Sometimes, the mark of a great leader is his/her ability to learn from his/her predecessor’s mistakes. This may be the most important lesson we can learn from Jotham’s short tenure as king of Judah.
Jotham’s father, Uzziah/Azariah, was generally regarded as a good king… except for 2 fatal flaws:
1) He did not tear down “the high places”, pagan altars scattered throughout the
2) In his arrogance, he blurred the carefully maintained distinction between king and priest when he attempted to burn incense in the temple.
As punishment, God struck Uzziah with leprosy. Burdened with such an affliction, not only was Uzziah unable to set foot in the temple ever again, he was forced to give up his day-to-day responsibilities as king. Jotham was installed as regent, a position he filled until Uzziah’s death.
Jotham officially became king at age 25. His reign was considered a success, marked by conquest and reconstruction. He subdued the Ammonites, Judah’s enemies to the east, and he rebuilt part of the temple. Jotham invested heavily in Judah’s infrastructure, establishing several new towns, towers, and other fortifications.
Still, Jotham’s greatest achievement may have been in something he did NOT do; he avoided his father’s presumption and left the management of the temple to the rightful ones, the priests. Because of Jotham’s humility and faithfulness to God, he reigned powerfully for 16years.
I. His Worship (2Chron. 27:1,2)
Jotham walked in the ways of the Lord… yet, also allowed idolatry in Judah.
II. His Works (2Chron. 27:3,4)
Jotham rebuilt the upper gates of the temple. He also built towns and fortresses throughout Judah.
III. His Wars (2Chron. 27:5-9)
Jotham defeated the Ammonites and received a huge annual tribute from them.
He became powerful because God blessed him for his obedience.
Jotham accumulated many military victories… and completed many ambitious building projects. But he did not manage to turn the hearts of the people – let alone his own son – back to God.
Which would have made for a more lasting legacy – buildings or hearts?
Like Jotham, we might live basically good lives… yet miss doing what is most important. A lifetime of doing good is not enough if we make the crucial mistake of not following God with all our hearts. God sometimes requires that certain habits or influences be removed from our lives.
Our lives only have room for one god. A true follower of God puts Him first in ALL things.
* Our obedience to God is sometimes measured by what we don’t do.
You can read Jotham’s story in 2Kings 15:4,5,32-38; 2Chronicles 27:1-9. Isaiah 1-5 also gives a picture of what Judah was like in Jotham’s day.