TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 2 KINGS 22:3-23:30
We read of a brief spiritual reformation under the reign of Josiah before the southern kingdom of Judah is swept away into the Babylonian captivity that will end the Davidic line of kingship until the King of Kings, the Son of David, appears.
The son of Amon, Josiah, came to the throne when he was only eight years old. In his 18th year as king, when he is 26 years old, he is stirred to restore the temple. The temple’s state of disrepair reflects the utter apostacy and corruption that existed during the 54 years that followed Hezekiah’s death. The reigns of Manasseh and Amon had so neglected the ministry of the temple that neither king nor priest had read the Book of the Law, nor did they know where it was located!
It makes you think of how many people today have a Bible lying around somewhere in their homes, but it goes unread. In many cases, they may not even know where that ‘family Bible’ is gathering dust! As a result, they are unaware of their desperate spiritual condition.
The actual Temple copy of the Law had been lost for years. It was when Josiah initiated the repair of the temple, generously and fairly compensating the workers, that the book of the Law was discovered. It may have been the entire Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah) or it may have been just the Book of Deuteronomy. But the discovery was enough to bring the king to a place of repentance.
Revival starts with the rediscovery of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin to Josiah when he sees how far the nation of Israel had strayed from its privileged position. He tears his garments as he mourns the condition of his own heart and the hearts of his people. In reading the blessings and the curses of the Law, he recognized that they were being chastened for their sin. Josiah then turns to the prophetess Huldah to see what recourse was open to them.
Huldah brings Josiah a mixture of bad news and good news. First, the bad news to the people of Judah:
2 Kings 22:17-18 17 “Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched.”‘
Then the good news to Josiah, King of Judah: You won’t have to see this terrible judgment because you will be gathered to your fathers and to your grave in peace.
2 Kings 22:18-20 18 “But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the LORD thus shall you say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel, “Regarding the words which you have heard, 19 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD. 20 “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.”‘” So, they brought back word to the king.
We don’t often think of an early death as an answer to prayer, but that is sometimes the case. In Josiah’s case, God was sparing him of the horrific judgment to come upon the nation.
The king responded by reading God’s word and encouraging the people to take it to heart. He led the people in a renewal of their covenant commitment to Yahweh.
He then purged the temple of all the occult paraphernalia, burning the idols, defiling the high places, and closing the houses of prostitution that were associated with their pagan worship.
Josiah even took to the northern kingdom and destroyed the altar of Baal at Bethel, the false worship center established by Jeroboam, son of Nebat.
In the 18th year of his reign, Josiah celebrates the Passover, the central God-ordained feast of remembrance. He did it in such a way that it had not been celebrated in all the years of the king of Israel and Judah.
Josiah was killed by King Neco of Egypt, as the prophet Huldah had predicted in the valley of Megiddo, so that he would not see the terrible fall of Judah and their being taken captive to Babylon.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – ACTS 21:37- 22:16
Paul had the advantage of being a polyglot. He spoke many languages. He could speak Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. For the benefit of the Roman officers, he now spoke in Greek, the precise language used for military purposes. The Roman officer respected Paul’s sophisticated knowledge and honored Paul’s request to speak to the crowd.
He then switches from Greek to Aramaic, the language understood by the locals in Jerusalem. The crowd fell silent and listened to Paul’s words.
Remember the crowd accused Paul of being AGAINST the Jewish people, against the Law of Moses, and against the temple.
Paul gives his testimony and emphasizes that he is a Jew. He is trained as a Jew, and their highest Jewish authorities can vouch that he served the Jewish religion (22:3-5). He has their high regard for the Scriptures in mind. What he preaches is in accordance with the Scriptures. He preaches the hope of Israel. He looks for the fulfillment of what has been promised in the covenant of God. The Messiah.
He then tells of his very real encounter with Jesus of Nazareth, the man they had crucified. He describes how he met Him unexpectedly on the road to Damascus. The risen and glorified Jesus spoke to him and a bright light blinded him. The story is verified by the fact that Ananias, a well-respected Jew, was directed by God to receive him and witnessed Paul having his eyesight miraculously restored.
Paul testifies of his commission from the Lord, his having received the gift of forgiveness of sins, and his having been baptized (Acts 22:15).
We will read of his further defense tomorrow.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS
Here we are again. Psalm 1. But having read through the Book of Psalms, we know the Blessed Man all the more. He is Jesus. And we are blessed to be found in Him.
Have you discovered that a daily intake of God’s Word is making you like a tree planted by streams of Living Water? As our minds are renewed and we are filled with the Spirit, we will bring forth fruit for God’s glory.
This is a good psalm to memorize.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Proverbs 18:11-12 11 A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own imagination. 12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.
Do you trust in false securities? Has financial wealth become your strong tower, your imaginary protection? To trust in our own wealth or achievements is short-sighted. The Proverb tells us it is an imagined security.
Many lack the needed self-awareness to flee the path of destruction. It is not enough to abhor it. We need to recognize that we were born on it. The natural inclinations of our deceitful hearts will keep us on the wrong track until we recognize that we are sinners and need the narrow gate provided in the gospel- The way that leads to life. To take the way of salvation requires humility.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- TAMIL NADU, INDIA
Politics affects the Church and mission in Tamil Nadu state. Hindu extremists threaten the Church with anti-conversion laws. Pray that the current religious freedom continues. The Church grows despite the social pressures, especially among Dalit and tribal peoples. Muslims and higher caste Hindus receive very little outreach. Tamils founded many of the Christian organizations throughout India. Pray that the Church of Tamil Nadu presses forward with its mission vision and outreach.
PRAYER: Lord, we have learned the dangers of neglecting Your Word, as did the people of the covenant under the reign of careless kings. We have also learned that there are those who may have the Scriptures, but fail to heed them enough to recognize Christ, the Living Word of God. We pray that every time we come to the Word of the Lord, we will present ourselves before the Lord of the Word! We see that any image of You that is not consistent with Your perfect self-expression in Jesus is not true. To have a God who is all mercy and no judgment is to have made an idol. We thank You for Jesus, the Word made flesh, who is full of grace AND TRUTH. May Your Word and Spirit continue to have free course in us, that we may be like trees planted by rivers of Living Water bringing forth Your fruit in Your season! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.