Friday, November 20, 2015

“Josiah's Reform”

Insight #8 November 21, 2015
Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Josiah's Reform"
For the week of November 21, 2015
Our lesson this week opens to us the truth of God's heart, that we make choices that honor and please Him, and that respond to His Good News of Salvation obtained for all mankind with a heart belief that results in receptivity to the entirety of the gift, including the work of the Holy Spirit bringing to us the righteousness of Christ in our daily lives, which is the ultimate hope of God, that mankind is restored back to the image of God.
2 Kings 23:25  "And like unto him was there no king before him, that 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; neither after him arose there any like him."
The memory text for the week shows that one of the kings of Israel, using free will, chose to do what "was right in the sight of the Lord."  God warns us of the dangers of making wrong choices, as well as the possibility to repent from wrong choices and reenter back into right relationship with Him.  When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience.  Desire of Ages, p 668.  God wants us to see in His redemptive act for an undeserving race the love that surpasses all, and "love because He first loved us." John 14:15.  "If you love me, keep my commandments."  God draws us to Him in everlasting love and kindness (Jeremiah 31:3) and leads us, if we do not resist, to the cross to see the incredible unconditional love demonstrated there for all, and urges us to fall in love with Jesus.  In the parable of the Eleventh Hour Worker, we learn that God will accept and forgive anyone, at any stage of their life, if they would respond to His love. 
The Reigns of Manasseh and Amon of course is revelatory of times in the history of Israel in which great apostasy and evil occurred.  The Good News is that King Manasseh, after being taken captivity to Babylon, was led by the Holy Spirit to repent of his great evils and to see and restore the damage done.  The damage was greater than he had realized, and his son Amon practiced horrible idolatry after taking the throne.  Romans 1 is clear that those who do not give glory to God will be given up to idolatry in many forms; for the goodness of God leads to repentance, and salvation has appeared to all men, and if we resist that love, our hearts and minds will be hardened in sin. 

The warnings about the judgment to come in relation to enemies from the north were intended, conditionally, to bring about Israel's response of repentance.  Jeremiah 18:1-10 reveals the conditionality of God's promises and warnings, and if we turn from our sin, He will turn from the judgment He would otherwise do.  God only does what is necessary. 
2 Kings 22:1  "Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath."
2 Kings 22:2  "And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left."
A true Christian does right, because it is right, because right doing is pleasing to God.  John 17:3 says that salvation is to know God, and in the NT period, Jesus Christ whom He has sent.  Josiah had an experience which led Him to know God to the point of utmost loyalty and faithfulness.  Josiah of course worked to restore the Temple.  We may see, symbolically, that true leaders restore what the Temple represents, the Character of God and the Gospel. We are called as well, in these last days, to restore the Gospel to the truth of its Universal Justification of all mankind, a gift to be received by the act of believing in God and Christ, which will result in a heart transformation, for Justification, receive ultimately by faith in the heart of the individual, produces obedience to God and His law. 
Phil 2:5 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Phil 2:6 "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Phil 2:7 "But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Phil 2:8 "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
True revival and reformation results from recognizing the love of the Creator for those involved in the fall, and the love and obedience shown to bring about redemption for mankind.  We need leaders who will call us out of Laodicea, who will have the spiritual discernment to understand the true Gospel, and will call for others to respond to that high calling in Christ Jesus.
True reformation produces a consistency of life and behavior.  God's Gospel is linked to the Heavenly Sanctuary, in which He will write His law on the heart of every human being who is receptive through faith to the gift God has for us.  The people were warned that their senses had been so long dulled by sin that they actually needed the judgment to help ensure they never went back to the horrible idolatry and rebellion demonstrated in their worship and lives.  But even in Captivity, they would be forgiven and used by God if they were responsive to His love and leadership.  God had not withdrawn opportunities for repentance and reformation.  Josiah sought to renew their covenant relationship with God, and thus He read to them God's Law, and took action to remove the idolatrous items that had become intertwined with their worship.  The whole nation celebrated Passover, a type of "corporate repentance" and renewal to the covenant and the atoning substitutionary sacrifice it represented. 
We have examples from the times in which we live as to how low human beings can go, such as the Holocaust, the Counter Reformation, racism, and many other equally troubling examples.  It is God's desire that we both know that we are sinners; that His grace extends to all, that He is actively seeking and drawing us to Him, to accept the gift of His righteousness, obtained in the union of divinity with our fallen humanity, and to experience the intercessory and expiatory work of Christ as our High priest. 
May we all, leaders or common people, seek to have the heart of Josiah, or even the repentance heart of Manasseh. There is place in Heaven for all.

~ Pastor Thomas Cusack