2 Kings 12:4
Then Joash said to the priests, "Collect all the money brought as sacred gifts into the house of the LORD--the census money, the money from vows, and the money brought voluntarily into the house of the LORD.
Sermons
Methodical LiberalityAlexander Maclaren2 Kings 12:4
The History of JoashD. Thomas 2 Kings 12:1-21
The Temple Repairs - a Good Purpose FrustratedJ. Orr 2 Kings 12:4-6
The History of JehoashDavid Thomas, D. D.2 Kings 12:4-15
The Temple RepairedMonday Club Sermons2 Kings 12:4-15
The Repairing of the Temple Under Joash: a Missionary SermonC.H. Irwin 2 Kings 12:4-16


I. THIS WORK HAD ITS ORIGIN IN THE KING'S COMMAND. Kings get a great many hard knocks nowadays. But kings have not been all bad. Considering the fierce light which beats upon a throne, and the special temptations to which they are exposed, perhaps the character of kings will bear investigation as well as the character of many of their critics. If in Jewish history we find a Jeroboam and an Ahab, we also find a Solomon and a Hezekiah. If in Roman history we find a Nero staining with cruelty and bloodshed the imperial purple, we find others like Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, the patrons of literature, philosophy, and the arts. If in our British nation some of our sovereigns were not all they should have been, we can point to the influence for good which many of our rulers have exercised. So, although Joash ended badly, he began well. The first work of Joash and Jehoiada was to pull down the temple of Baal, and destroy his images. Their next work was to repair the temple of the Lord. Not merely had the house of the Lord been neglected for the worship of Baal, but, as we read in 2 Chronicles, "the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord did they bestow upon Baalim." Joash was grieved that the house of God should be in this shameful condition. He gave command that the temple should be repaired. He instructed the priests and Levites that they were to make collections for this purpose, not only in the temple, but throughout the land, every man from his acquaintance.

1. We have got the command of a King in reference to his Church. The Lord Jesus Christ expects that all who are his people will take an interest in building up that Church. We are first of all to build up the Church of Christ in our own land and in our own district. The professing Christian who enjoys the privileges of a Church, but contributes nothing to its support, is not obeying the teaching of God's Word. Then, also, we are to pray and give and labor for the extension of Christ's kingdom throughout the world. "Let him that heareth say, Come." "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." Here are three commands of Christ. How are we seeking to fulfill them?

2. The cause of Christian missions rests upon the command of our King. Some may think little of Christian missions. They may make light of their necessity, or undervalue the work they have done - though testimonies to the value of missionary work are becoming more frequent every year from explorers, from scientific men, from statesmen, even from heathen who have not become Christians. But it is enough for the true Christian that Christ has commanded the evangelization of the world. "That command," said the Duke of Wellington, "is the marching orders of the Christian Church."

II. THIS WORK WAS DELAYED BY NEGLECTFUL PRIESTS. Notwithstanding the command of King Joash, which would seem to have been given early in his reign, for a long time nothing was done. The time passed by till the twenty-third year of his reign, and still the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house of the Lord. Joash called the priests and the Levites together, and asked them why they had not carried out the work entrusted to them. Then he took it out of their hands in a certain measure. They who should have been the foremost in their zeal for the house of God had been tardy in this important work. How often it has unhappily been so in the history of the Christian Church! It was through the priesthood of the Western Church in the Middle Ages that the greatest corruptions crept in. Forgetting their spiritual profession, they mixed themselves up with the political strife of their day. The popes aspired to be lords over God's heritage - a claim which Christ forbade his apostles to exercise. They thirsted for temporal power, and put the power of the Church into competition with the governments of the nations, just as the present pope is seeking to do in our own time. They thirsted for wealth and splendor, and thus began the traffic in indulgences against which Luther raised his mighty voice. All this time they were unfaithful to the high commission they professed to hold. They were forgetful of the plain statement of Christ, "My kingdom is not of this world." But this unfaithfulness of the teachers of religion is not confined to the Church of Rome. All Churches have suffered from it at one time or another. How much of the delay in the great work of Christian missions has been due to the neglect and unfaithfulness of religious teachers! For centuries scarcely anything was done to carry the gospel into heathen lands. Protestant missions can scarcely be said to have existed before the nineteenth century. The blight of moderatism, which was over all Christian communities in the last century, was fatal to all missionary effort for the time. But God's work does not depend upon men, or on any class of men. If those who are stewards of God are unfaithful to their trust, God will commit it to other hands. If men enter the sacred stoics of the ministry for the sake of earning a livelihood, God can deprive them even of that. How important for ministers of Christ to remember that they are watchmen upon the walls of Zion, and that if they neglect to warn the sinner, the blood of lost souls will be required at their hands! They are to be teachers and examples of the flock, leaders in every good work. Well it is for the Christian minister when he can say with the Apostle Paul, "I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."

III. THIS WORK WAS SUPPORTED BY GENEROUS PEOPLE. We may learn much from this chapter about the place of money in the Church of God. First of all, we see that the people were regularly rated or assessed for the support of religious ordinances. It is to this that Joash refers (ver. 4) when he speaks of the money of every one that passeth the account - the money that every man is set at. And in the account which is given in 2 Chronicles it is said that they made a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to bring in to the Lord the collection that Moses the servant of the Lord laid upon Israel in the wilderness. When we look into the thirtieth chapter of Exodus, the last chapter of Leviticus, and other passages, we find the clear instructions of God himself on this matter. When the numbering or census of the people was made, each one was assessed at so much for an atonement offering. This money was devoted to maintain the services of the sanctuary. Then again, if any one entered into a special vow to be the Lord's, he incurred special pecuniary obligations, and was rated accordingly. All these offerings Joash ordered to be set apart on this occasion for the repairs of the temple, with the exception of the sin and trespass offerings, which were secured to the priests, and which could not be touched for any other purpose. From these and other details we learn that God expected the Israelites to contribute regularly a fixed sum, in proportion to their income, for the support of religious ordinances. He expected of those who took special vows upon them that they should consecrate more of their money to his service. So God expects of his people still, and particularly of those who make the full profession of Christianity involved in attendance at the Lord's table. Some preacher stated lately that it is no "charity" when we give to the support of the Church with which we are connected. It is merely the payment of a debt - the fulfillment of obligations which every one incurs when he becomes a member of a Christian Church, and obligations which can no more be rightly shirked than any other just and lawful debt. Over and above that, he said, there is, of course, a large margin for the exercise of Christian charity and benevolence. This was the case when Joash appealed to the people to contribute, not only the fixed sum at which they were rated, but also "all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the Lord." He was not ashamed to appeal to them for money, for it was for a good cause. It was for God's cause, for God's house. He put the chest in a prominent place, where it could be seen (ver. 9). And his faithful, earnest appeal was not without effect. We read in 2 Chronicles 24:10 that" all the princes and all the people rejoiced, and brought in, and cast into the chest, until they had made an end." No doubt they experienced the blessing which is implied in the words, "God loveth a cheerful giver." We need to study God's Word more on this subject of Christian giving. We have seen what the Old Testament rules were. Here is one from the New Testament: "On the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." If we were to give systematically, as these words exhort., if we were to measure our weekly offerings by our prosperity, how much larger our offertories would be! what an overflowing offering of silver and gold would be given to carry the gospel to the heathen!

IV. THIS WORK WAS CARRIED OUT BY FAITHFUL WORKERS. Those are very remarkable words, "Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully (ver. 15). There were faithful workmen, and faithful overseers of the work. And what was the explanation of this unusual confidence on the part of the contributors, and unusual faithfulness on the part of the workers? Ah! there had been a reformation of religion! Wherever true religion flourishes, there there will be honest and upright dealing between man and man. When the great revival of religion took place in Ulster in 1859, the change was soon manifest in the conduct of the whole community. Scenes of strife and turbulence became scenes of kindness and peace. The officers of justice had easy work in maintaining law and order, and at many of the sessions there was absolutely no criminal business. When men are influenced by the fear of God it will not be hard to procure obedience for the law of man. When the love of Christ is in men's hearts there will be love for our fellow-creatures also. May we not say the same of the great work of missions to the heathen, that it is being carried on by faithful workers? Where shall we find such a record of faithfulness, of patience, of devotedness, of perseverance, of heroic courage, as in the life and work of many a humble missionary to heathen lauds? When we remember how many of those who have gone forth as missionaries, in connection with the Church and with the great missionary societies, have sacrificed high literary, or commercial, or professional prospects at home, it is but reasonable that the Christian Church should express its sympathy with such self-denial and devotedness by contributing liberally to the work of foreign missions (vide infra, on 2 Kings 13:14-19). - C.H.I.









And Jehoash said to the priests.
Monday Club Sermons.
1. The house of God is apt to show a decline of religion, and should share the blessings of a reformation. The tabernacle, and the temple which replaced it, were constructed with the utmost care. They were designed to resist wear and decay; but because the most durable materials are perishable, provision was made for the care of these sacred buildings. Moses, under Divine direction, created a temple fund, which was sustained by a uniform tax of half a shekel upon every member of the congregation of twenty years old and upward. In the troubled times which preceded the succession of Joash to the throne, this fund had not been collected; and in the general decline into irreligion, the temple and its furniture had been neglected, plundered, and wasted. One of the conspicuous signs of the religious condition of the nation was this house. By viewing it one could see at a glance that the service of God had been exchanged for idolatry. It is a pretty safe rule that we may judge of the state of religion in a town by the condition of the churches; if these are in good repair, without and within, the inference is, — it will not always hold, but it is the rule — that the religious institutions are flourishing, God is honoured, and His blessings are with His faithful people.

2. One reason why the temple had been neglected was that the people worshipped in the high places. We have references to these places in all the Jewish history. They were not necessarily places of idol worship. God was worshipped in them. Devout Jews, who worshipped in the temple, worshipped also at private or local altars, the high places. But, as religion declined, the tendency was to prefer the high places to the temple, and to corrupt the purer worship of these shrines by idolatries. The high places became rivals of the temple.

3. The king thought of the temple before Jehoiada, though the great priest was the reformer of his age. This seems strange. The position of Jehoiada throughout the work was strange; he seems never to have fully appreciated the importance of the repair of the temple. Probably the reason was that he was absorbed in other parts of the mighty task to which he had devoted himself. It has not been uncommon for reformers to be guilty of extraordinary oversight, their very zeal preventing their viewing their work in its true proportions. But while this was the case, the training of Jehoiada appears in the devotion of the king.

4. The first plan adopted for raising money for the repair was excellent. The priests were directed to set apart the regular income of the temple, and also to go through the country, among their acquaintances, and raise a general subscription. Each priest was to present the case to his personal friends. There could be no better plan. This is the simple scriptural method by which religion is extended. Every Christian is to go among his friends and acquaintances, and enlist them one by one.

5. The most excellent plans may fail. The plan of Jehoash failed. The failure lay immediately at the door of the priests. These good men seem to have shared the want of interest of Jehoiada in the work. They failed to collect the popular tax. And instead of using the collections which they made for the purpose for which they were raised, they expended them for current needs, and for furniture which needed to be replaced, candlesticks, tongs, and spoons.

6. A new and poor plan succeeded. His patience at length worn out, the king called a conference, discovered how things had been mismanaged, and changed his course. He learned that, notwithstanding his order, the temple tax, the half-skekel, had not been collected. With the counsel of Jehoiada, he had a collection chest placed at the gate of the temple; he stopped the private subscriptions, and had a proclamation issued, calling upon the people throughout the nation to pay the ancient tax of Moses. Simply the uniform sum fixed by Moses was required from all. The princes were not permitted to pay more; the poorest man might not pay less. The confidence of the king in the people was justified. The chest rapidly filled, and, when it was emptied, was refilled again and again. The plan was a very poor one: one of the very poorest which man has ever devised, this of a box at the church door. It succeeded because the people were interested to get the work done. It is of interest to note that, when the repair was completed, enough money was left to r furnish the temple throughout with vessels of silver and gold.

7. The depth of the reformation in the nation is shown in what is said of the honesty of Joash's master-workmen. The taxes, as they were taken from the chest at the gate of the temple, were put into the hands of these men to pay out in wages, and, moreover, they reckoned not for materials with the men into whose hands they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen; for they dealt faithfully. This is most extraordinary. This was one of the times when Israel had a dim realization of the coming millennium, when Holiness should be written on the bells of the horses, when public money could be trusted to officials, high and low, with such confidence that they would deal faithfully that they were not required to give any account.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

The whole story of Joash is soon told. He was a son of Ahaziah, and the only one of his children who escaped the murderous policy of Athaliah.

I. THE DILAPIDATING INFLUENCE OF TIME UPON THE BEST MATERIAL PRODUCTIONS OF MANKIND. The temple had not been built more than about one hundred and sixty years, had got into a state of dilapidation, there were breaches in it; where the breaches were we are not told, whether in the roof, the floor, the walls, or in the ceiling. The crumbling hand of time had touched it. No human superstructure, perhaps, ever appeared on the earth built of better materials, or in a better way, than the temple of Solomon. It was the wonder of ages. Notwithstanding this, it was subject to the invincible law of decay. The law of dilapidation seems universal throughout organic nature; the trees of the forest, the flowers of the field, and the countless tribes of sentient life that crowd the ocean, earth, and air, all fall into decay; and so, also, with the material productions of feeble man. Throughout the civilised world we see mansions, churches, cathedrals, palaces, villages, towns, and cities, in ruins. All compound bodies tend to dissolution, there is nothing enduring but primitive elements or substances. This being so, how astoundingly preposterous is man's effort to perpetuate his memory in material monuments. The only productions of men that defy the touch of time and that are enduring are true thoughts, pure sympathies, and noble deeds.

II. THE INCONGRUITY OF WORLDLY RULERS BUSYING THEMSELVES IN RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS. Jehoash was no saint, the root of the matter was not in him; he had no vital and ruling sympathy with the Supreme Being, yet he seemed zealous in the work of repairing the temple.

III. THE VALUE OF THE CO-OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE IN THE ENTERPRISES OF MANKIND. It would seem that the work of repairing the temple was so great that no one man could have accomplished it. Hence the king called earnestly for the co-operation of all. They obeyed his voice. The people gave the money, and all set to work. Two remarks concerning the principle of co-operation.

1. It is a principle that should govern all men in the undertakings of life. It was never the purpose of the Almighty that man should act alone for himself, should pursue alone his own individual interests. Men are all members of one great body, and was ever member made to work alone? No. But for the good of the whole, the common weal.

2. It is a principle that has done and is doing wonders in the undertakings of life. This principle, however, has its limits. In spiritual matters it must not infringe the realm of individual responsibility. There is no partnership in moral responsibility. Each man must think, repent, and believe for himself. "Every man must bear his own burden." The narrative reminds us of —

IV. THE POTENCY OF THE RELIGIOUS ELEMENT IN EVEN DEPRAVED MEN. At this time Israel was morally as corrupt as the heathen nations. Notwithstanding this, the religious sentiment was in them, as in all men, a constituent part of their natures, and this sentiment is here appealed to, and roused into excitement, and being excited men poured forth their treasures and employed their energies for the repairing of the temple. This element in man often sleeps under the influence of depravity, but mountains of depravity cannot crush it, it lies in human nature as the mightiest latent force. Peter the Hermit, Savonarola the Priest, Wesley the Methodist, and others, in every age have roused it into mighty action even amongst the most ignorant and depraved of the race.

V. THE POWER OF MONEY TO SUBDUE ENEMIES. Here is a man, a proud, daring monarch, who was determined to invade Judea, and to take possession of Jerusalem. Relinquishing his designs, what was the force that broke his purpose? Money. It is said that Jehoash sent gold to Hazael, "and he went away from Jerusalem." Truly money answereth all things. Money tan arrest the march of armies and terminate the fiercest campaigns.

(David Thomas, D. D.)

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