(A brief overview for teachers and Sunday School leaders of the Lifeway “Explore the Bible” Sunday school lesson for Sunday, August 7, 2022 from II Kings 12:4-16. A video version of these notes is available at:
INTRO: You could ask your group to name Bible characters who exhibited both GOOD and BAD qualities. (Abraham: had faith, yet lied about Sarah being his sister; David: a man after God’s heart, writer of Psalms — yet committed adultery, lied, murdered over Bathsheba; and so on.)
Then after several of these have been shared, make the point, we are ALL that same way, with qualities good and bad. And this morning we are going to look at a relatively little-known king of Judah who exemplifies this: he was very much a “mixed bag.”
(OR you could do a similar type introduction using contemporary public figures — I’ll share a couple of examples of that later; you could use that either as in introduction, or later in the lesson.)
Several of our lessons recently have involved Elisha and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This lesson is about JUDAH, the Southern Kingdom.
II Kings 11 says that after the death of Ahaziah, King of Judah, Ahaziah’s mother Athaliah seized power and destroyed the royal offspring. But one child was hidden, little Joash (He is also called by the name of Jehoash. The Bible uses these names interchangeably, so you might point that out to your class so they don’t get confused). When he was 7 years old, Jehoiada the priest brought together some faithful warriors and made Joash King, and they put the wicked Queen Athaliah to death. Now Joash is king. That brings us to II Kings 12, which is our focus passage for this week.
But even though this is our focus passage, you really need to read II Chronicles 24, as it is a parallel passage that covers the same events as this one — but it also adds some more details which are very significant: like Jehoiada’s death, and the turning of Jehoash from serving YHWH. There are some things you’ll miss if you don’t read it. So be sure to read II Chronicles 24 and let it “fill in some of the gaps” for you.
King Joash/Jehoash is the central character here, and he is an interesting study. Some of these kings of Israel & Judah, you look at and say: “He was a good king/he was a bad king.” And II Kings 12:2 does say “Jehoash did right in the sight of the Lord” — but he was still far from perfect, as we see in this passage. And unfortunately like Solomon, he did not END well, as we see in II Chronicles 24. So really he is a mix of good and bad.
A couple of years ago I preached a message entitled, “We are all a mixed bag.” Like the Bible characters we talked about earlier, every person we know, ourselves included, have both good and bad qualities. No one has all good qualities and no flaws; and even what we might call a “bad” person has some remnant of the image of God in Him. We are all “a mixed bag.”
So one thing I would do to address this passage is either point out to the class, or ask them to survey this passage and call out: What indications of “good” and “bad” do you see in the life of Joash/Jehoash in this passage?” (You could put the answers in two columns on a DE board or blackboard):
— :2 “Jehoash did right in the sight of the LORD all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him”
— :4 Jehoash encouraged the people to give to repair the temple
— :11-12 they DID accomplish many repairs to the Lord’s house
— :3 “Only the high places were not taken away, the people still sacrificed and burned offerings on the high places” (God had commanded for sacrifices to be made at His temple only, but Israel persisted in worshiping at “unauthorized” “high places” all over the country — often in conjunction with Baal worship, but sometimes they would actually be offering to YHWH, just not where He had commanded them to. So Joash let this compromise worship go on.
— :6 Evidently there was no follow-through to the offering for the Temple repairs; by the 23rd year of Joash’s reign (he was now 30) “the priests had not repaired the damage”
— Then :18 says when Hazael King of Aram invaded, Jehoash “paid him off” with the treasure and utensils of God’s house, instead of seeking the LORD for help (as you may remember from our lesson in I Kings 15, King Asa did a similar thing).
— (Then if you look at II Chron. 24, you see in :17-18 that after Jehoiada the priest’s death, Jehoash listened to his officials, and abandoned YHWH and served idols; and again in :20-22 he kills Jehoiada’s son Zechariah who preached against him. So it’s yet another story of someone who didn’t finish well — like we talked about a few weeks ago.)
So we see in this passage that Jehoash was very much “a mixed bag.” He had both good and bad qualities. And if you read through the history of these kings, you never will find a “perfect” one. Even the best of them didn’t do away with the high places, or compromised in some way. ALL these kings have flaws.
(By the way, you could also do this same GOOD/BAD comparison with Jehoiada the priest: one the one hand, he saved Jehoash as a child, he deposed the wicked Athaliah, he was a good influence on the king as long as he lived — but even he didn’t seem to follow through on the Temple repairs when the money had been given. So Jehoiada too was “a mixed bag” and had his flaws.)
And we ALL do, don’t we? Do we even need a reminder of this? “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” “There is none righteous, not even one.” If OUR story was written up like one of these kings, our lives would look just like theirs — maybe some good things; and definitely some bad!
You COULD ask your group for examples: “Who are some of your favorite public figures?” They can think of good qualities they admire — but also for every one, there are things that are NOT so good about them. For example:
— Many people admire Donald Trump, for some of the things he accomplished as president. But does he have some “bad” qualities? I think most of us would admit he does.
— Folks today are raving about the new “Top Gun” movie with Tom Cruz. He’s probably one of the most-admired actors today. But some know that he is also a member of the Scientology religion, a cult that was invented by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. So Cruz is definitely a mixed bag.
(I have some more examples, with specifics, from the life of George Washington and others, on my website, if you want to use them. I’ll give that address in a minute.)
But the point we can make of this, is that NONE of us is perfect, and we are ALL a “mixed bag.”
SO I would make two specific applications from this:
#1, this is why we need the grace of God. None of us are perfect; we all need a Savior. That is why Jesus came.
This would be a good place to share the gospel in this lesson. Just a principle I’d encourage you to adopt: I try to share the gospel in every sermon I preach, even when it is not an “evangelistic” sermon per se; I still look for SOME place in every message to share just a brief summary of the gospel, so that if there any lost there will always hear the gospel, and the saints always need to be encouraged to lean on it too. I think this would be a good goal for you as a Sunday School teacher to adopt as well. Even when it is not an “evangelistic” lesson; share the gospel somewhere in your presentation. I’ll try to help give you suggestions each week as to how/where to do that. THIS is one of those places here in this lesson. None of us are perfect; that’s why we need a Savior, which God provided for us in Jesus. Share the gospel!
AND #2, this is also why we need to be very understanding of others. You can look at someone and see they have flaws. But you do too, right? Your flaws may be different than theirs, but you do have them too. So we should be so patient, and understanding, of other people’s imperfections. We have imperfections too! “We are all a mixed bag.”
So you might ask your group (this may just be a rhetorical question and not answered out loud): is there someone God’s putting on your mind, that you have been too hard on, that you need to be more understanding of – they have their flaws, but you do too?
(If you want more scriptures, illustrations and applications regarding this point of how “we are all a mixed bag,” go to my website at www.shawnethomas.com and type “mixed bag” in the search bar, and it will pull up the sermon I preached: “We Are All A Mixed Bag” from Luke 10 and the story of Mary & Martha.)
This would be something I emphasize out of this text. But there are some other good applications you can make too:
One is the role of the priest Jehoiada: “The Influencer Behind The Scenes”. We saw in Chapter 11 that he was the one who was responsible for making Joash King and deposing Queen Athaliah. And he continued to influence Jehoash for good as long as he lived. 12:2 says “Jehoash did right in the sight of the LORD all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him”. As II Chronicles indicates, he didn’t begin to turn away until after his death.
This speaks of the influence that Jehoiada had on Jehoash.
But an application you can make is that we all influence others.
An illustration of this is from the laws of physics, which teach us that every object in the universe that has mass, exercises a gravitational pull on every other mass. Everything influences what is around it.
And it is the same way with people too; in our relationships: we don’t live in isolation. John Donne was an English pastor and poet, and in a 1642 sermon he said, “No Man Is An Island”. (A lot of people think that was one of his poems, but it is from a sermon!) but the point is, we don’t live in isolation; we all exercise an influence on those around us.
The questions for us are:
— WHO are you influencing, and
— HOW are you influencing them?
I think of the Facebook memory I saw from the other day, which showed a picture of my wife Cheryl showing our little grand daughter how to read her Bible. That’s an influence for good!
We all have people like that in our circles of influence. We need to recognize who they are, and we need to purposefully influence them for good, for the Lord. Encourage your group to do that.
WHO are they influencing, and HOW are they influencing them.
Like Jehoiada, let’s purposefully influence them for good, for the Lord.
Another point of application you could make has to deal with the Temple work, which dragged on and wasn’t getting done. (Jehoiada did NOT do well with that.)
Some of us may have similar things in our own lives: Is there some responsibility God has given YOU, that you have been “dragging your feet” on? And it’s time for you to say: I need to get this done?
— Maybe you/someone from your class might share: here is something I have been putting off; pray for me that I will do this, THIS WEEK! This would be a very practical application of this passage that you and others from your group might benefit from.
Maybe there is even something that you as a CLASS have been putting off: going to visit some people, doing a certain project, etc. Let this passage spur you on to make THIS the week that you do it!
These are some of the ways I might apply this scripture this week.
But let me encourage you — and I know some of you are doing this already, because you have told me you do — when you first start to study your lesson, begin in prayer first. Ask God to open your eyes and show you, through His Holy Spirit, how this scripture applies to your particular class. What do they need of this in their life this week? Then read the passage and take notes, as God shows you things to share.
AFTER you have done that, THEN look at the Teacher’s book, or check out a commentary, or watch this video/check out the notes, and see what they add.
This is what I do. I pray, read the passage first, make notes on how these scriptures apply to people — then check commentaries, teacher’s book, etc, to see if I might have missed something. I’d encourage you to do that too. It’s not wrong to use teachers, commentaries, etc. — God’s given us spiritual gifts in the church for that very reason, so we can learn from each other. Just be sure that you seek HIM first, you may be surprised how much He will show you if you do!
OK, well I do hope this has been helpful to you as you prepare for this Sunday.
God bless you as you teach His word to your group this weekend!