July 12 2020 New Beginnings 4 - Josiah - Sometimes our Strengths become our Idols
12th July 2020
2 Kings 22:1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem… 2 He did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left.
Israel in the north – Judah in the south. The kings of Israel were just rotten. In Judah, it was a mixed bag – some good kings and others, not so much.
Hezekiah was a good king, in general. He had his issues – but then there were 2 kings that were really bad – and then Josiah was 8 years old when he became king – so I’m guessing there were some advising him.
He did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left.
Did he walk in ALL the ways of David – like the ways of Bathsheba and Uriah?
For those who don’t know the story, Bathsheba was bathing on the roof, David was king – he took her, and killed her husband Uriah. David is known as one after God’s heart – but he failed.
This is encouraging – but also aggravating. All of us have great failures in our lives. And this gives us hope, when we experience these failures – Not of David, but of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness for all of us.
This should not be used to excuse bad behavior – but this demonstrates God’s great mercy. David failed – but we know He continually returned to the Lord. That is what allowed him to walk with God. As we look at David’s life through the book of Psalms – he is always moving in the direction of God. Even when he really blows it – he is moving in the direction of God.
Think of person A – 100 yards from God.
Person B is ½ mile from God. Person A – even though at a shorter distance – has stopped moving toward God – and Person B is making progress. And in God’s upside-down way of measuring things – Person B is closer to God than Person A. Keep moving toward God. Keep making progress.
David: I have trusted in Your mercy – not getting what I deserve! Because of God’s grace, love and forgiveness.
This is written by David – probably after his deal with Bathsheba:
Psalm 32:1 Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed are those whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
The key to David’s life – he knew how to receive God’s grace and forgiveness. Are we good at receiving God’s grace and forgiveness? This is how our relationship with the Lord is based – on our ability of receiving forgiveness – not on how perfect we are.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. So our walk is not only based on how we receive forgiveness, but on how well we give it as well.
If you are married, or in a family – or walk the earth – you know this! Some have a hard time receiving forgiveness.
Some of us have been brought up in a culture of shame and guilt. This is dumped on us and heaped on us and keeps us from receiving grace and forgiveness. For others – it is pride/earning/deserving. That may work for a job, but it doesn’t work with God! You’ll never deserve what God wants to give you. You can never earn what God wants you to have. You can only receive it by grace.
2 Kings 22:3 Now in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan… to the house of the LORD saying, 4 "Go up to Hilkiah the high priest that he may count the money brought in to the house of the LORD which the doorkeepers have gathered from the people.
They were doing a building project for the temple – we’re in the midst of a building project – you’ll hear more about that later…
8 Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, "I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD." And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan who read it…
This would have been a scroll. Most likely contained at least parts of Deuteronomy – maybe parts of Leviticus – and it had been a long time since they had had the book of the law.
Someone came over and told me that they found the saw they had borrowed – I didn’t even know they had borrowed it! My neighbor Tony found his screwdriver when he asked to borrow one from me! He hasn’t let me live that down.
Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes.
High praise for this young king. 18 years of his reign and Israel has no idea what they are supposed to be doing – and when they read it – they realize they are not doing any of it and they are doing it all wrong. We think in order to receive praise or acceptance, we have to be flawless.
Maybe we get that when an A is the only acceptable grade on the report card. We see, with David, Josiah, and all these folks – they were all flawed – and some of them walked with God and we can too.
We all have bibles. How does this apply to us? No matter how many times you read through the Bible – you’ve had experiences where you say – I’ve never seen that before! There are brand new things God wants to tell us and He gives us brand new understandings of how He wants to work in our lives.
For Josiah – it was an awakening to the Lord –
Second – there are always new and challenging circumstances – we have had 3-4 months of it now – That the Bible can speak a fresh word into. And we say – OH! This speaks directly to that! We have all experienced that to some level.
Third – there are some things that we have believed and have strong convictions on – and one day – we start reading and we realize – We misunderstood that! Too often, we think – I’ve got a verse for it – so I’m done, but it is important to understand the full communication of the Bible and how things relate to that.
2 The king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.
So he pulls everyone together – and they read it. Here is what it says:
3 The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.
SO there is this dedication – or a rededication – and there are four aspects of this
1 – in their devotion – their love relationship – we all need to rededicate ourselves to that – probably daily.
2 – discipleship – dedication to be faithful to God.
3 – service – to God and to people. That is how we serve God, so it relates to ministry and worship.
4 – Mission – Kingdom mission to the world. We must regularly dedicate ourselves to a mission to the world – and too often, we are on mission AGAINST the world!
A great example – Jonah got swallowed by a whale – well, a sea monster – but we say whale, because it works better in children’s books – but God sent Jonah to Nineveh – to be on mission TO Nineveh, but Jonah wanted to be on mission AGAINST Nineveh! And the monster spits him out on the shores of Nineveh – and they repent and turn to God and Jonah is MAD! We can all be that way, but we shouldn’t!
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What we see here – how to make this rededication. The word, ‘you’ is plural. But we tend to overpersonalize the Bible. This is a community effort! First – the motivation for rededication is God’s mercy. It is becoming a living sacrifice – placed on the altar – and sacrificed to God. That is hard to do. That is a hard way to live – but it is a life God has called us to.
Do not be conformed – but be transformed into the image of Christ.
How do we know if we are conformed to the world? Some things it is obvious – but in other things, we don’t know – it is such a part of who we are – we don’t think of it as being conformed to the world.
Practical thing – Spend a lot of time in the teachings and life of Christ – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All of the Bible points to those gospels. Everything beyond them points back to it! New Testament communities living out the Gospels.
When Jesus says something – how does that speak into our world? I challenge you to do that – there is so much in there and our focus must be on Jesus. Not on doctrine, theology, or practical things like how to be this or that type of Christian – it is of no value if the focus isn’t on being like Jesus.
What happens then – they realize what the problems are in Judah – and I’ll look at Chronicles
2 Chronicles 34: 3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still a boy, he began to seek the God of his ancestor David, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the sacred poles, and the carved and the cast images. 4 In his presence they pulled down the altars of the Baals; he demolished the incense altars that stood above them. He broke down the sacred poles and the carved and the cast images; he made dust of them and scattered it over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them.
The main problem – they had become idolaters. They were worshiping the gods of the land – and the second was subtle – but they were worshiping Yahweh on the altars of the land – mingling the ways of the world in the worship of God. They are both idolatry.
We don’t bow to statues, but we mingle the ways of the world in our worship.
When we think of idolatry – and this is important – think of a people like Israel, or the United States, where we live. The greatest and best things of a people group – have the greatest potential to compete with God for our loyalty.
The nation of Israel – one of the best things they had going – the sacrificial system for the cleansing of sin – and that system becomes the god they serve – and not God. God says – I HATE THESE SACRIFICES! Because they became the thing being served.
The purity codes in Leviticus – this had become their god.
The sabbath – and we see the problems they had with that – also we need to think about that in this culture – what are the best things we have – and know that they have the potential to compete with our loyalty to God.
Our representative form of government – one of the best things about the US – has the capability to compete with God.
Freedom – has the greatest potential to compete with our loyalty to God.
That doesn’t mean those things are bad – the sacrificial system and the sabbath were good things – but when we drift in our devotion to God, those things steal our loyalty.
SO we need to maintain our devotion to God.
After they get rid of the idols:
2 Kings 23:21 Then the king commanded all the people saying, "Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God as it is written in this book of the covenant." 22 Surely such a Passover had not been celebrated from the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was observed to the LORD in Jerusalem.
The key – when we recognize what we have done – we need to celebrate what God has done for us.