Yesterday we examined the monumental effort of Josiah, last of the good kings of Judah, to impose reform on the nation and observed that his attempt at ridding the nation of idolatry was not long lived. We listed some of the reasons his reform did not work.
- The people didn’t understand their God, thinking of Him as nothing more than a god among gods.
- They didn’t love God exclusively as He demanded of them. Their hearts were divided with only partial loyalty being given to Him.
- Josiah’s reform was a “top-down, outside-in” effort imposed by the king. It didn’t reach the seat of the problem – the hearts of the people.
- The people were wedded to their idols. They were committed to them and were not about to give them up.
Does Josiah’s reformation have any meaning for the present day? We are in a very similar situation to that of Judah in the last days of the monarchy. People have become wedded to various idols. People bow down at the altar of pleasure, go the sports arena temples, “donating” untold amounts of money and inestimable time on its pursuit just for the thrill of being there and experiencing a moment of vicarious exhilaration when their “priests” score a goal.
People worship at the shrine of casual sex in the mistaken belief that they will find fulfillment and not have to suffer any consequences for their irresponsible actions. When an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy results from their fornication or adultery, or if an unwanted child would deny them of the pleasure they think they deserve, they go to the temple of the abortionist to sacrifice the child to the gods of convenience and pleasure.
Some genuflect before the high potentates of government, (who themselves are thoroughly corrupt), seeking more and more blessings for themselves. They donate to the candidate of their choice and work for his election because they believe he will fulfill all their hopes of a utopian existence, dreaming of a promised heaven on earth and not because they believe he is the best man for the job and will do the best for the people.
We see the rampant immorality, pornographic filth, violence and greed, addiction to drugs and alcohol threatening to engulf us as a raging flood and we cry out to the gods we depend upon to deliver us with more laws and tougher laws. We observe the scheming and conniving of powerful men – corporate moguls of mega-business and industry as they unfairly take advantage of the poor for cheap labor, rape the land and inflate prices and we cry out to the impotent gods of legislatures and congress to control them, but the gods are deaf as well as impotent.
In addition to all that, the present burgeoning of non-Christian religion poses yet another threat. Our multicultural society advocates that all these be viewed as value-neutral. In the name of “freedom and equality” we mustn’t judge one over the other. Even some so-called “Christian” denominations advocate the equality of all religions with Christianity. Sounds a lot like the people of Josiah’s day who worshiped a whole pantheon of gods!
People who profess to be Christians cry out for reformation – for a return to the “good old days” when America was perceived as a “Christian nation.” “If only,” they wishfully opine, and suggest that people should just respect the ten commandments or return prayer to the schools or abolish the abortion laws or, or, or…..
Men, neither presidents nor councilmen, legislators nor judges, policemen nor soldiers are capable of stopping the avalanche we are about to bury ourselves under. We are in the condition we are in because we do not know God and do not love him exclusively. No reforms that may be launched, none of the laws that legislatures may pass, not more strict enforcement of existing laws can do anything to change the picture. The best we can hope for is a limited restraining of the flood of evil that threatens to overwhelm us.
If government tomorrow were to abolish all laws objectionable to Christians, outlaw all non-Christian religions, close all abortion clinics, reinstate prayer in school, require the posting of the ten commandments in all public buildings and require that all people attend Bible studies and worship, such a reformation would fail. If we were to elect only Christians to every office in the land we would no doubt have a more equitable enforcement of law, but such a change would eventually fail.
Why? Because none of these things change the hearts of people. The only thing that will change a nation if for the people to be changed from the inside out. And the only thing that will reach the hearts of people is the gospel of Jesus Christ. People must learn to think like Christians before they will begin to act like Christians. The only way that will ever happen is for people to come to know God the Father and Jesus Christ as His only begotten Son who is (exclusively) “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” This is why Christians ought to be preaching the gospel as never before instead of abandoning our civilization to the devil. While we may not convert the world, surely there would be many who would be changed – and there is preserving power in having a presence of righteous people in a nation. By this I mean that the presence of good, believing people in a nation can keep it from being destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared had enough righteous people had been found in them. Who knows but that the presence of Christians is all that is holding back the storm of God’s wrath from breaking against this country right now?
Realistically, I don’t think we can expect to see a wholesale return to Christianity for our nation. Like Judah of old, we are wedded to our idols. Because the Bible contradicts and condemns the present lifestyles of most people, it has been rejected out of hand. People prefer the myths that justify and excuse them just as they are.
Eventually this nation will be judged by the one who is the absolute ruler over all creation. Many nations have risen to power and wealth only to be relegated to the dusty pages of history when their wickedness became so great God wouldn’t tolerate it any longer. When that point will be reached for our country no one but God knows. But don’t think we are secure in our refuge of lies. Don’t think that it can’t happen to us! Don’t think we are too big to fail! Remember the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Rome, Greece, Babylon, Egypt and many others. The warnings of these formerly mighty nations are to plain and powerful to ignore!