Good morning! These last few days of 2 Chronicles stretch on longer than we might wish, cataloguing the various saints and sinners among the kings of Judah. Today in 2 Chronicles 21-24 we see one king who is faithful for a period of time, but then joins the rest of the rogues’ gallery that passes for the later kings of Judah. Of more interest in these chapters is the role of the priest Jehoiada, who uses the privileges and calling of his office to full advantage in order to preserve the kingdom in righteousness. Sometimes it’s not the figureheads but the powers behind the throne that most clearly hear and obey God’s voice.
It takes several chapters before we fully see Jehoiada in action. The kings who had previously allied with righteous Jehoshaphat now leave his son Jehoram’s “sphere of influence” in chapter 21. There is no love lost for this feckless king Jehoram, who squanders the prestige that his father had earned for Judah, descends into idolatry, receives a letter of denunciation from the northern prophet Elijah, and finally dies in terrible pain. His successor Ahaziah’s reign is even shorter, swiftly ended by assassination when Ahaziah went to visit the northern kingdom ruled by Jehoram. Ahaziah’s mother Athaliah decides to rule instead of the next man in line, so she kills all of Ahaziah’s siblings and ascends to the throne. Here we start to see the influence of the priest Jehoiada, who secretly hides Ahaziah’s infant son Joash in the temple to save his life.
Jehoiada keeps his secret for six years, raising this child against the wishes of Queen Athaliah at the risk of his life. He finally “took courage” at the start of chapter 23, finding his voice to become the de facto leader of a rebellion against the queen. With Jehoiada’s instructions, Joash is crowned and proclaimed king in the temple, under the protection of priests and Levites. Athaliah is deposed and then put to death, also at Jehoiada’s command. Jehoiada then leads the people in breaking down the temples of other gods, purifying Hebrew rituals and practices so that only devotion to the one true God would be maintained. In all these things, Jehoiada is the power behind Joash’s throne, since the boy is a mere 7 years old, as chapter 24 points out. Jehoiada acts as a father to him in subsequent years, even to the point of getting him wives as he grows older. Joash learned temple values well from the older man. As an adult, Joash restores the temple with a freewill offering and head tax, even critiquing his mentor for not acting swiftly enough. Jehoiada’s death (at 130 years old!) gives witness to his place among Judah’s leaders—he’s buried with the kings.
Sometimes we cannot appreciate a person’s impact until after they are gone, and so it is with Jehoiada. King Joash “goes to seed” and fails to follow his formerly upright ways after the death. Jehoiada’s son Zechariah calls Joash to task for his lapses in righteousness, but Joash then has him stoned near the forecourt of the temple. Joash receives his comeuppance when a little army, far outnumbered, nevertheless defeats him as a sing of God’s disfavor because Judah had not been faithful. Wounded by the battle and bedridden, Joash is killed by his servants but not given a king’s burial. He remains here in the biblical record as yet another sinful king of Judah. Jehoiada remains the one example of taking a righteous stand against wrongdoing even in a dim time, thereby serving the eternal arc of God’s will. His example—and not that of the kings—is what we can look to today. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is 2 Chronicles 25-28. Thanks for reading!