How Did We Get Here?
2Kings 23:4 The king commanded the high priest Hilkiah, the priests of the second order, and the guardians of the threshold, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel.
King Josiah was discovering the law of God which had become completely hidden. As the horrible truth of the peoples’ infidelity became apparent he realized that he had to take action. This included cleaning out the temple — the house of God. There in the temple they discovered all the apparatus of idol-worship. Worship of God, in God’s house, had been replaced by worship of Baal, Asherah, and the moon, sun, and stars. The vessels necessary for this worship had been brought into the temple and displaced the things of God.
Josiah took decisive action and had all the vessels of idol worship removed from the temple, brought to the Kidron valley and burned. Then, the ashes were removed from Jerusalem and taken to Bethel. This was an attempt to cleanse the temple and the city of every remnant of infidelity. There were to be no physical reminders to tempt the people back to idolatry. The only way a new spirit of God could be present was to cleanse the house of it’s evil.
To find the house of God filled with objects of worship to other gods must have been simply astounding. The sad truth is that it had become so common that it wasn’t bothering anyone. They simply thought that it was normal.
If we think about our contemporary houses of worship we may be tempted to think about all the things of this world that we have brought into the building. There would be some who might believe that technology and drums and smoke machines are all things of this world. But I don’t think that’s the point. Jesus came so that his people could be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are the living building blocks of the new temple and it is what we allow into the very corners of our own lives that becomes a problem for us.
Idolatry of any kind that displaces the centrality of the worship of God is a problem. Little by little we allow the things of this world to creep into the sacred space of our own lives. We stop paying the full tithe because we have a few tough months financially. Suddenly money becomes an idol to us because it is not given up wholeheartedly in service to God. We skip our personal time with the Lord for a day, and we think we will make up the time. Wayne Cordeiro author of “The Divine Mentor” says that you skip devotions one day and you notice; two days and your family notices; three days and the world notices. Why? Because little by little you’re allowing the sacred space in your life to be taken over by the things of this world. The vessels for idol worship are filling the temple.
The Israelites hadn’t even noticed what was happening because it was so slow and subtle. This is the way in which the enemy will tempt us to fill the temple of our hearts and lives with many things that will eventually crowd out the Lord. We won’t even know how it happened because it happened over time.
King Josiah had to take inventory. He had to compare the word of God to the state of God’s people. From time to time we need to stop and take inventory of where we find ourselves in our relationship with God. If we have allowed the things of this world to squeeze God into a corner, we need to have them removed and put far enough away that they are not a temptation to us. We cannot only be moved by God’s word, but we must take action.
Only by regular reflection and introspection can we ask ourselves, “How did we get here?” and now “How do we get out of here?” By the grace of God it is possible!
Lord, may the good things of my life never squeeze you out of central place in my life. Amen.