Backstory of the Kings 16: Joash

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 5, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Joash was a king of Judah whom I have written about in one of my most important blog posts, Do Not Ride Your Parents’ Faith. Joash was the youngest person to become king at a mere seven years old. He ruled for 40 years. He started out as a righteous king who was the first to make repairs to the temple after about 100 years since Solomon built it. But he is also noted for starting well but falling into complete and total apostasy. His fall was so great that he was assassinated and not given a king’s burial. So what set up this situation? Wy did Joash fall?

Joash was an infant when the purge of Athaliah began. Athaliah, daughter of Ahab, took the throne when her husband and son, Jehoash and Ahaziah respectively, died in God’s judgments, and she sought to make Judah into a place of Baal worship too. She did not reign long enough to succeed, and Jehoiada the priest (not identified as a high priest but could have had that position) was there to confront her every step of the way. He was a godly man who died partway through Joash’s reign at age 130. This means that he would have been alive as a young man during the time of Solomon. He would not have seen the Temple built, but he would have seen it in its full glory. Jehoiada raised Joash in the temple, keeping him hidden and away from Athaliah’s reach.

When Joash had been in the temple for six years, Jehoiada could not wait any longer. The boy was seven at this point and somehow there was a need to throw a coup against this wicked queen and put the rightful king, Joash, on the throne. We don’t know if Athaliah was going to discover him, if she was about ready to pass legislature that would be very difficult to undo, or if he simply believed Joash was old enough to be able to be guided and directed while also making good decisions. Regardless, action needed to be taken. Jehoiada set up Joash’s coronation and had Athaliah executed outside the temple.

Joash walked in the ways of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest, the man who raised him. His most notable action was to repair the temple, and he made it his personal project once he was old enough to exercise authority directly. Keep in mind that Joash lived in the temple, likely raised as a potential priest and not as an heir to the throne to keep his identity hidden. As a little boy, he would have known many of the nooks and crannies of the temple, and so to repair the temple was in part fixing up his childhood home. When the repair process was delayed, Joash, during his 23rd year, called upon Jehoiada to finish the job.

But when Jehoiada died, Joash lost his anchor, and he followed his peers’ advice and turned to idolatry. One thing Joash never did was tear down the high places. Unlike Asa and Jehoshaphat who tore them down and yet the people kept rebuilding them, Joash made no effort to tear them down. This would have played a role in why he went apostate. But the idolatry was not the biggest issue Joash had.

Joash never had real respect for his surrogate father, Jehoiada. When he went apostate, Jehoiada’s son Zechariah confronted him about it, and Joash put him to death for daring to speak against the king. All these factors made me realize several years ago that Joash’s faithfulness was never his. It was Jehoiada’s faith that Joash only walked in as a child. We don’t know when in Joash’s reign that Jehoiada died, but it was between the 23rd year when he pressed the temple repair and his 40th year when he was assassinated due to his apostasy. So that leaves us a 17-year window for Joash to go from a façade of godly living to total apostasy.

I do not know what caused Joash to go apostate other than the faith not being his own. He never owned it himself. There is no evidence that he walked personally with God as David did, as Asa did, and as Jehoshaphat did. He was trained to believe and trust in God. He knew the language, he knew the morality, and he knew the system, but he never owned it himself. This is something I see quite frequently by those who profess to be “ex-Christians.” They were in the church, but they never were of it. And you can tell very quickly by how little they know of what they grew up being taught. They never learned anything other than some basic Bible stories and can’t remember a thing about what the Bible actually says. Joash showed this behavior in how he went apostate in total rejection of what Jehoiada did for him, literally saving his life from his grandmother.

When I teach on this passage and the theme of not riding your parents’ faith, these are all points I bring up. And before anyone thinks I’m just blasting people, I’m not. I personally understand what Joash went through growing up. I was raised in the church, on the mission field no less. I have had to examine myself as an adult to see if the faith I have professed is truly mine. This teaching and this warning is aimed at me and I still have to be watchful and careful about whether the doctrines I believe are simply a sucking in of what I am hearing and what church culture I am being around or not. Is what I believe because I, Charlie Wolcott, believes it or because those I read and listen to and hang around believe it? If the latter, the moment that support goes away, such a person will depart with it and join the faith of the new group they found. That’s precisely what happens to the current atheists who are ex-Christians. They simply exchanged which groups would feed them and support them and in what I hear from them, they are just as clueless about their current faith as they are about their former faith. They believe simply that which makes them feel good and do not care what it is. It is a deadly way of living.

Joash had a solid backstory but a horrible ending. He is a hero who turned anti-hero and became the villain of his own story. While there is the concept of the preservation of the saints, Joash is evidence of being someone raised in the faith but never was of the faith. Joash was held responsible for going apostate and he killed his surrogate brother, a priest many years older than him, for daring to confront him. I warn parents that just raising their kids in the faith is no guarantee they will stay in the faith. Proverbs 22:6 is not talking about this but rather about training a child according to how God designed them. There still must be responsibility and choices, and we still should teach our children the ways of the Lord, but they are responsible for walking in it. And I tell parents if their kid leaves the faith and they tried to teach them correctly, that’s on the kid, not them. It’s given them a great relief. But I also say that God can still bring back a wayward child. Take the warning of Joash seriously, but rest in Christ because He will secure those who are truly His.

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