Under the Influence

There’s a foreboding about the summary of the reign of the kid king in 2Chronicles 24. You read the words and though they sound very familiar they don’t sound quite right. Common for the writers of Kings and Chronicles to summarize the reign of a king as one who either “did evil in the sight of the LORD” or one who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.” But when it comes to Joash, there’s an interesting qualifier that grabs my attention.

Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mothers name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.

(2Chronicles 24:1-2 ESV)

It’s been a downward slope since the reign of King Jehoshaphat back in chapters 17 through 20. And though Jehoshaphat walked in the ways of David (17:3) he made a marriage alliance with Ahab (18:1) that would prove to be a leaven that would severely spoil the reigns of his successors to the throne. He married his son, Jehoram, to Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. Jehoram’s reign is marked by doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD as “he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife” (21:6).

What’s more, the evil influence of Athaliah continued after the death of her husband and infected her son’s rule as well.. Ahaziah, son of Jehoram, “also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly” (22:3). And when, after only a year on the throne Azariah is killed, his mother takes the throne for herself executing all other heirs except for her baby grandson, Joash, who is taken away and hidden by Jehoiada the priest and his wife.

And when, after 6 years in hiding, Joash is placed on the throne as the kid king and Athaliah is executed, Joash, it says, did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. But again, what grabs me is that he did what was right not “all his days” but “all the days of Jehoiada the priest.”

While Jehoiada lived and provided counsel to his young disciple, the house of the LORD was restored from years of neglect due to Baal worship. Money was collected per the instruction of Moses, and craftsmen were employed to restore the place where God’s glory should dwell. And “they offered burnt offerings in the house of the LORD regularly all the days of Jehoiada” (24:14) — there it is again, “all the days of Jehoiada.”

But then the priest dies. And the princes of Judah, those who had a greater concern for politics than piety, start sucking up to Joash. And, so says the record, “the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols” (24:17-18).

And as I chew on this king who ruled well as long as he had the right voices in his ear, a couple of thoughts come to mind.

First, that it is impossible for righteousness to take hold solely by adherence to the law. Rather, righteousness comes only from an act of God upon the heart. Joash went through the motions for years, all the days of Jehoiada, but there appears to have been no meaning. He performed but seems to have had no pursuit for the things of God. While Jehoiada may have had the king’s ear, what the king needed was for God to give him a new heart. What Joash needed was the gospel, the power of salvation for those who believe, “for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith” (Rom 1:16-17).

Second, and more directly, I notice the power of the voices in our lives. Take Jehoiada’s counsel, mix it with a regenerated life, and you have revival. But take an Athaliah, or the princes of Judah, and you have inevitable reversal.

How I need to be careful, even as a new creation in Christ with a heart attuned to things above, of the voices that speak into my life. That, by God’s grace, His word would be regularly opened before me–regularly as in daily by me and not just weekly by a preacher. That, by God’s Spirit, I might know an abiding communion where I discern that still small voice seeking to lead me in the walk that is worthy of my calling. That I might surround myself with godly men and women who love to talk about the things of the kingdom and encourage me to keep on keepin’ on.

How I need to be under the influence. Under the influence of that which fuels the new life rather than that which seeks to mute it.

A warning received. A warning heeded.

By God’s grace. For God’s glory.

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