Over in Israel, Jehu is still on the throne, while in Judah the youngster king Joash has been crowned as the rightful heir to the throne in the lineage of David. Joash’s own grandmother Athaliah had killed all his brothers and taken over as ruler of Judah; Joash had escaped death only because his aunt Jehosheba had hidden him away in the Temple with her husband Jehoiada the priest and his sons to watch over him. At last, those loyal to the house of David had seen to Athaliah’s execution and Joash’s installment as king.
Second Kings 12 and Second Chronicles 24 both tell the story of Joash. “Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest” (II Chronicles 24:1a, 2, NLT).
The first sign of trouble? “Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest.” Had things not changed after Jehoiada died, there would be no reason for this statement. Hold that thought and we’ll return to it later.
“At one point Joash decided to repair and restore the Temple of the Lord. He summoned the priests and Levites and gave them these instructions: ‘Go to all the towns of Judah and collect the required annual offerings, so that we can repair the Temple of your God. Do not delay!’ But the Levites did not act immediately” (II Chronicles 24:1a, 4-5).
The second sign of trouble? “The Temple of your God.” Joash didn’t say “my God,” but “your God.” Joash was no longer a child. He was a young man by this time and he had the power to get things done. For whatever reason, however, time rocked on without his instructions being obeyed.
The Temple had been completely neglected during the reign of Athaliah. Not only that, but “Over the years the followers of wicked Athaliah had broken into the Temple of God, and they had used all the dedicated things from the Temple of the Lord to worship the images of Baal” (II Chronicles 24:7). The Temple was in dire need of restoration.
“So the king called for Jehoiada the high priest and asked him, ‘Why haven’t you demanded that the Levites go out and collect the Temple taxes from the towns of Judah and from Jerusalem?” (II Chronicles 24:6a).
“So now the king ordered a chest to be made and set outside the gate leading to the Temple of the Lord. Then a proclamation was sent throughout Judah and Jerusalem, telling the people to bring to the Lord the tax that Moses, the servant of God, had required of the Israelites in the wilderness. This pleased all the leaders and the people, and they gladly brought their money and filled the chest with it” (II Chronicles 24:8-10).
The people of Judah were thrilled to learn that the Temple was going to be restored, so much so that “They gladly brought their money.” You’ve heard the expression: “Put your money where your mouth is.” These folks didn’t just say, “It’ll be so nice to see the Temple fixed up again.” They gave to insure that the means to accomplish the work were available.
Let me leave you with a few statistics from www.GenerousGiving.org: (A) Only one-third to one-half of U.S. church members financially support their churches; in other words, between one-half and two-thirds of church members give no money whatsoever. (B) Only seven percent of Protestant Christians in America tithe. (C) In 2007, Americans spent an estimated 40 billion dollars on their pets.
Don’t get me wrong. I love animals. But I don’t worship them. Do we have our priorities messed up or what?