Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Stop and Go, Part 2

This past weekend, I taught teens about relationships, but isn't every lesson about relationships somehow? I called it Stop and Go. You can read part 1, the Stop, right here. Below is part 2, the Go.



We have some good examples of people Going after God.

Ruth followed Naomi. She was following God.

Elisha followed Elijah, even asking for more of God. Twice as many miracles are recorded on behalf of Elisha as were Elijah. Elisha was chasing God.

There are plenty of stories of good and bad examples throughout scripture. But there is one who models what I’m talking about here perfectly. Allow me to paint the picture.

If you ever start reading 1 and 2 Kings, or 1 and 2 Chronicles, you’ll find a list of kings and the major events during their reign. You’ll find a description of how closely they followed God or, more often, how they were evil in the eyes of the Lord. The history of Israel goes back and forth like this, but always with a steady decline. If you can imagine the borders of Israel being filled with both Israelites and people of other nations, people with other gods. These towns were filled with many idols and altars to other gods. There were priests who worked at these altars. There were mediums and spiritists. This was happening all over.

But it was also happening in Jerusalem. You might recall Jerusalem is the place where God’s Temple was built. This was God’s House. If there was anywhere in Israel that stood its ground in holiness, you would think that Jerusalem would remain pure. But no! The priests were defiled here as well. They sacrificed to other gods. They built altars to false gods in the Temple of God. It’s bad news, but it seems to be business as usual in Israel.

Enter a boy-king named Josiah.

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord— 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.”

(Just an aside, but I hope you live your lives so well that people could trust you like that.) So, don’t get confused by all the names. King Josiah sends men to get money out of the Temple in order to pay some workers for repair.

8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.”

We can’t overstate how ridiculous this statement is. They found the Book of the Law. Let’s be clear. We’re talking about the Bible as the Old Testament Jews had it. It was found. Which means that it was lost. Lost? How do you lose the one book that has all the important things God said to you? God?!? These aren’t notes from your girlfriend. This isn’t a FB post or a Tweet you thought was funny. This is the Book of the Law of God!

He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.”

More ridiculous. ‘Uh, King Josiah, we paid the workers as you requested. And oh yeah, we found this book.’ Not only did we lose the book, but it’s been gone so long that this guy Shaphan doesn’t even realize what he has. He doesn’t appreciate it. Neither do the priests, because if they did, they would have delivered it themselves.

As we’re talking about the process of GO, can I ask you a question? Do you know where your Bible is? If I were to walk in your room, how much dust would be on your Bible? Where would it be buried in your room?

Is the Book of the Law of God lost in your room? Find it!

And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.

In case you don’t realize it, tearing your robes was a sign of great grief and sadness. In Chronicles, which records this same story, we’re told that King Josiah began really seeking God in the 8th year of his reign. This is 10 years later than that and Josiah clearly has a soft heart to the things of God.

Second part of GO. Allow the words of God to break your heart. Do you want to be a person after God’s heart? Then go chase His heart!

12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

This I love. Josiah listens to what we know as Genesis through Deuteronomy. He grieves openly when he realizes just how sinful his people are. Then he takes action. The rest of 2 Kings 22 and 23 is a list of all he did. He cleans out the Temple of God. He commands all the altars smashed and ground into dust. Not just taken apart. Ground. To. Dust. Then he goes around the country and destroys all the altars everywhere else. He has all the false priests slaughtered. He gets rid of all the mediums and spiritists. Josiah cleans house.

This is the third GO. Actually do what the Bible says to do.

We can only talk about wanting happiness for so long before we need to do something about it. We can only say we believe God has true joy and happiness for us for so long before we actually have to live it out. We can only see the world’s Happily Ever After fail so many times before we decide to give God’s Happily Ever After a try.

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