Jehoiada, a priest of the Bible and one who made a difference
I don’t ever recall a hearing sermon on Jehoiada, a priest of the Bible, but having just made a study of his life (2 Kings 9-12 and 2 Chronicles 22-24) and striking lucky with my You Tube search for a suitable sermon on this mostly overlooked character (this one here is by someone who “gets it”), I feel compelled to write.
Like any study of the Bible, knowing the context is all important, and before we get to Jehoiada and two important figures linked to him: Joash, the king, and Athaliah, the queen (mother of the previous king, Ahaziah), it is worth setting the scene (aided by the worth enlarging final image, giving a who’s who and when, when it comes to the kings of Judah and Israel). Following the death of Solomon, Israel was divided into the northern kingdom (ten tribes) and southern kingdom (two tribes). They were at different times at war with each other and allied against a common enemy (at the time Joash comes onto the scene that enemy was Syria). We pick up the story after good king Jehoshaphat ruled over Judah and bad king Ahab ruled over Israel and even then we read of alliances. When Ahab died, he was followed by Ahaziah, Joram and Jehu (all bad kings). Jehoshaphat’s descendants: Jehoram and Ahaziah were also bad. The story around all these were sadly tragic. When Ahaziah (the Judah one) was killed, his mother, Athaliah, took over, a truly wicked women, who sought to kill any of royal descent which might have claim to the throne. The one who escaped was Joash, then aged 1, who was rescued by Jehoshabeath, daughter of Jehoram and wife of Jehoiada. Also, check out this story in pictures of Joash (here), where Jehoiada, played a heroic part, making a real difference.
What was so remarkable about our story was that were in not for Jehoiada’s wise and courageous actions, things would have ended tragically for Judah, bearing in mind it was God’s intention to perpetuate the line of David, from which the Messiah would come. He hid the boy Joash in the Temple for six years and carefully orchestrated events resulting in Joash becoming king and Athaliah deposed and executed. He became Joash’s mentor, renewing the holy covenant, and while Jehoiada was alive Joash was a good king. The people turned to God; the Temple was restored, true worship took place, and false worship, including that of Baal was stopped, even though as often happened the High Places were not removed and the people prospered. Sadly, when Jehoiada died, Joash took foolish advice and turned from the counsel of his former mentor. Judah turned from God, with disastrous consequential results, just as was warned about when God gave the Law to Moses.
We are told that Jehoiada was 130 years old when he died, “full of days”, and was buried with the kings. Amazingly, that meant he was around 90 when he began the work for which he was remembered and showing by example that however old we are we can make a difference. While godly offspring is no guarantee for fathers who live righteous lives, it was so here as Zechariah, his son, who succeeded him as priest but acted more like a prophet when confronting Joash concerning the errors of his ways and warning him of the consequences. The ending was tragic. Joash did not remember Jehoiada’s kindness for he killed his son for speaking thus. Joash was himself murdered by way of revenge not long after and Judah suffered under the hands of Syrian invaders. But as far as this meditation goes, we can take heart from the life of Jehoiada, an old man who made a difference. He joins the illustrious company of priests of the Bible who functioned well in their appointed office, whose focus was to do right in God’s eyes, and reminding us there were outstanding priests, just as there were kings and prophets.