Just to keep from flip-flopping so much, we followed Joash from his coronation to the end of his reign. However, since he ruled for 40 years and his grandmother Athaliah ruled for over 6 years prior to his installment as king, we’ve got some ground to cover with the kings of Israel before we can be introduced to Joash’s son who became the next king of Judah.
Jehu, remembered, killed off both Israel’s and Judah’s kings, taking power in Israel at the same time Athaliah took the throne in Judah. Jehu was still ruling Israel when Joash became Judah’s king, but his reign came to a close before Joash’s.
Because of Jehu’s and the people of Israel’s disobedience, the Lord used the Arameans as His instrument of punishment. Jehu, instead of repenting and turning to God, seems to have begged for help from Assyria.
The “Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III,” a four-sided narrow tapering monument discovered in northern Iraq and dating back to the time of Jehu, depicts either Jehu or his representative bowing to the ground and kissing the feet of Shalmaneser III, ruler of Assyria. Rather than bow to the Absolute Goodness of Jehovah, Jehu chose what he apparently considered the lesser of two evils and gave his loyalty to the Assyrians in hopes of subduing the Arameans’ onslaught against Israel.
Scripture tells us that “When Jehu died, he was buried in Samaria. Then his son Jehoahaz became the next king. In all, Jehu reigned over Israel from Samaria for twenty-eight years” (II Kings 10:35-36, NLT). Joash, however, ruled for 40 years in Judah, so he’s still king when Jehoahaz comes into power. Remember, too, that Samaria was the capital city of Israel while Jerusalem served as Judah’s capital.
So now we come to Jehoahaz who takes over the throne of Israel after the death of his father Jehu. “Jehoahaz son of Jehu began to rule over Israel in the twenty-third year of King Joash’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria seventeen years. But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit” (II Kings 13:1-2).
Do we see a pattern here? Not just the Israelites, but all humans think they can have their own way and ignore God’s warnings. But we can’t. The amazing thing is that He continues to love us and draw us to Him in spite of our foolishness. Even so, His patience has its limits.
“So the Lord was very angry with Israel, and He allowed King Hazael of Aram and his son Ben-hadad to defeat them repeatedly” (II Kings 13:3).
Not just once, but “repeatedly” God had used “Hazael and his son Ben-hadad” to get the Israelites’ attention. Finally, Jehoahaz remembers His Creator.
“Then Jehoahaz prayed for the Lord’s help, and the Lord heard his prayer, for He could see how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. So the Lord provided someone to rescue the Israelites from the tyranny of the Arameans. Then Israel lived in safety again as they had in former days” (II Kings 13:4-5).
Knowing how rotten and wayward and thankless these people had been, God once again stepped in and helped them. And how did they show their gratitude?
“They continued to sin, following the evil example of Jeroboam. When Jehoahaz died, he was buried in Samaria. Then his son Jehoash became the next king” (II Kings 13:6a, 9).
True to His Word, the Lord allowed Jehu’s son to succeed him as king of Israel. But Jehoahaz’s and the people’s wrong choices cost them dearly. No wonder the Lord Himself called them “hardheaded and hardhearted” (Ezekiel 3:7b, HCSB).