by Victor Knowles
Billy Graham has sometimes been called “Pastor in Chief” because every American president—from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush—has sought his godly advice. Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy co-authored a fascinating book about Graham’s influence on the American presidency: The Pastor and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House (Center Street Publishing, 2007).
More recently, the true story of an Australian advisor to an English king was made into a movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture of the Year in 2011—The King’s Speech. It tells the amazing story of Lionel Logue, a little known speech therapist, who helped the Duke of York overcome his habit of stammering and step up to his role as King of England when his brother abdicated the throne when the nation desperately needed leadership.
Wise counsel provides security and victory for a nation (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6). That truth is illustrated beautifully in the biblical account of Jehoiada the priest (2 Kings 11, 12; 2 Chronicles 22-24). For nearly half a century Jehoiada served as the king’s advisor in the land of Judah. His name means “Jehovah knows.” God knew this man and this man knew God and was not afraid to give King Joash godly advice. But before Jehoiada was an advisor, he was a protector.
The story of the unique relationship between the priest and the king began with a horrific bloodletting. Upon the death of King Ahaziah the vicious Queen Mother Athaliah had the royal heirs massacred. However, Jehosheba, sister to the slain king and wife of Jehoiada the priest, rescued an infant named Joash and hid him in her bedroom. For the next six years she and her husband kept the lad safe in the house of the Lord while “Bloody Athaliah” ruled the land (2 Kings 11:2, 3; 2 Chronicles 22:11, 12).
In the seventh year Jehoiada came up with a plan to overthrow Athaliah and place young Joash, his nephew, on the throne. He called a special meeting of the captains and bodyguards in the temple. He made a covenant with them and made them swear an oath. Then, to their amazement, he produced the new king—7-year-old Joash. They were supplied with weapons and instructed: “Stay close to the king wherever he goes” (2 Kings 11:8).
On the day of the inauguration Jehoida brought out the slain king’s son, placed a crown upon his head, produced a copy of the covenant, and proclaimed Joash king of Judah. The people erupted with a shout: “Long live the king!” When Athaliah heard the cheering of the people and the sound of trumpets playing she tore her royal robes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” She was seized by the guards and put to death, but not in the temple. Jehoiada then made a covenant “between the LORD and the king and people that they would be the LORD’s people” (v. 17). The day of surprises ended with an iconoclastic revival. Altars and idols to Baal that Athaliah had set up in the temple were smashed and torn down.
Jehoiada the priest had protected the life of a young king, the last of the royal seed that Athaliah had nearly wiped out. Arthur B. Fowler noted, “By marriage [Jehoiada] was a member of the royal family of Judah and, humanly speaking, the preserver of the Messianic line.”
For the next 40 years “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him” (12:1, 2). A 7-year-old king needs plenty of instruction and help to govern a nation. Judah had stability and success because Jehoiada instructed the young king in every phase of government, including the religious life of Judah. Our own nation’s first president, George Washington, said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
The famous Chicago painter Warner Sallman (1892-1968) once created a beautiful painting of a young boy at the helm of a ship. The sky is filled with ominous clouds and the waves of the sea are breaking against the ship. Standing behind the boy is the figure of Christ, his left hand on the boy’s shoulder, his right hand pointing out the dangers ahead, and his eyes firmly fixed on safe harbor. The famous painting is titled, most appropriately, Christ Our Pilot. Jehoiada the priest was the pilot standing behind the young king Joash as he steered the nation of Judah for the next four decades.
The church also has a high priest, Jesus Christ, who safely steers us through uncertain waters to the hope set before us as an anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:18-20). He is also called the “captain” of our salvation (2:10, New King James Version) and it will go best for the church to follow his orders and not our own desires.
The years went by. Joash was now married and had children of his own. One day “Joash set his heart on repairing the house of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 24:4, NKJV). To finance the project, Joash ordered the priests and Levites to visit all the cities of the land and collect money to make annual repairs on the temple. However, the Levites did not seem to be in any hurry to implement the king’s command. Joash, now in year 23 of his administration, went to his old advisor and asked him why he had not required the Levites to do as he had commanded. Perhaps somewhat chastened, “Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the LORD” (2 Kings 12:9, NIV). Through this innovative way of collecting offerings so much money was received that they had more than enough to restore the temple. The king and the priest hired masons and carpenters to restore the temple. Together “they rebuilt the temple of God according to its original design and reinforced it” (2 Chronicles 24:13).
The principle of restoration is a time-honored principle. Christian Standard, sister publication to The Lookout, has as its motto, “Devoted to the restoration of New Testament Christianity, its doctrine, its ordinances, and its fruits.” We are dedicated to the principle of restoring Christianity “to its original design,” as stated in the above text. At the 1987 Restoration Forum, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, Marvin Phillips declared, “Let’s keep preaching the Book. We are by heritage and by necessity a people who believe in Bible authority. We are a ‘thus saith the Lord’ people. To whatever extent our pulpits have abandoned this, let’s get it back. God wrote what he wanted and wanted what he wrote. ‘My way’ will never improve on the Word of God!”
Jehoiada lived to be 130, died, and was buried in Jerusalem among the kings “because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple” (2 Chronicles 24:16). But now the guiding hand of the old priest was no longer on the shoulder of the young king. Joash foolishly listened to the bad advice of a new set of advisors and reverted to idolatry. “Because of their guilt, God’s anger came upon Judah and Jerusalem” (24:18). God sent prophets to bring them back, but to no avail.
One day the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest. Zechariah declared, “Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you” (24:20). Incredibly, Joash sentenced Zechariah (his uncle’s son—his own cousin!) to be stoned to death in the courtyard of the temple! “King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, ‘May the LORD see this and call you to account’” (24:22). This unbelievably cruel act of ingratitude and murder was so horrible that Jesus mentioned Zechariah’s innocent blood in his testimony about the blood of the prophets (Luke 11:50, 51). Eventually Joash’s servants killed him in his own bed “for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chronicles 24:25). It is interesting to note that Joash, who ruled Judah from 884-848 BC, was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the tombs of the kings.
“Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him” (2 Kings 12:2). But when the king’s godly advisor was gone, Joash, having no personal faith in God, listened to evil advisors, led his nation into hellish practices, and died an ignominious death.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Victor Knowles is founder and president of POEM (Peace on Earth Ministries), Joplin, Missouri. www.poeministries.org
Behind a Great Leader
Behind every great leader is a wise advisor. One of the author’s examples is the true story depicted in The King’s Speech, the 2011 Academy Award winner for Best Picture of the Year.
Although the world looked at the Duke of York and saw a stammering public speaker, speech therapist Lionel Logue saw him as Bertie, a man with a past that could be overcome. Lionel Logue became a powerful ally to a lonely royal.
The King’s Speech is an excellent depiction of the idea that everyone, no matter his position in life, needs a dependable and wise friend to rely upon.
Please note that this movie is rated R for two scenes in which the king is spouting out several vulgar words in an effort to overcome his stutter. An edited version of the movie (cutting out the language to make it PG-13) was released in theaters this year. This version might also be released in DVD format as well, although as of this writing, only the R-version appears to be available.