Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Next to David himself, the greatest king to sit on his throne was Josiah, the last of all the good kings. He sought to undo the evil that his father Amon and grandfather Manasseh had done: he destroyed the pagan altars; cleaned wicked idols out the Temple, including the pagan prostitutes (yes, that was the nature of the paganism practiced by the people of God!); and he even executed the pagan priests. "Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him" (2 Kings 23:25).
But his reformation was imposed by his royal authority: "The king commanded all the people, saying, 'Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant'" (vs. 21). The Good News Bible renders it, he "ordered" them to do it. It was very good, but obedience based on royal authority is only temporary. When his 23 year old son Jehoahaz suddenly succeeded him, immediately "he did evil in the sight of the Lord" (vs. 32), and guess what? The fickle people followed him in that evil!
In 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles the Bible vividly portrays the nature of Old Covenant revivals, just as they are even today. Spectacular results--but only for a brief time. All egocentric motivation is Old Covenant in principle. The New Covenant motivation is based on freedom, a heart response to the love (agape) of Christ that "constrains" to willing service to Him, not imposed by fear of punishment or even by hope of reward.
The people of God at Mount Sinai rejected the glorious New Covenant God wanted them to appreciate (Ex. 19:4-6), and fastened upon themselves the bondage of the Old Covenant (vs. 8). It marked their history ever after. King Josiah ended his days rejecting the living voice of the Spirit of Prophecy because it came from an unexpected source (2 Chron. 35:20-25). A sobering lesson!
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 23, 2001.
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