On March 30, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation:
“whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God…
America is a nation with a great foundation. We have a rich heritage of honor. God has blessed this nation. Americans should be thankful for the freedoms this land knows unlike any other nation. However, I believe if we abuse freedom we will lose freedom.
The statements made 150 years ago by Abraham Lincoln could be made today as our nation has abused its many freedoms and forgotten God. We have forgotten God in our:
homes: our children are full of activities over affection for God; our marriages are dividing rather than uniting
schools: our students are discouraged from praying in public or sharing their faith
government: our national leaders call and create laws for what is evil as good and what is good as evil
Think of the places in the Bible that forgot God. There wasn’t must help or hope for them. Life is hopeless without God. But, life is hopeful with God. Today I want to talk about the power of hope for a worried nation.
Hope is risky.
In Shawshank Redemption
Andy to Red: “there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone… there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.
Red: What’re you talking about?
Andy Dufresne: Hope.
Red: ‘Hope!’ Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use [in a world out of control].
As I look to promise hope in this series I realize that hope is dangerous. When hope is promised without fulfillment the people become distrusting and derisive.
Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
But as God’s people we must hang on to hope.
Psalm 33:17, 18, 22 “The war horse is a false hope for salvation and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love… Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”
EXAMINE 2Kings 22 Hope For A Worried Nation
The books of Kings retell the history of Israel & Judah’s cycle of unfaithfulness. The background of this book and passage is that God’s people are divided into 2 nations: Israel (north) and Judah (south). Israel has 19 kings and all are wicked. Israel fell to Assyria and the people are exiled (1Kings 17; 722BC). Judah has 20 kings with a few whom are good but most are wicked. Judah fell to Babylon with God’s people being exiled (2Kings 25; 586BC).
In between these 2 captures of God’s people (2 Kings 20 – 24) were the reigns of Hezekiah (29years, mostly good), Manasseh (55years, evil), Amon (2years, evil), Josiah (31years, good), Jehoahaz (3months, evil), Eliakim/Jehoiakim (11years, evil), Jehoiachin (3months, evil), Zedekiah (11years, evil)
Why does God allow Manasseh (evil) to be born to the greatest king since David (Hezekiah) and to have the longest reign (55 years) in Israel & Judah’s history?
Simply put, the answer is we do not know. God’s sovereignty over past history and future time is beyond our ability to understand. He has a timetable that we are not privy too. In the end, our hope is in 2 truths:
1) God is on the throne. He is in power and controlling all things for His glorious purposes.
2) God is turning what is broken to be made new. He is restoring all creation to His original design.
Until then, there are prodigals, along with evil and ungodly leaders like Manasseh. International conflict consumes the world stage. And we stand on the lookout for God to raise up help and hope.
2Kings 22 examines several aspects of national hope
There is national hope because of generational promise (22:1-2).
In establishing His people, from Genesis to Exodus and onward through Israel’s history, God made a promise to King David to bless the nation with a forever lineage to the throne (2Samuel 7:16-17). At this point in time, Manasseh and Amon were kings but both evil. Yet, for every Manasseh & Amon there is a Josiah (and even a Jesus)!
Josiah was 8 years old becoming king. He reigned 31 years, from 640-609BC. Josiah’s name means “God heals” and there would be significant healing and restoration among Israel during the reign of Josiah. Josiah walked in the way of David, his father (great grandfather x10).
Matthew 1:6-10 “And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah”
µ Do you see the generational promise?
µ Do you understand how Josiah’s life has significance for us today?
- We can hang on to hope because God is faithful.
- Change is always possible for every generation; (from Manasseh to Amon to Josiah).
- This includes you and your family! Are you a prodigal or have a prodigal? There is hope, change is possible.
We must be clear for today. America is not Israel. America is not promised generational blessing by God as Israel or much more King David. And yet, as God’s children we can remain hopeful because He has a plan for us, and every nation too. God’s plan is far greater than America and even much much greater than Republicans and Democrats. God’s kingdom is for every generation, every nation to worship at His throne.
And so, America is a beautiful place because of its diversity and it has the potential to be a beautiful picture of God’s kingdom – IF – it does what is right in the eyes of the Lord and walks in the way of David, not turning aside to the right or to the left; becoming a light unto the nations (Isa 42:6, 49:6)
National hope often occurs through godly leadership (22:1-7)
Israel had no hope when there was ungodly kings. Looking back at the evil reign of Manasseh one can see the Lord’s displeasure and denouncement (2Kings 21:11-15 “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.”)
Even with Amon, judgment came upon himself with his own servants conspiring against him and murdered him in his own house (21:23).
And yet, in the midst of generations of ungodliness there became Josiah as king at 8 years old. At a young age, Josiah had a heart to do what was right. Perhaps he saw his grandfather and father and though there had to be a better way of life.
2Chronicles 34:3 notes that when Josiah was 16years old he began to seek God. This would be astonishing since Josiah was likely not keenly aware of previous testimony or laws of the Lord. And yet somewhere in Josiah’s early reign he was learning about leadership and what it took to be successful. I believe he went on a search for truth and discovered a godly heritage with generational promise as far back as King David.
2Chronicles 34:3-7 notes four years later when Josiah was 20 that he purged Judah and Jerusalem of the pagan altars and cleansed the land of idol worship.
2Kings 22:3-7 notes six years later as Josiah is 26 that he sends messengers and money to rebuild the temple of the Lord.
ð Young people, you do not have wait until you are older to have a significant influence and serve God. The Bible in 1Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
ð Older people, you must be careful to not isolate yourself and invest in the next generation to leave a godly legacy. Psalm 78:4, 6-7 “We will not hide them from their children but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord and his might, and the wonders he has done…that the next generations might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep his commandments.”
ð On a national level, godly leadership is essential. Every nation that forsakes God will fall. No civilization will stand in competition with the Lord.
- Immoral nations get immoral leaders.
- God’s people must repent of personal and corporate sin.
2Chronicles 7:14 “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
- God’s people must rise up as a voice of truth in love. Godly leadership does not equate to Republican politicians. Christians must stop being a pawn for political gamesmanship and return to being a prophetic voice for righteousness.
Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
- President John Adams speaking to the military in October 1798 said: Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
National hope often occurs through genuine Biblical reflection (22:8-20)
In the spring of 1947, some Bedouin goat-herds were searching the cliffs along the Dead Sea for a lost goat. They came upon a cave containing jars filled with ancient manuscripts. This find fascinated many archaeologists and caused a search for other caves leading to find over 1400 original documents, some complete or nearly complete, and over 100,000 scroll fragments. These manuscripts date back approximately 200BC to 68 AD or some 135AD. Many of the scrolls were copies of certain Biblical books and have proved priceless to verify the authenticity of the transmission of texts as we have today. Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found the oldest existing Biblical manuscripts were from 800-1000AD; so well over 800 year difference.
Recently, May 22, 2013, thirty-Four year old David Gonzalez of Elbow Lake, Minnesota was remodeling a house and found stuffed in a wall with old newspapers, a 1938 Action Comics No. 1 issue featuring a new character hoisting a car above his head with his name being Superman. The comic is estimated worth over 100K.
Sometimes in life you can make a simple discovery or decision that will have life-changing implications. Such is the case with Josiah and his men.
As the repairs of the Temple were being made, Hilkiah the high priest found the Book of the Law inside the building. When the book was read to Josiah his response was one of repentance. He tore his clothes as a sign of mourning and he sought counsel. Josiah understood a greater sense of righteousness and judgment upon those who sinned.
Huldah the prophetess gave word to Josiah that indeed the Book was true and God’s judgment would be upon His people. Yet, Josiah would be spared judgment because of his penitent and humble heart.
ð The Bible is God’s message to us. We can keep it hidden at church, in a car or on a book shelf or we can choose to open it, read it, study, reflect and obey it.
- Bible not meant for merely information but transformation.
James 1:22-25 “22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
ð Biblica Reflection results in repentance
- Hosea 10:12 “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”
- Joel 2:13 “rend your hearts not your garments”
- Hillsong United: Heal my heart and make it clean, Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me, Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Hope is ultimately fulfilled not in human king or country but in the divine King & Kingdom
2Kings 23:24-27 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. Still the Lord did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him. And the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”
Hebrews 11:10, 12:28 “we look forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God… and entering a kingdom that cannot be shaken”
 Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6. Accessed @ http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Adams