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2 Chronicles 34:1-19

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2 Chronicles 34:1-19 King Josiah

Surveys tell us that almost 50% of Americans attend church regularly. However this does not tell the truth. These surveys define regular church attendance to 2 to 3 times a year. When denominational records are looked into instead of relying on surveys we find something much more disturbing. Counting regular attendance as at least 2 times a month we find that in 1990 only 22% of the people attended church regularly. 1995-20.5% 1999-19% 2002-18%, that is the latest statistic I could find easily but at this rate by 2025 it will be 15% and by 2050, 11%. We are quickly getting to the European percentage of 2-4%.
The last statistic: The United States ranks 3rd, behind China and India, in number of people who are not professing Christians. We are fast becoming an unreached people group.
These statistics may come as a surprise to most of you. Most of you have lived here in the Bible belt most or all of your lives and to a great degree are shielded from the realities of the “world out there” just like we have been to some degree to the corona virus. But if the truth be known Missouri and Arkansas Southern Baptist Churches are fairing no better statistically than most other denominations.
II Chronicles 34 gives us a pretty good model of what can happen in a nation. We are going to look into the life of King Josiah who took over as king when his father was assassinated when he was the age of 8 years old.
Let’s go ahead and read II Chronicles 34:1-3 1Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.3For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images.
Josiah took over after his father, King Amon, died. His father was one of the most evil kings of Judah following after his own father Manassaeh. It appears that by the age of 16 Josiah had made a conscious decision to follow in King David’s footsteps rather than his father’s or his grandfather’s. When he was 16 he decided to seek God. He established a focus on God that did not waiver as “He did not turn aside to the right hand or the left hand”. Of all the kings of Israel David’s life is the most chronicled; 1 Samuel, 1 Chronicles and many of the Psalms. Josiah chose to model his life after the Godly David instead of his father or grandfather.
Here is a question for you. Does it really make a difference whether there is a Godly influence on a young boy/girl or not?
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a household that was God centric. We didn’t have home Bible studies or anything but we went to church most of the time and there was an emphasis placed on obedience to parents and God. I was also blessed with godly people around me in church that invested themselves in me and impressed on me the need of godly obedience and worship of God and God alone.
What commitment have you made to developing boys or girls for Christ? Do you know of a young man or woman you could make an investment in to make a difference in their life?
Even as God did a mighty work in the life of Josiah, the same could happen today. Imagine what could happen if men and women in the church sought God for spiritual awakening with the passion that Josiah had.
Read II Chron. 34:3-7 3For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. 4They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 6And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali and all around, with £axes. 7When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.
When Josiah assumed the throne of Judah, Judah had fallen into paganism and idolatry following the reigns of his grandfather Manasseh and his father Amon. Israel had conquered other nations within the boundaries of Canaan but instead of destroying all the altars, and idols they adopted many of the worship practices and religions. Visible throughout the land of Judah were Asherah poles (female Canaanite fertility goddess) carved images and altars to Baal and other deities like the golden calves worshiped in the Northern Kingdom. The people of Judah regularly made sacrifices to these pagan idols instead of bringing their sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem as God had directed. After seeking God from the age of 16 to 20, Josiah showed a great determination to reform all of Judah and some parts of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel. Josiah personally led the effort to remove the symbols of false deities throughout the land; not only to remove them but to crush them to powder, showing great determination. It is one thing to cut down a pole but another thing to crush it into a powder. He also destroyed and crushed the carved and molded images. The carved images may have been clay or stone but the molten images were made of metal. He also crushed them to dust. King Josiah could have delegated this job to his inferiors but instead he oversaw and led the destruction of the idols leading a reform in Judah.
How many have seen the movie Amazing Grace. It is about a man by the name of William Wilberforce. When he became a Christian on Resurrection Sunday of 1786, he was already a member of the British Parliament. Despite his having attained a great political following William could point to no real purpose in his life before his conversion. However, after his commitment to Christ, he became a serious thinker who abstained from alcohol and practiced a disciplined lifestyle. God began to deal with William about the slave trade in which the British were very active. With a renewed heart and vision, Wilberforce became a confirmed abolitionist. For the rest of his life he battled against the institution of slavery and its stronghold in British politics and economy. Due in large part to his perseverance the British Parliament abolished slavery and the slave trade throughout the British Empire in 1807. He not only saw a wrong but he did something about the wrong.
What are the Asherah Poles and Baal altars in your community? Better yet what are the Asherah Poles and Baal altars in your life? Is there anything that inhibits God’s work of holiness in you? As we look at what Josiah did we can see that he dealt with sin on different levels.
Chopped down the Asherah poles. This action removed symbols and objects of worship from their assumed rightful places. They had been right out in the open.
*How should Christians today respond to the openness of pornography in our culture, particularly right out in the market place? (commercials, billboards, magazine covers).
Ground wood carvings into power. Josiah not only chopped down the poles but he removed the possibility for them to be placed back up, he ground them to powder. He was determined to erase all semblance of the worship of this false god.
*Idolatry is anything that a man substitutes for his love relationship with God. What object, item, activities, or relationships might Christians need to “smash into powder” as they seek God more fully?
Ground cast images (metal) into powder. Metal represents a bigger challenge to destroy. Still Josiah’s resolve was so strong that he ordered even the metal idols to be ground into powder.
*Grinding metal into powder is a difficult task that takes much determination. The sin represented by these hard metal castings might correspond to the deepest and darkest sins in a Christian’s life. Perhaps the sin that you believe is hidden from everyone, including God. The idols of metal rest in the hidden places of our hearts. These idols could be hate, prejudice, pride, greed, envy, or any other attitude or action that you continue to cling to refusing to release. Doesn’t God deserve the cleanest of vessels?
The thing is we do not have to chop down billboards or clothe mannequins or walk around with our eyes closed. When we determine to grind into powder the idols of our hearts God removes all semblances of the idols. Just like Josiah’s reforms signified a visible change of heart in his life and his people, each of us has issues of selfish sin that stand in the way of reform. *What might God find in your life that needs crushing to dust before renewal and awaking can occur? *If you allowed God to do His work of holiness in your life, what would visibly and spiritually change?
I am almost finished but there are a few more things I need you to see this evening.
I’m not going to read verse 8-13 but in those verses we see that Josiah went across the country side with his men and they removed all visages of idols and ended idolatry in all of Judea. Then at the age of 26 Josiah led Israel to restore God’s Temple. It was not cheap and it was not easy but with the idols torn down the people could see clearly the need for the restoration of the Temple. Not only did the people give freely but men came forward to do the hard physical work. Not only did the men step in and do the work but verse 12 says they worked faithfully. They were no coerced or made to feel guilty; each of them saw the importance of the work that God had ordained. Some were skilled in different areas and even those who were not craftsmen did their part and played instruments for those who were craftsmen. Each man did what they were gifted and talented to do, all for the glory of God. I need you to notice this: They did not attempt to restore the Temple until all the idols were torn down and anything that looked like the idol was ground into powder.
Folks, you cannot just keep on doing and thinking what you have been doing, and thinking and add God in on top. God, Jesus, Christianity is not something that you add to your life. He is your life; in Him we live and move and have our being. God require the only place not a place. Jesus told the parable about putting new wine into old wine skins or a new patch on old cloth. God and idols are not compatible.
Read II Chron. 34:14-19 14Now when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses. 15Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. In verses 16-17 Shaphan told King Josia what they did with the money. Then we read in verse 18-19 18Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king. 19Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes.
In the process of restoring the Temple they came across a copy of the Law of Moses. When the words were read to Josiah it apparently pierced his heart. He tore his clothing. God’s Word became very important to Josiah and all of Judah and true worship of God returned to Judah. We will talk more about that another time.
I need for you to see the progression here. First: Josiah sought after (desired) God. Second: Josiah radically repented personally, then Judah corporately, to remove sin from the culture. Third: the work of the church became of utmost importance. Fourth: God’s Word became alive and relevant to Josiah and his followers. Imagine if you would what could happen in North America (not to mention Missouri and Arkansas) if each believer took these four steps.
Scripture says that Josiah, “walked in the way of his ancestor David” (II Chron. 34:2-3). I can think of no one whose personal relationship with God has been documented better that that of David. In Psalm 139 David asked God to search him inside and out. Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. David’s model of transparency towards God would serve the church well today.
David prayed this prayer because he knew he had sin. And he knew that sin separated him from God. The fact is all of us have sinned and all of us fall short of what God desires for us. According to Romans 6:23 the payment we should receive for that sin is death. But God loves us so much that He sent His Son to pay that debt and to give us a gift. That gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ.
A restoration and revival broke out in all of Judah because Josiah desired God, he was determined to remove all idols, causing a great love for the work of God and thereby the people of God, and a renewed reverence and love for the Word of God. You must know that the same kind of restoration and revival can begin right here this evening. That is not a farfetched conclusion. All revivals have started when God’s people desire God and radically repent removing sin from their lives and culture and the work of God becomes of utmost importance then God’s word becomes alive and relevant in the lives of His people. Let’s pray.
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