A King Who Forgot Gratitude
JEHOASH was a helpless infant when his grandmother Athaliah took action to seize the throne of the kingdom of Judah. She had no affection for him. This ambitious woman wanted to have all her grandsons killed, as they stood in the way of her reigning as queen. If it had not been for the quick action of Jehoshabeath, the wife of high priest Jehoiada, Jehoash would have been murdered with the rest of the royal male offspring.
Jehoshabeath stole the infant away from among the boys that were to be executed. For six years, she and her husband kept Jehoash hidden in the temple precincts. All during this time Athaliah ruled as queen. Then, in the seventh year, Jehoiada anointed this rightful heir to the throne as king and brought about execution of the usurper Athaliah. Surely Jehoash had reason for being deeply grateful to his aunt and uncle. They had shared in preserving him alive and in paving the way for his assuming royal authority.—2 Chron. 22:10-12; 23:11-15.
RULES WELL UNDER JEHOIADA’S GUIDANCE
Under the guidance of Jehoiada, the young king prospered. One of the outstanding projects undertaken in his reign was the repairing of Jehovah’s temple. By that time the structure was over 150 years old and had suffered serious neglect during the rule of Athaliah’s husband Jehoram and her son Ahaziah, as well as her own reign. Her wickedness evidently had influenced her sons to such an extent that they broke into the temple, doubtless to plunder it.—2 Chron. 24:7.
In view of the state into which the temple had come, considerable money was needed to care for the repair work. At first, efforts to raise funds did not meet with success. The Levites who were entrusted with this responsibility did not respond wholeheartedly. However, when a change was made in the arrangement for collecting and administering funds, the people cooperated and the work prospered.—2 Ki. 12:4-6; 2 Chron. 24:5, 6, 8-14.
COMES TO BE AN INGRATE
After the death of Jehoiada, Jehoash did not remain a faithful servant of Jehovah God. He allowed himself to come under the influence of idolatrous princes. As a result, the Baal worship that had been stopped at the direction of Jehoiada was revived. Jehovah kept sending prophets to call the people to their senses, encouraging them to repent. But neither the king nor his princes paid any attention.—2 Chron. 24:17-19.
Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, was divinely inspired to proclaim: “This is what the true God has said, ‘Why are you overstepping the commandments of Jehovah, so that you cannot prove successful? Because you have left Jehovah, he will, in turn, leave you.’”—2 Chron. 24:20.
Did Jehoash respond appreciatively to the word of Jehovah through his cousin? To the contrary, he did not even consider the kindness that had been rendered to him by his cousin’s father Jehoiada. Jehoash gave the command for Zechariah to be stoned to death in the temple courtyard. When at the point of dying, Zechariah cried out: “Let Jehovah see to it and ask it back.”—2 Chron. 24:21, 22.
Centuries later Jesus Christ evidently referred to this incident, saying: “The wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send forth to them prophets and apostles, and they will kill and persecute some of them, so that the blood of all the prophets spilled from the founding of the world may be required from this generation, from the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zechariah, who was slain between the altar and the house.’”—Luke 11:49-51.
Retribution did catch up with Jehoash just as it did later with the unfaithful generation of Jews in the first century C.E. Jehovah God withdrew his blessing and protection from this unappreciative king. A small Syrian military force under the command of Hazael successfully invaded Judah, forcing Jehoash to hand over treasures from the sanctuary. When the Syrian army withdrew, the king was a sick and broken man. Finally, two of his own servants assassinated him.—2 Ki. 12:17-21; 2 Chron. 24:23-27.
How different life could have been for Jehoash if he had remained an appreciative servant of Jehovah and had continued to experience divine favor and protection! Life can also be different for us, provided we maintain appreciation for God’s righteous requirements. A spirit of ingratitude can bring only ruin, as it did in the case of Jehoash. May we, therefore, strive to maintain keen appreciation for divine direction.