Daily Bible thoughts 195: Friday 28th September 2012: 2 Kings 22:1-20

Josiah was a holy leader (1/2): We have gone from a good King, Hezekiah, to a bad king (who eventually got to be a good king!) Manasseh. Then we had another bad king, Amon, but now we find ourselves back with a good and great king, Josiah. He was eight years old when he became king (1). God blesses and uses children, and His calling can come to some of them at a very young age: think Samuel. Let’s pray for our children in the churches (and, of course, our own biological children, if we have been blessed with them) that God will take them and use them greatly. This king Josiah was unswervingly committed to holiness (2). He went for a ‘walk’ and took the right path. He was wise in his choice of which father he would follow. He went back up the line a good way to the greatest king of Judah, David. David’s road map was a good one to make use of.

Josiah was a strong leader (3-7): I note the repetition of make in these verses. He insisted that the money collected for the repairing of the temple should be used, and the planned work done. It seems he had a bias towards decisiveness and action. That’s a good thing so long as you’re in God’s will. He was a leader who got things moving. During the long reign of Josiah’s granddad, Manasseh, the temple had fallen into disrepair. One of the first things, then, that Josiah did as king was to have it repaired. This shows his God-centredness; his desire to seek first God’s Kingdom.

As we have noted previously, it is vital for us as charities to follow correct accounting procedures. We cannot be seen to be above reproach if we don’t fulfil the necessary legal obligations demanded in our culture. But it’s a wonderful aspiration to be so patently honest that no-one would ever doubt your integrity regarding money (7).

Josiah was a man of the Book (8-20: see particularly the references in 8, 10, 11, 13, and 16): Josiah had a soft heart and a tender conscience. When he heard the words of the Book of the law (thought to be Deuteronomy, or part of it. Each king was supposed to have his own copy and follow it carefully: Dt.17:18-20) he was broken hearted before God, and humbled himself. He hated sin and wanted to have no part with it. He wanted to do life ‘by the Book’. God was delighted with his heart attitude and commended him for it in glowing terms (19/20). He was to be spared seeing the disaster in his day. Of course, that also meant that an entire generation was protected by one man’s repentance. Judgment was postponed. One person’s prayers can make such a difference. (Note: we do not see in him anything of the complacency we saw previously in Hezekiah, in 20:19) Let’s pray for ourselves that we may be a people who are quick to adjust our lives and bring them into line with God’s Word. In that direction lies spiritual growth, and this is surely what we desire if we are disciples of Christ. In The Message Josiah’s words in (13) read: Go and pray to GOD for me and for this people – for all Judah! Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been found! In that version, God’s Word through Huldah contains these expressions: Because you took seriously…I’m taking you seriously.  I heard that one man who had a very successful ministry was asked his secret. He replied, ‘I don’t really know. All I can say is, ‘I am a serious reader of the Bible.’ Josiah was, and it affected a whole generation in Judah, not to mention his own life too. Have you ‘’lost’’ the Word of God somewhere, even in the midst of a religious life? Does God still speak to you, and do you obey? Warren W. Wiersbe: With the Word, p.222

Prayer: I ask for my brothers and sisters in Christ and myself that we will take you and your Word with the utmost seriousness Lord, and that we will grow thereby in leaps and bounds. One year from now, God-willing, may I be so much more of a Christian than I am today.

 Daily Bible thoughts 194: Thursday 27th September 2012: 2 Kings 21:19-25

Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king…and my first instinct upon reading these words was to pray for all those twenty something’s in Christ’s church, that they will make wise choices. Amon made unwise choices, but it could have been such a different story. (Let’s also pray for many more people in their twenties to come to know Christ. In my own church we are aware of quite a gap in this age range, and it will be the case in many congregations.)

Amon made bad choices: a.) in his worship: he worshipped the idols his father had worshipped and bowed down to them. He forsook the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD (21b, 22). Amon undid any good that his father Manasseh had done during the last years of his reign. The former idolatrous worship was quickly re-established. We saw yesterday how Manasseh was the vilest of the vile really, and led God’s people into paganism. But then, later in life, in a time of great distress when taken prisoner by the Assyrians, he repented and cried out to God (2 Chron.33:11-17). So we should not give up on anyone, no matter how depraved they are. Never stop praying. From a human perspective it is never too late to repent. Like the dying thief, people can turn to Jesus right at the end of their days (Lk.23:32, 39-43). Following Manasseh’s release and return to Jerusalem he sought to restore the authentic worship of God. He removed the pagan altars and idols from the temple; he offered sacrifices on the true altar, and urged his people to serve the Lord (2 Chron.33:15-16). However, it was all too late to change the course of Judah’s history and destiny. Amon, his son, was as wicked as Manasseh had been before his ‘conversion’. Because the people of Judah’s hearts had not really changed, they quickly reverted to idolatry as before; b.) In his walk: He walked in all the ways of his father… (21a i.e. his father’s ways prior to repentance, as we have just seen). He did not walk in the way of the LORD (22). Somebody said that walking is simply putting one foot in front of the other and moving in the right direction! Well, that’s the Christian walk. Sadly, Amon put one foot in front of the other and walked down the path signposted ‘Hell’.

Let’s also pray for all parents. Amon’s walk was bad because he followed his dad’s route (when he was bad.)  I knew someone who was a burglar before he became a Christian. As far as I remember the story, it was the family business. He got on the job training from his dad! That was the mould that formed him, until he became a new creation in Christ. Let’s also pray that God will raise up many ‘fathers’ (and ‘mothers’) in the church. Gordon McDonald wrote an inspiring and challenging article in one edition of ‘Leadership’, entitled ‘the under parented generation’. He called on the church to rise to tackle the very obvious need and try to make up the deficit of love and attention and example etc. that many children experience in this broken world.

When we think about leaders like Amon, and such as Manasseh was for much of his reign, let’s consider this: We sometimes can do very little about world affairs, but we can pray for persons in authority (1 Tim.2:1-8) and be faithful to obey God (Rom.13). Warren W.Wiersbe: With the Word, p.222.

Pray: Sovereign Lord, Heavenly King, we may not always agree with our political leaders, but we do want to pray for them consistently, as we should. Help them to govern wisely and justly with shepherd-like hearts and instincts. May there be more than a few who, like Manasseh, turn to you and change radically. Thank you that you can do miracles that will leave us open-mouthed.

Daily Bible thoughts 193: Wednesday 26th September 2012: 2 Kings 21:1-18

The only truly reliable measurement of an individual or a community is the one taken by God. He had the measure of Jerusalem at this time (13), and the passage as a whole shows He had the tape around King Manasseh and his leadership. It is sad to report that he was a leader into sin; a thoroughly bad example (9, 11, 16). As far as GOD was concerned, he’d turned them into a nation of sinners. The Message. (I do note, though, that some things can go extremely well for the ungodly. Manasseh was permitted to reign for fifty-five years. See verse 1).

It is desperately sad when people are forced to admit that there are certain professing Christians who are eclipsed in good behaviour by some non-Christians. There are times, as here, when the world looks better than the ‘church’ (9, 10). Manasseh led them…into practices of evil even exceeding the evil of the pagan nations that GOD had earlier destroyed…Manasseh… has committed these outrageous sins, eclipsing the sin-performance of the Amorites before him, setting new records in evil. The Message.

Manasseh was born during the fifteen years of added life that God graciously gave to Hezekiah. During his reign he was to overturn every religious reform his father had undertaken, and he returned to Canaanite practices. He led the people into paganism and occultism (1-6). He was also a dangerous man to be around: The final word on Manasseh was that he was an indiscriminate murderer. The Message. Prophets were included in the list of his victims. According to Jewish tradition, Isaiah was one of them, and it is thought that he was sawed in two (Hebs.11:37). It was Manasseh’s desecration of the temple, however, that the author of Kings most regretted (7-9). This was grievous. God had put His Name there, but Manasseh was intent on putting other names in there alongside the Lord’s. He built altars in the temple of the Lord… (4, see also 5). Similarly today, many people are repulsed by the thought of Jesus being the only way to the only God there is. His Name is above every other name, but still men want to put other names beside his, and say that all gods should rub shoulders and be regarded as equals in a great big modern Pantheon. Such an idea is repulsive to Christians who believe what the Bible teaches about the uniqueness of Christ and the exclusive claims of Christianity.

If you are a devoted follower of God, you cannot guarantee that your children will follow in your steps (3). He was so unlike his dad. No, Hezekiah was not perfect. We have seen some of the cracks in the fine bone china of his life. But he was a man of God. Tom Hale makes some very helpful remarks on this subject in his The Applied Old Testament Commentary p.690: How could such a godly father as Hezekiah have had such a wicked son? (On the opposite side, how could the wicked Ahaz have produced the godly Hezekiah?) The answer is that each individual is free to make his or her own choices in life. Our parents influence us greatly, but they do not finally determine the course we take. We should sympathize with godly parents whose child does not follow God. Yes, they may bear some responsibility; no parent is perfect. But the main responsibility must be borne by the wayward child. He goes on to say that happily, for most parents Prov.22:6 holds true.

What a terrible man Manasseh was. Do they come any worse? Yet, it would appear he had a dramatic conversion later on in his life. Read 2 Chron.33:11-17, be encouraged by it, and be determined to not give up on anyone.

Prayer: Lord I pray for (you fill in the blank – the person you consider least likely to become a Christian) that they will turn from sin to Jesus.

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