Thursday, September 12, 2019

Reform and Apostasy

"After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them" (2 Chronicles 24:17).

Although Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa, was basically a good king, he made one foolish mistake: He made peace with Ahab, king of Israel (1 Kings 22:44). Making peace involved forming some kind of covenant, and one of the aspects of this arrangement was that Ahab’s daughter Athaliah married Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram. Athaliah was the most wicked woman ever to come near the throne of Judah.

Under her influence, Jehoram readily followed in the wicked ways of the kings of Israel, forsaking the righteousness of his father Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 8:18). When Jehoram died, their son Ahaziah came to the throne, and he also followed in the ways of his mother and his grandfather Ahab (2 Kings 8:26–27). As we saw several days ago, Ahaziah was killed by Jehu when God commanded Jehu to wipe out Ahab’s house.

Jehu had strength only in the north, and it was because Ahaziah was visiting the north that he was killed. Upon learning of her son’s death, Athaliah decided to take over the southern kingdom, Judah. She put to death every royal son, intending to wipe out the Davidic line completely. Unknown to her, Ahaziah’s son, her grandson, was rescued. His name was Joash, and he was raised secretly by Jehoiada the high priest.

At the age of seven, Joash was publicly anointed king by Jehoiada. The people and the army, who had had enough of Athaliah’s corrupt rule, rallied to him, and Athaliah was put to death (2 Kings 11).

This was a triumph for the religious conservatives in Judah. Under Jehoiada’s influence, Joash repaired the temple, abolished idolatry, and broke off the evil political alliances with pagan nations. 

When Jehoiada died, however, Joash came under other influences. The moneyed aristocrats in Jerusalem and Judah came to him and persuaded him to break with Jehoiada’s “fundamentalistic” ways and to take a more “open-minded, tolerant” approach to things. Joash abandoned the purity of God’s worship and allowed idolatry back into Jerusalem. Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah the high priest, a man Joash had grown up with, publicly called on Joash to repent, and Joash had him put to death (2 Chronicles 24).

When it comes to His own church, God does not approve of a “tolerant, open-minded” approach. He demands strict conformity to His laws and a fierce love of His holiness. How soft and compromising most of our churches are today. Pray that God would raise up some Zechariahs and that our Joashes would hearken to them.