2 Chronicles 23&24

The Jehoiada Ethic

In Chapter 22 we read that Athaliah killed all of the offspring who were of the house or line of David in order to seize the throne for herself. However, there was a young child that was overlooked and survived who was protected by Jehoiada the priest. His name was Joash. When Joash was seven years old Jehoiada brought him out in the Temple court and proclaimed Joash king in Chapter 23.

 Athaliah was put to death and Jehoiada made a covenant between the new king, the people, and himself that they would be the Lord’s people we read in verse 16. Things went well for a time but after Jehoiada died the covenant fell apart. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.” NASB

As we read further we see King Joash do a complete 180 in his thinking. He is no longer setting God's house in order. Instead, he starts to listen to the officials in Judah. He abandons the house of the Lord and starts to worship idols.  He even killed Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, whom God sent to rebuke Joash.

This is always the case when the Lord is not included in the covenant. Jehoiada made the covenant between the people and himself. When he died the people were no longer restrained by the covenant they had made. I call this the Jehoiada ethic. It is very similar to the Judeo- Christian ethic. These covenants have a lot of influence but they ultimately break down because they are a covenant of men, society, peer groups, but not with God. I remember the days of the Judeo-Christian ethic when the Churches were full and society was more law abiding, but as a pastor looking out over the people in church I could tell that there were many people who were there in body but their heart was somewhere else. When the restraint of the ethic was removed the bodies left to join the heart. This is always the case with a religion that has do’s and don’ts and certain practices to follow, but no relationship with God. It was true in Jesus day as we read in John 3.

In John 3 we read of a religious ruler coming to Jesus at night named Nicodemus. He was a Pharisee. The Pharisees sought to preserve the Law of God but ended up corrupting the Law with traditions and interpretations. In so doing they made an endless list of do’s and don’ts that led the people into a religion of works. I guess we could call this the Pharisee ethic.

When Jesus started His ministry He taught and did miracles or signs. The people who heard Jesus speak were amazed at His teaching and the signs caught the attention of Nicodemus, a Pharisee. From what Nicodemus observed he knew Jesus was from God so he sought Jesus out. Nicodemus was searching for something that was missing in his life and his religion had him bound up. Nicodemus saw that Jesus was setting people free from their infirmities. So Nicodemus came to Jesus and was open to hearing what Jesus had to say. It was at this point that Jesus told Nicodemus that no one will see the kingdom of heaven unless they are born again.

This statement was outside of Nicodemus’s understanding of how things work and his Pharisee ethic, but he continued to ask Jesus questions seeking to learn. To those who truly seek Jesus and understanding, Jesus will be found. He will give wisdom and understanding. Jesus points out that what the Pharisees are teaching is falling far short because it lacks a relationship with God. The Pharisees were teaching a relationship with their teaching or ethic.

Jesus said we must be born again! What He said then is still true today. Lately I have encountered many people who are missing the Judeo-Christian ethic. They are longing for a time in the past that is disappearing. What is missing though is not the ethic but the relationship with God. The question is; are we missing an old relationship with an ethic?  If so, that would be a problem because it means our faith is in an ethic rather than with God.

If you are struggling with this question I urge you to read John 3. We must be born again. Not born in an ethic but born of the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom.

In Genesis 11:31 we read that Abram’s father left his homeland and set out for Canaan but stopped short, settling in Haran where he died. In Genesis 12 God told Abram to leave Haran and go to the land God would show him. This is a good illustration of what takes place when we settle for an ethic rather than a relationship. Abram had to follow God by faith. God did not tell him where He was going to lead him, but it is obvious that God had great things in store for Him. Abram had to leave his father’s ways behind and follow God by faith. Abram’s relationship was based on faith and obedience to God. In Genesis 17 we read that God set a covenant before  Abram. Abram entered into the covenant relationship and God changed Abram’s name to Abraham.

The same is true for us. In order to be born again we must put our faith in Jesus and enter into the covenant He sets before us. The choice is ours but if we are to be saved and enter into the kingdom we must be born again!

It is far better to follow the Living God than a dying ethic!

Pastor Dave