Don’t Neglect the Voice

He’s one of those Old Testament kings we pay little attention to; written about in a book from which we rarely read. But even though he was on the throne so long ago; his downfall still instructs.

His name was Joash and his story is told in 2 Chronicles 24. Joash became king of Judah when he was just seven years old and he would reign in Jerusalem for forty years. The temple Solomon built was about 75 years old and in need of repair. Joash raised the money and restored the temple, making sure it was rebuilt “according to its original design” (v. 13). Because the previous king’s mother had raided the temple of its sacred objects (using them for her worship of Baal), Joash had all new holy utensils made. It is why, at the beginning of his reign, it is said of him: “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…” (v. 2).

Sadly, this would change. Toward the end of his reign, we read that he “abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of [his] fathers, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols.” God even sent prophets to warn and bring him back but he “would not listen” (v. 19).

What happened? Why so godly early in his life; and then later so wicked? The text answers clearly: “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest” (v. 2). Jehoiada apparently did his job and shepherded the king—and the king listened. When Jehoiada dies, however, Joash began listening to different voices—voices described as the “officials of Judah” (v. 17). It was then that he began to forsake the Lord.

And it wasn’t because there was no replacement priest. In fact, Jehoiada was replaced by his very able son who confronts the backslidden Joash: “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has forsaken you’” (v. 20). King Joash responds by having the new priest stoned to death.

There always will be competing voices. The question is: Who gets our ear? Which voice will we heed? As a young king, Joash probably found it easier to listen to an older and wiser voice who spoke for God. When that voice was no more, the older king found it easier to listen to those who “paid [him] homage” (v. 17)—flattering voices that probably focused on what he wanted to hear. In short, Joash stopped listening to God. His fall from grace would be complete when “his officials” (the same ones he listened to earlier?) murder him and he receives a dishonorable burial (v. 25).

It all comes back to listening to God. Many times that means listening to those charged with shepherding your soul. Listening when you are young is wisdom; so is listening when you are old.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
June 23, 2011

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