Restorer, Repairer and Rebuilder #3 Sanctified SovereignDocument
Text: 2 Chronicles 34:1-7, 2 Kings 23:1-24
A farmer called the vet to care for his broken-down mule. "He just ain't got any pep, Doc." The doctor came and gave the mule a shot. The farmer watched as the mule's ears stood up, then the mule reared up on its back legs and then took off like a booster rocket. Watching the disappearing cloud of dust left by the mule the farmer asked the veterinarian, "Just how much of that stuff did you give to 'em, Doc?"
"Oh, about a dollars’ worth,"
"Well, then you better give me about 3 dollars’ worth."
"Now why in the world would you want to take horse medicine?"
"Well, Doc, somebody's got to catch that crazy mule."
How often in my own life could I have used a shot in the arm? Something to get me up and going again. In our spiritual life we call it revival.
Preaching about revival is not something I am good at. I don’t like feel confident doing it because I don’t really understand revivals, at least not in the way they I read about them in the Bible and in the history of our nation. I’ve not experienced revivals like that. I once attended a seminar taught by Bro. Hugh Atkinson, the pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Fort Worth. A man I really admired. He preached on revival and what he told us from his 50 plus years in the ministry was that revival was God’s business and not ours. We must get ourselves ready for revival, but it only comes in the time and to the place that God chooses.
We have been in our series on Restoring, Repairing and Rebuilding for a few weeks now as well as teaching on the Book of Nehemiah on Wed. nights. I choose this topic because as we recover from the pandemic of Covid and fear we have been dealing with for the past 2 years, its time we began to think about …. You guessed it, restoring, repairing and rebuilding. We need to begin in the grace and strength of the Lord, to restore our foundation, repair our future and rebuild our faith.
There is no denying we have been affected. We praise and thank the Lord for bringing us through but we are still dealing with the aftereffects of the last 2 years. We are just over half of what our average attendance was at the beginning of 2020. We still have members who haven’t been to church in weeks and months. We have settled into a survival mentality and have begun to accept the idea of “a new normal” as defined by the same people who mishandled almost every aspect of the pandemic. I don’t want the WHO, the CDC, the federal government or the media deciding for us what is supposed to be normal. We didn’t accept their idea of normal before and we sure shouldn’t accept it now.
No, at Calvary what we should be doing is exactly what our rebuilder for this week did. The Bible says, Josiah began to seek after the God of David… . It’s God’s church, we are God’s people and God is the one we should turn to for His definition of normal.
Today we are in 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings learning from the life of the last good King of Judah, King Josiah. I didn’t realize it at the time but this is not in the right chronological order in the series as it should have come before Nehemiah. Josiah was King before Judah was taken in Captivity by Babylon and Nehemiah was the rebuilder of the Wall of Jerusalem after the Jews were allowed to come back to their land after Babylon had been conquered by Persia. Even though it is not in timeline order it still will work here because of the subject matter and the work that Josiah brought about in Judah. Some of the same works and revivals we must be working toward in our own lives, churches and nation if we are going to be ready if and when God sends a revival.
The Surrendered Sovereign - 2 Chronicles 34:1-7
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust [of them], and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about. And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.
The Sovereign Servant
Josiah was the last "good" king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 34:2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.
Israel had settled into the “new normal” of sin, idolatry and immorality that was defined by the nations around them and by the last two kings who had sat upon the throne. Josiah was the son of a King Amon, who was so wicked that his own servants slew him in his own house.
Josiah was the grandson of one of the most wicked kings in Judah’s history, Manasseh, who worshipped Moloch, the idol that only accepted babies burnt in fire as its ritual. The Bible says of Manasseh, in 2 Chronicles 33:9, “ he made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed!”
But Josiah was also the great grandson of a one of the greatest kings, Hezekiah, who the Bible says in 2 Kings 18:5-6, “He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him…”
But none of those things mattered when Josiah at only 8 years old began his reign. The revival that Josiah would lead, the last revival that Israel would experience, was not based on Josiah’s heritage or history but on his humility before God. He was sovereign to his people, but he chose to be a servant of God.
2 Chronicles 34, says that in his 8th year of his reign, while he was yet young,” only 16 years old, Josiah got tired of the new normal, the world’s normal, and he "began to seek after the God of David his father." After 4 years of that seeking, learning, training and dedication, in the 12th year of his reign, he went to work. And he went to work in a big way.
2 Chronicles 34:3-7 he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; (Josiah stood there and watched) and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. (He was making sure everyone clearly understood the message he was sending and the work he was doing.) (He even did this in the north, miles away from Jerusalem,) And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about. (Do you know what a mattock is? (show picture) it’s a pick with a bad attitude. The motto of Josiah work crew was something like, Dig ‘em up and burn ‘em down.) And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem. (Josiah was on a rebuilder’s righteous rampage razing the ruins of sin and idolatry.)
Razing before Rebuilding
When it comes to the sin of the this world. When it comes to the ruins of sin in our lives, our families and our churches before there can be rebuilding, before there can be revival, there must be repentance. There must be a razing of the ruins.
Josiah knew he could not just do a few quite reforms, he couldn’t just remodel the Temple or the palace. He had to raze the idolatry, branch and root. Dig it up and burn it down.
Repentance Is the First Step in Rebuilding
John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is come.” Jesus began his public ministry preaching, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is come.” The disciples went out and preached, “Repent!” On the day of Pentecost Peter’s message was, “Repent!” In the book of Revelation, the epistle of Jesus himself, the main message to the churches is “Repent.”
Josiah must have seemed like a madman to those who had settled in to the new normal of mixing idolatry with the worship of Adonai, but he wasn’t a madman, he was a man seeking after God, a man who wouldn’t settle for building on the ruins of the past, a man who knew if God was going rebuild and restore through him, then God demanded a bedrock of repentance to begin the work.
Do we think that God can rebuild through us without repentance? No, He cannot and He will not. For, there is sin to confess, there is fear to conquer and there is apathy to condemn. We may not be deep in the sins of Manasseh, but our sins, fear, and apathy still keep God at arm’s length from our lives and we cannot truly rebuild until we fully repent.
In Josiah, God found a Sovereign who would be His humble servant and after razing the sin from Judah, God’s sovereign servant found a sacred scripture.
8 Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God.
(After the removal of the idols, the sin from Judah, then
Josiah began repairing the Temple.)
14-21 And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses. And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan. And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it. And they have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and to the hand of the workmen. Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. (What an understatement) And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king's, saying, Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.
Scripture Gave Insight
In the 18th year of his reign, Josiah sent Shaphan the scribe to the temple to arrange with Hilkiah the high priest for the repairs to be made in the temple. On giving a report back to the King, Hilkiah also gave to Shaphan a book which he had found in the "house of Jehovah." Shaphan read from the book to the king Josiah and when he heard God’s message, he tore his robes in distress and yes in fear of God’s judgment. Then the king sends a deputation to Huldah the prophetess for her opinion of what was written in the book. She told him that the curses were valid, and much worse, all the consequences of disobeying and disregarding God for all these many years were now coming due.
Josiah had sought God and walked in the ways of king David. He had removed the symbols of idolatry. He had purged Judah of wickedness, he reinstituted the Passover and the other Holy Days of God. He had turned himself and his people to God and yet the judgment of God was still on its way. Was it all for nothing?
This is what God told Josiah through Huldah, in 2 Chronicles 34:26-28, “And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD. Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place,…
Repenting and seeking God, doing God’s work and ridding our lives of that which keeps us form God is never without blessing and reward. Never. Even though doom hung like the sword of Damocles over the nation of Judah, Josiah had kept it from falling during his own lifetime.
Wycliffe Commentary said this, “Josiah was Judah’s last good king, and in some respects her greatest. For it was his reformation of 621 B.C. that did more than all else to restore Israel’s commitment to God’s Book; and it was loyalty to this same written word that provided the glimmer of hope for Judaism during the Exile, in its precarious restoration, and throughout the centuries down to the coming of Christ. – Wycliffe Bible Commentary
Because of Josiah and his dedication to God’s work and God’s word Israel, even in exile, remained God’s people and people of the Book. It was God’s promise to give them the land that gave the hope of a homeland, it was God’s promise to bring them back after they repented that gave them strength to endure and it was God’s prophet Moses, recording the words of the Lord, who helped to inspire the new prophets of the exile, men other rebuilders like Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel.
Rebuilding By the Book
We are not rebuilders of nations but we are rebuilders in our own lives, families, churches and communities. Because that is true, we should learn from God’s rebuilders of the past, men like Nehemiah, Isaiah, Hezekiah and Josiah.
Here is what we need to understand.
First, and foremost, rebuilders are people of the Book. People who turn to and trust the Word of God.
The Bible is central in the life of a rebuilder, their actions, their decisions and their plans are all guided by the voice of God speaking to us from these pages.
Rebuilders must understand that the Bible is the very word of God, it is the proclamation of who God is, the promise of what God given and the proclamation of what God has prophesied.
Secondly, Rebuilders Seek God.
The Bible is important to one of God’s leaders not because it is a beautiful, ancient and majestic collection of poems, history and philosophy, but because it is a book that and points us in the way God would have us serve Him.
Thirdly, Rebuilders Repent and are blessed by God when they repent.
In our day that is not a carved statue in a grove of trees set upon a mountain but other forms of idolatry. Things like materialism, the worship of almighty buck. Sexual Impurity, sexual perversion and pornography. Our own human pride, the belief in ourselves before we believe in God, that we know better than God what is best for us. There is amorality, an absence of any morality in our world.
It comes down to this, anything that would take our heart, our eyes, our time and our eyes from God and direct them to anything or anyone else in His place is something that needs to be razed to the ground. Dig it up and burn it down!
The Spiritual Solution - 2 Kings 23:5
2 Kings 23:25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. (Isn’t that a powerful epitaph for a great man?)
Israel's need of Revival
Listen again to how God described Josiah, “He turned to the Lord, with all his heart, all his soul and all his might, according to all the law of Moses.”
Josiah came at a time when Israel truly needed a revival, a great awakening of their need for God. In 2 Kings 23 there is a list of the sin of Israel, that Josiah stood against.
II Kings 23:7 Prostitution and Homosexuality, And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
II Kings 23:10 Murder of children, And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. (The valley of Topheth, after this time was turned into a garbage dump and during the time of Christ was know as the valley of Hinnom or Gahenna, with Jesus likened to the never ending burning of Hell.)
II Kings 23:21-23 The worship of God had been forsaken, 21 And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem. (Josiah led a great national Passover, such as had not been seen since the times of Moses, and King David and Solomon)
II Kings 23:24 Occultism was being practiced, “Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.” (Josiah rid the land of necromancers, mediums, fortune tellers, those who sought to speak with the dead or raise and communicate with demons.)
Our Need for Revival
When you read about Israel in the days of Josiah, you can’t help but see a parallel in our own nation today.
Sexual sin. Today, prostitution, homosexuality and the LGBTQ lifestyle is regarded as just another kind of normal, the new normal. instead of the deadly form of perversion and moral cesspit that it actually is. They flippantly tell those who would condemn their sin, “Get used to it.”
Murder of the Innocent. You read in the Old Testament about the the murder of children in the worship of Moloch and think surely no people, no one who can be called a human being would do such a thing to their own child and yet in America or own worship of Moloch sees the sacrifice of thousands of babies each day.
Abortion is the number one killer in the US, around 5000 die each year from cigarettes, 25,000 from drunk drivers, but in the 1st 10 years after abortion was legalized over 15 million lives have been lost by the so called “choice” of a parent. All the wars in the 200 year history of or country have taken less than 1 1/2 million, yet in the years between 1980 and 2012, our nation legally has allowed that many babies to be terminated by abortion every single year. Right now between 600,000 and 900,000 babies are being sacrificed every year for sexual freedom.
The Occult. Is there a belief in the occult in our nation as their was in Israel?
From horoscopes, to crystal therapy, to reincarnation, to Satanic worship, and witchcraft our nation is steeped in occultism.
Families at Risk. Families in America today are a vanishing species, but no one is trying to protect them.
The majority of families in our country today are not traditional families with a Mom, Dad and children from the marriage. 30% of all children under 21 are being raised in single parent homes, with no Dad or no Mom, most times it is the father that is gone. In 2012 only about 46% of children grow up with their family intact and their parents not divorced or absent. In 1950 that number was 85%
Also as of 2012 40% of all births were to unmarried mothers. 2/3 or all young people live with a partner and 3/4 of all first marriages lived together before they got married.
Unfaithful Churches. And the one institution that Jesus left to be a place for spiritual rebuilders is also broken and corrupted.
In too many fundamentalist churches, legalism is regarded as godliness. In affluent churches materialism is worshipped as a sign of God's blessings. In liberal churches “love” is used as an excuse not to condemn sin and even encourage those who are caught in the trap of homosexuality and transgenderism to proclaim that their sin is really how God made them.
Too often disunity within a local body is viewed as standing for the truth, when its really just arrogance and pride. In so many so-called successful churches, it not about God’s word or God’s way but about the slick, showy, sunny entertainment of the attenders. And this they call the working of the Holy Spirit.
We need revival and that revival must start in us, it must start in our own families and church. Listen to the words of Jesus to the church at Laodicea.
The Laodicea Church
This is a warning every church, church member and child of God must keep at the forefront of their heart and mind.
Rev 3:14-17 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
This was a church, a people who were satisfied with themselves and did not think to ask, “what does the Lord think when He sees me?”
Let me close with the same closing that Jesus gave to each and everyone of the churches He wrote too. Churches that are representative of every local church from that time to now.
To every one of those churches Jesus said this, “He that hath an ear let him hear.” That was not an invitation not to the corporate body but to the individual to hear and respond. For churches, and families, communities and nations are composed of individuals and just like the rebuilders we have been looking at on Sunday mornings, God is still looking for individuals to begin the work of rebuilding in whatever place He has placed you.Start your sacred service to God, be a sanctified servant of the Lord and surrender your own sovereignty to your Savior that you might a restorer, a repairer and a rebuilder in your life, your family or your church.