Bible Readings for December 20th
The reign of Joash is a tragedy that begins on the best note possible but that eventually takes a sinister turn away from faithful obedience to Yahweh and toward the false worship and idolatry that has plagued the people of Yahweh throughout their story. The unique factor in the story of Joash in 2 Chronicles 24, then, comes as we look at the lynchpin of Joash’s faithfulness: the priest Jehoiada.
Yesterday, we looked at some of Jehoiada’s reforms of the temple, but we find this summary of his influence on Joash at the beginning of our reading for today: “And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chron. 24:2). Under Jehoiada’s godly leadership, Joash collects taxes from the people to restore and repair the temple so that Jehoiada could again offer burnt offerings in the temple all the days of his life (2 Chron. 24:14). But, when Jehoiada dies at the age of 130, Joash begins to listen to a different set of counselors, with a different message than the godly priest had spoken to him. He abandons the true worship in the temple in order to serve the Asherim and the idols instead, and he ignores every prophet who attempts to call him to repentance (2 Chron. 24:17–19).
This passage echoes the tragic opening of the book of Judges, where we read that “the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel” (Judg. 2:7), but that after Joshua and his elders died, “there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judg. 2:10). In our reading for today, we see the same phenomenon: when the godly leader dies (formerly Joshua, but now Jehoiada), we discover that the obedience and faithfulness of those around him has had more to do with his life and influence rather than any kind of heart transformation in them. Then, when we begin to reflect on the downward trajectory of the story of the book of Judges, we understand quickly where the narrative of Chronicles is headed now—toward Yahweh’s judgment and exile.
We live in a day when a tremendous amount of youth never return to the church after leaving their parents’ homes, but that is nothing new—we see the same, terrible pattern in the Bible itself. As we consider how to train up the next generation of believers, how might we both we lead them to walk in the truth and also, as they grow older, give them space to make their faith their own? Pray today for the lifelong faithfulness of the next generation of Christ’s disciples.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.