Jotham is not a name that comes easily to the mind. Most Christians when asked about his monarchy would struggle to describe the features of his reign. Yet, for sixteen years he ruled over Judah in a godly fashion, which caused the historian to issue this commendation:
King Jotham represents the vast majority of those who have served Lord throughout the history of the world. For every David, Hezekiah and Josiah there were multitudes of Jothams, of whom we know little but who have served their God with distinction. Indeed, I go further, without the unsung heroes of Church history the great leaders would not have excelled. For every Luther, Calvin and Knox there were hundreds and thousands of faithful servants praying, supporting, giving, preaching and encouraging. The translation work of Tyndale would have faltered if there were no printers to produce the text, no merchants to smuggle and sell the precious contraband and no common people with a thirst for the Scripture. Whitefield and the Wesley brothers were helped by an army of workers who supported them, some of whom preached the Gospel at great personal cost. Spurgeon preached to thousands in central London but hundreds of evangelical ministers were proclaiming the Gospel across the United Kingdom in Victorian times of whom we know very little. The majority of Christians are called to serve God in obscurity, their names will not be remembered, their deeds will quickly be forgotten; but in the annals of God they will never be forgotten, because everyone plays their part in the preservation of the Gospel in every generation.
Jotham certainly played his part with conviction and energy and as such he is an inspiration to us all, especially if we feel unrewarded, unrecognised and sense our own failings and weaknesses. Take strength from one of God’s little people today.
1: The Young are Called to Serve
While Jotham was crowned at twenty-five as a young man, his responsibilities began much earlier, with his father Uzziah being confined to home because of his leprosy. He was a young man who had to mature quickly, watching his father deteriorate physically and spiritually. As a young man he was called to take the weight of the nation upon his shoulders. We should never talk our young people down, giving the impression that their generation will not be as faithful as a previous generation. Negativity of that nature sadly becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Within every young believing heart there is the potential to go further for God than the older generation. Let us pray to that end, believing that among our young God will call a cohort to shoulder the burden of the work.
2: Mothers make the Difference
It is a common feature of the Kings, that the mother’s name is identified in tracing their lineage. This demonstrates that men such as Jotham or Hezekiah were exposed to positive maternal influences. Certainly the name Jerushuah, meaning an Israelitess, indicates that his mother came from a godly parentage herself, who were proud of their identification with the Lord’s people. Zadok is a name associated with the priesthood indicating that she may have been from Levi, the priestly tribe. Whatever his mother’s background Joatham was exposed to uncommon spiritual influences that prepared him for the monumental task that lay ahead. In praying for our young people let us remember our mothers especially; their burdens are many, their influence is profound, their’s is the greatest calling of all.
3: He Learned from his Father’s Mistakes
There is a line in William Shakepeare’s play Julius Ceasar that ‘The evil that men do lives after after them; the good is interred in their bones’. This was certainly not true of the relationship between Uzziah and his son Jotham. The younger king had the discrimination to take the good which his father did while rejecting the evil which dominated is closing years. This kind of discernment is rare and speaks highly of Jotham’s spiritual qualities.
It is often said that we are products of our past. In a sense that is true and sadly the abusers have become abusive themselves while others live with serious problems for a lifetime because of bad experiences growing up. But we do not have to be hostages to the past. Modern psychology excuses what the Bible calls sin by referring to the person’s background. A background may explain but it does diminish accountability. Every man and woman has a choice to make. Jotham could so easily have gone with his father’s choice or acted out of bitterness because of the terrible judgement that fell upon Uzziah. But no – as an accountable agent before God he chose wisely. Whatever the influences we have been subjected to – let us choose wisely for God.
4: He Acted Alone for God
Leaders can direct policy but they cannot change the hearts of people. It is for this reason leaders are often a reflection of the people whom they serve. Jotham, however, while being a colossus of faithfulness for sixteen years stood alone in a desert of apostasy. There was a spiritual decline at the heart of the nation. His spiritual commitment was not popular but Jotham continued nevertheless.
In continuing he displayed some of his father’s ingenuity as an engineer through his building exploits. The fortifications he erected were emblematic of a man whose heart and soul were fortified resisting the ungodly trends in the nation. In these days when many are behaving corruptly let us be fortified in spirit and be determined to be faithful to the Lord.
5: He Reasserted Judah as a Military Power
Uzziah also had distinguished himself in battle against the Ammonites in the years before backsliding. The enemies of God could not stand before Jotham who was an excellent military. commander like his father before him. While Jotham was in the minority, as regards his spiritual convictions, this in no way held him back from success. This is a lesson well worth learning; no-one is the loser through being unpopular for God.
6: He Always put God First
The secret of Jotham’s success was his desire to put God and His interests first. In private and public let us claim the promise of Matthew 6:33:
7: His Reign was Consistently Commendable
There are several great Kings who were not consistent. In fact inconsistency dogged the majority some of whom accomplished much for God; David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat and Uzziah. Jotham did not run with this trend, he stood alone with dignity for the duration of his reign, eventually finishing the course strongly.
Let us pray today that our witness would be characterised not only by Jotham but also by the Apostle Paul at the last: