It’s often taught in Christian circles that we are a form of spiritual royalty, honored in heaven and waiting to be adorned with crowns in the afterlife. It would be wise to remember, however, that those with power and influence – spiritual or natural – carry a heavier burden of responsibility and temptation.

While the kingdom of Judah was in the midst of one of its darker times, Jehoiada the high priest saved and raised a baby named Joash. This child was the rightful king of Judah after his wicked grandmother Athaliah, who wanted to secure the throne for herself, murdered his brothers.

When Joash was only seven, Jehoiada declared him king and led the people to overthrow and execute Athaliah (2 Chronicles 22:10-12-24). As long as Jehoiada was alive, Joash did what was right in God’s eyes. Though he was not Joash’s father, Jehoiada became a father figure to the young king. During Joash’s reign, Jehoiada helped guide the king in honoring the Lord and making needed changes (2 Chronicles 23:16-21). Even after Joash was a grown man, he made his decisions with Jehoiada by his side (2 Chronicles 24:6, 12, & 14). Jehoiada’s death, however, was followed by a sudden turn of events:

Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and the wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass. Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the LORD; and they testified against them, but they would not listen.”

                                                                                                                                                                – 2 Chronicles 24:17-19

How could Joash so quickly turn from God, forgetting the adoptive father who had saved him? 2 Chronicles says that the leaders of Judah bowed down to the king, and then he listened to them. Joash turned to wickedness out of his own free will not long after the influence of his godly mentor was absent. But what could have Jehoiada done differently? Was he so occupied with his calling that Joash became a means to an end? Could Jehoiada have failed to invest in Joash as he should have?

Genesis contains a story that serves as a kind of inverse to this one. Joseph was a simple son beloved by his father. He shepherded his father’s flocks until his brothers grew resentful and sold him into slavery. Joseph underwent great temptation and injustice for years (Genesis 37:1-50:26). Time and time again, he resisted temptation and did not allow himself to be overcome by bitterness. While Joash was murdered at the end of his life, Joseph went on to save his whole family, even after his treacherous ordeal (2 Chronicles 24:25 & Genesis 45:5-9).

Perhaps one major difference between the two sons is that the first knew that he was destined to be king, while the other knew that he would always be beloved by his father. A royal identity cannot transform a heart to righteousness, but the unconditional love of a father can. Those who are obsessed with their own calling and destiny often neglect the love of the Father or the unconditional love of their own children. Ambition, success, and bitterness have driven many people from the love of the Lord and of their family, but those who intimately know God the Father stand in the face of temptation and suffering without breaking.

– Matthew Foley, Staff Writer and Instructor

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