2 Kings 21-22, Ephesians 1

Light in the Darkness.

2 Kings 21-22, Ephesians 1

And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left. – 2 Kings 22:2 ESV

There is a depressing pattern in the book of 2 Kings. Repeatedly we read the words, “And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 21:2 ESV). It seems that each successive king was predisposed to take the evil committed by his predecessor to an all-new low. The reigns of these men were marked by continued idolatry, rampant unfaithfulness, and a wholesale abandonment of the ways of God. Manasseh could have been the poster boy for poor leadership. He rebuilt the high places that his father had destroyed. He erected altars to Baal and Asherah poles. He even built altars to idols in the temple itself and sacrificed his own son as an offering to a false god. Manasseh led the people “to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel” (2 Kings 21:9 ESV). And Manasseh was followed by his son, Amon, who proved to be just as wicked and rebellious. His reign would last only two years, and end with his murder at the hands of his own servants. But in the midst of all this darkness, a feint glimmer of light appeared in the form of Josiah, the son of Amon. It is as if God allows us to see that all is not lost. Not everyone has turned their back on Him. His people are not a completely lost cause. Amazingly, in spite of a heritage of wickedness and a family history of idolatry, Josiah manages to maintain a right relationship with God. Early in his reign, we see a marked difference in his leadership style. Rather than build high places and erect altars to false gods, Josiah begins an aggressive restoration campaign, beginning with the much-neglected temple. In the midst of the repairs, a copy of the Book of the Law is found. More than likely, this is referring to the book of Deuteronomy and its recovery was to have a significant impact on the life of Josiah.

What does this passage reveal about God?

Regardless of the efforts of a long line of kings to eliminate or simply dilute the worship of God, He continued to have an influence over their lives. While Manasseh was busy erecting idols to false gods in the temple, God had not forgotten His promise: “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever” (2 Kings 21:7 ESV). God had not yet abandoned His people. In spite of all their sin against Him, He had remained in their midst. He had remained faithful even though they had refused to keep His commands or live according to His laws. But the day was coming when God would no longer put up with Israel’s unfaithfulness. He warned Mannaseh, “I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle” (2 Kings 21:12 ESV). “I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies” (2 Kings 21:14 ESV). God would not tolerate their rebellion forever. It was a matter of the holiness of His own name. It was about His own reputation. God had placed His name on the city of Jerusalem and the temple itself. The one thing that set the people of Israel apart from all the other nations was the name of God – His reputation among the nations as revealed by His abiding presence and power among the Israelites. Rather than live for God and honor His name, the people of Israel had repeatedly discredited His name by their sinful actions. They had harmed His reputation by their immoral behavior. And the day was quickly approaching when God would say, “Enough is enough!”

What does this passage reveal about man?

But Josiah shows us that their is always hope. The darkness can never fully eliminate the light. This one man reminds us that repentance and restoration are always possible. But it requires a return to God. It necessitates a readiness to listen to the Word of God and a willingness to obey what it says. When Josiah heard the words of the book of Deuteronomy, he was was convicted. He became painfully aware of the sinfulness of the people of Israel and recognized that “great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13 ESV). But Josiah is not merely convicted, he is convinced to do something about it. He doesn’t just mourn their sin, he plans to make a difference. And while God makes it clear that His wrath is coming, He assures Josiah that he will not live to see the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He tells Josiah, “because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I have also heard you” (2 Kings 22:19 ESV). God told Josiah, “your eyes shall not see all the disaster I will bring upon this place” (2 Kings 22:20 ESV).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Even though Josiah knew that his efforts would not prevent God’s coming destruction, he would still enact a series of reforms among the people of Israel. He would still attempt to make a difference and restore the reputation of God. When the book of Deuteronomy had been read to Josiah, he not heard the warnings of God’s curses and coming wrath, he heard of God’s promise of restoration. In the latter part of Deuteronomy, it states, “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you” (Deuteronomy 30:1-3 ESV). The fate of Israel was sealed. Their unfaithfulness was going to bring God’s judgment. But God had promised that if they would only return to Him, He would restore them. Josiah had hope that his efforts at reformation might lead to their future restoration. He wanted to make sure that the people of Israel did not forget the Lord their God. He was going to do whatever it took to bring the light of God back among His people. Josiah had heard the Word of the Lord, and he wanted his people to live according to it. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV). We too, have been called by God to be His chosen people. He has called us to live holy and blameless lives in the midst of the darkness that surrounds us. We are to bear His name as His children and uphold His reputation among the nations. We must recognize our distinctiveness as His heirs and live in such a way that He receives glory and honor by our actions. Like Josiah, we must constantly seek to restore our faith in God and allow Him to reform our behavior as we live according to His Word. As His Church, we are to shine as lights in the darkness, proving that the power and presence of God is real, and that His saving work is not yet done among men.

Father, I want to be a light for Your glory as I live in the darkness of this world. Don’t let me give in to the darkness and be overwhelmed by it, but allow me to shine brightly for Your sake and the reputation of Your name. You are far from done yet. Your divine plan is not yet fulfilled for this nation. May we continue to act as reformers and restorers for as long as You give us energy to do so. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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