Today has been an exceptionally bad difficult day. So let's see if I can make any sense.
At least I get to talk about one of my favorite Bible heroes, Josiah (I even named a character after him, Josiah Tuttle in Prodigal Patriot) . He led Judah in national repentance that postponed exile for his people during his lifetime.
Like Joash, Josiah became king as a child. However, Joash only obeyed God as long as his uncle lived. Josiah took his first steps toward serving God as an adult of twenty-six. He instructed the priests to repair the temple. Since all idol worship had been brought to the temple, he may have worshipped idols in addition to or instead of God.
Whomever he worshipped before the repairs, his heart for God becomes clear when the priest found the book of the Law. He led his people in national repentance and renewed commitment. He celebrated Passover for the first time since the judges. And he destroyed all the idols and Asherah poles.
Then he went on a Jihad. He tore down the golden calves at Bethel and continued through Samaria, smashing the hilltop shrines and Asherah poles. By then, Samaria was no longer an independent country, but part of the Assyrian empire. Perhaps the Assyrians didn't care about the destruction of local shrines, but I wonder how the Israelites who were left felt about what
In other words, Josiah went on the rampage, deciding that the people of Israel as well as of Judah, should worship Jehovah God in Jerusalem. The kind of thing that militant Muslims do today and that Christians have tried in another time (remember the Inquisition? The Crusades?) He stopped with Samaria (Israel), however. He didn't impose the law on anyone other than the original twelve tribes.
Of course, from a biblical perspective, Israelites were God's chosen people every bit as much as the people of Judah, and even when God split the kingdom in half, He still intended for the northern kingdom to worship at the one Temple. Instead, Jeroboam I built golden calves in Samaria, and Josiah was the first king of Judah to do something about it.
Unfortunately, Josiah's reform came too late, and his son reverted to idolatry as soon as his father was in the ground.
I should be excited about this story. Plenty of drama, a strong hero, a lot at stake . . .
But my mind instead is taken up with everyday concerns. I am in bone-grinding pain, nearly 24/7, for several days now.
And my friends have it even worse than I do. One person's husband lost his job right after she quit hers. Another friend confessed she has been having an affair. Here at the nursing home, one of our sweet guys died last night--leaving a woman who was as devoted to him as a wife. Her grasp on reality is tenuous at best; I hate to see her go through this.
I admire Josiah, and rightly so. But I am so very thankful I don't live in his time, and that we live in a country with religious freedom. Josiah could influence his people to worship God--but still, they chose between righteousness and sin every day of their lives.
I am thankful that God has called me to influence my small world. That my friend struggling with sin felt free to tell me, knowing I would listen, that I would lecture her on her sins but encourage her to do well. I am thankful that my ministry tends to mercy and not to judgment. That I am me, and not Josiah.
At the same time, I thank God for the Josiahs--and pray for more of them.