Throughout Scripture we see the good and the bad decisions that people make in their lives. Unfortunately, because of man’s sinful nature, many more poor choices come to light in the pages of the Bible. This is readily apparent in the life of King Joash of Judah.
Joash was crowned king as a young child. Because his mentor, Jehoiada, was a Godly priest, Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord while Jehoiada was alive. Yet, there was something deficient in their relationship. Joash did not come to own his faith; it was primarily from Jehoiada’s righteousness that Joash ruled and made wise decisions. Once Jehoiada died, Joash went his own way and neglected the Word of the Lord.
In the good days with Jehoiada still guiding Joash, he instituted temple reforms and rebuilding. Presumably because of Jehoiada’s strength of purpose, the inhabitants of the land responded in kind as 2 Chronicles 24:10 shows us:
And all the princes and all the people rejoiced and brought their tax and dropped it into the chest until they had finished.
Watch what happens with the princes throughout the narrative. Initially, they seem to be all in; they give to Yahweh what is His and apparently walk with Him.
However, Jehoiada was obviously an old man when he brought Joash under his guidance. He lived until he was 130 years old, so God kept him alive for the specific purpose of His timing. Upon Jehoiada’s death, Joash lost his moral compass, and 2 Chronicles 24:17 records the result:
Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them.
Here, we see the true nature of the princes who had contributed with an apparent joyful heart to the temple of God some years prior. They were not Godly men; rather they were of the world. Because Joash was never his own man, but always under Jehoiada’s direction, at the death of the priest, Joash continued to need someone else to guide him. Thus, with this opportunity to gain influence and power, the princes advised Joash, and he listened to them. This turned his heart from the Lord.
God sent prophets to warn Joash and the people of the land, but they didn’t heed them. In fact, Joash ordered one of the prophets stoned to death for his insolence in speaking the Word of God with its criticism of the king’s unrighteous walk. As this prophet died, he brought a curse from God upon Joash and the princes who had led him into apostasy.
The account in 2 Chronicles 24:23 reports that:
At the end of the year the army of the Syrians came up against Joash. They came to Judah and Jerusalem and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus.
God was against Joash and all those who opposed Him. Because of that, it didn’t take much for this enemy force to gain victory. Look also at what happened. These same princes – these ungodly men who led Joash astray – were among those killed. Their unrighteous influence on the king directly led to their deaths. Not long after, Joash himself fell victim to assassination. The text attributes his death specifically to the fact that he had the prophet killed who tried to warn him and turn him back to God.
All this brought to mind the reports we hear regularly of leaders today in the evangelical community turning away from God. These men and women are pastors and often well-known worship leaders whose music has influenced many. These high-profile individuals may turn completely from God, becoming in the words of one, an “exvangelical.” Or they decide that the Old Testament has no value and “unhitch” from it, preaching only from the New Testament, primarily the Red Letter sayings of Jesus. Some of these in this camp may also dispute whether the writings of Paul are of value (after all, they aren’t printed in Red); this causes further confusion as to what is God’s Word and what isn’t.
Yet, what did Paul write in 2 Timothy 3:16-17?
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
To add emphasis to this concept, consider the following verses:
“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.”
“Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.”
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.
Those who advise against reading and studying the full counsel of God earn His wrath. Just as the princes who led Joash away from God’s Word, these church leaders of today will likewise experience the wrath of God. They have influence with many; in their unwise choices, they cause many who follow them to also make poor decisions. If their followers don’t truly own their faith, they will go wherever these apostate men and women take them. Sadly, that will be straight to hell.
The moral of the story is that each of us must personally know God through Jesus Christ. More than that, we must each read and understand His full counsel which He graciously gave to us in the form of Scripture. We are not to avoid any parts of it, whether or not we think it’s boring or simply doesn’t apply to us. It is all God-breathed and necessary for our spiritual health and well-being.
As Jesus so aptly said in Matthew 24:4:
“Take heed that no man deceive you.”