November 29, 2015

Godly living affects a nation and our world

2 Kings 22:1–23:27, Ephesians 5:1–33, Proverbs 9:1–12

One of the last kings in Judah began to rule when he was eight years old. Josiah reigned thirty-one years, doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord, not turning aside to the right or to the left. (2 Kings 22:1–2)

This shows that goodness can be in the heart of a child. He was deeply concerned about the spiritual lives of his people and the restoration of temple worship, collecting the money brought in and using it for the repairs.

While those repairs happened, his officials found the Book of the Law and read it to Josiah. He tore his clothes and commanded his leaders, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:10–13)

I wonder what would happen in our country if our leaders did the same thing. Can leaders have a heart like Josiah’s heart? He humbled himself before the Lord, and even though God’s announced disaster on the nation would come, God was merciful toward him and said: “. . . You shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.” (2 Kings 22:19–20)

At that, Josiah made a covenant before the Lord, to walk with Him and keep his commandments with all his heart and soul. All the people joined in the covenant. Then Josiah set to work. Even though God’s wrath could not be avoided, he wanted to rid the nation of all evil and idolatrous practices.

He removed everything related to false gods from the temple of the Lord and burned it all. He deposed the priests previously ordained to make offerings in the high places and who burned incense to Baal and the sun, moon, and hosts of the heavens. He destroyed the houses of cult prostitutes, all the high places, and the places where people had burned their children as offerings to Molech. This list goes on and included all the shrines in Samaria as well. Then he returned to Jerusalem. (2 Kings 23:19–20)

After that, Josiah commanded, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant” and restored this important celebration. Josiah also “put away the mediums and the necromancers and 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 that were written in the book.” The Bible says, “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.”

Josiah personified Solomon’s words from Proverbs 9:9-11: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life.”

This king also exemplified the commands in the NT. We are to be imitators of God, walking in love as Christ loved us. No immorality, impurity or covetousness should be named among us, nor filthiness, foolish talk, or crude joking. Instead, we are to be thankful people. We were at one time darkness, but now are light in the Lord. So it is fitting that we, “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:8–11)

Paying attention to how I live, not as unwise but as wise, means making the best use of my time, not being foolish, but understanding God’s will.

This is not pie-in-the-sky stuff, or matters reserved for church and Sunday. Josiah rebuilt a literal temple, but since I am a “temple of the Holy Spirit” in which the Lord now dwells, I’m to keep that temple in good order. Because I am His child, He cares about all aspects of my daily life. Actually, the everyday way people live is just as vital to the health of a nation as the godly leadership of a king.

Ephesians 5 includes an admonition about drinking and how being filled with God’s Spirit will give me all that I need to wisely walk with Him. The Spirit produces harmony among His people. This extends to marriage where husbands are told: “Let each one of you love his wife as himself” and wives are told to respect their husbands. (Ephesians 5:33)

The zeal of Josiah pleased God. Even though Solomon had trouble putting it into practice, his wisdom pleased God too, and enough to record it in His Word for all time. My daily life, what I talk about, how I use my time, where I find my joy, and how I treat my husband are all ways to please God also. This and more is part of the bigger picture —the way God’s people can affect the world in which we live.

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