“Joash did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest.” (II Chronicles 24:2, NLT)
Thrift stores, consignment shops, flea markets, and garage sales are all good places to pick up items at just a fraction of their original cost. Or, if you don’t want to leave home to shop, there’s always the internet. Some people just have a knack for finding hidden treasures under the tarnish and dust of the years. I don’t seem to have that knack. While I do enjoy browsing the tables of used books, most items just look dreary and dusty to me.
While we can buy many things secondhand, our faith is not one of them.
The Story of Joash
Age seven is when most children today are learning to read, doing simple math, and having fun on the playground. For Joash, it was the age he became king of Judah (II Chronicles 24:1). The young boy never got to enjoy a typical childhood. His father, King Ahaziah, was killed when Joash was about one year old. His wicked grandmother, Athaliah, then seized power by killing all the royal descendants. Or so she thought. Joash had been secretly rescued by his father’s sister. For six years, he was hidden in the house of God by his aunt and her husband, Jehoiada, the priest. When Athaliah was finally removed from power, Joash became king.
With Jehoiada, the priest, as his mentor and advisor, Joash led the nation into a period of revival and renewed consecration to the One True God. The temple of Baal was torn down, its altars and idols smashed, and the priest of Baal slain. Joash also collected offerings to repair and restore the Temple of the Lord. Worship was reestablished as it had been in the days of King David. The nation was now back on course with God.
And then Jehoiada, Joash’s trusted spiritual advisor, died. Things began to change as Joash listened to the wrong voices. He abandoned the very Temple he had restored, and the nation soon reverted back to pagan worship. Why?
Joash’s experience with God was secondhanded. His entire life he had leaned on the faith of his uncle instead of developing his own relationship with God. When Jehoiada died, Joash had nothing to sustain him. It was all secondhand religion, not firsthand faith.
“But after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and bowed before King Joash and persuaded him to listen to their advice. They decided to abandon the Temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and they worshiped Asherah poles and idols instead! Because of this sin, divine anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem.” (II Chronicles 24:17-18, NLT)
It is vital for each of us to develop our own personal relationship with the Lord. Joash spent years living in the house of God, but he never really knew God on an intimate level. Similarly, it is possible for us to sit on a church pew year after year without ever enjoying a firsthand experience with the Lord. I was blessed with faithful, godly parents, but going to church with them was not enough for my salvation. One day I made my own decision to serve God. I chose to be baptized in Jesus Name. I sought my personal experience of being filled with God’s Spirit. I am the only one who can develop an intimate prayer and devotional life. I choose a firsthand experience with God.
Living a consecrated life with God must always be a firsthand experience. There are no secondhand bargains or shortcuts with Him.