This morning we are continuing on in our series “Lessons Down the Line” and we are going to be looking at King Josiah.
The best word to describe Josiah is reformer.
He is one of the most honoured and respected Kings inIsrael’s history.
Just as Hezekiah’s trust in God was unique among the kings of Judah, past or future, so is Josiah’s for his commitment to reformation as he destroyed idol worship and renewed the covenant with God.
Hi Story is found in two different parts of the bible, 2 Kings 22 & 23 and 2 Chronicles 34&35
This morning we are going to use mostly pieces of the 2 Kings portion but a little of Chronicles as well.
To save us time i am going to read a little bit of the story and try to fill in the blanks myself.
2 Kings 22 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.22 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.
2 Chronicles 34 :3 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David.
He had some repairs done on the temple and a book of the law was found.
Josiah has it read to him and he is absolutely devastated by the words in the book.
He is so grieved by the way that Israel has completely forsaken God that he launches a massive campaign to rid the nation of idolatry and return to the God of their fathers.
He seeks some advice from the prophetess Huldah and this is what she tells him:
2 Kings 22: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”
2 Kings 23 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
After this he began to purge the nation of all it’s spiritual wickedness.
1. He gathered the elders, priests, prophets, and general population at the temple for a public reading of the book (23:1-2).
2. He renewed the covenant, and all of those gathered comply with the agreement (23:3).
5. He destroyed the competing shrines or high places (23:8).
6. He desecrated Topheth (23:10). Topheth was a hearth located in the Hinnom Valley just outside Jerusalem. The site was used specifically for the offering of human sacrifices (Gray, 735-36).
7. He went into the northern kingdom's former territory and destroyed the altar at Bethel constructed by Jeroboam (23:15).
8. He reinstituted the Passover (23:21).
The story of Josiah is a story of spiritual reform.
And at first look perhaps you feel like you relate very little to this story.
After all, none of us are kings, or jews, or living in the ancient middle east or worshipping idols… or are we?
What were the idols Josiah faced? What idols we we face? What is similar? the heart of rebellious people.
We know that Israel’s history was a constant struggle to forget the idols of other cultures.
'Baal' was the Canaanite god of rain and fertility.
It was believed that a baal would control a certain portion of land. So if you settled in an area where a baal was lord and god you needed to get in their good books.
These local baals were believed to control fertility in agriculture, beasts, and mankind. It was highly important to secure their favour, therefore, particularly in an area like Palestine with few natural streams or springs and with an uncertain rainfall. This led to the adoption of extreme forms in the cultus, including the practice of ritual prostitution (Judg 2:17; Jer 7:9; Amos 2:7) and child-sacrifice (Jer 19:5).
Asherah' was worshipped as the Canaanite mother of all the gods representing life-giving and the primeval sea ('the deep'). She is sometimes mentioned as Ba'al's mother, sometimes his consort (wife) - often symbolized by a pole (erected on high places).
That’s what the people in ancient Palestine worshipped.
What about today in modern Calgary?
I think if we tok a few moments we could make a fairly exhaustive list.
I think generally we worship the isms.
As I compare our idols to Israel’s though they have different names I sure think they have the same roots.
Baal worship was about success, wealth, strength stability and generally to get ahead.
And so is consumerism, capitalism and individualism.
Consumerism is about acquiring things and capitalism is about acquiring wealth - they go together.
If you think about it, if we stopped being so greedy and doing everything we can to get more, the entire economic system of the western world and particularly the united stated would fall apart.
Capitalisms foundation isn’t generosity, generally it’s about greed.
Baal worship was also about fertility which lead to sexuality as part of worship.
Sounds a lot like today.
There are people suffering horribly today because of the never satisfied god of sex and pleasure.
It’s still a problem.
What about the idols of the world breaking into the church?
Do you think those things we worship in our society ever slip into our temples?
Entertainment, power, money, status, consumerism, individualism.
They exist in our churches too.
Josiah, had to deal with the same thing.
Scripture tells that Josiah had to tear down alters to false Gods’ and remove shrine prostitutes right from the temple itself.
The isms, in our culture tell us that we aren’t8 good enough, we aren’t smart enough, we aren’t valuable, we aren’t pretty enough but if we take them in, of we invest in them, if we give what we have to them, we will feel different.
They tell us we need them and we can’t have a fulfilled life apart from them
We are so quick to seek out and worship anything that will answer satisfy us.
The nation of Israel was the same. they worshipped everything.
Baal and Asherah but also,
Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and Molek the detestable god of the people of Ammon.
24 Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem.
We have bought into ways that are not God’s and it is the same root message the people in Josiah’s kingdom were buying as well.
So if idol worship is still a problem what does Josiah teach us about tearing down idols and lifting God high as the only God exalted in all of his glory.
The one true provider, sustainer, satisfier and deliverer.
- If you want to destroy idols you have to have a heart that seeks God.
We will never confront the idols in our own lives let alone the idols of our city without seeking out the true God.
Josiah began to seek the Lord when he was only 16.
He becomes king at eight but doesn’t begin to seek out who God is until he is 16.
For eight years as Josiah grows he sees the worship practices in Israel, he sees the effects of it, he sees the emptiness and the darkness the false god’s have brought.
And very wisely he starts to seek the God that at this point was a memory, or a legend - Josiah begins to seek the God of his father forefather David.
As he draws closer to God, not surprisingly he is impacted.
Then he hears the reading of the law and Josiah experiences a tremendous conviction. vs.11 Josiah shows his leadership through the action he took.
He sees the problem and he doesn't just sit around and mope, he acts.
Josiah was able to act with such decisive force because He knew God.
Because of what he knew about him and what he offered and what he required, Josiah was left grieved by the rebellion and hostility of his people towards God.
This serves as a great reminder that our motivation and our passion to accomplish anything for God's kingdom must come through our time with God.
Our own passion to extend God's kingdom really is pretty weak within our strength.
Our strength, our vision, our courage our passion all come through our moments of seeking God.
This principle applies to any relationship. You will risk more, sacrifice more, and use more energy for the sake of someone you love far more than you will for a stranger.
If you really want to be energized to do something for God you must spend time in his presence.
In the 22nd chapter of matthew beginning in verse 36 Jesus made it clear how important it is to pursue God.
“Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
All of the law and the prophets hang on loving God and making him known.
Loving God and then loving others is the foundation for everything else in the scriptures.
Jesus is quoting out of deuteronomy chapter 6
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
Interestingly this is what was said of Josiah when he renewed the covenant with God and the people.
2 Kings 22:3
3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul
The next chapter of Deut. God reminds of us of the benefit of being in right relationship with him.
Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.
There is no idol yesterday, today or tomorrow who will stick with you, and who will love you back.
Every other idol will just take and take and take.
But our God is the god who lavishes his love and promises faithfulness.
2. Josiah’s life reminds us that God will use anyone regardless of age, gender, experience gifts or talents.
So many of us like Josiah, feel moved to act, or convicted, or challenged… we feel motivated to be carriers of the kingdom of God, but unlike Josiah we feel inadequate.
Paul gives a real amazing description of what we, all of us as as believers in Jesus are called to be a part of.
I think you will hear a resemblance to Josiah in Paul’s words.
2 Corinthians 10 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
Sadly so many hear these words and think that it’s not about them because they aren’t qualified to do that.
We see qualifications as:
A whole number of things but some include:
Our age, we are either too young or too old.
We will find every excuse as to why God can’t or wont use us.
And interestingly all of our ideas are built upon human ideas of qualification.
Look at another way Paul describes himself and let this be an encouragement to you on how God sees you.
1 Corinthians 4 1This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
We are to be regarded as servants of God and the requirement is to be faithful to him.
Josiah became King at 8 years old.
Twenty something is thought by many to be too young to lead a nation but God used him.
By the time he was in his 20’s he was leading a reformation throughout the nation.
What qualified him to be a servant of God?
The same thing that qualifies you and me, our faithfulness to God.
Age, background experience - they are not what God looks for.
And if you have been told otherwise. I am telling you today that what God needs is your commitment to him. That’s it.
Your age, experiences, education don’t empower you. The Holy Spirit does.
Josiah was used. So was timothy, so was John the Apostle, Joshua served alongside moses from his youth, king David was young when he defeated goliath, Samuel the prophet first heard cGods call as boy - there was no level of life experience or some age number that qualified them.
God qualified them through their faithfulness.
So what is our take away from the life of Josiah.
It is simply this:
Idols still exist.
You face them as an individual and we face them as a community.
But we are not asked to simply coexist, we are called to speak up.
We are called to tear down those things that lead people away from God.
And we are empowered by the Holy Spirit through our faithfulness.