Turn to II Kings, chapter twenty two, as we get into the reign of Josiah.
Josiah was just eight years old when he began to reign, [His grandfather, Manasseh, was the most wicked king that Judah had. However, as wicked as Manasseh was, there seemed to be some sort of repentance in his later years, and God forgave him. Now if you’re wondering about yourself, and if God will forgive you, read about Manasseh. I mean this guy was totally bad, totally evil, and yet God forgave him. Let me tell you something, if I were God, I wouldn’t have forgiven him. But God is so gracious, and I think God forgave him just to show people, that if He would forgive Manasseh, He would forgive anybody! It’ll give you hope if you’re wondering whether or not you’ve gone too far.
Just read about this fellow Manasseh, and God forgave him, when he repented. However, Manasseh’s son, Amnon, Amon, who reigned in his stead, was just as evil as his father. However, he was cut short, he was assassinated after two years of reign. So now, Josiah began to reign, he was only eight years old,] and he reigned for thirty one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah, and she was the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath (22:1).
Now Boscath was near Ekron, if that’ll help you any. Ekron was one of the major cities of the Philistines. So, uh.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, [Now here he is only eight years old, but yet evidently under the influence again, of good men. “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.”] and walked in all the way of David his father, and he turned not aside to the right or to the left. [That is, he didn’t deviate from the straight path. Great testimony of a man! He walked a straight path. He didn’t waver in the path, but he walked a straight path.] And so it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan [Now of course in his eighteenth year, he would have been, now twenty six years old.“And he sent Shaphan”] the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the scribe, to the house of the Lord saying, Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may total the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered from the people: And let them deliver it to the hands of the doers of the work, that they might have the oversight of the house of the Lord: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house, [You)] Give it to the carpenters, the builders, the masons, that they might buy timber and hewn stone and repair the house. Howbeit there was no reckoning with them for the money that was delivered into their hand, because they were faithful men (22:2-7).
During the reign of Manasseh, the temple was not only in a state of disrepair, but under the reign of Manasseh, the temple had been desecrated. They built altars for Baal right in the temple. They set up images of Ashorem right within the temple, and it had been horribly desecrated, and just allowed to lapse into a state of disrepair. So the purpose of Josiah was to repair again, the house of the Lord. To replaster, and to just refurbish the thing, it having been allowed to fall in such a state of disrepair.
And so Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. [Sort of an interesting thing that under the long reign of Manasseh, you remember he reigned for fifty some years. Evil wicked king. During that period of fifty some years, of over a generation passed, and they actually had lost track of the law. Of course they didn’t have publishing, everything was done by hand, and thus um, as they were going through the rubble there in the temple, they found a copy of the law of the Lord. So Hilkiah announced to Shaphan this glorious discovery, as they were repairing the temple, cleaning up the rubble, they had come across a copy of the law of Moses.] And so he gave the book to Shaphan, who read it. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and he brought the king word again, and said, Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, they’ve delivered it to the hand of those that do the work, and those that have the oversight of the house of the Lord. And Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest has given to me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, [And I hate these names. Ha, ha!] and Shaphan the scribe, [Why can’t they just call them Joe, and Jim, and. Ha, ha!] And he said, Go and inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all of Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us (22:8-13).
Now in the book of the law of the Lord, Deuteronomy, God declared all of the things that He would do to them, if they forsook Him. “If you begin to worship these other gods, if you turn your back on me…”, and so forth, God pronounced in Deuteronomy, the horrible judgements. “I will drive you out of the land that I have given to thee, and you will be driven throughout the world. You’ll become a curse, and a byword.” God told them all of the judgements that were gonna come upon them, and Josiah recognizing the justice of God, realized that they had done those things that God had forbidden. That they were just ripe for the judgement of God, and it shook him, when he heard the law of God. He realized how the law was almost a prophecy. Because those very things that the law had forbidden, were the very things that had been done. Thus God had pronounced what would happen to them for doing these things, and Josiah knew they were guilty, and knew that they were ripe for the judgement of God. So he asked them to go and inquire of the prophets.
Now up until the time of David, they inquired, through the time of David, they inquired of the Lord from the high priest, with the Urim and the Thummim. After David, there came the period of the prophets, and they would go to the prophets.
There were two prophets who prophesied during the time of Josiah’s reign. One was Zephaniah, but he prophesied in the early years of Josiah’s reign. Jeremiah began his prophesies in about the twelfth year of the reign of Josiah. So you’re gonna have to sort of in your minds, tie in now, Jeremiah, and the first part of Jeremiah, with this particular portion of history, when Josiah was king.
Now, we’re going to read of the reformations by Josiah. They were pretty thorough. During his reign there was a return of the people to the worship of Jehovah. He was quite thorough in getting rid of the false places of worship. The pagan altars, the images of Baal, and Ashorem, and all, he, he was faithful in getting rid of that, and the people returned to the temple to worship God.
But, as there was this sort of a spiritual renewal, inasmuch as the people you might say, were going back to church again. It was only a surface renewal. It wasn’t a deep repentance and a turning to God with all of their hearts. It was because the king, a popular king, was requiring it, so it was just, it was the political thing to do. Thus the Lord told Jeremiah, “Go down to the house of the Lord, and as the people are going in, cry aloud to them saying, Trust not in lying vanities, saying, The house of the Lord! The house of the Lord! The house of the Lord, are these!” So, Jeremiah was to go down and to rebuke them for the shallowness of their return to God. It wasn’t a deep, spiritual conviction, but just, it became you know, the “in” thing to do. So he cried out, Jeremiah cried out against this.
But you have to put this period of history with Jeremiah the prophet, and Jeremiah’s gonna carry us through. He’ll be prophesying during the rest of the book of II Kings. From Josiah onward Jeremiah was prophesying, as he watched the death of the nation of Israel. So there is this surface movement towards God, under the reign of Josiah. Now Jeremiah came from Anathoth, and it could be that at this point, he was still in Anathoth, and thus they did not inquire of Jeremiah. Zephaniah could, at this point, already be dead. So they inquired of the prophets concerning what God had said in His law, and concerning their guilt. “God what will you do?”, and “What are you going to do?”
So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahiakam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, [(There they are, but)] (and she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) [That is in the school of the prophets. Now interestingly enough, Huldah was the prophetess at that time that, who walking with the Lord, had the mind of the Lord. Now, Miriam was a leader of the women in their worship of God, during the time of Moses, she took an active role of leadership. Of course later, Deborah became one of the prominent women of Israel, judging Israel. Now Huldah, the prophetess. When we go to the new testament, we find Anna, the prophetess who was there in the temple of the time that Jesus was brought for His dedication, and had been, the Lord had spoken to her concerning uh, the Messiah. So, women of prominence, who exercised ministries. Ministries such as prophetesses, and as with Miriam, a prophetess, or leading also the people in worship. I say that because there are those that would forbid women any kind of role or office within the church. Surely the bible doesn’t, and we shouldn’t. “So they went to Huldah, the prophetess”,] they communed with her. And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: Because they have forsaken [And God’s gonna bring evil, this is the reason. “Because they have forsaken,”] me (14-16),
Now this was basically one of the first messages Jeremiah gave. God said, through Jeremiah, “Israel hath committed two evils. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and they have hewn out for themselves, cisterns. Empty cisterns that can hold no water.”
Israel is much like Southern California, almost a desert. It has just enough rain to keep it from being a desert. In the southern portion of Israel, you do have desert, much like our Mojave desert, and all. It’s extremely hot, and very deserty. Jerusalem gets probably twelve to fourteen inches of rain a year, as does the area around Tel Aviv. The area around Tel Aviv is much like southern California, and uh, the Sharon plain there, is just a lot like our weather, and a lot like southern California is. It’s very fertile, and there is enough rain for some agriculture, but not like Oregon where you get tired of it.
Because of the lack of rain, and the long summer months without rain, you’ll find all over the land these huge cisterns. What they are, are caves that are carved by hand, out of solid rock. They would direct the flow of rain with little dams, and sluices. They’d direct the flow of the rain, on into the cisterns. Then, in the summertime, the cisterns would serve as well. There would be the hole in the top, and the rope to drop your pan down in, and collect the water with the bucket, and so forth, and keep the water, the gardens watered. Thus, there are many areas, especially around the city of Jerusalem, where there are cisterns.
Under the Sister of Mary’s Convent there, there’s huge cisterns underneath. In the cave of the, I mean of the burial place of the kings there’s an interesting set of cisterns there. Over in the mount of Olives, you’ll find cisterns. They were reservoirs, where the rain water would be collected to be used during the summer. In the garden tomb area, quite a system of cisterns there, because it was a garden, and thus they would collect the water, and use it to keep the garden watered during the summertime. Cisterns, at best held water that over a period of time became stale. The little wiggle tails would form in it, and it was just a reservoir for keeping water.
Now, there would be occasions where they would dig out or hew out these cisterns, out of the rock, build all their little dams, and sluices, and to bring the water in. But, there would be a fracture in the rock so that these cisterns wouldn’t hold the water. They’d fill up, but then it would just seep on into the rock, and they wouldn’t hold water. Broken cisterns. They represented years of labor, because they had to do it with hammer and chisel. I mean some of the cisterns, I’ve seen cisterns as large as the interior of the sanctuary here. Imagine that with a hammer and a chisel, in solid rock! It’d take you awhile. Sometimes after all of this expended labor, they’d discover that there was a fracture, a fissure in the rock, and it wouldn’t hold the water.
Now, there is also there in Jerusalem, springs of water. The Gihon spring, where the water is just constantly gushing out. That’s called, living water. Whenever you have running water in a stream, or from a spring, the water that is running, Artesian well, that’s called “living water”. Now through Jeremiah, God said they’d done two evils. Number one, “They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water”, or running water. “They have cut out for themselves cisterns, but their cisterns can’t hold water. They’re broken cisterns, they can’t hold water.” What God is saying is that, “In following me, and worshiping me, there’s life. It’s like living water”.
Man has to worship something. That’s just a part of our very make up. When men do not worship the true and the living God, then they’ll develop a philosophy, an ideal, whatever, and they’ll begin to worship that. Broken cisterns. Religions, and look at all of the religions today. People are basically religious. But, what can you say about the religions? They can’t hold water. That is, they can’t satisfy your thirst, and when you’re really in need, and you go to find help, it’ll be dry. So God’s complaint against Israel. So here, Huldah, the prophetess repeats it. God said the first thing…
They have forsaken me, and in their broken cisterns, they have burned incense unto other Gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all of the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched (22:17).
In other words, “They’ve gone too far”. I think there comes a point of no return, when they’ve gone too far. God said, “My wrath is kindled, and will not be quenched”.
But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which you have heard; [That is the word of the law, which was read to him.] Because your heart was tender, and you have humbled yourself before the Lord, [Actually, we are told in Chronicles, not only did he tear his clothes, but he wept before God.] when you heard what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have rent your clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord. And behold therefore, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; for your eyes will not see all of the evil which I will bring upon this place. And so they brought the king the word of the prophetess (22:18-20).
So it, “it’s gonna come, judgement is gonna come, but because of your repentance, your tenderness, humbling yourself, your weeping before the Lord, it won’t come in your lifetime. You will see peace during your reign”. In other words, the judgement of God was forestalled, or prolonged, but it’s surely going to fall.
Someone asked me this past week if I thought it was too late for the United States, and I answered, “Yes, I really believe it’s too late”. I think our only hope is the forestalling of the judgement of God, by really turning to God with all of our hearts, and really seeking the Lord, I think that we can forestall the judgement. But, I really believe that it’s too late to avert it. I believe that God is going to judge the United States, for the same reasons that He judged Israel, because we’re guilty of doing the very same things. We’re just as guilty as Israel. A nation that began with dependence upon God. A nation that looked to God for strength and for help, as they founded it. A nation when it became strong, turned its back upon God, and more and more we see our nation turning its back upon the Lord. We’ve gone so far away from God. We have enshrined so many different idols, we’ve worshiped so many different gods, that I really feel that it is, that the fire is kindled, and cannot be quenched.
So the king sent, and they gathered unto him all of the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. [He put out a notice, “Get all the elders together”.] And the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all of the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all of the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all of the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord (23:1-2).
Now the effect upon the king was a spiritual renewal, he wept before God, sought the Lord. Now he gathers the people, that they also may hear the word of God. Oh the power of God’s word! Jesus said to His disciples, “Now you are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you”.
I am rather amazed at how hard it is to find a church that teaches the Bible, when it is the word of God that is alive, and powerful! When it is the word of God that brings revival to the hearts of the people. So, “He gathered them together that they might hear the word of the Lord”.
And the king stood by the pillar, [And as this word was read, God, the word of the covenant again out of Exodus, as God said, “If you will do these things, then I will be your God”. As they read the word of the covenant, when Moses read it, the people said, “We will do all that God has commanded”. They made that covenant with God, and God established a covenant with them. Now over the intervening years, they’ve broken that covenant with Him. But as the law was read, the king before the people,] made covenant with God, he vowed to keep the law of God, and to walk after the Lord, to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and with all their soul, and to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood in agreement to the covenant (23:3).
It’s like, “All in favor, stand”, and they all stood, “that we will keep covenant with God”. But as I said, it was only following the king. It was something that was not a, a genuine work in the heart of the people. I believe it was in the king himself. But, many people were just sort of hanger’s on you know, it’s uh, jump on the bandwagon.
And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all of the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the Ashorem [Or the Ashtoreth, or the Venus of the Romans] and for all of the host of heaven: and burned them outside of Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and then carried the ashes of them to Bethel (23:4).
So they got rid of all of the trappings of these false pagan religions, that had been brought into the temple, by Manasseh, under his evil reign, and get them all out of there, burn them, and then carry their ashes clear on up to Bethel. So the ashes cannot leech into the ground, around Jerusalem.
And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, [They got rid of all those idolatrous priests.] them also that burned incense to Baal, and to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. [Or the word “host” there, is mansions of heaven, or those, it refers to the zodiac, and those that were following the zodiac. As they had the different houses, the twelve houses of the zodiac. That’s exactly what it’s a reference to. Those that were following the stars, the zodiac, looking to their horoscopes for their guidance, and for direction. And he took all of these things out, and he got rid of them.] And he brought out the grove [That is the little image of the nude image of the Ashorem,] from the house of the Lord, and he took it outside of Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and he burned it at the brook Kidron, [And it was no doubt, of metal, because they,] ground it into small powder, and they cast the powder upon the graves of the children of the people. And he broke down the houses of the sodomites, [The male prostitutes, which were related to the worship of the groves, to the Ashorem. And I can’t even tell in a mixed company the, the filthy, vile things that you read in history, concerning these male prostitutes. They were the sodomites, the homosexuals, the male prostitutes. Of course you read today of their activities, and it’s, it’s nauseating.] that were by the house [And they were doing this right by the house of the Lord! They had this house of the sodomites, and the prostitutes of Ashorem, right near the temple of God, where the woman wove their hangings for the Ashorem. They would make these little embroidery type figurines, and hangings for this goddess, a female sex goddess.] and he brought out all the priests from the cities of Judah, and he defiled the high places where the priests had burned the incense, [His great grandfather had destroyed them under Manasseh they were put back into use, and now he again destroys the high places.] all the way from Geba to Beersheba, and he broke down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand in the gate of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Tophedth, which is in the valley of Hinnom, that no man might cause his son or daughter to pass through the fires to Molech (23:5-10).
In other words, the place where they were sacrificing their babies, burning them to death. He destroyed there in the valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna.
And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, the entering in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire (23:11).
Now according to the ancient superstitions, the sun was carried on a chariot, drawn by horses, through the sky each day. It was a common worship among the ancients, the worship of the sun. And of the, they would have these horses and chariots, and supposedly they represented the horses and the chariots that carried the sun to the sky every day. They were objects of worship, and veneration. They even had these in Israel, in Judah, and he got rid of those.
The altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, [Which we read about during Manasseh’s reign.] he did beat them down, broke them down from there, and cast the dust of them in the Kidron brook. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of the corruption, [Mount of corruption was the mount of Olives, actually. That’s where first of all Solomon had built high places for his wives. For he had married many wives from other nations, and they were used to worshiping on these high places, so he built them the high places, over on the mount of Olives, opposite of Offel, there across the Kidron valley, on the southern slopes of the mount of Olives. It became known as the mount of corruption. That whole area of the mount of Olives became an area of pagan worship, all the way up to Scopus. So the right hand of the mount of Olives, looking across from Jerusalem. The right hand would be in the southern slopes, of the mount of Olives.] which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, [This is that grove, the Ashorem of the Hebrew, the Ashtoreth of the Babylonians.] and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king, he defiled all of these places where they had worshiped these pagan gods. And he broke in pieces the images, he cut down the groves, [The Ashorem] and he filled their places with the bones of men (23:12-14).
Now, bones of human were considered unclean. If you would touch a bone, of a skeleton, you would be ceremonially unclean. You’d have to bathe, and you could not go into the temple for a day. You’d have to go through a ritual bathing, and then a purification rite, before you could come to worship the Lord. He took these bones, and put them on these places, which was really just sort of to show his disdain for them, and to desecrate them.
Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down, and burned the high place, and stamped it into small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchers that were there in the mount, and he sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchers, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed to proclaim these words (23:15-16).
Now, let’s go back to I Kings, chapter thirteen. As we go back to I Kings, chapter thirteen, you’re turning back three hundred, and twenty-five years of history. So we’re going back before the United States was a nation. If we would go back, at the present time, the three hundred and twenty five years, we’d be going way back, in the 1600’s.
Here we read, “Behold there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord. (That is, by commandment from the Lord.) He came to Bethel: and Jeroboam, (Who was the first king of Israel, the northern tribes.) stood by the altar to burn incense”. This altar that he made in Bethel had the golden calf, said, “This is the god that brought you out of Egypt”. And this man of God, “Cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken; Behold, the altar will be torn, and the ashes there upon it shall be poured out. And when king Jeroboam heard this (You remember?) he stretched out his hand saying, Arrest that man!”. His hand froze. I mean he couldn’t pull it back again. And he said to the young man, “Pray for me that God will heal me.” And the young man prayed, and he was able to use his arm again.
But, I want you to notice this, three hundred and twenty five years. Three hundred years before Josiah was born! This young man is prophesying at this altar in Bethel, saying to the king, “There shall arise a young child from the house of David, who will destroy this altar, those that worship, the priests that lead the worship, and he will burn bones of men upon it”. How could he know that? How could he know the name, except by God. I mean this is specific prophecy that was fulfilled specifically. According to the Hebrew language, it would appear, you see Josiah didn’t have this prophecy. You say, “Well Josiah knew it was prophesied, so he went ahead and did it, you know”. No. They had just found the law of Moses. They didn’t have these other writings at that point. Here is Josiah, fulfilling exactly what was said would happen, over three hundred and twenty five years earlier. So, God’s word. Man! You can be sure it will come to pass.
So, “The altar that was in Bethel”. Verse fifteen, back to our text in twenty-three. “Which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place, he broke down. Burned the high place, stamped it to small powder, and he burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied these sepulchers that were there in the mount, he sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchers, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord.”
Then he said, What is the writing that I see there? [So on one of the sepulchers there was this little tablet with an inscription on it.] And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that you have done against the altar of Bethel. [“That’s where that young prophet was buried, who came up and prophesied these things. And it’s the inscription over his sepulchre there.”] And he said, Let him alone; don’t let any man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bone of the prophet that had come out of Samaria. [And deceived him into coming back.] And all of the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all of the acts that he had done in Bethel. And he slew all of the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, [Just as was prophesied by this young man.] and burned men’s bones upon them, and he returned to Jerusalem (23:17-20).
Now, during this period of history, in which Josiah was reigning, the Sidonians, had begun massive invasions, and the Assyrians were attacked by both the Babylonians, who began to rise in power, and by the Midians. So that, the Assyrians who had made Judah and Israel, well they had conquered Israel, sort of made Israel, a vassal state, and were controlling over the territory of Israel, were having their own problems at home. Thus they could not exercise the control over Samaria any longer, and so Josiah took advantage of the fact that in the area of Assyria, there were wars going on between the Assyrians, the Midians, and the Babylonians, and of course, the Sidonians also were invading the area.
So, because of all of the turmoil up there, Assyria had to let go of her hold on all of these little provinces. Josiah just sort of had a free reign in his territory. He was able to move on up into Samaria, into Bethel which was a part of the area of Samaria, and actually sort of bring it back under his reign for a time. Until later, of course the Babylonians came down, and they were the ones that conquered over Judah.
So the [people, the] king commanded all of the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in the book of the covenant. [In the law it was told that they were to have this passover feast. Present themselves before the Lord.] Surely there was not held such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all of the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; [I mean, this was the bash to end all bashes! I mean, they never in their history had a passover, with as many lambs and so forth, sacrificed, and with the greatest celebration as was ordered by Josiah.] But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, where this passover was held to the Lord in Jerusalem. Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, [Those that had been into Satanic worship. Those that had been into witchcraft.] the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all of the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah, and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which was written in the book of that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. And like unto him there was no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all of his heart, and with all of his soul, and with all of his might, according to all of the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him (23:21-25).
He really had a tremendous heart towards God. Serving God with singleness of heart, and ordering these spiritual reforms.
Notwithstanding [In spite of this. It was too late!] the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all of the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him. [So Manasseh took them too deep, too far. There was no turning back.] And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there (23:26-27).
It’s gonna come. Jerusalem, Judah, the temple, all gonna be destroyed.
Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the chronicles of the kings of Israel? [Yes they are, and we’ll get into Josiah again, when we get into II Chronicles. In fact we get a few more details in Chronicles, than what we have here.] Now during his days the Pharaohnechoh the king of Egypt came up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: [He was trying to take advantage of the fact that Assyria was being attacked in all directions.] but Josiah went out to meet Pharaohnechoh, and he was killed in battle up near Megiddo. And his servants carried him in a chariot from Megiddo, and brought the corpse back to Jerusalem, and they buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead. And Jehoahaz was twenty three years old when he began to reign; he reigned only for three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father’s had done (23:28-32).
Here the tremendous spiritual reformation, but as I told you, it was only surface with the people. Josiah’s heart was in it, but with the people it was only surface, as is pointed out when you get to Jeremiah, that it was just with the people, not a genuine, real move towards God. Thus they’re able to lapse back immediately, at the death of Josiah. Here comes along his son Jehoahaz, and the people lapse immediately back into the old practices.
And so Pharaohnechoh captured him put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he put the land to tribute [So he conquered over the land, and taxed them,] a hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold. And Pharaohnechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah the king in the [place of, uh, in the,] room of Josiah’s father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim (23:33-34),
So we have four kings after Josiah. Short reigns, we’re at the end of the rope, the nation is just about to go over the falls. It’s just about through. God has withdrawn His hand of blessing, His hand of protection, and now they must face the judgement of God for their sins. In Jeremiah you’ll follow the reigns of these kings and the declination downward, as Jeremiah was the instrument that God used to oversee the death of the nation. That surely must have been one of the most difficult jobs any prophet was called to do. To prophecy to the nation, during its final days. To watch it die. Still the people persisting in their evil ways, not turning from their wickedness.
So Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to the Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: and he exacted the silver and the gold from the people of the land, to everyone according to his taxation, to give it to the Pharaohnechoh. And Jehoiakim was twenty five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. [Gotta get that “iah, iah” in there, “iah”.] And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, [As you’ll really read in Jeremiah.] according to all that his father’s had done (23:35-37).
So, corruption sets in again, as the nation is taking now, its final plunge to its destruction. Tragic, always tragic when you see a nation forsaking God. “For righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Again, through Jeremiah, as God was crying out against Judah. He said, “Check, look at history. Is there any nation that actually forsakes its gods? Yet those nations don’t serve a true God, but at least their faithful to them! Nations don’t change their gods, which aren’t even gods!” But, God said, “You’ve forsaken me”. Just how is it that people would forsake the true and the living God, and yet will not forsake the false gods? They maintain a loyalty to their false gods.
You notice how the Indians, in the United States, are trying to revive their tribal types of worship. Don’t want to forsake their gods, and there’s a big move among the Indians in the U.S. to go back to the worship of their forefathers, and back to the, the gods that they worshiped, their forefathers worshiped. They don’t like to forsake their gods. Yet people turning against the true and the living God. Forsaking the true and the living God. Sort of unthinkable, but yet that was the case.
But the tragedy is that if a nation will worship God, and serve God, that nation will be blessed beyond measure. There is such a potential for greatness, for strength. For people to live together, in prosperity and in abundance. The potential is there. But the wasted potential, because it seems, in the time of prosperity, in the time of strength, is when they feel independent of God, and they begin to turn from God, and forsake God, and pleasure becomes their god, or power becomes their god, or sex becomes their god, or materialism becomes their god. With the worship of the false gods, comes the weakening of the moral fiber of the nation, and the ultimate downfall, and overthrow.
That is what concerns me about the United States. We are a nation with perhaps the greatest potential of any nation. It was God who blessed, who made us strong. The dependence of our forefathers upon God. Looking to God for guidance, and for direction. Now, these liberals would have you think that if a man dared to trust in God for guidance of the nation, that would disqualify him, and make him unfit as a candidate for the presidency. You’ve already read slurring remarks in the liberal press, concerning the unfitness of a man who would dare to look to God for guidance, in the decision process, in the developing of the policies for the nation. God help us, we’ve gone a long way down. As I say, I think we’ve gone too far. I think that our only hope is perhaps the prolonging, but not the averting of judgement. However, however, I have great hope.
That’s the interesting thing about the whole Christian experience. Not for the United States, but for the child of God. Those individuals who have put their trust in Him. Because, though I am convinced that the judgement of God is going to fall, I am also convinced that God is just. When God announced to Abraham, that the time had come, He was gonna destroy Sodom, and Gomorrah, because of the horrible sins, Abraham said, “Shall not the Lord of the earth be just? Would you destroy the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people there?” The Lord said, “If there are fifty righteous, I will spare it”. “What if there are forty?” “I’ll spare it.” “What if there are thirty?” “I’ll spare it.” “What if there are twenty?” “I’ll spare it.” “What if there are ten?” “I’ll spare it.” And if God would spare Sodom and Gomorrah for ten righteous, then He will spare the United States for those righteous that are here. You are the salt of the earth, you are the ones that are preserving America even now, from the wrath and the judgement of God falling.
When the Lord came to Sodom, what did He find? Not ten righteous. He found one righteous man. Lot. What did He do? He took him out, before He brought judgement. I believe the Lord is gonna take us out, before He brings His judgement. That is why I’m looking for the return of Jesus Christ, for His church. I’m praying that eighty eight will be the year. I don’t want to leave without my family. I don’t want my grandkids to have to grow up in this pagan society. The deterioration, take, take a look at what has happened, even during our lifetime, as far as pornography. Look at the advancement of pornography. x-rated films, videos and all. Look how quickly we are deteriorating, going down. Look how much more brazen the homosexuals are, and all of evil. We’re going down so rapidly. Like Hezekiah can say, “Well great! It’s not gonna happen in my lifetime!” No. I can’t buy that one. Because I’m interested in my grandkids, and in my children. So I say, “Lord, come quickly! Take us home. Let’s get it on with that eternal kingdom, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Where we will live as you intended man to live. Living in love, in peace, as God wants us to live. So Lord, hasten the day, when you take out your church”.
Someone has left a note here on the pulpit, suggesting that we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, at the close of the service. Why not? Ha, ha!
“Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Jesus, Happy Birthday to you!” Now may the Lord be with you. And may the Lord bless you, and may He fill your heart with love, and may you walk after Him, as Josiah, with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your strength. As Jesus said, “Pray always that you’ll be accounted worthy to escape these things that are gonna come to pass upon the earth. That you might be standing before the Son of Man”. As He also said, “When you see these things beginning to come to pass, look up, and lift up your head. Your redemption draweth nigh”. Hey, don’t go around with your head hanging down. Stand tall. You’re the child of the King. Yes, it’s a messy world we live in, but it won’t be long. He’s gonna deliver you out. Praise the Lord!