Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Repairing the house of God

II Kings 22-23; II Chron. 34

Josiah was the 15th king of the divided kingdom of Judah, one of the few good ones. He came to the throne when he was only 8 years old, about 316 years after the division of the kingdom of Israel into two nations. The division occurred after Rehoboam's ascent to the unified throne. Josiah reigned 31 years. It is perhaps hard to imagine how wicked the people of God had become in these intervening years. At a young age Josiah began to seek the Lord, and in the 18th year of his reign (when he was 26 years old) he set about to repair the house of God.

By the time of Josiah the glorious temple of Solomon had been standing some 360 years. It had fallen into disrepair. Just how much I don't know. But the repair required hiring carpenters, builders, and masons, and buying timber and stones. This implies a good deal of work that needed to be done. When the sincere young king undertook the project he could not imagine the events that were to be set off.

The book of the law of the Lord was lost in the house of the Lord. How sad to think, that right there in the very house of God the law of God was lost, misplaced, unread, unknown. Oh, how much like our day, when even churches are unfamiliar with the word of God.

The book of the law of the Lord was read after it was found. First the scribe read it himself. Then he read it to the king, and later the king read it to the people. The effect on the king was his tearing of his clothes in anguish and despair, realizing how far they had departed from the words of this book. Next he inquired of the Lord. Then he called the people together and read the book. There they made a covenant before the Lord.

The reform and its effects were great. Having made a covenant to keep the words of the book of the law, Josiah set about to reform the house of the Lord and the nation of Judah according to its words. Vessels of all sorts of false worship -- from Baal to the grove to the hosts of heaven -- were removed from the house of God. The houses of the Sodomites (apparently male homosexual prostitutes, since associated with worship) were torn down, and the ax was set at the root of false worship in every way possible. Afterward a Passover was held that was so amazing that there was not "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."

When the book of the Lord is forgotten, the house of the Lord falls into disrepair, the feasts of the Lord are not kept up, and false worship invades. The house of the Lord can only be repaired by taking heed to the word of God. Our congregations, not the temple, are the houses of the Lord today. May God help us.

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