Summary: Joash lived so that Jesus, another child of promise, could die and make our futures bright.
They were excited for the birth of their child. So much so that they had converted the guest room into the baby room before the first trimester was even over! They also started to save money so they could open a RESP (a college fund) the moment their child was born. They wanted the very best for their child. They wanted him or her to become a lawyer or a doctor, maybe even both!
Are those the kind of plans your parents had for you? Did they see you as a “child of promise,” someone who could make their future a bit brighter? Joash, the last ornament on the family tree of Jesus we’ll study this Advent, was such a child. Today we’ll learn that Joash lived so that Jesus, another child of promise, could die and in so doing, make our future bright.
What kind of future do you think you could expect if your father and mother died while you were still a baby, and then your grandmother, the one who should have cared for you, went on a rampage killing all your brothers and sisters and would have killed you too if it wasn’t for some quick thinking by an aunt and uncle? It wouldn’t seem like you would have much of a future in such a dysfunctional family! And yet this was Joash’s family. Joash was orphaned at an early age when his father, King Ahaziah, died for making a foolish alliance with the evil kings of Israel. Although Joash or one of his siblings should have inherited the throne of Judah, Grandma, the wicked Athaliah (Ahaziah’s mother), took the throne for herself. She tried to eliminate any contenders for the throne by murdering her own grandchildren.
I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised by Athaliah’s conduct. After all, she was the daughter of Jezebel - the same Jezebel who had married King Ahab and made it her life’s goal to stamp out the worship of the true God in the Northern Kingdom. She would have succeeded too if wasn’t for that pesky prophet, Elijah. What Mom failed to do in Israel, Athaliah hoped to do in Judah but she too ran up against “stubborn” servants of God in the persons of the high priest, Jehoiada, and his wife, Jehosheba. When Athaliah went on her murderous rampage, Jehosheba scooped up her nephew Joash and hid him in the temple where her husband worked. Joash remained there in hiding for the next six years while Athaliah ruled from a throne that was not hers.
The story of evil Athaliah and baby Joash reminds one of wicked Herod and baby Jesus, doesn’t it? Like Athaliah, Herod went on a killing rampage when he heard there was a contender to his throne. But just as God had rescued Joash, he kept baby Jesus safe. Jesus, after all, like Joash, was a child of promise.
But what does this mean that Joash was a child of promise? Joash’s uncle, Jehoiada, knew. When the time was right, Jehoiada brought Joash out of hiding and crowned him the rightful king of Judah. His reason for doing so was not because he wanted power and influence for himself but because this is what God had promised – that a descendant of David, not Jezebel’s, would sit on the throne in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 23:3). It’s in this sense that Joash was a child of promise – God’s promise to David. But Joash was a child of promise for another reason. He was an important link in God’s promise to the world to send a saviour from the line of David. It was imperative that Joash not die before he could have children otherwise the promise of a saviour would have died with him. Although Satan, through Athaliah’s rampage, tried hard to stamp out David’s family line like one might desperately try to stamp out a lit dynamite fuse, God thwarted his efforts.
Isn’t it great to be reminded that God doesn’t let anything or anyone get in the way of keeping his promises? We need to hear this truth again because last Sunday we learned how Satan won’t give up trying stamp out our faith as long as we live. And yet Jesus has promised that those who remain in him and his Word will never be led astray (John 8, 10). God will see you through the tough marriage you’ve had to endure, or the lean financial times you might be experiencing right now. God will see us through all physical and emotional suffering for he promises that nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8)!
In Joash, God not only provided a link to the Saviour, he provided Judah with an able king. Although Joash began his reign when he was only seven years old, his first decree was to encourage a building project. After spending six years hiding in the temple from Athaliah, he saw what kind of repairs the 125-year-old structure needed and he ordered that they be made. Although it took twenty-three years for the building project to get going, once it did, the people of Judah generously and cheerfully gave towards the project so that there was enough money to upgrade the furniture inside the sanctuary with gold and silver objects!