The Paradox of Leaders

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Image of young King Joash who was one of many of a paradox of leaders.
Image source: Sweet Publishing

In today’s Bible reading* we see a familiar theme: A king comes to power and “does what is right in the eyes of the Lord”. However, the king isn’t wholly committed to walking with God; he allows idolatry in the land. It’s a paradox of leaders of God’s people.

As I mentioned earlier and in a sermon last year, the Bible always points to David as a man to emulate, while acknowledging his sin of adultery and murder. Today, we see King Joash, who, “Throughout the time of the priest Jehoiada … did what was right in the Lord’s sight.” (2 Chronicles 24:2; 2 Kings 12:2 CSB) And yet, Joash didn’t take down the high places and the people continued sacrificing and burning incense on the high places (2 Kings 12:3)

So let me get this straight: Even those kings who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” sometimes allowed idolatry to continue in the land? So those kings knowingly allowed the people to violate the First and Second Commandments. That truly is a paradox of leaders.


Yes, many kings who reigned over Israel and Judah were a paradox. Many of those who pleased God also displeased God by allowing idolatry to continue in the land. Yes, it’s a paradox of leaders or great hypocrisy.

This isn’t such a foreign idea to our country as one might think.

This week leads up to celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States from England. For many years, Independence Day, July 4, 1776, has been celebrated as the beginning of the founding of this country.

Many of our Founding Fathers were outspoken men of God. Most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were believers, and at least two were ministers or sons of ministers. At least one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution was a minister.

And yet, most (41 of 56) of the signers of the Declaration were slave owners. However, some scholars have documented only 34 of the signers as owning slaves.

Yes, depending on your perspective, we’re either looking at a great hypocrisy or a paradox in leaders.

Regardless of how many of the signers of our Founding Documents owned slaves, many today want to “cancel” the basis of our Nation’s founding, claiming that slavery was the original sin of the United States. Many claim that our Country was actually founded in 1619 when the first slave ship arrived in the Jamestown Colony.

Instead of embracing the “Cancel Culture”, perhaps as the Bible does with King David, we should look at these men’s lives and acknowledge the sins of sinful men. And perhaps we should honor those who mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes and sacred honor to found a new country.

One cannot read the wholistic history of this country without seeing the influence of the First Great Awakening (1730s and lasted into the 1760s) in giving rise to the Revolutionary War and the Second Great Awakening (late-1700s to mid-1800s) in giving rise to the Civil War. God was very much involved in the founding of America and the abolition of slavery.**

Like David and many of our Founding Fathers, our Nation is a paradox. We have sin in our history. We’ve come a long way. And we still have progress to make in how we relate to the diverse backgrounds of our population.

** For further reading on the Christian influence on the founding of the United States and the abolition of slavery, consider the following books by Dr. Eddie Hyatt.

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
2 Kings 12
2 Kings 13
2 Chronicles 24

This devotional was originally published on June 28, 2021.

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