Robert E. Surgenor
Entering the region of Judah last month (2 Chr. 34) our eyes fell upon a lad of eight years of age, Josiah by name. We considered his ANCESTRY. There was nothing in his family tree for the past one hundred years that would encourage this young lad to godliness. Yet we noticed that in spite of his environment "he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD." We concluded from this, that environment does not always mold the way of life in an individual. Josiah was a classic example of this. His ancestry had much to be desired, yet he turned out well.
Next we noticed his ATTITUDE. He had made up his mind to follow an undeviating course for his God "he declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left" (vs. 2). We noticed that a man turning to the right hand could well be termed "legal," while one turning to the left hand would constitute looseness. Josiah was a well balanced man.
"In the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father" (2 Chr. 34:3). The first seeking king was Saul. "And Saulís uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye?And he said, To seek the asses" (1 Sam. 10:14). This huge hulk of unsanctified flesh was an extremely selfish and self-centered man, who became an enemy of David. It is interesting that at the very commencement of his public life he is seen seeking unclean animals. This seemed to characterize him to the day of his death, where we find him seeking a witch and dying among the unclean. The world loves that which God hates and hates that which God loves. "For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild assís colt" (Job 11:12). The circus tent attracts far more than the gospel tent. The games of the day hold a far greater attraction than the gatherings of the Lordís people. The world is an unclean place and we are exhorted to "keep ourselves unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). What are we seeking?
As a lad of sixteen, Josiah sought after His God. How wonderful to see a young man, a young woman, seek after God. I realize that one cannot save themselves, but one certainly can seek to be saved. Perhaps the martyred Isaiahís words came by way of mouth to the lads attention. "Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isa. 55:6,7). It was said of three other kings that they sought the Lord - Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Uzziah. I am sure that it is the prayer of all Christian parents that their children will seek the Lord at an early age. Do you as a Christian parent make it attractive to your children to seek the Lord? Do they see in you contentment, peace and true happiness as a Christian? Do they observe that you have a happy fellowship with other believers, a fellowship that the world knows nothing about? Do you live in such a way that you make them wish that they had what you possess? Or, do they see a grumbling saint, never content and not enjoying the Lord. How is your home adorned? A television in the home is one of the most successful ways to instill into your children a thirst for the world. Are you raising them for the world, encouraging them in worldly affairs? Certainly we want the best for our children. But, what do you consider the best. Being successful in the world, or, becoming a child of God? We realize that salvation is of the Lord, but God forbid that any parent should become a stumbling block to their children in their seeking the Lord.
I have often been asked by parents, "When is a child old enough to be saved?" I would say that depends on the child. Matthew Henry, whose outstanding commentary is read worldwide, was saved at the age of ten. Isaac Watts, who wrote hundreds of profound hymns and is acknowledged as "the father of English hymnody," sought the Lord and found Him at the age of eight. Jonathan Edwards who set all of New England on fire for God and saw thousands saved through his preaching, was saved at the tender age of six. Josiah was sixteen and God gave him twenty three years to prove the reality of it - which he unmistakably did. May God give parents the joy of seeing their little ones seeking the Lord at a tender age. God assures us, "Those that seek Me early shall find Me" (Prov. 8:17). May God also give those parents the joy of seeing their little ones, after confessing Christ, going on and proving in their life to be truly the workmanship of God. May the Lord give parents the wit and wisdom not to encourage a false profession in their children. On the other hand, may they be given wisdom from above not to discourage the little one in their profession. Let us consider, that little children who are saved are not thirty-year-old mature individuals. They are children, thus they will be childish. I knew of an unwise couple who had a child profess. However, every time the little fellow did some trivial thing that they considered wrong, they would yell at him, "If you were saved, you wouldnít do that!" This kept up to the point that the child gave up his profession. He was so confused and never encouraged in the home. Later he professed again, gave that up and professed again, then again. I myself believe that he had the root of the matter in him the first time, but due to unwise parents he was sidetracked into "Doubterís Castle" and could never seem to escape its grip. A life that could have been useful for God, was ruined. After seeking God and finding God, we are exhorted to, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). Even in Old Testament times, this could be said of the young king.
Having considered his ancestry and attitude, let us consider for a few moments Josiahís ACCLAIM. It really matters very little what men think of me. The all-important thing is, what does God think of me? I am sure in Josiahís day there were folks not too happy with this "young upstart" trying to change things in the nation. Jeremiah was the speaking prophet during Josiahís day and God warned His prophet saying, "Whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces" (Jer. 1:7,8). God accused the nation of going far from Him and walking after vanity. Even those who handled the law (the priests) God said, "know Me not." Godís lament continues: "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (2:13). "Yet Ihad planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?" (2:21).
Thus we see the attitude of the people toward God or anything of God during Josiahís childhood days. But here in the midst of apostasy rises a young man with the right ATTITUDE. God writes, "And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him" (2 Kings 23:25). Some have said the Bible contradicts itself, quoting 2 Kings 18:5. "He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings ofJudah, nor any that were before him." This was said of King Hezekiah. What scoffers fail to see is that when God is commenting on Hezekiah, He is placing emphasis upon Hezekiahís trust in the Lord. While in the case of Josiah, the Lord is placing emphasis on the wholeheartedness of the young king in turning to the LORD. Fellow saint, let us bring this up to 2001 A.D. Look at all the saints that are in the fellowship of your assembly. Of which one do you think that it could be said, "There is none like that saint?" I have seen some amazing cases of saints trusting God. Some godly widows would put many preachers to shame when it comes to wholehearted trust in their God.
Isnít it also wonderful to see in a saint, wholeheartedness in turning to God and walking in His way in spite of the trend of the day in departing from divine principles? May God raise up young men and women in our assemblies that will purpose in their heart, that no matter what the cost, and that no matter what the trend, they will turn to the Lord with all of their heart, soul, and might.
Josiah, his ANCESTRY; his ATTITUDE; his ACCLAIM; and his AWAKENING. How his report card should speak to us today. May God in His sovereign grace, raise up Josiahs among us today. If the Lord be not come by next month we shall visit this godly king again and consider his ACTION and ACHIEVEMENTS for his God.