Christian Revival (Part 17)

We have a log rock garden in our front garden. It used to look pretty good until I started to neglect it because of time. By the time Angela visit from the USA arriving in May, it had a healthy crop of weeds. Unlike her dad, she loves weeding. It is therapeutic for her. Carefully and slowly she started the weeding program in July and by the time we left for Cape Town in August the log rock garden was weed free. It looked good. Not only did she remove the weeds, she removed all plants that were not doing too well. Although she enjoyed the job, it was back breaking and hard work. After two weeks we returned from Cape Town to find the weeds had returned. I have not gotten to weed it again and the weeds have grown rather tall again. I asked someone to come on Saturday (yesterday) to weed it but it was raining were he stays and due to the thunderstorm throughout the night, it was far too wet for him to do any weeding. This time round my plan is to remove everything in the half circle (roughly 3m X 5m in size), except the Hibiscus Tree. In other words I intend to be radical and sift the soil before replanting. King Josiah was radical in weeding out paganism from Judah. We can’t do surface cleaning. We need deep cleaning. Cosmetic surgery will not work. There needs to be open surgery … spiritual surgery. Paul put it like this under inspiration

Ro 2:28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.

Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. That was Josiah. Because his heart was circumcised he was able to be radical in eradicating paganism. This needs to be you and me should we desire for God to visit in revival. Once the individual and the whole Body becomes radical in the spiritual act of heart circumcision … we would be ready for a Holy Visitation from the Divine One. So far Josiah has been extremely busy with his religious reformation of Judah … but he is not finished yet.

9) Reformation, step nine. In his radical enthusiasm to remove paganism, Josiah moved beyond the borders of his kingly jurisdiction. He entered the Northern Kingdom’s remains (this was after their forced exile by the Assyrians), going to Bethel where Jeroboam had built an altar to the molten bulls or perhaps golden calves to prevent his people from worshipping at Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom. You might recall how Solomon’s son Rehoboam in his youthful stupidity had an altercation with Jeroboam resulting in splitting the United States of Israel into the South and North Kingdoms. Jeroboam wanted to prevent the northern people from going to the temple in Jerusalem to worship which would include annual pilgrimages, financial contributions and animal sacrifices, so he created this altar to represent the Northern Kingdom’s “holy place”. Yahweh was still worshipped there but this site became a place of idolatry which led to their apostasy and eventually their downfall into such wickedness that God sent them into exile. They never returned. That was the end of the Northern Kingdom. That is how serious God views idolatry, apostasy and paganism.

2Ki 23:15 Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also.

Even though this territory was not his, he eradicated this pagan site because it was an abomination to God and could attract people to worship there … perhaps his people might relapse into paganism and do pilgrimages to Bethel. Maybe we cannot go into other countries to pull down and destroy their paganism … but we can go into other countries and share the gospel, see people saved from paganism, Christian Churches planted and God’s Kingdom take root there.

10) Reformation, step ten. This is the death nail in the coffin of paganism in the Northern Kingdom.

2Ki 23:16 Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things. 17 The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?” The men of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.” 18 “Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.” So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria. 19 Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed and defiled all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria that had provoked the LORD to anger. 20 Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

Josiah comes across a crematory and did what was predicted in

1Ki 13:1 By the word of the LORD a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. 2 He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD? “O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” 3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the LORD has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.”

Apart from two graves, the rest were defiled because they were graves of the false prophets. He also killed all the pagan priests who served there. He purged the Northern Region and then returned to Jerusalem. You and I cannot go around killing all religious leaders who are not Christian, but we can pray for true Christian leaders that they will be steadfast and faithful to the Word of God. As the Bible is taught correctly people will turn and believe. The more good Bible teachers, the more people will be persuaded by the gospel and turn from paganism and idolatry. Although there will always be false teachers and paganism, we could reduce their thrust and impact by solid expositional preaching. Pastors and Churches should be praying and looking for men who could be trained for pastoral ministry.

Dear Lord, Josiah was radical in his approach to remove all false religon. Grant us gospel boldness in Jesus to be radical for You too. Amen.

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