So we finally have the house of Ahab scrubbed from Israel and Judah. Jehu meeting God's mandate and then far exceeding it in brutality to secure his authority on the throne in the north; and the Lord using the high priest and his wife to save the remaining offspring in the line of David, taking the throne at the tender age of 7.
II Kings 12
Jehoash Repairs the Temple (Judah)
Jehoash (introduced as Joash) began his reign over Judah in the 7th year of Jehu's reign in Israel. Jehoash reign 40 years.
Jehoash did right in the sight if the Lord as long as he was under the instruction of the high priest, Jehoiada, who had hidden him in the Temple and saved him.
However, the high places were still not taken away. And people still brought incense to burn there.
Apparently, there was damage to the house of the Lord. Jehoash told the priests to take the tithe and the free offerings and use it to repair the Temple. They took the money; but the repairs were not made. So he took the money out of the hands of the priests, in general, and had it placed in a box. When enough had accumulated, he had it counted and handed over to those who would directly make the repairs to the Temple.
Verse 13 explains that none of that money went to replacing the sacred implements within the Temple for service; but was used exclusively for repairing the Temple itself.
Verse 15 further explains that they did not require an accounting of the money from the workers doing the repairs. How sad that the priests could not be trusted with the money set aside to repair the house of the Lord; but the workers could. I think that can also be found today. Sometimes we malign the reputation of certain industries and think we should be able to trust religious people. But the truth is; all men sin and all men can be trusted when under the influence of the Spirit.
The priests did get to keep the money from the guilt and sin offerings.
Things Take a Turn for Jehoash
Starting in verse 17, trouble begins. Hazael, the King of Aram (Syria) fought against Gath and then turned toward Jerusalem.
Disappointing plot twist for this king.
He took all of the sacred things from his father, grandfather, and great grandfather, plus his own sacred things, and all of the gold in the treasury of the house of the Lord and sent them to Hazael as a payment to go away. And Hazael went away from Jerusalem.
Something went wrong here. This is another "good" king who seems to have lost his way. Going by the rules and walking in God's law is vital; but it's also important to have a relationship with the Lord and cry out to Him for help. Relying on gold or horse and chariots shows you don't really know the heart of God.
In the Wiersbe Commentary, Be Distinct, he compares the kings in this section to the parable of the sowers. Joash had shallow faith. Maybe it wasn't his faith at all; but that of Jehoiada. Maybe it was all handed to him because they were desperate for the final king in the line of David to succeed. We learn more about this failing in the II Chronicles version discussed below; but it's heartbreaking to see someone steeped in the faith just walk away so completely.
Unsurprisingly, verse 19 heads right into the King's summary for Jehoash. And actually shifts back to referring to him as Joash. Which seems significant.
Things get even worse for Joash in verse 20 when his servants conspire against him and strike him down in Millo, which is the walled fortress portion of Jerusalem.
He dies and is buried with his fathers in the city of David. His son, Amaziah, becomes king.
II Kings 13
Jehoahaz, Son of Jehu Reigns (Israel)
Jehoahaz begins his reign, following after his father Jehu (Israel) in the 23rd year of the reign of Joash (Judah). He reigned 17 years.
Unfortunately, in verse 2 we get the top level summary of his life, and it is not good. He does evil in the sight of the Lord, following after the ways of Jeroboam, and causes Israel to sin.
This angers the Lord and he allows them to continually fall into the hands of Hazael, the king of Aram (Syria), and his son, Ben-hadad.
Oh, wow. Plot twist in the right direction. Rare in Israel. In verse 4 Jehoahaz entreated the favor of the Lord because of the constant oppression from Aram. The Lord listened because He saw the constant oppression.
No matter who you are, you were created by the Lord and He is compassionate and good.
However, after centuries of not doing right, the answer may not be what you expect.
In verse 5, the Lord gives to them a deliverer so that they can escape the Arameans. Now they live in tents as they used to. We'll see what else the text says; but I imagine that this may be a way for God to shake loose their worship of the idols and leave them more obviously dependent on Him.
Wiersbe says the "living in tents" phrase meant living their lives peacefully, not having to flee to walled cities. I'm not sure about that; but wanted to include it- since I don't have the deep background on this passage.
Wiersbe goes on to remind us that Jehoahaz had a sort of "crisis faith". Which does not hold up well when things get better. He goes on to remind us that just because God helps us in our time of need in not a signal of salvation. It declares His faithfulness to those who cry to Him; but not a guarantee of salvation.
Verse 6 tells us that they still followed the sins of Jeroboam and the Asherah remained standing in Samaria. It's just so sad. The Lord is so patient and goes to great lengths to bring us home to the heart of true worship; but we we can't always let go-clinging to the thing causing us so much pain.
The king's summary starts early by listing what was left to Jehoahaz after the Arameans continually crushed them. Here the spoiler...not much. 50 horsemen; 10 chariots; 10,000 foot soldiers. He died; they buried him in Samaria, and his son, Joash, became king of Israel- what was left of it.
Jehoash (Joash) Reign in Israel
Just to thwart any attempt to keep all of this straight in my head, these people used the same 5 names over and over. 🙂
We are a still in the northern kingdom, so this is a new Joash, beginning in verse 10.
In the 37th year of the reign of Joash in Judah; this northern Joash began his reign in Israel. He reigned 16 years.
Despite it being 16 years, which seems moderately long at this point, this Joash has his intro summary back up to his king's summary. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, followed the way of Jeroboam, and led the people astray. Then there is a mention of his fight with Amaziah the king of Judah, but no details are provided. Then he died and was buried with his fathers in Samaria.
Then a new king named Jeroboam sat on the throne.
Elisha Grows Ill
Although Joash, king of Israel died in verse 13, starting in verse 14 is a story about King Joash and Elisha becoming sick with the illness that eventually kills him. Joash comes to visit and weeps for him, emphasizing that Elisha's worth is greater than all the chariots and horsemen.
In an unusual exchange, Elisha command the king to grab a bow and arrows. Then he lays hands on the King holding the bow and arrows. Then he tells the king to open a window and shoot to the east. the king does and Alisha proclaims a blessing of the Lord's victory over Aram in a battle over Aphek.
Then Elisha commanded the king to take the arrows and strike the ground. the king does this three times and stops. In verse 19 Elisha is angry with this choice. He tells the king if he had struck the ground 5-6 times the victory over Aram would have been complete. But now he will have three victories.
In verse 20, Elisha dies. He only gets half of a short paragraph before the author goes on to note that bands of Moabites invaded later that spring. It seems so anticlimactic after such a storied life.
In verse 21 we do get to see a final Elisha-related miracle. They were burying another man and marauders were coming, so they tossed the man in Elisha's grave and the man revived and stood to his feet!
The Ryrie footnote interprets this to be a confirmation to the king of his upcoming victory over Aram. Similarly, Wiersbe says that the word of it would have spread and reminded people, including the king, that although Elisha was dead, his God was not. The Lord was still alive and had promised the victory.
In verse 22 we skip back one generation of kings to Jehoahaz. This was the son of Jehu and the father of Israel's Joash. It tells us again that Hazael oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.
In verse 23 the text reminds us of God's patience and graciousness to them due to the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and how He would not let them be destroyed or cast from His presence...until now. Those are two grim words.
In verse 24 Hazael dies and his son Ben-hadad takes the throne.
Israel's King Joash, son of Jehoahaz, defeats Ben-hadad three times and wins back three cities previously lost to Aram, just as Elisha prophesied.
II Chronicles 24
This is the parallel story as above. Jehoiada and his wife have hidden the king, he has now been revealed, the house of Baal has been destroyed, new rules are in place to restore God's law in the land, nd the boy king has been seated on his throne- restoring the line of David.
It starts off the same. He was seven when he took the throne; he reigned 40 years; he did right in the sight of the Lord as long as Jehoiada, the high priest lived. That's never a good caveat.
Verse 3 gives us more details than II Kings. Jehoiada took wives for Joash and he had sons and daughters.
In verse 4 Joash determines to restore the house of the Lord. So he commanded the Levites to go out quickly and take an annual collection to repair the Temple. But the Levites did not act quickly. In verse 6 Joash asks Jehoiada why he hasn't sent out the Levite to collect the levy given by Moses.
Verse 7 backtracks a bit to explain that the damage and loss came when the sons of Athaliah (the woman who stole the throne for 6 years) broke into the Temple and took the sacred instruments to worship Baal.
Verse 8, the king takes direct action and places a chest outside by the gate and issued a proclamation to bring the levy fixed by Moses.
Verse 10 tells us that the people rejoiced and brought their levies and dropped them in the chest. It's very telling how quickly people stop giving when the church staff is showing signs of corruption or when they see the money going to wicked ends. But these people rejoiced at the opportunity to give to the Lord and see His Temple restored.
Now the priests emptied a very full chest daily and workers were able to get the work done.
This is actually how our church collects the offering. They place lock boxes around the facility so people can easily find one and drop their offering, or even more likely, they offer giving online. No one passes a plate, no one comes to you. You bring your offering. It's between you and the Lord. Also, the teaching pastors are never to see who brings how much. The money side is kept completely separate from the teaching side. I think that's incredibly important.
Tithes and offerings are one more opportunity for worship; but because money is such a touchy issue and such an opportunity for corruption, this act of worship brings particular challenges for the giver and the staff. It's so important to build in accountability and transparency or the people quickly decide God's not getting their money so there's no incentive to give.
Back to the story...in verse 13 we learn that the workmen labored and restored the Temple to specifications and strengthened it. They left it even better than before. With the remaining money, they made the implements and utensils for the offerings. Verse 14 tells us that they offered burnt offerings in the house of the Lord continually all the days of Jehoiada.
Just a reminder that one person can hold the line and be used by the Lord to bring out the best in everyone. The point being, everyone can be that one. We each do our part as if we are absolutely essential; because we may be the glue holding someone else to the process.
Jehoiada dies at the age of 130! And he is buried in Jerusalem among the kings because, "...he had done well in Israel, to God, and His house. (Israel meaning all of God's people. He lived in Judah.)
Oh No! Really?
Things take a grim and very unnecessary turn in verse 17. Corrupt officials replace Jehoiada and Joash listens to them. And it isn't a minor infraction, or a subtle slide off the wagon. More like they burn the wagon to the ground, metaphorically speaking. They abandon the house of the Lord. Yes, the house the whole nation just joyfully raised the funds to restore it better than the original. And it further tells us that they not only, inconceivably, abandoned the God of their fathers, but actually replaced Him with the Asherim and idols!
How did this happen? Was Jehoiada holding things together without letting Joash in on why things were done? Did he fail to properly disciple Joash? Or is this solely the responsibility of Joash for forgetting all that he learned and all who the Lord is? And Joash was, literally, raised in the Temple. He just had to have known the law forward and backward... How did this happen?
I ask because it could be any of us.
Things were going so well!
Not anymore. We are unsurprised to learn that this stirred up God's wrath upon Judah and Jerusalem for their guilt. Still, out of His faithfulness and patience, He sent prophets to testify against them; but they would not listen.
I'm just gutted. How utterly heartbreaking.
And I know it's me too. I'm not judging, exactly, but it's just so horrifying to watch it when someone else is doing it. It's so clear and I am so outraged on the Lord's behalf. He is so very patient and faithful and good.
Yikes. In verse 20 we learn that Jehoiada had a son, Zechariah. The footnote in the Ryrie Study Bible states that this is not the prophet of the book of Zechariah; and is probably Jehoiada's grandson.
The Spirit of God came upon him and prophesized over the people and asked them why they transgressed against God. He warned them that their failure to prosper came from this transgression. He ends by reiterating the promise God made when He made a covenant with the people- if you forsake Me; I will forsake you.
Their response? You don't want to know. It's just too awful.
The King, yes the king that Jehoiada saved, had Zechariah stoned to death. That had to be, basically, his own brother; I'm guessing they were raised together. Although the text does not say that. As he dies, Zechariah cried out that the Lord would see and avenge.
In verse 23 we get back to the part wherein the Arameans show up, destroy the officials (who had become Joash's advisors, I assume), and send all of the spoils to the king of Damascus.
In the II Kings version, Joash send the ransom to make them go away, so I don't know if this is the same attack, told differently, or if they came back later. Verse 24 goes so far as to say that it was just a small army; but God delivered the large army of Joash into their hands as judgement on Joash.
When the Arameans army left, they left Joash sick. It's not clear what that means. It goes on to explain that his servants did not take his murder of Zechariah lightly. They conspired against him and killed him in his bed as retribution. They buried him in Jerusalem; but not in the tomb of the kings. Amaziah, his son, became king.
Wiersbe opens his commentary on this chapter by reminding us that what we believe, ultimately, dictates our actions.
I had a King Joash of Judah moment myself this morning. I learned a disappointing truth about my faith. We used to have pretty rough finances. By that I mean, poorly managed (by me). When my husband took over as the financial leader in our home and used the right tools and principles, suddenly, things were much, much better. We give God the full credit for that because it was His way that got us here. But this morning I was reminded that that's the practical, functional side of finances. While that is important while we're here on this earth, far more important for eternity is our heart toward money. And no app or tool can make that better- only the Holy Spirit can help me there. And I found my heart was wrong on one of the financial choices we had to make. I was clinging to a little pile of money that I felt like was mine to spend how I wanted. Wrong. None of it was ever mine. Every good and perfect gift comes down from heaven from the Father of Lights- who has no variation or shadow of turning. It was never mine; let alone mine to cling to.
I bring this up to confess and pray that the Lord would continue to renew my mind in Christ Jesus.
Otherwise, I might end up as King Joash of Judah. Steeped in the Word; but unable to walk in it.
Why would this little bit of money be a hang-up, what is it I falsely believe that would make me think I need it ahead of seeking the kingdom of God? Search my heart, Lord. Cleanse me of unrighteousness. May I never trust in horse, or chariots, or treasures from Your Temple to save me. But Christ alone is my Savior. May I never raise an Asherim pole or devote myself to any created thing as an idol. While I sit and judge these broken kings for their severe failings, it would be so easy for me to follow suite given the wrong circumstances.
This is why the spiritual disciples are so important, I am learning. Prayer, the Word, fasting, meditation, and worship. These are some of the exercises we must implement regularly. Examining ourselves in light of the truths we find. Seeking the Lord and His Kingdom. That's our defense against Asherim poles springing up in our personal high places.
It also helps remain close to Lord, so if a prophet gives us a bunch of arrows and tells us to shoot them into the ground; we know how many. A truth that only could have come from the Lord.
Wiersbe is correct. What we believe gets expressed in our actions.