2 Kings 22:1-2 Josiah... did what was right in the sight of the Lord...; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
By the mouth of a prophetess, the Lord said to the King...
22:19-20 Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place... and you tore your (kingly) clothes and wept before Me, I have also heard you, says the Lord... and your eyes will not see all the calamity...
Praise God! He is able to change what we think is the "inevitable!" He hears the prayers of the broken and contrite. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 KJV
When The Lord Speaks
Like many of you, we have by in large turned off the national news media in favor of more valuable pursuits like spending time with family and friends and times of prayer and meditation upon God's Word. We are not trying to be "super-spiritual." This was a mental health decision. We are not uninterested, but desire to hear what the Lord is saying above what those on the right or left, blue or red, conservative or liberal voices are hawking. We pray for our leadership as the Bible commands, but personal opinions and preferences fall silent... when the Lord speaks!
The Josiah Generation
The backstory to our Scripture is that Josiah's father Amon "did evil in the sight of the Lord" by permitting the worship of false gods. This policy of tolerance without boundaries had weakened the nation's identity and moral fiber.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
Young King Josiah hearkened back to his forefather David. He turned back to the Lord! His decision to follow God, debunks the notion, "like father (Amon), like son." Ideally, one generation declares the works of God to the next. When that does not happen, whole nations drift until another Josiah arises.
Likewise, it proves that we are NOT hopelessly "stuck" to genetic predispositions that often become excuses for continued misbehavior. Each of us has the power to decide God's way, even reversing the curse from the "sins of the fathers." We are witnessing thousands who are breaking so-called "generational curses!" Victimization is one such curse.
I highly recommend reading the small book, Zero Victim by James E. Ward Jr. This young minister originally from Tuscaloosa, AL, brings fresh insight and Biblical perspective exposing how victimization is the real problem, not our set of unfortunate circumstances. He offers how to reprogram the mentality of expected defeat and recognize victory in every situation.
After Repentance, King Josiah Takes Action
Feeling remorseful for our past moral failure, violation of conscience and character defects is a good and necessary starting point. But making decisions and taking actions thereafter is even better and guarantees a future hope.
In Matthew 3, John the Baptizer confronted the religious leaders of His day calling them "snakes" who slithered in among the genuinely repentant common folk at the Jordan River. They had heard John's preaching on wholeheartedly turning back to God and now these Pharisees and sadducees supposedly desired to be baptized. Baptism is an act demonstrating death to self and resurrection into newness of life, God's way. John told these leaders: Go and do something to show that your hearts are really changed. Matthew 3:8 JBP Obviously, John was more focused on changed lives than "counting heads." And he was more concerned with God's perspective than being popular!
We also note this same theme later in the New Testament. Paul wrote a stern "fatherly" letter to the church in Corinth about disciplining a brother who flaunted his immorality among the saints. (All sterness is not insensitivity, nor condemnation) Fortunately, the letter was received and heeded and subsequently Paul wrote, For although my letter had hurt you I don’t regret it now... it made you grieve for things that were wrong. ...the result was to make you sorry as God would have... not merely to make you offended by what we said. The sorrow which God uses means a change of heart and leads to salvation... 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 JBP
Emboldened by confirming words of a prophetess, Josiah radically and systematically restored the nation to her spiritual/moral roots. The following were some of the actions he took to recover a nation that once knew their God, now on the brink of calamity. His choices set him apart to me as the King of Recovery!
Read his story recorded in 2 Kings 22 & 23 & 2 Chronicles 34 & 35.
1. Josiah found The Book. The Bible is our Book of recovery. It is God's inspired Word written to us personally. (2 Timothy 3:16) In the Bible, one finds the best counsel and "case studies" available to mankind. Most importantly, one discovers Jesus Christ!
The Book also helps us make sense of confusing circumstances and people, even our own good and bad proclivities. Daily feeding upon the Word strengthens one's identity as a child of God, increases one's immunity to sin and protects us from man-centered philosophies. Finally, The Book provides us with God's perspective, raising us to see and hear from the Heavenly Father's point of view.
2. Josiah began to rebuild. Becoming a builder is in the nature of God. In the beginning God created... (built) Later, Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees looking for a city whose builder and maker is God! Paul identified himself as a wise masterbuilder, a co-laborer together with God.
When we turn to God in truth, we become partakers of the Divine Nature, 2 Peter 1:4. We become invested in seeing broken places built up and restored. Isaiah 58:12 NLT confirms this, ...you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
3. Josiah made a personal Covenant with God. 2 Kings 23:3 states that Josiah stood by a pillar and made a covenant to follow the Lord with all his heart and walk in obedience to His Word. Salvation is more than joining a church or having an emotional experience, though these may be good. Not unlike Josiah, when we "get saved" we are entering into a personal covenant with God made possible by Jesus' sacrificial death. We enter into the New Covenant.
When Josiah unashamedly made public his personal covenant with God, his example influenced others to do the same. The passage referred to, states, And all the people took a stand for the covenant.
Josiah's covenant was made as he stood by a pillar. It represented a "monumental" turn around point in his lie and those in his sphere. Every week Linda and I are humbled to witness men and women finding their pillar at the Wings of Life and the Home of Grace for Women. Nothing could be more fulfilling!
4. Josiah restored true worship. True worship turns all the attention to God. It is motivated out of a deep desire to bless Him, not ourselves. Here is an appropriate question to ask during our prayer time, "Lord, what could I do to bless You today?" That idea stands in juxtaposition to our typical needs and wants prayers. Trying to use God can become another example of "working the system" to our advantage.
Here is another suggested prayer, "Lord, I lay before You my agenda and expectations." Such prayers attract the presence of God upon our lives, families and nation. Years ago Dr. Mike Darnell heard a prisoner on death row pray this prayer: Lord You know what You want and You know what I want. Now You want through me what You want and that will be what I want. That is a great prayer and a good theology too!
The dross and mixture Josiah's father Amon had permitted in ceremonial worship was "ruthlessly extracated" as he rediscovered true worship. Stunningly, idols to Baal and Asherah, a sexual goddess, had crept into the worship services. Sodomites and prostitutes finding safe haven in the temple had even set up booths. These influences were torn down and burned! See 2 Kings 23:4-7
Recovering people courageously do a fearless and searching moral inventory of themselves, followed by confession of sin. As temples of the Holy Spirit, worshipping God in spirit and truth, separates the holy from the unholy, leaving no loophole for Lucifer to regain another stronghold.
5. Josiah renewed the practice of Sabbath Rest. More than being one of the Ten Commandments, Sabbath is tied to Creation when God Himself rested on the seventh day, thus setting it apart as a model for us. The intent behind the Sabbath law was a time to reflect on all the goodness of God. It was a time to cease from our labors. Taking a Sabbath rest demonstrated faith. Additionally, it was a time to reset on God's perspective as the center-point. It was a time of regeneration, recharging human life with His power. Sabbath positively affected soul and body.
Under the Old Covenant, the land rested in the seventh year and after the end of seven cycles, the 50th year was called the Year of Jubilee. (Leviticus 25:8-13) It was a time of release, a time to celebrate liberty!
One of the primary reasons Israel entered the Babylonian Captivity was their failure to observe the Sabbath principle. (2 Chronicles 36:16-21) They were greedy for more.
Application: Sustainable recovery is only possible for those who learn to schedule rest into their busy lives. In drug recovery programs, Step 11 states, We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God... This speaks to me of incorporating the Sabbath principle into our daily lives.
Of course, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, (Matthew 12:8), and Paul stated that when Jesus is Lord, we can experience abiding rest. (Romans 14:5) I believe the emerging emphasis on prayer and meditation speaks to the human yearning for Sabbath. We commend those who are developing the habit of calming their souls one day at a time, silently listening to God in a secluded place. Their actions become more purposeful and less stressful.
Based on Josiah's actions, I refer to him as the King of Recovery. May we learn from his example and take the same actions in our own lives. ...the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Daniel 11:32 NASB
Perhaps, as we take our stand personally, this infulence will displace immoral trends apparent in our society. May God bless and strengthen you as you stand with Linda and me, as we follow Josiah's example. Also, Thank You for faithfully standing with Discovery Family Ministries.
Happy Father's Day and enjoy your Summer!