Jehoiada the priest was a thoroughly versatile individual: childcare provider, military strategist, educator, matchmaker, clerk of works, treasurer. You name it, Jehoiada did it. He embodied Solomon’s advice – ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might’, Eccles. 9. 10, ESV.
Before we study Jehoiada, let’s consider the historical context. After the glory days of David and Solomon, the kingdom of Israel split into two independent nations. The Davidic dynasty ruled over Judah. Various kings ruled over Israel, but there was no lasting line of succession. In the mid-ninth century BC, Ahab was Israel’s monarch. His wicked consort, Jezebel, introduced Baal worship to Israelite society. Look at their family tree, in the diagram.
Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah, married into the royal family of Judah, clearly an ‘unequal yoke’, 2 Cor. 6. 14. When General Jehu exterminated Ahab’s family, king Ahaziah of Judah was also assassinated, 2 Chr. 22. 9. Then, Athaliah rolled into action, v. 10 – the queen mother of Judah ruthlessly determined to eliminate all male members of the royal family so she could become undisputed ruler.
Jehosheba, a princess, was wife of Jehoiada the priest. Together, they rescued her baby nephew, an infant prince named Joash. Jehosheba stole him, 2 Kgs. 11. 2; 2 Chr. 22. 11, perhaps the only legitimate ‘theft’ in the Bible, to keep him safe. In this article we examine three activities of Jehoiada:
We observe Jehoiada’s attitude towards God’s word, God’s house and God’s people.
This priest’s priorities are always divine interests.
Husband and wife were ‘heirs together of the grace of life’, 1 Pet. 3. 7, as they cared for the royal baby. Jehoiada knew the Davidic covenant, 2 Sam. 7. 16, so he appreciated the need to protect Joash. Athaliah was operating under Satanic influence, seeking to destroy the Messianic line. Dale Ralph Davis memorably refers to Jehosheba as ‘the lady who saved Christmas’.1 Let’s apply this preservation principle to ourselves; it is our responsibility to attend to the spiritual wellbeing of the next generation.
The house of God became a refuge for the boy whose life was endangered, 2 Chr. 22. 12, cp. Ps. 84. 3. Is the local assembly a safe place for nurturing young people today? Jehoiada assembled an alliance of loyal subjects who planned to restore the rightful king. He spoke to them, advised them and united them, as he reminded them of God’s word, 2 Chr. 23. 3. In a future day, another faithful Jewish remnant will acknowledge their king as He is revealed in ‘power and great glory’.
The house of God became a joyful coronation location. The new king had the crown on his head, and the scripture in his hand, v. 11, cp. Deut. 17. 18-20, after being anointed by the priest. Although Athaliah exclaimed ‘treason’, she was marched out to be executed as a traitor. No violence took place in the house of God.
The people of God were party to a renewed covenant, 2 Chr. 23. 16 – they were ‘the Lord’s people’. Once again, they remembered the dignity and responsibility of owning His name. Similarly, we are ‘not [our] own … bought with a price’, 1 Cor. 6. 19, 20.
Young Joash was greatly influenced by the godly priest who had reared him. We should be challenged regarding our personal spheres of influence. Note the massive disparity in age; Jehoiada was more than eighty years older than Joash, 2 Chr. 24. 1, 15. This pair is joined by other inter-generational partnerships in scripture, like Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy, and Naomi and Ruth.
Due to Jehoiada’s teaching, Joash was aware of Moses’ ‘atonement money’ collection, Exod. 30. 16; 2 Chr. 24. 6. This reinstituted tax became an income source for the king’s infrastructure programme, to repair the temple which had been ransacked by Athaliah and her followers, v. 7. When we consider construction work in the house of God, we must appraise our efforts in the local assembly, ‘Let every man take heed how he buildeth’, 1 Cor. 3. 10. The people of God were fully involved with temple repair, in terms of giving, 2 Chr. 24. 10, working, v. 12, and worshipping, v. 14.
Jehoiada eventually died at the age of 130. After the priest’s death, Joash tragically crashed into moral and spiritual failure. However, Jehoiada’s inspired epitaph was, ‘He had done good in Israel’, v. 16. Aside from the Lord Jesus, Acts 10. 38, only a handful of people in scripture are noted as ‘doing good’. Like Jehoiada, we aspire to hear the Lord’s commendation at the end of our lives, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’, Matt. 25. 23.