17 After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. 18 They abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. 19 Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.
20 Then the Spirit of God came on 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.’”
– Jehoiada had been priest in the Lord’s temple and rescued the king from his grandmother and made sure he was set on the throne of Judah
– Jehoiada had kept the king faithful to God. When he died, the king listened to his secular advisors who led him astray. Jehoiada’s absence left a void that they filled.
– God’s messages are sent in an escalating way: first prophets were sent, then the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Jehoiada’s son
– God forsakes the king when the king forsakes him (paralleled in the king’s betrayal of Jehoiada whose son he will soon have killed)
I can learn much about leadership and significance in the negative – by learning what not to do as much as what to do. By seeing where poor choices lead, we learn to make better ones. In this case one of the king’s great failures is to listen to the wrong advisors when his good one dies.
Until the end of his reign, the king, Joash, was a good one who honored God and restored worship in the temple. Under his reign the people returned to the temple and returned to God. But in the end his legacy was undone by his unwillingness to listen to what God said to him through the prophets and his mentor’s son.
I don’t like to hear “negative” messages – words of criticism or even judgment. Who does? When it is God speaking to me, generally God works in stages and repeats so even my slow-learning soul can hear.
The danger is to take things personally – to mistake the message of God for the someone’s personal criticism or opposition. Yesterday the writer and researcher Ed Stetzer Tweeted – “You won’t make it as a leader if you can’t discern the difference btwn a constructive critic & a contentious cynic.” Sometimes I know that I get this all wrong. Joash is a reminder to continually learn to discern the difference.
Lord, speak to me today through those around me. May I hear your voice when it is your message. May I understand and discern the difference between those whose words are meant to help and those whose words are meant to hinder, to hear the Spirit of God and ignore the spirit of discord and destruction. Surround me with people who will speak truth and grace and who have my best interests and your will in mind – and give me the wisdom to see and know them. In Jesus’ name… Amen.