Posted by: arieliondotcom | July 11, 2013

Early & Often (2 Chronicles 34-35)

Early and Often (2 Chronicles 34-35)

God is the greatest gift you can give your children. If you know Jesus Christ, introducing your children to Him from infancy is the greatest thing you can do for them. Will they Be spared trouble and heartache in life? No. They may even have more of it! But they’ll be better off for it and for having known Him.

At age 8, Josiah was the youngest king other than his ancestor Jehoash (at age 7) to take the throne of Judah. And that’s ironic because both rebuilt the Temple from the damage previous generations of idol-worshipping kings had caused. But there was a diference. Jehoash was being raised by a priest and did what was right only as long as that priest lived. But Josiah followed the LORD, even with evil parents, since he was 8 years old.

Josiah was just a good kid. You’ve met them (and maybe hated them) before. There are those who love GOD because they’re raised right but there are some who seek GOD early and Josiah was such a child. Wise beyond his years he sought the true GOD of Israel early and found He responded quickly to be the Father Josiah needed.

As a result, Josiah from childhood had all idol worship stopped and all idols destroyed. In fact, as it emphasizes Josiah’s youth the Scripture also emphasizes the violence of this destruction. He didn’t simply remove the idols as previous kings had. He smashed, ground, chopped and destroyed them so they were unusable. As predicted generations before, he profaned idol altars so they’d never be used again. And he had the Temple completely cleansed in every nook and cranny. He reinstated the priests and Levites to their positions and the regular sacrifice and had the Ark of the Covenant, which had been hidden from marauders, put back in its rightful place.

As a result, a copy of the Law was found where it had escaped the idol worshippers when they ransacked the Temple. Jewish scholars say it was the scroll of the Book of Deuteronomy because of the parallels to Josiah coming to power and cleansing the Temple.

And as a result of finding the Book of the Law, Josiah realized how generations had betrayed GOD. He sought out GOD and was told that disaster was coming. Josiah, personally, would die before calamity came because the sin broke his heart. But disaster was unavoidable.

Even so, Josiah swore before everyone in Jerusalem that he would keep the Law and read it to them so they could swear to uphold it, too. And Josiah went through all of Israel destroying idols and having people turn back from idols to the LORD. Josiah’s youth is emphasized again because he kept a Passover the likes of which hadn’t been kept since Samuel (who had also sought & served GOD from an early age).

Then something unusual happened. One of the curses GOD had put on Egypt was that Egyptian would fight Egyptian. King Neco of Egypt had gotten a message from GOD to fight his fellow Egyptians and had his armies pass through Judah in order to do it, without troubling the inhabitants. But Josiah, misinterpreting a Scripture that said no sword would pass through the land, thought he was supposed to oppose him. Neco warned Josiah they had no quarrel and he was just passing through. The telltale sign that he is telling the truth that GOD spoke to him was that he did not speak of his own power or any other gods but the GOD of Israel. But Josiah did not listen. In fact, he disguised himself and went out of his way to pick a fight where there was none. And he died as a result.

Josiah had sought the Lord early from his youth. And he sought the LORD often. The more he knew of the Lord the more he sought after Him with all his heart. So why did the Lord let him die over a misunderstanding?

Jewish scholars say it was because although the people seemed to turn to God under Josiah it was not sincere. We will see that Josiah is no sooner dead than evil kings return and the people followed them back into idolatry. And as a leader Josiah’s death was a sign to warn the people. If the godly could die, what hope had they? But they did not pay attention.

And it will be Neco the same king who had begged Josiah not to fight him, who comes back to Judah and takes his successor captive.

Josiah was blessed by knowing the Lord from his childhood. But we need to seek the Lord not only early but often. When Neco made his declaration that God had sent him to fight someone else Josiah should have sought the Lord and asked if this was true. Either way, though, disaster would still come to Judah.

Jesus also sought the Lord, his Father from His youth. As a 12-year-old boy he was already in the temple doing his father’s business. And we have the witness of Scripture that he continued to grow in grace before God and man throughout His life, being Himself fully God and fully man. That did not mean that he suffered any less. In fact He suffered more because His mission was to suffer and die for us. And when we trust in the work of Christ’s death and resurrection we are given new life of the spirit in exchange for our old life of death.

Let’s follow Christ from our youth, physically if we can, but from that early moment He calls us at any age. Let us follow Him with our whole heart and early and often, not to avoid death and distress but to pass through it with Him to Eternal Life. And because of Him we will be the better for whatever He leads us through.

Our Scripture portion ends with a mention of Jeremiah the prophet. He is known as the weeping prophet because he wrote the book of Lamentations. And he writes a lamentation for the death of Josiah. We are on the brink of disaster, both in the Scripture and in the world today. But if we seek the Lord early and often he will see us through the disaster to glory on the other side. GOD’s promise to Josiah isn’t that he’ll simply die and escape trouble but that he would be gathered together with his people on the other side of the grave. God’s promise to Judah was not that they would avoid the disaster of judgment but that he would bring them through the other side as a new nation. Christ’s promise to us is not that we will avoid trouble but that, being with Him, early and often, He will bring us Home.

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