In his book “2 Chronicles, A House of Prayer“ Andrew Stewart makes these insightful comments regarding the steady progress that Josiah made as King:
This statement is proven by the timing of Josiah’s command that the temple be restored. While he began seeking God in the eighth year of his reign, he did not commence the work of repairing the House of God until the eighteenth year. He made progress slowly, being driven by a clear purpose and only making the big decisions when the time was right. The important fact was this – after ten years he was still in the Lord’s work pressing on and going forward.
This study examines the beginning of the work, which Josiah was raised up to accomplish. Having eradicated the trappings of idolatry the time was ripe for re-establishing the worship of the one and only true God.
1: The Purpose for the Rebuilding
Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God.2nd Chronicles 34:8
Every leader is called to fulfil a particular task for the people of his generation. David established a Kingdom, Solomon strengthened a nation; David was a war time leader whereas Solomon ruled in days of peace. Solomon built the temple but it fell upon Josiah to rebuild the temple.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; atime to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;Ecclesiastes 3:1-5
The great temple had witnessed much drama throughout its long and illustrious history.
If stones could speak they would talk of prayers and fire, of coronations and assassination, of priests and apostasy.
They would also speak of the silent years when the doors were shut and the temple fell into disrepair; the weeds sprang up, the birds nested in the holiest place, the bleating of the sacrificial lambs were not heard, there was no footfall in the courts, the lamps had gone out because darkness had come. But now those old stones describe the work of the mason, and sounds of craftsmanship. A new King has come and his destiny is to rebuild and bring the house back to its former glory. This was Josiah’s purpose.
One generation in Gospel ministry plants a work while the next generation consolidates. One preacher sows while another reaps. The evangelist wins souls while the pastor nurtures and feeds. One era experiences divisions and retreat while another era heals and brings together. Sadly there is a generation who compromises the Gospel while God in mercy raises another to purge the old leaven and restore the glory that belongs to Christ.
What is blatantly obvious is this: – this generation cannot do the work of yesterday. That age is gone. Even the preachers of today cannot preach the sermons of yesterday. The preaching of the puritans and of the Victorian pulpiteers will not be heard by this generation. The truth and the Gospel are always the same but the tone, the language. the appeal, the application must be contextualised for this generation. Living in the past will never accomplish anything today.
Realising our purpose for today is our destiny.
We live in a deeply secular world to whom the Gospel is a foreign language, terms like redemption are meaningless, the Creation of the world are treated as a myth and the resurrection of Christ is relegated to fairy story territory. Yet we must with logic and authority hold forth the Word of Life to this society and win people for Jesus. In common with every past generation who accomplished anything for God we must be a praying people, because it is through this means that the mountains can be cast into the sea.
2: The Collection for the Rebuilding
And when they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem.2nd Chronicles 34:9
The ten years between Josiah’s conversion and the beginning of rebuilding work were not spent idle. Not only had he travelled through Judah and the territory formerly known as Israel destroying all the symbols and practices of idolatry, but he was also raising money for the work of his lifetime. He was a man of foresight, willing to prepare and to wait for the opportune moment; a prudent and clear thinking individual.
3: The Organisation in the Rebuilding
And they put it in the hand of the workmen that had the oversight of the house of the LORD, and they gave it to the workmen that wrought in the house of the LORD, to repair and amend the house: Even to the artificers and builders gave they it, to buy hewn stone, and timber for couplings, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed. And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them were Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set it forward; and other of the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of musick. Also they were over the bearers of burdens, and were overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites there were scribes, and officers, and porters.2nd Chronicles 34:10-13
Materials were purchased, tradesmen were employed, overseers appointed and labourers hired for this job of work. The work was not only planned but organised, with various talents employed for the furtherance of the project.
In God’s work there ought to be orderliness; God is a Being who works to a pattern and according to a design and He expects His people to do likewise, especially in His work. in Christian work there is leadership which we practice according to Presbyterian design; oversight by elders assisted by a committee, duly chosen by the congregation. But there is also, of necessity, an appreciation of everyone’s individual talent. The preacher is not a Sunday School teacher, each one has a unique talent to use in the building up of Christ’s Kingdom.
4: The Faithfulness through the Rebuilding
And the men did the work faithfully2nd Chronicles 34:12
For me this is the greatest accolade that can be made of those who supported Josiah in rebuilding the temple, they were faithful. Their talent and energy would have been devoid of real meaning were it not for the fact that they were faithful.
They were faithful because they recognised that this was no normal task in which they were engaged. This was the Lord’s work and He was one who loved this house and all that pertained to it.
LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house,Psalms 26:8
and the place where thine honour dwelleth.”
Let us endeavour to be faithful to the Lord’s work in our praying, devotion, our conviction, our learning, our boldness and our consistency. Our talents may be be few and meagre but let us be challenged and encouraged to continue with faithfulness….
the future progress of the Christian Church depends upon a faithful people.