SOCIAL SCIENCE AND CHRISTIANITY

We hear the world saying that science and religion are unrelated activities of the human mind. Charles A. Ellwood said, “A new hope has come into the world — that science may unite with religion in the work of redeeming mankind; that thus we of this generation may discover a new synthesis of aspiration with knowledge.” The world says that science cannot be the basis for religion and that it deals with entirely different realms of experience. However, God says, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). God’s declaration breaks this compartmentalization mindset that distinguishes between the secular and the sacred.

Moreover, Ellwood also suggests that when the church welcomes social science as an ally, then there will be a powerful religious revival that the world has never seen before. Maybe the Body of Christ should start caring more about the social issues that surround the community which it is a part of. But how can the church play a more active role in society?  What gifts does the prophet have to offer to the marketplace?

The worldview that we are all “allies” is a social science model wherein the ultimate goal is to explore whether social science and Christianity are capable of a dynamic integration. In contrast to the “Enemy” social science model, which illustrates social science and Christianity on opposing ends of the spectrum, the goal of the “Allies” model is to achieve unity wholeness in the world. Integration refers to the act or process of making whole; in this case, therefore, integration could refer to the process of fitting two items together in order to make one orderly functioning entity. Simply said, social gospel seeks to unite social science and Christianity together to make the world a better place.

While the church must not turn a blind eye to sin, it must also not bring about condemnation to sinners. In Jesus’ time, he always took the side of the poor, the outcast, the oppressed, and the marginalized, at the expense of the religious leaders who strictly followed the rules.

The crowd did not encounter Jesus and walked away saying, “Man, he sure hated adulterers!” In fact, Jesus stood up for a woman whom the Pharisees called as adulterous (John 8:1-11). Jesus’ main concerns were and are the poor, the homeless, and the sick. Accordingly, maybe the church should also sow into these areas that concerned Jesus the most when he walked the earth. If we apply the “Allies” social science model into practice, we will notice more and more about how the world needs the Body of Christ to put into practice the message of the Bible.

Studying the Word of God is about equipping yourself to live out in practical ways the standard of the Bible. Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available exclusively via the Book of the Month Club.

 

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

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What can you learn from Jesus as the epitome of a social gospel preacher?

THE NEED FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION

Our scriptures contain Christ’s command. We have an enormous history of the Christian faith which chronicles faithful submission to the Great Commission, along with great stories of men and women who have traveled to various countries to evangelize the inhabitants. The question, however, is, “Are we doing it correctly?” If we are not doing it properly, should there be a reformation of evangelizing tactics?

Don’t get me wrong. There is a very efficient system in place, where benefactors contribute funds to a missionary family, which then goes out into another country to teach the gospel to its people. But asking if this is the system Christ intended for us to execute cannot be avoided I believe that, on top of the systematic missions the Christian faith performs, applying the system itself is crucial so we will effectively engage the world as a whole with the message of Christ.

The call to evangelize is not mutually exclusive to a specific office of the church militant. Pastors, missionaries, elders, deacons, and the common laymen all possess equal responsibility to bring the gospel into the world personally. While contributing money for gospel preaching in other nations is a remarkable practice, if it is the only initiative we take in order to fulfill the Great Commission, then we are failing greatly.

The call to evangelize is a message for each evangelical church as much as it is a message for the entire Church. Each person within the body of Christ must go forth into his or her workplace, school, or other common place of habit, and share Christ’s gospel. We should make disciples of all nations, including, quite literally, our neighbors. What sense does it make if we financially contribute to a missionary overseas but fail to commit to caring for one’s neighbor personally?

Once again, a disturbing lack of apathy among Christians is present, despite their moving emotionalism for specific cases. We may pity the less fortunate, those in third-world countries, or the AIDS victims in Africa; nevertheless, if we fail to care for the needs—either spiritual or physical—of our immediate localities, then we fail in executing Christ’s command in evangelizing the world.

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Is there an area in your life wherein you are experiencing apathy, instead of Christian compassion?

 

THE GOSPEL IN ACTION

The Apostle James once wrote, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22 KJV). James’ words are more relevant today than ever; even in the same context as was in James’ time. The quote is both an ideal and an action since it has both a spiritual and material substance. One must accept Christ’s work through one’s mental faculties; however, this expression must be worked through Christian love, which cannot happen without evangelization.

If we truly are convinced with the truth of the gospel and its power over our lives, then we should evangelize. Of course, a Christian may not totally agree to such a statement. Many Christian churches and faithful support missionaries who go overseas to preach the gospel to those who have never heard it before. Such a reality is actually a blessing from God. However, we know that we can always do more.

The gospel is a call to action; it is a call to abandon our old ways and offer our full attention to the social issues plaguing our world today. If we truly care about our souls and those of those around us, then the social gospel is not just another doctrine we can pick or choose; it simply becomes a natural extension of the gospel itself. Hence, Christ’s message must be expressed through love. As the Apostle Paul writes, “The only thing that counts is faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6 NRSV). Back in time, the apostolic Church understood the need to spread the Christian message not only through theological discourse of philosophical speculation but also through real and compassionate action. Any social issues which plagued the poor or needy, the apostles would certainly direct their attention towards them.

However, the apostles did not explicitly practice that attitude. The prophets, as we have previously witnessed, were similar harbingers of the gospel in action, albeit the pre-Christian gospel. Christianity is not a mold which can fit into a variety of political spectrums, philosophical systems, and other worldviews. It is not comparable to frosting on the cake of one’s life, or sprinkles on an ice cream cone. As a matter of fact, Christianity is the cake itself, and everything in our lives should revolve around our faith. That being said, the urgency of the message of the gospel and the need that it be proclaimed throughout the world are basic tenant of every Christian’s life. The same is intended by God to exist at the forefront of our mindset.

In the Old Testament, the Golden Rule was always an understood context. When Cain killed Abel, there were no Ten Commandants to discern the law of God, but God’s law is written in our hearts. Therefore, we do not have the excuse when it comes to being obedient to His commands. Thus, loving one as one would love himself was not a revolutionary ideal Christ ushered in. Additionally, the Levitical law exhorted the Hebrew people to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). But this was not the message for which Christ came to proclaim. The Golden Rule varies in every religion, so if Christ had simply been one of the many harbingers of love in the world, He would not have been very special. Instead of preaching that one should love one’s neighbor as one would love oneself, Jesus said, “I give you a new command, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another,” (Jn. 13:34 NRSV). Jesus’s command for us to love our neighbor is irrevocably intertwined with our faith in Him. If we are to follow Jesus, we are required to obey His every word—as simple as that.

Loving others as God Himself has expressed His love towards us is not an easy task. God is love (I Jn. 4:8). Naturally, Christ’s divine love transcends all that we are capable of offering Him in return; however, His command still stands as a transcendent goal: a perfect aim for us to pursue. Instead of pursuing happiness which entrances the world with its promises of riches and desire for luxury, Christians should forsake all worldly belongings. They must place on a pursuit of love.

Loving others and caring for the needy and the suffering are the gospel in action; it is the physical extension of a spiritual change within us. When we are being apathetic in the face of global suffering or when we shrug off evil in the world because the world is sinful and shall not be perfected until the grand eschaton, that means we are expressing apathy in the very face of the gospel’s corporeal extension. Such an action is almost similar to blaspheming the Holy Spirit, which is the unforgivable sin (Mk. 3:29). Therefore, we must hasten to do the work of Christ, to be His hands and feet in the world and to love those whom He came to die for. If we cannot care for our neighbor, how can we possibly expect Christ to care for us?

Therefore, the gospel should be expressed by every Christian in every place since it is the very foundation of the Christian religion and any alleviation of its message or expression spits in the very face of Christ and His work. We must obey God, lest we become like the unfaithful Israelites, who repeatedly failed to do good and fell into idolatry due to their lack of a compassionate spirit. Walter Rauschenbusch once wrote, “The Church is the social factor in salvation. It brings social forces to bear on evil. It offers Christ not only many human bodies and minds to serve as ministers of his salvation, but its own composite personality, with a collective memory stored with great hymns and Bible stories and deeds of heroism, with trained aesthetic and moral feelings, and with a collective will set on righteousness.”

The Church is God’s earthly tool. It is through the operation of the Church as both an institution and an organism—both as a corporeal entity and an ethereal people—that God draws all men to Himself. The Church possesses a great number of priests, prophets, and kings, all looking up towards the highest and holiest priest, prophet, and king, Jesus Christ, who gave us an important mission to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:16-20 NRSV).

Studying the Word of God is about equipping yourself to live out in practical ways the standard of the Bible. Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available exclusively via the Book of the Month Club.

 

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

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How is James’ book relevant to your life today?

AN IMPOSSIBLE PROMISE TO THE WORLD

In today’s society, the problem is not just about poverty; it is also about inequality and injustice, especially in the context of racism. Transforming the world into a racial inequality — and intolerance-free place was a personal advocacy borne out of my sense of responsibility. My strong sense of responsibility compelled me to call out to my fellowmen to take a stand and eradicate racism.  As I read my Bible, the urge was confirmed; the message I encountered that day was “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (Jam. 4:16). I knew racial inequality and injustice were wrong, and I had to be the prophet in the marketplace to profess these wrongs and to call society to repentance.

Definitely, responsibility needed to start with me. I initiated the anti-racism movement in our community. Uncertainties came our way, but our impossible promise of transforming the world was to create a peaceful and racism-free environment ignited our passion and encouraged us to take the initiative. I took my stand as a leader of transformation; similarly, I urge the people of the present to take a stand. Initiate the change. Understand that we all have the responsibility to transform the world. Become the source of transformation of your future world.

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What is your impossible promise to the world?

BEING ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR BROTHERS & SISTER

Jesus spoke about the final judgment that awaits us—it is an inevitable event. With this final judgment, we are reminded of our purpose here on earth. How have we endeavored to advance God’s Kingdom? How have we played the part of the prophet in the marketplace? What have we contributed to society?

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me (Matthew 25:34-40, NRSV).

In his book Am I Still My Brother’s Keeper: Biblical Perspective On Poverty, Robert Wafawanaka highlights how Deuteronomy 15:4 envisions ancient Israel’s response to poverty. In this passage, Moses argues that there should be no poor among the Israelites because if the people are obedient to the Law of God, then the poor would not have existed. The premise is that community members are bound to take care of the needy members in society. This vision may seem idealistic, but it is true that it could have eliminated poverty among the Israelites if they all obeyed the Lord’s statutes.

There will, however, be no one in need among you, because the Lord is sure to bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession to occupy, if only you will obey the Lord your God by diligently observing this entire commandment that I command you today. (Deuteronomy 15:4-5 NRSV)

Poverty is a problem that has persisted over time because people have continued to disobey God’s commandments. In Deuteronomy, Moses reveals that if disobedience is present in people, the poverty will never cease to exist out in the land, “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land” (Dt. 15:11 NRSV). Poverty in Israel could only be solved if every Israelite would obey the Lord’s call to alleviate the plight of the poor.  The bible mandates the believers to care for the poor; caring for the poor was ingrained in the cultures of Babylon, Canaan, and Egypt—these are cultures which influenced the Israelite way of life.

Studying the Word of God is about equipping yourself to live out in practical ways the standard of the Bible. Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available exclusively via the Book of the Month Club.

 

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

 

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How do you think poverty connects with disobedience?

THE COSMOS AS A TEMPLE OF GOD

In the beginning, God created the entire universe; toward the end of His creative action, He called it good (Gen. 1:31). He placed Man into the universe and gave him stewardship over His creation (2:15). Since the Fall of Man, all of God’s good creation also fell due to their submission to humanity as steward. As Paul asserts, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:20-23 NRSV).

Based from the above passage, Paul taught that the entire cosmos was subjected to corruption upon the Adamic trespass. However, he advanced that through Christ’s personhood and His incarnation, the cosmos is no longer groaning in pain but is waiting for the fruition of the eschaton. Upon Christ’s Incarnation, the entire universe was affected by the entrance of God into the earth. A typological aspect of Christ’s incarnation is present in the narrative of the Old Testament temple.

In the Old Testament, God’s presence is told to have entered into a Temple so His people would sufficiently worship him. His presence would sanctify the building and the sanctuary and bring a redemptive aspect to the physical and material world. In the New Testament, God instead enters into the world by taking a body of flesh, sanctifying the world around Him, and bringing with Him into the universe a redemptive aspect of salvation by simply being who He was. The parallelism between Christ’s teaching that “as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt: 24:27-29) and the Old Testament instance of “the glory of the Lord [entering] the temple by the gate facing east,” (Ezek. 43:4) can be observed here. The typology is difficult to miss; the fact that Jesus entered into the world as God entered into the Jewish temple shows an intrinsically purifying nature to the corporeal universe around us. God, through the person of Jesus Christ his Son, is literally “making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

The Temple mentioned in the Old Testament belongs to God; no priest would dare argue against that. Therefore, with the cosmos itself being the typological fulfillment of the Old Testament Temple in entering into the cosmos, the entire universe can be considered as God’s. This means that His divinity and holiness enter into it, hence purifying it and making it new. This means that the earth which we live in, the oxygen we breathe, the rivers which provide us water, the crops which we harvest, and the animals which give us meat, all belong to God. According to Matthew Henry, “God’s temple, his church on earth, [is] filled with his glory. His train, the skirts of his robes, filled the temple, the whole world, for it is all God’s temple. And yet he dwells in every contrite heart.” This implies that upon entering the world, God’s glory claims every inch of the world, seeking to purify it and restore it its natural state of goodness.

 

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What are the everyday things you see that reveal to you the glory of God?

THE CHRISTOLOGICAL IMMANENCE OF GOD

 

God’s transcendence is part of God’s nature which is unknowable to humanity in our present state. The face of God, so to speak, or the ability to behold God in all of His glory as He truly exists, is a facet of His transcendence. The very substance which constitutes God’s existence is beyond the realm of human speculation. The only way in which we can define God is describing that which He is not. He is immortal, which is to say, He is not mortal. He is infinite, which is to say, He is not finite. He is infallible, which is to say, He is not fallible. To understand aspects of God’s transcendent nature, we must use cataphatic terms to arrive at an accurate understanding of the one we worship in Spirit and in truth.

God’s immanence is best understood in light of the incarnation. When God took for himself a body of flesh, He eternally united His nature man’s; eventually, man became the perfect human person. Through this, what had been previously unknowable became partially knowable by man. Christian Christology itself has great a contribution to the salvific operation of God in the world because through Jesus Christ, God revealed His light to mankind, hence making the Incarnation of Christ to the Christian faith very crucial. God’s revelation flipped the darkness which the Old Testaments prophesied into a blazing light as seen on the Mount of Transfiguration, where “[Jesus] was transfigured before [His disciples], and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white,” (Matt. 17:2 NRSV). An immanent aspect of God’s nature became incarnated into flesh to descend into our reality and minister to us by guiding us in the ways and statutes of God. In short, God came to Man so Man could come to God.

Thus, God’s immanent theology in the Christian religion is notably distinct from the transcendent and ultimately unapproachable nature of God in other Abrahamic religions such as Judaism and Islam, both of which do not promote personal relationship with the incarnated immanence of God. John recorded the miraculous phenomenon involving the Incarnation as the Word becoming flesh and making its dwelling among us, hence “we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (Jn. 1:14 NRSV).

Now, the implications of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us lie exactly in what Christ’s Incarnation achieved as an end in itself. The Incarnation is the completion and fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise, of the Mosaic Law, and of the prophecies. In the incarnate person of Jesus Christ, man receives from God the highest priest, the holiest king, and the final prophet. God’s coming into the reality of man is a divine manifestation of His love for us, His creations, and this love extends throughout the entire cosmos.

Studying the Word of God is about equipping yourself to live out in practical ways the standard of the Bible. Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available exclusively via the Book of the Month Club.

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of

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How does the coming of Jesus reveal God’s divine love for you?

A MINISTRY OF LIGHT

After prescribing to the Church a ministry of salt, Christ immediately spoke of His followers as being “the light of the world” and proceeded to teach that, “A city on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven,” (Matt. 5:14-16 NRSV).

Just as Christ mediated the divine light of God to His disciples, His disciples were also beckoned to mediate Christ’s light into the world. The light possessed by the disciples can be compared to that of a lamp, which infers the presence of a pre-existing light source igniting the light of lamp; therefore, the light expressed by Christ’s disciples is not a light of man; rather, it is the light of God, ignited within man by Christ the divine lamp-lighter. The ontological residence of this light is referred to continuously throughout the Johannine corpus as within the personation of God’s Word, Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:4; 9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46). One can have this holy light by, as Jesus teaches, following Him and not walking in darkness (Jn. 8:12). Jesus is the brightest light, the original brightness of God, and the consuming fire which never dies.

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Meditate on how Jesus has been the brightest light of your life.

THE BIBLICAL ADMONITION TO RETAIN THIS MINISTRY OF SALT

Salt is a cleansing agent; similarly, a ministry of the Church must cleanse the world through the prophetic and divine agencies provided by God—prayer, evangelization, contemplation, and charity. Remember the warning Christ gave to those who lose their saltiness: “It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot,” (5:13b). Such a harsh rebuke for those who refuse to incorporate themselves into the ministry of preservation within the Church, but it is important to remember the words of the author of Hebrews, who interprets this difficult teaching:

Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, laying on hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And we will do this, if God permits. For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt.

This exposition by the eloquent epistler can certainly cause anxiety especially to those who have failed to live perfect lives as they have “fallen away” from Christ. There are often relatively short periods Christians undergo during their salvific journey where they follow God in repentance and obedience in a backsliding manner. Such periods are a perquisite for being human, and these seasons may last either several days, weeks, years, or even decades. In the context of the passage, it is crucial to pay attention to Apostle John’s disclaimer, which states, “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9 NRSV).

The author of Hebrews wrote, of course, to the Hebrew Christians, hence keeping this context in mind is important to be able to interpret the passage and correlate it with Jesus’s warning on the loss of one’s symbolic saltiness. In this warning, Jesus is referring to those who have been apostatized or who have intentionally estranged themselves from the body of Christ by rejecting the Church’s teachings. There is an important distinction to be made between spiritual inactivity and absolute apostasy. The former is inevitable due to our imperfect nature, while the latter is defined in Hebrews as those who reject the foundational teachings of the Christian faith: “repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, laying on hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” When one abandons these teachings, one loses one’s saltiness, and such apostasy is the very thing warned against by Christ when he says that those who fail to retain the ministry of salt are “thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Therefore, we Christians must retain the ministry of preservation and purification set forth by the Lord, at the very least, due to the catastrophic damage on our souls when we abandon the ministry. If we think that the words of Christ apply only to the Twelve and not to us, then we should not believe that anything He said to His followers back then applies to us now. Therefore, the ministry of salt is a crucial aspect of the Christian faith, hence failing to uphold it will jeopardize the quality of our spiritual lives.

 

Studying the Word of God is about equipping yourself to live out in practical ways the standard of the Bible. Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available exclusively via the Book of the Month Club.

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

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How are you participating in the MINISTRY OF THE SALT?

 

THE RELIGIOUS REFORMATION UNDER KING JOSIAH

Chapter 23 of Kings II features a fascinating discovery in the pages of the Bible. The chapter tells of King Josiah, king of Israel, who assumed the throne when he was only eight-years-old. The author notes that the king did “what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left,” (II Kings. 22:1-2 NRSV). On the 18th year of his reign, Josiah ordered his secretary, Shaphan, to go to the Temple to command the high priest Hilkiah to distribute the Temple’s funds among the workers.

When Shaphan did so, Hilkiah went to count the sum of the treasures in the Temple. All of a sudden, the priest came across the book of the law, which had been presumably lost until this point. The book likely contained either the Mosaic Pentateuch or a latter collection of Moses’s statutes and ordinances. The book was likely known to the Hebrews, for Hilkiah claimed to have “found the book of the law,” (22:8). When the Temple’s wealth was distributed among the workers, Shaphan informed Josiah of the book of the law found in the Temple by Hilkiah, reading it aloud before him.

Upon hearing its contents, King Josiah immediately “tore his clothes” in repentance and ordered the high priest to “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us,” (22:13). Eventually, Josiah was convicted by the examination of the lost Scriptures, leading him to rouse the religious authorities to reform the Hebrew religion.

The reforms initiated by Josiah’s command were directed towards the entire people of Judah. As the verse reads “All the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord,” (23:2). The religious reforms included making a covenant before God, vowing to keep His commandments, decrees, statutes, and performing all commands within the book of the law. Additionally, “all the people joined in the covenant.”

Evidentially, the people strayed away drastically from the laws and statutes implemented across Israel, seen in the king ordering all of the vessels made for Baal, Asherah, and various gods which existed in the Temple brought out and burned, with their ashes to be carried to Bethel (v.4). The idolatrous priests who refused to abide by the religious reforms were deposed; in fact, there was even a social aspect of these decrees. The houses of prostitutes within the Temple were broken down, and all of the lands influenced by Israel’s paganist-polytheistic neighbors were desecrated and broken down. “He broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the sacred poles, and covered the sites with human bones,” (v.14).

In the long run, countless innovations on the Hebrew faith became evident as Josiah’s issued religious reformation, from the destruction of pagan altars within Judah’s borders to the burning of bones which inhabited the tombs of supposedly “sacred” mounts. Furthermore, “he slaughtered on the altars all the priests of the high places who were there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem” (v.20).

The king also ordered the reinstitution of the Passover as prescribed in the Torah. A verse from the book says, “No such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, even during all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem,” (vv.22-23). After the Passover, any Hebrew medium—wizard teraphim, idol, or other forms of abomination—was put away by Josiah, “so that he established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah had found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his might, according to the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him,” (v.25).

Thus, God applauds the narrative of the religious reformation which Joshua carried out. Specifically, God said, “Because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord… I will gather you to your ancestors, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace,” (22:20). This story tells us that religious reformation is as necessary in the Old Testament as it is today. When the Scriptures become hidden and lost from the Church, we begin to acquire the same corruption which characterized Judah under Josiah’s reign. Therefore, the prophet must be able to recover God’s statutes and reform God’s religion accordingly.

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What has your quiet time been telling you to do or to reform?