2 Chronicles 24
by Pastor Mark Hudson
The transition from Athaliah to Joash was a major coup as well as a spiritual revival. Athaliah was a wicked woman following in the footstep of Ahab and Jezebel in the north. So, in chapter 23, Judah threw off the sinful practices of Israel. So now Joash is reigning as a seven-year-old boy. But we know what that means. He is not acting as a king at that age though he would reign for 40 years. The priest Jehoiada is mentoring him and acting as the king. Unfortunately, by the looks of v. 3, having multiple wives was common for the kings of Judah.
Under the tutelage of Jehoiada, worship is the at the center of the revival. Joash has been learning how important worship is to God. Jehoiada, a priest, lives and breathes worship since he himself was taught by other priests. So, the king gives the command to priests and Levites to gather money to repair the house of God. He tells them to “see that you act quickly. But the Levites did not act quickly.” This discloses a conflict between the king and the Levites. They were three sources of revenue for this task according to 2 Kings 12:4-5: a half shekel tax on twenty-year-old males (see Exodus 30:11-16; 38:25-26), money from individual vows (Lev. 27:1-25), and voluntary offerings (Lev. 22:18-23; Deut. 16:10). For some reason, the Levites did not want to follow through on the king’s command. 2 Kings 12:6 said the delay was for 23 years! That is some delay.
So Jehoiada is summoned to the presence of the king. We see the reason for the need for more money. Athaliah had “broken into the house of God, and had also used all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord for the Baals.” What a serious offense against God. This is a different version of the same story that we read in II Kings 12. The Levites are not the problem, wicked Athaliah is.
The remedy of the problem was a simple chest that was placed outside the gate of the house of the Lord which the had to empty periodically. These offerings allowed the various skilled trades to complete the work.
Everything seems to be going great. Until verse 15 that is. Jehoiada, the priest, dies at 130 years of age. He is revered “because he had done good in Israel, and toward God and his house.” One would think this will continue. But leave it up to the leaders of Judah who persuaded the king to leave God’s word. This is a tragic turn of events. Read vs. 18-19. You wonder what was so compelling to the king that he would turn away from the true God for the Asherim. The king did not pay attention to God’s prophets who warned him not to reject the true God (v. 19).
It gets worse. The mentor of the king had a son name Zechariah who warned the king to return to God. What does the king do? He has him stoned! This is a man the king evidently knew. Zechariah’s father spent years teaching this king who began to reign at age 7. Zechariah, bloodied, bruised, possibly blind by the end of his stoning utters, “May the Lord see and avenge.”
By year’s end, the Syrians execute God’s judgment on Judah. Even though Damascus sends a few soldiers, “the Lord delivered into their hand a very great army, because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers.” Even this tragedy is not completed. In v. 25, when the Syrians leave, Joash is severely wounded. As he is recovering in his bed his servants, holding a grudge from the death of “the son of Jehoiada the priest,” kill him on his bed. It is possible that the servants could not forgive the king for what he did to the priest’s son.
Ironically, the ones who persuaded the king to forsake God in v. 17, may have conspired to kill him. They are foreigners: an Ammonite and a Moabite. This is one of the major disap-pointments of this story. Why did He later reject God? Initially Joash was a model king. He seemed like he had a great future ahead of him. But read his story as a warning. We have to stay vigilant because we can develop a hard heart or fall into sin. We may think it could never happen to us, but we are still in a battle with sin that will continue until the day we die.
You will also notice that we have a good king or two and then a bad one. Or we have a king that starts well and ends poorly. We read in the next chapter 25:2, “And he (Amaziah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.” This is what we find in 2 Chronicles and sometimes in our church or even our own lives. Sometimes people start growing in the Lord and then fall away. Or we experience a cold, worldly heart for long stretches of time. Use these stories as encouragement to not be dull and lifeless. Ask God to give you a heart for Him and love for others. Fan that flame so you burn with a red-hot zeal in love for the gospel and love for the body of Christ.
Lord, You are the One who keeps us following You. While we participate by the means of grace or all the things that help us to grow: reading the Bible, worship, the sacraments, fellowship, and prayer the real work is done by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Pour Your Spirit into our parched souls so we come alive with the eternal fountain of joy. We need and love You. We ask this in the mighty name of our Risen Lord. Amen.