Friday, September 30, 2011

The JOSIAH MANDATE


2 KINGS 21:19a, 20 
Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign . . . And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh did.

So the sad, sordid history of Israel, and Judah continued. Ever since the days of Solomon, when he married foreign wives and had many concubines from among the pagan nations that surrounded Israel and the king paid homage to their gods, things seemed to go from bad to worse.

Solomon's son Rehoboam exacted such oppression upon his people, that they rose up and the kingdom was divided in half - the northern kingdom and house of Israel, and the southern kingdom and house of Judah.

Jeroboam established worship in Bethel where YHWH was given homage . . . along with the gods of the pagans. Another temple and altar were erected there as Jeroboam feared that if he let his people go to Jerusalem to worship, he would lose them to Judah and his power would be diminished.

The paganism of Israel grew more horrendous until they even excelled in their debaucheries over the nations whose gods these were! Judah eventually followed suit, as we have seen here.
To get an idea of one of these pagan false gods, Molech, go to this link where you mayread about the gods of the Ammonites.

Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah, who himself was a brief glimmer of righteous hope for the house of Judah, but when he expired, so did that hope, and Manasseh reigned in his stead:

2 KINGS 21:2 - 6 
And he did that which was evil . . .

For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove . . . and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.

And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.
And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.

And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.

And Amon followed in his father's footsteps. Yet the son of Amon, Josiah began to reign when his father became the victim of conspiracy among his subjects, who slew him when his son was only eight years old. While declared king at that tender age, Josiah didn't officially take his charge until he was eighteen (2 KINGS 21:23-22:1-3).

Here was a king unlike any other since the days of his father David, who was said to be a man after God's own heart!

2 KINGS 22:2 
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

The LORD Jesus Christ gave His disciples warning concerning the Last Days "Take heed that no one deceive you . . ." The Greek word for "deceive" used is planeo, meaning "to seduce, to wander away, be led astray, led into error, etc."

The same kind of apostasy that will (and does!) characterize the church in these last days was around in the days of Israel's own apostasy, but Josiah didn't turn to the right or the left: he walked in the integrity of David his father.

Yet there was much damage done in Israel:

The Temple was in disrepair and darkness; what once was a building filled with the glory and worship of God was forsaken, unless prostituted occasionally when the idol priests of apostate Israel felt like worshipping the pagan gods whose altars they erected in the Holy Place, inside the 'Nous' or the Temple proper that consisted of two rooms:

The first being twice as large as the second: the Holy Place had the menorah (lampstand of seven branches), the table of shewbread, and the altar of incense that stood directly in front of the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant was kept.

I can picture these being covered over with dust and spider webs for their abhorrent neglect by the people of God. Can you hear the heart cry, the anguish and pain of the LORD's heart for being forsaken by His people?
Much later in Israel's history, the LORD pleads with His people, in the days of Micah the Prophet, and I can hear His anguish in these words as well:

MICAH 6:2-3
Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD'S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.
O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.

After leading Israel out of Egypt in glorious deliverance, and leading her through the wilderness and finally into the Promised Land where He showed Himself valiant on behalf of those whose hearts were wholly His, like Joshua and Caleb, and defeated her enemies in Canaan.

In time He raised up David to reign over His people, and the worship of God was glorious and beautiful in the Tabernacle that Moses had built in accordance with the holy visions God showed him at Sinai.

And yet for all that - the Temple stood silent . . . and dark in the days when Josiah first became King. It came to pass however the the mandate went forth from the King to visit the Temple and to begin repairs:

2 KINGS 22:4-5
Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people:

And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the LORD, to repair the breaches of the house,Carpenters, builders and masons busied themselves about the prodigious work and they were so zealous and fervent in their desire to see the Temple restored, that there was no need to account for all the silver that Josiah collected to pay for the project as these workers "dealt faithfully".

Hilkiah was the high priest in those days, and while the work was in progress, he wandered about the Temple and "found" the scrolls of Scripture, "the book of the Law". How faithless the priesthood had been during the days of Manasseh and Amon that it wasn't until the time of Josiah's reign that the high priest himself only then "found" the Word of the LORD, left abandoned in some alcove in the forsaken Temple. Of course, had he kept it safely in his own home, it might have imperiled him before the vile kings of Judah.

Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan the scribe, who read it; then he brought it before Josiah and read it again. When the King heard the book of the Law read, what did he do? Did he rise up and dance with joy because he had heard the Word of the LORD? Did he soberly and sagely nod his regal head with religious affinity? Did he even cry out "Omein" with solemn conviction? No . . .

2 KINGS 22:11
And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.

Of course this practice of rending one's clothes was a Jewish expression of profound, deep-felt grief and anguish. I believe here Josiah demonstrates a heart after God's own, as his father David had. The King was as grieved and torn over the deplorable rebellion and forlorn spiritual condition of the nation as was the true KING of Israel. The command of the King was immediate:

2 KINGS 22:13
Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.

It could very well be that what was read to Josiah was from DEUT 28 where the LORD God lists both the blessings and the curses that He would bring upon Israel if they served faithfully, or proved faithless respectively.

Perhaps Shaphan also read from DEUT 29:16-29 and upon hearing these words, and understanding how utterly guilty the nation was of the very things that God had spoken of, that this spurred Josiah on to seek the will of the LORD, and find a prophet to enquire from.

2 KINGS 22:14a
¶ So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess . . .The Word of the LORD was woeful, for He declared that He would perform precisely as He had spoken in the Scriptures, but even in pronouncing the certainty of these judgments, the LORD spoke specifically concerning Josiah:

2 KINGS 22:19-20
Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD.
Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

This is only one thing that I love about the LORD - that He knows those that are His and He likewise knows how to keep those who will be faithful to Him safe from judgment while delivering the unrepentant to judgement (2 PETER 2:9-10,13-19).

Josiah could have been content with the knowledge that though God's wrath and judgment would fall upon these faithless people, he would not see it; he would be gathered together at the end of his days in peace and not witness the horror that was to come by the LORD's hand.
Yet he wasn't content with that at all: he felt compelled to gather the people together and declare the Word of the LORD (2 KINGS 23:2)!

2 KINGS 23:3
¶ And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

Josiah then cleansed the Temple of all things that offended: all the furnishings used in the worship of Baal and the groves (high ground that was used in pagan worship with obscene carvings made of stone and wood) and of all the host of heaven (the worship of false gods that were actually fallen angels) and he had them all burned OUTSIDE of the city of Jerusalem, not even wanting the smoke of their burning to pollute the air of God's Holy City! The ashes were then disposed of in far away Bethel!

He dispossessed the priests of false worship and the other grove idols and likewise burned them at the brook Kidron, ground the remains and scattered the ashes over the GRAVES of the children of the people!

He then destroyed the houses of the sodomites (homosexuals) that were erected next to the very House of the LORD, and he destroyed all the high hills and places of idolatry before the very priests that offered sacrifices in them, rather than in the House of the LORD (it seems almost as if Josiah was 'rubbing their noses in it'!).

Essentially Josiah 'cleaned house' and went as far as Bethel and Topheth in the valley of Hinnom; he tore apart the very house dedicated to Ashtoreth which King Solomon had built, and the house of Chemosh, another abomination.

In the midst of all this demolition of devilish constructs, Josiah pauses when he sees a sepulchre and asks about it; his men answer him saying that it was the grave of a prophet which proclaimed that such should be done to these things; the very deeds Josiah was about. The King declared:

2 KINGS 23:18
. . . Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.

Josiah then got radical about the cleansing of the land, showing no mercy or hesitation, but was adamant of wiping out everything and anything that would offend the LORD his God!

2 KINGS 23:20
And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.Once he returned to the "City of Peace" he commanded the people:

2 KINGS 23:21
. . . saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.

He also disposed of all the wizards and workers of familiar spirits (necromancers), idols and abominations from all of Judah and Jerusalem.

2 KINGS 23:25
And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Nevertheless . . .

2 KINGS 23:26
¶ Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.

What can we learn from all of this? Look at the church today, and notice how it's as dilapidated and dark and ruined as the Temple was in Josiah's day. Just as Jerusalem was overrun with idolatry, and pagan practices and worship of those gods that the Gentile nations served so we see the church overrun with idolatry and worldliness.

Israel was intended to be a Light to the nations, but failed in that commission; the church likewise is to be the Light of the world, and the salt of the earth, but has likewise failed in this day.

After Josiah's death, Judah returned to her debauchery and obscene pagan practices, but the LORD was careful to notice Josiah's heart towards Him and didn't cast his lot along with the rest of the preponderance of Judah's pagan-loving princes.

The House of Israel was judged by God when the Assyrians came and took them all captive. Later on the House of Judah likewise suffered the judgment of God when He raised up Babylon and used that pagan nation to wage war against His city and took them all captive; as well as this, the Temple (upon the third siege of Nebuchadnessar) was leveled, and its holy instruments taken back to Babylon.

The professing church (not the possessing church of true righteousness) of the LORD Jesus Christ has become a harlot, and will find herself thrown into great tribulation (REV 2:21-24).

Even in the church of Laodicea which was so deplorable that the LORD turned from it and addressed the individuals within the church, that as many as would answer the door upon which the LORD is knocking and receive Him, He would graciously enter in and sup with them (REV 3:19-21)!

I believe that though the church collectively has fallen into apostasy, the LORD is still willing to deal with those with a heart of Josiah. Though no Kings before him had followed after the LORD, nor any Kings after him, this did not deter him from serving the LORD whole heartedly. He didn't allow the apostasy of his day to discourage and demoralize him! He grieved over the spiritual condition of Judah, and he sought to walk righteously before the LORD, cleansing the Temple, destroying idols, slaying false priests and clearing the land of wickedness.

We who are the Temple of the Holy Spirit must likewise decide whether we will 'go along with the [apostate] crowd' and fall into a demoralized stupor of apathy and compromise; or stand solid and unmoving "not turning to the left or the right" and cleanse the Temple of filthiness. The things that we entertain in our hearts and before our eyes: what we watch, what we read, what we listen to, it must all be taken out of the Temple and burned away by the fire of God's Holy breath (2 COR 7:1; PSALM 101:3; DEUT 4:24)!

The idols must be destroyed: anything that represents a priority above and beyond our love and commitment to the LORD God must be burned, ground to dust, and disposed of far from our lives. (DEUT 6:5; PSALM 86:11)

The false priests (and their worship) must be slain: we must be crucified with Christ, dying to ourselves, putting the flesh to death, being radical about it, showing no mercy or hesitation (GAL 2:20; MATT 5:29; ROMANS 6:1-6).

I believe that even now judgment is falling upon the genuine church of Jesus Christ, not a judgment of condemnation, but one of chastening because He loves us (REV 3:19) and desires that we should walk in holiness and purity, far apart from the example we see in this fallen world or the compromised church.

For those with the rending, grieving heart of a Josiah who mourned over sin, to those that will hear the mandate of Josiah to cleanse the temple, I believe the LORD will say:

2 KINGS 22:19-20
Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD.
Behold therefore, I will gather thee . . . and thou shalt be gathered . . . in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.

And finally let us hear the words of the prophet Hosea and Micah:

HOSEA 10:12 
¶ Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

MICAH 6:8 
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

1 comment:

Tony Kiar said...

Thank you!

Beware, there is wickedness within the church. There is disbelief. Liberal theology epitomised by the likes of Bishop Spong have drawn many away from righteousness. This disbelief and wickedness has done much damage to the church - many have fallen away because of it.

http://walkingwithtony.blogspot.ca/2013/01/righteousness.html