Joash king of Judah, who began his reign at the age of seven, was obedient to the LORD, but only during the lifetime of Johoida the priest (2 Chronicles 24:2). After Jehoida’s death, Joash listened to the princes of Judah and abandoned the house of the LORD God of their fathers (2 Chronicles 24:18). This prompted God to once again warn the people of his impending judgment (2 Chronicles 24:19).
Zechariah the son of Jehoida the priest delivered a message that had not been heard before. “Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath forsaken you” (2 Chronicles 24:20). Previously, Israel had been told the LORD would not forsake his people (1 Samuel 12:22), but God’s promise to Solomon contained a stipulation that his commandments must be kept (1 Kings 6:12).
Joash’s reaction to Zechariah’s message from the LORD showed that his interest in doing the LORD’s will only went so far as to further his superiority over the people. As Joash matured and surpassed Johoida’s influence, he became self-righteous and thought he could rule the kingdom without any spiritual leadership.
Jehoash took a bold step and ordered Zechariah to be killed. “And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 24:21). The stoning of Zechariah was a significant turning point in Israel’s history noted by Jesus when he condemned the scribes and Pharisees shortly before his death (Matthew 23:35). The king of Judah had crossed a line similar to that of divorce.
Left to themselves, the people of Judah were no match for the Syrian army. Not only did God not help them, he gave victory to the other side. It says in 2 Chronicles 24:24, “For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the LORD delivered a very great host into their hand because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.”
Joash was forced to payoff Hazael king of Syria in order to avoid complete destruction (2 Kings 12:18). The hallowed things and all the gold that was found in the treasures represented a recognition of defeat. Afterwards, Joash was assassinated by his own servants (2 Chronicles 24:25). Joash’s 40 year reign in Judah ended with the country in shambles.