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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5 - 2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35: Josiah Changes Everything but God's Punishment

Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35

The Message

English Standard Version


Today's reading is very long, possibly the longest for the entire year. The two chapters in 2 Kings are the same events of 2 Chronicles. However, since Josiah is my favorite king in the Old Testament, you can't be my friend if you skip either one (just kidding). Enjoy!

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Josiah removed all of the things separating the people from God, but could not make them return to Him.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Josiah reigned God's way, like David. He restored the Temple and found the Book of God's Revelation. However, God would still punish Judah after Josiah's death.
Josiah read the Book to Judah. He then purged the Temple, Jerusalem, and all Judah of their idols to other gods. He removed Solomon's and Jeroboam's shrines and went through Israel removing their foreign-god altars.
He observed the Passover unlike any since the judges.
Pharaoh Neco's army killed Josiah in battle.
Josiah's son Jehoahaz's power lasted three months. Neco took him away and placed Jehoiakim on the throne. Judah returned to their foreign gods.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Josiah removed all shrines, no matter how old or established they had become.

A few weeks ago we read how Josiah's great-grandfather Hezekiah removed most of the shrines. He did not remove Solomon's shrines or the ones in Israel (though Israel still inhabited the land when he came to power and would have objected). Josiah, on the other hand, removed Solomon's shrines, Jeroboam's shrines, and then went throughout deserted Israel and removed their shrines. God was pleased with Josiah's actions. God is pleased with His Chosen People when they sacrifice their heritage to obey Him.
What I love about Josiah, and why I named our first-born after him, are the implications of his actions for today. The Restoration Movement was begun by men and women dedicated to "the restoration of all things." For their time, they did a magnificent job, like Hezekiah. However, as we approach the 200th anniversary of the movement's beginning, we now see "shrines" that they did not remove—the center of Christianity being the church building; everyone sitting in pews facing the same way listening to a lecture; communion being a individualistic, private matter; a heavy reliance on rationalism and modernism for developing and teaching doctrine; and so on. (As a side note, some may question whether these "shrines" were there at the time or added later. When they arrived is not a matter I care to debate, at least not here and now.) Now we are at a moment when many young people are questioning whether they see Jesus in the church or not. So our challenge today is whether we can go through a "Josiah" moment and remove all of our religious shrines or are we content with our "Hezekiah" past, keeping the oldest, more established shrines in place. If we remove these obstacles and observe Christian community as long ago (as with Josiah and the Passover), we, too, can stem the tide of our decline, even if for one generation.

Josiah left his previous generation's sins behind.

Last week we read how Hezekiah's son and grandson (Josiah's grandfather and father) rebuilt shrine after shrine after Hezekiah tore them down. I commented that no matter how good a generation could be the next could squander all gained ground. Josiah, on the other hand, serves as a great example of the opposite side of that coin. No matter how bad your previous generation(s) treated God, you can change your life dramatically if you humbly put your trust in His Way.
It is here that we can gain encouragement from Josiah for our church culture today. We do not know how many old-timers Josiah had to convince to tear down Solomon's shrines, but what we know is that he succeeded. Before we abandon our congregations to die we should first attempt to be like Josiah. Once we have exhausted our patients (or theirs), we have done all we can do. I am not convinced all of our congregations are too far gone. They need help, but God wants to set things right. We should join Him.

Josiah could not stop God's punishment of Judah.

At first God's pronouncement to Josiah may seem cold-hearted. God does not bless Josiah with generation-after-generation of kings because of his work as with Jehu who did less. What we do not have written here is how well Josiah led the rest of Judah. It is possible that he had little effect on the commoner's heart. As we read earlier in Isaiah, religious observance does not guarantee God's attendance. Therefore, it is conceivable that Josiah had little sway on the people en mass. This could be why his son's punishment came so quickly and why he did not argue with God. He could see that his zealotry for God was not matched in the proceeding generations. Not all sinking churches can be saved by good leaders.

Are you willing to remove all of the religious shrines that prevent you from setting things right with God?

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