culture

A Real Superhero

Angkor Wat structure with carved faceReading about King Josiah’s actions in 2 Chronicles 34, I was just struck anew. Talk about a superhero! Teenagers who want adventure and excitement could look to Josiah.

Verse 1 says that Josiah was only 8 years old when he became king. And verse 3 shows that when he was just 16, he “began to seek” God. Then at age 20, he started tearing down all the pagan idols/temples. (Remember, Judah was the territory of God’s people and the location of God’s temple.) Verse 8 indicates that six years after that, Josiah was still in this process. So whatever he’d come to know about the Lord had sure made him confident, purposeful, and dedicated to this cause.

I don’t know what all was involved in the removal of various pagan objects/buildings. But if I imagine a similar scenario in modern times, I have an inkling of what might happen. I lived for 10 years in Japan, a country with lots of temples and shrines. There would be a huge kerfuffle if leaders in Japan began to destroy, say, the famous 1,001 Kannon Buddha statues in Kyoto. The outcry would be “How dare you!”—that these are historical treasures, wonders of architecture, meaningful to thousands of people, and so on. Imagine the pushback if people started to tear down Angkor Wat in Cambodia or the Kaaba in Mecca or…

Verses 4-7 indicate that King Josiah’s removal of these things was done not quietly but with blatant intent to insult the false religion as much as possible (by actions like burning the bones of the priests, crushing the idols to powder). NOT politically correct.

King Josiah’s tearing down of this stuff (because it was detestable to the Lord) strikes me as the opposite of what we in America are doing. (And by “we” I mean the church. America as a country isn’t in the position of being God’s people as ancient Israel was. But the church is.) As we use the lotus symbol on our church websites, host pagan ceremonies (like the Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala events) in church sanctuaries, and more, we’re also drifting from the Bible.

Interestingly, as King Josiah and his delegates were trying to clean up their act and get the people back on track, they unearthed their copy of “the Book of the Law” (v. 15). (I’m picturing it stuffed in a dark closet behind some old Christmas decorations and VBS props.) What a perfect visual—the people’s incorporating of false religion had simultaneously pushed God’s Word into the background.

King Josiah knew the importance of the recovered Book. He had it read aloud to all the people (v. 30). Perhaps there are some young, brave Josiahs who can help us, the church, renew prominence for the true Word of God and push the false into the background.

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