Some people become unfaithful after they lose their mentor’s influence. They can’t keep up their faithfulness on their own

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From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 8 – Further advice on how we can become more faithful

One of the reasons why faithful, obedient, God-fearing people sometimes become unfaithful, and let God down in later life, is that they began with the influence and guidance of a godly mentor, but then could not keep up that faithfulness on their own, without that mentor’s help. An example of this is King Joash of Judah. He came to the throne when he was only a child and benefitted greatly from the godly influence of Jehoiada, a faithful priest who advised and taught the young king:

1Jo’ash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem; his mother’s name was Zib’iah of Beer-sheba. 2 And Jo’ash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days of Jehoi’ada the priest.

2 Chronicles 24:1-2 (RSV)

So, King Joash did what was right for very many years, i.e while Jehoiada was still alive and able to guide him. But then things changed when Jehoiada died:

15But Jehoi’ada grew old and full of days, and died; he was a hundred and thirty years old at his death. 16 And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, and toward God and his house.

2 Chronicles 24:15-16 (RSV)

17 Now after the death of Jehoi’ada the princes of Judah came and did obeisance to the king; then the king hearkened to them. 18 And they forsook the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Ashe’rim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their guilt. 19 Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the LORD; these testified against them, but they would not give heed.

2 Chronicles 24:17-19 (RSV)

After Jehoiada died, King Joash unwisely allowed himself to be advised and influenced by unworthy people who were not of the same calibre as Jehoiada. Therefore King Joash went astray, and so did many of the people of Judah. It reached such a point that Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, tried to intervene to confront King Joash and to get him to see how God saw the situation. But King Joash did not listen to him. In fact he had him killed, despite all that Zechariah’s father had done for him for so many years:

20Then the Spirit of God took possession of Zechari’ah the son of Jehoi’ada the priest; and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.'” 21 But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD. 22 Thus Jo’ash the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoi’ada, Zechari’ah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!”

2 Chronicles 24:20-22 (RSV)

As a result of the unfaithfulness of King Joash, and also in response to Zechariah’s prayer, God moved to judge Joash by sending the Syrian army to attack him:

23At the end of the year the army of the Syrians came up against Jo’ash. They came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus. 24 Though the army of the Syrians had come with few men, the LORD delivered into their hand a very great army, because they had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers. Thus they executed judgment on Jo’ash. 25 When they had departed from him, leaving him severely wounded, his servants conspired against him because of the blood of the son of Jehoi’ada the priest, and slew him on his bed. So he died; and they buried him in the city of David, but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings.

2 Chronicles 24:23-25 (RSV)

What Joash should have done, following the death of Jehoiada, was to recognise that he was now entering into a new test, i.e. for God to see how well he could do without his mentor. He should therefore have responded to his new circumstances by:

a) immersing himself in the Bible, so as to obtain guidance from there for himself

b) carefully selecting other godly people to advise him in place of Jehoiada, instead of being passive and leaving it for advisors to come to him randomly.

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