Jotham takes the throne. He has been overseeing the king’s house for some time but now he is king. He learned from his father’s mistakes and serves God.
When Uzziah went into the House of the Lord to burn incense he ran smack into God’s holiness. He became leprous in his forehead and remained so until his death. Uzziah could no longer interact with the people or even live in the house of the king. He had a separate residence. He was still king until his death but his son Jotham took charge of the day to day affairs of the kingdom. When Uzziah died Jotham finally wore the title he had been operating under for some time. How many years, we do not know.
Jotham learned well from Uzziah’s life. He learned that there is reward in following the Law of the Lord. He also learned that there are consequences for sin. Jotham did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his reign, as manager and king. This is a great testament to him. If this was where it ended we would be singing his praises! But it’s not. Three issues are raised in our text that I almost skipped over.
The first issue I want to point out is both a commendation and a condemnation. Jotham never entered the House of the Lord. When I first read this I was pleased. “He learned from Uzziah’s mistakes” was what popped into my head. But I was doing a little web surfing to find out the other accomplishments of Jotham and came across another viewpoint on this fact. Jotham NEVER entered the House of the Lord. He stayed away out of fear. He stood on the outside looking in. He followed the commands and precepts of the Lord but he didn’t have a personal relationship with Him. He was too afraid to get close to God. That breaks my heart!
Was his fear fed by Uzziah? “I did everything right except this one thing. And BAM! God strikes me. Don’t test him son. You don’t want to end up like me.” Or were Jotham’s thoughts keeping him at bay? “He is like an all-consuming fire, get too close and you will get burned.” Whatever the reason, Jotham never experienced the personal relationship God wanted with him. He never encountered the love of the Father like David did.
The second issue I noticed is the people of Judah. Jotham was king but he didn’t control his people. He did not insist they follow the Lord. “The people still followed corrupt practices” (verse 2b). As king, he could have enforced adherence by the people. He could have ordered the high places torn down and the idols burned. But he left the spiritual issues of the people to be determined on their own. I have a feeling that this is because of his own lack of a personal relationship with the Lord. He had a form of godliness that didn’t draw the people to it. And without that sold out example the people had no incentive to follow his spiritual choices. He was a leader in every way except this one. His ‘hollowness’ left the people searching.
The third thing I want to point out was the successful reign of Jotham. Even though he kept God at arm’s length and the people followed corrupt practices, Judah had victory over their enemies. God stood on the side of Judah when they faced the Ammonites. I seriously doubt they had the miraculous victories David did, but they were not defeated. Jotham even extracted tribute from Ammon for three years. Jotham also had enough time and resources to continue fortification of the land of Judah. This was a blessing from the hand of God. “Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God” (verse 6b). God met him where he was. And as long as he followed the commandments laid down, God blessed him and through him, the kingdom of Judah.
I wonder what could have become of Jotham and Judah if Jotham hadn’t lived in ‘fear’ of the Lord. Not reverent fear but holy terror. What if he had known the love of God as well? Would he have passed this on to his children? Would the whole kingdom have felt it and turned to the Lord too? So many “what if’s” in this story.
I cannot imagine not having a personal relationship with the Lord. I don’t know how I would make it from one day to the next if all I had were a set of rules for behavior. Too many times I fall short and I would fall down in fear without knowing the Father’s heart. But I have a Father who loves me beyond all reason. I know I can come to Him with anything. I can ‘crawl up onto His lap’ and spend time with Him. I can listen to His stories and trust Him to point out the hidden parts in the pictures. And I can share that love with those around me, radiating it as freely as the sun shines its warmth on the earth. When we are filled with His presence we can’t help but shine!
Father God, THANK YOU that You made a way for us to be together, now and forever. The time we spend together now is only a shadow of what is to come! The intimacy, the closeness, and the glimpses into Your character will all be SO MUCH MORE when I see You face to face. I LONG for that day but I am also content to wait until You say it is time. In the meantime, help me radiate Your love to all those around me. And help me call out to any who are searching that You have room for more in Your arms. What a ‘story time’ that will be when we ALL gather around to listen. All eyes, ears and hearts hanging on Your every word and movement.
I want to close my eyes and listen to the timber of Your voice. To drink in its richness. To feel it resonate through my body. To know that EVERY word spoken is teaming with promise. To sit still and let it wash over me and fill me with warmth, peace and joy.
For now, I’ll take EACH moment with You and let them fill me with purpose. I will let Your written words speak as surely as if they were spoken directly into my ears. I will hold onto Your stories with both hands and I will take whatever lessons You bring me and apply them to my life. I want to KEEP deepening our relationship Father!
THANK YOU Jesus for making this relationship possible. And THANK YOU Holy Spirit for crafting it in my life.