Read this today and thought you all would be blessed by this.
I discovered Josiah last year when I was gone and studying a tender heart. I knew who he was- the young king of Israel and his name, more or less, but I really didn’t know much about him. I was impressed with what The Lord said to him in 2 Chronicles 37:27…. but it wasn’t until a few months later that the Lord opened up more insight into this amazing man’s life.
As a young person, you can’t help but notice the fact that he was a mere eight years old when he became king….
“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. ” (2 Chronicles 34:1, 2 KJV)
I think that says a lot about him. He turned neither to the right or the left, and kept on the “straight and narrow,” so to speak. But eight years old… wow.
“For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father…” (v.3). Eighth year. Sixteen. He was young and impressionable, and maybe he felt that he couldn’t do this right by himself. The responsibility that he felt must have must have been insurmountable. So that’s a key to the Lord’s blessing in his life… seeking him early. When he was young.
Secondly, He had a fear of the Lord. There are three types of fear:
1. A fear of consequences
2. A fear of damage to ours or the Lord’s reputation
3. A fear of damaging a personal relationship with the Lord
Obviously, it was the third type of fear that he had because of what he did.
“For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.” (2 Chronicles 34:3, 4 KJV)
Just.read.that. Look what he did! Notice his aversion. He ground them unto dust. In another account he ground them to powder. Dust, powder- it doesn’t matter. Obviously, he didn’t have the first two types of fears because he wouldn’t of done that. He certainly lost popularity and he wasn’t regarded with pleasure, I’m sure. This was becoming a tradition with his people and he destroyed everything. He was passionate about following the Lord and seeking him in everything.
What about us? What are our idols that need destroyed? What is it that is keeping us from seeking the Lord? Or what is it, that as we are seeking the Lord, has been keeping us from that level of intimacy with him? No matter what it is? Feelings, emotions? Pride? Lust? Anger? Media- your tv? Gaming accounts? What about the Internet? What is it that is making you feel validated and fulfilled? Jesus or some earthly object?
Thirdly. “Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the Lord his God. And when they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 34:8, 9 KJV) “To repair the house of the Lord his God.” I think, that maybe, as a natural side effect… When you are seeking Jesus, you are drawn to doing what you can for the House of the Lord. I’m not trying to mess up theology here but this may be a good example. In today’s world, we’re not talking about the timber for the couplings of the temple. It may be more along the lines of ministry. Witnessing and Discipleship. Proclaiming Jesus Christ, and for those who are born again, getting together with a disciple and discipling those to spiritual maturity so they can then do the same.
Next of all… His respect for the Word of God and his spiritual leaders. It’s a long passage, 2 Chronicles 34:16-21. But when Josiah heard the “words of the law… he rent his clothes.” One of my favorite quotes is by the CLA’s David Gibbs. This quote is written everywhere in my room- my bible, journal, various papers, etc. He says, “Non-Christians view the Bible as a fable. What’s worse is how Christians view it… as suggestions. God never wrote suggestions.” And truly he didn’t. He commanded. Josiah trembled at the Word of the Lord. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word…” (Isaiah 66:5 KJV) Where is that holy fear of the Lord? I know I lack it. Reading Isaiah 6 is so eye opening, and shows us how truly pathetic our modern day fear of the Lord is. He is GOD. He is LORD. He is creator and he made you and I, He, full of justice and truth, sent his son to bear the iniquity of us all. What is our reaction to the Word of the Lord? When you are reading scripture, or hearing the truth being preached, or are rebuked (ouch!) or you read something by a great man of God (Chambers, Hession, Spurgeon, or Tozer, anyone?) and The Lord convicts you and pricks your conscience, how are you responding?
The Lord rewarded him. The Lord rewarded him for his tenderheartedness. “Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 34:27 KJV) Josiah humbled himself and died to his ambitions and self righteousness and reputation… and when he heard the word of the Lord, he humbled himself. He was truly broken in his sin, and he “made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statues, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.” I think the end of chapter 34 sums it up nicely: “…And all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers.”
I don’t know about you, but every time I read of Josiah and think of his story, I am convicted. What a man. His great-grandfather was Hezekiah, and his grandfather was Manasseh. His grandfather was described by the Lord as one who did evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 Chronicled 33 accounts where Manasseh did humble himself before God, and God heard his prayers, but Manasseh only did that when he was in affliction. (2 Chronicles 33:12.) Manasseh’s son and Josiah’s father, Amon, purposely trespassed and only ruled for two years. (2 Chron 33:21.) I don’t honestly know why exactly Josiah sought the Lord. He might have been young enough to see the fruit of his father’s leadership. I’m not sure. I do know these things about Josiah- and that is that he sought the Lord, he feared him, he trembled at the Word of the Lord, and he revered and respected spiritual leadership. I think that has something to do with what the Lord said of him.
“Has that break come? All the rest is pious fraud. The one point to decide is – Will I give up, will I surrender to Jesus Christ, and make no conditions whatever as to how the break comes? I must be broken from my self-realization, and immediately that point is reached, the reality of the supernatural identification takes place at once, and the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable – ‘I have been crucified with Christ.’ Is He going to help Himself to us, or are we taken up with our conception of what we are going to be?” -Oswald Chambers
A few months ago I was reading the bible/studying/journaling at my grandma’s house. It was in the kitchen; it was a cold winter day and it was rather early- and I was helping out that day with my great grandma. I was reading through 1st Timothy. God gave me a rhema (and although this concept is not new to mature Christians, it was to me!) and opened up a whole new level of realizing how incredibly selfish and me-based I was.
“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began...” (2 Timothy 1:8, 9 KJV)
Verse 9 hit me hard. Ok. Our works. It denotes good works. Yes… We have plans and desires and goals and everything else under the sun. We have the things we do for God that are normal, they sound great.
It’s according to HIS purpose. His plan. His fore-ordained plan. (Romans 8:28-30.) He saved us, and by his grace which we have freely received we can be partakers of the afflictions of the gospel. We can be soldiers of Christ, endure hardness, and to preach the “foolishness” of the Gospel- Christ crucified, risen again. (2 Timothy 2:1-3, 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5.)
Our plans, our laid out future, our comfortable Christianity, out pitiful works are laughable. (Today’s Christianity can be related to Psalms 14. But that’s another topic.) We are too prideful for God to be able to touch our reputation, too lax to claim God’s promises and watch him work mightily, too weak-kneed to stand up for truth. Am I guilty? Yes.
“God has an amazing plan for you.” How many times have you heard that? Many times I’m sure, and I’m sure you’ve said it yourself if you’re the average Christian. We smile.
But what if we truly meant it in the context? Instead of it meaning, “You’re doing a lot of good in this world”, or “You have your life laid out perfectly to serve Christ,” it means, “GOD has an amazing purpose for your life.” Not YOU.
Because too often in our Christian life we are tied down with good intentions and admirable plans. But God isn’t impressed with that. He looks and sees what could be done through our life and laughs at our works. They’re good, yes- of course. We love good works. You know, give extra money to the visiting evangelist. Support a kid going to camp. Teach a Sunday school or help out in children’s church. Go to school to become a preacher, get a degree.
An I saying those are wrong?
No, obviously, no. But are they what God called you to do? Is that what he wants you to do? Full well if so. But he has a holy calling on your life- and if the Christian life is a conception of your own of what you should be or should do, and you’ve felt that gentle tugging or felt there was, perhaps- just a little more to this Christian life, then maybe you are consumed with your self seeking Christianity. Am I guilty? Yes. We think we are doing good and we have good intentions. But good intentions are not God’s holy calling.
All of those who God used mightily had to let go of their desires and thoughts on what a Christian life should be like. Abraham, Moses. David, Josiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel. Paul, Timothy, Peter, James. People in history like Martin Luther, William Tyndale, or John Bunyan. Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers. Missionaries like Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, Gladys Alyward, Jim Elliot. Will we all be preachers, teachers, missionaries like them? No. That was God’s holy calling on them.
Amy Carmichael freely talked about this. In her memoir written by Elisabeth Elliot, “A Chance to Die,” she writes:
“This zealous work with young people went on for more than a year. Amy poured herself into it, but felt that she was not really building as she had determined to build, in gold, silver, and precious stones. Something told her that all this activity might amount to nothing more than a heap of wood, hay, and stubble unless she began living a a holy life, a life that would help others. She was full of misgivings. The list of her activities must surely have seemed an impressive one to those who looked on, but to the girl herself they were nothing. They were empty. Nobody was truly being helped as she believed they should be. What had she missed? How could she live the life she longed for? How to be holy? Was there any hope of it for her?”*
What is it in Christianity that we are missing? Are we fully dead to our own desires? (Col 3:1-3.) What true, lasting fruit do we have in our work? (John 15:1-4, Romans 6:21.) Is every single area of our life and heart open to God working in them? (Psalm 51:6.) Is Christ our life, our only reason for our existence? (Col 3:4.) Are we dead to our own works and sin and fully committed to glorifying God on the earth and finishing the work he has for us to so? ( Romans 6, John 17:4.)
That verse, it’s haunting. Not according to our works, but his holy calling. Our works don’t even come close to his purpose.
Our go-to-church-on-Sunday/read-through-the-bible-in-a-year/tithe-a-lot works are good and “normal.” Too often we do that and that’s it. Why, is there more expected of me? Why, yes there is! Most definitely…
I covered a lot of things with this. Sort of ramble-like. I haven’t really blogged in I don’t know how long, my writing is quite rusty. (: I am going to close now, but one more quote:
“If you want Jesus on your terms, then you don’t want Jesus.” (Eric Ludy.)
Amen. Amen. That quote is resoundingly true. Our terms- we want his blessings on what our work is, when he has a far greater plan and purpose. Our ways are definitely not his ways. He works differently because he’s God. Don’t you think it’d be ok to trust God with your future, life, and time- since God knows your future, gave you life, and is eternal? Hmmmm…. (:
*A Chance to Die, page 32-33, written by Elisabeth Elliot. Copyright 1987 by Elisabeth Elliot.