The End Thereof are the Ways of Death
“The ear that harkeneth to the reproof of life shall abide among the wise. He that refuseth correction despiseth his own soul” (Proverbs 15:31‑32 ASV).
By Mark Blicharz
Jehoash, also known as Joash, appears frequently in the narratives of Kings and Chronicles and means “God has given.”
Joash, son of Ahaziah and the seventh King of Judah, ascended the throne at the age of seven, after his wicked grandmother Athaliah had been killed at the command of Jehoiada the priest (2 Chronicles 23:12‑15). As a very young child, he was hidden by his aunt Jehosheba in the temple, and thus survived the slaughter of the king’s heirs by Athaliah, who then usurped the throne and reigned for seven years as queen. After remaining hidden for these six years in the temple precinct, Joash was declared king at seven years of age and ruled for 40 years in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 22:10‑12, 2 Chronicles 24:1‑2).
Jehoiada the priest, who lived to the age of 130, had a tremendously positive effect on King Joash. It is stated in 2 Chronicles 23:16, 21 that “Jehoiada made a covenant between him, and between all the people, and between the king, that they should be the LORD’s people. (21) And all the people of the land rejoiced: and the city was quiet, after that they had slain Athaliah with the sword.”
Joash seemed do what was right in the eyes of the LORD as long as Jehoiada the priest was around. The main activity during his reign was the renovation of the temple (2 Chronicles 24:4‑5). However, after some time went by, little progress had been made. The priests and Levites had not repaired the damages to the temple. Indifference and neglect of duty had set in and the project languished. In this we, as antitypical Levites, can glean a great lesson. Once we put our hand to the plow of service to the Lord, the truth, and the brethren, may we not look back or become indifferent or run the race in fits and starts, but with fervent zeal continue forward with singleness of purpose, having our eyes fixed on our goal (Luke 9:62, Hymn 4, My Goal is Christ).
After Jehoiada the Priest
With the help of Jehoiada, Joash did stay on track for a while. He revised the taxation schedule, commanded the people of Judah to bring their contributions directly to the temple in Jerusalem, and soon restored the house of God to its proper condition (2 Chronicles 24:13). However, Jehoiada the priest grew old and died, and apostasy quickly set in. Instead of continuing to follow the example set for him by Jehoiada, Joash let himself be influenced by the leaders of Judah, and they soon left the house of the LORD God and served wooden images and idols.
As a result, wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass (2 Chronicles 24:15‑18). Prophets were sent to Joash and Judah to bring them back to the LORD, but to no avail. Herein lies another powerful lesson for us. Let us continue to cherish and appreciate the positive examples that surround us in our consecrated walk and not be influenced by outside voices and events around us.
At this point Zechariah the son of Jehoiada burst upon the scene. No mention of him is made in the preceding chapters until now. The Spirit of God came upon him, he stood above the people, and proceeded to give them a proclamation from God. “Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He has also forsaken you” (verse 20 NASB).
The Hebrew word translated “came” here is Strong’s 3847 which means “to be clothed with.” Zechariah was not spirit begotten but was figuratively clothed with the Spirit of God which enabled him to give this message to the people of Judah. This same Hebrew word is used in Psalms 93:1 and Psalms 104:1 where the Psalmist says that Jehovah is clothed with honor and majesty. Zechariah stood alone in confronting and exposing the apostasy of his king and countrymen and yet, he was not fully alone. He had the power of God’s Spirit of righteousness, beauty, and strength surrounding him as a garment. What an inspiration for us all!
At this point the people conspired against Zechariah and King Joash gave the order for him to be stoned to death in the court of the house of Jehovah — in the court of the temple near the altar (2 Chronicles 24:19‑22). How quickly Joash forgot the kindnesses that Jehoiada had shown to him, and killed his son Zechariah. As Zechariah died, he said: “The LORD look on it, and repay!” (Verse 22 NKJV).
The result for King Joash was a disaster. A small Syrian army came and destroyed a very great host of Judah. Joash had killed the son of Jehoiada, but the Syrians left him sore wounded. Finally, his own servants slew him (2 Chronicles 24:23‑26).
It is this Zechariah and this account that Jesus references in Matthew 23:35‑36, as he lamented over Jerusalem and its coming destruction at the hands of the Romans. The phrase “son of Berechiah” is omitted in the Sinaitic manuscript, and Luke’s account in chapter 11:51 mentions Zechariah but makes no mention of his parentage.1
(1) Editor’s note: The original scribe of the 4th-century Sinaitic manuscript ( א*) did omit “son of Barachiah” (almost alone), but a corrector later added it. And a thousand other Greek manuscripts include it. Therefore, it appears to be genuine, and it remains for us to try to understand it. The name (or word) Barachiah, or Barak‑yah, means “Blessed of Jehovah.” That is a fitting description of a faithful priest. “Barachiah” is mentioned only in Matthew 23:35 (the only New Testament book originally written in Hebrew); so “Zachariah son of Barachiah” may simply mean “Zachariah son of the Blessed of Jehovah,” or by interpretation, “Zachariah son of Jehoiada the faithful priest.”
Similar wording may be found in some other scriptures: We will bless Jehovah [neBarek Yah] (Psalms 115:18); Blessed be Jehovah [Baruk Yahweh] out of Zion (Psalms 135:21); They are the seed of the blessed of Jehovah [Beruki Yahweh] (Isaiah 65:23). The first is spoken concerning the house of Aaron, which signifies the priesthood of the faithful church. The second is spoken concerning the house of Aaron and of Levi, again signifying the church. The third refers to the seed as fleshly Israel, who are to be the resurrected children of Christ and his bride, the church. Hence, Berechiah may be understood as either a name or a description.
Zechariah, the prophet, is also called “the son of Berechiah” [Berekiah], which may mean he, too, is son of a faithful priest (Zechariah 1:1).
The Hebrew Bible, called the Tanakh, is comprised of three sections — the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. It begins with Genesis and ends with the single book of Chronicles, not Malachi as in our Bibles. In 2 Kings 12:19 we read that “the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book [singular] of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah?” Jesus was undoubtedly very familiar with the structure of the sacred Scriptures and in his mind he is surveying the history of human events. Thus, he makes mention of all the righteous blood shed on the earth from Abel to Zechariah. In Luke 24:44, Jesus, shortly after journeying with two of his disciples to Emmaus, alludes to this structure of the Hebrew Scriptures when he says that all things written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning him must be fulfilled. Look at the similarities between 2 Chronicles 24:19‑22 and Matthew 23:34‑36. Just as God sent prophets to Joash and the people of Judah to bring them back to Him, but they would not listen, likewise prophets and wise men were sent to the people of Israel, culminating with Jesus’ first advent, to bring them back to God.
Such was the mission of John the Baptist, who preached a baptism of repentance to turn the hearts of the people of Israel back to their Law, so that it could be a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ (Matthew 3:4‑12, Galatians 3:24). But the spiritual leaders of Israel at that time, the Scribes and Pharisees, as a whole, rejected John’s preaching, and so John referred to them as a brood of vipers and warned them to flee from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7). In Matthew 23, Jesus over and over again describes Israel’s leaders as hypocrites and blind guides, and in Luke’s account said they have taken away (from the people) the key of knowledge. They did not enter in, and those who wanted to enter in, they hindered (Luke 11:52). Therefore, Jesus predicted that wrath to the uttermost would come upon that generation, which is indeed what happened in AD 70, when the Roman army sieged Jerusalem, destroying the temple and Israel’s polity. Consequently, the Jewish people were dispersed throughout the earth. Of that generation, God required expiation to square the accounts for the wrong deeds done by Israel, “that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth” (Matthew 23:35 NKJV).
Modern Day Application
We feel that the experiences of natural Israel at the end of the Jewish Age prefigure similar events to come on the closing generation of this Gospel Age. All of the righteous blood shed of the Lord’s saints down through the Gospel Age will be required of this closing generation. This is particularly true regarding the destruction that will befall Babylon, i.e., Christendom, during the final days of the harvest of this Gospel Age (R5874). Revelation 18:21‑24 presents a very vivid description of the finality of Babylon’s fall, saying in verse 24, “And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints and of all who were slain on the earth.” Revelation 19:1‑2, depicting a future event, describes how all the myriad hosts of angels in the heavenly realm will exult over Babylon’s complete and utter destruction when God avenges on her the blood of His servants shed by her. Please also consider Revelation 6:9‑11.
Our Lord Jesus, Zechariah son of Jehoiada, and John the Baptist, did not waver as they faced opposition and confrontation, and neither should we. The closing days of the Gospel Age harvest seem to be getting darker and darker. We know not exactly what final experiences the Lord may permit us to go through. Let each of us resolve to put on the Christian armor more tightly and to keep our feet firmly planted under the banner of God’s truth. “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:5‑6 NKJV).
Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, was a son of light, a son of the day in his own way and time. He was not asleep but was on guard. He stayed alert, was sober, and clearheaded. May his example inspire us, at this end of the age, to have the courage to take a personal stand for God’s truth and righteousness in the face of gross transgressions of the commandments of the Lord. Amen.