June 11, 2023 . . .“The Bible’s Children: Josiah” II Kings 22:1-2

June 11, 2023 . . .“The Bible’s Children: Josiah” II Kings 22:1-2

June 11, 2023

“The Bible’s Children: Josiah”

II Kings 22:1-2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

A little over a hundred and fifty years ago, back in 1865, author Mary Mapes Dodge wrote a book called Hans Brinker; or, The Silver Skates. And in that book, she told the story about a boy named Hans and his little brother who were playing by a dike.

You see, they lived in the Netherlands where much of the land is well below sea level. (That is, by the way, how the country got its name--“the Netherlands,” means the “lower lands”). So since the land is down here and the water is up here, the country’s surrounded by a series of dikes to help keep the water out.

And as the story goes, suddenly, the little brother called out, “Oh, what a funny little hole! It bubbles!”

“Hole? Where?” said Hans.

“Here in the bank,” said his little brother. “Water is in it!”

“What?!” said Hans, as he slid down as fast as he could.

And there he saw the tiniest little hole in the bank. Slowly a drop of water bubbled through, followed by another and still another.

“It’s a hole in the dike!” cried Hans. “What shall we do?”

And looking all around, without any house or person in sight, Hans knew that, if he did nothing, the water would break through the dike and flood the entire town. So he stuck his finger in the hole and said to his little brother, “Run! Go to the town and tell the men there’s a hole in the dike!”

So off he ran as fast as his little legs could carry him.

But as time passed and he waited for his brother to return, his arm began to ache and his hand felt very numb, for the water was very cold. And as he held his ear up against the wall, he could hear the sound of the great North Sea crashing and churning on the other side of the wall. And it seemed to say, “I am the great sea. No one can stand against me. What are you, a little child, that you try to keep me out? Beware! Beware!”

But as his heart beat fast and heavy, Hans knew that, if he pulled his finger out, the water would break down the dike and the sea would flood all the land and all the homes. So he held his finger in tighter than ever.

“You shall not come through!” he whispered. “I will not run!”

And that’s when he heard a far-off shout. The men were coming! At last, they were coming, with pickaxes and shovels. And when they came and saw Hans with his pale face and his finger stuck tight in the dike, they let out a great cheer. Then they mended the dike, carried him home on their shoulders, and called him a hero.

And to this day, the people of that city tell the story of how a little boy once saved the dike.

Much like that little boy with his finger in the dike, so was another boy whose name was Josiah. I’ll read the words of II Kings chapter 22: “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. 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” (II Kings 22:1-2).

Let me take you back in time to about six hundred years before Christ. King David had already lived and died, and so did his son, Solomon, some three hundred years before. And just as soon as they died, a civil war broke out between the kingdom of Israel in the north and the kingdom of Judah in the south. And from that point on, life would never be the same.

Even worse, since the northern kingdom, Israel, had fallen so far from God, God sent another kingdom, the Assyrians, to judge them and punish them. So in 722 B.C., the kingdom of Israel was suddenly no more. Either killed or captured, the people were taken far to the northeast to Assyria, never to be seen or heard from again.

Now you’d think that such a stunning judgment from God would sober the last remaining remnant of the Hebrew people, that such grave consequences would strike fear into the hearts of the people, causing them to repent and return to God’s will and ways.

But that didn’t happen at all! In fact, as the years passed, Judah sank only deeper and deeper into sin. And no matter what the prophets said or did, all of it fell on deaf ears. Instead, the people grew even worse than they ever had been before.

Which takes us to a king whose name was Manasseh.

So what kind of king was Manasseh? To put it mildly, he was about as bad as bad could be. As it says in II Kings chapter 21: “And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel” (II Kings 21:2).

So what all did he do? Just use your imagination! Not only did he build altars to foreign gods, he used wizards, witches, and magicians to foretell the future. He even burned his own son to death (II Kings 21:6)! And if all that wasn’t bad enough, the Bible says he killed so many innocent people, he filled Jerusalem from one end to another with their blood (II Kings 21:16).

Finally, after fifty-five terrible, horrible years, he died, leaving his son Amon to reign as king.

But he wasn’t any better. As a matter of fact, he was so bad that, two years later, his servants had put up with about all they could take. They had already endured his father, the evil Manasseh, for fifty-five years, and now they had to deal with him. And enough was enough. So they plotted together and killed him (II Kings 21:23).

So now who would be king? The next in line was none other than our child for today, a boy named Josiah. As the Bible says in II Kings chapter 22: “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem” (II Kings 22:1).

Which, if you don’t mind me saying, is pretty amazing! I mean, think about it. Now I don’t know what you were doing when you were in third grade, but imagine what it would be like to become President of the United States! But that’s exactly what happened to Josiah.

And let me tell you, before him was an absolute mess! Since his grandfather was evil and his father was too, he had absolutely no godly model, no good example to follow. Even worse, the world around him was a mess, and his own nation was spinning out of control, headed directly for the judgment of God. What possible difference could some eight-year-old boy make in such dire and despicable conditions?

You’d be surprised for, wonder of wonders, God would use him to turn his entire nation around.

So what did he do? The Bible says, “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” (II Kings 22:2).

First, he brought his people back to the Bible, back to the Word of the Lord. Then he and his people promised to obey the Word of the Lord.

Then he got to work. He chased out all the wicked priests, the wizards, witches, and magicians, and he tore down all the idols and all the altars of all the foreign gods. Then he smashed them, burned them, ground them up, then dumped them into the ground.

And when he was done, as the Bible says: “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him” (II Kings 23:25).

Or as another translation puts it: “There had never been a king like him before, who served the Lord with all his heart, mind, and strength, obeying all the Law of Moses, nor has there been a king like him since.”

Much like Josiah’s world, we too are at war with the world around us.

For example, seven years ago, back in June of 2016, author Mary Eberstadt wrote an article for Time magazine entitled Religious Freedom and Its Enemies. And she should know. She had already written two books: It’s Dangerous to Believe and How the West Really Lost God.

And in that article, she said that traditional American Christians have long been on the losing end of culture--on school prayer, same-sex marriage, and whatever else. And in recent history, it’s grown only worse.

Ever heard of Jack Phillips? He owns and operates a business called Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. Apparently, he’s one of the absolute best cake decorators in the state of Colorado, making custom-designed cakes for all people of all kinds.

But there are certain cakes he will not make, as in Halloween cakes, cakes that advocate drug use, or cakes that belittle somebody else. He is, after all, a Christian.

So in 2012, when two men asked for a same-sex wedding cake, or in 2017, when another man asked for a “transition cake” (that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside), or the same man asked for a cake with Satan smoking marijuana, he said no. As of January of this year, his cases were still tied up in court.

Or how about Walter Tutka? He’s a substitute teacher in Phillipsburg, New Jersey who also happens to be a member of Gideons International.

Apparently, back in 2017, he said to a student who was last in line, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” When the student asked where that phrase came from, Tutka said, “The Bible.” Then he took out his copy of the New Testament and showed him. And when the student said he didn’t have a Bible, Tutka gave him his.

So how did it all end? Let’s just say that, after five years of litigation and negotiation, he was finally allowed to return to the Phillipsburg School District as a substitute teacher.

And one more, a coach named Joe Kennedy.

Before he coached his very first game back in 2008, the eighteen-year Marine veteran-turned football coach promised that he would give thanks to God at the end of every game.

And sure enough, after his very first game, he took a knee on the fifty yard line and quietly thanked God for his players. Then as time passed, students asked if they could join him. And they kept joining him after every game for the next seven years. Until October of 2017, when his school district said he couldn’t do it anymore.

So how did it all end? After six years and a vote of 6-3, the United States Supreme Court said Coach Kennedy could return to the field.

Then there’s Patrick Henry, the one who said, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

But do you know what else he said, or rather, what he wrote? He wrote in the pages of his Bible: “I’m a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator, and I hope to the pure doctrines of Jesus also.”

Today, more than ever, we need to not only know Christ, but to make Him known. He’s help for the helpless, hope for the hopeless, and the peace that the world cannot give. As missionary Jim Elliot once said: “Oh that God would make us dangerous.”

Or as Paul once wrote to the Romans: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

We pray, dear Father, for the strength and the courage to stand in difficult, troubling times. Help us to shine Your light, that many more may come to know You as both Savior and Lord. This we ask for Jesus’ sake. Amen