“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 14: AUGUST 5
2 KINGS 14 – 1 CHRONICLES 10:14
This is a sobering reading. The parade of kings who “did evil in the sight of the Lord” continues, interspersed with only a few who “did right in the sight of the Lord”. But those who did right, did it mightily, as we see in King Josiah.
- Remember that God had not yet put his law in people’s hearts in those days, so they still had to be taught right from wrong. When Josiah was presented with Moses’ book of the law, which “by chance” had been found in the temple by the high priest, he was quite rightly horrified by how far his people had strayed from what God had commanded them through Moses. But Josiah’s response was absolutely on target – he gathered everyone together, from the great to the small, the holy to the profane, and read them the book. And then, standing before the people as his witness, Josiah made a covenant with God to follow the laws written in the book with all his heart and all his soul.
- But promises are cheap. People can say anything and seem to mean it at the time. The proof of the sincerity of their word is whether or not they follow it up with action, and Josiah did just that. Starting at the temple, he ordered a purge of everything that didn’t belong there, and then fanned out and purged everything and everyone in his kingdom that was in opposition to God’s law. The details of what he ordered are quite telling. Frankly, we could use just such a purge now in “formerly Christian” lands.
- When God heals, he leaves no rot behind. The potential for rot to grow again is still there, but the initial healing is perfect. Whenever I buy a container of fruit, I always go through it and remove any pieces that have mold or rot on them. If I don’t, the mold will move from the moldy pieces to the pieces around them until eventually the whole container of fruit is rotten and covered in mold. As long as I have that container of fruit, I have to go through it every other day to purge the newly moldy fruit.
- The same holds true for people. The reality is that some people are spiritually moldy and rotten inside. If you permit those people to live and spread their mold to those around them, soon everyone will be covered in mold. This reality of how spiritual mold spreads was deeply understood by believers such as Moses and Josiah. They also understood that the only way to deal with it was to cut it out and remove it entirely, and to do periodic purges in case the mold takes hold again.
- As followers of Jesus, we can’t go around destroying demon-worshiping altars and killing those who oppose God, but we can remove ourselves from them. If we live among them, they are going to spiritually infect us eventually, just like moldy fruit rots the fruit around it. Jesus moved through the world and taught in the world, but he lived separate from it; when he wasn’t teaching or preaching or healing, he spent nearly all his time with people who loved and obeyed God.
- You can’t live in the same house as unbelievers and think you’re somehow immune to their spiritual mold. You’re not. You also can’t live in a city or town that’s covered in spiritual mold, because the mold will start growing on you eventually. Even worse, God will see your continued presence among the rot as an indicator that you’re in agreement with it.
- We need to live separately from those who hate God and refuse to follow Jesus. We do no-one any favours, least of all ourselves, if we live with unbelievers. Our witness is continually compromised and we come nowhere near our spiritual potential, nowhere near what God wants for us and what we can do for others. Our lost potential has repercussions not just for our time on Earth, but for all eternity.
- Despite Josiah’s words and actions (including presiding over the greatest Passover since the days of Moses), Judah eventually fell into the hands of the heathens. After Josiah’s death, his son undid much of what his father had accomplished, as did the few kings that succeeded him, up until the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Just how bad the destruction was is captured in the description of the deposed king Hezekiah being forced to witness the slaughter of his sons and then having his eyes put out. When God permits this level of evil to happen to the city that houses his temple and the king that leads his people, you know the situation is beyond redemption. Maybe not quite yet Sodom, but pretty close.
As I mentioned at the outset of this reflection, today’s is a sobering reading. There are a few bright spots, but most of this section of scripture is about all the evil done by the children of Israel and how they essentially became indistinguishable from the heathen around them. We are very much reliving those times today in “formerly Christian” nations. Why, then, should we expect our outcome to be any different than Judah’s?
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