(2 Chronicles 22.10-12)
1As soon as Athaliah heard that her son King Ahaziah was dead, she decided to kill any relative who could possibly become king. She would have done that, 2but Jehosheba rescued Joash son of Ahaziah just as he was about to be murdered. Jehosheba, who was Jehoram's daughter and Ahaziah's half sister, hid her nephew Joash and his personal servant in a bedroom in the Lord's temple where he was safe from Athaliah. 3Joash hid in the temple with Jehosheba for six years while Athaliah ruled as queen of Judah.
Jehoiada Makes Joash King
(2 Chronicles 23.1-21)
4Joash son of Ahaziah had hidden in the Lord's temple six years. Then in the seventh year, Jehoiada the priest sent for the commanders of the king's special bodyguards and the commanders of the palace guards. They met him at the temple, and he asked them to make a promise in the name of the Lord. Then he brought out Joash 5and said to them:
Here's what I want you to do. Three of your guard units will be on duty on the Sabbath. I want one unit to guard the palace. 6Another unit will guard Sur Gate, and the third unit will guard the palace gate and relieve the palace guards.
7The other two guard units are supposed to be off duty on the Sabbath. But I want both of them to stay here at the temple and protect King Joash. 8Make sure they follow him wherever he goes, and tell them to keep their swords ready to kill anyone who tries to get near him.
9The commanders followed Jehoiada's orders. Each one called together his guards—those coming on duty and those going off duty. 10Jehoiada brought out the swords and shields that had belonged to King David and gave them to the commanders. 11Then they gave the weapons to their guards, who took their positions around the temple and the altar to protect Joash on every side.
12Jehoiada brought Joash outside, where he placed the crown on his head and gave him a copy of instructions for ruling the nation. Olive oil was poured on his head to show that he was now king, while the crowd clapped and shouted, “Long live the king!”
13Queen Athaliah heard the crowd and went to the temple. 14 There she saw Joash standing by one of the columns, which was the usual place for the king. The singers and the trumpet players were standing next to him, and the people were celebrating and blowing trumpets. Athaliah tore her clothes in anger and shouted, “You betrayed me, you traitors!”
15At once, Jehoiada said to the army commanders, “Kill her! But don't do it anywhere near the Lord's temple. Take her out in front of the troops and kill anyone who is with her!” 16So the commanders dragged her to the gate where horses are led into the palace, and they killed her there.
17Jehoiada the priest asked King Joash and the people to promise that they would be faithful to each other and to the Lord. 18Then the crowd went to the temple built to honor Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols and killed Mattan the priest of Baal right in front of the altars.
After Jehoiada had placed guards around the Lord's temple, 19he called together all the commanders, the king's special bodyguards, the palace guards, and the people. They led Joash from the temple, through the Guards' Gate, and into the palace. He took his place on the throne and became king of Judah. 20Everyone celebrated because Athaliah had been killed and Jerusalem was peaceful again. 21Joash was only seven years old when this happened.
The whole of Joash’s early education prepared him to take the throne at age seven. While he certainly would have been taught to run a country, his real education came from the high priest.
Remember, Joash couldn’t leave the temple. So he heard every sermon, every worship service, and every rehearsal. At the end of each day, Joash had the opportunity to see how Jehoiada lived out his faith. No doubt he was able to ask questions about what he saw and heard, learning at a level a seven-year-old could understand.
Joash had one more advantage: access to the Scriptures themselves. In a day when there were very few copies of the Torah, a complete set of the scrolls was at his fingertips. And on the day of the coup, Joash is handed his own copy so that he can fulfill Deuteronomy 17:18-19:
So as soon as anyone becomes king, he must go to the priests and write out a copy of these laws while they watch. Each day the king must read and obey these laws, so that he will learn to worship the Lord with fear and trembling.
In other words, Joash is given every chance to succeed. Given those privileges, how did Joash go disastrously wrong?
The text says Joash only obeyed the Lord while Jehoiada was alive. Joash likely became dependent on his mentor for everything, never growing a faith of his own. Never developing a fear or love of God above every other god. Never moving from reading about God to encountering God. So he wandered from God’s commands and shortened his days on the throne (Deut 17:20).
Likewise, many of us have been raised in and around church, with Christian parents, age-appropriate Christian education and God’s Word to read for ourselves. Are we taking advantage or squandering what we’ve been given?
Great High Priest, you revealed God to us and gave your Word. We have every privilege and opportunity. Don’t let us depend on anyone or anything at the expense of knowing you for ourselves so that we may never wander from your words of life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.