It is MORE IMPORTANT to FINISH WELL than to START WELL: "For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men; but the Lord delivered a very great army into their hand, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash. And when they had withdrawn from him (for they left him severely wounded), his own servants conspired against him because of the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and killed him on his bed. So he died. And they buried him in the City of David, but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings" (2 Chron. 24:24-25)
In all ways, Joash started well. When all his brothers were assassinated by Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah (22:10), Jehoshabeath, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, hid him in a bedroom so that Athaliah could not find and kill him as a one-year old baby (22:11). After that, "he was hidden with them in the house of God for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land" (22:12).
In the seventh year, the priest Jehoiada “strengthened himself, and made a covenant with the captains” of the army of Judah (23:1). He then got Athaliah killed so that Joash could take over the throne of Judah. Joash was only seven years old when he became king, and he did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest (24:1-2). In fact, Jehoiada the priest nurtured and guided Joash spiritually from his childhood through his growing years into maturity as an adult. As long as the godly priest Jehoiada was around to guide young Joash, the king ruled well. He repaired and restored the temple of God that was broken down by Athaliah, and brought spiritual renewal to the land of Judah (24:7-14).
However, soon after the priest Jehoiada died (24:15-16), Joash turned to wickedness and began listening to other counselors who did not lead him in the right direction (24:17). Very soon Joash allowed idolatry to creep back in and led the nation down into moral depravity (24:18). This became such a problem that even the prophets of God could not resolve (24:19). His apostasy reminds us that leaders today need spiritual mentors and religious guidance if they are to stay on course!
One of the prophets of God Zechariah, who was the son of his mentor Jehoiada, stood in the power of God to condemn Joash and his cronies for their violation of God’s covenant (24:20). This was an act of boldness that cost him his very life! Sadly, Joash became victim of the conspiracy hatched by the leaders of Judah, as he ordered the righteous Zechariah to be stoned to death in the courts of the temple (24:21). "Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but killed his son" (24:22).
The way that Joash treated the son of Jehoiada reminds us about Asa’s dealings with Hanani (16:10). However, before he died, Zechariah uttered the following words to King Joash: "The Lord look on it, and repay!" (24:22b). Zechariah became a true martyr for the faith that he stood for, and his murder was even remembered by the Lord Jesus Christ who condemned the scribes and the Pharisees with these words: "the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar" (see Matt. 23:35).
Perhaps in answer to Zechariah’s dying prayer, God sent His judgment on Joash by allowing a small Syrian army to attack and plunder Jerusalem, and in the process kill all the sinful leaders of Judah: "So they executed judgment against Joash" (24:24) Those who had given wicked counsel to Joash were killed, and Joash himself was severely wounded. The close of his life was embittered by a painful malady, which long confined him to bed. While weakened from his suffering caused by wounds, Joash was killed in a conspiracy by two of his own servants. Then just like his grandfather Jehoram, Joash was denied burial with the kings of Judah because he had fallen far short of the Davidic ideal (see 21:20; 24:25).