2 Kings 12

Good Start. Bad Ending.

“All his life Joash did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight because Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” ­– 2 Kings 12:2 NLT

Jehoiada the priest had protected Joash for seven years from his scheming grandmother, Athaliah. She had killed all his siblings in order to take over the throne of Judah when her son, King Ahaziah, had died. But Joash had been hidden away in the temple of God until the day he was crowned king by Jehoiada at the age of seven. He would reign for forty years in Judah and as long as his mentor, Jehoiada was live, he accomplished some good things for the kingdom. One of his main projects was the restoration of the temple. It had fallen into disrepair, so he came up with a fund-raising plan to provide the resources to see to its repair and restoration. But somewhere along the way, Jehoiada died. “Jehoiada lived to a very old age, finally dying at 130. He was buried among the kings in the City of David, because he had done so much good in Israel for God and his Temple” (2 Chronicles 24:15-16 NLT). And with his death, things began to change for Joash – and not for the good.

Within no time, Joash’s reign took a turn for the worse. According to 2 Chronicles 24, Joash was easily convinced by his officials to abandon the restoration of the temple. “But after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and bowed before King Joash and persuaded the king to listen to their advice. They decided to abandon the Temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and they worshiped Asherah poles and idols instead! Then the anger of God burned against Judah and Jerusalem because of their sin” (2 Chronicles 24:17-18 NLT). God sent Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, to rebuke Joash, and his reaction was to have him killed. He was stoned to death at the command of Joash. Suddenly, Joash found himself in a difficult place. He was under attack from King Hazael of Aram. Hazael had recently defeated the northern kingdom of Israel and was headed south along the Mediterranean coast toward Judah. He had already captured Gath and had sent soldiers against Jerusalem. who killed many of the leaders of Judah. But instead of  turning to Yahweh for deliverance, Joash decided to try and buy off Hazael using gold from the renovated temple. But Hazael would later return to Judah and Jerusalem with a small company of men and destroy all the princes of the people and send their spoil to the king of Damascus (2 Chronicles 24:23).

In the midst of all this, Joash was wounded by the Arameans and left Jerusalem to recuperate in a town named Beth Millo. It was while there that several of his officials came up with a plan to assassinate him, all because he had put the high priest Zechariah to death. Joash was buried in Jerusalem but not in the royal tombs – a sign that the people had lost respect for him as their king.

“Once a promising, God-fearing young ruler, Joash died a disappointment. By bribing Hazael with Temple treasures, he tarnished his one great
achievement, the Temple restoration.” – R. L. Hubbard Jr., First and Second Kings

Joash started out well, but ended poorly. All because he turned away from following Yahweh. When his godly mentor died, he began to listen to the advice of the ungodly men around him. Instead of listening to the counsel of Zechariah as a word from God, he had him killed. As a result, God would remove His blessing from the life of Joash, causing his reign to end with death and indignity. He failed to finish well. Our goal, as followers of God, is to finish well. The writer of Hebrews put it this way, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 ESV). Let us run with endurance. Finish well.

Father, I want to finish well. Give me the strength to run the race ahead of me so that I can finish with a kick. I want to cross the line with a full head of steam, not staggering and stumbling. May my life bring You joy and pleasure right up to the very end. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org