2 CHRONICLES 34:1 – 36:23 and ACTS 16:1– 40
2 Chr 34-35
To further ensure God’s hand of blessing upon the land Josiah aligns the priests and Levites into their proper courses. There was also an increase of offerings that came into the house of the Lord. The increase of offerings spoke of the heighted commitment that was being seen amongst the people. There was also the appointment of singers that did not depart from their gate of service (vs 15). The Restoration taking place was characterized by the adhering of the feasts, particularly that of Passover. Interestingly this was in the 18th year of his reign which coincided with the reforms he put into place due to the Book of the Law being rediscovered at this time.
It was soon thereafter when Neco, king of Egypt sought to go to war with a man by the name of Carchemish. For some reason Josiah felt to come against Neco but was told by him to not meddle in this matter. He did not heed this word and so went and disguised himself and went into battle whereby becoming wounded. He was taken to Jerusalem and soon thereafter died. As one would expect there was a great lamentation over Josiah by the nation which included Jeremiah the prophet (vs 25).
It is difficult to determine why Josiah after all he had done would get caught up in a battle that was not his to fight. The King of Egypt tried to dissuade him; he had the Word of the Lord in saying not to meddle in this matter. It is this thought of meddling that sticks out to me. We need to be so careful as to the battles we take on in our walk with God. There are many good and just causes that one could be engaged in but should it involve us? This is especially true when a person gets into a higher level of leadership.
There are many cultural issues that are coming against the church today. It is true that the church needs to be a voice and stand against this onslaught but at what level? There is the real danger of meddling into matters that are not meant for us to be involved in. If someone like Josiah with all he had done for Judah could fail in this area then we better not see ourselves as being immune from the same fate. We need to walk closely with God at all times and ask counsel at His mouth. Judah will not see another King like Josiah until the King of King comes forth. His departure will quickly pave the way for the judgement of Babylonian captivity to come upon Judah. It is a picture of where we are in these last days. A last day revival that is about to come to the church which will prepare the church for that which is coming afterwards. There will be a separation between the good wheat and the tares and they will be gathered into two distinct bundles with no middle ground. It reveals the coming role of the priesthood that will emerge and take shape. If we want to have a basic understanding of what is going to happen in the last days we only need to look at the period of Josiah onwards as it relates to the kings of Judah up to the time of Babylon. As mentioned earlier, his is how I see it.
2 Chr 36
Jehoahaz, son of Josiah now comes to the throne. He was 23 and reigned for a period of 3 months. The king of Egypt put Eliakim his brother in the office as king and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken to Egypt. Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he began his reign and he lasted 11 years and did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. He was opposed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and was taken there. Is was at this time when Nebuchadnezzar began to carry away the vessels of the house of the Lord and place them in temples at Babylon. We should recall that it was Hezekiah who began to show forth the treasures of the house of the Lord to Babylon when they came to see the greatness of his power. This was a sign of what was to come when Babylon would not only have glimpses of the treasures but would be taking them and the nation into captivity. Next in line was Jehoiachin; his reign lasted a period of three months and it too was evil in the sight of the Lord. At the end of the year King Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon made Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem. He was 21 when he came to the throne and reigned for a period of 11 years. He too did that which was evil and gave no heed to the warnings of Jeremiah the prophet. In addition he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar in defiance to the Word of the Lord. He added abominations and the pollution of the things of God which brought the cup of Judah’s iniquity to a ripeness. God in His mercies sent messengers to the very end but they only mocked and derided them. This was the tipping point which resulted in the Chaldeans (Babylonians) coming down and destroying the house of God, slaying of the young men and women and taking away of all goodly treasures. The word of the Lord which had been expressed on a number of occasions in that they would serve the king of Babylon for 70 years was now beginning its fulfilment (vs 21) (Jer 29:10).
The Book of 2 Chronicles end by advancing about 70 years where Cyrus, the King of Persia is mentioned. He was cited back in the days as the kingdom of Israel was dividing. This was to begin a period of Restoration that would again come to Israel. It will be picked up in the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and several of the Minor Prophets.
Paul is now introduced to Timothy whose mother was a Jew with his father being a Greek. He already had a good reputation amongst the people at Lystra and Iconium. Paul and Timothy travelled through many cities delivering the decrees and statements that were ordained of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. They were able to establish solid churches that grew and increased on a daily basis. They were following along the path that Paul and Barnabus took on their first missionary journey but began experiencing resistance by the Holy Spirit. They were not able to go preach the Word in Asia. They then moved towards Mysia and then to Bithynia but again were restrained by the Holy Spirit.
What does one do when consistently running into spiritual roadblocks? Oftentimes many in the church would bulldoze their way forward when it is clear that it may not be the will of God. There needs to be a sensitivity to the Spirit. It was not wrong for Paul to make a move towards Asia and Bithynia. The Lord has ways of opening and closing doors and this is one of the ways He helps for us to know which route to take. Paul was in motion and it provided the Lord the means to intervene so His will and direction could be ascertained. Paul was probably confused as to where he should go but it was then when he had a vision of a man from Macedonia beckoning them to come over (vs 10).
Paul was convinced that this was of the Lord’s doing and quickly made arrangements to go there. They came upon a place called Philippi which was one of the chief cities of Macedonia. They resided there a few days and on the Sabbath went to a place by the river side where people had been gathering for prayer. Among those who were attending this particular prayer meeting was a woman by the name of Lydia, who was a seller of purple garments. Her heart opened up at the teachings of Paul and felt to approach him to have them come to her house and teach there.
At the same time there was a certain young woman who was demon possessed who was able to excel in fortune telling. Her master merchandised her false anointing because there was much money to be gained. This woman followed after Paul and his company of believers crying out that these men were servants of the most high God who show the way of salvation. After several days Paul could take no more of this and commanded that the evil Spirit come out of her in the name of Jesus. The result from this was an uproar because she could no longer bring money in to her masters. Paul and Silas were brought before the magistrates and charged with troubling the city. They were beaten and cast into prison; having their feet put into stocks. This did not deter Paul and Silas as they began singing praises to God in the prison. There was an earthquake which broke the bonds and chains; the prison doors were also opened enabling them to escape. The keeper of the person panicked knowing that this would cost him his life since the escape would be taking place on his watch. Paul assured the keeper that nothing would happen to him and his household. They accepted the gospel and were baptised. God moved on their behalf seeing that that the magistrates over the city took the decision to let them go which spared any problem to the keeper of the prison.
Paul at this time would not go until they came and took them out personally. Why did he do this? The accusers and those who put him into prison in the first place did so in the name of Rome. They did not know that Paul had Roman citizenship and so he wanted it to be known that in actuality a Roman citizen had been incarcerated. The people feared when they came to know of this and desired that they leave the city. They then came back to the house of Lydia where they all rejoiced and praised the Lord.
The above is an overall narrative of the events of Acts 16. It is a profound chapter filled with many lessons and truths. It takes place during Paul’s 2nd Missionary journey. The Holy Spirit was very much in control as he either opened or closed appropriate doors as they proceeded. Paul was sensitive not to go beyond boundaries. This is important for us as latter day believers. It is vital that we have a keenness in the Spirit so as to know how to navigate the path the Lord would have for us. In being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading it allows for Him to speak and lead in varied ways. In Paul’s case it is by way of a vision where he sees a man from Macedonia beckoning him to come. It was God’s way of directing Paul to the destination he had chosen. What worked before in the 1st missionary trip was not the way God was leading in this the 2nd journey. Once directed to Macedonia he goes to a prominent city named Philippi. An influential woman who was captivated by the teachings of Paul invited Paul and others to her home. The result was the birthing of the Philippian church; one of Paul’s most fruitful plants. We also see Paul exhibiting wisdom and meekness as they are charged and jailed for disrupting the city. He could have asserted his rights as a Roman citizen early on but he chose to not do so. He and Silas experienced a tremendous release from prison and they sang praises to God. There was also the miraculous conversion of the jailer and his family. We also see the sovereignty of God at work as the magistrates send the word to release Paul from the prison. It was at this time when he asserted his Roman rights as a citizen bringing fear and shame to his accusers. Paul is being very savvy in the way he goes about the ministry work. He has an unusual gifting in being able to adapt to situations. We see it here and we certainly see it throughout his life’s ministry. It is vital that we have that same ability to read situations; see the big picture and know how to flow with the Spirit of God. Paul’s methods are not always the norm but he knew how to move in God. These qualities need to be adapted today as never before; the ability to read situations and to see the bigger picture. Through obedience to a vision; a great church was about to be birthed. Precious Holy Spirit, be thou our guide and help!