READ: 2 Chronicles 22-24, Psalm 133, Mark 16, James 5
COUNSELED TO DEATH
Bad Counsel: We just celebrated Mother’s Day and Athaliah might win the prize for worst mother of them all. Ahaziah comes to the throne by default (Arab raiders killed all his older brothers), and as his reward he inherits counselors from the dark side. His mother “advised him to do wickedly” (2 Chron. 22:3) and the house of Ahab “were his counselors after the death of his father, to his destruction” (v. 4, emphasis added). Sometimes the ones closest to us can do us the most harm. This is tricky because often the ones closest to us know us best, love us most, and really can provide help. But we must be careful, for they can also counsel us to death.
Good Counsel: When King Ahaziah dies, the evil queen grandmother grabs power for six years until brave Jehoiada the priest “strengthened himself” (23:1) and establishes Joash as a 7-year-old king. Jehoiada lives for 130 years and “Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord, all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (24:2). Jehoiada counseled Joash to life. We all need elder brothers and sisters in the faith to walk us through the treacheries of life. We are wise when we recognize that youthful zeal needs the tempered patience of age. When the strength and vitality of youth is combined with the wisdom of experience, formidable teams are forged. When young leaders do not revere and listen to the grey-headed among them, they do so at their own peril.
Jehoiada dies and Joash reverts to his father’s mistake (listening to clever idiots) and “wrath comes” (v. 18). Within a year Joash is dead (killed by his own advisors), beaten by a smaller army (vv. 24-25). We must be careful who we listen to. Some of our best friends’ advice will kill us.
Great Counsel. When Joash begins to go awry, “the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Zechariah” (v. 20) and he rebukes king and people for their folly. In the end we must listen to the Holy Spirit. He is our wonderful counselor. It is true that the wisdom of age can aid us. It is true that in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom. These smaller truths supplement the abiding truth that God’s advice is best and we need to learn to listen directly to Him. The voice from heaven on the Mount of Transfiguration is even more precise: “This is my beloved Son, hear Him only” (Mark 9:7)!
Sometimes we need to hear directly from God alone. The better part of wisdom is being able to both take counsel from friends (and enemies) AND be able to put that advice to the side while we listen to the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit is, after all, omniscient. He knows what to do. His Spirit is our primary counselor. Jehoiada was great, but even he passed away after 130 years. The Spirit of God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-lasting. Let us not be the fools who do not listen to Him. Let us learn the discipline of ears most eager for His counsel–for issues great and small.