George Santayana said it best: "When experience is not retained, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The leadership of the divided kingdom of Israel evidently had no concept of the history of their nation, the faith or sins of their forefathers, or the mighty works of their God. Joash failed to remember even the most recent history in his life, let alone that of his nation. As a result, his reign came to a swift and shameful end.
Joash forgot the faith and kindness of Jehoiada, his foremost advisor. He had already rejected the covenant to remain faithful to God, but he didn't even have the decency to pay respect to Jehoiada's son, Zechariah. When Zechariah chastised him for his wickedness, he had him stoned in the courtyard of the temple, desecrating what should have been a holy place. Ironically, Zechariah's father had spared Athaliah (Joash's childhood attacker) the same indignity when he was ushering Joash to the throne (2 Chron. 23:14).
It didn't take long for Joash to experience the penalty for his wickedness, and the form of retribution was reminiscent of the stories we've studied so far. The Aramean army resembled the army of Gideon, but this time it was the large army of Judah that was overtaken by a much smaller one. Just as Joash had conspired against Zechariah, his own officials turned to conspire against him. But the identity of the conspirators reminds us of yet another grievous deed: they were the sons of a Moabite woman and an Ammonite woman, descendants of the daughters of Lot.
The consequences of the sins of God's people had a way of revisiting generation after generation of Israelites. The quantity and quality of faith appeared to be dwindling, and the magnitude of their sins grew exponentially. Clearly, Israel needed a better plan, a better ruler, and a better way to preserve their faith in the one true God. Tomorrow we will examine that coming hope in the King of Kings.