Joash’s life was greatly influenced by Jehoiada, the priest. Joash was the son of Ahaziah, an evil king, and the grandson of Athaliah, an even more evil grandmother, and as such, the influences on him as a child were far from good. Family influences can be very powerful; Ahaziah, we are told, was encouraged by his mother to act wickedly (2 Chron 22:3). The direct and indirect influences of our families, for good or evil, can have a great influence on our lives.
The picture wasn’t entirely bleak for Joash, however. He was resc protect him from Athaliah’s murderous intentions. He lived, hidden with them at the temple of God, for six years and when the time was right, Jehoiada acted to crown Joash as king. (2 Chron 23.)
At a young age, therefore (just seven years old), Joash was thrust into a position of responsibility and power as king of Israel, where he reigned for forty years and is credited with the restoration of the temple. (2 Chron 24:1, 4). All seemed to be going well; ‘Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest.’ (2 Chron 24:2) Sadly, this state of affairs lasted only until Jehoaiada’s death. After that, Joash listened to other influences and subsequently abandoned the temple of the Lord and turned to idolatry. (2 Chron 24:17-19) It got so bad that Joash even killed Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah, whose brave words of rebuke tried to stem the tide of evil unleashed through Joash’s idolatry. (2 Chron 24:20-22)
This account shows us that Joash’s faith had no real substance, no independent, personal strength. He was a man ultimately shaped, influenced and defined by other people. He had no personal values or faith which outlasted his mentor.
Faith is a very personal matter. We are shaped and influenced by many people and different circumstances, but ultimately, we must choose for ourselves to follow God’s ways. God must be our rock, our fortress, our strength, our salvation. We need to have a faith that is independent of other people and wholly dependent on God. Our lives must be built on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ; our roots must go deep into Him. As Doug Horley says, ‘a mum or a dad or a sister who loves Jesus won’t get you there’ (to heaven): ‘You need to find him just for you.’ (‘One Way’, Doug Horley)
Do you have that independent faith which will outlast the faith of those who have inspired you? The goal is not only to start well, run well, but to finish well. Our faith needs to go beyond the faith of those who have preceded us and continue to influence those who will come after us (‘a future generation’ so that ‘a people not yet created may praise the Lord’, as Ps 102:18 puts it. Our faith needs to be real, personal and able to sustain us through thick and thin.