With Jehoiada no longer there to instruct and hold accountable, Joash began to listen to flattery from the leaders of the nation.
Joash, the ninth king of Judah, was only one year old when his father, King Ahaziah, died. Ahaziah's mother, Athaliah, saw her chance to seize the throne for herself. She quickly killed all of her grandsons except for Joash. She would have killed him also but Jehosheba, the wife of High Priest Jehoiada, hid him in her own home. Joash would remain in hiding for the next six years in the home of Jehoiada and Jehosheba. Athaliah was a remarkable woman, both for her wickedness and for her ability. She is the only woman to ever occupy the throne of David and she was able to hold onto it for six years. Those six years proved to be invaluable in the life of Joash. He was brought up under the watchful eye of the good High Priest Jehoiada. Joash's training would serve him well in the early years of his reign; the end would be a different story.
At the age of seven, Joash was anointed king by Jehoiada. Wicked, Baal worshiping, Athaliah protested and was quickly put to death at the command of Jehoiada. The reign of Joash, which would last 40 years, began very well. A new respect for the Law of God was cultivated. The altars and images of Baal were destroyed. The Temple of the Lord, which was in terrible condition, was repaired. Things were good for about the first 25 years of the reign of Joash, and then Jehoiada, his mentor, died. The Bible says specifically that Joash had done what was right in the sight of the Lord because he was guided by Jehoiada. Jehoiada was so highly regarded by all the people that he was buried with the kings, a very high honor for a priest. Very quickly, Joash would begin a downward trek toward his ultimate destruction. Be warned that a good start does not guarantee a good finish. We must make a daily decision to walk with the Lord. Be also warned that no matter how wise and strong and godly our mentor is, at some point we will be called upon to stand on our own. It is a tragedy when we do not take advantage of godly mentors and learn how to stand strong under our own power. After being blessed with 30 plus years of tutelage from Jehoiada, Joash should have been ready to mentor others.
With Jehoiada no longer there to instruct and hold accountable, Joash began to listen to flattery from the leaders of the nation. He and the nation abandoned the Lord God and His House and turned once again to idol worship. God decided it was time to call Joash to account. 2 Chronicles 24:20 ESV says, "Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, "Thus says God, 'Why do you break the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.'"
God does not say that breaking His commands means we might not prosper. He does not say that breaking His commands will make it difficult or unlikely to prosper. Rather, He says that if we break His commands we cannot prosper. This fact makes His question to Joash, Judah, and you and me so much more convicting and significant. Why would we break His commands knowing that it guarantees that we will not prosper? There was a second assurance. If we forsake God, He will forsake us. I can't think of anything much more stupid than our continuing in such a foolish path. So, why do you and I continue to break His commands?
Pastor Steve Ellison is the director of the Ouachita Theological Training Institute in Mena, Ark.