Script for the May 15th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.
Welcome to the May 15th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.
Today’s reading is in 2 Kings 22-23 and John 4. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.
2 Kings 22
Now we come to my all-time favorite king over the southern nation of Judah. His name is Josiah. And while there were only three legitimate kings of Judah to follow him before Judah fell, with the fourth man installed by the king of Babylon, Josiah’s reign was characterized by renewal and revival. Let’s read about him.
2 Kings 22:1-2 (CSB): “1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the Lord’s sight and walked in all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn to the right or the left.”
As we are introduced to Josiah, we read in verses 3-7 that he oversaw repairs made to the Jerusalem temple. It had deteriorated over time. Further, King Manassah, who was Josiah’s grandfather, filled the Jerusalem Temple with pagan altars and objects of worship. It needed to be cleansed before it could once again be used to worship the God of Heaven in it.
As the Temple was being repaired, something was discovered in a backroom, or closet, or someplace where it had been collecting dust.
2 Kings 22:8 (CSB): “The high priest Hilkiah told the court secretary Shaphan, ‘I have found the book of the law in the Lord’s temple,’ and he gave the book to Shaphan, who read it.”
Did you get that? The Book of the Law was found! The books that Moses wrote. We might even say, “The Bible has been found.”
The fact that this was such a surprise makes us think that the Kings of Judah and the people of Israel had merely been winging it. They were not reading the Bible because they did not have it.
But now they’ve got it! So, what’s going to happen now that someone has discovered the Bible?
2 Kings 22:10-11 (CSB): “10 Then the court secretary Shaphan told the king, ‘The priest Hilkiah has given me a book,’ and Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes.”
After hearing the Bible read to him, King Josiah realized he and his people had violated so much of it. But the book of the Law also said that disobedience would be met with God’s discipline and judgment. So, King Josiah sent his trusted leaders to inquire of the Lord, to see what the Lord thought of all this.
2 Kings 22:13 (CSB): “Go and inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah about the words in this book that has been found. For great is the Lord’s wrath that is kindled against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words of this book in order to do everything written about us.”
Next, we read that these men went to a prophetess named Huldah. Listen to what the Bible Knowledge Commentary says about this.
Bible Knowledge Commentary: “The fact that the king’s five officers sought out the Prophetess Huldah suggests that she was highly regarded for her prophetic gift. Other prophets also lived in and around Jerusalem at this time including Jeremiah (Jer. 1:2), and Zephaniah (Zeph. 1:1), and perhaps Nahum and Habakkuk. But the five consulted Huldah for reasons unexplained.”
Essentially, these men heard Huldah say that God was justifiably angry and his wrath would not be quenched. The sins of Judah had become so grievous and had lasted for so long that God’s patience had run out. Judah was going into captivity.
Yet, there were words of grace in what she said. As she spoke on behalf of the Lord, she told the men that Josiah’s response to the reading of the Scripture had caught Heaven’s attention. Because he was broken over Judah’s sins, because he tore his clothes and wept before the Lord, God was going to extend an extra measure of grace to him.
2 Kings 22:20 (CSB): “ ‘Therefore, I will indeed gather you to your ancestors, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster that I am bringing on this place.’ Then they reported to the king.”
As we read these words, our minds are drawn back to similar words that were said to King Hezekiah. Yet, Hezekiah did nothing about it. He merely expressed his gratitude that the tragedy wouldn’t happen in his lifetime.
Now that Josiah has heard of God’s wrath and the coming judgment, will he simply express gratitude that he won’t have to see it? Or will he do whatever he can to lead the people in a time of spiritual renewal so that God’s wrath might be appeased, and judgment might be pushed farther and farther into the future?
The next chapter gives us the answer.
2 Kings 23
As 2 Kings 23 opens, we observe Josiah taking responsibility. He’s leading by example. He calls for a public meeting and declares his allegiance to the Lord. He vows to obey the Lord completely. What is implied is that the people would follow his example of their own will and not by any forced measures.
2 Kings 23:1-3 (CSB): “1 So the king sent messengers, and they gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him. 2 Then the king went to the Lord’s temple with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as well as the priests and the prophets—all the people from the youngest to the oldest. He read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the Lord’s temple. 3 Next, the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant in the Lord’s presence to follow the Lord and to keep his commands, his decrees, and his statutes with all his heart and with all his soul in order to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book; all the people agreed to the covenant.
So all the people agreed with him. They vowed to comply with the covenant to obey God completely.
But words and good intentions aren’t good enough. Josiah needed to strike while the iron was hot. The people were open to the change that spiritual renewal required so he got busy.
In verses 4-20, we read of a man on a mission. He is destroying everything, everything(!), that did not align with God’s Word. We can only assume that the people of Judah observed with approval because there seems to have been no place that was untouched by his reforms.
Again, remember why Josiah is doing this. It is because he knows that Judah has been in violation of God’s Word and so God is angry. Judgment is coming. Josiah is simply doing the things that might push the judgment off a bit.
Friends, this is why I have dedicated my ministry to focusing on Scripture. The people in Josiah’s day didn’t have the Scripture until it was found. For the people in our day, the Scripture is hidden in plain sight. We have more Bibles than we know what to do with, but a large portion of Christians don’t spend sufficient time reading, studying, and obeying God’s Word. So, I want to be just one more voice that gets the Word to people so that we can know what God has required and then obey it.
Well, Josiah didn’t simply get rid of stuff. He also restarted some things that had been forgotten. One thing that the people of Judah hadn’t done in years was observe the Passover, the meal that reminded the Israelites of how God had saved them from Egyptian slavery.
2 Kings 23:21-23 (CSB): “21 The king commanded all the people, ‘Observe the Passover of the Lord your God as written in the book of the covenant.’ 22 No such Passover had ever been observed from the time of the judges who judged Israel through the entire time of the kings of Israel and Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the Lord’s Passover was observed in Jerusalem.”
Then, the writer of 2 Kings tells us of yet more things that Josiah did to purge the land of anything that was in violation of God’s Word. And then we read the powerful words of verse 25.
2 Kings 23:25 (CSB): “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 strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him.”
Wow! If only we could live in such a way that those words could be said of us!
So, King Josiah did a thorough job of eradicating from Judah what was offensive to the Lord. He has also cleansed and revamped the Temple and reinstituted the Passover.
Now the question becomes: “Did his actions appease God’s wrath? Did his actions push judgment forward at least a little bit?” Just read the next verses…
2 Kings 23:26-27 (CSB): “26 In spite of all that, the Lord did not turn from the fury of his intense burning anger, which burned against Judah because of all the affronts with which Manasseh had angered him. 27 For the Lord had said, ‘I will also remove Judah from my presence just as I have removed Israel. I will reject this city Jerusalem, that I have chosen, and the temple about which I said, “My name will be there.” ’ ”
All that Josiah had accomplished did not change the circumstances. Judah was still bound for judgment and would be sent off to captivity.
There are a couple of biblical principles that I see in this text.
First, when we sin, and those sins have consequences, we can seek God’s forgiveness and move into a time of refreshing renewal, but it may not stop the consequences.
If a parent lived their life for themselves and didn’t take their faith in God seriously, they may at a later time seek God’s forgiveness and experience personal revival, but their child may still grow up, leave home, and reject any relationship with the Lord. This is why even though Josiah’s reforms didn’t stop the consequences, they at least helped the people under his reign to experience God’s favor for a season even though Judah was still doomed for judgment.
Friend, we can always be forgiven by God, but some sins are going to bring consequences regardless of what we do. That’s why we should be resolute in obeying God’s Word.
A second biblical principle is this: God sometimes sees us as a group, not as individuals. Sometimes, individuals within a group can live right, but they will experience the consequences of someone else’s sin.
Imagine that you are on a bus. Unknown to you, the driver has been drinking and is impaired. In his drunken state, as you sit in your seat unaware of his condition, he accidentally veers off the road, and the bus plunges to the valley floor below. You weren’t guilty of sin. He was the sinner. But you experienced his consequences.
Friend, it is not only in our best interest to be resolute in our love for and obedience to the Lord. It is also in the best interest of those we love. Because if our sins bring on consequences, they may also harm others.
The story of Josiah comes to an end when he marches his army up to the Euphrates River to confront Pharaoh Neco. We are told that Neco saw Josiah and killed him. King Josiah’s body is taken back to Jerusalem and buried.
2 Kings 23:30 (CSB): “… Then the common people took Jehoahaz son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in place of his father.”
Verses 31-33 tell us that Jehoahaz was evil and only reigned for 3 months in Jerusalem. Pharaoh Neco imprisoned him and imposed a fine upon the nation of Judah.
2 Kings 23:34 (CSB): “Then Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Jehoahaz and went to Egypt, and he died there.”
2 Kings 23:36 (CSB): “Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem…”
Jehoiakim did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. And now we only have one legitimate king of Judah left (Jehoiachin) and a man who was placed on the throne by a foreign power (Zedekiah). Then, Judah was be taken into captivity.
In verses 1-42, we come to a very familiar story. In it, we meet the Samaritan woman at the well. There is so much in here that is worthy of serious reflection, but time doesn’t allow it so let’s just hit a few high points.
We’re led to believe that Jesus traveled north toward Galilee because the Pharisees had heard that His disciples were baptizing more than John the Baptizer. So, it seems that rather than allow the Pharisees to create a rift in the two groups, Jesus traveled with his disciples to another place.
John 4:4-6 (CSB): “4 He had to travel through Samaria; 5 so he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from his journey, sat down at the well. It was about noon.”
There are some fascinating things that these previous few verses tell us. They tell us that Jesus was “worn out” which clearly points to the fact that He was living His life as fully human because God never gets worn out.
They also tell us that “He had to travel through Samaria.” According to the Jews in the first century, that wasn’t true. They regularly crossed the Jordan River to avoid going through Samaria. They despised the people there and never had to go through their land.
But the words, “He had to travel through Samaria,” point to the fact that Jesus was being led by the Father. The Lord had determined to save many people in the Samaritan town of Sychar, so Jesus had to go through that land in order to speak with them, particularly with a lady at the well of Jacob.
One of the many principles we observe in this text is that the Gospel trumps racism. Christians are to be about sharing the good news of the Gospel with anyone regardless of their gender, nationality, sin preference, or any other way that they may be different than us.
Jesus’ lack of racism was clearly noted by this Samaritan woman. Men didn’t value women, and yet Jesus was talking to her. Jews didn’t value Samaritans, and yet Jesus was talking to her. People who were godly didn’t talk to people who were sinners, especially adulterers, and yet Jesus was talking to her.
John 4:9 (CSB): “ ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ she asked him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.”
Clearly, Jesus is demonstrating for us on the pages of Scripture that we are to look down on no one. Every single person is broken and messed up to one extent or another, including us. So, the heart of someone who has been forgiven by the Lord should reach out to others, no matter who they are or what they’ve done, with the message that they can enter into a soul-satisfying relationship with the Lord, too.
As we listen to the back-and-forth of this conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, we see that He is speaking spiritual truths in a way that captures her interest. She’s not bored with Jesus. She finds him intriguing even if she does not really understand him.
But a Gospel presentation must address sin. We can’t merely talk about the blessings of coming into a relationship with the Lord. We must address how utterly offensive sin is to God, often demonstrated in how guilty a person feels over what they’ve done. Jesus does this…
John 14:16-19 (CSB): “‘Go call your husband,’ he told her, ‘and come back here.’ 17 ‘I don’t have a husband,’ she answered. ‘You have correctly said, “I don’t have a husband,”’ Jesus said. 18 ‘For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.’”
The big sin in her life that she knew about, and that probably tormented her so that she didn’t want to dwell on it, was that she was an adulterer. In fact, this may explain why she was out drawing water at noon, when the sun made being outside almost unbearable, and when the other ladies were not with her. She and everyone knew that she was an adulterer.
So, now that her sinfulness had been exposed and guilt was probably written on her face, she changed the subject.
John 4:19 (CSB): “‘Sir,’ the woman replied, ‘I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.’”
Yet, the deed was done. She was experiencing conviction, so Jesus said a few more things and then presented Himself to her as the Messiah.
John 4:25-26 (CSB): “25 The woman said to him, ‘I know that the Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’ 26 Jesus told her, ‘I, the one speaking to you, am he.’”
Jesus’ disciples came back as the woman left her water jar and went into Sychar to share the good news. She had been saved, and she had to tell others about it.
As she was in town, the disciples had brought food and encouraged Jesus to eat. But He said…
John 4:34 (CSB): “‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,’ Jesus told them.”
In other words, the nourishment that fed His soul and kept Him energized was doing what God had told Him to do. He found such great joy in sharing the good news of the kingdom with any who would listen. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that He fasted unintentionally. It was so much fun to share the Gospel with others that He hadn’t even noticed that He was hungry.
If you’ve ever shared the Gospel with someone and they asked the Lord to save them, you know of the happiness that Jesus was talking about.
The people of Sychar raced out to the well and listened to Jesus. Eventually, many of them trusted in Him, too. This place that the Jewish disciples would have despised and wanted to avoid had turned into a place where God’s blessings were flowing. I’m certain that they never forgot that day.
John 4:43 (CSB): “After two days he left there for Galilee.”
He made his way to Cana where he had performed his first miracle. Cana is about 10 miles due west of the Sea of Galilee.
John 4:46-47 (CSB): “…There was a certain royal official whose son was ill at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea into Galilee, he went to him and pleaded with him to come down and heal his son, since he was about to die.
After he had another desperate plea from this father, Jesus told him to go back home. His son was going to live.
John 4:50 (CSB): “‘Go,’ Jesus told him, ‘your son will live.’ The man believed what Jesus said to him and departed.”
As the father was heading home, his servants met him. They said that his son was much better and his fever was gone. The father inquired at what time he got better. Their answer made it clear that it was the same time that Jesus had said his son would live.
From this, I see the joy of someone who reflects on answered prayer. They’re not merely content that God answers prayer. They want to know the story. How did God answer? When did God answer? Re-creating the story of how God graciously answered your prayers can be a source of great happiness!
John 16:24 (CSB): “… Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
Well, the father couldn’t keep the story to himself. He told his family all about his encounter with Jesus. And John tells us…
John 4:53 (CSB): “… So he himself believed, along with his whole household.”
Lord Jesus, we come to You and thank You for the truth You have revealed to us in Your Word today. Help us to be like Josiah that loved You and loved others so much that we do what we can to lead in a time of spiritual renewal. And help us to be like Jesus who looks beyond differences and our faults to meet people in their time of need. Help us to be just as ready, working for our own happiness, by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen
I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!