from his evil grandmother Athaliah and had seen to his rightful enthronement as king of Judah. Now with Jehoiada no longer in the picture, things were about to drastically change. Let’s review the hints we saw leading up to this point:
“Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest” (II Chronicles 24:2b, NLT). The first sign of trouble? “Throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada.” Had Joash’s behavior not changed after Jehoiada died, there would be no reason for this statement.
The second sign of trouble? “At one point Joash decided to repair and restore the Temple of the Lord. He summoned the priests and Levites and gave them these instructions: ‘Go to all the towns of Judah and collect the required annual offerings, so that we can repair the Temple of your God. Do not delay!’” (II Chronicles 24:1a, 4-5a).
“The Temple of your God.” Joash didn’t say “my God,” but “your God.” Joash was a young man by this time; he was old enough to have made his own decision about his beliefs.
The third sign of trouble ahead: “The burnt offerings were sacrificed continually in the Temple of the Lord during the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest” (II Chronicles 24:14c). Had the burnt offerings continued after Jehoiada’s death, this comment wouldn’t have been needed.
Which brings us to one of the all-important “buts” of the Bible: “But after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and bowed before King Joash and persuaded him to listen to their advice” (II Chronicles 24:17). Joash had been brought up to know Jehovah as Lord. Still, he was quite capable of making a wrong decision, and that’s exactly what he did.
Joash, along with these sorry advisors, “decided to abandon the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they worshiped Asherah poles and idols instead!” (II Chronicles 24:18a).
Folks, our job is teach and live out a strong foundation of faith. Once a child grows to adulthood, he must make his own decision whether to accept or reject the faith of his upbringing. Joash, having restored the Temple and served as a good king over Judah, now turns to absolute evil. Just like many others before him, he thought he could get away with this behavior.
“Because of this sin, divine anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem” (II Chronicles 24:18b). Joash was in a high position of authority – he was the king. His influence was enormous. Which means his accountability to God was equally so.
“Yet the Lord sent prophets to bring them back to Him. The prophets warned them, but still the people would not listen” (II Chronicles 24:19).
What a patient, loving, merciful God! The Bible shows us the people of God, warts and all. They’re not perfect any more than we’re perfect. Time and time again, we turn our backs on the One who loved us enough to die for us, and yet He continues to call to us and willingly forgive us whenever we repent.
Yet even the wondrous forgiveness of our Heavenly Father does not erase the consequences of the sins we set in motion when we choose to disobey Him. Life is so much sweeter when it’s lived in harmony with the will of God.