Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Josiah's Repentance

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
Acts 3:19

King Josiah gives us one of the best examples of repentance in Scripture. He was king of Judah at a time when its people were exceedingly wicked. Josiah's predecessors had set up false idols in the courts, on the roof and even inside God's holy temple. Next to the temple were houses for the cult male prostitutes who engaged in perverse sexual worship of their false gods there on the temple grounds. The people of Judah were worshiping the sun, moon, stars and planets as well as the false gods of the nations around them from high places scattered across Judah. They even offered their own children as sacrifices in fire to the pagan god Molech in the valley of Topheth. Scripture tells us that Josiah's grandfather Manasseh "shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end" (2 Kings 21:16).

When Josiah's men found the Book of the Law (probably the book of Deuteronomy) which had been lost in the temple and read it to the king, Josiah immediately realize how terrible his people's sin had been. He knew they were under God's wrath and deserving of his judgment, so Josiah not only humbled himself and sought God's guidance but he also coordinated one of the biggest 180s in history. 

Josiah removed all of the altars and false gods from the temple as well as the male prostitutes. He defiled and tore down all the high places throughout his kingdom, even some that were as much as 100 miles outside his capital city. Josiah even tore down the altars that the great King Solomon had built over 300 years before. He destroyed Topheth where Molech received child sacrifices. He kicked out the mediums and necromancers from his kingdom. He even went so far as to remove the household gods and idols which people worshiped privately in their homes throughout the land. 2 Kings 23:25 says, "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."

This is what wholehearted repentance looks like! Josiah didn't go halfway; he radically cut out all the sin he could. He treated sin seriously because he feared the Lord. May we fear the Lord in the same way and treat sin just as seriously in our lives. We may not worship stars and heavenly planets thinking they direct our lives, but people certainly consult their horoscopes and psychics because they believe these things somehow control their destinies. You may think that no one worships idols anymore, but they do. Buddhism and Hinduism both utilize idols among others. The NT tells us that greed is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Are you greedy or covetous? Do you love money? There is little doubt that idolatry is still alive and well. 

God will not stand by while His children worship false gods. The Bible often uses the analogy of marriage to describe God's relationship to His people. God will not share His worship any more than a good husband will share his wife. He will not suffer an open marriage. So, "repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord!"

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