Old Testament reading: 2 Chronicles 23-24
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Pro 22:6). When I read the account of Joash, I am reminded that the statements found in the Proverbs, such as that just cited, are truisms. That is, they are not hard and fast laws, but rather have been proven to be generally true as a rule. Saved by his sister from the murderous reign of Athalia, Joash became king at age 7. The key to his success as king is seen in 2 Chronicles 24:2 – “Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” Unfortunately for Joash, Jehoiada did not live to the end of his reign. When Jehoiada died, Joash not only forsook the Lord, but also murdered Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada his faithful counselor. Zechariah’s crime? He had been sent by the Lord to rebuke Joash for his apostasy. Whereas in times past God had defeated Judah’s enemies with the faithful few routing the many, God worked this in reverse against Joash. A small company of Syrians defeated a very great army of Judah, “because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers” (24:24). Thus, the child Joash was trained in the way that he should go, but when he was old, he did depart from it. This does not negate or contradict God’s word in Proverbs 22:6, but reminds us not be too quick to assume failure on the part of parents or guardians when a child goes astray in adulthood.
“You can take it to the bank.” Paul’s opening statement to Titus reminds us that we can “take to the bank” the declarative statements of God. Paul’s letter to Titus begins with these words, “In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began.” No wonder Paul said of him, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor 1:20). The Hebrews writer also described this same hope of eternal life “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb 6:19). Why is this hope so strong and sure? Because it is impossible for God to lie (Heb 6:18). Thus, we affirm the validity and surety of like statements of God, e.g., “he who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). This is not a command, it is a promise. Believe it!