Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Wednesday of Trinity 22

 Maintaining the Temple

2 Kings 12:1-16 (ESV) In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him. Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places. Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD, let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.” But by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, the priests had made no repairs on the house. Therefore King Jehoash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and said to them, “Why are you not repairing the house? Now therefore take no more money from your donors, but hand it over for the repair of the house.” So the priests agreed that they should take no more money from the people, and that they should not repair the house. Then 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 entered the house of the LORD. And the priests who guarded the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD. And whenever they saw that there was much money in the chest, the king’s secretary and the high priest came up and they bagged and counted the money that was found in the house of the LORD. Then they would give the money that was weighed out into the hands of the workmen who had the oversight of the house of the LORD. And they paid it out to the carpenters and the builders who worked on the house of the LORD, and to the masons and the stonecutters, as well as to buy timber and quarried stone for making repairs on the house of the LORD, and for any outlay for the repairs of the house. But there were not made for the house of the LORD basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver, from the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, for that was given to the workmen who were repairing the house of the LORD with it. And they did not ask for an accounting from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workmen, for they dealt honestly. The money from the guilt offerings and the money from the sin offerings was not brought into the house of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.
Previously, I wrote about the construction of God’s Temple under Solomon’s (r. 970-931 BC) supervision, and about how this Temple pointed forward to our incorporation into the Body of Christ, God’s final Temple for all nations. However, we can also learn things from the story of the Old Testament Temple and apply them to the Church (the Body of Christ!) today.
1 Kings 5-6 describes the building of the Lord’s Temple. There He dwelled in the midst of Israel to hear prayers, receive sacrifices, and bless His people. By the time of King Joash (r. 835-796 BC), the Temple had fallen into a state of disrepair on account of aging, neglect, and abuse.
Joash (also known as Jehoash) ascended the throne of Judah at the age of seven and reigned forty years (2 Kings 11:21—12:1). Prior to this, the wicked queen mother Athaliah sought to wipe out all of King David’s lineage (the Messianic line) so that she could control the throne, but the Lord rescued Joash from her hand (2 Kings 11:1-3). The godly high priest Jehoiada anointed Joash and secured the throne for him. Joash had Athaliah executed (11:4-21).
Joash reigned well as long as his counselor Jehoiada lived, but later the king backslid into idolatry (2 Chronicles 24:15-27). Joash’s life reminds us to live each day in repentant trust in the grace which God delivers in His Word and Sacrament, knowing that we can cast away our salvation through impenitence (Hebrews 10:23-27).
Joash instructed the priests to take part of the people’s payments for vows and sacrifices and make needed repairs to the Temple (12:4-5). However, the priests had to live off those contributions, so they could not afford (or were unwilling to make sacrifices for) repairs. After twenty-three years with no repairs, Joash and Jehoida put a collection box in the Temple so the people of Judah could make voluntary contributions for repairs (12:6-9). The public responded generously. The king’s secretary and Jehoida paid workmen, who oversaw repairs of the Temple and in turn paid for supplies and laborers (12:10-14). The workmen were so honest that no special accounting had to be made for expenditures (12:15). The priests continued to live off the sin and guilt offerings, which were not put into the repair fund (12:16).
Joash’s undertaking of Temple repairs and Judah’s generous support set an example for us. Jesus is present with us when we gather in the church for worship (Matthew 18:20), so we should properly maintain the sacred house in which God serves us with His Word and Sacraments. Our offerings should be generous and given cheerfully, in proportion to how the Lord has blessed us (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8-9). Our offerings include time and talent as well as money.
The Lord blesses us with the opportunity to support the ministry of His Word at home and abroad. We get to offer money to the Lord through the church. Money is not good or bad in itself, but is simply one more gift God gives us to use in support of the ministry of His Word. Money cannot satisfy us (Ecclesiastes 5:10). If we love and serve money, then we actually hate and reject the Lord (Matthew 6:24). “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” that can lead us away from the Faith (1 Timothy 6:10). But as Christians we can keep our lives free from the love of money and be content with what we have, since God has told us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Prayer (LSB 981)
1. To Your temple, Lord, I come,
For it is my worship home.
This earth has no better place,
Here I see my Savior’s face.
2. I through Him am reconciled,
I through Him become Your child.
Abba, Father, give me grace
In Your courts Your love to trace.
3. While Your glorious praise is sung,
Touch my lips, unloose my tongue
That my joyful soul may bless
Christ the Lord, my righteousness.
4. While the prayers of saints ascend,
God of love, to mine attend.
Hear me, for Your Spirit pleads;
Hear, for Jesus intercedes.
5. While I listen to Your Law,
Fill my soul with humble awe
Till Your Gospel bring to me
Life and immortality.
6. While Your ministers proclaim
Peace and pardon in Your name,
Through their voice, by faith, may I
Hear You speaking from the sky.
7. From Your house when I return,
May my heart within me burn,
And at evening let me say,
“I have walked with God today.” Amen.

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