2 Kings 12:9
Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest, bored a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar on the right side as one enters the house of the LORD. There the priests who guarded the threshold put all the money brought into the house of the LORD.
Sermons
The First Contribution-BoxC. S. Robinson, D. D.2 Kings 12:9
The History of JoashD. Thomas 2 Kings 12:1-21
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
The Temple Repairs - a Good Purpose AccomplishedJ. Orr 2 Kings 12:7-16


When so many years had elapsed without anything being done, Joash called the priests to account, and ordered them to take no more of the money of the people for themselves, but to repair the breaches of the house. A new start was made, and this time success was attained. We may ascribe the success to -

I. PRUDENT ARRANGEMENTS. Wise, business-like arrangements have much to do with the success of any undertaking. Those now entered into were under the superintendence of Jehoiada, and afforded:

1. Security against misappropriation. Jehoiada obtained a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it. It was placed beside the altar, on the right side, and all the money that was brought was put therein. There could thus be no suspicion of any real-appropriation of the funds. Every worshipper had the certainty that what he gave would go for the purpose for which it was given.

2. A removal of temptation. The arrangement of the chest was an advantage to the priests as well as to the people. It no longer afforded any temptation to needy individuals among them to retain funds that were passing through their hands. It put the order, as a whole, above suspicion and reproach. It is well not to put needless temptations in any one's way.

3. A convenience for giving. The chest, as it stood there beside the altar, was a permanent depository to which the contributions of the faithful could be brought. The people had not to seek out persons to receive their gifts. They knew, without asking, where to take them. Sound arrangements of this sort, inspiring confidence, minimizing temptations to negligence or dishonesty, and consulting the convenience of the offerers, were admirably adapted to promote the ends aimed at. The example may be attended to with profit in the financial management of churches, charities, missionary societies, etc.

II. WILLING GIVERS. The fact that the work was taken partially out of the hands of the priests, and that the people had now security for their gifts being properly applied, had an immediate effect on the flow of contributions. We find:

1. Liberal gifts brought. It was not long, as we are told, before there was "much money" in the chest. People are seldom as willing to give for religion as they should be, but if a good cause is put before them, if they have the case properly presented, and if they feel secure as to the disposal of their gifts, it is wonderful often how freely liberality flows forth. We must not blame people for illiberality when their backwardness in giving arises from removable, and perhaps justifiable, causes.

2. A strict account kept. This is another feature in the business-like management of the funds which was now introduced, showing what great pains were taken to impress the minds of the people with confidence in the disposal of their money. When the chest was full, the king's scribe and the high priest came up, opened the box, put the money in bags, and made a strict account of the sums. Strictness in pecuniary details may seem a minor matter, but it is really not so. The man who is honest in his pecuniary affairs is likely to be honest all through. Nothing shakes confidence so much as the suspicion of small unfaithfulnesses in money transactions. Instinctively we apply the principle, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" (Luke 16:10, 11).

III. DILIGENT WORKERS. The money contributed by the people was applied to hire the services of workers to execute the needed repairs.

1. The workers were many. There were carpenters and builders, stonemasons and hewers, and part of the money was expended also on the purchase of materials. As in this temple-building so in the Christian Church, there is need not only for givers but for workers, and every variety of gift proves to be of service. Some can give who cannot work; others can work who cannot give; others can both give and work. There are needed those with mission talent - the quarrymen and excavators; there are needed those who can educate, or hew and polish the stones when obtained; there are needed the organizers and builders - those whose function it is to put the stones in their places, and build up the holy temple to the Lord.

2. The workers were diligent. They were set on as soon as funds were forthcoming to employ them, and they wrought with good heart till the work was finished. Labor in the kingdom of God should be diligent. The many workers did not work separately, but together, all of them helping one another; and similar combination and co-operation are necessary to overtake the work of Christ.

IV. FAITHFUL OVERSEERS. Another step in the right direction, following up the previous precautions to inspire confidence, was the appointment of men to superintend the work who could be implicitly trusted. It is a noble testimony borne concerning these men who did the part of overseers in the work of the temple, that they did not need to be reckoned with, "for they dealt faithfully."

1. They were faithful in their oversight. They were men of probity and honor, who conscientiously looked after the men set under them, seeing that the work committed to their care was properly done. It is difficult to estimate the value, even in an economical respect, of the higher moral qualities of character. How much loss, suffering, disease, death, not to speak of minor annoyance, is inflicted on mankind through badly inspected, ill-done work? There is a sphere for faithfulness in the discharge of every kind of duty. Carlyle says of Louis XV., "His wide France, look at it from the fixed stars (them- selves not yet infinitude), is no wider than thy narrow brickfield, where thou, too, didst faithfully, or didst unfaithfully It is not thy works, which are all mortal, infinitely little, and the greatest no greater than the least, but only the spirit thou workest in that can have worth or continuance."

2. They were faithful in their money dealings. So perfectly faithful that it was not felt necessary to keep a strict reckoning with them as to their expenditure upon the workmen. No better tribute could be paid to their incorruptible integrity than the trust thus reposed in them. It was only a very high degree of integrity which would warrant it. As a rule, it is wise to keep account even with those whose integrity we do not dispute.

V. RESPECT FOR RIGHTS. It is added that the revenues which properly belonged to the priests, the trespass money and sin money, were not touched for the purpose of the repairs. Neither was the money given for the restoration of the building applied, until the repairs were completed, to purchase new vessels for the sanctuary - bowls of silver, snuffers, trumpets, etc. Probably in connection with the above arrangements for collecting the people's money other steps were taken to put the priests' legitimate income, the tithe dues, etc., on a more satisfactory footing. A regard for justice is thus observable throughout the whole of these dealings. Right is the proper basis to take one's stand on in works of reformation. - J.O.







And Jehoiada the priest took a chest.
This chapter takes us away from those confusions up in northern Palestine, which seemed to be getting a little overcrowded with murder and warfare and theft. There is a deep spiritual apathy in the city and the land everywhere. The people have still idolatrous practices; around on some of the hills there are altars and groves where decorous men and women would think it not nice to go. The worst of this terrible ungodliness is found in the greediness of the priests. Evidently they are self-seekers of the vile sort. They exhaust all the income of the sanctuary, slender as it is, in their own emoluments and perquisites. The king is inefficient, as should be expected; what could a little boy do? The temple is all out of repair; there are breaches in many parts of the building. A dull period of sixteen years has been slowly drifting along. The picture is not encouraging; but let us turn ourselves to the instruction it offers for us in these modern times. The force of the story will come out in a series of observations.

I. SOMETIMES RELIGIOUS DEPRESSION SHOWS ITSELF IN MATERIAL DILAPIDATIONS. Everything is running behind-hand in the public spirit of the town, the city, or the congregation.

1. It is a bad sign when the church edifice is going into ruinous condition. Can it be said that the zeal of the Lord is eating any one up there?

2. It is a worse sign when the income of any congregation has begun to fail. In the story here, somebody must have pushed up that little seven-year-old king Jehoash to try to collect some money, for he issued a call almost at once for help to put the temple under repair. But it all came to nothing; the house of the Lord continued to discourage and chill the devotions far more than to awake them, because it was so forlorn and unclean.

3. It is a worse sign still when the minister and the employees exhaust the funds in their own uses and luxuries. That was the trouble during those sad sixteen years of Jehoash's infancy. Money went in, but the priests swallowed it up.

4. It is the worst sign of all when the people's heart is unmoved; when everybody knows and nobody cares about the cheerlessness of the facts or the prospects.

II. SOMETIMES THE SPEEDIEST RELIEF IS FOUND IN THE PEOPLE'S TAKING THE REFORM WHOLLY INTO THEIR OWN HANDS.

1. In this case, it was the young king and the people who did the work, though the high-priest organised the new movement, under royal direction. Let us look into the whole facts and philosophy of this uprising of the community there in Jerusalem. The religious and ordained officers in the congregation of the temple cheerfully arose to say, "Let anybody do this great and needed thing that can do it better than we can." They consented to receive none of the money, and they withdrew from ordering the repairs. In that historic hour there came first to light the earliest contribution-box used in the service of God. Was there ever anything imagined so rude or inartistic as an instrument of devotion?

2. But before you smile at the prosaic expedient, pause a moment to do simple justice to one of God's instruments of good. From that day the contribution-box has been an institution for the Church under the Old Testament and the New, probably as well known as any other in the range of our experience. It deserves now and then a decent eulogy. Its record is honourable and fair.(1) The contribution-box exhibits the wide reach of religious obligation. This one stood beside the altar.(2) The contribution-box kindles the fires of love and hope in the believer's heart. For it seems to say, "All are at work now, and all together; what are you doing for your Lord?"(3) The contribution-box keeps good and true men up to the exact end in view.(4) The contribution-box develops and commissions the most capable workers in the Lord's cause. When men have given hopeful hearts and open hands alike to the service of the Master, it is not necessary to guard them; they will surely deal faithfully.

III. SOMETIMES PIETY IS BROUGHT BACK TO ITS LEVEL UNDER A FRESH IMPULSE OF MATERIAL PROSPERITY. This is a reflection also that we might expect to be suggested by the history here.

1. The philosophy underlying such a conclusion is simple. We are all creatures of human build and constitutional weakness in relation to the practical world we live in. When the church is repulsive and the services dull, when the carpets are soiled with long using, when the prayer-circle is languishing; then, good friends, it is almost hopeless for even the best of saints to try and keep up his spirits.

2. The relief is close at hand.

3. The facts, which might be offered in illustration, are without limit.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.).

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