Backstory of the Kings 17: Jehoahaz and Jehoash

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 12, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

When Jehu died, his son Jehoahaz and grandson Jehoash followed. Both were alive when Jehu reigned, deduced by their relative short reigns of 17 and 16 years respectively. Their reigns combined are given just one chapter indicating there really was not much to talk about from a Biblical perspective. Both kings did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, and both worshiped at those golden calf idols. Both kings were at war with Syria (Aram), namely Hazael the very king that Elisha anointed with tears, knowing what he’d do to Israel. During their conflicts, both kings did seek the Lord rather than the Baals. Both kings knew of the ministry of Elisha and Jehoash in particular sought him out directly. So, what is the backstory of these two kings? Let’s explore.

Jehu had been ruling for 28 years and he was noted primarily for his purging of Ahab’s household and all those who were loyal to him and to the idol worship of Baal. Little is said otherwise besides that he only gave lip service to the Lord and still followed the idolatrous practices of the worship of Jeroboam at the golden calves. It could be that growing up, that is what he was taught that the worship of God was to be like. Don’t forget that Jeroboam called those golden calves “Jehovah,” the gods who brought Israel out of Egypt. But none of Jehu’s line departed from the idol worship there but rather engaged in it.

Both kings had war with Syria, just as Ahab and his line did. During Jehoahaz’s reign, Hazael reduced Israel’s territory and Syria kept control over Israel with brutal pressure. Jehoahaz finally sought the Lord and God relented and pulled Syria away from them, but not without leaving Israel with only an army of 50 horsemen, 10 chariots, and 10,000 foot soldiers. This army would not be able to do anything.

Then Jehoash inherited this army and had to deal with Hazael and his son Ben-Hadad (not the same Ben-Hadad whom Ahab called his ‘brother’). Jehoash turned to Elisha upon hearing he was old, sick, and dying. Elisha had him shoot an arrow out of the window and then to strike the ground with the remaining arrows. Jehoash only struck the ground three times, instead of five or six or even seven, a number of completion. Elisha then promised three victories, one for each strike. Jehoash got the victories over Syria but did not completely take them out. Jehoash had another battle to deal with and that was with Amaziah, son of Joash of Judah, and won soundly.

Beyond that, little is said other than a focus on their idolatry and not walking in the ways of the Lord. They knew God existed and they knew He was the True God, but they only came to Him in their most desperate hour and departed from Him otherwise. If you follow the remaining kings of Israel, the attention on them gets shorter and shorter, and I believe one reason why is because it just repeats more of the same. Jeroboam II’s reign is the longest reign and yet Zimri, who ruled only for seven days, is given more attention.

The only two factors I can think of that influenced Jehoahaz and Jehoash to seek the Lord was the influence of Elisha. Unlike Ahab who would listen to Elijah or Micaiah and outright rejected them, these two at least respected Elisha enough to know to seek the Lord. We have a 40-year period of silence of Elisha’s ministry; he was active, we just don’t have a record of it. These kings knew that Elisha’s word was true but still wanted to go the way they wanted to go. It was only when all their other ways failed that they turned to God.

But they also knew what their father and grandfather did in purging Baal worship, but because Jehu only purged Baal and not ALL idolatry, they would have seen Jehu justify idol worship, just not Baal worship. Both were held responsible for not departing from Jeroboam’s sin but for walking in those sins. They didn’t just allow that sin to continue; they engaged in it.

What can we learn from these two kings? They weren’t your typical “immoral” or “corrupt” kings like Ahab was. They were your standard, everyday king, seeking the best for their country. They knew of God but did not honor or respect Him enough as THE God. They knew of Elisha as a true prophet of the True God and in their most desperate hour sought the Lord. But they did not continue following the Lord. There is no evidence these men were true believers. Jehu was a half-believer because he was obedient to his initial calling, but he was not loyal to the Lord.

We can learn that God is merciful, and He will keep His promises. God did not want to destroy Israel due to their sin because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God was even merciful to Ahab for genuine remorse over his sin of murdering Naboth and saved the judgment for Ahab’s sons. But God also speaks in terms of generations, not just individuals; nations, not just individuals. God blessed Jehu for his obedience and granted four generations to follow him, but because Jehu did not walk in the ways of the Lord, that was all he would get. If he had followed in the ways of the Lord, Jehu may have been offered the promises given to David and Jeroboam for a lasting dynasty. Jehoahaz and Jehoash merely followed Jehu’s footsteps and did little differently.

Just seeking the Lord once is not enough. While God may bless you for that one moment of obedience, God is much more interested in the lifestyle, not just one time obedience. These kings obeyed the Lord once, but their lives were marked as idolatrous and doing evil in the sight of God. We must obey the Lord as our way of life, not merely one time. We as evangelicals as a whole need to learn this. When we evangelize, we need to teach people that Christianity is a lifestyle of denying self and walking with Christ, not a one-time decision to plead for help and repent then live how we want to live otherwise. These two kings showcase that seeking the Lord once will not give you a good report with the Lord, unless it is a mark of a lifestyle. Choose wisely.

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