King Joash’s Apostasy

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2 Chronicles 23:1-21, 2 Chronicles 24:1-27, Psalm 2:10-12

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.  

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42 thoughts on "King Joash’s Apostasy"

  1. Laurel says:

    TRICIA CAVANAUGH–excellent point–Joash showed that his trust was not in God but in Jehoiada. How often do we teach/lecture/encourage others to act without explaining or providing the foundation from which to think and act on their own? I have seen similar behaviors in students who are overly supported and then collapse once they graduate and are tasked with the primary decision making role.

  2. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

    I want to know God myself. I want to learn more about Him and not take just what people say, but be in His word, and studying God’s word, and sharing and learning from others who know God also.

  3. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

    In my NLT study Bible, there is an excerpt about Joash. One of the things that says is that he never had a chance to make his own decisions while Jehoiada was alive. So when it came time for him to make his own decisions, he had not truly trusted in God. He was trusting in Jehoiada, and didn’t  really know God. He listened to the counsel of the next thing that came along. I pray that I would instruct my grandchildren but also allow them to realize God for themselves and not just push it down their throat so that when I’m not around, they don’t want to have anything to do with Him.

  4. lisa chapek says:

    Lord, may we as parents summon our courage like Jehoiada to protect our children from the enemy who would destroy their lives and God given destiny. Grant us insight and humility to turn away from false worship in our hearts and return to honor Your ways in our lives and families. May we heed your warnings and post guard over our hearts and families against the enemy and ways of this world. We bring the hearts of our children before You. May they respond to Your call for themselves and not just depend on our faith. May they desire to honor You with their lives. Teach us how to continually keep ourselves from pride and give us Holy Spirit empowered moments to teach them how to keep themselves from pride. Give us greater awareness of how Your working in them so that we can join You there. Keep us from getting so caught up in the fight that we forget Whose in control and what we’re fighting for. If our children have gone astray, may we first lean in to Your mercy that even when Your wrath was on Your people for turning away from You, You still continued to send prophets to admonish them. Send prophets to our children when we are not with them. We ask that the Holy Spirit would open their eyes and bring them to their senses. Rescue them, Father from the strongholds of the family line and from wicked advisors. May they remember the kindness You have extended to them and May it lead them to repentance.

  5. Allison Bentley says:

    Joash’s life was saved by God, as a young man he was raised by a God fearing priest- its safe to say that God was a part of the kings life yet even he was so easily swayed! The devil is at work all day everyday- Lord I pray that we STAY connected to you, stand up for You and be the example of Your love for others! Amen!

  6. Cheryl Blow says:

    Keep my heart pure and focused on you, Lord! Tear down any idols in my life! It’s easy to be critical of others but if we look at our lives through God’s eyes, what might stand between Him and our relationship with Him?

  7. Cee Gee says:

    JOASH is proof that we need to know where our heart is and WHERE AND WITH WHOM WE STAND. We can’t rely on another person’s faith to save us. Powerful example and reminder.

    Praying in agreement with your prayer requests. Safe travel, SEARCHING, and for wisdom/insight for your friend’s doctor. Healing for you, RHONDA J, and victory for you, SARAH J and MICHELLE PATIRE. MOLLY R, for your heart and your siblings as you deal with the task ahead.

  8. Amy Adams says:

    Amen to that! I also have to reign myself in and use that very same expression. lol. Accountability is so important