Morning Light – September 1st, 2015

MLToday: [2 Kings Chapter Twelve] Early Restoration of the Temple. In the beginning of the line of kings after Solomon the temple falls into disrepair. Baal worship and the persistence of the people to resort to other shrines and altars has brought Solomon’s once shining edifice into ruins. King Joash orders the priesthood to effect repairs but the leadership of the house of God is reluctant to commit to the task. Finally the king intervenes and the work proceeds only to be stymied by a Syrian siege against the city. In this chapter we learn that yielding to outward pressures of life can cost us greatly – more so than choosing to stand and trust God instead.

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[2Ki 12:1-21 KJV] 1 In the seventh year of Jehu Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name [was] Zibiah of Beersheba. 2 And Jehoash did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.

4 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, 5 Let the priests take [it] to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found. 6 But it was [so, that] in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house. 7 Then king Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and the [other] priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? now therefore receive no [more] money of your acquaintance, but deliver it for the breaches of the house. 8 And the priests consented to receive no [more] money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house.

In this chapter we find the account of king Jehoash whose mother nearly wiped out the line of David in order to make herself queen of Jerusalem. As an infant Jehoash (alternately called Joash) was hidden in the temple by the high priest Jehoiada till he was proclaimed king at 6 years of age. Joash became king of Jerusalem in the 7th year of the northern king Jehu’s rule. Joash ruled for 40 years with a mostly peaceful and prosperous administration. Unlike his immediate predecessors he “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” all of the days during which Jehoiada the high priest instructed him. The implication is that after his mentor and surrogate father the high priest dies that Joash falls under the sway of godless counselors whose influence is made known later on in his life. For all the godliness of this king there was one exception – he did not take away the high places or stamp out the idolatrous practices carried out in these remote locations.
What were the “high places”? According to archeologists these were “bamot” in the Hebrew tongue and referred to open air altars placed at high elevations for the worship of other gods such as Baal but were also used particularly before the time of the building of the temple for worshipping Jehovah as well. However these were always expressly forbidden by God through Moses when He stipulated that the people were not to worship at places of their choosing but always at the specific place of God’s choosing. This was originally Shiloh when the people came into the promised land led by Joshua. Nonetheless when you read the narratives of the kings of Judah and of Israel their destruction or tolerance was the benchmark of the extent a godly king would or would not go to honor God and His temple.

For devotional readers such as ourselves we read about the high places and make the connection that it is not acceptable to worship God merely as we see fit. The highest ethic of true worship is not found in “going to the church of your choice…” If your personal choices in spiritual matters are the highest expression of religious sense then we share the common ground with the agnostics – “it doesn’t matter what you believe just so you are sincere…” We live in a day when the prospect of being held arbitrarily accountable to perceived standards of the bible is almost universally rejected even in evangelical circles. Most pastors and leaders opt completely out of any matters of faith or personal aspects of worship that do not connect directly to the operational integrity of the programs of the church. If others will not hold us accountable then we must hold ourselves accountable to whatever objective standards and expectations we can discern from the scriptures for ourselves. Sincerity of intent is not enough. You can be sincere and be sincerely wrong. We must seek and establish personal accountability for ourselves that is not arbitrated by an ecclesiastical authority who says “trust me I’ve been to seminary…”

While Joash did not tear down the high places the people were so fond of he did however command the temple of God be repaired. Over the years of neglect during lesser administrations the priests had prospered themselves but left the house of God in ruins. The king commands that the temple be repaired but the priest class is reticent to initiate the project. This is not that there was not money coming into the temple. Money came into the temple through the annual half shekel tax established in Ex. 20:13; The voluntary annual assessment money brought in each year that is mentioned in Lev. 27:2 and also the regular offerings and tithes given by the people over time. The finances were there but the will to spend the funds where the king directed was not.

Remember this that the house of God is not a building on the street corner with a steeple on top. The new testament is replete with emphatic statements that we are the temple. Today if we are to support the temple we must consider the needs of the people around us. The early church understood this and for 300 years did not build independent, dedicated locations for worship but rather met in homes and public venues until the beginning of the middle ages. If we in ourselves are the temple of God do we invest in relationships or in real estate? Even in the Old Testament every seven years the people were instructed to take of their tithes and offerings and make it available to the poor and the needy. Do what degree would the margin of poverty be impacted if every church in the western world dedicated as much of their financial wherewithal to the poor as to the building of religious infrastructure. Jesus did not say that the world would be won after seeing what impressive architects we are. He said they would know we are Christians by our love one for another. In all of your giving you should make giving to the poor as important as giving into the anointing and the furtherance of ministry purpose and spreading of the gospel. Giving into a need is one thing and it is important. Giving into an anointing is also important. Each is necessary. If we don’t do both we are not giving according to a New Testament pattern.

9 But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the LORD: and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money [that was] brought into the house of the LORD. 10 And it was [so], when they saw that [there was] much money in the chest, that the king’s scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the LORD. 11 And they gave the money, being told, into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of the LORD: and they laid it out to the carpenters and builders, that wrought upon the house of the LORD, 12 And to masons, and hewers of stone, and to buy timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the LORD, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair [it].

Joash had instructed that the temple be restored early in his reign but now in the 23rd year of his administration the priests are only offering excuses as to why things are not getting done. The restoration of a centuries old public building was no doubt daunting but the primary reason for the delay was negligence on the part of the priesthood. Finally the high priest places a chest in a very prominent location as a way of pressuring the leadership to begin to do what they were tasked to do. This is understandable as a strategy but the problem was not money – it was willingness of those responsible to do with the money what the king instructed.

Finally the king acts and make a decision to actually DEDICATE the funds gathered to no other project then the one he had commanded and finally the building project gets underway.

13 Howbeit there were not made for the house of the LORD bowls of silver, snuffers, basons, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money [that was] brought into the house of the LORD: 14 But they gave that to the workmen, and repaired therewith the house of the LORD. 15 Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully. 16 The trespass money and sin money was not brought into the house of the LORD: it was the priests’.

As the restoration funds are made available to the builders the work progresses although apparently the management of resources is still an issue. Into the record of these proceedings a specific clarification is given that none of the funds dedicated by the law of Moses to the priests themselves was taken for the project. Even though the king was frustrated by the mismanagement and delay of the restoration he would not expect the priesthood to finance the work from the legitimate financial resources set aside for them by the Lord through the law of Moses. Many times in church matters a pastor’s salary comes into question. A ministers recompense is often held under much heavier scrutiny than any other budget item in the church. This is a reflection yes of occasional and unnecessary excess in this area but more often than not is a deep seated resentment of the requirement of giving on the part of those who in truth participate very little toward the support of the ministry. Historically only 2 percent of the people in any given ministry support 90% of the work. In our own ministry of 40,000 people who subscribe to our ministry every day less than 1/10th of 1% participate with us financially at any level.

What is the answer? A fund drive? The problem is not administrative – it is a heart issue on both the part of leadership and on the part of those who benefit from the ministries and churches involved. Even under the law giving was a matter of giving out what was in your mind to give from a “willing heart”. First and foremost before any imposition of religious law or spiritual principle relating to this issue – people must be put on their own recognizance to HEAR FROM GOD for themselves and to HOLD THEMSELVES accountable to respond in kind of their natural resources toward the ministries and ministers who give of their spiritual resources in their behalf.

17 Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem. 18 And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold [that was] found in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and in the king’s house, and sent [it] to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem. 19 And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 20 And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla. 21 For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.

In the declining years of Joash’s reign Jerusalem again is brought under pressure by the king of Syria. In order to assuage this warring king Joash strips the temple of all the gold found there and all of his own personal fortune and sends it to Hazael in order to buy him off from attacking the city. This desperate measure works and the king of Syria retires from besieging Jerusalem. This is a time worn tactic of the southern kings from the time of Asa. Rather than trust in God they allow the enemies of God to rob the holy things. Not long after this servants in the royal household conspire against Joash and assassinate him in the 40th year of his rule.

This was an ignominious end for a godly rule that began with a 6 year old king supernaturally protected and brought to the throne. The lesson for us is about not allowing expediency and the urgent pressures of time and happenstance to cause us to compromise as Joash and the priesthood of his day did in many matters. Matt. 6:33 tells us if we will seek the kingdom then all things pertaining to everyday life will be taken care of. If we cast our care upon Him – he will care for us. If we give in to the tyrannical demands of the urgent and the mundane we may just suffer the end that Joash suffered – unnecessarily.

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