Joash and Judah pay the price for Zechariah’s death AND turning away from God. Joash pays the ultimate price as he is assassinated by his own men.
Joash started out as a great king. He followed the Lord with his whole heart. He restored the Temple after Athaliah had ransacked it. He led the people in serving the Lord. But all that ended with the death of Jehoiada.
Jehoiada was Joash’s ‘guiding star’ and without him Joash fell in with the wrong crowd. Why Joash’s relationship with God was tied so tightly to Jehoiada is between him and God. We posed a few possibilities last time we met but they were only imaginings, not proven fact. What is fact is that after Jehoiada died at the age of 130 years old Joash turned to idolatry. And he took Judah with him.
Another fact is that God called out to Joash time and time again trying to bring him back into right standing. Joash refused to listen every time. God tried one last time with the son of the man Joash loved dearly. Zechariah was the son of Jehoiada and he boldly spoke the words God put in his mouth to the king. Instead of listening to the words of Zechariah, Joash had him stoned to death in the court of the Temple. Zechariah called out vengeance for this act.
I don’t know for certain if God’s vengeance was poured out that same year or at the end of a separate year. I would like to think it was the same year as it would more clearly connect the two acts in the hearts and minds of the people. They were certainly connected in the hearts of Joash’s servants.
When Israel/Judah is following the Lord the nations around them tremble. When they are following idols they fall flat in war. Joash refused to listen so God brought about judgment through the hands of the Syrians. We are told that their smaller force conquered Judah’s larger one. They even made it to where Joash was and seriously wounded him.
I don’t think they made it into the city of Jerusalem or we would probably have been told so. Which means that Joash went out with his troops to meet the Syrians. I would guess that he was feeling invulnerable because of all of Judah’s past history in battle AND the size of his army.
What Joash failed to take into account was Who won the past battles. It was NOT by Judah’s might that she conquered her enemies. It was not in sheer numbers that she overthrew those who opposed her. It was not her warrior’s extensive training that carried the battles. It was ALWAYS the hand of God that moved on behalf of His children who were honoring Him.
God was not about to reward Joash for his behavior of late with victory. He didn’t bring the Syrians up just to send them home in defeat. Just like you don’t pick up your paddle to correct your child without finishing the job. It was time for Joash’s spanking!
Notice here that God DID NOT kill Joash. Joash put himself on the outside of God’s protection. His own actions put his life in the place where it could be taken. And his own actions fueled anger from his servants to the degree that they took matters into their own hands.
Would Joash have died of his wounds on his own? Possibly. Would he have turned back to the Lord to ask for forgiveness and healing? I think probably not. Were his servants wrong in what they did? Most certainly. But just as Judas was part of God’s plan for Jesus, Jesus said it would have been better if he were not born; so too were Joash’s servants part of God’s vengeance upon Joash.
I wonder if they thought they were helping God. Were they any closer to God that Joash was? Was is God guided correction or personal vengeance? Whatever the motive, the deed was done.
Joash had fallen so far in the peoples’ eyes that he did not rate being buried with the other kings. He was buried in Jerusalem but not in the kings’ tomb. I wonder if he was buried with his grandfather. He too was excluded from the tomb of the kings. We are not told where Ahaziah was buried but I’m guessing it wasn’t with the kings either because of how he followed the house of Ahab.
Joash started out so good, only to turn away completely from God. I read somewhere that after the death of Jehoiada Joash took the easy road of idolatry. He lived for himself instead of for the Lord. I would say he took the harder road. He had to push and shove his way against God at every turn. God did everything, short of making his donkey talk to him, to get his attention and redirect his path. Joash had to purposefully resist the Lord. And he had the ‘lumps’ to prove it! In my opinion, he chose the harder path and probably died regretting it. I DO NOT expect to see him in Heaven to tell me his story.
Father God, thank You for encouraging me daily to take the ‘better’ path. I know it is not always easy but it is BEST in the end. On the path with You I have Your protection. I walk under Your umbrella. That doesn’t mean that I am always high and dry because the wind often drives the rain around me. But I am never blown away by the wind or soaked by the rain. Sometimes You calm the storm and other times You calm this child BUT You are NEVER farther away than a turn of my head. PLEASE don’t let me have Joash’s epitaph; “He started out good, but…”