26:1-28:27 - We must not take God’s blessing for granted. King Uzziah began well - ‘He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord... He set himself to seek God’ (26:4-5). Things went wrong - ‘When he was strong he grew proud’ and ‘he was false to the Lord his God’ (26:16). We must choose to live the Lord’s way - King Jotham ‘did what was right in the eyes of the Lord’. Even when we do this, it does not guarantee that others will follow our example - ‘the people still followed corrupt practices’ (27:2). In times of trouble, we can become bitter people - ‘In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord’ - or better people - ‘the God of all comfort ... comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble...’ (28:22; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Bitter or better - Which will it be?
29:1-36 - God is calling us to be holy - ‘Now sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the House of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the holy place’ (5). Before there can be true rejoicing in the Lord - ‘they sang praises with gladness’ - , there must be real dedication to the Lord - ‘We have cleansed all the House of the Lord’ (30,18). Before there can be rejoicing, there must be restoration (35-36). We may pray, ‘Restore, O Lord, the honour of Your Name!’. We must also pray, ‘Cleanse me from my sin, Lord’. The prayer for revival begins with the dedication of our own lives to the Lord - ‘O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; send a revival - start the work in me’ (Mission Praise, 579, 82, 587). Revival can happen ‘suddenly’ (36). It will not happen without a true return to the Lord.
30:1-31:10 - We are called to ‘return to the Lord’. With this call comes God’s promise: ‘the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you, if you return to Him’ (30:9). Where does the desire to return to the Lord come from? - It comes from the Lord Himself: ‘the hand of the Lord was on the people to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the Word of the Lord’ (12). Returning to the Lord, we hear His Word of forgiveness: ‘The good Lord pardon every one who sets his heart to seek God’. We rejoice in the Gospel - ‘The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives’. ‘ The Lord has blessed His people’. We rejoice in Him - ‘Praise the Lord!... Let the people rejoice’ and ‘let the earth hear His voice’ (18-19; 30:10; Mission Praise, 708).
31:11-32:33 - Seek God and serve God. This is what King Hezekiah did - ‘he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God,... seeking his God... with all his heart’ (31:20-21). Seek God and serve God. This is what we must do. God was good to Hezekiah - ‘the Lord saved Hezekiah...’ (32:22). God is good to us. He saves us. To ‘all the ends of the earth’, He says, ‘Turn to Me and be saved’ (Isaiah 45:22). He calls us to come to Him through Jesus Christ, ‘the Saviour of the world’ (John 4:42). It is so easy to forget the Lord. Hezekiah was delivered from death yet he did not thank the Lord (32:24-25). We may forget the Lord, but He does not forget us. He waits for us to return to Him and receive His forgiveness - ‘the Lord is merciful and gracious... He does not deal with us according to our sins...’ (32:26; Psalm 108:8-13).
33:1-34:13 - Good work can be very quickly undone - ‘Manasseh... did what was evil in the sight of the Lord... he rebuilt the high places which his father Hezekiah had broken down, and set up altars to other gods...’ (33:1-3). We must be careful to follow the godly example of those who have served the Lord well. In Hebrews 11, we read about God’s faithful servants. They served the Lord in their day. We are to serve Him in our day - ‘surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,... let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus...’ (Hebrews 12:1-2). Bad work can also be undone if, like King Josiah, we are ready to make a new beginning with God (34:1-4). He was only ‘eight years old when he began to reign’. Pray that the children will start loving God now and keep loving Him as they grow older.
34:14-35:19 - During the reign of King Josiah, there was spiritual revival (33). Where did this spiritual revival come from? It came from God. It came from the rediscovery of God’s Word. Where was the Word of the Lord found? - It was found ‘in the House of the Lord’ (34:15). God speaks to us through His Word. Beyond the written Word, there is Jesus Christ, the living Word. The Word of God is preached to us. We listen for the Voice of Jesus Christ, the true and living Word of God. God is speaking His Word in power. This is much more than the opening of a book. It is the opening of our hearts to the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5). It is the opening of our hearts by the Spirit of God. Through the Spirit, ‘rivers of living water’ flow out from our hearts (John 7:37-39).
35:20-36:23 - Josiah had been a good king, but ‘he did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God’. His mistake was very costly. He ‘fought’. He was ‘shot’ and ‘badly wounded’. He ‘died’ and was ‘buried’ (35:22-24). Be careful in your listening to God”s Word. Failure to obey His Word will be costly: ‘How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3). After Josiah’s time, there was terrible spiritual decline. Beginning with Jehoahaz (1-2; 2 Kings 23:31-32), the kings ‘did what was evil in the sight of the Lord’ (5,9,11-12). Was there any hope for the future? - Yes! ‘The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia... to build Him a House at Jerusalem’. Like Cyrus, we must say to our neighbours, ‘Let us go to the House of the Lord’ (36:22-23; Psalm 122:1). His time of blessing may not be far away!