Yesterday in church we learned about Josiah, who became king of Judah at age eight.
Who was King Josiah, what did he do, and why does it matter hundreds of years later?
Josiah had a notorious grandfather (Manasseh) – recorded as the most dastardly king of Judah. He had a son (Amon) that walked in his evil footsteps, leaving a poor spiritual heritage to his son, who was Josiah, the young king we are talking about here…
Josiah was eight years old when his father was assassinated. Early in his young royal life, Josiah was curious about spiritual things. Although his homeland was black with evil, Josiah still began to seek God.
It might be better to say that God drew him. God does that – and it’s often surprising. Especially when conditions around us don’t look promising, and we don’t appear to be headed in a holy direction.
All this drawing and wooing and curious interest about God made Josiah’s heart fertile ground. God was preparing his soft heart for an upsetting, earthshaking event that took place a few years later…
King Josiah told workers to clean out the temple. This was looking like a no-brainer job. Laborers were simply there to de-clutter, dust and organize. They were even told to keep track of their own hours. Things looked easy.
As trinkets were unearthed and dust flew, a scroll was discovered and brought to King Josiah.
This scroll was actually a treasured but forgotten book of the Law of God — given and practiced hundreds of years before.
Back when people followed God.
Back before people exchanged a loving God for a lie.
Reading the scroll aloud put a horrifying spotlight on Judah’s current state of affairs. God’s chosen people had been living in direct opposition to the words of this scroll-book. The nation was practicing child sacrifice and idol worship, even though generations before they had ousted people that were doing these same things.
When Josiah heard the words of the neglected book, he wept and tore his clothes.
Here they were, trying to tidy up the temple, making it sparkle and shine. But the temple – the spiritual heart of the nation– didn’t need dusting, it needed to be stripped down, disinfected, dismantled and rebuilt.
Josiah’s heart was overwhelmed and heavily grieved.
But Josiah wasn’t only stirred. He was changed.
Josiah turned the nation of Judah around 180 degrees.
(This thorough process involved lots of idols being ground to powder and piles of burnt bones.)
A woman named Huldah gave a prophecy at this point:
Judah be destroyed because of its abominations. It would be disciplined for the cries of its sacrificed children. But because of Josiah’s repentance and love for God’s discovered Word, Judah’s depressing end wouldn’t come during Josiah’s lifetime.
Lots of personal lessons here:
We should expect to see God’s Word in God’s house. It shouldn’t be hidden, neglected, unused or unpracticed.
Maybe we feel safe, knowing we will avoid the coming judgment. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t warn others. I want to be faithful to share God’s Word within my sphere of influence.
When I am confronted by God’s Word, do I change? Or, do I continue puttering around, just dusting the externals?
Josiah burned and destroyed the evidence and the promoters of idol worship in Judah. This made it impossible for the people to return to the former way of life. Have I made it easy or difficult to return to old, sinful ways? Burning bridges here can be a good thing…
300 years earlier, a prophet actually named Josiah by name, predicting that he would destroy idol worship in Judah. (I Kings 13:1-10) The Bible is bursting with fulfilled prophecies, confirming its truth.
After all that Josiah did to reform Judah, his son Jehoiakim went the opposite way. He heard God’s word, and what he didn’t like, he conveniently had cut out with a knife and burned. God has no grandchildren; our children need to surrender to God for themselves.
Josiah’s life ended on a strange note. He felt compelled to fight against Egypt, even though Pharaoh warned him that it really wasn’t his fight. Josiah did it anyway — he dressed up like a common person, was wounded and died. It’s always good to be reminded that even if a person’s life is resplendent and glorious, he or she is still just a person who makes mistakes.
“Everyone from church is in Florida,” my children announced yesterday morning, as our slush-encrusted van dutifully hauled us to church.
There were several brave souls who apparently got left in Minnesota.
They were there, filling up rows and singing hymns with us.
The lively verse that begins: “I sing the mighty power of God, who filled the earth with food…” set my stomach growling, because it was also potluck Sunday, and Melanie’s aromatic chicken drummies were calling my name from the kitchen.
Hearing about Jonah put me and my stomach back on track.
There are several historical accounts of people having been swallowed by sea creatures – and surviving.
The culture Jonah ran from (Ninevah & the ancient Assyrians) happened to worship a merman-like fish god. That’s ironic.
I marveled at Jonah’s selfishness – not going, not doing what God clearly asked. If God clearly tells you something, you should do it, right? God’s words to me are in His book. Do I listen?
And Jonah’s pity-party at the end of the book. The account of Jonah is so…me.
The potluck was grand. I avoided its desserts, but made up for that later at home.
I had meaningful conversations with a few friends, learning something new about two of them.
Free day-old bread on the back table is a happy thing.
Vivian brought us our weekly 4 dozen blushed brown farm eggs.
Simon’s family brought a new outdoor game that will go viral — at least at church graduation open houses.
Looking back, it was a pretty good day to not be in Florida.
Gianny and I stayed home from church yesterday. We nursed a sore throat and headache, and we made cookies.
Without competing talkers, Gianny and I had time for conversation, like this:
Me: It’s almost 2018. I wonder what will happen in the new year?
G: I don’t know.
Me: I don’t either. But I’m pretty sure that you will grow and learn something new this year.
And we played a game that makes you drool and sound ridiculous:
And then my husband finally returned home after a trip to Portland, OR that was only supposed to take a few days.
Car trouble, a repair shop, junkyard visit, and avoiding a winter storm made the 6-day trip 4,350 miles long.
Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps
(No photo. They didn’t last very long.)
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
white sugar for rolling cookies
Mix dry ingredients; set aside.
Combine sugar and butter. Mix in molasses.
Add dry ingredients and chocolate chips and mix all.
Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Shape dough into balls and roll in sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Happy New Year Thoughts:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” Hebrews 12:1
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2
I headed into the Family Video store, looking for…something. This film was playing on the monitors. I perked up, surprised to hear ‘the gospels’ uttered by a character. It might be a good film…
The story revolves around a shallow, narcissistic character (Gavin Stone). After some law-breaking-party-mischief, he is rewarded with community service. This sentence returns him to his hometown in the Midwest. He is forced to reconnect with his father after many years, since he needs a cheap place to stay.
His community service duties: janitorial detail at the local (mega) church.
Because Gavin is an actor, he wants to work out some of his 200 service hours by participating in the church Easter production. He wants the part of Jesus. Since each actor is required to be a Christian, he pretends to be one. At tryouts, his acting skills are comparatively excellent, and his audition is applauded. He got the part.
Then, Gavin shows off his acting skills still more by continuing the pretense of being a Christian. He Googles: What do Christians wear to church? What bumper stickers do they apply to their vehicles? How do they pray? What words do they use?
(Guess what overused Christian word becomes his favorite? Yep — BLESSING.)
The movie was too true. There are lots of fakers sitting in pews. Christians are nice people, and folks like to hang around. But, not all church attenders want to surrender their own life to the Lord Jesus. Some just want to play the game and enjoy the benefits of church life & fellowship.
People are often duped, but God isn’t fooled.
Gavin eventually admitted that he wasn’t a Christian. And he was amazed that people hadn’t figured him out.
Reminded me of Judas, who walked, talked and ate with the other eleven disciples for three years. Right before betrayal, they didn’t guess who the traitor was in their midst. (Matthew 26:22) Which reminds me…I just bought a new book with an intriguing title: What Would Judas Do? (More about that soon!)
Besides the excellent spiritual lessons, the movie was funny and well-acted. And, it had a great ending.