Old Testament: 2 Kings 22:3-23:30
2 Kings 22:3-23:30 Dusting Off The Book
Really Good King In Judah: Josiah was one of the best kings in Judah despite the bad atmosphere in which he reigned. He was the fourth king to clean up the country following Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah. In his eighteenth year he sent his secretary, Shaphan, to the Temple to tell the high priest to start keeping track of the money coming in so workmen would have funds to refurbish.
It was while the Temple was being worked on that the High Priest, Hilkiah, found the book of the law in the Temple. Apparently Manasseh or Amon had other copies destroyed and it wasn’t like today when you could just pull a copy off the shelves at Barnes and Noble. It may have been Deuteronomy or an entire copy of the Penteteuch.
Hilkiah gave it to Shaphan and he read it. Shaphan brought it to the king and read it to him. When Josiah heard it, he tore his robes showing his remorse and repentance. He was only about twenty-six years old. He told his aides to find out what they could about the book of the law. He knew the Lord had been displeased with the nation for not following the law.
His aides sought out a prophetess named Huldah though apparently Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and maybe even Nahum and Habbakuk lived during that time (cf. BKC). She sent word back to Josiah that Yahweh was going to crush Judah for her disobedience but it wouldn’t occur until after Josiah’s lifetime. Yahweh was pleased with Josiah’s tender heart and humility.
King Josiah read the book to all the elders of Judah and all the prophets and people. The king gave his word that he would uphold the covenant that had been made with Yahweh.
Josiah had all the paraphernalia destroyed that was used in pagan worship. He destroyed all the high places of idol worship and had the evil priests extricated. He decimated all the demonically inspired worship and everything connected to it. He desecrated their places by filling them with human bones but burned the bones of idol worshippers that had been found on their own altars. However, when the bones of the prophet who had prophesied Josiah’s reformation were discovered, they were not moved (cf. where Josiah is even mentioned by name, 1 Kings 13:2- 3).
In his eighteenth year, Josiah re-instituted the Passover Feast as it was prescribed in the book of the law. It had been forgotten since the age of the judges. It was a unique event since apparently both Israel and Judah participated (cf. 2 Chron. 35:18).
With all of Josiah’s spiritual success, you would think he would know not to become involved in a fight that had nothing to do with him. But when Pharaoh Neco of Egypt attacked the king of Assyria, he joined in and was killed by the Pharaoh. He was buried in Jerusalem where his son, Jehoahaz, took over as monarch.
New Testament: Acts 21:37-22:16
Acts 21:37-22:16 Blinded By The Light
When Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he asked the commander if he could say something. The commander was surprised that Paul could speak Greek and asked if he was the infamous Egyptian who had started a revolt with 4,000 murderers out in the wilderness. Paul assured him that he wasn’t but was a Jew from Tarsus and asked that he be allowed to address the people. The commander told him he could go ahead. Paul stood on the stairs and motioned to the people to be quiet. Then he gave his defense to them in Hebrew:
1) Paul said he was a Jew from Tarsus of Cilicia (modern-day south central Turkey)
2) He was educated under the famous Gamaliel
3) Paul had persecuted Christians by having them put in prison with the endorsement of the Sanhedrin and the high priest
4) He was on his way to Damascus to harass Christians when he was blinded by the light and fell on the ground
5) Then he heard a voice asking why he was persecuting Jesus the Nazarene
6) Those who were with Paul also saw the light but couldn’t understand the voice he heard
7) Paul asked what Jesus wanted him to do and Jesus told him to go on to Damascus for further directions
8) Since Paul was blinded, he had to rely on his friends to get to Damascus
9) A man named Ananias came to him to restore his sight
10) Ananias told Paul that God had appointed him to be a witness to Christ and told him to be baptized
Psalm 1:1-6 A Wisdom Psalm
Psalm 1:1-6 Make Like A Tree And Leaf
This may be the greatest psalm and is a great one to start off the New Year! Why? It is a psalm of wisdom. It tells us believers who study the Bible will end up being different than the rest of people in the world. We will bear godly fruit.
Believers will be like trees that are rooted near a stream. We will flourish. Well, that is if they are living out of the Word like a tree by a stream sucks up nourishment from the water.
That should be an encouragement to us. We just need to stay in His Word to thrive (cf. John 15:5).
An old friend of mine always reminds me that Hudson Taylor, one of the most famous missionaries of all time, did not have his first convert for years after moving to China. But Hudson was bearing fruit all the while. It might not be the type of prosperity that you are promised on TV but it is the kind that God likes to see.
Keep on keepin’ on. You will flourish if you stay in the Word (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58). Others, will dry up and blow away.
Proverbs 18:11-12 A Legend In His Own Mind
There’s a song with the lyric, “you’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you . . . .” I’ve heard of rich people that were good people and Christians but I’ve hardly met any. It’s harder to for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, you know . . . .
Rich people trust their riches instead of the Lord. But when it comes time for death, they get really confused. Walt Disney and Ted Williams had themselves frozen to try to avoid death but I don’t think it’s going to pan out for them.
I’m watching a documentary on the life of George Harrison, a Beatle and Hindu mystic. He was preparing for the time of his death through a good part of his life. He didn’t seem to be very happy to me. His thoughts on death seemed pretty random. There is only one answer to the meaning of life. And only one answer to the question of death. They both begin with a “C.” Can you guess what it is? More accurately, can you guess Who it is? Hint: Acts 4:12.
Hebrews 9:27 says that is appointed for man to die once and after that comes judgment. Being rich isn’t going to help anyone with that (v. 11). They get fooled because their riches have gotten them through everything else in life. But it’s a mirage. It’d be better for them to be poor and figure out the meaning of life through their suffering.
Rich people have had so much success trusting themselves over time that they get really arrogant. They think they have all the answers. But after being prideful for a period of time, they run into a brick wall and devastation.
Suffering usually leads to humility and truth (cf. Rom. 5:1-5). Ever heard of foxhole conversions? People who vow to serve the Lord because of imminent death. You don’t usually hear of people vowing to become millionaires (oops, it’s 2016, I mean billionaires) in those situations, do you?
Are you a legend in your own mind? Or do you trust the One Who is actually a Legend (Prov. 3:5-6)?
Choose Life: Scripture: Acts 22:10 NASB “Are You Ready To Be Ready?”
“’And I said, “What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, “Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’” Acts 22:10
Paul had a personal conference with Jesus Himself. That part is pretty cool. But then Jesus told Paul he’d be given an assignment. Jesus had previously told Paul that “I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16).
Don’t panic. I’m not going to say that you have to be ready to give up your life right now for Christ. But I am saying that you have to be ready to be ready to give up your life for Christ. If the time ever comes that you have to give your all for the Lord, He will enable you. Right now, you don’t have to worry about it.
Of course, some of the sacrifices may feel like it’d be easier to give up your life!
Are you ready to be ready?
If you can, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
A good way to understand sacrificing for the Lord is to read the little pamphlet My Heart Christ’s Home. I had to pay for it years ago but it’s available online now for free. It’s a great way to take inventory and then know you’ve got everything in order in your life.
The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Blinded By The Light