2008-03-26 / Religion

Sunday School Lesson

How faithful have you been?
Rev. James Temples

2 Chronicles 34:15, 18, 19, 25-27, 29, 31-33

A brilliant beginning does not guarantee the continued following of the great ideals. Time has a way of eroding the greatest of intentions. The principle of entropy - tendency toward disorder in a system - is present in all areas of life. The only way to reduce the effect of this reality is the adding of energy or effort to the system in question. This physical principle operates in the spiritual realm, as well as, in the natural realm.

Worship in the nation of Israel was re-established by King David. 1 Chronicles 16:1. When Solomon, the son of David, became king, the temple was built in the city of Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 5:1. The finishing of the temple was accompanied with great worship. 2 Chronicles 5:11-14. This great beginning continued during much of the reign of Solomon.

As succeeding members of the lineage of David sat upon the throne, time allowed them to forget the real beginning. At the best, indifference to worship crept into the lives of these leaders. Finally, worship of Jehovah was completely abandoned.

The most wicked of the kings of Judah - the northern kingdom had rebelled against the house of David (1 Kings 12:3, 12- 15, 19) - was Manasseh. 2 Chronicles 33:1, 2. He "built altars in the house of the Lord…And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord." 2 Chronicles 33:4, 5. We are told that he "set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God." 2 Chronicles 33:7. Thus, the worship had reached the low point.

This man was carried away captive to the city of Babylon. 2 Chronicles 33:11. During this affliction, he "humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God." 2 Chronicles 33:12b, 13. It is important to remember that his personal repentance did not repair the damage that he had caused in the nation of Israel.

At the death of Manasseh, his eight-yearold son, Josiah, was made king. 2 Chronicles 34:1. Obviously, a king this young needed advisors. The godly priests became the advisors to this king. 2 Chronicles 34:2. The priests greatly influenced this child, as he matured. 2 Kings 22:3, 4.

The record tells us that "in the eighth year of his reign, he began to seek after the God of David his father : and in the 12th year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images." 2 Chronicles 34:3.

There was no turn around in the general attitude toward God until the eighth year of his reign. 2 Chronicles 34:3a. He had now reached the age of 16. We are told that "while he was yet young, he began to seek the after the God of David his father…." 2 Chronicles 34:3b. When he was 20 - "in the 12th year of his reign he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images." 2 Chronicles 34:3c, d.

After the destruction of these abominable places, he "made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them." 2 Chronicles 34:4b. This act was the means of declaring his greatest contempt for those who had practiced idolatry.

There was a great slaughter of the idolatrous priests. "And they burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem." 2 Chronicles 34:5. He made this same cleansing throughout all of his kingdom. 2 Chronicles 34:6, 7.

We are told that "in the 18th year of his reign, when he had purged the land" that he turned to the priestly leadership to "repair the house of the Lord his God." 2 Chronicles 34:8. The high priest was Hilkiah. He was provided with money to complete the project. 2 Chronicles 34:9. This money was "put in the hands of the workmen that had the oversight of the house of the Lord, and they gave it to the workmen that wrought in the house of the Lord, to repair and amend the house: Even the artificers and builders gave they it, to buy hewn stone, and timber for couplings, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed." 2 Chronicles 34:10, 11. We are told that "the men did the work faithfully." 2 Chronicles 34:12.

During this renovation project, "Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the Lord given by Moses." 2 Chronicles 34:14b. This find was shared with Shaphan, the scribe. 2 Chronicles 34:15. "And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servant, they do it." 2 Chronicles 34:16.

The record turns the attention of the reader to the book. "And Shaphan read it before the king." 2 Chronicles 34:18c. Biblical historians consider this book to be what we know as the book of Deuteronomy. The response of the king to the hearing of the words of this book caused him to respond with a sense of sorrow and remorse. "And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes." 2 Chronicles 34:19.

The words of the book spoke of curses and destruction of those who were disobedient to this revealed word. The king, then, instructed these men to "Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do after all that is written in this book." 2 Chronicles 34:21.

This delegation goes to the prophetess. 2 Chronicles 34:22. Her answer to the inquiry was a positive to the pouring out of the wrath of God upon the rebellious nation. "Thus saith the Lord, Behold I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah: Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands: therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched." 2 Chronicles 34:24, 25. The promise to Josiah was that he would not see the great destruction that would come upon the nation. 2 Chronicles 34:26-28.

This godly man renewed the covenant that had been made by his godly forefathers. 2 Chronicles 34:29- 32.We are told that "all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers." 2 Chronicles 34:33c.

How faithful have we been in following the ways that are taught in scriptures? Have we substituted human ideas for the revealed word of God? May we return to the fundamentals that formed the foundation for the faith of our forefathers, and needs to be part of our lives, today.

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Rev. James C. Temples' Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Florida. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P.O. Box 1569, Auburndale, Fla. 33823; 863-965-0157. Email: jctjet@aol.com.

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