When I was a teenager, I had one of those little experiences, which had longer lasting, and BIG effects. I was on a school trip to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and in a cabinet there was a small copper alloy ring. It bore a simple inscription: “Belongs to Jotham.” This little ring opened my eyes to the reality of scripture. Yes, I had been a Christian since I was eleven , but in the immature state of my faith, it was the “evidence” presented before my very eyes, that these were more than stories, that began my growth and desire to search deeper.
So who was this Jotham, that sped me on my journey? 2 kings 15 tells us: “In the second year of Pekah the son of Remali′ah, king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzzi′ah, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jeru′sha the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Uzzi′ah had done. Nevertheless the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of the Lord. Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? In those days the Lord began to send Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remali′ah against Judah. Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead (32-38 RSV).”
Jotham King of Judah, was the son of King Uzziah and the grandson of Zadok the priest. He was a reformer for good, though he was not fully successful in his endeavors.
2 Chronicles 27: 1-9 (RSV) presents him as follows: “Jotham was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jeru′shah the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord according to all that his father Uzzi′ah had done—only he did not invade the temple of the Lord. But the people still followed corrupt practices. He built the upper gate of the house of the Lord, and did much building on the wall of Ophel. Moreover he built cities in the hill country of Judah, and forts and towers on the wooded hills. He fought with the king of the Ammonites and prevailed against them. And the Ammonites gave him that year a hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand cors of wheat and ten thousand of barley. The Ammonites paid him the same amount in the second and the third years. So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God. Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars, and his ways, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David; and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.”
These two accounts reveal that “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord . . . [and] he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.” Here is a young man, who wanted to serve God. He was successful in his dealings with the Ammonites, and build forts and on the frontier. He did building work in the temple, and did not defile the temple as his father had done. He served God, and did not usurp the power of the priesthood (again as his father had done). He was unable to rid Judah of false worship, however, and growing pressure from the northern kingdom of Israel did not help him in this.
Jotham of the line of Judah, and descendant of David; Jotham grandson of the first High Priest of the First Temple, was a man flawed but dedicated. His legacy to me was at first a little bronze ring, and in the end a model of dedication. I hope too, that some day it might be said of me “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”