Jehoshaphat had been a pretty good king for the most part, but he made some grave errors. One of them was to form a military and political alliance with King Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel, the infamous and notorious husband of Jezebel [See 18:1]. Jehoshaphat then took Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter Athaliah as a wife for his firstborn son Jehoram (Joram). When Jehoshaphat died, Jehoram had all his brothers (6) killed to ensure his ascendancy to the throne. (Did Athaliah have anything to do with that?) That, therefore, leaves only one son to continue the Davidic line through Solomon – the wicked Jehoram himself– and it says he walked in the ways of his father-in-law Ahab (21:6).
The Lord allowed the Edomites to invade Judah that same year. Even a prophetic letter from the prophet Elijah was not enough to cause him to amend his ways. He died an ugly and painful death after having been king on his own for only a little over a year. After Jehoram died, his son Ahaziah was made king and, guided by his wicked mother Athaliah, was equally wicked (22:3). In his first battle, though, he was mortally wounded and eventually killed by Jehu, king of Israel.
Q: Who is Athaliah and what is the background for why she set out to destroy the “royal offspring”?
A: Athaliah saw her power slipping away, so she put to death all of Ahaziah’s sons (her own grandchildren), including others of the royal household. Fortunately, God intervened and moved the heart of Ahaziah’s sister Jehoshabeath to rescue Joash, hiding him and his nurse in the temple for 6 years under the care of the High Priest Jehoiada, who was also the husband of Jehoshabeath. This means that for a period of six years, a pagan woman (Jezebel was Canaanite) ruled Judah, though not without the presence of someone from David’s line.
Point: The historical fact of interest here is that the Davidic line through Solomon came within one child of being exterminated; the spiritual fact of interest is that like everyone else involved, Joash made his own decisions regarding God and equally reaped what was sown.
Note: Chapter 23:1-15 tells how Jehoiada made Joash king and had Athaliah killed outside the temple compound, and verses 16-21 records how he rid Judah of Baal worship. (Reading of chapter 23 optional.)
Q: What was the key to Joash being a “good” king?
A: Although he “did what was right in the sight of the Lord”, the key phrase is at the end of v.2, “all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” It wasn’t a life-long commitment.
Q: Why would the scribe Ezra, when writing Chronicles after the exile, want to make a point of Jehoiada’s actions and influence?
A: Ezra, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, was anxious to tell his people how important the Levites and priesthood were to preserving their national identity and God’s blessings, by keeping them from intermarrying and from idolatry, core problems which led to God’s judgment.
Q: What was one of the key projects on which Joash and Jehoiada collaborated in?
A: The rebuilding and refurbishing of the temple, the key place of worship for the Israelites. Notice throughout the readings for this week the dynamic interplay between prophet, priest and king. In this instance, there were blessings on the nation because the king followed the guidance of the priesthood.
Q: Why do you suppose as stated in v.10 that “all the people rejoiced” in their payment of the tax?
A: In v.7 we’re told that under Athaliah any treasure or monies for the temple were stolen and mis-used; the rejoicing is a confirmation of the right heart and intent of Joash’s spiritual leadership.
Application: The Bible teaches that our giving is an act of worship on the same level as prayer, singing, etc. Perhaps we need to consider what is being done with those resources in order to raise our own level of rejoicing when we present our offerings for His kingdom.
Q: Did they receive enough to complete the work on the temple?
A: They received even more so that they could restore the things needed to make the temple operate. (v.14)
Q: How long did the temple continue to operate correctly?
A: “...all the days of Jehoiada.” (v.14)
Q: What happened to Joash after Jehoiada’s death?
A: The key is verse 17: he began taking counsel from “the officials of Judah.” Obviously some influenced him by convincing him that in order to keep peace with the people they needed to reintroduce “Asherim and the idols.”
Q: What had Jehoiada the high priest failed to do in his raising Joash?
A: Obviously he had been a “father” to him (v. 22) and had over-protected him to the extent that Joash was not well-equipped to stand on his own two feet. Therefore, when Jehoiada was no longer around, Joash took counsel from whoever could influence him most. In this case, his peers
Point of interest: Verse 19 refers to “prophets” sent to Joash to bring Judah back to the Lord. This verse introduces the following verses concerning Zechariah; but one of the “prophets” was also Joel.
Q: Who was the prophet sent to prophesy against Judah?
A: His name was Zechariah. But this is not the same Zechariah of our minor prophets in the Bible. This Zechariah was Jehoiada’s grandson, whereas the one in the Bible is the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo. Nor is this the same Zechariah in 26:5.
Q: What was the king’s response to Zechariah’s rebuke?
A: They killed him in the temple between the temple and the altar. This incident is referred to by Jesus in Matthew 23:34, 35 (and Luke 11:51). Why does Jesus say that they killed the prophets from “Abel to…Zechariah”, with Abel being the first and Zechariah being the last? Because in the Hebrew Bible, 2 Chronicles is the last book. Therefore, in the Bible that Jesus read, Zechariah would have been the last prophet killed. Jesus is saying “from the first to the last murder in the Bible.”
What lessons do we learn about putting the Lord first, regardless what we may have done in the church?
What lessons do we learn about parenting?
What lessons do we learn about how well we receive “truth” in the form of evaluation or constructive criticism?
What lessons do we learn about discipleship and what we pass on to others?