Around the Word smallWe live in an age of intellectual relativism and religious syncretism. The powerful opinion makers of this world are intent on one thing and one thing only — the standardization of a non-standard-based way of life, which is another way of saying the obliteration of any notion of right and wrong. The right/wrong construct, according to these heralds of modernity, is antiquated, being deservedly delegated to the dustbins of history.

Josiah, the last of the 5 kings of Judah before the nation was exiled to Babylon, lived in similar times. The religious establishment had almost completely obliterated the true worship of God from the land. The few remnants that still rejected religious syncretism were in hiding. It was not safe to exercise the right to contradict. From all appearances, Josiah was destined to be another puppet king, serving at the beckoning call of the religious apostates. But strangely, Josiah went the other way. How did that happen?

First, it happened because of his family’s influence. Not on his father’s side, of course. By the time Josiah began to reign, he had to undo 57 years of faithlessness led by his father and grandfather. But it is safe to assume that it was a different story on his mother’s side.

Josiah’s mother was Jedidah, a name meaning “the beloved of Jehovah.” His maternal grandmother was Adiah, a name meaning “the honored of Jehovah.” It is reasonable to infer that Josiah was tutored by his mother and grandmother. They, together with some close allies, nurtured a faith in young Josiah which would not be overcome by the moods of society.

In addition to that, Josiah had the great voices of the prophets Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Huldah, who were also preaching against the evil Israel was committing at that time. The high priest Hilkiah, and especially the king’s scribe, Saphan, also played a huge role in the religious upbringing of young Josiah. Saphan’s family played a critical part all the way to the end, begging people to repent and return to YHWW. In Jeremiah 36:10, for example, we see Saphan and his family standing squarely with Jeremiah, at a time when Josiah’s son and successor had threatened to kill Jeremiah and as an act of defiance burned the scroll from Jeremiah that had been read to him (Jeremiah 36:23-24).

In a similar way, Paul reminded Timothy of his spiritual heritage when he said, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5).

What we see is that even in the worst age of relativism and syncretism, God always reserves for Himself a remnant that refuses to go with the flow and finds ways to challenge the establishment. Often, this challenge is soft and persistent like the rain dripping from a leaky roof; but often it is also bombastic and courageous, like Jeremiah’s letter to the king. Regardless of the approach, though, when God’s truth is under attack, the follower of Christ should not run to neutrality. That would be suicide.

Remaining neutral would be the equivalent of rejecting God, as we learn too well from Christ’s letter to the church in Laodicea: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16).

As we talk about Josiah this Sunday, please ask yourself this question: How is your spiritual temperature? And if it’s not “hot,” watch out for the divine spit!

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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