Friends, it was amid all of the disobedience and wailing that there rose up a young king of Judah who did some pretty incredible things. II Chronicles 34-35 is where we find his story. This young king had come from an evil family line. II Chron. 33:10 “The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people but they paid no attention.” Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, was a extremely wicked king of Judah…he so disregarded the ways of God, he put pagan gods into Solomon’s temple for worship. It says, “Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations of LORD had destroyed before the Israelites” II Chronicles 33:9. Manasseh died and his son Amon, Josiah’s father, became king. We read in vs22, “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done.” Like father like son…Judah was in a bad way. They were pompous, arrogant, loved their idols and their lifestyle…when God spoke, they did NOT listen. (Sound familiar?) Amon was assassinated after only 2 years of reigning but God’s everlasting love was shown in the next verses:
II Chron. 34:1-2 “Now, Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem 31 years. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
What??? Here was a young boy, whose father and grandfather were evil idol worshipers, and yet he decides to follow the LORD (YAHWEH.) Yes, God had heard the prayers of His prophets and the wails of the women and answered by providing a young king who followed the ways of David.
Wait though, before you think Jerusalem was saved, history shows it did not escape the destruction predicted by Jeremiah and Habakkuk…things for Jerusalem did NOT get better so you might wonder, “Why Josiah?” God had pronounced judgment on Judah. Jerusalem WAS destroyed because the people had strayed too far from the ways of God. BUT those who turned back because of what Josiah did, were protected….we call them “the remnant”…those who individually followed and kept the statutes of the LORD… God provides a “way out” in every generation in order to provide for a remnant of believers…and He is calling His church to revival today! I don’t know where we are going as a nation but I believe we as a church need to begin to stand on God’s principles and return to Him. We all are in a battle but this is not a battle of nations, political parties, or religions…it is an internal battle. We must quit blaming others for our situation…WE are responsible for where we stand with God…Are you ready to face your battle? How can Josiah’s life help us? This is what he did:
· Vs. 3 In the eighth year of his reign (he was 16!) he began to seek the God of his father David. We must begin to seek the God of the Bible…not the gods of this world. We must not be deceived…this world has so many conflicting words about who God is and what He requires and we are falling for it!! He is a God of love but also of judgment. We have forgotten that! When I hear Christians say, “A loving God wouldn’t do that.” I wonder how they know. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts!” His Word is evidence of what He can and will do and Jesus did not negate God’s judgment…Jesus gave us a way of escape. Josiah began to seek out this God that neither his father nor grandfather showed him and God was found! Jeremiah says,
“You will find me when you seek me with your whole heart!” Jeremiah 29:13
· VS 7 He tore down (with his own hands) the idols. He knew that idols kept him for worshiping the true God. Folks, idols are not always carved images but they can be good things in our lives…family, jobs, even our church…but if God isn’t first in our lives these things become idols. God must be first…He will not share His glory with anything or anyone. Not even your family!! GOD/FAMILY/CHURCH
· Began to rebuild the temple…the place of worship. We don’t have temples today to rebuild but Paul said, “We are the temple of God.” We must begin to worship again…in spirit and in truth. In our hearts and in our minds. The word worship in the Hebrew (Shahach) and Greek (Proskuneo) mean in reality, to put yourself under the authority of God. We mistakenly have limited it to music and satan has used music styles to change our focus away from worship….satan knows how important worship is and has done what he can to destroy it in our lives.
· In rebuilding the temple, vs.14, Josiah found the book of the law…the Torah…the Bible…God’s plan for living. We must know what is in the Word of God! It is truth and our guide for this life. I enjoy reading commentaries and books by preachers etc. but they are NOT a substitute for God’s word. It is time we quit reading ABOUT the Bible and begin reading the Bible! It is time we quit listening to teachers who tell us how they think we should live and listen to God’s Word, which KNOWS how we should live.
· Vs19 After reading God’s word, Josiah tore his robes…he repented…he wept over how far his people had gone away. Read vs. 21 “Great is the LORD’s anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.” He was broken and grieved over what was happening both in his life and in the lives of his country...no excuses. Are you grieving over what you have done, or are you only afraid that your lifestyle might change? There is a difference!! It is time we truly repent in our lives and become broken before God. When was the last time you cried over your rebellion against God?? I love this quote: "There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who believe themselves sinners, and the rest, sinners who believe themselves righteous." -- Blaise Pascal
· Josiah lead Judah back to God Where are you leading people?? You are leading them somewhere! Very soon we will be asked to stand for God’s truth. It will not be easy but it is necessary.
Part 3 will cover what the New Testament says we are to do to stand for righteousness in our world...I look forward to sharing it with you!!