Saturday, June 24, 2017

The High Places

Today's message is about a young man named Josiah. Josiah was made king of Israel at a very young age. But what I found most amazing about his story is the incredible example he gave us about how we ALL need to live our lives in today's world.

When Josiah was made king of Israel in 640 BC he was eight years old. That's right. Eight years old. The Bible tells us that "he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord."

So, what did he do? Josiah was probably best known for turning the nation of Israel back towards God. Or more likely, God used Josiah to turn His people back  to Himself. Something happened in Josiah's life when he was 26 years old that would change the course of the entire nation. It could also change you. Go get your Bible and open it to 2 Kings 22.

"22 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord - the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.” - 2 Kings 22:1-7

Nothing too special there. Josiah was having the temple repaired. That was good of him to do. It was acceptable in the eyes of The Lord. But what happened next changed an entire nation.

"Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king." - 2 Kings 22:8-10

The Book of the Law was the book that Moses had placed in the temple back in Deuteronomy 31. It contained all of the law that the people should live by, given to Moses by God.

"24 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, 25 he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord: 26 “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God. There it will remain as a witness against you." - Deuteronomy 31:24-26

When Josiah heard the words spoken from the Book of The Law, words he had never heard before, he was broken. He became convicted and repented of his sins - the previously unknown sins that had been revealed to him by the hearing of God's Word.

"11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” - 2 Kings 22:11-13

Josiah became convicted upon the hearing of God's Word. This is why it is important that we continue to read our Bibles. The Holy Spirit, through God's Word, convicts us of OUR sins. It encourages us to "do what is right in the eyes of The Lord."

"23 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets - all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord - to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant." - 2 Kings 23:1-3

In the chapters that follow, King Josiah did away with many things that were brought into the Lord's temple against God's will . . . His law. One of the things he did was to remove the high places where incense was burned to other gods.

So what are "the high places"?  Places of worship to other gods or idols, like various animals, constellations. Not God.

As we look back on OUR lives, on the road WE have traveled, what are the things we have done, or not done, that were contrary to God's Word . . . to His will? What do we need to repent of in our lives? What are OUR high places - the things we "worship" that are contrary to God's Word?

We must examine ourselves, just as King Josiah did. When we find "Asherah poles" and "high places" in OUR lives we must get rid of them.

"5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test? " - 2 Corinthians 13:5

This week I removed one of my own "high places" - Facebook - from my life. If not controlled, it can become a distraction - a diversion away from God. The question I asked myself was "Do I spend more time reading the Bible or scrolling through Facebook?"

I tore my robes.

What is in YOUR high place?

Change My Heart - Sidewalk Prophets
Three Questions - Leslie Ludy

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