While in Jamaica early last March, one of my favorite songs we performed with the puppets was “Josiah.” We’d ask for an eight-year-old boy from the audience to come to the front and wear a paper crown during the song. The lyrics tell about Judah’s King Josiah, who began his reign while only eight years old. You can read all about him in 2 Chronicles 34 and 35.
Judah had another boy king less well known, Joash. You can read about him in 2 Chronicles 22, 23, and 24. Though separated by two hundred years, Joash and Josiah began their reigns in similar circumstances: Each boy, younger than ten years old, lived in an idolatrous society. A priest, Jehoida, mentored Joash, while a prophetess, Huldah, advised Josiah. Each repaired the Temple, and saw idolatry decline and the nation return to God.
There the similarities end.
It seems Joash was a puppet: His performance reflected the man controlling him. After the priest’s death, Joash followed the ungodly officials of Judah, abandoning the Temple and worshipping idols. He even murdered Jehoida’s son who rebuked him. God’s judgment followed.
Conversely, Josiah’s faith was his own. “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength…” (2 Kings 23:25)
In the New Testament, young Timothy could have become a puppet, controlled by Grandma, Mama, or Paul, but the Apostle deemed Timothy’s faith authentic: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5)
Working with young people—whether teens at school or five-year-olds at church—I face the same challenge: I want them to follow Christ for real, not because I or their parents or some other adult controls them.