Many of us, who have watched the Olympics, can’t help but admiring the athletic abilities of some of these medalists. We also understand that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication in order for them to get to where they are today. For athelete, quitting is never an option. Not only do they need to start out right to train hard, but they also must finish well in order to win the prize.
The Apostle Paul actually used this illustration of an athlete training, running the race and winning the prize to refer to a Christian’s life in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” The goal of a Christian’s life is to run the race with patient endurance, to finish the course with joy and to win the crown of victory.
There are many examples in Scriptures of those who have gone on before us, who have finished the race well such as David, Paul, Daniel, Peter, John, etc… However, there are also others in the Bible, who did not finish well even though they started out well. One of those that comes to mind is King Joash. Joash was the great-grandson of king Jehoshaphat in Judah, a descendant of king David.
After the passing of Jehoshaphat, his son Jehoram reigned in his stead. Jehoram was evil and the Lord smote him with a terrible disease so that he died. After him, his son Ahaziah inherited the throne. However, Ahaziah did wickedly before the Lord because his mother Athaliah was his counselor to do wicked deeds. As a consequence, Ahaziah also received the judgment of the Lord. After the death of Ahaziah, his mother Athaliah rose up and attempted to destroy all the royal seed in order to be the ruler herself. By the providence of God, Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram and the wife of Jehoiada the priest, hid one prince whose name was Joash and saved him alive from Athaliah’s treacherous plot.
Joash was in the house of God six years. Jehoiada took care of Joash, gathered support for him and helped him take back the kingdom from Athaliah. In the end, Athaliah was slain for her crime. Joash then became king over the land at seven years old and reigned for forty years.
While Jehoiada the priest was alive, Joash did the right things before God. But after Jehoiada passed away, Joash hearkened unto the counsel of the princes of Judah, who led him astray into serving idols. God sent them prophets to warn them but they did not give heed to God’s warnings. Joash even went as far as killing Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, in the court of the house of the Lord when Zechariah tried to deliver God’s warning to them. Joash forgot all the kindness that Jehoiada did for him while he was still alive. Joash’s life went downhill from here, and not only did he ended up with great diseases, his own servants conspired against him and killed him. In the end, he was buried in the city of David but was not even buried in the sepulchers of the kings, the honor of which was afforded to Jehoiada the priest when he died because he did good for the House of David when he was alive.
Joash had a rough beginning but God was with him in preserving his young life. God blessed him with a mentor, teacher and protector in the person of Jehoiada the priest. He received his kingdom back and could have become one of those famous kings in Israel’s history who walked after the Lord’s commandments and achieved great things. However, his upright walk only lasted for as long as Jehoiada the priest was alive. He never had his own personal strong walk with the Lord. As a result, he was easily swayed and led astray by ungodly friendship and counsels. His life spiraled downward from there to the point that he did not even receive the honor of being buried among the kings. All that he did manage to accomplish came to mean nothing in the end. His life was what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “a castaway.” What a terrible ending!
We can read about Joash’s life and think to ourselves of all the things he could have done or should have done differently but it is all too late now. He is forever remembered as someone whom God had given so much yet chose to sin and walk away from Him.
What about you? How is your race being run? Are you living the Christian life that God intends for you to? Is your faith your own or your mom’s or your dad’s? Do you walk uprightly before God whether others are watching or not knowing that God is always watching you? Joash’s story should be a lesson for all of us Christians and also a warning as well. The fact that a person has a difficult beginning does not mean that there is no hope for a better tomorrow. God is able to turn a difficult beginning into a great blessing for your life if you trust Him. And the fact that someone seems to run the Christian race well does not always guarantee he will finish well either. We must always be vigilant at all times in following God’s Word in our daily beliefs and practices. We must run the race with patient endurance and must never stray from the counsel of God’s Word. God wants all of us to run well and finish our race well before Him. Are you determined to give God your all and allow Him to do a great work in your life and help you finish the race to win the crown He has in store for you?