Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2 Kings 11-12 - Reign of Joash (Jehoash)

LINK: 2 Kings 11-12

BACKGROUND
The story of Judah's kings left off in 2 Kings 9:27 with the death of King Ahaziah (killed by Jehu). We pick up the story again at the beginning of chapter 11. King Ahaziah's mother was Athaliah. Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. At the death of her son, she killed all of his descendants (her grandchildren) and usurped the throne. But Ahaziah's sister Jehosheba rescued one of the grandsons, Joash, who was an infant at the time. She hid him with his nurse in a bed storage room in the temple for six years.

Significantly, Joash was now the only living male descendant of David. In God's covenant with David, He had promised "a lamp for David and his descendants forever." God used Jehosheba to keep that "lamp" burning so David's line would not be wiped out.

When Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada the priest staged a coup, Athaliah was killed, and Joash took the throne. He ruled under the guidance of Jehoiada, and his first act was to tear down the temple of Baal and kill Mattan the priest of Baal.

As long as Joash (also called Jehoash) was instructed by Jehoiada the priest, he did "right in the sight of the Lord." His only fault during that time was that he did not remove the high places, so the people still used them for burning incense and making sacrifices.

The major accomplishment of Joash's reign was restructuring the temple finances and repairing the temple building itself. At this time, the temple would have been about 150 years old and in need of some repair, but the repairs weren't getting done. So, Joash set up a separate collection to be used for repairs and selected honest skilled workers to do the work.

Hazael king of Aram captured Gath, a strategic trade and military location, then set out to capture Jerusalem. Rather than fight this powerful enemy, Joash bought him off with all the treasures of the temple. Aram went away.

Joash's reign lasted forty years before he was assassinated by his own officials. There are more details in 2 Chronicles 24:17-27. Joash was leading the nation into idolatry, and Zechariah (Jehoiada's son) spoke out against him for it. Rather than listen to Zechariah, Joash murdered him. Joash's officials who were true to the Lord were the ones who then killed him. And Amaziah his son became the next king, continuing the line of David on the throne.

REFLECTION
Joash did well in serving the Lord as long as Jehoiada was alive. But once Jehoiada was removed from the scene, he turned away from the Lord and promoted idol worship. He started off well but did not finish well. Joash himself may not have even realized it at the time, but his motivation for doing good was most likely to please Jehoida rather than to please the Lord. Once Jehoiada's influence was removed, Joash forgot the Lord.

APPLICATION

Let's examine our motives for serving the Lord. Is our service out of whole-hearted devotion to God, or is it to impress or appease others? Are we truly serving God or serving our mentors, church leaders, Bible study teacher, etc.? And if we have leadership roles, let's make sure we point the hearts of others to God rather than to ourselves.

PRAYER
Let our hearts be fully yours, Lord. May all we do and say be done to your honor, not for our own honor. Teach us to obey you from the heart and to listen when you rebuke us for going astray. Thank you for being like a father who guides us and keeps us on the right path. Help us to keep our eyes on you and you alone and to serve you from pure devotion to you. Amen.

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