Joash is king and he loves the Lord. He sets up provisions to care for the house of the Lord and is naive enough to expect it to happen.
We are not told when Joash/Jehoash made his first proclamation to the priests regarding the upkeep of the Temple. It may have been in his early years or even just a few years before he rescinded it. By his 23rd year on the throne his eyes showed him that the trust he placed in the priests on this issue was unwarranted. In this issue they failed him forcing him to take drastic measures to correct the situation.
When I look at this story I’m struck by the trusting nature of Joash/Jehoash. He trusted his own people. He trusted the Levites to use the money that came into their possession to care for the House of God. He trusted the workmen with their wages and fees. He trusted Hazael to refrain from attacking Jerusalem after receiving a costly bribe. And he trusted the Lord to bring in the resources needed to care for His house.
Was he naïve? Or did he expect those under him to value service and honesty above all else in their dealings with one another?
When Joash assigned a task he expected the matter to be solved, at least with the Levites. He had grown up in their world. He was most likely isolated from all of them except Jehoiada but he knew through his experiences with Jehoiada that the Levites follow the rules. Once he gave them a directive he expected he could trust them with its implementation. He didn’t micro manage them. In fact he didn’t even keep tabs on them.
At some point things got so bad in the upkeep of the Temple that Joash felt he had to step in. There is no record of him warning them before or if they had fallen off at some point. But the glaring deficiencies got Joash’s attention.
This reminds me of our walk with the Lord. If we don’t attend to it on a regular basis things begin to decay and fall into disrepair. Letting little things go because they ‘aren’t really a big deal’ leads to eventual cascade failures. I have a few examples of this in my life.
When I was in my darkest valley I read my bible and journaled EVERY DAY. God spoke to me through my pen. I was sustained by our time together. As things improved or shifted directions I got ‘too busy’ to spend time in the word a couple of times. Then the ‘too busy’ started happening more often until it months passed between bible times. Sometimes I would feel guilty and go back for a few days or weeks. Then life would ‘get in the way’ again. Even when I started this blog I had days where I struggled to come to Him. There were a few times when I missed chunks of days in a row.
My problem was that I wasn’t addressing the ‘root’ issue. I was looking at spending time in the word as a duty not an honor. When I recognized that disconnect my whole perspective shifted. I no longer felt guilty if I missed a day. Instead I felt robbed or deprived. My desire to be in the word was reborn.
Joash saw the root of the problem with the Temple. The Levites were not using the money being brought correctly. The money was coming in from the people but the Temple of the Lord was falling into disarray. It was time to ‘chop out the root’ and resolve the problem.
Joash looked to the man he trusted most, Jehoiada, for help. Why Jehoiada hadn’t already addressed the issue is beyond my understanding. Did he not recognize there was a problem? Did he feel powerless to demand his fellow priests ‘pony up’ for the repairs? Did all the priests play the ‘not it’ game? Did they think that if they didn’t say anything about the problems they saw that they would go away or pass into someone else’s responsibility? I would think that Jehoiada would have the Levites better organized than that.
When Joash addressed the problem there was no arguing with him. The Levites agreed to give up the extra funds they had been receiving all these years. Their pockets would no longer be lined by everything the people brought in. They would go back to receiving what was traditionally theirs; the money from the guilt offerings and the sin offerings.
Jehoiada made certain that none of the Levites had access to or were tempted by the money collected to care for the House of the Lord. He removed the temptation with a ‘piggy bank’; a trunk with a hole large enough for the money to be put into but not taken out. The bank had a lock on it that only two men had the key to. And when they counted the money they counted it TOGETHER. Together they divided it and distributed it for the work needing done.
Joash trusted these two men. And they trusted the men they hired. Neither Joash nor Jehoiada and the king’s secretary didn’t ask for an accounting. Not for the work that was done, the money that was spent on materials, or even the hours it took to do each task.
I’m wondering if Joash learned that money talks from this experience with the Levites. When threatened by Hazel Joash turned to money to solve the problem. Why didn’t he turn to the Lord?
When I was thinking about this I started thinking about Joash’s possible position. Joash willingly gathered everything that he felt Hazel would value in order to protect what he valued. The items surrendered by Joash were items that had already been given freely to the Lord. “Jehoash king of Judah took all the sacred gifts that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah his fathers, the kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred gifts, and all the gold that was found in the tresureis of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house, and sent them to Hazel king of Syria” (verse 18a). Joah’s gift also included everything he had. Joash knew there was value in what he gave. It was precious but the lives of his people were more precious.
Joash ransomed the people of Jerusalem. He did it through the hand of the Lord. He didn’t ask God to move on their behalf but used resources of the Lord’s to protect the people.
King Hazael was determined to take Jerusalem. “Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem” (verse 17b). But Hazael got the ‘spoils’ he was after without having to risk his resources. Joash put his trust in Hazael’s word that he would turn away. He could have taken the ransom and sacked Jerusalem anyway but he didn’t. I believe God satisfied Hazael’s heart.
Father God, You ransomed me. You surrendered what was precious to You because I am precious to You too.
Help me to trust like Joash did. Right now I put my trust in You for the life of my granddaughter. You hold her in the palm of Your hand. You have also given us promises regarding our children. The story I’m clinging to also is the one where Paul was bitten by an asp. Because You are no respecter of persons, I’m asking You to render the bite just as impotent as the one Paul received. I have peace in my heart that You are working in her little body and in our family through this event.