2 KINGS 22:1 – 23:37 and JOHN 14:1–31
2 Kings 22
We read of the wicked rule of King Manasseh in the previous chapter. After his death his son Amon reigned for a period of two years before being slain by his own servants. The people of the land then slew the assailants of Amon and brought Josiah, the son of Amon to the throne. We pick up his rule as we look at chapter 22. Josiah is the great grandson of Hezekiah who was the last righteous king of Judah. Manasseh and Amon undermined the works of Hezekiah by allowing the kingdom to be filled with idols and abominations; the temple itself was in ruins.
Among the Kings of Judah there are three Kings who stood out; Jehosophat, Hezekiah and Josiah. King Josiah distinguished himself from the other two by having this statement said of him; “nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left”. (2 Kings 22:2, 2 Chr 34:2) He was exactly the manner of king needed for such a time in Judah’s failing condition. He came to the throne at the age of 8 but started seeking the Lord around the age of 16, 8 years after ascending to the throne (2 Chr 34:3). It was at the age of 20 when he began to purge and remove the idols from the land (2 Chr 34:3-7). It was around the age of 26 when he discovered the Book of the Law. This would be the turning point.
Josiah had already begun many reforms prior to the discovery of the Law. It was between the age of 16-26 where we see many good and right things that the King did. Once the words of the law were read to him by Shaphan the scribe he became undone. It hit him as to how far the land of Israel had turned from the Living God. The Law that Moses spoke forth over and over to Israel is resounding once again some 900 years later. The Law stated clearly what would take place if it were to be forgotten or forsaken and Josiah was living through its consequences. Josiah’s ten years of seeking the Lord have prepared him to be God’s instrument and message bearer concerning the sacredness of His laws. Josiah came to know God’s heart by the revealing of the law in contrast to the condition of the kingdom of which he had the charge.
It is interesting to note how far Israel and Judah had digressed since the time they crossed over Jordan into their inheritance. The exhortation of the Lord through Moses concerning the Law could not have been any clearer and it could not have been emphasized more than what was given. Still, it was not long before they began to violate its precepts. Joshua was faithful as were his priests as the transition to new leadership took place. There were flashes of good leadership during the reign of the Judges but the end result was a people doing their own thing (Jud 21:25). The introduction of a faithful priest, prophet and judge helped to prepare the land for a king and priest after God’s own heart. David was that King but the foundations he established quickly eroded beginning with Solomon. There were some faithful priests seen during this period such as Phineas, during the time of Balaam and Zadok who stood loyal to David and Solomon. The sons of Zadok were a priesthood that was to persevere through the reign of the kings as well as the exile throughout the time of Babylon.
We will later see a righteous priest, a man known as the second Moses come forth at the time of the Restoration era. His name is Ezra. When we consider this period of Josiah we are seeing a kingdom that has little knowledge of the laws of God as given by Moses. Josiah was a very good king who sought the Lord while bringing needed changes after the reckless rules of both Manasseh and Amon. It was at the age of 26 when he discovers the Law after his scribe and priest went to the house of the Lord for another purpose. It was here where the Law was discovered and brought to the king. I continue to be amazed at the parallels that can be drawn to our day. We need this kind of revival to come back to the church where the power of the New Covenant is expressed and realized. I personally feel that the church and many nations are currently in the place where Josiah was. There needs to be a revival, a renewing of God’s glory that needs to take place before the time of the Lord’s return.
God was moved at the response of Josiah to the Law and was given the promise that his days shall be days of peace. He will not see the judgement that God will bring upon Judah in the generation to come. He is also given the promise of being brought to the place of His Father’s at the time of his death. We should also note that this revival did not prevent Judah from being brought into captivity. This is the danger of such a move. The majority did not see this revival as a reprieve but rather a sign that there would be no carrying away into Babylon. This is the problem Jeremiah faced. He prophesied much of his message during a time of revival so many assumed that Jeremiah was off base. The same scenario is setting up today.
2 Kings 23
Josiah was used of God to totally purge the land of idolatry and any stench of previous abominations. There is a verse that pretty well sums up his mission and reputation:
2Ki 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.
Josiah gathered the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, prophets and all the people and read unto them the law of the covenant. This is a picture of what Ezra would later do with Nehemiah after the exile in Babylon. He would read from the Law causing the people to understand its meaning which would result in great conviction coming upon them (Neh 8:8-9). The work of conviction and lamenting would be so great that Ezra would then tell them to stop and allow the joy of the Lord to be their strength (Neh 8:10).
This revival (Ezra’s) would be longer lasting due to Israel having come forth from Babylon. The time of Josiah’s reign would be one of repentance but not one that would yet go to the heart. The stronghold of idolatry was still very much in them. Josiah was an exceptional king; he is the only one (post David) who turned back to the Lord with his whole heart. He put out the idolatrous priests, (vs 5) he broke down the houses of the sodomites, (vs 7) he destroyed the altars that Ahaz and Manasseh had erected, (vs 12) destroyed the high places that dated back to the days of Solomon, (vs 13) and destroyed the altars dating back to Jeroboam at Bethel. The discovery and reading of the Law had a profound impact upon Josiah. Remember, the name of Josiah was spoken to Jeroboam at the beginning of his reign (1 Kings 13:1-2). The Word of the Lord did come to pass and Josiah did exact judgement upon those very altars 360 some years later. The Word of the Lord never ceases to amaze. Josiah also removed all those who moved in the realm of familiar spirits and wizardry so that the law could go forth with clarity and understanding. Those who move in the realm of familiar spirits can bring confusion and idolatry into the church. We must be very discerning in these last days so that the true prophetic voice will come forth. There is way too much mixture in the church and it is often well disguised behind certain prophetic mantles.
Josiah’s coming to the throne is a very real picture of what will transpire in our day. The reign of Manasseh is strongly reflected in what we are seeing in nations like America today. Judgement is imminent for the many transgressions that have been committed. What did the revival under Josiah actually accomplish? It helped to prepare the nation for that which was coming, to those who had a willing ear to hear. The revival helped to give better understanding to the prophecies of Jeremiah that were very clear regarding the upcoming time of captivity. The revival also helped to put the people into one of two camps which can be clearly seen in the respective ministries of Jeremiah and Hannaniah (Jer 28). It allowed for no middle ground. This is the case today as well.
The Lord speaks to the church of Laodicea that He would rather have the people hot and all out for Him or cold against Him. There is to be no lukewarmness or middle ground (Rev 3:16). There will be two streams that will be clearly seen in the church in the last days (Rev 22:11). A Josiah type revival will help better define these two streams. The danger of such a revival is this. It can be mistaken for God’s pleasure due to the repentance that takes place which leads to the thought that God will forego judgement. This is what happened with Josiah’s revival. Jeremiah had to speak a message that was contrary to what was being seen. This is why the message of Hannaniah was more widely received. A 2 year submission to the king of Babylon sounds better than 70 doesn’t it (Jer 28:2-3, 15, 29:10)? To those who truly have ears to hear it will be to those who will be prepared and discerning of the true picture. God is not returning for a casual and indifferent bride who lives their Christian life on their terms; He is returning for a bride who loves Him and is very much Like Him. There is a reason why Josiah was spoken by name with such clarity 360 years before his time. It was to send a clear message to what was needed to clean up the foundational mess of Jeroboam’s sins as well as to speak to us for what it will take to clean up the mess of our day and prepare for the Lord’s return.
The Lord is going to now speak more intimately and personal with His disciples. His hour is at hand and the room is now removed of the betrayer. The Lord knows that the events that are about to take place will be most unsettling for His brethren. He is seeking to tie Himself more to the Father in their eyes. He is seeking to convey to them that If you believe in God then believe in Me. The things you are about to see are ordained of the Father so try and not to be shaken by them (vs 1). He then directs their focus to their future heavenly abode; to know that whatever happens on earth is only temporal and not to be overly focused upon them. He also seeks to assure them that He will one day receive them again unto Himself (vs 3). Thomas asks a question that opens the door to one of the most descriptive terms that defines the Lord. “How can we know the way?”
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus is the way to eternal life and He is the only way by which one can be connected to the Father. The Lord then speaks again concerning the father which prompts this question from Philip. “Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us”(vs 8). This again allows the Lord to say that if you have seen Me you have seen the Father (vs 9). The Apostle Paul has the opportunity to expand on this thought by revealing Christ as the express image of the Father.
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Jesus continues on in His description of the Father where He states that He and the Father are one. He then makes an astonishing statement regarding the works that His disciples will one day do. The people of Jesus day marvelled at the miracles and great works that He performed. Jesus said greater works ye shall do because He will soon be going to the Father. This must have been a tremendous shock to their system; the ability to do greater works? The key would be to ask of the Father in Jesus name and it would be done (vs 13). This will bring glory to the Father as he will be pleased to move on behalf of His people in His Son’s name. Is there a catch here? Is it really that easy to just ask anything in the name of Jesus? The Lord does give some further instruction that helps to provide a clearer picture.
The key will involve loving God and keeping His commandments. The Lord then promises that He would pray to the Father that He would send forth a Comforter and that this Comforter will abide with them forever. It is a beautiful transition into the third person of the godhead. It appears that Jesus is giving definition to the persons and functioning of the godhead. He speaks of Himself, then His Father and finally the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. It will be through the Holy Spirit where all Truth will be revealed (vs 17). This Spirit of Truth has been known to them to an extent but there will come a time when He will actually dwell within them (vs 17). This speaks of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that can only take place after Jesus returns to the Father (vs 12). How do we think the greater works will be done within us? It can only be by the same Spirit that enabled Christ to go the Cross and that same Spirit that will raise Him from the dead (Rom 8:11). The Lord then sums up the matter in the following verses:
Joh 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
First and foremost if we truly love the Lord we must keep His commandments. When we put a premium on the commandments of the Lord (His Law) we come to know more of who God is. Jesus did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfil it (Math 5: 17). Is the Law or the message of the Cross offensive to us? If so, we then have to ask if we truly love the Lord. If these things are offensive it limits the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. He comes as the Spirit of Truth. How do we respond to truth? Will we allow the message of the Cross to break us resulting in repentance? The Spirit of Truth can greatly assist in this process provided we allow Him too. If we do, then He can Comfort and strengthen which will allow the Lord to be made more manifest to us (vs 23).
The Lord closes this brief discourse with words of Peace. It is the fruit of Peace, not that which the world seeks to give. This peace can bring assurance to the heart that will sustain under great duress. The Lord is saying these things to His disciples with the knowledge of knowing what is about to happen. He wants to prepare them ahead of time. He also makes a statement regarding the prince of this world which of course is Satan. The Lord is about to go to the Cross as the sinless lamb of God and the enemy has every right to inspect Him to see if he can exploit and invalidate the sacrifice. This inspection is about to play out at Gethsemane where Satan and his demons will seek to press Jesus out of the will of His Father (Luke 22:42). The Lord has spent the entire chapter speaking about His relationship with the Father and how the two are as one. He then introduced aspects and qualities of the Holy Spirit. All of this is about to be tested. The prince of this world has one last chance to break this unity. How best to accomplish this? To try and break the will of the Son of the God in the very same area where he fell (Isa 14:13-14). This chapter is a very intimate yet profound discourse that the Lord is having with His disciples. It will continue on over the next few chapters.