So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God. 2 Chronicles 27:6
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been surveying the lives of some of the kings of Judah. Today is our last one. Maybe you’re not into history. But all of these guys– Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah— should encourage us and bring us hope. That’s why we have their stories. We’ll finish up with Jotham.
Jotham was a young man, only twenty-five when he ascended to the throne. However, he was well-prepared for his reign. We saw last week that his father, Uzziah, had been struck with leprosy and forced to live out his last years in seclusion. This left Jotham to fulfill all the official duties of a king for a full decade before ruling on his own.
Scripture doesn’t tell us very much about Jotham, fewer than two dozen verses in fact, so it’s tempting to skip him as unimportant. But a close, thoughtful reading shows some admirable things about this king.
Jotham learned from his father’s failures. 2 Chronicles 27:2 makes a point of telling us that Jotham did not enter the Temple presumptuously. Furthermore, the chronicler uses the very same word to describe Jotham — mighty — as he did for Uzziah in 26:16. However, that was the moment Uzziah became filled with pride. Jotham was tremendously blessed with civil, financial and military success, but he remained humble.
We need to be wise enough to learn from others. It is easy to tell ourselves that the bad outcomes won’t happen to us, that we will somehow be different, but that rarely happens. Jotham knew pride and presumption led to disastrous consequences and he resolved not to give in to it.
Furthermore, he remained committed to God, leading by example, even though his subjects persisted in their corrupt lifestyles. As king, there is no doubt his every move was scrutinized. There is no comment on whether or not Jotham was a popular king, only that he was a godly one.
We too must remain steadfast even when we are in the minority. This will only be more difficult as our culture becomes more and more stridently anti-God. (Unless of course God intervenes and a great revival breaks out.)
Jotham’s purposefully ordered his life, his routines, his habits so that they lined up with God’s law. His life was marked not simply be the absence of evil but by the presence of godliness.
We can’t expect a God-honoring life to happen by accident. It takes intentional effort to cultivate as well as time and practice to make it a reality. Let’s renew our commitment to holiness.
Unfortunately, Jotham’s reign was a short one. He died at forty-one and his son Ahaz became king. Ahaz was the opposite of his father. He worshiped the idols of Israel and even sacrificed his children to the false gods. (2 Chronicles 28:3) Not even a stunning defeat at the hands of Israel and Syria, including the death of his own son in the battle, could bring Ahaz back to his senses. However, Jotham’s grandson, Hezekiah, built on the foundation of devotion to God. You can read about Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32 and in the book of Isaiah.
The thing that stands out to me in this survey of the kings is that godliness is not necessarily passed on. Some good kings had evil sons. Sometimes, we as teachers, leaders, or parents can instruct and model faith, but each individual must decide to embrace it. That decision is out of our hands.
On the flip side, some good godly kings came from wicked, idolatrous parents. This shows that legacy is not destiny. We shouldn’t write anyone off because of their family or background.
We’ll start a new series next week!