These chapters of 2 Chronicles are another example of the esteem the Chronicler placed upon the institution of the temple. He wanted his audience to have the highest of affections for the place where God had promised to meet His people. He recorded how Joash restored the Lord’s temple (2 Chronicles 24). Joash, like his mentor Jehoiada, had an affinity for the temple. Joash commanded the Levites to “go out to the cities of Judah and collect money from all Israel to repair the temple of your God as needed year by year, and do it quickly” (2 Chron 24:5). In time, enough funds were collected for the workers and they restored the temple (2 Chron 24:13). Yet these reforms, like so many in the Old Testament, were temporary. After Jehoida passed, Joash listened to the elders of Judah who enticed him. Together, “they abandoned the temple of the LORD God of their ancestors and served the Asherah poles and the idols” (2 Chron 24:18). Joash even executed Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah, in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple (2 Chron 24:21).
The author noted that King Amaziah’s pride allowed the temple to be plundered (2 Chronicles 25). He introduced Amaziah by stating, “he did what was right in the LORD’s sight but not completely” (2 Chron 25:2). While Amaziah was initially sensitive to the word of the prophet who warned him to forsake his alliance with Israelite troops, even at his own expense, he later worshipped the idols of Edom, a nation he had just defeated. The prophet said to Amaziah, “Why have you sought a people’s god that could not deliver their own people from your hand?” (2 Chron 25:15; contra the theme of Psalm 121). Amaziah later attacked Israel and Israel’s King Jehoash captured him and plundered the temple (2 Chron 25:23-24).
In 2 Chronicles 26, the author recounted how Uzziah forsook the ordained procedures of the temple. Uzziah “sought God throughout the lifetime of Zechariah, the teacher of the fear of God. During the time that he sought the LORD, God gave him success” (2 Chron 26:5). But when Uzziah became strong, “he grew arrogant and it led to his own destruction. He acted unfaithfully against the LORD his God by going into the LORD’s sanctuary to burn incense on the incense altar” (2 Chron 26:15-16). Uzziah overstepped the boundaries of temple protocol, and discovered that he was not above the law. Ironically, he spent the remainder of his life in quarantine and could not go into the temple (2 Chron 26:21).
Jotham’s faithfulness in respect to the temple (2 Chronicles 27) served as a model for the Chronicler’s audience. Uzziah’s son “did what was right in the LORD’s sight as his father…except that he didn’t enter the LORD’s sanctuary” (2 Chron 27:2). He built the Upper Gate of the temple and “strengthened himself because he did not waver in obeying the LORD his God” (2 Chron 27:6; in accord with the exhortation of Psalm 125).
Jesus demonstrated His supremacy in the storyline of Scripture by applying Old Testament passages to the situation of His day. Jesus saw in Joash’s execution of Zechariah (2 Chron 24:20-22) the same attitude that resided in the hearts of His opponents. Jesus placed at the feet of His opponents the responsibility for the murders of all the prophets of Israel, from Cain’s murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah (Luke 11:47-51//Matt 23:29-35). How could those in Jesus’ hearing be guilty of the likes of the murder of Zechariah—who was killed hundreds of years earlier? This was so not only because Jesus pronounced it but also because Jesus was the final prophet of Israel. In murdering Jesus—God’s own Son—the Jewish leadership committed the final, cumulative, comprehensive act of rebellion against God.