Josiah – Did GOOD in God’s Eyes

A reading of First and Second Kings reveals a pattern in which there is a king that does good followed by a slippery slope of kings that fall away until a king comes along that is moved in some way to “Right the Kingdom.” Josiah is one of those kings. Read through 2 Kings 22 tells how Josiah came to hear the scrolls of the law. Verse 11 (CEB) reads, “As soon as the king heard what the Instruction Scroll said, he ripped his clothes.” As I picture this I think back to a TV show I watched when I was young. This might date me a bit, but what is age other than a number. The Incredible Hulk as a TV show and of course now with the movie being made we see man who tries to be level headed and when his anger gets too high he turns into what some might call a monster, but the story goes that he fixes the immediate injustice. When the king tears his robe I get this picture of the transforming Hulk in my mind. Josiah began by having the temple cleaned up and it was then that the “Instruction Scroll”, as the CEB puts it (Torah would be the Hebrew word), was found and taken up and read to King Josiah. Hearing the Torah he realized the ways of the Nation of Israel were off the charts, no tin the right way either. The next move is to go to the priest and a prophetess who tells them God’s anger burned against the people of Israel. Then because Josiah’s heart was broken and he submitted himself the disaster God had been planning was put on hold. (My interpretation) 

Josiah was transformed by the reading of God’s word. There is power in the Bible we have today. While we may have a hard time with an angry God as sometimes portrayed in the Old Testament, eg. “God’s anger burns” if we step back and really take the whole story in God, like a parent instructing and disciplining a child, God is LOVE in its purest form.

What are your pictures of God? Is God like a police officer setting a trap so we can be caught and punished? Is God a “My way or the highway controlling God? I would be interested in your pictures of God. Please share them with me and enter into the dialogue by responding to this post.

Encountering God…

There is a plethora of ways to say the same thing. The hope is that through the next few weeks, maybe months, I am planing on blogging about something I am reading, have read and Scripture that was either brought in by the author or one my mind related back to.

Books I am reading? There is quite a list I am in the middle of. The one that will probably be the most influential for this blog for a while will be The Fire of the Word by Chris Webb. Other books I am currently reading in no particular order include, A New Kind of Christianity (Brian McLaren) Death by Meeting (Patrick Lencioni) Breathing Underwater (Richard Rohr), Renovation of the Heart (Dallas Willard) and Letters From The Desert (Carlo Carretto)

When I was back in Texas working with the Wednesday Gladness kids in T-town, I felt a sense that God wanted to connect to those kids spiritually. God wants them to know church is about an encounter with the Living God of the Bible. I continually wondered and prayed, God how? How can I reach these kids to give them that spiritual connection they need and you desire?

Today’s Encounter with God is from the book of 1 Samuel. In Chapter 3 we learn some great stuff. So grab a Bible and look up 1 Samuel 3:1-10.  It is the ninth book of the Old Testament and check it out. While Moses is assumed to be 80 when he met God at a bush that would not be consumed, (see yesterday’s post) Samuel was still quite young. The first couple chapters of the book (1 Samuel) tell of Hannah, Samuel’s Mother and her struggle with infertility. In some ways I can hear and have felt Hannah’s cry myself as my wife and I have not been able to have children. Our society today looks upon childless parents way different than they did back then. Maybe it is because we have science to say why this doesn’t happen, but never the less there is a sense of loss for a couple trying to have children and never having the privilege. (YES IT IS A PRIVILEGE!!)

Anyway, back to Samuel, who is living in the Temple. There are three statements I would like to point out from the New Living Translation (NLT).

  1. “Messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.” (Verse 1)
  2. “The Lamp of God had not yet gone out.” (Verse 3a)
  3. “Samuel did not know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before.” (Verse 7)

Messages from the Lord were rare… I have had that feeling at times about this day and age. Maybe it is because when someone says, “I have heard from the Lord…” we close our ears and run the other way, often with good reason. There are many examples I can give. Remember a couple years ago when the world was going to end in March then it was October? What about “Heaven’s Gate” and “Jonestown”? What about the parent who is told to sacrifice their child(ren)? To many the idea of prophesying, literally speaking of the future in the present time concerning what God is up to or going to do, is a bunch of hooey. Is the voice of God not heard anymore? Are there no prophetical utterances or visions happening in the world today? I believe there are. Yes, I believe there are!! I believe God is calling out to us in many ways. There is no one way in which God speaks to us. Moses saw a burning bush while Samuel heard God’s voice as he kept watch ensuring that the Lamp of God did not go out.

The Lamp of God is lit and while there are definitely times when it is dimmer than others, the light always conquers the darkness. John wrote in 1 John 1:5 “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” and 1 John 2:8, “…For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.” I believe that when we love God with our heart, mind, soul and strength and our neighbor as ourself the Lamp of God is lit and getting brighter.

Can you imagine living and growing up in the Temple and not knowing God? It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Many today have been attending church all their lives and have yet to have a personal relationship with God. I know, I was one for a long time. In fact there are still areas I am working on. There are places in my life that I resist allowing God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in. The question of being born again as described in John 3: 1-8 is a real question, though often misused or abused in some form or fashion. Many have gone through the motions and been baptized, made a profession of faith, yet there is still something not there. Have you encountered God in a real tangible way? Have you been discouraged because you have not felt or experienced God’s presence? We each encounter God in a unique way and in God’s time. 

One last thought. As I look at the overarching theme of the Bible, I see God loving and calling humanity to be in a relationship. God has never given up on humanity, if God had the Lamp would have been blown out. God called Samuel and many people heard again a word from the Lord and were given a vision because of one young man who listened to God’s voice. I am amazed at the stories I have heard from people that heard God speak through me. I am humbled by it. For those who are struggling, wondering if anyone is listening, God is moving and moves best through people who will share the love of God.

Meeting God

The story of Moses found in Exodus is one I find very interesting. The idea of meeting God is daunting to many, including me. I am not out running around trying to avoid God necessarily, but I often do not pay enough attention to see a bush that is on fire without being consumed. I have sat around many fire rings in Texas or out camping. I have even had a small fire at the fire ring we have at the parsonage where Linda and I sat around enjoying the night air. I would have used the word brisk, but with the current cold spell sweeping the nation 55 degrees would be a heat wave for many. I have never seen wood not burn up, unless it is one of the gas fireplace logs, but they are not made of wood.

I feel I have heard God’s voice on a couple different occasions, unless of course it was the voices in my head screaming so loud that I heard them through my ears. When I was young I was sitting in the garage of the house we lived in Flagstaff, Arizona I did hear a voice that told me that God had great plans for me. I really wasn’t interested because I was trying to get a bike modified so I could go faster. In fact I remember telling God that I would listen if he would just make the parts I was working with fit together. Well, that never happened. In the Story of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3) Moses checks out the burning bush that is not being consumed and God stops him from coming closer telling him he is standing on Holy Ground. I never heard that I was on Holy Ground, but just as Moses I had plenty of reasons why God’s plan wouldn’t work, mostly having to do with my lack of ability. In all honesty I never thought about whether it was possible with God or not. I do not recall the details of what God’s plan was when I heard his voice, I did not listen, I had better things to do at that moment.

God told Moses he had seen his people, heard their cry, and that God knows their pain. We can easily look at our world today and wonder if God is not looking anymore. There are so many injustices, there are so many crying out and in pain. Is God listening?

While I like to think God could change everything in with a snap of the Holy Fingers, it doesn’t seem to work that way. God changes people and the injustice of the world through people who are willing to stop their routine day (whatever that is) and seek an encounter with God; those who are paying enough attention to see a bush burning, but not being consumed. In the story of Moses and his encounter with God at the burning bush God tells Moses that God has seen the oppression of the people, heard their cries of injustice, and knows their pain. Then God tells Moses that I am sending you. When we see oppression, injustice and pain in the world could that be our burning bush that is not being consumed? Could God be calling the church to respond? Is the church like Moses some days, more willing to give reasons why WE can’t do what God is wanting to do through us? Something to think about.