King Joash of Judah
(2 Chronicles 24.1-16)
1Joash became king of Judah in Jehu's seventh year as king of Israel, and he ruled 40 years from Jerusalem. His mother Zibiah was from the town of Beersheba.
2Jehoiada the priest taught Joash what was right, and so for the rest of his life Joash obeyed the Lord. 3But even Joash did not destroy the local shrines, and they were still used as places for offering sacrifices.
4 One day, Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money that has been given to the Lord's temple, whether from taxes or gifts, 5and use it to repair the temple whenever you see the need.”
6But the priests never started repairing the temple. So in the twenty-third year of his rule, 7Joash called for Jehoiada and the other priests and said, “Why aren't you using the money to repair the temple? Don't take any more money for yourselves. It is only to be used to pay for the repairs.” 8The priests agreed that they would not collect any more money or be in charge of the temple repairs.
9Jehoiada found a wooden box; he cut a hole in the top of it and set it on the right side of the altar where people went into the temple. Whenever someone gave money to the temple, the priests guarding the entrance would put it into this box. 10When the box was full of money, the king's secretary and the chief priest would count the money and put it in bags. 11Then they would give it to the men supervising the repairs to the temple. Some of the money was used to pay the builders, the woodworkers, 12the stonecutters, and the men who built the walls. And some was used to buy wood and stone and to pay any other costs for repairing the temple.
13While the repairs were being made, the money that was given to the temple was not used to make silver bowls, lamp snuffers, small sprinkling bowls, trumpets, or anything gold or silver for the temple. 14It went only to pay for repairs. 15 The men in charge were honest, so no one had to keep track of the money.
16 The fines that had to be paid along with the sacrifices to make things right and the sacrifices for sin did not go to the temple. This money belonged only to the priests.
17About the same time, King Hazael of Syria attacked the town of Gath and captured it. Next, he decided to attack Jerusalem. 18So Joash collected everything he and his ancestors Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, and Ahaziah had dedicated to the Lord, as well as the gold in the storage rooms in the temple and palace. He sent it all to Hazael as a gift, and when Hazael received it, he ordered his troops to leave Jerusalem.
19Everything else Joash did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 20-21At the end of his rule, some of his officers rebelled against him. Jozabad son of Shimeath and Jehozabad son of Shomer murdered him in a building where the land was filled in on the east side of Jerusalem, near the road to Silla. Joash was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem, and his son Amaziah became king.
King Joash of Judah
(2 Kings 12.1-16)
1Joash was only 7 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled 40 years from Jerusalem. His mother Zibiah was from the town of Beersheba.
2While Jehoiada the priest was alive, Joash obeyed the Lord by doing right. 3Jehoiada even chose two women for Joash to marry so he could have a family.
4Some time later, Joash decided it was time to repair the temple. 5He called together the priests and Levites and said, “Go everywhere in Judah and collect the annual tax from the people. I want this done at once—we need that money to repair the temple.”
But the Levites were in no hurry to follow the king's orders. 6 So he sent for Jehoiada the high priest and asked, “Why didn't you send the Levites to collect the taxes? The Lord's servant Moses and the people agreed long ago that this tax would be collected and used to pay for the upkeep of the sacred tent. 7And now we need it to repair the temple because the sons of that evil woman Athaliah came in and wrecked it. They even used some of the sacred objects to worship the god Baal.”
8Joash gave orders for a wooden box to be made and had it placed outside, near the gate of the temple. 9He then sent letters everywhere in Judah and Jerusalem, asking everyone to bring their taxes to the temple, just as Moses had required their ancestors to do.
10The people and their leaders agreed, and they brought their money to Jerusalem and placed it in the box. 11Each day, after the Levites took the box into the temple, the king's secretary and the high priest's assistant would dump out the money and count it. Then the empty box would be taken back outside.
This happened day after day, and soon a large amount of money was collected. 12Joash and Jehoiada turned the money over to the men who were supervising the repairs to the temple. They used the money to hire stonecutters, carpenters, and experts in working with iron and bronze.
13These workers went right to work repairing the temple, and when they were finished, it looked as good as new. 14They did not use all the tax money for the repairs, so the rest of it was handed over to Joash and Jehoiada, who then used it to make dishes and other gold and silver objects for the temple.
Sacrifices to please the Lord were offered regularly in the temple for as long as Jehoiada lived. 15He died at the ripe old age of 130 years, 16and he was buried in the royal tombs in Jerusalem, because he had done so much good for the people of Israel, for God, and for the temple.
Government projects are notorious for dragging on. So it’s not surprising that King Joash’s taxpayer funded renovation project gets off to a bad start, even though it’s a plan to restore a national monument as well as something far greater: the centre of worship of Almighty God.
Was the problem honesty? There’s a suggestion that the priests were taking money for themselves. But, with no clear lines between their salaries and the funds designated for the temple repairs, accounting practices were flawed.
Was the problem competence or mismanagement? 2 Kings seems to suggest it was the priests’ fault for taking the funds, while 2 Chronicles blames the Levites for failing to collect funds in the first place.
When a project fails, and finger pointing begins, those fingers should be directed at the top. The problem was that the king’s personal zeal was not enough. Joash never got buy-in from the people or the priests and Levites. Recognizing it as a leadership issue, he now gets personally involved in restoring trust and re-launching the project. He shows visionary leadership that touches the heart of the people. He fashions a strong management team to drive the project forward and hire trustworthy craftsmen. He sets up a financial management plan that is a model for modern accounting practices.
When we consider charitable giving, our generosity should not only be motivated by a vision or a need. We should also look for a charity with a blend of strong leadership and financial transparency. Donors should know how the money they give is actually being used. When donations are directed correctly, financial practices are open for scrutiny and strong management is in place, there is no need for extra overhead or accountability.
Joash proved the results of practices like these: generous donors, funds used effectively and efficiently, and sacrifices that please the Lord (v 14). I suspect God saw the whole project as a pleasing offering.
Holy God, you are the centre of our worship. May all of our offerings – our giving, the way we manage our money, the way we run our businesses and the way we steward our employees – be pleasing in your sight. That your name may be lifted high, Amen.