Why, Joash, Why?

Posted on January 14, 2022


By David Ettinger

Note: The account of King Joash can be found in 2 Kings:11:1-12:21, and 2 Chronicles 22:10-24:27.

A Worthy Question
Why, Joash? Why?

It’s a question worth asking.

Why would Joash – one of the kings of the Israel’s Southern Kingdom (Judah) – live such an outstanding life in dedication to God and then throw it all the way toward the end of his life? Why would he come in with such a spiritual bang and go out in a sinful whimper? We cannot solve this mystery with certainty, but let’s examine the possibilities.

A Strong Influence
The primary influence in Joash’s life was the High Priest Jehoiada, the man who engineered the preserving of David’s royal line while Athaliah was destroying her grandsons. When Athaliah was executed and Joash proclaimed king at age 7, he was years away from being equipped to assume his duties. We can assume that Jehoiada and the leaders of Judah governed the nation until the rightful monarch was ready to take control.

In the meantime, Jehoiada – a man whose heart was devoted to the Lord – no doubt oversaw the young king’s education. Not only would the high priest have instructed Joash in all matters political, but also spiritual. Jehoiada would have taught young Joash about the God of Israel, His laws and commands, and the finer points of Israel’s sacrificial system. By the time Joash was ready to rule – probably somewhere in his upper teens – he would have been well trained.

Spiritual Awareness
As Joash grew, he developed his own spiritual awareness apart from Jehoiada’s influence. In the 23rd year of his reign, Joash, age 30, decided to embark upon a major restoration of Solomon’s temple[1] to repair the damage done to it by Athaliah and her sons.[2] It is odd that Jehoiada would not have undertaken such a noble task years earlier, and it is to Joash’s credit that he was sensitive enough to God to care about the temple’s repair.

While Jehoiada was still alive and wielded influence over Joash, Judah was characterized by honesty and integrity. The citizens donated abundantly to the financing of the restoration project, and the Levites and priests supervising the work distributed the money to the foremen in charge of the workers.

We then read this incredible verse: “They [Levites and priests] did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money [foremen] to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty” (2 Kings 12:15).

Such was the political and spiritual climate during the days of Joash and Jehoiada.

But then something happened.

A Dark Turn
Despite Joash’s worthy efforts, we read that, “About this time Hazael king of Aram [Syria] went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem” (2 Kings 12:17). Joash must have been perplexed. Perhaps he said, “Lord, I have just undertaken this glorious project of restoring your holy house of worship. Is this how I am rewarded?”

His solution to this grave threat was purely political. Rather than seek God’s counsel, Joash paid Hazael a hefty ransom to withdraw from him, which the pagan king did.[3] We must wonder if the disappointed monarch even consulted Jehoiada about this. No doubt the high priest would have urged Joash to remain resilient in faith, pray to God, and allow Him to rescue Jerusalem.

Joash, however, whether from bitterness, anger, stubbornness, faithfulness or all three, refused to seek God, and perhaps this was the beginning of his turning from the Lord.

Several years later, Jehoiada died, and Joash was left at the mercy of his wicked advisors.[4] Succumbing to their influence – and perhaps his own bitterness –Joash turned from worshiping the Lord and instituted pagan practices in Jerusalem.[5] God sent prophets to the king and his subjects, but they refused to listen to them.[6] Joash’s descent into wickedness reached its nadir when Jehoiada’s successor and son Zechariah confronted Joash and the people about their sin.[7] Joash’s officials plotted against Zechariah and, tragically, by Joash’s own command, stoned the innocent Zechariah to death.[8]

Joash would pay dearly for his corruptness.

Within the year, the Syrians returned to Jerusalem “and killed all the leaders of the people. … When the Arameans withdrew, they left Joash severely wounded” (2 Chronicles 24:23, 25). Joash ordered that he be taken to Beth Millo to recover. However, while doing so, “His officials conspired against him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest, and they killed him in his bed” (2 Chronicles 24:25).

Lessons to Be Learned
It was a tragic end to a reign that began with so much promise. Joash’s transformation from righteousness to wickedness stands as a warning to all believers of what can happen when bitterness replaces faith and we lose our spiritual edge.

As believers in the Lord Jesus, we need to stay steadfast in Christ, no matter what trials and disappointments assail us. Here are some encouraging words from Scripture to help keep us focused on our Lord”

  • “Let’s hold firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
  • “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  • “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the perseverance of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

[1] 2 Kings 12:4-6

[2] 2 Chronicles 24:7

[3] 2 Kings 12:18

[4] 2 Chronicles 24:17-18

[5] 2 Chronicles 24:18

[6] 2 Chronicles 24:19

[7] 2 Chronicles 24:20

[8] 2 Chronicles 24:21