A Nation’s Sovereignty

Pharaoh Neco put [Jehoahaz] in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. 2 Kings 23:33,34

Judah was a sovereign nation and yet Pharaoh Neco was calling the shots. Josiah lost in a face to face battle with Pharaoh Neco (2 Kings 23:29). The Pharaoh took control of Judah so that those in leadership were “puppets” of the Egyptian government. Even in this 3000 year old example, we see that it’s not a good thing when another country is running your government. They will not have the same values that you will have.

Pray for your nation’s sovereignty. With many nations banding together, the collective rarely has better insight and judgement than the individual. Pray that your leaders will have your country’s best interest at heart when making strategic decisions.

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We Don’t Know

Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months…He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his fathers had done. 2 Kings 23:31, 32

Jehoahaz came from one of the best stock in the long line of the kings of Judah. The LORD had praised Josiah for his godly acts numerous times. Quite frankly, Josiah’s “resume” was noteworthy and spotless. So what happened to Jehoahaz (and his brother Jehoiakim later)? Where did Josiah go wrong?

We don’t know that he did.

And often, neither can you. You see, it’s easy to blame parents for the actions of a son or daughter. I suspect many reading this devotional have also blamed themselves for things that have gone wrong in your child’s life. That may be true when the child was really young, but remember, Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he took over the kingdom. At 23, he was a grown man, and was able to make his own choices in spite of what his parents or anyone else thought.

I know this might seem harsh and heartless but you need to stop beating yourself up over the poor decisions your child(ren) have made as adults. Pray for them, yes, but like Jehoahaz, kids have to find their own way in life, even it means getting into serious trouble to do it.

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Not in Vain

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. 2 Kings 23:26

The previous verse noted how Josiah was unlike any other king before or after him. The next verse, however, comes like a thud. All the work that Josiah had done to rid the land of idols, spiritists, mediums, Asherah poles, and anything that did not honor God was for naught? Absolutely NOT.

How often do we find ourselves in similar situations? We’ve done everything we know to do the Godly thing. We’ve gone the extra miles several times just to be sure we got it right. Then it happens: something occurs to make it seem like it’s all wasted.

A missionary had translated the Bible and was getting ready to have it published (back before computers existed). It was in paper form. A fire swept through the building he had translated it in. All evidence of the newly translated Bible was burned, destroyed. The missionary mourned its loss and began translating the Bible once again the next day. Yes, it was tragic that all his work was burned up in a fire, but the next time around the translation would only take a fraction of the time it took when he originally translated it because he had already done the difficult initial work of learning the phrases and testing it among the people.

Perhaps you’re feeling that all the work you’re doing or have done is in vain. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, very little in this world encourages you to be satisfied with what you’ve done. Even as I write these devotionals, I run the risk of encouraging you not to be satisfied with the status quo and to change if necessary. My intention is not to discourage you; in fact, it’s just the opposite.

Keep doing the things that got you this far and cast off those things that distract you. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you (James 4:8).

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Writing Your Epitaph Now

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. 2 Kings 23:25

How would you like to have those words written about you on your tombstone when you die? Of course you’re not a king but you do have a profession (even if you’re a stay at home Mom, you have a profession).

What would it take to get us from where we are now to the words in that verse? What, if anything, would we have to alter in our lives to get there?

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Righteous Zeal

Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things. 2 Kings 23:16

This is a king who means business. After Josiah destroyed all of the physical evidence of other-than-God-worship, he went to the graveyard and dug up those who were buried there. He removed the bones and had it all destroyed.

The last few devotionals has touched upon the removal of our own idols within our own reach. There’s something about Josiah’s actions that goes even deeper. His love for God and not wanting to keep anything that would hint of defiling God or His name is commendable. His zeal for righteousness and is second to none.

Josiah’s zeal resembles that of Jesus when He cleaned out the temple courts ((John 2:13-18).

Often we find ourselves being against things, when we would be better off being for things. Ask God to help show us how we can demonstrate that zeal for Him.

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What’s On Your Mind?

He removed from the entrance to the temple of the LORD the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melech. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.2 Kings 23:11

From these few words it’s apparent that Judah had fallen far. Not only were they worshiping the sun, but they were doing it near the temple court. The Bible is also clear who had instigated that worship: the kings of Judah. King Josiah was merely cleaning up the mess left behind by his predecessors.

In the last two devotionals, I refer to “cleaning house.” I suspect that cleaning up your “house” isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes time to go through all your stuff. So, here’s a question, how’s your thought life? What are you thinking about the most throughout the day? What are you feeding your mind on? Do you find yourself spouting negative comments without realizing it? It could be indicative of what you’re feeding your mind.

Robert Munger wrote a neat little book (My Heart, Christ’s Home) that talks about the various “rooms” in your life. It’s a very worthwile read if you get the chance. The thought life is only one room he explores.

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What’s In Your House?

The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. 2 Kings 23:4

This particular paragraph is somewhat puzzling to me. It seems there were articles made for Baal and Asherah in the temple. What in the world were they doing there? Who had used them while they were there? Josiah must have been asking the same questions because he ordered them to be destroyed. I’m positive it ruffled the feathers of more than a few Baal and Asherah worshipers. But Josiah the Leader had to take a stand because of the sin that occurred before him.

If you are a leader in your home, you understand the importance of “cleaning house” on occasion just like King Josiah had done. That means cleaning up what your kids see on the internet, the television, and even what they listen to with their music. Do a thorough evaluation. You will certainly not be popular, but most good leaders aren’t. Hint: if you make the child extremely angry (with he/she invokes the “invasion of privacy” principle, it is likely that you touched upon an area that he/she didn’t want you to know about).

Likewise, it’s also a time to evaluate what you see on TV and the Internet. Here’s merely a small test: would you be comfortable showing all the sites you surf to or all the shows you watch with your pastor?

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Cleaning House

The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD -to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. 2 Kings 23:3

King Josiah sensed that this was a pivotal point in Judah’s history so he stopped what he was doing to reconsecrate himself to the LORD. He was the reigning king over an entire nation, but he knew that dedicating himself to the LORD’s service once again would be an important thing for the rulers and the people to do. In other words, Josiah didn’t let the busyness of his life stand in the way of getting right with God.

I think we need to do this from time to time. Sometimes our faith gets stale and old. We lose zeal and just go through life to get by. For some of us, it’s like getting an oil change and 17-point inspection. But for others, it may be like getting an entire engine tune up. Take some time this week to examine your life and your faith.

Ask God to reveal areas of your life that have fizzled out. Ask Him to renew that love you once had.

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A Bittersweet Message

[Huldah] said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’ ”
So they took her answer back to the king.
2 Kings 15-20

The five men who went to see her (Hilkah, Ahikam, Acbbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah) took Huldah the Prophetess’ words back to the king. It was the same message that Judah had been hearing for a long time: because you were evil, I will destroy you. This time, though, the LORD threw in a twist: because the current reigning king of Judah was not evil, I will spare this generation but the next one I will destroy. This is the very definition of bittersweet. I will destroy your nation, but you will be spared. It’s hard to rejoice when you children and grandchildren would be laid to waste before

I suspect many of you are experiencing those bittersweet points in time: perhaps a loved one who had Alzheimers recently passed away (you’re very sorry that person has passed but you’re also relieved that the Alzheimer patient is no longer in control-or your days of taking care of that person have finally finished!). Or maybe your son had begun drinking heavily but decided to enlist in the military (the discipline in the military would at least temporarily put a kabosh on the heavy drinking, but at the same time, military folk go to war). Both are examples of bittersweet situations.

Ask God to help you sort out those bittersweet emotions. Sending a perfect son to be a sacrifice for a sinful race of people is perhaps the ultimate bittersweet experience.

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