Today I wouldn’t be shocked, but I was then. I was committing my life to the organized church as an expression of living out the Christian life. I haven’t changed my mind! The church is the primary means for the gathering of the Christian community. The church is where spiritual gifts are practiced, believers go into the world, The church is God’s idea for the purpose of loving one another, learning who Jesus is, encouraging one another, accountability…. The mission of the church is still to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others and to provide a place where disciples gather to serve Christ by serving others.
Josiah is today’s King ~ grandson of Manasseh from last Sunday’s message. God’s imperfect family is the series…. There is little about the king between Manasseh and Josiah ~ only reigned two years. READ 2 Chron. 33:23. So sad, a lost soul…
Today, with Josiah, I highlight a theme that makes a wonderful description of what it means to follow God/Jesus Christ, to be a sinner in need of grace, but also an obedient servant putting into practice the disciplines of the faith. A great phrase describing the two sides of the coin: “A Beautiful Contradiction.” …
The N.T. has a summary verse describing so well the Beautiful Contradiction: 1 John 2:1-2 READ. Don’t sin… but when you do, there is a way out… It’s a beautiful contradiction. This describes the Chritian life in a most profound way:
- live in obedience to Jesus Christ in every way possible, serve him with a sincere heart, be a disciple learning and growing in your faith, practice the disciples of prayer, going to church, reading your Bible, meditation, service, public and private worship and so much more.
- But when you fall short of being perfectly obedient, there is a way out through the grace of Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice on the cross. He took your place.
I am guessing one of the inspirations to Josiah was King Solomon, who reigned about 350 years before Josiah. Solomon builds the original temple. Josiah rebuilds the temple of Solomon. Solomon follows God’s instructions in great detail when he built the the original temple. With great ceremony he brings the ark into the temple. After the “t” is crossed and the “I” is dotted on the temple, God says in 2 Chron. 7:11-12, READ. There is the obedience. If God stopped here you’d think all you need to do is live in obedience to God and all will be well. “Do not sin” sounds simple enough. Do everything God asks you to do and God will be pleased. Then God seems to contradict himself. READ 2 Chron. 7:14. IF all we had is 7:14, we might wonder why God bothered with the temple? The sacrifices?
The call to humility and prayer comes out of obedience to God as a way of life. It’s a beautiful contradiction that is not a contradiction at all, if both sides are kept ~ commit your life to following God, his commandments, his ways, but when you fail, he’ll provide a way out through Jesus Christ.
King Josiah committed himself to a life of obedience to God, yet salvation comes through a spirit of humility.
According to 2 Chron. 34:1, he is 8 when he is appointed King. His father Amon, was such an evil King his officials killed him after 2 years. They thought Amon’s 8 year old son would make a better king! Josiah is king 31 years. At the age of 16, Josiah “began to seek the God of his father David” and begins a series of reforms. Underline the word SEEK… Many committed Christians first begin to seek God in their youth...
2 Chron. 34 details Josiah destroying places of pagan worship as he seeks to obey God. He restores the temple of Solomon. READ 2 Chron. 34:8. The following verses describe the process of working on the temple, paying for it….Then a surprise: While working on the temple, they discover the long lost Book of the Law, or the Bible as they knew it up to that time. READ 2 Chron. 34:14-15, 18.
God’s Word impacts Josiah’s faith... READ 2 Chron. 34:19-21. Josiah has been dutiful in his reforms, and now when he discovers the Word of God he instantly responds with his heart declaring the people of God have been disobedient. Josiah could have prided himself for his reestablishment of the temple, but the Word of God makes clear obedience by itself is nothing. Josiah’s life is a beautiful contradiction ~~ he is obedient, establishing proper worship practices, but ultimately it is about a forgiven heart. God accepts the faithfulness of Josiah and commends him: READ 2 Chron. 34:26b-27.
Can you imagine discovering the Bible for the first time in generations? For Josiah, “the law” may have been Dueteronomy… in one of the great O.T. scenes, the King gathers the people together and reads the entirety of the Word of God. READ 2 Chron. 34:30-31. The message of the Word of God is about the heart and obedience.
Josiah’s obedience continues as he reinstitutes the greatest feast of the nation, the Passover, symbolic of the renewed commitment to the Lord. For us, the equivalent is the Lord’s Supper... The Passover and the Lord’s supper are symbolic of Christ’s death… 2 Chron. 35:18-19 puts the celebration in perspective. READ.
Josiah is obedient, yet he is humble and repentant: a beautiful contradiction. The story of Josiah ends with his death in battle (2 Chron. 35:20-27) and the lament of the people. Josiah lives when the power of Assyria is waning. Egypt is rising. Egypt is not too long on the world’s stage before Babylon rises I power. Babylon defeats Judah a few years after Josiah’s death. For Josiah, in spite of a world in turmoil, the people of God are given one more opportunity to turn back to God. Revival comes during Josiah’s life. Josiah is a faithful servant of God, obeying him with his actions and humbly going before God knowing perfect obedience is impossible ~ a beautiful contradiction.
Today, we need Christians who live a beautiful contradiction ~ obedience and grace.
People have been trying to convince me for decades the church is not relevant and all we need is Jesus. “I don’t need the church” I was told as a young pastor, “because I know where I’m going.” I love the church. I love the people… Josiah was called by God to transform the temple, the church of his day, and the Jewish traditions. God did not call him to level the temple and build a golf course so people could worship God in nature apart from the people of God. A life of Obedience is not only joining the church. Josiah also discovered the Bible and he re-instituted sacred practices. When God saves us through the blood of Christ, he is calling us to be transformed into obedient servants. That’s why reformation is desperately needed, not only by joining other Christians in the church, but bible reading, celebration of worship, communion, prayer, sharing the good news, other spiritual disciplines that focus us on God. A lot of people love the grace part of Christianity, but they reject discipleship. There are also Christians who think their practice of the obedient part makes them better than others.
Live the life of the beautiful contradiction: commit your life to God by becoming a disciple of Christ ready to do His will, AND cling to the cross to secure salvation through Christ. “Love Jesus but hate the church” is not an attitude that would please Jesus. I’m ready to see revival as more people commit themselves to a life of obedience by adopting the great disciplines of the faith, including belonging to a church, bible reading, worship and more, which spotlights a life in Christ Jesus who died on the cross so that our sins are forgiven. Amen.