Before our lesson this morning, let’s hear from some of our outreach group that went door to door yesterday:
Josiah was coronated king of Judah when he was only eight years old. Let’s set this up and see how this happened. Josiah’s father and grandfather had been wicked idol worshipping men. What will Josiah do? His grandfather, Manasseh, who was 12 years old when he became king, reigned longer than any other king if Judah, and was terrible. It was Manasseh who tipped the scales of the nation toward idol worship, rejecting the Lord, he went after every god of the nations around him that he could. But, as 2 Chronicles tells us, Manasseh faced God’s judgment. He was captured and carried off in hooks and chains to prison in Babylon. There Manasseh humbled himself in repentance, and God restored him to the throne in Judah. He tried to restore worship of the Lord, and though he was spared, God knew he had turned the nation’s hearts against him. The record of 2 Kings leaves out Manasseh’s repentance and makes it clear that his sins brought about a condition that insured God’s punishment on the nation. 2 Kings 23:26, 24:3-4 tell us that because of Manasseh’s sins, God was unwilling to forgive, but was determined to remove Judah from His presence. Manasseh died in peace, but Josiah’s father, Amon, who was 22 when he became king never repented of his evil and was assassinated after 2 years. So, Josiah was six when his grandfather died, and 8 when his father was killed. Like Hezekiah before him, Josiah inherited a terrible, godless mess. The easiest course would be to go with the flow. Now, as a child, Josiah takes the throne. What will he become? Eight years of silence in the record pass.
When we next hear of Josiah he is 16 years old. It’s a significant point of reference with a fixed decision that makes all the difference in his life. What happened and what did he do? Now remember, he’s the king. He must choose a course of action, but what motivations will direct his life? 2 Chron. 34 tells us that He began to seek the God of his father David. Don’t you just love that??? I wonder who influenced this young man? I wonder what stirred Josiah’s heart to seek the Lord? I wish we could bottle that and feed it to everyone! What stirs your heart? Are you like Josiah, seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Remember, he did this in the midst of a generation of rebellion and ridicule toward faith in God. That’s what was going on in Josiah’s day. God’s law was lost. The temple was in disarray. It must have looked like modern Europe, full of empty churches and godless people. Among the priests there was terrible unfaithfulness (Jer. 2:8). But Josiah sought the Lord, God of David. Why? What kind of heart did this young man have? Was this just a passing phase of his life? Not at all! We are going to see how God took young people like Josiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego, Esther, and others and preserved a remnant of faith. But back to Josiah’s story… At 16, Josiah dedicated himself to seeking the God of his father David.
Four years later at the age of 20, Josiah began a reformation campaign to turn Judah and the remnant of Israel back to the Lord. That was the twelfth year of his reign. He took the army and went out to clear the land from idols. I loved Kendall’s series on Isaiah and the image of God clearing the high and lofty, proud and mighty to prepare for His kingdom rule. This is what Josiah literally began to do.
Next, enter Jeremiah. Jeremiah is like the same song, next verse. We read in Jeremiah 1:2, In the 13th year of Josiah’s reign, God called another young man into duty. This man would be a prophet of God. He was young, but his authority was extensive. God gave Jeremiah a position OVER nations and kings. Jeremiah 1:10,18-19.
While king Josiah could mobilize the army and purge the idols from the land, he could not purge the hearts of the nation from idolatry. Jeremiah, who spoke as a mouthpiece for God Himself, openly, constantly declared that Israel and Judah were steeped in idol worship so deeply that they would not let it go. Even though God would call them back over and over. Josiah made them act like it, but their return was not true. God saw through to their hearts. God knew their motives. He knew what they loved. God knew that His people were unwilling to repent, unwilling to trust in Him and unwilling to obey His word. God’s people broke their covenant with God. Like an unfaithful, adulterous husband or wife, the people pretended to honor God, but their hearts were entangled in wickedness and sin.
Jeremiah proclaimed God’s words of warning and judgment to the people. Josiah took to heart God’s word and the law of God. There was a remnant among the people who remained faithful to God and trembled at God’s word, but the majority were defiant and at best only halfhearted in their faith. They lusted after the gods of the nations around them. (Jer. 2:19-25)
This was a tragic time when decline continued and the people, by in large, would not turn back to the Lord. Assyria had earlier come and laid siege to Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah and the Lord had delivered them. But this time it was different. First Egypt, and then Babylon came, and finally, Babylon came again and destroyed Jerusalem, killing their king, reducing the Temple to rubble, and taking the people into captivity for 70 years. Those that remained eventually fled to Egypt and embraced idolatry even more than ever.
But there was and is and always will be a remnant who choose God’s way. Look at Jeremiah 3:14. How many does God choose from a town? How many from a tribe? But these go on to grow and flourish until they stop seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Then the process begins again.
I believe we are living in a time when the process is about to begin again. Who will be the remnant? Will this church be found seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Will we, like Josiah, go out and do all we can to turn others to Christ? Will we, like Jeremiah be a mouthpiece for God’s word even when it means being mocked? Let us determine today, right here and right now. Choose you this day whom ye will serve. Make a renewed commitment to seek God and share His saving gospel with others.