2 Kings 12:4-16
And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD…
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the LORD,
WEB: Jehoash said to the priests, "All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of Yahweh, in current money, the money of the persons for whom each man is rated, and all the money that it comes into any man's heart to bring into the house of Yahweh,