Wasted Offerings

Once upon a time, a king of Israel who loved the Lord came to the throne, and noticed that there was work to be done on the temple. The temple had been neglected and dilapidated in Israel's preceding years of idolatry. So as soon as King Jehoash (or Joash) sat enthroned, he treated the temple as a priority project, and handed the project over to those he believed were in the best position to execute it.

 

And Jehoash said to the priests, "All the money of the dedicated gifts that are brought into the house of the Lord – each man's census money, each man's assessment money – and all the money that a man purposes in his heart to bring into the house of the Lord (i.e. offerings), let the priests take it themselves, each from his constituency; and let them repair the damages of the temple, wherever any dilapidation is found." 2Kgs.12:4-5NKJV

Joash instructed the priests: "Take the money that is brought into The Temple of GOD for holy offerings – both mandatory offerings and freewill offerings – and, keeping a careful accounting, use them to renovate The Temple wherever it has fallen into disrepair." TM

The priests were to collect the offerings and to use them to repair the damages and dilapidations (KJV: breaches) in the house of the Lord. The priests were not to use the money on themselves or on their fancies or to purchase things with which to compete with unbelievers. They were not to use the money to attire themselves or change their uniforms so as to prove that God is good or that the God they served was not a poor God. No! The temple, God's own temple, the cornerstone of their worship of Yahweh, was damaged and dilapidated and needed to be repaired. The offerings of God’s people were to be used to effect these repairs so that the temple of the Lord might again be glorious, the centre of attraction that it had been for centuries before then.

Verse 6 of the text contains the shocker:

“But in the twenty-third year of Jehoash’s reign, the priests still had not made any repairs to the temple” (Good News Bible).

But by the twenty-third year of Joash's rule, the priests hadn't done one thing – The Temple was as dilapidated as ever (The Message).

Remarkable! These holy priests – ancient trustees of kingdom resources – collected mandatory, "special", and freewill offerings for twenty-three years and yet did not spend a dime of it on the temple. God's Temple remained as dilapidated as ever! What happened to all the offerings for twenty-three years? How much was the total sum? Can you quantify the offerings of a nation for 23 years? Imagine everyone in your country giving both mandatory and freewill offerings for 23 years! What of the widow who had starved herself and her family in her zeal to give for the work of the temple of the Lord? What happened to her money? Where was her money reflected on the temple? A priest collected her money on the pretence of repairing the temple and then spent it on himself. This is an amazing picture of events in our day.


 

Misappropriating Sacred Funds

King Jehoash asked them, “Why haven’t you done anything about the temple? Now don’t use any more money for your own needs; from now on, it must all be spent on getting the temple into good condition” Verse 7, Living Bible.

King Joash called Jehoiada the priest and the company of priests and said, "Why haven't you renovated this sorry-looking Temple? You are forbidden to take any more money for Temple repairs – from now on, hand over everything you get." The Message

Notice the priests didn't deny the charge of spending all the money on their own needs. They were guilty of misappropriating sacred funds. There was a "sorry-looking temple" that needed urgent attention. It was where they worked; they saw it every day. The need was right before them, but their own concerns were their priority. Their belly was their god. And worst of all, they kept collecting the offerings on the pretext that it was for repairing the dilapidated temple. This event in ancient Israel is a scary, prophetic pointer to our present situation.

Watch those who had been collecting your offerings. You should be concerned, even if you have tons of cash. Since you and others have been giving these two or three ‘special’ or ‘break through’ offerings every week, has any work been done on the temple? By temple we do not first of all mean physical buildings. While we do need places of worship, it must be kept in mind that our God does not live in temples made with human hands. He lives in living temples – believers, and desires to take over prospective temples presently occupied by sin and darkness.

A Sorry-Looking Temple

So, has any work been done on the temple? Are God's temples cleaner, holier, more set apart for His exclusive habitation? Has any missionary been sent from your church to reach those who have never heard the name of Jesus? Are there new temples being saved and washed for God to dwell in? What about the homeless, widows, orphans and drug addicts who contribute significantly to the sorry look of the temple? These are breaches in the temple – dilapidated lives, with broken hearts and hopes, sorry-looking sinners partying and socializing down the broad way to destruction. And there are more breaches in the body of Christ. There are sinners in Zion – gaping holes in God's holy temple who bring reproach to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by how they live, while holding the truth in unrighteousness. There is a younger generation who live on cyberspace, occupied with social media, and possessed with visions of the flesh and the world. What has been done about these?