At the Turn of the Year: Remember Joash
Text: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25
by Robert J. Young

At beginning of this year, people were so excited. Now the year is almost over--56 days are left, about 15%. The year is 85% gone. What has happened? Our sermon tonight: remember Joash!
The story of Joash is a context of tragedy, warning, challenges. The Syrian army left him "in great diseases" and his own servants conspired against him and killed him, vs. 25. Although he was a king, vs. 22, they did not bury him with the kings, vs. 25. It is a sad summary of a man who made a miserable mess of his God-given opportunity to do great good.

Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25

Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years....Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest....Some time later Joash decided to restore the temple of the Lord. He called together the priests and Levites and said to them, "Go to the towns of Judah and collect the money to repair the temple of your God. Do it now." But the Levites did not act at once.
Therefore the king summoned Jehoiada the chief priest and said to him, "Why haven't you required the Levites to bring in from Judah and Jerusalem the tax imposed by Moses the servant of the Lord and by the assembly of Israel for the Tent of the Testimony?" (Now the sons of that wicked woman Athaliah had broken into the temple of God and had used even its sacred objects for the Baals.) At the king's command, a chest was made and placed outside, at the gate of the temple of the Lord. A proclamation was then issued in Judah and Jerusalem that they should bring to the Lord the tax that Moses the servant of God had required of Israel in the desert. All the officials and all the people brought their contributions gladly, dropping them into the chest until it was full. Whenever the chest was brought in by the Levites to the king's officials and they saw that there was a large amount of money, the royal secretary and the officer of the chief priest would come and empty the chest and carry it back to its place. L; They did this regularly and collected a great amount of money. The king and Jehoiada gave it to the men who carried out the work required for the temple of the Lord. They hired masons and carpenters to restore the Lord's temple, and also workers in iron and bronze to repair the temple.
The men in charge of the work were diligent, and the repairs progressed under them. They rebuilt the temple of God according to its original design and reinforced it. When they had finished, they brought the rest of the money to the king and Jehoiada, and with it were made articles for the Lord's temple: articles for the service and for the burnt offerings, and also dishes and other objects of gold and silver. As long as Jehoiada lived, burnt offerings were presented continually in the temple of the Lord.
Now Jehoiada was old and full of years, and he died at the age of 130. He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple.
After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listed to them. They abandoned the temple of the Lord, they God of their fathers, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God's anger came upon Judah and Jerusalem. Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.
Then the Spirit of god came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, "This is what God says: 'Why do you disobey the Lord's commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.'"
But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the Lord's temple. King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah's father Jehoiada has shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, "May the Lord see this and call you to account."
At the turn of the year, the army of Aram marched against Joash; it invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the people. They sent all the plunder to their king in Damascus. Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the Lord delivered into their hands a much larger army. Because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers, judgment was executed on Joash. When the Arameans withdrew, they left Joash severely wounded. His officials conspired against him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest, and they killed him in his bed. So he died and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.

The history of Joash is valuable, interesting. He was a king at age seven (24:1), and under his guidance the house of God was repaired (24:13). Daily worship was restored, v. 14, and the young king was doing a wonderful work as righteousness reigned again over Judah. But then Jehoiada the priest died, v. 15, and soon Joash was listening to the princes of Judah, who led him to trespass, transgression, and turned the house of God away from the Lord. He himself turned to idolatry and murder, vv. 17-22. Golden opportunities turned to godless idolatry. At the end of the year, Joash and Judah were besieged by the Syrian army as God squelched their rebellion, vv. 23-25. The Syrian invasion succeeded because Judah had forsaken God, v. 24.
As another year wanes, a new year, century, millenium begins, we must know the lessons from the foolish course pursued by Joash.

I. Early potential does not guarantee ultimate production.

Joash, as a seven-year old king, was so God-conscious that he inspired and organized the temple repair. He was a leader despite his age. He got things done, and he was pleasing to God, v. 2. But starting well does not guarantee ultimate success. [Illus: midterm grades compared to final grades; start the race vs. finish the race.]

Joash so degenerated that even God turned from him, as did Judah. The combination of chaos, confusion, and corruption was devastating. King Joash was not even worthy of the king's burial grounds. A bright, promising beginning had a sad, tragic ending. It has happened throughout history, i.e. Judas Iscariot, Solomon, even Adam. It can happen again. It can happen to churches, to individuals.

Where are we? Where are you? Remember how long Joash stayed faithful. The challenge is constant, continuing, forever. History is filled with those who started well and ended poorly, history and all the Bible. Add Demas, Diotrophes.

II. Ultimate potential is impossible without personal convictions.

Joash owed his early successes largely to Jehoiada rather than to personal convictions. One can note the instability of his faith, so that when he prop was removed, he fell.

Do not overestimate the importance of personal convictions. Every Christian, every young person, every older person, needs convictions. [Illus: Kent Lashley story.]

Not only individuals, but churches. This church needs convictions, every congregation must have them. What does God want, what are we about? To what have we been called?

Prov. 4:23, the importance of choices. Conviction to (1) study/prayer/spiritual discipline/Christian walk and life, (2) outreach/evangelism/benevolence, (3) missions/overt evangelism, (4) fellowship/sharing/togetherness/nurturing, (5) worship.

III. Potential is influenced by companionships.

As long as Joash listened to Jehoiada, he pleased God, but when he catered to the corrupt princes of Judah, he soon served in shame and surrendered Judah to Syria.

Important question: to whom are we listening? With whom are we keeping company? If we company with the faithless, we shall be so. With the critical, with the discouraged, with the complainers.

1 Cor. 15:33 is the NT version of this truth. To whom do you listen?

Would you listen to God? Phil. 4:13; Heb. 13:6; Jas. 4:17; 1 Pet. 5:6-7; 2 Pet 2:9; 1 John 2:6; 2 John 9; 3 John; Jude 3.

Would you consider the whole counsel of God. Too many are satisfied with right doctrine but ignore faith.

IV. Potential ultimately depends upon principle rather than predicament, conviction rather than circumstances.

Not every success is our own creation. Why does a church succeed? Why does a church fail? It is no individual, not leaders, situations, organization, structure, but God. It is the body of Christ unified, working together to the glory of God. It is God.

Joash was not spiritually prepared and thus failed miserably without Jehoiada. Churches must learn to operate by principle not position, prestige, power, possessions, or predicament. Churches must learn that the change most needed is internal. We can operate by principle only when we are spiritually prepared and matured, Eph. 4:11-16.

When Joash's external support system was removed, nothing was left. He fell, for there was no resource within, no root or foundation. His zeal lasted only as long as the excitement and prosperity.


Tragedies come, even to God's favored people. As the close of this year draws near, have we learned anything this year. Joash climaxed with corruption rather than conquest. Almost two months remain, how are your resolutions, for the year, decade, century, millenium. How is your life, how is our life together, how is this church?

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Last updated November 1, 2000.