2 Kings 12: The Temple Repaired
One thing that Joash (spelled also Jehoash) did was to give orders to repair the temple. There was delay in getting the money and in doing the work till Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in the lid and set it beside the altar. I will read you about getting the money and paying it out to the carpenters and builders, the masons and hewers of stone, who repaired the temple. The people were honest and no reckoning was made of the money. (2 Kings 12:9-13) Two things we have to remember: how the little Joash was made king and how he repaired the temple.
Who was the child who was hidden in the temple, and when he was seven years old was made king? Joash, and his name is written also in the longer form, Jehoash. Who was the good priest who took care of him and anointed him king? Joash was a good king, especially while the priest Jehoiada lived and instructed him. [The teachers will be interested to read about this king in 2 Chron. 24. But the account in Chronicles is considerably different from the story in Kings, and tells a good deal which is not required as a part of the sacred picture.] Places of worship on hilltops away from the temple still remained. People had worshiped in these high places from very old times, and although it had been commanded when the temple should be built to worship only there (Deut. 12:1-7), old high places still continued, even under good kings who were faithful to the Lord. (1 Kings 15:14; 22-43; 2 Kings 14:4)
When was the temple built, and by what king? What materials were used? Tell me about the cutting and bringing of the timber. Draw me a plan of the temple, with its courts and chambers. What was in the temple? What part of the worship was done in the court before the door and what part in the holy chamber? The temple was not now as strong and beautiful as when Solomon built it and dedicated it to the Lord. It had been neglected and perhaps had also been willfully robbed and injured.
Joash wished to repair it. He must get money for the work. At first, he told the priests to gather money: that which people gave for buying holy things for the temple, the money which was paid in connection with certain vows and was estimated by the priests according to the age and ability of the person making the vow (Lev. 27:2-8), and money which was given freely as a grateful offering.
But still the work of repairing was neglected. So Jehoiada took a chest and bored a hole in the lid of it and set it beside the altar, and money that the people brought to the temple was put into it till they had all that was needed. There was still left for the priest’s own use “the trespass money and sin money,” money that was paid for offerings of repentance when one had done wrong and wished to be forgiven. A part of such offerings was given to the Lord, and the rest was for the priests. (Lev. 5; 14:13) The money in the chest was taken by the king's scribe and the high priest and was “told” or counted, or perhaps rather weighed, for it is doubtful if the Jews yet had money that was coined. It was then given to honest people to buy timber and stone, and to hire carpenters and builders and masons to repair the temple—the stonework and the woodwork that had been made in the days of Solomon.
The Syrians were the old enemies of the northern kingdom, Israel, and they now threatened Judah and Jerusalem. One king of Syria who fought with Israel was Ben-hadad, and another was Hazael. It is Hazael that we read of in our story. He took the city of Gath. Gath, you remember, was one of the great cities of the Philistines, in the edge of the hills of Judah. Hazael's army must have passed through the land of Israel in order to reach this city. It was coming next against Jerusalem. But Joash took all the gold and treasure from the temple and sent to Hazael to keep him from coming. Among the treasure that he sent were vessels and other precious things of gold and silver which different kings before him had dedicated as grateful offerings to the Lord. So the Syrians went away and did not harm Jerusalem. Joash soon was killed by some of his own people, in Millo, which was a fortress in Jerusalem.
We must remember Joash as a good king. When we read 2 Kings 22, we shall compare the story of Joash with the story of Josiah, who also was made king as a child and who also repaired the temple.
1. Who was the priest who instructed Joash and helped him to do right?
2. What did Joash do for the temple? Why was this needed?
3. How was the money gathered for the work? How was it spent?
4. Who was Hazael? How have we heard of him before?
5. Where was Gath? What have we heard about that city'
Joash did right all the days that Jehoiada the priest instructed him. We all are kings in our little kingdoms when we use our power of thought and reason to rule our lives in right and orderly ways. But our reason should always look to the Lord for guidance and instruction or it cannot rule wisely. Young men and women, as they begin to establish their kingdoms and to rule their lives, should remember that they are weak and ignorant, and that they need to be instructed by the Lord. The lesson is taught in Ps. 119:9, 97-100, and other verses. It is taught also in the story of the young Joash instructed by the priest Jehoiada. The priest instructing the king especially represents the guiding and enlightening of the understanding by a heavenly affection: for in ourselves such affection and understanding are the priest and king. (A. 9809; E. 31)
Compare this story of the repairing of the temple by Joash with the account in 2 Kings 22 of repairing done at a later time by King Josiah. Notice in what ways the two stories are alike. Both Joash and Josiah began to reign as children; in both cases there were honest workmen with whom no reckoning was made.
The building of the temple was a picture of the building of a character after the heavenly pattern, in which the Lord can dwell. This temple of character may be neglected and become weakened and defaced and be in need of repair. We need to renew our hold upon the great truths of heavenly life, and to renew and improve our understanding of them. We need stones and timbers for strengthening the house. The fact that the workmen dealt faithfully so that no reckoning was made with them, suggests that no selfish motive can have a place in the work of repairing and strengthening the temple of character. Compare in the parable of laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16) those who bargained for their pay and those who accepted trustfully what was given them. There is also a beautiful thought in the fact that both the kings who repaired the temple entered upon their rule as children. It suggests that the childlike spirit in us is the one which makes us heavenly. The innocent and holy things of childhood when they are brought out in after years are the things which make character strong and beautiful. The gathering of money for the work from the little offerings dropped into the chest beside the altar perhaps suggests that the repairing, the strengthening and beautifying of heavenly character is accomplished by the little unnoticed remembrances of the Lord from day to day in all the things we do and say. (A. 4926)