17-21 The Malice of the Monarch
In the “Malice of the Monarch” we see three things happen around the same to that seem to shift the king’s thinking for the worse. First, and not mentioned in this chapter, is the death of Jehoiada his great mentor and advisor. Second, and also not mentioned in this chapter, powerful officials of Judah show up in the vacuum of counsel and gain access to the king’s ear. These were wicked apostatized Jews, the ones worshipping Asherah in the High Places. Which leads to the third thing, God sending Hazel, the great king of Syria, in judgment for the abandoning and neglect again of the Temple.
Without a spiritual guide, Joash quickly degenerates. Faced with these challenges he, at the suggestion of his new counselors, makes basically two terrible choices that will eventually end his life. These two choices run contrary to the whole of how he spent the majority of his entire life for good. It’s a very sad thing to read about. A man spends his whole life in sacrifice and service to God and comes to the end abandoning his originally principles for a new foundation! What a colossal waste of time, effort and energy. So let’s look at the two terrible choices.
a. The Relinquishing of Dedicated Things
First, when confounded by the Hazael, Joash relinquishes the dedicated treasures of the Temple of God and it’s service. Instead of repenting in the temple he strips it and relinquishes the dedicated things that his fathers and he himself had given in offering to God.
Joash had become convinced that the items of dedication were worth only their intrinsic value. He now shared the same “newer” values as presented by those to whom these treasures meant only money. God values the treasure, not on the intrinsic cost, but dedication. The value of our lives to God is not how much money can we make for him, but are we dedicated to him. God does not look at your paystub to determine your worth to him. What matters to God is when you relinquish things that you’ve dedicated to him.
It must have just broke Zechariah’s heart to see his cousin Joash behave like this. His father was able to keep the false advisors at bay. But once Jehoiada left this life, Joash’s monarchy would becomes wicked.
b. The Execution of a Dedicated Man
And to this end we are told in 2 Chronicles that Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, as new high priest began to speak up in protest against the king’s behavior. The final, sad last act of Joash is the execution of his own cousin, a dedicated man for God. This reveals the depth of malice the Monarch had descended into. The “Life and Times of Joash the King” comes to a sad pitiful end. In fact, we read he’s buried in Jerusalem, the city of David, with his father, but 2 Chronicles tells us he is not buried in the tomb of his fathers. What a sad commentary on the life of a man who began with such hope. The foundations of where we place or trust make a difference.
What do we learn from all this? I think we see just how careful we must be in choosing our friends. These officials of Judah did not share the foundations Jehoiada had created. They were a real bane to the king, whether he realized it or not. God has gifted us with Godly people to have as friends and companions, friends to have for counsel and encouragement. Let’s look for those who share good principles and foundations.
J. Robert Hanson