The Danger of Following People

“And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest… Joash decided to restore the house of the Lord… So those who were engaged in the work labored, and… restored the house of God to its proper condition and strengthened it. And when they had finished, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada, and with it were made utensils for the house of the Lord, both for the service and for the burnt offerings… And they offered burnt offerings in the house of the Lord regularly all the days of Jehoiada. But Jehoiada grew old and full of days, and died. He was 130 years old at his death…

“Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the Lord, and served the Asherim and the idols… [The Lord] sent prophets.., but they would not pay attention.  Then Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest said to them, ‘Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you…’ Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son.” 2 Chronicles 24:2,4,13-15,17-20,22

Joash was special from the start, hidden away during his mother’s horrendous massacre of the family, and raised by the priest Jehoiada and his wife. When he took the throne, the faithful priest guided him and the nation in righteousness, and he followed his lead. Until he didn’t. (2 Chronicles 22:10-12; 23:3,8-11,16)

While he did what was right, and demanded following God’s law, we read no mention of his following the Lord Himself. Once Jehoiada died, Joash aligned with the princes of Judah, and that became his downfall. It is never healthy to get too tied to individuals.

Following strong and good leaders is not necessarily wrong, but can be dangerous. A role model or mentor, a charismatic leader or favorite author, should never become a god. There is only one Savior, one Lord and true Master, to whom we should attach. We err when we invest too much admiration and fealty in an individual, a sinner like me, instead of the God they serve. (Romans 3:23)

Danger comes when we erect pedestals that we switch out when we choose. Instead of staying grounded, we are tossed to and fro by cultural or emotional swings. There is only One to follow, the Good Shepherd, who knows us by name and leads perfectly. (John 10:2-4; Ephesians 4:12-14; James 1:6)

Whom do we admire, quote, and want to emulate, and are we keeping them in right perspective? Do we latch onto, and garner favor from, only those who promote our way of thinking, but dismiss or ignore those who say what we don’t want to hear? Do we clamor with the crowds to the whims of popular influencers, but swap out allegiances when their popularity wanes, or our mood or desires or affections change? Beware the deceitful heart! (Jeremiah 17:9)

Does what we say and do point those we lead to Jesus and His word? Do we, even subconsciously, train our children to follow us rather than their God?

Lord, help me discern Your voice and follow You first, the One uniquely worthy of my surrender and allegiance. And may my following You be a draw for others to follow You too.

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