2 Chronicles 25:10
So Amaziah dismissed the troops who had come to him from Ephraim and sent them home. And they were furious with Judah and returned home in great anger.
Sermons
A Campaign Against the EdomitesT. Whitelaw 2 Chronicles 25:5-13


There is something which approaches, if it does not amount to, the ludicrous in the question so solemnly proposed by Amaziah, "But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel?" Could it be the right thing and the wise thing to sacrifice all that money? Were a hundred talents to be thrown away? Supposing he defeated the enemy without the help of these mercenaries, would it not be a mortifying thing that he had spent such a sum to no purpose? But Amaziah was so situated that he had to make the choice which has so often to be made; he had to choose between sacrificing his money or forfeiting the favour of his God. He had the wisdom to accept the former alternative, and to believe the prophet, that the Lord was "able to give him more than this." On the choice which we make, when this question comes up for settlement by ourselves, there hang great issues. Wherefore let us well consider -

I. THE LIMITATIONS TO THE VALUE OF GOLD. Gold serves many useful purposes; through it we can secure the necessaries and the comforts of life, the conditions of education, the advantages of good society; but its power is very limited, after all.

1. Its possession, so far from ensuring happiness, often entails much burdensomeness, and always imposes a heavy responsibility.

2. Its tenure is slight and short; an accident or a revolution, impossible to foresee, may take it suddenly away, and at death it must be relinquished.

3. It is wholly powerless in the presence of some of the sadder and graver evils of our life.

4. It tempts to indolence and indulgence, and it may be doubted whether it does not spoil more lives than it brightens and blesses.

II. THE BOUNDLESS BLESSEDNESS OF THE FAVOUR OF GOD. The Lord was not only able to give Amaziah "much more than this," much more than "a hundred talents of silver," but he was able to bless him in ways which were incomparably superior to such material enrichment. And so is he able and most willing to bless us. Willingly should we part with gold and silver at his bidding, to be true and loyal disciples to our Master, to preserve our spiritual integrity; for if we do this "for Christ's sake and the gospel's" (Mark 8:35) there will be for us ample and most abundant compensation for what we lose.

1. The peace of God, which passes understanding, and which surpasses all material values.

2. The positive and active friendship of our Lord, and of the good and true.

3. A life of noble and fruitful service.

4. A death of hope.

5. A future of immortal glory. In view of these things, we need not be greatly concerned about the less of a hundred or a thousand talents. - C.







That Joash was minded to repair the house of the Lord.
It is worthy of note that in the mere outline of a reign extending over twenty years, in very exciting times, space should have been taken to record so minutely the repairing of the temple. No less remarkable is it that the initiative in this great work was due to Joash and not to Jehoiada — the king, not the priest. There was need for some one to lift the standard for Jehovah and His worship. For since the accession of Jehoram, the wicked son of the good Jehoshaphat, there had been a steady decline toward idolatry. Spurred on by his wife, Athaliah, the worthy daughter of the monster Jezebel, Jehoram allowed "high places" to be built to the heathen deities. Dying after less than ten years of rule, of an agonising internal disease, the crown descended to his one surviving son, Ahaziah. After a reign of little more than a year, during which he was wholly under the power of his mother, Ahaziah was slain by Jehu while on a visit to Israel. Athaliah seized the throne and ruled for six years, fostering and encouraging heathenism to the utmost. To make her usurpation more secure, she had, at the beginning of her reign, as she supposed, compassed the death of all aspirants to the crown. But, through the cunning and daring of Jehoiada and his wife, one boy, Joash, a son of Ahaziah, was preserved. When the time was ripe the priest led a revolt against the queen, putting the young Joash, only eight years of age, upon the throne, and causing the death of Athaliah. A great opportunity opened up for the young prince. Jehoiada carefully instructed him during his childhood in the religion of Jehovah, that, when he came to the years of responsible reign, he might zealously foster the old faith. But, unfortunately, Joash was not strong enough for the task. As long as he was under the tuition of Jehoiada he did fairly well, though idolatry was suffered to extend itself; but after the death of the old priest the pressure from heathenism was too great for his weak nature to resist, and Joash followed the path of his immediate predecessors. True, the third verse of our lesson may not indicate anything more than a resemblance to heathen customs, inasmuch as they may have worshipped Jehovah in the "high places"; still, having adopted that mode of heathen worship, it became easier to introduce others, and thus the way was opened for that awful apostasy from God when incense was burned to strange gods "in every single city of Judah." Nevertheless, Joash should have full credit for the one luminous work of his whole reign — the repair of the temple. We shall find his plans of gathering and expending the money worthy of our careful study.

I. THE PLANS OF COLLECTION.

1. The first one, undoubtedly the king's, shows him in a favourable light. He assumes no priestly prerogative or authority. He simply enjoins the priests to do their legitimate work — "go out into the cities of Judah and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of the Lord." The parallel account in 2 Kings 12:4, gives the details of the plan. Three methods of collecting the money are there described. First, "The money of every one that passeth the account." Bahr considers these words an incorrect translation of the original, preferring "money which passes over" — that is, current money. It he is right, then no separate method is indicated. But the weight of authority is in favour of the old translation, and, following this, the half-shekel which was paid for every one that was numbered, from twenty years old and upward (Exodus 30:13, seq.), seems to be meant. Second, "The money that every man is set at" — that is, the amount prescribed by the priests for those who made a "singular vow" according to the law in Leviticus 27:1-8. The third was the free-will offering, and probably more dependence was placed on this than upon either or both of the other methods. Taken all in all, this plan was compulsive and judicious, and deserved to succeed. But it failed, and why? There appears to have been a combination of reasons. The words, "Howbeit the Levites hastened it not," furnish a hint that the appointed collectors, on whom the success of the plan largely depended, did not enter heartily into its prosecution. They were expected not only to take what the people brought in voluntarily, but actively to solicit "every man of his acquaintance" (parallel account in 2 Kings 12:5). Whether they did not relish moving, at the orders of the king, or were too lazy to "go out into the cities of Judah," we can only conjecture. We only know they did not hasten. No doubt, too, there was much inertia on the part of the people themselves. The general indifference to the old system of worship and the inevitable corruption which followed dabbling with heathen practices both contributed to a lethargy which could only be broken up by some extra-ordinary method. But the great reason lies deeper, much deeper. Soften the account as we will, there was wide-spread dissatisfaction with the course pursued by the priests. Whether they had good grounds for suspicion or not, the people believed the collectors had misappropriated the funds. And it is hard to clear them of this charge. Doubtless some money came in from loyal souls who longed to see God's temple shining with the olden glory. Indeed, we know that some did, because when the king called on the priests for a report he ordered them to "take no more money." Some, then, had been gathered. But what became of it? The priests never made any return thereof. True, it condones the fault somewhat to plead that the regular sacerdotal revenue had largely fallen off during the prevalence of idolatry, and that the priests found themselves hard pushed for funds for their subsistence and the temple-worship, and thus were forced to use what came into their hands for immediate needs. But to divert money given for a specific purpose to other channels, however proper, is practical embezzlement. And it is easy to see how this course would breed dissatisfaction and revolt among the people. Their joyful acceptance of the second plan, and the hearty liberality exhibited, show conclusively that we have not argued unjustly. And the taking of the whole matter out of the hands of the priests by the king confirms our position. It would appear that Joash gave ample time for the successful working of this first plan. Not until the twenty-third year of his reign did he call the priests to account. This does not mean, of course, that the collectors had been at work twenty three years, for we are not told in what year they received their commission. It certainly could not have been in the first years of Joash's reign, because he began to rule at the age of eight.

2. But having abandoned the first plan, the king quickly unfolded his second one. This was as simple u it was effective. A box or chest, securely locked, with a hole cut in the lid to admit pieces of money, was first prepared. It was placed at the entrance-gate to the priest's court on the right. Royal proclamation was then made of the new plan throughout the land, and the people exhorted to bring in their contributions in accordance with the law found in Exodus 30:12-16, and see their money deposited in the chest. The part of the priests was the mere perfunctory duty of receiving the money and putting it into the receptacle in the presence of the donors. And now money fairly flowed in. Nor was it given grudgingly. "All the princes and all the people rejoiced." When the chest was full the priest sent his scribe and the king his secretary, and the two emptied it, weighed the money, bound it up in bags (2 Kings 5:23), and carried it back to its place. The process was repeated until an abundance was gathered for the purpose. The plan was a great success. And why? Doubtless the novelty of the plan accounts partly for it. The curiosity to look upon the first money-chest of this description would bring in many contributions that otherwise would not have been given. But, chiefly, every person saw his gift deposited in the receptacle which was inaccessible to any but the regularly appointed officers, and thus he could be reasonably sure that his money would be laid out for the purpose he intended. Herein lies the chief cause of the plan's success — every piece of money was strictly accounted for, and there was no possible chance for a misuse of the funds.

II. THE EXPENDITURE WAS AS NOTEWORTHY AS THE GATHERING. The same clear-headed, far-seeing intelligence was behind it. Putting the two accounts together, it is plain that overseers were appointed who had general charge of the repairs. The words, "such as did the work of the service of the house of the Lord," in the twelfth verse, indicate that the overseers were Levites. They had authority to employ artisans of different kinds — masons and carpenters and workers in brass and iron — and also to purchase the needed materials. Into their hands went the immense sums which had been collected, and to them the workmen looked for their wages. And what seems strange — almost incomprehensible — in view of the careful scrutiny exercised over the collections, their overseers were not required to give account of their stewardship (2 Kings 12:15). That they were honest and "dealt faithfully" is apparent from the fact that, after finishing their task and paying all the bills, they brought back a remainder to the king and Jehoiada. With this unexpended balance they were enabled to furnish the temple anew with the vessels necessary for the ritual service (1 Kings 7:49, 50). The old ones had been devoted to Baalim (ver. 7). An apparent discrepancy exists at this point between our account and that in 2 Kings 12:13, where the writer declares that vessels were not made of the "money that was brought into the house of the Lord." Rawlinson seems to explain the matter satisfactorily by showing that "all that the writer of Kings desires to impress on his readers is, that the repairs were not delayed by any deductions from the money that flowed in through the chest on account of vessels or ornaments of the house. What became of the surplus in the chest after the last repairs were completed he does not care to tell us. But it is exactly this, the application of which is mentioned by the writer of Chronicles." We may venture to add our opinion that the writer of Kings, in enumerating the special points of the overseers' responsibility, mentions, casually, that they were not responsible for the furnishing of the temple with the appropriate vessels. Their special business was to look after the repairs. So, after many years of dilapidation, the people saw their glorious sanctuary shine in all its former glory. The smoke of sacrifice again rose heavenward, calling the backsliding children of Israel to the faith of their fathers.

III. PRACTICAL WORDS.

1. One of the great problems which ever confront the Church is the financial one. Doors open on every hand, and consecrated workers wait to go through them, but the treasuries are empty. Settle this matter of finance, and the spiritual interests will progress correspondingly.

2. The contribution box is not a "Vandal in the house of God." It is the legitimate successor of Jehoiada's chest, and its regular use should be considered a part of worship.

3. The people who give the money have a right to know where it goes. And if it be diverted from its proper use, those who administer should not complain if there follow a falling off in contributions. Men will have honest dealing in Church finances.

(H. H. French.)

The work of Joash was to repair the temple and restore the sacrificial worship. The bright side of Joash's rule divides itself into the man and his mission — his motive and his method.

I. JOASH HAD TO CONQUER, SPIRITUALLY, HIS OWN HEART AS WELL AS THE HEART OF HIS PEOPLE. To know Joash you must understand —

1. His lineage. Heredity did little for, but much against, the formation in him of a pure character. Athaliah and Jezebel were his grandmother and great.grandmother.

2. His environment. This was Jehoiada.

(1)He was a father to Joash.

(2)He was the impersonation of piety.

(3)His patriotism so blended with his piety that though separable in thought, they were scarcely distinguishable in action.

(4)Jehoiada's philanthropy is seen in his self-restraint in the hour of triumph. Only two perished — Athaliah the usurper and the idolatrous priest.

II. THE MISSION OF JOASH WAS TO EFFECT AMONG HIS PEOPLE A GENUINE REFORMATION. The reconstruction of the temple he viewed as the road to religious revival and reformation. Destruction and reconstruction are alternating or synchronous processes ever manifesting themselves in the efforts of God's people. Joash is the resultant and embodiment of both these forces. Destruction is easy, and to wicked men only too natural (ver..7). Construction, and still more reconstruction, is as difficult as destruction is easy.

III. JOASH WAS UNSELFISH IN HIS MOTIVE.

1. The times called loudly for reform.

2. Joash aimed at a revival of religion.

(1)Revivals take their rise in the individual heart.

(2)Revivals of religion, if genuine, are contagious.

(3)Revivals naturally induce co-operation.

IV. THE METHOD OF JOASH FOR INCREASING MEN'S INTEREST IN RELIGION WAS THE RESTORATION OF THE LORD'S HOUSE. A dilapidated temple of God is painfully significant. The great collection under Joash for the temple is a model for Christian beneficence. Dimly shadowed in the people's offering under Joash, but distinctly taught in the letters of Paul, are eight rules of Christian giving. We should give —

1. By principle and habit.

2. In the spirit of stewardship.

3. According to ability.

4. Willingly and cheerfully.

5. Secretly as a general thing, as unto the Lord, and not unto men.

6. As an act of worship.

7. In faith, venturing on God, as did the widow with her two mites.

8. Intelligently, as to the object.Application: Mankind is "the house of the Lord" in ruins. We are under solemn obligation to reconstruct this broken and shattered temple.

(W. Landrum, D. D.)

Monday Club Sermons.
I. THAT THE PROVIDENCES OF GOD CONNECTED WITH THE HOUSE OF THE LORD CALL FOR GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE.

II. THE MORAL VALUE OF THE HOUSE OF GOD TO THE COMMUNITY AND THE COUNTRY IN WHICH IT STANDS DEMANDS HONOURED RECOGNITION.

III. THE SPIRITUAL VALUE OF SACRED PLACES SHOULD BE FITLY ACKNOWLEDGED. I lately heard an eminent business man say, "Forty-six years ago yesterday noon the Holy Spirit came into my soul. Yesterday I walked to the place and adored the ground where He blessed me, and remembered that for forty-six years He had talked with me and kept me."

IV. THE HOUSE OF GOD CAN BE PROPERLY CARED FOR ONLY BY REGULAR, SYSTEMATIC EFFORT.

V. GOD HAS, TO A GREAT DEGREE, INTRUSTED THE BEAUTIFYING OF HIS HOUSE TO THE YOUNG.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

1. To each one among us there is a temple which should be far holier in his eyes than was even the temple at Jerusalem in the eyes of the children of Israel.

2. This holiest of temples, a man's own self, is exposed to injury and decay.

3. As year passes after year, let us be reminded to repair each one of us to that house of God which is built within him, and which has been dedicated to the worship of God by the Holy Spirit which dwells in it.

4. In repairing the spiritual temple, one of our main purposes should be to ascertain what in it needs to be stripped away and what demands preservation.

5. The things to be discarded are —

(1)Old enmities; how they interfere with the pure worship and mar the quiet beauty of the house!

(2)Old weaknesses and vanities.

(3)Old habits of self-indulgence and self-degradation.

(4)Old sins, presumptuous sins, secret sins.

6. The things which must be retained are —

(1)Old friendships.

(2)Old habits of order and punctualness, of truth, of kindness and prayer.

(3)Old virtues.

(F. W. P. Greenwood, D.D.)

Howbeit the Levites hastened not
There is a distinct tinge of suspicion and "whipping up" in his injunction to "hasten the matter." Half-heartedness always means languid work, and that always means failure. The earnest people are fretted continually by the indifferent. Every good scheme is held back, like a ship with a foul bottom, by the barnacles that stick to its keel and bring down its speed. Eager zeal has in all ages to be yoked to torpid indifference, and to drag its unwilling companion along like two dogs in a leash.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

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