SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Like several kings before him, Joash loved God and mostly did right (verse 2), but did not take down the high places (verse 3). The high places were pagan worship sites. God had instructed the Israelites to only offer sacrifices in specified spots, with oversight from the priests, but the people were ignoring God's instruction and making sacrifices the way and in the place they wanted. This allowed them to easily mix pure faith and practices with pagan faith and practices.
- The temple had been constructed about 140 years earlier and, neglected by many evil leaders, had fallen into disrepair (verse 4). Joash orders the priests to repair it but they did not (verses 5-6). We don't know why, but perhaps they didn't want to spend the money or put in the energy to do the work.
- Finally, Joash asserts his authority (verse 7) and takes the job away from the priests (verse 8), and the work gets done (verses 9-16).
- In verses 17-21 we read about the end of Joash's reign. After 2 Kings we will move into 1 and 2 Chronicles in the weekend readings in our Verve Bible reading plan. 1 and 2 Chronicles cover much of the same history as 1 and 2 Kings, and in 2 Chronicles 24 we will read more about the motives for assassinating Joash.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- In the time we read about today, the people were choosing to worship God but they were choosing to do it the way they wanted to, instead of the way God told them to. They were taking something from another religion (offering sacrifices in the high places) and combining it with their faith in God. The fancy word for that is syncretism. Syncretism is when you blend different beliefs or practices from different religions. Those different beliefs or practices often contradict, but people will accept it anyway. Why? It could be because of ignorance. Or tolerance (we don't want to seem intolerant of other beliefs). Or it could be a picking and choosing of what feels good or seems right. The problem is that God is not ok with us blending in beliefs and practices from other religions that don't fit with what He's told us. And there's a danger that by letting in a little of another religion, the person will eventually walk away from the true faith altogether.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Think about your faith, and how your "religious" "practices." Are they all based on what God has told us and found in the Bible? Or is it possible you've adopted some ideas (like, "We're all good with God. Everyone will go to Heaven," or "God's ok with you being a Christian and not being part of a church") or practices that are based on what our culture or some other religion believes, not on what God says. Ask God to help you see the truth.