Sunday, February 6, 2011

Don't Just Shake Your Head and Sigh

I have become almost immune to the doom and gloom prophets of our day. One comes on TV, and I unconsciously roll my eyes, grimace, and click the remote to another channel.

I don't think I am the only one either.

Perhaps it's that hearts are being hardened. Or perhaps it's that so many of us have lived past several dates on the calendar when some now has-been said the world would end.

Remember Y2K destruction? So many claimed the end was near, computers were going to revert back to 1900, electrical grids would cease functioning, mass chaos would ensue. Instead, we went to sleep and woke up in a new millennium that looked awfully similar to the one we'd just left behind.

Time marches to its own beat, steadily forward as the years count higher; yet, where people are concerned, as a whole, their hearts and souls are not really progressing or regressing in action.

As I comb through the Old Testament, I see mirrored in Israel's history the history of my own country, one not really worse than the other. The only difference is I've read about Israel's destruction because of sin but haven't yet seen that fate come to pass in America.

Last week, Josiah cleaned house in Israel--six years worth of going throughout the entire land removing idols and desecrating places of idol worship so they could not be reused, all in an attempt to return the people's focus on the one true God.

When Josiah started his six-year job, the country was in pretty bad shape. But that didn't mean he just wrung his hands and shook his head over the awful state of his country.

1. The temple of God wasn't revered as a place of worship. So, he had the priests "bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven" (2 Kin. 23:4).

2. There were non-sanctified priests fulfilling the job of priests. In response, he "did away with the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah and in the surrounding area of Jerusalem" (2 Kin. 23:5).

3. The people were choosing to worship at places other than they the God-ordained temple. One in particular was at Bethel, which had been an alternate place of worship dating back to the time immediately following King Solomon's reign. Scripture says of Josiah, "the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he [Josiah] broke down" (2 Kin. 23:15).

4. The people were mired in consulting mediums and spiritists as well worship of dozens of idols--Baal, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Milcom, Molech, the sun, moon, and constellations. Josiah "demolished" each man-created idol in turn (2 Kin. 23:4-5, 12-13).

5. Some of the people even practiced child sacrifice to the god Molech; yet, Josiah "defiled" those places of false worship so that "no many might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire for Molech" (2 Kin. 23:10).

6. Lastly, the people had been neglecting the feasts and Passover established by the Lord. Josiah commanded, "'Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God as it is written in this book of the covenant.' Surely such a Passover had not been celebrated from the days of the judges..." (2 Kin. 23:21-22).

Next week, I'll discuss a seventh major reform Josiah enacted in his time, but for now, consider these six reforms when compared to the sins America is currently mired in.

1. Do we have an irreverent attitude concerning our church buildings?

2. What about false priests? Those with a hole in their gospel? Or those openly practicing sin, including the sin of homosexuality?

3. How about the attitude that "I can worship God anywhere, so I don't really need to attend a church worship service."

4. Do we revere psychics? Those who can contact the spirit realm? Astrologists? How many believe in horoscopes? Or maybe it's a different idol like our jobs, sports, education, or our children's success.

5. Abortion may not seem like child sacrifice to a god, but...

6. Our capitalistic country definitely hasn't forgotten to celebrate Easter and Christmas, but it has still forsaken those "feasts" through inappropriate celebrations, focusing on bunnies and gifts rather than on remembering Christ.

The state of our nation, the state of our world--yes, it's serious. But, I'll let you in on a little secret. I've read the last page of the story already. I know what's coming, and I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel.

How many of us would be a Josiah in our world? How many would it take to make a difference?

Photo: Adrift 2005 by Sonia King, glass, ceramic, pyrite, fossils, gold, seashell, smalti, marble, turquoise.

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