Reading through the Bible together
When I was a child, King Joash has always been the faithful young king that early in his life decided to be bold for God. This was reiterated by children bible story books and verses such as 2 Chronicles 24:4,5 which say, "Now it happened after this that Joash set his heart repairing the house of the Lord. Then he gathered the priests and the Levites, and said to them, 'Go out to the cities of Judah, and gather from all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that you do it quickly.'" If anything, these verses show that this young man was a man of action who was committed to the spiritual well-being of his nation, in spite of opposition and hardship.
Nevertheless, my childish perception of Joash was shattered when I read the end of his life. We read, "Now after the death of Jehoiada, the chief priest, the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass" (2 Chron. 24:17,18). As soon as the supporting structures of his priestly mentor had died, Joash found himself spinning hopelessly into the apostasy of his surroundings. The switch was radical and relentless; God sends him prophet after prophet to warn him to no avail. I cannot but wonder where the innocent faithful King Joash from my old storybooks has gone. What pain God must have felt, and finally says, “‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you’” (2 Chron. 24:20). Joash does the unthinkable and adds insult to injury by killing the messenger who was Zechariah the son of Jehoiada who had served as the young king’s unfailing guardian and mentor.
Finally, Joash died, assassinated by his own staff, all because he followed whatever counsel was closest to him. Could we find ourselves living apparent holy lives yet completely lacking an experience that would hold us in spiritual darkness? I can only but wonder the powerful effects that the life of Joash would’ve had if he had but sought a personal devotion to his Master.
May we take Ellen White's appeal to her son Edson and his little brother Willie to heart as an appeal from God to our hearts. She wrote, "We want you saved. We want you to be just right, and to live for God, and be an honor to his cause. Watch, Edson, against your besetments. Be sober, be watchful, and God will enable you to overcome. My dear little Willie, may the Lord bless you. We shall pray for you. Pray for yourselves" (Appeal to Youth, p. 75).
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