So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.
Jotham was one of the kings of Judah of whom we know very little. His life and reign are recorded inand . From these passages we learn that Jotham was the 11th king of Judah, the son of the godly king Uzziah. He took over the reins of government from his father when he was 25 years old and reigned for 16 years. Most importantly, he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord ( ).
In keeping with that, we are told that Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.
Do you prepare your ways before the Lord your God?
Because Jotham prepared his way before the Lord, he became mighty. This means that he became established as a mighty ruler in Judah. In this he is a picture of Jesus Christ, who also has become mighty. By preparing His way before the Lord His God, Jesus Christ has become established in the everlasting kingdom of God as the King of all kings. When we who are in Jesus Christ prepare our ways before the Lord our God, we too will become mighty in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Jotham prepared his ways before the Lord.
A way is a road or path. Two ideas are expressed. A way speaks of a path down which one travels. A way also speaks of a certain destination to which that path leads.
In Scripture, one’s way refers to the path or the course of one’s life. It includes the goals one has in life as well as the way one seeks to attain these goals.
The Scripture passage speaks in the plural—of ways. This suggests that life is made up of many different ways or paths. There is the path one takes in education, in marriage, in child-rearing, in work, in entertainment, etc. In each of these there is a goal and a prescribed way to attain that goal.
What are your ways—the paths that you follow in life? You have goals that you have chosen to pursue—in marriage, in the family, in business, in education. What are they? And what course are you following to attain those goals?
Jotham prepared his ways before the Lord his God.
Notice, first, that God is viewed here as the God of the covenant. The name Lord is really Jehovah, God’s covenant name. In addition, Jehovah was Jotham’s God. This also is the language of the covenant. In the covenant that Jehovah establishes with His people, He becomes their God. As their God, He draws near to them in friendship and fellowship, to live with them and to provide for all of their needs.
In like manner Jehovah was Jotham’s God. Judah was the covenant people of God and they knew Jehovah as their God. Jotham was king of this covenant people, and he also knew Jehovah as his God.
Before Jehovah his God, Jotham prepared his ways.
The word translated “prepared” has the idea of directing or ordering. Some versions translate this word “ordered.” We direct or order the ways that we follow in life. This includes setting goals and also determining how we will attain these goals.
As Jotham ordered his ways, he did so before Jehovah his God. Literally we read before, or to the face of, Jehovah. This suggests that as Jotham ordered his ways he was conscious of the presence of Jehovah, his covenant God. He constantly looked into the face of Jehovah to see what pleased Him and then ordered his life accordingly. Think of a child who has an eye on his parents to see what pleases them, and acts accordingly. Jotham did this with Jehovah by keeping his eye on the law that Jehovah had given to direct His people’s life in His covenant.
Moreover, Jotham did this throughout his entire life. Jotham’s father, Uzziah, faltered toward the end of his life. Taking his eyes off from the face of Jehovah, Uzziah sought to burn incense in the house of the Lord. For this he was struck with leprosy. Special mention is made in verse 2 that Jotham did not follow in this way. He did not enter into the temple as did his father.
The question is: Do we order our ways before Jehovah our God? Jehovah is also our God. The covenant that God had with Israel exists also today. It is no longer limited to the Jews but exists with all true believers, Jew and Gentile alike. As you order your ways, where are your eyes focused? Do you order your ways with your eye on the world? on TV? on friends? It is important that we order our ways before the face of Jehovah our God, so that we follow His covenant ways throughout life. The way of His covenant is wonderfully set before us in Scripture.
In considering how this is possible for us to do, we must understand that Jesus Christ ordered His ways before Jehovah His God.
Jehovah is the covenant God also of Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus is Jehovah, the covenant God. Jesus is the second person of the blessed Godhead. His very name Jesus (Jehovah saves) indicates this. But we are talking about Jesus the mediator of the covenant. As mediator Jesus is the Son of God in our flesh through the virgin birth. Jehovah, the triune God, is His covenant God. In fact, Jehovah’s covenant is first of all and primarily with Jesus. Jesus is the covenant friend of Jehovah. Jehovah lives in intimate covenant fellowship with Jesus Christ. Jesus knows Jehovah as His God. Think of the cross word of Jesus, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Jesus ordered His ways before Jehovah His God. As Jesus ordered His ways in His short life, He looked to the face of Jehovah to determine His purpose in life and how to accomplish that purpose. Also for Jesus the face of Jehovah was to be seen in the law. God had revealed in the law what ways He had for Jesus Christ. This was not just the Decalogue but also the ceremonial law and the prophets. All the ways that Jehovah had for Jesus led to the cross, to make atonement for sin. Jesus carefully followed those ways as revealed in the Old Testament law, so that His life ended at the cross, where He gave His life as the perfect sacrifice for sin.
The possibility of our ordering our ways before the face of Jehovah our God is found in this perfect work of Jesus Christ.
This is true from two points of view.
First of all, God’s covenant with us exists only because Jesus ordered His ways before Jehovah and walked the way to the cross. God’s covenant with us depends on the payment for sin, which alone can bring reconciliation and peace between God and us. Jehovah sent Jesus into the world to accomplish this payment for the sake of His covenant with us. By ordering His ways accordingly, Jesus laid the foundation for, and secured, the everlasting covenant of God with His people. In Jesus Christ we know Jehovah as our God and enjoy His covenant friendship.
Secondly, to order our ways before Jehovah’s face so that we actually walk in the ways of the covenant is possible only in the power of the work of Jesus Christ. Of ourselves we are powerless to do this. Due to our depravity we would always order our ways before the world. In Jesus Christ, however, we are renewed in the power of the cross so that we can and do order our ways according to God’s covenant ways. This does not happen automatically but only as we cling to the cross in faith by the power of the Word and prayer.
Make sure to live out of Jesus Christ by faith with much prayer that you order your ways before the Lord.
Because Jotham ordered his ways before Jehovah, he became mighty.
The word translated “become mighty” is used in various passages with respect to various kings of Judah. It means to be confirmed or become established. It involves gaining firm control of the reins of government and even gaining power over the surrounding nations. For example, David for a time controlled only Judah but not Israel. After David became king over all Israel, he also subdued the surrounding nations that had plagued Israel for several centuries.
This was true also for Jotham. For a while he ruled under the shadow of his father. But when his father died he took effective control of the reins of government. He strengthened Judah militarily. At his father’s death, the Ammonites revolted. Jotham subdued them.
This was God’s blessing on Jotham for his faithfulness in ordering his ways according to the will of Jehovah. This was not a blessing Jotham earned. It was a blessing of grace received on the basis of the atonement to come. It was a blessing of the covenant that Jehovah gave Jotham.
In this, Jotham was a type of Jesus Christ, who also has become mighty. The great blessing of the covenant that Jehovah bestowed on Jesus Christ is that He exalted Jesus into heavenly glory, crowned Him with honor and glory. He strengthened the hand of Jesus so that Jesus establishes the everlasting kingdom of heaven and triumphs over all His enemies. This blessing of Jehovah upon Jesus is not of grace but of merit. It was Jehovah’s great blessing on Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross, a sacrifice made because He ordered His ways before His God.
As we, in the power of Jesus, order our ways before the face of Jehovah our God, we too will become mighty. We will become mighty to fight against sin and Satan in this life. We will become mighty to serve Jesus Christ is His glorious kingdom. We will do that in our marriages, our homes, our churches, and our communities. And when the kingdom of Jesus Christ is complete in the day of His coming, we will be given places of honor and glory to rule with Christ in the new creation.
Prepare your ways before the Lord your God!