Joash - The dependant King
John Griffiths, Port Talbot, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Joash or Jehoash, the eighth king of Judah, reigned for forty years from 835-796 BC according to E. R. Thiele. His mother was Zibiah of Beersheba. His father was Ahaziah, a son of wicked Queen Athaliah and Jehoram of Judah, grandson of Ahab and Jezebel and a bad lot. Three evil reigns preceded Joash and three good reigns followed his. Though he is generally regarded as a good king, he finished badly as did Solomon. Demas is a New Testament example of this. The need to continue faithfully to the end is a salutary lesson for us all, 2 Tim. 4. 10.
Joash’s history is recorded in 2 Kings chapters 11 and 12 and 2 Chronicles chapter 22 verse 10 to chapter 24 verse 27.
His life appears to be a three-act drama and in each set we see his dependency on others.
ACT 1: RESCUED and REARED
– dependent on the instincts of Jehosheba the princess.
(i) The Messianic Viewpoint
Following the murder of her son Ahaziah at the hands of Jehu of Israel, Athaliah set about exterminating the royal seed of the house of David, even though this meant brutally disposing of her own grandsons. Jehosheba (or Jehoshabeath), Ahaziah’s sister or half-sister, and thus a princess, married to Jehoiada, the high priest, rescued her nephew, the infant Joash, from among the corpses of his brothers. Aunt Jehosheba hid Joash and his nurse in a bedroom in the disused temple precincts.
Athaliah was the devil’s instrument to seek to destroy the royal line to Christ. But God, in His sovereignty, preserved the line through Joash: ‘given of the Lord’. What a time it was! Jehoram, Jehoshaphat’s son, murders his six brothers to strengthen his place on the throne; the Arabians and Philistines attack Jehoram and leave only the youngest son alive; Jehu of Israel slays seventy of Ahab’s house e.g., Jezebel, Ahaziah, Jehoram and forty-two ‘nephews’; Hazael of Syria was a scourge of Israel and Baal-worship; to compound all this, Athaliah murders the seed royal. A time of murder, mystery and mayhem!
But God is sovereign – ‘there shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel’, 2 Chr. 7. 18.
Joash is delivered by his aunt and the royal seed is preserved. ‘If God be for us who can be against us?’ Not even Satan and his agents can thwart the divine purpose! Several of the devil’s attacks have been blunted by babies subsequently hidden. Moses – the drowning of the male babies – hidden in the basket and the house. Joash – the slaying of the seed royal – hidden in the temple. Christ – the slaughter of the innocents – hidden in Egypt.
(ii) The Prophetic Viewpoint
Against a background of apostasy and judgement, Joash is a picture of Christ.
|He is removed from the scene of death.||Christ’s resurrection and ascension.|
|He is hidden in the sanctuary.||In the heavenly sanctuary now, Heb. 9. 24.|
|Only a few know that he is alive.||In resurrection He revealed Himself only to His own.|
|There is a period of patient waiting (6 years).||An indeterminate period – ‘until he come’.|
|The restoration of the Davidic dynasty.||Christ ‘the root and offspring of David’, Rev. 22. 16.|
|The coronation and public acclamation.||Christ’s manifestation in glory and public recognition.|
|The usurper, Athaliah, punished.||The usurper, Satan, cast into the pit, then the lake of fire.|
|Idolatry stamped out.||No idolatry in Israel anymore.|
|‘with rejoicing and with singing’; the city was quiet' (at peace).||The millennial reign of Christ; Jerusalem – the city of peace.|
|A covenant entered into including king, priest and people.||The New Covenant, Jer. 31. 31.|
(iii) The Homiletic Viewpoint
Three people are linked with Joash in his formative years.
- A godly woman – Jehosheba: ‘sworn of the Lord’.
When we consider her pedigree we are filled with amazement that this woman should be so strikingly different to her relatives. What an heroic aunt! The impact of this woman upon the world’s history can be seen in her personal intervention, thus preserving the Messianic line. She was God’s agent for this emergency. We bless God for spiritual women and godly sisters who have yielded to Christ and been greatly used as a result. She made a good wife for Jehoiada.
- A caring nurse
She played her part in the first act of this drama and nurtured and reared Joash for seven years. She kept the confidence of Joash’s whereabouts secret all that time and was his constant companion and carer throughout. Paul speaks to the Thessalonian Christians, ‘But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children’, 1 Thess. 2. 7.
- A faithful priest – Jehoiada: ‘known of the Lord’.
As high priest he was able to make the temple Joash’s home. He oversaw the upbringing of the king and would have been his instructor and teacher.
How valuable for a young believer to be surrounded by people like the three in the record: to be preserved, to be nurtured and to be instructed by them. The influence of godly, caring, priestly believers on a young convert is incalculable, especially in the context of the house of God.
ACT 2: REIGNING and REFORMING – dependent on the instruction of Jehoiada the priest.
(i) Joash’s Age
‘Joash was 7 years of age when he began to reign’.
He was the youngest of three kings of Judah who were enthroned before the age of 10, the others being Josiah and Jehoiachin.
A nation requires strong leadership, especially in days of departure and declension.
‘Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child’, says Solomon, Eccles. 10. 16, though he qualifies this, ‘Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished’, 4. 13.
Likewise, each local church requires strong leadership. Experience is a factor in the descriptor ‘elder’ and this is reinforced by the requirement ‘not a novice’, literally, ‘not one newly planted’. A recent convert is not considered suitable for leadership.
(ii) Joash’s Advisor
‘And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him’, 2 Kgs. 12. 2.
Jehoiada, the high priest and uncle of Joash, was the power behind the throne. He was his mentor, advisor, instructor and father-figure. Paul says, ‘For though ye have 10,000 instructors in Christ yet have ye not many fathers’, 1 Cor. 4. 15.
The Lord was extremely provident in giving Jehoiada longevity of life in order to support the king. He lived for 130 years – the longest recorded life for a millennium! Praise God, our Great High Priest will never die – He ever liveth to make intercession for us. This ministry of Christ is further developed in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Jehoiada’s epitaph epitomizes his suitability as Joash’s advisor, ‘ He hath done good in Israel, both toward God and toward his house’. How grateful we should be for godly, priestly men of experience who have been our spiritual guides and mentors. ‘Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God’, Heb. 13. 7.
Jehoiada protected the infant-king, planned his sabbath-day coronation and propped him up, being his personal advisor and even choosing his two wives for him: one of whom was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem, the mother of Amaziah, 2 Kgs. 14. 2. Fewer wives than Solomon and many other kings but still one too many! Jehoiada also cleared the way for Joash’s ambition to be fulfilled as he slew the priest of Baal and destroyed the temple of Baal.
The standard for the kings of Judah was David. Yet of Joash it is simply said, ‘and did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him’.
Of his son, Amaziah, it is said, ‘And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did’, 2 Kgs. 14. 3.
This suggests that Joash was not a man after God’s own heart, as was David, but a weak king always dependent at every stage of his life on others instead of God. ‘It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in men’, however good these men may be!
Joash never progressed from relying on props – his faith and devotion should have been vested in his God. Can we stand on our own two feet in fellowship with God?
(iii) Joash’s Aim
‘Joash was minded to repair the house of the Lord’? 2 Chr. 24. 4.
Having spent his early years in the temple buildings and being under the tutelage of Jehoiada, the high priest, it is a joy to see someone with a real exercise for the house of God. Where are the believers with the spiritual aim and ambition to repair ‘the breaches of the house’?
Think of the costliness of the work; think of the cooperation of the workforce; think of the character of the building materials!
Joash needed to bring in the revenue for the house. His first effort required the support of the priests and Levites. It was spectacularly unsuccessful. John Heading states that the non-cooperation of the priests and Levites stemmed from the compulsory nature of the fundraising as opposed to freewill offerings, and it has to be admitted that the chest at the gate was far more effective. However, I suggest that the priests and Levites were unwilling to take on the extra work – reluctant to take on further responsibilities. ‘Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord’, Jer. 3. 10. Oh, for wholehearted people like Caleb!