Saturday, March 24, 2012

Comparing Jehoram with Josiah

Last week’s blog was about a pitiful King named Jehoram whom the Bible records this way, “[King Jehoram] was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. He departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.”

The humiliation of Jehoram’s burial was due to his horrific rule that prompted the people to rise up against him. This is truly tragic when we learned that his grandfather and his father paved a way for him by ruling a total of 66 years with authority and might, with great love for God. His father brought peace to its borders and faith to its people to God’s delight. All Jehoram had to do was to imitate and continue on. But he failed miserably.

This week, I contrast King Jehoram with King Josiah.

Josiah lived at a time after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The people of Judah saw the destruction of their northern brothers at the hand of the Assyrians and were shaken. Prophet Isaiah was there to declare that the Assyrians were being used as God’s divine judgment against the faithless Israel. Their defeat was God’s own doing. And now, Judah must respond rightly or meet the same fate. Sadly, the people of Judah and her kings refused to take heed. Led by false prophets, they said, “It won’t happen to us!” Judah’s destruction came 130 years later.

In those 130 years, there were a total of eight kings in Judah. The first was Hezekiah, contemporary to Prophet Isaiah and was good, but he finished badly. After him came his bad son, Manasseh. His 55 years is marked by the removal of Jehovah God from the country and replacing it with a plethora of foreign cults. The Temple at Jerusalem was rededicated to another deity and a portion of it was actually used to house and operate shrine prostitutes! He ruined the country during his 55 years of reign, and when his son, Amon came to power and followed his evil ways, the officials rose up and assassinated him.

Then came Josiah. Evil Manasseh was his grandfather. Terrible Amon was his father. You might say that Jehoram and Josiah come from opposite ends of the spectrum. Jehoram came with great expectations. Josiah came with ugly baggage. Johoram’s life came on a silver platter. Josiah’s life came with holes and dents. “There goes that #$&*% Manasseh’s grandkid and @*&%$ Amon’s son! What can he do?”

Josiah could have accepted the low expectations placed upon him. But then I wouldn’t write about him now. He was simply amazing. During his 31 years of reign, he repaired the Temple with the intent to revive the Jewish religion. And when the Torah is discovered, and the reading of it revealed the promise of blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience, he caused the whole nation to repent and turn to God. King Josiah stirred up the nation to a dynamic wave of spiritual renewal! He created a national movement toward God! He destroyed all foreign cults from the land, restored the Temple fully and revived the religious celebrations throughout the land! That was a glorious time!

And this spiritual revival of the nation occurred because of this one man, Josiah. For a man who came into power with so little expectations, he held fast to his God and rose above mediocrity to become a great man of God. And so he is Jehoram’s complete opposite.

Some of us might say, “Not me. I am not good enough. God can’t use me because I am too broken. I am worthless. I am bad.” Look at Josiah. And look beyond him to the God that raised him up and filled him with boldness and with power. And God is there with us. But it requires our mindset to never accept the inner voice that discourages but turn to the divine voice that declares, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

And with these two kings, we have a full spectrum to identify with. For those who have been wonderfully blessed in all ways, the call of God is to use it fully for God’s glory! Don’t squander it away. And for those who come with great baggage, who feel you have very little to offer, allow the power of God to sweep you under and with your determination and God’s strength, be like Josiah!

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