Read 2 Chronicles 34
Focus on verses 4-7
I am not typically a violent person mostly because I have learned that in most cases violence makes matters worse not better, but also because violence typically causes pain, which is something I typically try to avoid if possible. Occasionally, however, one comes across a situation where there really is no other viable alternative. Even Jesus, who is called “the Prince of Peace” resorted to violence on at least one occasion when He drove the moneylenders out of the Temple.
King Josiah does not appear to be very old when he sets out on his rampage to rid the nation of the idolatrous worship of Baal. The text states, “while he was yet a boy”. If you recall, this is the king who ascended to the throne at the tender age of eight, so it is entirely possible that he was barely a teenager here as he is leading the nation to destroy all the altars of Baal, and the Asherim in the land, crushing them into dust and scattering them on the graves of the people who sacrificed to them. He also killed all the priests of these false gods and burned their bones on the false altars. He did not return to Jerusalem until the job was complete and the land had been entirely cleansed. It was a righteous rampage of epic proportions and not entirely unlike Jesus’ rampage through the temple recorded in the New Testament Gospels. While it may seem a little out of character for the Prince of Peace to be flipping over tables and chasing people out of the temple with a hastily made whip, it apparently was exactly what was needed to communicate a message to the people of that day. Similarly it was this action by King Josiah that made it clear to the people of the nation at that time, where his allegiance lay, and in both cases, God was pleased.
As I consider the condition of western civilization in this age of technological enlightenment with our attitudes of entitlement and abject lack of moral decency, I wonder if perhaps we are due for a righteous rampage of sorts… though perhaps not so much in the physical sense as in the spiritual sense. What this nation needs is not a leader who attempts to legislate morality or to impose a specific religion upon the people, but one who inspires people to return to Lord and to the values and the work ethic that this nation was founded upon.
The unfortunate reality that every empire in history has faced is that every empire has an expiry date. America is no exception to this reality, and though it would be helpful if America’s expiry date was stamped on the back of every dollar bill so that we could be more adequately prepared, one does not have to be a genius to recognize the signs of an empire in decline.
Just as the verdict for Israel later in the chapter is that disaster is coming, there are signs in America that would similarly indicate that what we have going here cannot last. What we can hope and pray for is that the Lord may yet grant a temporary reprieve as He did for Josiah if there were to be a national revival by which people would repent and cleanse the land of the false gods we have chosen to worship. What are these gods? They are the things that we pursue, things that we value more than we value our relationship with God. For some of us it is money, for others success. We worship our lifestyles, our families, our occupations, our favorite causes; essentially the base line of it all seems to be that in some way we worship ourselves or at least our self-interests. When we put our self-interests above the interests of God – we have created an idol. Ironically, when we choose to put God ahead of our self-interests, we find that only He is able to give us the fulfillment we were seeking. We may also discover that we find this fulfillment is found not is what He gives us, but in knowing Him and experiencing His presence in whatever it is He compels us to do.