“Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” (Hebrews 13:17, NLT)
When Great Britian’s King Charles III ascended to the throne last year at the age of 73, it was the oldest age of any previous British ruler. Joash became king of Judah (or the southern kingdom) at the age of seven. What a contrast of ages. However, Joash was not the youngest ruler to ever take the throne. Legend says Shapur II, who ruled the Sasanian Empire of Persia, was crowned before his birth due to his father’s recent death. Alfonso XIII of Spain became king the day of his birth.
Like any child that age, Joash would have lacked the experience and wisdom needed for such heavy responsibilities. How could such a young child lead a kingdom? Let’s look at his story, which begins in II Chronicles 22.
When King Ahaziah (Joash’s father) died, Athaliah (Joash’s grandmother) seized power in the kingdom. An evil woman, she killed all the potential royal heirs of Judah—or so she thought. Jehoshabeath (Joash’s aunt and wife of Jehoiada, the priest) hid the infant in the house of God for six years (II Chronicles 22:12). When Athaliah was finally seized and slain, Joash, as Ahaziah’s surviving son, became king and ruled Judah for forty years (II Chronicles 24:1). He did many good things during those years, especially in repairing the house of God and replacing the vessels that had been misused by Athaliah’s sons.
How did such a young child gain the knowledge he needed to rule? He learned it from his uncle, Jehoiada, the high priest. This spiritual leader in his life was someone to protect, instruct, and correct him. With Jehoiada there to guide him, Joash did well and followed the ways of the Lord.
“Joash did what was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” (II Chronicles 24:2, NKJV)
I wish the story ended there, but it doesn’t. When Jehoiada died at 130 years of age, Joash began listening to the wrong voices. He forgot the lessons of his spiritual mentor and turned away from God. There is no indication he ever placed himself under the authority of another spiritual leader after his uncle’s death.
“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 wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass.” (II Chronicles 24:17-18, NKJV)
Without the spiritual influence of the faithful servant of God, Joash and the nation abandoned the Temple and worshiped false gods. When Zechariah, Jehoiada’s son, admonished the people about their transgressions, they “stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king” (verse 21). Joash fell so low that he murdered the son of the man who had nurtured him and taught him the ways of God. When we turn from God, we place ourselves on a very slippery slope.
We all need a strong spiritual voice in our lives. God places these pastors, teachers, and mentors in our lives for accountability and protection. Acts 20:28 calls them overseers (guardians, shepherds) of the flock of God. They care for our souls (Hebrews 13:17).
God also provides spiritual leaders as an example to follow.
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. (Hebrews 13:7, NKJV)
Honor your spiritual leaders. God places them in our lives to strengthen us, encourage us, teach us, and correct us.
Thank You, Lord, for the strong spiritual men and women You have place in my life. I know that they love me and care for my soul. They desire to see me established in Truth and flourishing in my walk with You.