Men of conviction inspire me. The guys that will take a stand for what is right, do what is good, and are faithful when everyone else around them is confused or cowering. Read any account of war and the soldiers involved, and you’ll quickly see the leaders of conviction rising to the top and the cowardly watching their company destroyed by the enemy. Leadership is where the flourishing or failure of many is determined.
The decimated royal house of Judah faced such a crisis after the havoc wreaked by the queen’s mother, Athaliah. Upon learning of her son’s death, she assassinated the entire royal family, save one infant grandson who was hidden away in protection, Joash (see 2Chronicles 22:10–12). For seven years, the southern kingdom remained under Athaliah until a leader of conviction arose.
Our reading today from 2 Chronicles 23 and 24 feels as if it would be a redemption and success story. Under the leadership of the chief priest, Jehoiada, a man of conviction, the lone heir and true successor to David’s throne was saved from certain death. At the right time, Jehoiada engineered a government coup to depose Athaliah and set Joash on the throne (2Chronicles 23:1–15). Serving as a faithful priest in the house of God, he worked to reconcile the nation of Judah with the Lord again by deposing the false idols of Baal in the land and rebuilding the desecrated house of the Lord. His reforms were the stuff of heroes in the land, earning him the noble honor of being buried with the kings of Israel “because he had done what is good in Israel with respect to God and his temple” (2Chronicles 24:16).
Yet the redemption story evaporated just as quickly with the death of Jehoiada as king Joash’s heart turned away from the Lord. Within seemingly one meeting of Joash’s council, the entire fate of the kingdom turned. “They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and served the Asherah poles and the idols” (v.18). Leadership without conviction ensued, and Joash’s life became a waste. The noble ending that could have been his was squandered.
During Lent, the stories of Jehoiada and Joash can help us reflect on our worship of God in our own lives. What kind of men are we becoming or aspiring to be? Will we be men of conviction, holding fast to the Word of God and honoring King Jesus? Or will we pursue our pleasures and devices, scorning God’s way for our lives, and find ourselves in the wreckage of life, rejecting God’s grace?