photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Josiah’s Reforms – Lesson 8

Curtis HallTapping into the widespread admiration of basketball icon Michael Jordan, a highly successful TV ad named “Be Like Mike” was launched on August 8, 1991. Michael’s effervescent smile, his passion for the game and his superior athletic skills made him a household name all around the world. Everyone wanted to be like Mike, including me at times.

Everyone likes a winner. Even if we root for the underdog, our hope is that they will overcome the obstacles to become a winner. We are attracted to those who are bigger than life and in general, we imitate those we elevate. Even all these years removed from Michael Jordan playing professional basketball, sports enthusiast are still measuring the achievements of today’s star athletes to the Michael that soared into our dreams. Everyone wanted to be like Mike.

You may be asking what the connection of that commercial many years ago is to our subject this week, Josiah’s Reforms. As I read again the history of Josiah and the incredible story of his reign from the age of eight until his death, I thought to myself, I want to be like Josiah.

As a point of clarification, no, I would never want the responsibility of an entire nation on my shoulders at an age when most children are concerned with anything other than being in charge. I can’t begin to fathom the impact of that moment on the young king. As adults, we are challenged with leadership even with many years of experience.

Compounding the seriousness of Josiah’s role as king was the fact that his was not just another nation. That in itself would be daunting. But Josiah was to rule over a nation that was birthed to be a representative of the one true God. Theirs was no ordinary nation and it would take nothing short of extraordinary actions on the part of Josiah to save the nation from the impending destruction.

Josiah would have to defy the expectations that he would imitate the rulership of his father and grandfather. History is replete with stories of children who imitate their parents. Bad behavior modeled at home by parents is often repeated in the homes of the children once they become adults. It takes something special in an individual to break the negative molds of life.

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. 2 Kings 22:1-2

Josiah modeled three characteristics that all leaders should have. Actually, anyone and everyone is better for possessing these three things. I like to call them the Three C’s of Leadership.

The first C is Courage. For Josiah to lead the nation in a godly path would take more than just a desire. He would need courage to go against ingrained systems of power and to stand against forces of evil within the nation. I don’t know how he could be so courageous at such a young age, but he was. I want to be like Josiah when it comes to courage. It’s comforting to know that what courage I lack, God can supply as needed. We are told to not worry about tomorrow and to trust God today.

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

The second C is Conviction. To know what is right is one thing. To act on that knowledge, despite the contrary pressures one may face, is an entirely different thing. How easily Josiah could have spent his reign amassing wealth and power. Thankfully for the nation Josiah had strong convictions and they guided his reign as king. The path before him was to lead his people in faithfulness to God.  I admire Josiah for his strong convictions. A person without convictions is a person who does not know their God-designed destiny.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

The third and last C is Caring. The reign of Josiah was not an exercise in narcissism. It was not all about him, but instead, he cared about what would happen to the people. After the Book of the Law was discovered and read to the king, we hear in Josiah’s words his care for Judah.

Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.
2 Kings 22:13

A crisis was before the nation and not of his making. Yet Josiah, this child king, was the right man at the right time. His godly leadership spared the nation for a time the wrath of God and his legacy is forever etched in God’s word. His care for the nation he ruled over compelled him to do everything within his power to bring them into allegiance with God. We should all strive to do the same in our spheres of life.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

Who could have ever imagined that a boy king could have such an impact on a kingdom? He defied the odds and committed his life to doing the right thing, not just for himself, but for the entire nation. Courage, Conviction and Care. I want to be like Josiah.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

    • What does a reform mean to you?
    • Are reforms primarily about going back to how things were formally done? Explain your answer.
    • Is it true that the older the traditions a church holds/practices, the safer they are to follow? Why yes or no.
    • What does a “reformed” church look like?
    • What does a “reformed” person look like?
    • Is it true that a change of behavior without a change of heart is still better than no change at all? Why yes or no?
    • Was the Old Testament God stricter than the New Testament God? Explain your answer.
    • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: God is more concerned with my heart than with my actions. Explain your answer.

We close this week’s lesson with some direction to the New Testament Timothy. Even the young can impact the world for God.

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

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photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Symbolic Acts – Lesson 6

Curtis Hall“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

The familiar story of the potter and the clay teaches us profound lessons. For Jeremiah, it illustrated that God is able to not only create, but to start all over if necessary. He could build up the nation if their deeds were righteous. Likewise, He could also tear down if their deeds were evil.

“Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.” Jeremiah 18:6-9

God has the final say on their destiny as a nation. It is their choice on what that outcome will be.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Rebuke and Retribution – Lesson 4

Curtis HallFollowing God in this world involves suffering. Let’s accept the fact that suffering comes with the territory of being a believer in a world that is not our home. To be true to God will cost you. It cost Jeremiah a lot.

Everyone wants to be loved and well thought of. No one in their right mind would choose a path that would bring them into conflict with others, especially with those who share a common bond. If we had our wish, choosing to suffer for Crist would not appear on that list. However much we try, some suffering cannot be avoided.

I’m not speaking of the suffering that comes as a result of sickness or accident. Bad things happen to good people and many events in life are out of our control. In a world that is groaning under the effects of sin, the rain of life falls on both the just and the unjust.

The suffering I’m specifically referring to comes as a result of being faithful to the commands and direction of God. It’s that suffering that pierces the heart when the fruit of your faithfulness results in the bitter poison of rejection. That’s what it was like for Jeremiah.