Love Came Down with Covenant

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In ancient Israeli history, Josiah, young king of Israel, crowned at just eight years old, determined to hallow the Word and bring deliverance to his people from the idolatry which had devoured his culture.

His grandfather, Manasseh, had ruled in depravity for fifty-five years, after King Hezekiah’s righteous reign. Manasseh wreaked hellish havoc on the nation. He empowered the demonic, set up altars in the Temple to pagan gods and slaughtered so many innocent, the streets were filled with blood.

When his son, Ammon ascended the throne, he followed his father’s sin and died within two years, murdered by his own team.

At eight years old, Josiah stepped into his kingship. Incredibly, this young man loved God and walked righteous. For his eighteenth year as king, Josiah had earned enough authority to enforce much needed change. He commissioned carpenters and stone cutters to do a repair of the temple as his first step towards heaven.

IMG_0917In response, God gifted Josiah with His standard. The nation had so pursued pagan idolatry that a copy of the Law was found during the renovations quite accidentally. When the High Priest discovered the Law, he told the royal scribe, who then, after giving report on the renovations, brought out the copy of the Law. For the first time of his life, this godly king, with no plumbline of life in God other than his intuitive understanding to walk righteous, heard the holy covenant which God had established with His people, Israel.

In fear and grief, King Josiah tore his royal robes, an age old sign of utter grief and consternation for the nation.

With the understanding of a king, Josiah knew judgement was imminent for his nation, since they had broken every part of their covenant with Almighty God. As Josiah heard the Book of the Law and the clear conditions of the Covenant between Israel and Almighty God, he grew terrified. Judgement stood at Judah’s door, for the people practiced a demonic culture of idolatry in direct opposition to God’s Law.

Repentant and afraid, Josiah sent his team to seek God, saying “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us. [1]

IMG_0911The state of faith in the land was weak indeed.  How sad that neither the High Priest nor the royal scribe nor the king’s servants could inquire of God. Together as a group, they headed to the lower part of Jerusalem to seek out a woman, Huldah, a prophetess, whom they knew loved Lord Jehovah. Huldah responded quickly that God would indeed judge the nation for their idolatry. But then she sent a message straight from heaven to the much grieved king,

“Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place. [2]

Like Hezekiah when Isaiah prophesied the Babylonian invasion after his lifetime, Josiah could have simply rested on that word of comfort. God had heard his cry. None of the judgement coming was going to touch his life. He could relax.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and led by that wisdom, King Josiah illustrated the royal priesthood to which we have all been called.

IMG_0896First, he gathered the people, young, old, prophet, priest and king, to read the Book of the Law of God, that Judah could hear what the glorious covenant God established between His people and the Almighty Eternal God. In the temple, Josiah pledged before the nation and God, to follow, keep and perform this holy covenant with all his heart and soul. The people responded with agreement, that they too would stand in covenant with Almighty God. Judah would once more stand for the ways and commands of God.

With this covenant agreement, Josiah implemented an action plan, putting strong legs to their promise as he governed the covenant in Judah. Systematically he dismantled the idolatry which polluted Judah. Instead of the stench of pagan incense, Judah’s atmosphere was again filled with the fragrance of worship unto God Almighty even as smoldering idols were burnt and their ashes were strewn on gravesites, the ultimate message to ruling principalities that God alone would be worshiped in this nation.

Demonic priests of Baal, ordained by previous kings, were ousted and executed at Josiah’s command. High places were torn down and perverted worship centers were dismantled, demolished and set ablaze. The smoke of change must have lingered for days:

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the priests of the second order, and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the articles that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. Then he removed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places all around Jerusalem, and those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the wooden image from the house of the Lord, to the Brook Kidron outside Jerusalem, burned it at the Brook Kidron and ground it to ashes, and threw its ashes on the graves of the common people.

The defilement of righteous faith in Israel was immense. Boldly, Josiah went head to head with principalities as he destroyed child sacrifice, satanic worship and his ancestors’ private royal altars where the kings for the past century had sought power from darkness:

He defiled Topheth, in the valley of the sons of Hinnom, so that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. And he took away the horses which the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of Jehovah, by the room of Nathan-melech the eunuch, which was in the suburbs. And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars which were on the top of the upper room of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made, and the two courts of the house of Jehovah, the king beat them down, and broke them down from there. And he threw the dust of them into the torrent Kidron. And the high places which were before Jerusalem on the right hand of the Mount of Corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the sons of Ammon, the king defiled. [3}

Not content with just Judah getting free, Josiah even abolished Jeroboam’s false altars in Bethel which had led Israel astray in the days of King Rehoboam. He entered broken down Samaria with a fervent demolition crew, pulling down high places, establishing only one place of worship for all of Israel, Jerusalem, and the city the Lord had named as the center for all the world to call on His Name.

IMG_0798In King Josiah’s life, as idolatrous high places were removed, humble covenant to God became his only mandate. Josiah established Passover after generations of foul demonic worship by God’s own people. With Josiah’s governance, all heaven must have taken a deep breath of relief, soothed by the smell of Judah’s repentance as holy sacrifices ascended once more unto God alone. The Scriptures describe Josiah as the one and only king who grabbed hold of God with everything he was, “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.”[4]

One righteous king spared his entire generation from the judgement.

When Jesus, King of all Kings, prepared for the cross, He celebrated a powerful prophetic last supper and offered a new covenant to each of us. “He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink all of it. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. “[5]

Love came down with the covenant for Josiah, spurring on a massive return to faith, as true worship to Lord Jehovah was once more established before the Israelites were banished into captivity.  A remnant returned to faith so that when judgement came, many still believed in the One true God. Think of Daniel and his friends, Ezekiel.  Jeremiah.  All were impacted with righteous life in God because of Josiah’s choice to turn a nation back to God.

IMG_0797Through Christ, love has come to us all. The new covenant requires only faith to receive Christ and be forgiven. As we profess Him and renounce all other covenants, His life flows. Like Josiah, we are given sudden extraordinary grace of understanding to live for God Almighty.  May we each worship our God with the same fierce integrity and honor of that mighty king!

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, King of all kings, may Your Kingdom come and Your will be done, here in our lives. Like Josiah, this day, we take our stand to love God and obey His Word. Holy Spirit, help us to live a life of worship, to rule and reign at our King’s Command. Father, may we know in ever greater degree the glory of being Your children. Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. Amen.

This Week’s Reading: 2 Kings 17 – 25
Next Week’s Reading: 1 Chronicles 1 – 10

Study Questions:
1. How do you stand for covenant in your daily life?
2. How did Christ’s covenant bring you freedom? What does that look like on a Monday morning?
3. What government can you do in this current season of your life which will enforce covenant with God?
4. How do you articulate your covenant with Christ? Water baptism is the most effective public confession of Christ. It also rescinds all other ungodly covenants. Have you taken time to formally renounce any ungodly covenants you formed or your ancestors formed with idols before you chose Christ? This is a crucial step to walking in governmental authority as a priest and king unto God.
5. How does Christ’s covenant bring you personal joy? Tell me about it!!  Tell your neighbour.

[1]The New King James Version. 1982 (2 Ki 22:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[2]The New King James Version. 1982 (2 Ki 22:19-20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[3]The New King James Version. 1982 (2 Ki 23:10-13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[4]The New King James Version. 1982 (2 Ki 23:25). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[5] The New King James Version. 1982 (Mat 26:27, 28). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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