—OCT. 16.—2 CHRON. 24:4-13.—
"And the men did the work faithfully."—2 Kings 12:15.
THE ERROR of Jehoshaphat in seeking an alliance with ungodly Ahab, king of Israel, through the marriage of his son to the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, was a serious one. The daughter seems to have inherited all the evil nature of her mother, and as soon as her husband came to the throne of Judah, she seduced him, and through him the nation of Judah, from the worship of Jehovah to the worship of Baal, with its sensual orgies, attractive to the grossly depraved. And this evil influence continued during the reign of her husband, eight years, during the reign of her son, one year, and during her own reign (after murdering all but one of her grandchildren), six years, when she was killed, in a revolt of the people against her evil course: at which time her grandson, Joash, then seven years of age, was anointed king.
His grandmother evidently supposed that she had destroyed all of the royal family, but the infant Joash had been secreted by his aunt, the wife of the Lord's high priest, Jehoiada, who hid and cared for him in one of the rooms connected with Solomon's temple. During the period of the reign of the wicked queen the temple of the Lord had been suffered to go to decay, while an imposing temple of Baal had been erected, and thither the worship and wealth of the people had been directed. Consequently the rooms of the priests, in connection with the temple of Jehovah, being generally neglected, were a very safe place for the rearing of the young king.
The lessons we might draw from this are numerous. (1) The error of seeking worldly alliances, political or social. (2) The error of being unequally yoked with unbelievers in marriage, and the fallacy of relying upon good influences to overcome the evil. A careful mother, watching out for the youthful companions of her son, forbade him to make companions and playfellows of certain boys whose influence she perceived would be impure and injurious. Her son urged, on the contrary, that his influence upon the bad companions should be greater than their influence upon him, and that thus he should be able, by keeping their company, to do them good. The mother sent her son for a glass of water and a bottle of ink. When they were brought she instructed him to put a drop of water into the bottle of ink, and see whether it would clarify it. Of course it made no visible impression. She then instructed him to put a drop of ink into the water, and the result was that the entire glass of water was beclouded. This furnished her a suitable illustration of how the good intentions and purity of her son would have practically a very small influence upon the companions already corrupted under evil influences, and the deleterious influence upon a pure heart of even the smallest amount of impurity. None can be too careful in this direction; evil in every form should be shunned, especially little evils and impurities, which constitute the entering wedge for greater ones.
In olden times, before the art of soap-making was learned, it was the custom to use a sort of clay, called fuller's earth, after the manner in which we now use soap, and based upon this is an ancient Persian fable, which runs thus: "One day, as I was in the bath, a friend of mine put into my hand a piece of scented clay. I took it and said to it, 'Art thou musk or ambergris? For I am charmed with thy perfume.' It answered, 'I was a despicable piece of clay, but I was some time in the company of the rose, and the sweet quality of my companion was communicated to me.'" This well illustrates the fact that every Christian, as a member of the body of Christ, must of necessity have more or less of his sweet spirit, meekness, patience, gentleness, brotherly-kindness, love, and that worldly people thrown into the association of such should absorb from them much of this spirit of gentleness and kindness. And as the spirit of Christianity is received in turn from the Lord, so it is necessary that all the members of the body of Christ should be much in the company of their Head and Lord, that they might be thoroughly filled with his spirit. Let us remember, however, that as the clay was susceptible to the delicate and sweet odor of the rose, it would have been equally or more susceptible to stronger vile odors, had it been in the company of that which is vile; and that if it had been thrown simultaneously equally near to the influence of the rose perfume and to the thing of vile odor, the latter would have been the stronger, and the result would have been an offensive odor. So with the Lord's people. It is as necessary that we shun the evil as that we cleave to that which is good.
The young King Joash, under the tutelage of his foster-father Jehoiada, the chief priest, walked faithfully [R2366 : page 294] in harmony with the law of the Lord, as long as his foster-father lived. He even seems to have been deeply imbued with a heart desire to serve the Lord, for it [R2367 : page 294] would appear that the repairing of the temple was of his own thought, and not suggested by his adviser, the priest. The command first given by the king, for a collection of money throughout all Israel, to repair the Temple, seems to have been comparatively neglected, probably because the people of Judah had very generally come to doubt the priesthood, and to query how much of the money that would be collected would ever be directly applied to Temple repairs. But the king was in earnest and, seeing that this method failed, he adopted a new one, of placing a large contribution box at the entrance of the Temple, and then all Israel was exhorted by the priests to remember the commandment of Moses in respect to their giving.
The Mosaic Law called for a tax of half a shekel (about 33 cents) on each male of twenty years old and upward, for the service of the Tabernacle, now the Temple (Exod. 30:11-16), besides which they might freely offer as much as they chose. It would appear also (2 Kings 12:13-16) that a regular accounting and division of the money was made, so that the people knew how their contributions were now being used, and could give directly to the Temple repairs. The result was a spontaneous giving of money enough for the work and to spare: and the awakening of the people to their sense of duty and obligation, and additionally their benevolence in the Lord's cause seems to have been generally profitable, arousing fresh interest in the proper worship of the true God.
We may draw some profitable lessons from all this, altho the Temple did not typify our church edifices, and its gorgeous adornment and costly furnishments do not convey a lesson favoring extravagance in church building to-day. Quite to the contrary, the plain synagogues of the Jews corresponded to church buildings, while the Temple typified the true Church, the glorified Ecclesia. (1) We may remember the Apostolic statement that as Christians our mortal bodies are individually and severally temples of the holy spirit, if so be that the Lord's spirit dwells in us (1 Cor. 3:16,17), and consequently it is our duty not only to keep our bodies pure and undefiled as possible, in thought, word and act, outwardly and inwardly, but it is a part of our duty also to take reasonable care of our physical systems to the intent that they may be the better exponents and channels through which the spirit of the truth in us may glorify God and bless those with whom we come in contact. This does not imply excessive carefulness or pampering, nor hesitation to use our strength to the very last in the service of our Lord, and in faithfulness unto death; but it does imply that we should seek to regulate our lives and so restrain our appetites that our eating and drinking and general course in life may be such as will fit us for usefulness in divine service. The Lord's people are not to live to eat, in self-gratification, but to eat to live, that they may be the better qualified to render service to him to whom they have consecrated themselves living sacrifices.
(2) The Apostle refers to the Church as a whole as the antitypical temple of God, in which each individual Christian is a member in particular: our Lord spoke of his Church from this standpoint when he said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up"—he spoke of the temple of his body, and the glorification of that body on the third thousand-year day, namely, at the beginning of the Millennium. In respect to this Temple of the Lord, each one of his people is to be very zealous that the Temple be kept in good condition, in good repair. To this end we are exhorted by the Apostle to build one another up in the most holy faith, to help one another, to encourage one another, to "restore one another," "if any be overtaken in a fault."
During the "Dark Ages" the nominal temple of God, the nominal church, fell into great disorder through false doctrines, false practices, priestcraft, superstition and general defilement. The Reformation movement of the sixteenth century did much to cleanse and renovate this nominal temple, but those who see in the divine Word the clearly drawn outlines of the true Temple of God, realize that the nominal temple is still in a deplorable condition. Our King enlightens us through his Word that the nominal temple is not the real Temple, and is shortly to be abandoned, with the close of this age. He shows us that the real Temple is yet to be built, and that the work of this Gospel age has been to quarry, then chisel and fit and shape, and then polish, the "living stones" for places in the true Temple of God, which is not yet completed.
He thus shows us that it is still our privilege to be co-workers together with God, and to help forward in this great work of preparing the great Temple, the spiritual, of which he is the foundation and capstone, and of which his faithful followers shall be living members and pillars. (Rev. 3:12; 1 Pet. 2:5.) Our great work, therefore, is in connection with this future glorified Temple of God, (a) to co-operate with God in his work of grace in our own hearts, by which we are being fitted and prepared for a place in the Temple of his glory, and (b) to assist others, both by precept and example, for places in the same. Like Solomon's typical temple, this great Temple will shortly come together "without the sound of a hammer," every part fitting to its place perfectly. Then, shortly, the glory of the Lord will fill the temple; "then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father;" then in and through this glorious Temple all the world of mankind shall be privileged to draw near to God, for forgiveness of sins and for reconciliation through the precious blood of Christ, and the great work of the Millennium will begin—the blessing of all the families of the earth through the "elect," the "royal priesthood."