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May 22 Today’s Reading: 2 Chronicles 35-Ezra 1
Restoring the Worship of God
2 Chronicles 34:8
What a timely reading we have before us in these chapters! Everything here speaks to us about the great need of our day. May God the Holy Spirit inscribe the message of these chapters upon our hearts. In the eighteenth year of his reign good King Josiah began “to repair the house of the Lord his God.”
Someone once said, “We ought to take a big, black paint brush and paint ‘Ichabod’ (the glory of God has departed) on the door of the church in this age.” God has done just that. The most proper and fitting name for the professed church of this day is “Ichabod”! The glory of God has departed from it. That was exactly the situation in Judah in Josiah’s day.
Both Israel and Judah had departed from the true worship of God. The temple was deserted and laid in ruins. Evil kings had reigned, and covetous priests and prophets had led the people into all forms of idolatry, turning the hearts of Israel and Judah away from the living God.
Then this young man, Josiah, was made king. They crowned him king of Judah when he was just eight years old. When he was sixteen years old, he “began to seek after the God of David.” And when he was twenty years old, Josiah began purging idolatry from Judah and Jerusalem, destroying the idols, the groves, the priests, and the sodomites, whose numbers are always multiplied by idolatry. By the time he was twenty-six years old, he had purged the land of idolatry and began “to repair the house of the Lord his God.” Josiah was determined to follow the God of his fathers. He was determined to restore the worship of God in his day.
Josiah ordered the idols to be destroyed and the reprobate priests to be put to death. He sent word for the temple to be cleaned out and the worship of God to be restored.
While they were cleaning out the temple, Hilkiah the priest found a Book, a most important Book. This was the Word of God written by Moses. This Book was “the Book of the law of the Lord God given by Moses.” Hilkiah the priest found the Book, the Word of God, dusted it off and brought the Word of God to the young king Josiah. Hilkiah the priest and Shaphan the scribe brought this Book, the Word of God, to this young king Josiah.
He had never read the Word of God. He had never even heard anyone read it. — “And it came to pass when the king heard the words of the Lord,” when they read the Scriptures to him, “he rent his clothes.” Then he said to the priest, “Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great [is] the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book”
It must be acknowledged, it must be confessed, — “Our fathers and our church leaders have not taught, nor preached the words of this Book.” The religion of this age (I’m talking about professed Christianity!) no more resembles New Testament Christianity and the church of the New Testament than a brothel resembles chastity! The churches, preachers, and religious leaders of this age have neglected the Word of the Lord. What God has written has been lost and ignored in all the ceremonies of religion, in all of the customs and rituals and traditions. The entertainment and foolishness that go on in the name of religion today would make the prophets of Baal blush with shame. The most contemptible thing in this apostate religious world is its religion! You know that and I know it.
Our Lord said, “God is Spirit and they who worship him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” Will we ever return in our churches to the worship of God? Today, preaching the Gospel and preaching the Word of God has been literally pushed aside to make room for every imaginable thing. Will we ever return in our churches to the worship of God? — Only if the Lord God is pleased to restore the preaching of the gospel and pour out his Spirit upon us.
When they do get around to talking about God, the Lord Jesus, the Spirit of God, or salvation, or grace, or righteousness, everything taught in freewill/works religion is contrary to the Book of God. Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11 and Galatians 1 that men will come preaching another Jesus. They will come preaching another spirit and another gospel. And the preachers of this day preach another god, another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel. Most of what is going on today in the name of God is another gospel. It is another spirit and it is another Jesus. It is not the gospel of God’s grace and mercy at all. It is not glorifying to God and it is not exalting to our Lord Jesus Christ. As a result almost everyone you know is religious, but virtually no one knows Christ!
That which passes for worship today is not the worship of God; and that which passes for the gospel is not the gospel of God. May God give us the wisdom, boldness, and grace in our day that he gave to King Josiah to repair the house of God and restore the worship of God.