Today my heart is heavy. We have been talking about revival for a long time and for a long time I have been talking about the state of the church and it’s desolate condition. It is interesting to me that a State of the Union speech is part of the constitution of the United States. “The practice arises from a duty given to the president in the Constitution of the United States: He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.— Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution.” Not only is it expected it is required. In the U.S.A., I don’t really think people want to hear how bad the state of their union, if you could call it that, is. I believe the church is in worse shape. In the church, no one wants to hear about its desolate condition. It perpetually continues to move forward without the power of the Holy Spirit and continues to operate in its own strength and then praises God for it. Men and women continue to lead the church further and further away from the word of God, leaving in it a worse state of desolation than the generation before. My intent this morning was to talk about how amazing King Josiah was but as I studied I saw that there was a sever warning to us along with what we are supposed to do ourselves. This is an awesome statement and I would hope the same could be said about us. 2 Chronicles 34:33 “Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” As I read through the account of Josiah, I saw that this was the end and it would never be the same again until Jesus came. Not only was a man of God prophesied about but the end that would follow because of disobedience. I also saw that we are in the same position as Israel and Judah who had rejected the word of the Lord yet we refuse to accept it.
So my heart is heavy. Not only for myself but for my children. There is judgment coming. This is an amazing verse about Josiah and is the fulfillment of the prophesy against Jeroboam. This also shows the power of God’s word. One day 1 Kings 13:1 “by the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering He said, 2 By the word of the Lord he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” 3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the Lord has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.” Josiah was a long way off into the future, right near the end of the Kings of Judah. Israel had already been defeated and taken captive. King Jeroboam became king over Israel after Solomon disobeyed and lost the kingdom. He was given the promise of a dynasty if he obeyed. He was told 1 Kings 11:38 “If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you.” Jeroboam did not believe God meant what he said and so he didn’t obey and made two golden calves. 1 Kings 12:28 “Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” He did this because he was afraid that 1 kings 12:26 “the kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam,” Solomon’s son. Solomon had lost the kingdom and had retained only Judah and Benjamin.
Since we are in the same place our souls should be downcast. David said in Psalm 42:5 “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” We know from Psalm 22 that God did not forget which is why we can put our hope in God but that doesn’t change the desolation we are in and we must repent before God. As I was working on this I could not get away from the devastation of disobedience on Israel on Judah. King Josiah was amazing but he was the end of the end. Yes God had amazing grace and forgave those who repented. Josiah’s grandfather was one who repented. 2 Kings 21:16 Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end—besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” God then said, 14 I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and give them into the hands of enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their enemies; 15 they have done evil in my eyes and have aroused my anger from the day their ancestors came out of Egypt until this day.” 2 Kings 24:3 “Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.” After being taken to Babylon, 2 Chronicles 33:12 “In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.” Yes God forgave Manasseh but the sin brought them down in the end. This king, the one who aroused the Lord’s anger so much so that He was going to destroy them repented. I am amazed at how little repentance is taught in our day. Look at what God did after Manasseh repented. But then we see Manasseh follow through on his repentance. “15 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel.” Manasseh humbled himself and God listened to his plea.”
The heaviness of my heart is because we are in the same position as Israel yet we do not repent and turn from our wicked ways. There have been pockets of repentance and revival yet the church remains in desolation and continues full speed in the wrong direction while praising those who are leading us. Jeremiah 5:31 “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 14:14 “Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” Jeremiah 23:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” This is happening all over in our day. Jeremiah was the prophet during the demise of Judah and their captivity. Jeremiah 1:4 “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah was prophet at the end of the kings reign. 2 The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah, 3 and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile. 17 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah prophesied about the end their captivity yet the people did not wan to listen.
So here we have the prophesy of Josiah but this also marks the end. Israel had already fallen. 2 Kings 17:7 “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God,” and it was about to happen to Judah. Remember after Solomon the kingdom was torn and Judah and Benjamin were together and the rest under Israel. Rehoboam Solomon’s Son and Jeroboam were the first kings of each. It was only a short time after Josiah that the land would be left desolate. He was told, 2 Chronicles 34:23 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people—all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah. 25 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all that their hands have made, my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.’ 26 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 27 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. 28 Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.” So we see a grandfather and grandson repenting in great humility.
So what is the problem you ask; that sounds like what we are supposed to do. The answer is it is but it isn’t happening. Paul says in Galatians 1:3 “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” The church has deserted the gospel and we are in the end of the end times. We are in the same position as Israel and Judah. We have not listened but have turned away from the gospel. Most have no idea what the bible is actually saying. We have peddlers selling everything from music to books about everything under the sun. The church these days is always selling something. We have false teachers, preachers, evangelists, apostles and prophets proclaiming false gospels and selling cheap grace. We have a nation of apathetic, nominal narcissists who have no fear of God or his wrath because all they have been taught or want to hear is that God is love and will not judge them. Josiah and Judah show us otherwise. This is a warning to our nation but this time it is not the Babylonians. Our judgment will be eternal as will be the judgment on those who have gone before us. Yes this story of Josiah should help us to repent because it brings to issue exactly what has happened today. Once they rediscovered the book Josiah said, 2 Kings 22:13 “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.” The same has happened today. Those who have gone before us have led us down an empty way that leads to death.
Before I get to the end of Josiah’s reign, I want to look at what Jesus told the Jews. Jesus begins a discourse of woes to the hypocrites. Matthew 23:1 “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: Sadly all of these apply to us today. Jesus says, Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” He calls them blind guides and fools, children of hell, door closers to the kingdom, camel swallowers, whitewashed tombs, prophet murderers and brood of vipers. He then closes with this amazing paragraph that leads us back to Josiah. Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” We will not see God’s power unless we do this right. When you read the last part about Josiah’s reign, you will see Jeremiah lament. 2 Chronicles 35:25 “Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments.” As you read Lamentations you see great sorrow concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Lamentations 1:6 “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed.” 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” The Lord has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago. He has overthrown you without pity, he has let the enemy gloat over you, he has exalted the horn of your foes.”
But there is hope. Jeremiah prophesied to the people, Jeremiah 29:10 “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Lamentations goes on to say, 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, or his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. 41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: 42 “We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven. 5:19 You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. 20 Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? 21 Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old 22 unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.” Not only did Jeremiah prophesy the return to the Promised Land he promised about the one who promises. Jeremiah 33:14 “The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. 15 “‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ 17 For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’”
In this great hope we too should be lamenting. This simply means “vocally expressing grief or sorrow.” We are in desolation just as we were told yet people continue to speak of God’s love as if nothing is wrong and think that God will not bring judgment. This account tells us he will bring judgment but this judgment will be eternal. 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” God will punish those who do not obey. The lacking fear of the lord is preventing people form repenting. How many times has the thought crossed your mind, God will not send someone to an eternal fire? There is mass deception yet people still refuse to repent and have no fear of eternal damnation.
I wanted to share this as we need to understand that God is in control and His timing is everything. He will hear our cries but we live among an obstinate people. Jeremiah 11:9 said, “Then the Lord said to me, “There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words.” We need to understand God is forgiving but we see that sins will be paid for. The kingdom comes near only if we repent and turn form our wickedness. Those who have gone before us have not followed the word of God and have been deceived by the enemy. Our only hope is to humble ourselves before God and ask for mercy. Psalm 79:8 “Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.” As the church sits in desolation we turn to the Lord and ask that God will hear our cry and turn and heal the land. We have hope because God has been gracious and left us a remnant of faithful followers but we need to understand there is more going on here than meets the eye. Yes when you attend church it appears to be what it should and appears right but where is the power of God? As we continue to ponder the desolation we find ourselves in, we must humble ourselves before God. Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 6:9 “He said, “Go and tell this people: “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, 12 until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. 13 And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
What happens when we reject Jesus our only hope. Hebrews 10:26 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”