Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 18 June 18:
1. 2 Kings 23:8 — “He… defiled the high places.” To love God is to hate evil and substitutes for God.
2. 2 Kings 23:8-20 – “And he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.” Revival may put many religious leaders out of work.
3. 2 Kings 23:13, 14 — “And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And he broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with the bones of men.” Josiah made a covenant before the Lord, “to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul.” His first step was the same as what the Bible commands Christians to do in order to walk with God: “Put away all filthiness.” (James 1:21) We cannot experience the fullness of joy and blessings in our relationship with God while we continue to hang onto sins which are detestable to the One we love. Josiah had to dig deep to remove the idolatry around him, all the way back to Solomon’s time to remove high places Solomon himself had built around the same time he built the Temple. These high places were by now as much a part of Judah’s national identity as anything else, built by their hero, Solomon, the wisest man of their day, the son of David! Yet, they had to go, likely much to the dismay of many. As Christians, fidelity may require that we remove things or change things that have always been there but that do not meet God’s standard. Looking at our lives from God’s perspective may require massive change. We may have to get rid of sins that have become old companions or that we have even attached to our personal identity – “That’s just who I am.” The change may come at a tremendous personal cost. However, our love for God demands it. It takes great faith to change what has always been there. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
4. 2 Kings 23:24 – “Moreover, Josiah put away… the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law… found in the house of the Lord.” Perhaps our “household gods” are our televisions, computers, and handheld devices. To “establish” God’s word in our hearts and lives, we must purify our lives from those things that dishonor God or that distract us from God’s will.
– Hebrews 12:1, 2 — Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
5. 2 Kings 23:25 — “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.” What will God say about the life you lived when it is over?
6. 2 Kings 23:26 — “Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger.” Josiah sought to bring revival to Judah and to restore the nation, but it was too late. God had already decreed, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘There shall my Name be.’ ” This was predicted by Moses in Deuteronomy 31 and by Joshua in Joshua 24 because they were “a perverse generation” with “no sense.” Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God.” Even Moses, the humblest of men, was not able to obey the Law well enough to enter the Promised Land. The message from the Bible is clear: There is no one who is good, not even one, no one who truly seeks God. We have all sinned and have all fallen short of the Glory of God. We all deserve God’s wrath and the penalty of death. Our hope is in the Promise spoken of in our readings in Gal 4 today. Nonetheless, we are to continually pursue holiness, righteousness, and purity as we are continually sanctified by the Holy Spirit that we may draw closer to Jesus daily.
7. 2 Kings 23:26-32 — Revival must last more than just one generation. One good leader cannot change culture and a people’s entire tradition and history.
8. 2 Kings 23:29 — “King Josiah went to meet him, and Pharaoh Neco killed him at Megiddo, as soon as he saw him.” Even the righteous suffer when God judges a people. Josiah died a rather unglamorous death as most of us will. However, he lived honorably, and his reward is eternal.
9. 2 Kings 23:35 — “…he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh.” People are often exploited through taxation.
10. 2 Kings 24:3-4 — “Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon.” God will hold nations accountable for the shedding of the innocent blood of babies.
11. 2 Kings 24, 25 — God’s judgment can instantly eliminate what took generations to create. In an instant, the pride of a nation can be gone.
12. 2 Kings 25:7 — “They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.” Godless people are cruel for cruelty’s sake. There is no limit to the evil a godless person might do.
13. 2 Kings 25:18 — God’s judgement holds both political and religious leaders accountable.
14. 2 Kings 25:22 — Through devastating judgement, God leaves a remnant and hope.
15. Proverbs 18:1 — “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Again, isolation is an indicator of selfishness or self-centeredness. It is not a trait of the wise.
16. Proverbs 18:1, 2 – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” God intends for us to be in community and to focus on others over ourselves. We are called to reach out and proactively love the unloving. Often times, the hardest place to demonstrate this sort of love is in your family, and the second hardest place may be in the local church. However, God demands that we persistently, pursue 1 Corinthians 13 love as our top priority in both institutions (family and church) as these are God’s school houses for learning to love and our first workplaces to do His will. Concerning family, the Bible says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8) Concerning the church we read today, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:18) Too often, Christians isolate themselves from both family members and the local church do to relationship problems. The Bible warns that this is “against all sound judgement,” selfish, and foolish. Of course, God knows that many family members are selfish, sinful, and destructive and that that church is full of “self-righteous hypocrites.” That is exactly why He intends for you to be with them – “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) God knows the “hurting people hurt people,” so in a way He has set you up for a beating, but it is in fellowship with Christ that you suffer as you serve as His instrument of grace and mercy. Who knows, in the process of loving the unloving, you might also discover your own flaws – “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:3) The primary reason Christians isolate themselves is because they are, in fact, self-centered, self-righteous, prideful, and unloving; they look at others from a selfish perspective rather than seeing others from God’s perspective. One of the first rules in relationship is to “seek first to understand others before being understood.” Proverbs says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding.” Why does that unloving person act the way he does? What happened in their lives to make him so ______? Didn’t Jesus say that it’s the sick who need a doctor? But you have tried for years to have a relationship with that terrible person, and they just won’t change – “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) If we want to make the world a better place, let’s start with building Christ-like character in ourselves, then let’s focus on our families, followed by the church, then our local communities. If you are trying to serve as Christ’s Ambassador while in alienation to a family member or to your local church family, you are likely unfit for duty.
17. Proverbs 18:4 – “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” People have much to say, but most of it is not worth hearing.
18. Proverbs 18:13 – “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” If while you are listening to someone you are formulating your response simultaneously, you are not really listening.
19. Galatians 4:1-6 — Small children must be instructed and punished or rewarded over the most basic things because they lack both understanding and the internal discipline to do what they ought — without internal discipline, they need external discipline. Conversely, one would hope that an adult has grown in maturity to have internal discipline that does not rely on external discipline to do what is right. Mature Christians who have the power of the Holy Spirit and a genuine love for Jesus are no longer spiritual children and no longer need the law because they have understanding and the discipline of a disciple, not to mention a genuine passion to honor God in obedience. Love does what regulations could never do. When an adult surrenders to immature urges, we might say, “Don’t act like a child!” Likewise, we must lovingly rebuke experienced Christians who act like spiritual infants.
20. Galatians 4:6 — The heart of a Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit which is Love. We have perfect love within us but must not quench it, grieve it, or get out of step with it.
21. Galatians 4:9 — Religion tends to focus on rules and duty. God wants us to focus on love, beyond mere duty. The more we know God, the more we are compelled to love Him and obey Him, not because of the rules, but because His desires are what we desire from the heart. Love makes obedience to rules a given, no longer a consideration because it is inevitable.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 June: Today, with fellow Christians, pray earnestly for revival in the American church. (2 Kings 23-25)