Jehoash, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 17, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

By this point in the monarchy of Israel and Judah, we’re up to the 20th king between the two kingdoms. The author of the books of 1 and 2 Kings probably feels a little repetitive by now – oh look, another evil king of Israel! While there have been some good kings in Judah, all of them in Israel have been wicked. At first, it looks like the author literally devotes only 4 verses to the 16-year reign of King Jehoash of Israel:

In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash son of Jehoahaz became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned sixteen years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he continued in them. As for the other events of the reign of Jehoash, all he did and his achievements, including his war against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? Jehoash rested with his ancestors, and Jeroboam succeeded him on the throne. Jehoash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.
- 2 Kings 13:10-13

In those few verses, we see that he became king, he reigned in evil ways by continuing the idolatry of those who came before him, other stuff is written in another book, and then he died and his son succeeded him. But when we continue reading the rest of 2 Kings 13 and even into 2 Kings 14 (which we'll look at next week), we learn more about Jehoash and his reign.

The prophet Elisha was suffering from an illness that would soon kill him, so King Jehoash went to visit him. Why did an evil king go to visit a prophet of God? Perhaps King Jehoash did have a little faith in God, or at least thought this would be an encounter that would help him and his kingdom. God can and will use even a small step in the right direction to help us see His working in our lives.

Elisha then leads King Jehoash through a series of things that may sound rather odd with a bow and arrows. When they first begin this encounter, Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands, which signifies that there will be spiritual symbolism to the acts that follow.

Elisha instructs, and King Jehoash follows his instructions, to open the window and shoot an arrow out it. Elisha proclaims that is God’s victory for Israel over the Arameans. Israel had been at war with the Arameans for quite some time, so that was great news to King Jehoash.

Next, Elisha tells the king to take the arrows and strike the ground with them. King Jehoash does so, but only 3 times. Elisha then tells him he should have kept striking the ground at least 5 or 6 times. Since he stopped striking the ground with the arrows, Israel would only defeat Aram 3 times. And then, Elisha died and was buried.

But God wasn’t done with Elisha yet! We see one last miracle performed through him. “Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet” (2 Kings 13:21). God is clearly the God of the living, and He was displaying His power for King Jehoash and the nation of Israel in this act. This was another sign that what God had prophesied through Elisa to King Jehoash about victory over the Arameans would come true. Even though Israel was currently disobeying God through practicing idolatry (just as the raider was evil), God would give them another opportunity to live and obey Him.

Next in this chapter, we see some historical notes about the Arameans. While they were not part of God’s chosen people in Israel or Judah, God still protected them to some extent. God used Hazael King of Aram to oppress Israel for many years to show Israel the consequences of their disobedience to Him. Even though Israel kept disobeying God’s commandments, because of the covenant God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God did not banish Israel from His presence.

When the Aramean king Hazael died, his son Ben-Hadad succeeded him as king. Then Elisha’s prophecy was fulfilled: “Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns” (2 Kings 13:25).

Even though Israel was continually disobedient to God, God still gave them another chance. King Jehoash took a small step toward God by visiting Elisha when he was ill and about to die, so God blessed that by giving Israel a small victory over their oppressors, the Arameans.

Israel had been turning away from God and actively rebelling against Him for many generations at this point, but one small step toward obedience to God was enough to receive God’s blessing in the life of the nation, at least through a few small military victories.

What small step toward God do you need to take in your life? No matter what you have done in your life or how much you have sinned, one small step toward God is enough for God to begin working on your heart and blessing you with His goodness in your life. That doesn’t mean that one small step will make everything wonderful and perfect for you, but all it takes is one step to begin your journey of following God. Take that step today!

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