King Joash’s Apostasy
Open Your Bible
2 Chronicles 23:1-21, 2 Chronicles 24:1-27, Psalm 2:10-12
BY Seana Scott
In David Lishman’s article, “Only God is Great,” he writes that in 1715, France’s Louis XIV died. Louis, who had named himself the “Sun King,” wanted others to dramatize his greatness upon his death. So he wrote orders for the cathedral to be dimly lit. The only light would be a candle over the coffin.
On the day of his funeral, he was laid in an awe-inspiring cathedral with his corpse encased in a golden casket. His body, cold. His breath, empty. Thousands were in attendance, and they awaited Bishop Massilon’s speech. To begin, the bishop slowly reached down, snuffed out the candle, and said, “Only God is great!”
Indeed, only God is great. But sometimes, like King Louis, we want to feel great ourselves. I wonder how different Israel’s history might have been if Joash, king of Israel, had kept God’s greatness in view—instead of succumbing to those who lauded King Joash’s greatness (2 Chronicles 24:1–18).
It’s mind-boggling how a ruler could swing to such extremes. He was the baby rescued from the tip of the sword, a king in the line of David—just as God promised (2Samuel 7:16). He was practically raised by a Levitical priest, Jehoiada, and led the restoration of God’s temple. He was a God-worshiping king.
But then pride and flattery turned him into a prophet-killer. As soon as the priest, Jehoiada, died, wicked men laid a lure for the king. They paid homage to him. We can imagine what they might have said or given the king as gifts—was it camels? Gold? Oils, perhaps? Did they tell him how wonderful he was and how he needed to make his own rather than follow God’s law? Whatever they said, it enticed King Joash to abandon everything: God’s temple, God’s priests, and God’s law (2Chronicles 24:18). King Joash became an idol worshiper.
But before we throw the king under the chariot, we might think about our own hearts. Are we just an homage away from turning our backs on living for God? Do we depend on social media likes or job promotions to validate our worth? Some days the number of times I check social media, compared to the number of times I pray, shows where my heart pays homage.
Not only does our loyalty to God affect our own hearts, but how we live for God—or not—impacts others. My dad used to say, “If you love someone, you take care of yourself.” Because what we do affects all those around us. In Joash’s case, His faithfulness at the beginning of His reign blessed Israel, but then his unfaithfulness brought trouble.