Robert E. Surgenor
It was noticed last month that as the eyes of the Lord beheld King Josiah, He expressed His appreciation of Josiahs humbleness and that he would not see the coming doom of Judah but would be gathered to his grave in peace. So affected was Josiah, that he gathered all the people to the house of the LORD and made a covenant before the Lord to walk after the LORD and to keep His commandments (2 Chron. 34:29-32).
Moreover the king kept a passover, and "there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept" (2 Chron. 35:18). The Word of God had enlightened him as to how to hold the passover in a scriptural way.
There are seven passovers mentioned in the Scriptures. The first being in Egypt, where it was instituted (Ex. 12). The second mention is in Numbers 9 where it is held in the wilderness of Sinai. The third occasion was in Gilgal (Joshua 5), the fourth during Hezekiahs reign (2 Chron. 30:15), the fifth during Josiahs reign, the sixth after the dedication of the second temple in the days of Haggai and Zechariah the prophets (Ezra 6), and last of all, the seventh, when the Lord kept the passover with His own prior to His crucifixion.
To those of us who are saved in this dispensation of grace, we too have a Passover. "Even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7). Considering this, the apostle adds, "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (vs.8). Always connected with the passover was the feast of unleavened bread. All leaven was to be purged from their homes for a seven-day period prior to the passover. (The seven days speaking of a complete period of time).
Since leaven is a picture of uncleanness, and the passover would speak of the death of Christ for our redemption, we have this spiritual picture: that Salvation and Sanctification go together. When souls trust Christ for salvation (the sprinkling of the blood of the Passover Lamb), they are expected to purge from their entire lives anything of an unclean nature. There is literature in this world that is defiling. The television and the internet can be avenues to usher uncleanness into our homes, producing defilement in our minds and heart. There are many sources of defilement and the child of God is enjoined to avoid contact with such. Paul exhorted the Corinthian saints - "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1).
The unleavened bread of sincerity and truth can be explained this way. The word "sincerity," as strange as it may seem could be translated, "without wax." Let me explain. When a Corinthian would go to the sculptors shop to buy a top of the line marble bust of a prominent individual, he would be given the guarantee that there were no cracks in the product. Paying full price, upon taking his prized purchase home he places it on a stand before a window. The next day, as the sun shines in, the heat of its rays begin to melt the wax that the merchant has carefully worked into a crack. Lo and behold, what the customer paid full price for, turns out to be a flawed piece of art. He is furious. He has been deceived, the merchant was not sincere. Paul says to the saints, now you be "without wax." Be sincere, be genuine, do not be a hypocrite. Be absolutely transparent before men. Be open and real before God to whom all sympathy toward evil is foreign.
Paul then mentions the bread of truth. In other words, let us be righteous, let us be inflexible and firm in maintaining that which is good. Let us never make compromise with evil. Josiah kept the passover!
It is also interesting to note the various definitions we have of the passover in the Holy Scriptures. We find them in Exodus 12. (1) A Memorial - for their memory (vs. 14). (2) A Feast - for their fellowship (vs. 14). (3) An Ordinance - for an appointed law (vs. 24). (4) A Service - for their ministry (vs. 26). (5) A Sacrifice - for their worship (vs. 27).
There is a noble account of Josiahs association with the passover found in Second Chronicles 35:2, which states. "And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the LORD, And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and his people Israel."
Let me ask you, are you in the habit of encouraging others? That young man that has given up his income and has launched out into the great harvest field for God - have you encouraged him? His wife and little children abide at home while he goes into the regions beyond to win souls for Christ. Do you send of your substance to help feed his little family, pay their utility bills, furnish them with clothing, pay the taxes or the rent? Do you make inquiry who these men are and where they are pioneering? Or do you spend your money mostly on yourself?
Or the widow or widower. Do you take some of your precious time to visit them with a little word from the Lord and share with them your thoughts of Christ? Do you pray with them, commending them to the Lord for His safekeeping?
What about the recently bereaved? Do you sit down and write them a letter that will encourage their souls that they may experience the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness? Or are you too busy with your temporal things? Yes fellow-believer, we can walk the malls window shopping, but we seemingly cant walk the sidewalks to front doors with a gospel tract. We can spend our money on sight-seeing tours, but we cant seem to gather even a couple of dollars to help fuel a gospel messengers vehicle.
You older believers, do you encourage younger believers? Young saints need models, examples and they need, not only words of correction, but they certainly do need words of encouragement. How long has it been since you complimented that young brother for the way he prayed at the breaking of bread or at the prayer meeting? How long has it been since you praised that young sister to her face on the way she was raising her little family, having her children in subjection. I would say that when you see a young couple sitting at the breaking of bread and their little family sitting reverently with them in total subjection, with no need of coloring books and silly toys, you should feel obligated to compliment that couple, thus encouraging them. Have you ever told a young sister how beautiful her uncut hair was? It wont cost you a penny and it will encourage her. Let us be tender brethren, and observing, and also free with worthy compliments. Josiah encouraged the priests!
You will also notice, that seemingly all the days of departure, the Levites bore the ark upon their shoulders. It could not be associated with an unclean house, no matter what that house was called. Are there not many so-called "churches" today that are unclean? In the true sense they are not churches at all, but rather social clubs. The traditions of men are taught and the Holy Scriptures claim very little or no place. Christ (the Ark) is on the outside. You cannot command the presence of the Lord in the midst in divine approval unless the pattern is scriptural and the people are sanctified. Christ said, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). The real sense is, "Where two or three, having been, and being, drawn by an unseen force together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." It is not a matter of setting up a table on vacation, or two or three Christians casually coming together to conveniently break bread. That will never do, and that is not the thought of the passage at all. The thought is, that there has been a divine planting of a church that is continuing. Saints are divinely drawn to this place by the Holy Spirit, through His teachings relative to a local assembly. Thus you have a "called out from" company of believers of which the word "church" is the meaning.
Josiah saw two important things at this point. The first was that Gods house must be a clean place. Secondly, Gods house commands the presence of God (the ark). I trust that the assembly that you are associated with is of this nature, for it is only in such a place that we can scripturally claim the Lord in our midst in approval. Josiah appreciated the nature of the house of the LORD.
Years later the day came - "he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake ofJosiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations" (2 Chron. 35:24,25). Jeremiah writes of his appreciation of Josiah in the following words. "The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen" (Lamentations 4:20). Such an influence was this unusually spiritual king that the godly felt the wings of his protection, resulting in their survival among the heathen. What a tremendous influence Josiah had upon the nation. I have known such men in our assemblies. Men that fear God. Men that give the saints a secure feeling. Men that preserve the testimony. Oh to be more Josiah-like in this aspect alone.
I close this writing with deep searching of my own heart. I feel condemned in the presence of Josiah. How do you feel? Let me take you outside the confines of Holy Scripture and project to you what the Rabbis said of him. "The memory of Josiah is like costly incense and sweet as honey in the mouths of all." Goodbye Josiah, until we meet on the heavenly shore!