May 18, 2015

II Kings 22-23
Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem... He lived the way God wanted. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to either left or right.

One day in the eighteenth year of his kingship, King Josiah sent the royal secretary Shaphan, to The Temple of God with instructions: “Go to Hilkiah the high priest and have him count the money that has been brought to The Temple of God that the doormen have collected from the people. Have them turn it over to the foremen who are managing the work on The Temple of God so they can pay the workers who are repairing God’s Temple, all the carpenters, construction workers, and masons. Also, authorize them to buy the lumber and dressed stone for The Temple repairs. You don’t need to get a receipt for the money you give them—they’re all honest men.”

The high priest Hilkiah reported to Shaphan the royal secretary, “I’ve just found the Book of God’s Revelation, instructing us in God’s ways. I found it in The Temple!” He gave it to Shaphan and Shaphan read it....Then Shaphan the royal secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest gave me a book.” Shaphan proceeded to read it to the king.  When the king heard what was written in the book, God’s Revelation, he ripped his robes in dismay.  And then he called for Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal aide. He ordered them all: “Go and pray to God for me and for this people—for all Judah! Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been found! God’s anger must be burning furiously against us—our ancestors haven’t obeyed a thing written in this book, followed none of the instructions directed to us.”

Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went straight to Huldah the prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum, who was in charge of the palace wardrobe....The five men consulted with her. In response to them she said, “God’s word, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you here that I’m on my way to bring the doom of judgment on this place and this people. Every word written in the book read by the king of Judah will happen. And why? Because they’ve deserted me and taken up with other gods, made me thoroughly angry by setting up their god-making businesses. My anger is raging white-hot against this place and nobody is going to put it out.

“And also tell the king of Judah, since he sent you to ask God for direction; tell him this, God’s comment on what he read in the book: ‘Because you took seriously the doom of judgment I spoke against this place and people, and because you responded in humble repentance, tearing your robe in dismay and weeping before me, I’m taking you seriously. God’s word: I’ll take care of you. You’ll have a quiet death and be buried in peace. You won’t be around to see the doom that I’m going to bring upon this place.’”....

The king acted immediately, assembling all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. Then the king proceeded to The Temple of God, bringing everyone in his train—priests and prophets and people ranging from the famous to the unknown. Then he read out publicly everything written in the Book of the Covenant that was found in The Temple of God. The king stood by the pillar and before God solemnly committed them all to the covenant: to follow God believingly and obediently; to follow his instructions, heart and soul, on what to believe and do; to put into practice the entire covenant, all that was written in the book. The people stood in affirmation; their commitment was unanimous.

Then the king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, his associate priest, and The Temple sentries to clean house—to get rid of everything in The Temple of God that had been made for worshiping Baal and Asherah and the cosmic powers... Then Josiah demolished the Topheth, the iron furnace griddle set up in the Valley of Ben Hinnom for sacrificing children in the fire. No longer could anyone burn son or daughter to the god Molech. He hauled off the horse statues honoring the sun god that the kings of Judah had set up near the entrance to The Temple.... The king smashed all the altars to smithereens—the altar on the roof shrine of Ahaz, the various altars the kings of Judah had made, the altars of Manasseh that littered the courtyard of The Temple—he smashed them all, pulverized the fragments, and scattered their dust in the Valley of Kidron....The king proceeded to make a clean sweep of all the sex-and-religion shrines that had proliferated east of Jerusalem on the south slope of Abomination Hill, the ones Solomon king of Israel had built to the obscene Sidonian sex goddess Ashtoreth,... Next, he took care of the altar at the shrine in Bethel that Jeroboam son of Nebat had built—the same Jeroboam who had led Israel into a life of sin.... 

As Josiah looked over the scene, he noticed the tombs on the hillside. He ordered the bones removed from the tombs and had them cremated on the ruined altars, desacralizing the evil altars. This was a fulfillment of the word of God spoken by the Holy Man years before when Jeroboam had stood by the altar at the sacred convocation....

But Josiah hadn’t finished. He now moved through all the towns of Samaria where the kings of Israel had built neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines, shrines that had so angered God. He tore the shrines down and left them in ruins—just as at Bethel. He killed all the priests who had conducted the sacrifices and cremated them on their own altars, thus desacralizing the altars. Only then did Josiah return to Jerusalem.

The king now commanded the people, “Celebrate the Passover to God, your God, exactly as directed in this Book of the Covenant.”  This commanded Passover had not been celebrated since the days that the judges judged Israel—none of the kings of Israel and Judah had celebrated it. But in the eighteenth year of the rule of King Josiah this very Passover was celebrated to God in Jerusalem...

There was no king to compare with Josiah—neither before nor after—a king who turned in total and repentant obedience to God, heart and mind and strength, following the instructions revealed to and written by Moses. The world would never again see a king like Josiah.  But despite Josiah, God’s hot anger did not cool; the raging anger ignited by Manasseh burned unchecked. And God, not swerving in his judgment, gave sentence: “I’ll remove Judah from my presence in the same way I removed Israel. I’ll turn my back on this city, Jerusalem, that I chose, and even from this Temple of which I said, ‘My Name lives here.’”...

Josiah’s death came about when Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt marched out to join forces with the king of Assyria at the Euphrates River. When King Josiah intercepted him at the Plain of Megiddo, Neco killed him. Josiah’s servants took his body in a chariot, returned him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. By popular choice Jehoahaz son of Josiah was anointed and succeeded his father as king.

Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to rule. He was king in Jerusalem for a mere three months.... In God’s opinion, he was an evil king, reverting to the evil ways of his ancestors.  Pharaoh Neco captured Jehoahaz at Riblah in the country of Hamath and put him in chains, preventing him from ruling in Jerusalem.... Then Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah the successor to Josiah, but changed his name to Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was carted off to Egypt and eventually died there.  Meanwhile Jehoiakim, like a good puppet, dutifully paid out the silver and gold demanded by Pharaoh. He scraped up the money by gouging the people, making everyone pay an assessed tax.

Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to rule; he was king for eleven years in Jerusalem.... In God’s opinion he was an evil king, picking up on the evil ways of his ancestors.

Luke 3
In the 15th year of the rule of Caesar Tiberius--it was while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod, ruler of Galilee, ...during the Chief Priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas---John, Zachariah’s son, out in the desert at the time, received a message from God.  He went all through the country around the Jordan river preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet...

When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes!...It’s your life that must change, not your skin.  And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as father.  Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there...What counts is your life.  Is it green and blossoming?  Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.”  The crowd asked him, “Then what are we suppose to do?”   “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said, “Do the same with your food.”

The interest of the people by now was building.  They were all beginning to wonder, “Could this John be the Messiah?”  But John intervened, I’m baptizing you here in the river.  The main character in this drama to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you changing you from the inside out...  He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God, everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.  

There was a lot more of this---words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them.  The Message!  But Herod, stung by John’s rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage:  He put John in jail.  

After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized... Along with the Holy Spirit descending on him came a voice:  “You are my Son, chose and marked by my love, pride of my life.

When Jesus entered public life, he was about 30 yrs. old, the son (in the public perception) of Joseph who was son of: 
Heli, Matthat, Levi, Melki, Jannai, Joseph, Mattathias, Amos, Nahum,Esli,
Naggai, Maath, Mattathias, Semein, Josech, Joda, Joanan, Rhesa, Zerubbabel, Shealtiel,
Neri, Melchi, Addi, Cosam, Elmadam, Er, Joshua, Eliezer, Jorim, Matthar
Levi, Simeom, Judah, Joseph, Jonam, Eliakim, Melea, Menna, Mattatha, Nathan, 
DAVID
Jessie, Obed, Boaz, Salmon, Nahshon, Amminadab, Admin, Arni, Hezron, Perez,
Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Terah, Nahor, Serug, Reu, Peleg, Eber,
Shelah, Kenan, Arphazad, Shem, Noah, Lamech, Methuselah, Enoch, Jared, Mahalaleel,
Kenan, Enos, Seth, Adam, &
GOD