We serve the God who has done marvelous things, yet we frequently forget about investing in the next generation of followers of Christ. In this message on 2 Chronicles 35, David Platt reminds us of God’s glorious plans with the coming generations of Christ’s followers. God raises up future generations of believers to glorify Christ and to make a lasting impact on all nations.
- They pursue God with passion.
- They value purity with God more than they value popularity with others.
- Without God’s Word, they are powerless; with God’s Word, they are unstoppable.
- They believe the gospel is the only hope for their generation.
If you have a Bible, and I hope you do, let me invite you to open with me to 2 Chronicles 34. Feel free to use your table of contents if you need too. 2 Chronicles is right after 1 Chronicles, which is preceded by 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Samuel before that.
While you’re turning there, I want to begin this morning by telling you a story that you are not going to believe is true. But I want you to know from the very beginning that every single detail of the story I’m about to tell you is true.
When I was in 8th grade, it was the first year in my school where you could try out for the school basketball team. I loved playing basketball, everybody who was cool was on the 8th grade basketball team, so I thought I need to play, I need to be cool, so I need to be on the 8th grade basketball team. The only problem was, I was a little 4 foot nothing runt. Shortest kid in the 8th grade, so if you know what it’s like to be in that situation and it’s not good when you love to play basketball and you’re the shortest kid in the 8th grade because every time you throw the ball up, what happens? Comes right back in your face. It’s just not a pretty picture.
And so that was the dilemma I had. And so I was trying to figure out how in the world I could impress the coach enough for him to put me on the 8th grade basketball team. And so the week leading up to that, that’s all I thought about. That’s all I was working on how can I make this team?
And I remember one day, I was sitting in my room, having some time in God’s Word, and I came across Luke 1:37. The Bible says there, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). And right there, it seemed like the words of Scripture lept off the page and into my heart. And I knew exactly how I, four foot nothing runt 8th grader, David Platt could make the basketball team. If the Bible says “nothing is impossible with God.” Then that means that with God’s power and with God’s strength, I could dunk the basketball.
So here’s what I did, I left my Bible sitting there in my room. I went outside to our driveway where we had a basketball goal. Picked up a basketball and went to the back of the driveway. I got down on my knees and I started to pray, I said, “God, you say in your Word that nothing is impossible with you. I believe that with your power and with your strength I can dunk this basketball.”
Now I wanted everything to be perfect. So what I did is I planned out at the very back of the driveway so I could get a full running start. I planned out how many steps it was going to take for me to get from the back of the driveway up to the goal. Planned out every step, and then my plan was, when I was about 2 feet away, I was going to close my eyes. I was going to close my eyes. I was going to take the last two steps with my eyes closed and jump with my eyes closed. That way, I could envision, picture the angels lifting me up to the goal.
The next thing I was going to feel was the rim, I was going to throw the ball through the rim and then I was going to hang up there for awhile because I’d never been there before, okay? So that was the plan. Went to the back of the driveway one more time, got down on my knees, God I believe with your power, with your strength I can dunk this basketball. People were driving by, people were walking by, I’m having revival right there in the driveway. God I believe I can do this. So I got up.
Now let me ask you a question, now I want you to be completely honest. How many of you can honestly say that you believe that on that day I dunked the basketball, anybody?
Out of the couple thousand people that are here, I don’t see anybody raising their hand. Okay, every single detail of this story is true. I got up off my knees, I started to run toward the goal, I had every step planned out, I got 2 feet away and I closed my eyes. Took the last two steps and jumped with my eyes closed. I could feel something on my right and on my left, and the very next thing that I felt was that basketball pole right in my forehead.
I want you to imagine yourself walking by my house on that particular day. You see this little kid get up off his knees supposedly in prayer and go running and jump into a basketball goal. It’s not one of the prouder moments that I’ve ever had in life. The Bible in the hands of a teenager can be a very dangerous thing.
But you know? In a much more serious way that’s exactly the truth I want to communicate to you. I’m convinced that the Word of God and the hearts and minds and hands of teenagers and students and children is an extremely dangerous thing. A lot of people wonder what kind of impact students can have on the Kingdom of Christ in the world. And a lot of people ask, can students, children, really have an impact for The Glory of Christ in this generation? And the answer I want to give you from God’s Word this morning is a resounding yes.
Not in terms of dunking basketballs, but in terms of turning a generation to the glory of Christ. I’m convinced that the students who are in this room can impact this world for the glory Christ. So the truth is going to serve as the foundation for our time together. God desires to raise up students who will impact their generation for the glory of Christ.
This is the testimony of Scripture, it’s the testimony of church history, revivals and awakenings in church history, and I want it to be the testimony of The Church at Brook Hills. My prayer is that we would see in Scripture that God wants to raise up children and students in this church to impact their generation for the glory of Christ. And the potential rest here, and what God is doing among our children and students in this church to see that happen.
I want us to see in Scripture a picture of a guy who didn’t wait till he was older to begin to seek God. And I want to challenge and encourage especially students, a lot of them here and then spread out everywhere else. I want to challenge and encourage you, particularly when we look at this passage of Scripture, to look at what it means to impact a generation for the glory of Christ.
And in just a second we’re going to dive in to see this picture of a guy named Josiah. A lot of us don’t know who this guy is, but basically he’s a guy who shows us how a young person can seek after God and turn an entire generation to Christ.
I want you to look at 2 Chronicles 34. And look with me at verse 1. The Bible says, “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years” (2 Chron. 34:1). So we got this picture of the king being 8 years old. Verse 2 says, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning sides to the right or to the left. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David” (2 Chron. 34:2–3).
Now I want to pause right there. In order to get what’s going on here in 2 Chronicles 34, we’ve got to understand the context that leads up to this passage to see how huge these verses that we just read are. They don’t seem like that big of deal until you realize what’s going on. What you had basically a history, the people of God, the people of Israel at this point, under King David, King Solomon, King Saul before that… What you had was Israel as a united people. But then they divided into two kingdoms: one was called the Northern Kingdom, the other was called the Southern Kingdom. Okay so you have the Northern Kingdom, the Southern Kingdom, Northern Kingdom also called Israel in the Old Testament, and the Southern Kingdom was called Judah. The capital of Judah was Jerusalem. That’s the context of where we come here in 2 Chronicles 34.
Basically what happens, the Northern Kingdom, Israel, was destroyed by the Assyrians, and what we’re doing is we’re picking up about 100 years after that, and Judah is now in danger of being destroyed by the Babylonians. Things are not looking good, and the reason all this horrible stuff that’s happening amongst the people of God is because they have completely forgotten about God. They have completely turned from His command and His ways. All the things we see set up until this point in the Old Testament, they have turned their backs on, and they’ve given themselves to wickedness and to idolatry, and they completely turned their backs on God, had disobeyed Him completely.
In fact, the two kings before Josiah were some of the worst of the worst. If you go back one chapter to chapter 33, you see this guy name Manasseh, he was king for 55 years, look at chapter 33:2. I want you to see him described; I’m convinced this guy was one of the worst kings to ever rule any nation in all of history. Look at verse 2. Bible says,
[Manasseh] did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, ‘My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.’ In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts (2 Chron. 33:2–5).
And look at what verse 6 says, “He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger” (2 Chron. 33:6).
Fifty-five years under the leadership of a guy who sacrificed his own children, who worshiped all kinds of mediums and spirits and false gods. You get down to verse 9, you see Manasseh wasn’t content to do this himself, it says, “Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites” (2 Chron. 33:9). In other words, the people of God were worse than anybody else. And verse 10 says, “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and the people, but they paid no attention” (2 Chron. 33:10). So you’ve got 55 years of a guy leading people to completely forget God, and instead to worship other gods.
So the guy who takes over after him, a guy named Ammon, look at what happened in Verse 22 of the same chapter, “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made” (2 Chron. 33:22). Ammon was just as bad and you know the good thing about Ammon was he only reigned 2 years. That was about the only thing that could be said about him, about 2 years went by and some of his own people conspired to kill him.
So that’s what you’ve got, coming up to 2 Chronicles 34. You’ve got 57 years of idolatry, witchcraft, all kinds of immorality and basically godlessness. So that’s the context. Josiah steps on the scene, becomes king when he’s eight, and at the age of 16 in the 8th year of his reign, as a teenager, the Bible says, “He began to seek God.”
2 Chronicles 34–35 Teaches Us to Pursue God With Passion
First characteristic I want you to see of a student, a man, who was used to impact his generation for the glory of Christ is they pursued God with passion.
Josiah comes on the scene and he begins to seek after God, something that hasn’t been done in almost 60 years among the leaders of the people of God. And he comes on the scene.
Now there’s two reminders there that I think we need to pay attention to, you might write these down, but two reminders that I want to give you. Number one, when we see Josiah seeking after God, we’re seeing very clearly in Scripture that God never stops seeking His people, don’t miss this. After 57 years, and that on top of all the history before that with people disobeying God, God could have easily left these guys on their own. Could have said, “You know, I’ve had enough.” And He could have left them to their sin and not come back to them, but at no point in all the Scripture do we ever see God stop seeking after His people, and that’s good news for us.
Before we can ever seek God, He must seek us first. We love Him because He first loved us. We pursue Him, we run after Him because we have a God who runs after us, and that’s good news. I don’t know where each of you are in your relationship with God, but I’ve got a feeling, whether it’s students or adults, there are some of you who have grown cold and callous and casual in your relationship with God and seeking God is not a characteristic that would describe your life this morning. You maybe even running away from God and I want you to know that the God of the Bible never stops seeking after you. The God of the Bible pursues you, each of you, with passion. He doesn’t stop seeking after His people, never gives up on them.
You know the other thing we were reminded of here when we see Josiah, not only was God seeking after him, but we were seeing a guy who is completely breaking his family chain. Don’t miss this. These are the people who have preceded him in his family, 57 years of idolatry, wickedness, witchcraft, immorality and godlessness. Josiah steps on the scene and he begins to seek God. He’s not bound to what had been done before him.
And I know likewise, there are some of you who come from homes where God is not being honored, some of you come from homes where you haven’t seen a picture of a father who loves God. Many of you have seen pictures of fathers who have left you on your own. Many of you come from some pretty bad cycles of different areas of immorality or godlessness. There’s a lot of secular psychologist who would have you believe today that if you grow up a certain way that you’ll automatically end up a certain way, but that’s not what Scripture teaches. By the power of God’s Spirit, this family chain can be broken. I know it’s not easy for many of you here, and I know we’ve done a lot to fight from our past, but I want you to know by the power of God’s Spirit, you are not chained to your past. You are a new creation by the Spirit of God.
All of that is just from the context of this thing, isn’t the Word good?
So we see Josiah come on the scene, he begins to seek God, I want to encourage you, especially students, as you’re starting school, as you’re in the middle of all kinds of pressures around you, two things: Number one, seek God personally.
Josiah, doubtless, he had heard about God. Stories were always passed down, traditions passed down, so he undoubtedly had to have had people in his life who were teaching him, who were passing down these traditions about the history of God and it’s people. He had heard that, but Josiah, early in his life decided that he’s not going to take everybody else’s word for it, he’s going to begin to seek God personally. He’s not going to leave it up to somebody else who did the seeking for him, instead, he’s going to seek after God. And there’s a great temptation particularly among children or students to settle for letting your parents do the seeking after God. Or letting Bible teachers or small group leaders whoever that may be in our lives do the seeking after God.
And when you think about it, the result of that kind of thinking leads to a generation of students who when they go off to college today, the majority, overwhelming majority of students who go off to college from church fall away from their faith within the first year. And the reason is, everybody else has been seeking God in their life for them, and they’ve never personally sought after Him.
Take personal ownership for seeking after God. Know why we believe what we believe. God help us to raise up a generation of students that knows why they believe what they believe, so that when they go out in the culture, they don’t crumble because they have no foundation for their faith. This is huge. To seek God personally, and not just personally but to seek God continually.
We see Josiah at 16 years old, he begins to seek after God and we get all the way to his death at the end of chapter 35, and you will see at no point in his life where he stops seeking after God. It is a continual pursuit, a continual running after God and he goes deeper and deeper and deeper, as we’ll see in the rest of this passage in a minute.
Now this is particularly applicable to where we are in our church culture today. We talk a lot, particularly among children and students about accepting Christ into our hearts, accepting Christ, a term that incidentally is nowhere mentioned in Scripture. And we create this idea that becoming a Christian as about accepting Christ, and that’s where it ends. We disconnect accepting Christ from a passionate pursuit of Christ. And it’s not just among students or children, it’s among adults who we come to that point where we place our faith in Christ and then that’s kind of end of us. It’s kind of where things kind of coast for awhile. And our lives, many of us we’re characterized by complacency, or lack of desire and somewhere along the way we’ve gotten the idea that you can divorce faith in Christ from desire for Christ and that is definitely not biblical.
Biblical faith is not accepting Christ, biblical faith is running after Christ, pursuing Christ, loving Christ, knowing Christ, glorifying Christ with everything we have, everything becomes an all out pursuit of Christ. We see that over and over again throughout men and women in Scripture.
Let me show you two examples. Turn it way back to the left to Exodus. Look at Exodus 33. I want you to look at Moses, I want you to look at a man who is used to leading people to see the glory of God and I want you to see how he sought God personally and sought God continually.
Look at this, in Exodus 33, second book of the Bible, Exodus 33, look at verse 12. You look at the lives of men and women in Scripture and you will see the sought after God, day and night. They mourned for Him, they prayed for Him, they wrestled with Him, they sought Him over and over and over again. Come close to these men and women in Scripture, you’ll see they have a deep heart, a red hot passion for knowing God.
Look at Exodus 33:12, “Moses said to the Lord, ‘You have been telling me, “Lead these people,” but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, “I know you by name and you have found favor with me.”’” So listen to what he prays, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people” (Ex. 33:13). “Teach me your ways so I may know you,” Moses said. “The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here’” (Ex. 33:14–15).
He won’t do anything apart from God and His presence, he says in verse 16, “‘How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name’” (Ex. 33:16–17). So listen to what Moses says in verse 18, “Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory’” (Ex. 33:18).
Get the picture? This is a guy who’s saying, God if you are at all pleased with me, I want to know, I want to know your ways, show me your glory. He is pursuing His glory. God says I will show you my glory. God is honored when His children seek after Him and want to know His glory. I guarantee you; you say in your life, “I want to know the glory of God.” You will have that prayer answered. He wants to be sought like this.
One example in the New Testament, turn over to the right, all the way back to Philippians. Look at Philippians, Galatians, Ephesians, then Philippians 3. I want you to hear what Paul says about a personal continual pursuit of God. Galatians Ephesians and then Philippians right before Colossians. Look at Philippians 3—this is Paul basically coming to the crux of this whole letter that he wrote to these churches. I want you to here what he says in verse 7. He talks about how he has all kinds of things in this world says would make him successful, then he comes to verse 7 and he says in Philippians 3:7,
Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:7–11).
God raise up a generation of students to say I want to know Christ. And I compare that to the surpassing greatness of all the things this world may have to offer me. I count them rubbish because I want to know Christ, I want to glorify Christ. Pursue God with passion.
2 Chronicles 34–35 Teaches Us to Value Purity With God More Than We Value Popularity With Others
Second characteristic, coming back to the 2 Chronicles 34, students who impact their generation for the glory of Christ, they value purity with God more than they value popularity with others. They value purity with God more than they value popularity with others.
Pick up with me again in 2 Chronicles 34 the second half of verse 3:
In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images. Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem (2 Chron. 34:3–7).
Josiah goes on a rampage here, he looks around and not just in Jerusalem but as far north into what used to be Israel, and he sees altars and Asherah poles; these things that were set up to worship foreign gods, he sees idolatry everywhere. And Josiah, let me tell you what he doesn’t do, let me show you what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t sit back in the temple and lament all the problems in society. He doesn’t talk about how the culture is just headed down the wrong direction. He doesn’t get around with all the other faithful people and say, “Well look at society and look what’s happening? Look how bad culture is getting.” He decides he’s going to do something about it.
So he rises up and he goes throughout that land and he purges Israel of all of those idols, all of those Asherah poles. He cleanses them out. And not only does he do that, if you skip down to verse 8, it says, “In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God” (2 Chron. 34:8). And what happens in the rest of this chapter, all the way to verse 13, they repair the temple. They go into these central place of worship, and they say, “We need to make sure this place is clean and this place is pure and this place is a place where we can encounter the glory of God.”
Now I want you to put yourself in Josiah’s shoes at this point. This is not an easy thing to do. This is 57 years of people who have followed false gods, and he’s going right into the heart of their religious practice and he’s turning it upside down. And in six years, the Bible says it took him six years to do all this, in six years he turned an entire nation upside down for the glory of his God. In just six years.
I know we look around at many facets of American culture and we see godlessness and immorality and wickedness. But what happens when the people of God rise up and say we’re going to do something about it. How do you do that, Josiah? How do you turn a nation around in six years?
Well I think Josiah knew one very important truth that I want us to hone in on: God’s righteousness is more important than our reputation. When I say God’s righteousness, I’m talking about His holiness, His honor, His fame, His name. Josiah looked around and he saw a land where God’s name was not being honored, and it was not being glorified, just like students who sometimes look in your school and you see that God’s name is not being honored, not being glorified. And we look at different facets of our culture and we see God’s name is not being honored or not being glorified and we stand up and say, the righteousness of God is more important to me than my reputation.
I’m not going to live to please the pressures that people put around me. I’m not going to live according to the standards that people around me have, I’m going to place a lot of priority on purity and holiness. And I think we’re seeing a picture here, don’t miss it, of a guy who simply said, “My life is going to be different because holiness matters to God, holiness is going to matter to me.” God raise up students who would say, “Because holiness matters to God, it’s going to matter to me. In my dating life, in my thought life, in my social life, in my life at school, holiness is going to matter to me.”
We’ve created this idea today that the most effective way to reach the people in our culture with the gospel is to become like the people in our culture. I think Josiah would disagree. He did not adapt to his culture, he transformed his culture by going out and displaying the holiness of God with his life. This is a word I think we need to hear today: purity is necessary for true worship.
In youth culture especially today, church as a whole, but especially youth culture, praise and worship is such a key phrase. And many times we go to worship concerts, and we gather together to worship and we have great music like we have had this morning. Somewhere along the way though we get the idea that a guitar is more necessary for true worship then purity. Or good music is more necessary for true worship than purity because the thing is, we have created a culture where we can come in and sing to God, and enjoy it, and never once give a thought to the purity of our lives before God. And never once think about our honesty with God about our sin, and that’s a dangerous place to be. Because these people were avid worshippers, they had just missed the point of worship and begun turning to other gods. And the same temptation is there for us today. Purity is necessary for true worship.
And we see all throughout Scripture and church history when God has moved in revivals and awakenings among His people, whether it’s been students or adults, or both together, whenever He has moved in revivals and awakenings, it has not happened when the people outside the church finally started to get right with God. It’s happened when the people inside the church for the first time started getting honest with God about their sin. God help us to do that at The church at Brook Hills. Help us not to put on a face when we come in here, or come into a youth group, or come into a worship service, to put on a face like everything is perfect and leave the reality of our lives outside. Let’s bring that in before God, lay them before our God who said, “f you confess your sins I am faithful and just, and I will forgive you of your sins and I will cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”
Let Him make us pure and make us holy and then work His powers through us. Exactly what we see going on in the life of Josiah. He valued purity with God more than he valued popularity with others.
Without God’s Word, They Are Powerless; With God’s Word, They Are Unstoppable
Third characteristic: without God’s Word, people like Josiah are powerless. However, with God’s Word, people like Josiah are unstoppable. Now here’s what I want you to see, here’s what really starts to get good. We seen Josiah turn a nation upside down in six years, seeks God and he cleanses them of impurity, but look at what happens in verse 14,
While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses. Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan. Then Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to him: “Your officials are doing everything that has been committed to them. They have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the supervisors and workers.” Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king (2 Chron. 34:14–18).
Just a little context here, the book was being read, scholars kind of debate whether it was the whole first five books of the Old Testament or at least the book of Deuteronomy talking about not forgetting God and obeying His laws and His commands, and telling them what would happen if they did disobey them. So that starts to be read, look at what happens in verse 19,
When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan , Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book (2 Chron. 34:19–21).
Josiah hears these words and he tears his robes, this is a sign we see throughout the Old Testament of grief and sorrow and repentance. Because when he heard the Word, and he saw the people, and he saw that they didn’t match up, and he saw how his people had ignored the Word. And not put priority on the Word, and did not listen to the Word, and certainly had not obeyed the Word. He immediately fell to his knees and he tore his robes.
And what happens is they go into a time where they respond to the Word. Look in verse 29. It says,
Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book. Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their fathers (2 Chron. 34:29–32).
So listen to this, “Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 34:33).
I want you to see the respect and reverence this young guy had for the Word of God. When he responded, we see two things happen to the Word. Number one, the Word leads to a time of deep confession. Here he is tearing his robes, repenting saying, “God I’m sorry we have forgotten your Word.”
And it’s personal confession and corporate confession. He’s confessing his owns sins, but he’s also confessing the sins of his people. This is huge. This is something we see throughout the Old Testament, we see it in Nehemiah, same thing happens in Nehemiah 9 and 10, when Nehemiah confesses sins before God. When the people of God come together they confess their sins together.
We have a tendency particularly in our individualistic culture to when it comes to confession of sins, start pointing the finger, “Well that guy really needs to get rid of this in his life. Look at that guy, did you hear what that guy did? Did you hear what that lady did?” That’s not biblical. We are a people, we are a community of faith, we confess together our complacency. We confess together our lack of desire for God. The areas where we are falling short together in impurity and unholiness, we confess that together. That’s exactly what happened here in the picture we’re seeing 2 Chronicles 34. Not just personal but corporate confession.
So the Word leads to deep confession, and second, the Word leads to deep commitment. They didn’t just read the Word and say well that was a good sermon, we’re going to go home. He said we need to obey the Word. He called them to obedience and to serve the Lord, and said as long as they lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord.
Did you catch that? Remember the context. Now you’ve got a people for as long as Josiah was alive, they did not fail to follow the Lord. In six years, he turned the nation upside down when it came to their idolatry and their wicked practices and then when he brings them the Word, the rest of his life, they never failed to follow the Lord. This is a guy who turned a whole nation to the glory of God.
That kind of effect did not happen until he gave himself to the Word. Until he realized how powerful, how necessary the Word was in the people of God. I want you to see a picture of a young guy who realized that without God’s Word he is powerless, but with God’s Word he is unstoppable.
Students, do you really want to impact a generation for the glory of Christ? If so, then it will not happen from hours in front of the Xbox or the Playstation. And it won’t happen from hours in front of the TV and the Internet. I’m not saying these things are bad in and of themselves, I’m not preaching against Xboxs or Playstations, or TV’s or the internet, but I am saying this: if we want to impact a generation for the glory of Christ, it’s going to happen from hours in God’s Word. And that’s the only way it’s going to happen and we’re kidding ourselves across this room, if we think we can impact Birmingham and all nations for the glory of Christ apart from deep knowledge of God’s Word.
And I know, thinking about hours in God’s Word, that means hours missing out on playing this or watching this or chatting on this, and not to be too hard on students because they’re following much of the example that many of us set. “How am I going to do hours in God’s Word and miss out on hours doing all these things? All the fun that’s involved in those things?” We’ll realize that as soon as we say we’re going to have fun doing those things, we have completely missed out on the satisfaction we can find in knowing God through hours in His Word. And we’ve completely missed out on the satisfaction of being a part of an eternal difference in our generation. One of Satan’s biggest strategies is to get us so consumed with the mind numbing pleasures of this world that we have no room in our stomach left for the life giving power of His Word.
God help us to throw aside the temporary pleasures of this world and give ourselves to the eternal satisfaction of God, and the eternal satisfaction of being used by God. God deliver us from shallow, cultural Christianity that pays casual attention to the Word of God and leads to shallow religion. God deliver us from that so that we can experience a depth of confession in the church and a depth of commitment in the church because we have a depth in God’s Word in the church.
We at The Church at Brook Hills, whether students, children, or adults, are powerless apart from the Word of God, but with God’s Word we are unstoppable in the nations. I pray that we grab a hold of that.
2 Chronicles 34–35 Teaches Us to Believe The Gospel Is The Only Hope For Our Generation
Fourth characteristic: students who impact their nation for the Glory of Christ, their generation for the glory of Christ: they believe the gospel is the only hope for their generation.
In chapter 35 you think the story is going pretty good, that’s about enough, Josiah had a pretty busy life? I want you to look at what happens in verse 1 of chapter 35, “Josiah celebrated the Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month” (2 Chron. 35:1). We won’t read the rest of this chapter for the sake of time, but basically it talks about how they enacted the Passover.
Remember the Passover was the celebration, the festival, that they were to have once a year to remember how God had delivered them from fleeing Egypt to go toward the Promised Land. It was this picture of deliverance that God saved His people; God loved His people enough to bring them out. It’s a picture that also sets up the picture of the gospel we see in the New Testament.
Look at what happens later on in the same chapter, 35:16, “So at that time the entire service of the Lord was carried out for the celebration of the Passover and the offering of burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord, as King Josiah had ordered. The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover at that time and observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days” (2 Chron. 35:16–17). Listen to this, “The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem. This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign” (2 Chron. 35:18–19).
Now there were a lot of Kings of Israel before Josiah, but not one of them placed as much importance on celebrating God’s grace and goodness and deliverance through this huge festival that they were supposed to have every year. They had a mega celebration of the Passover, because Josiah knew that he had the ability based on the power of God and the Word of God in his life to impact his generation for the glory of Christ. But Josiah also knew that there were some who had gone before him who had done the same thing, and there were some who would come after him, who would do the same thing. And Josiah knew, he was in a long line.
You see Josiah is an example in this story. Of somebody who takes his place on a landscape of human history and says, “I’m going to make a difference in my generation for the glory of God.” He takes his place in the landscape of human history and says, “I’m going to count for the Kingdom of God.” He says that but, he realizes that the most important thing he can do is point to the God who saved, and the God who’s good, and the God who is gracious, exemplified in this Passover feast which is the precursor to what would happen in the New Testament.
Over and over again in the New Testament we see the Passover was a picture of what would happen of when Jesus went to the cross. And here’s what I want you to see Josiah is a great example in this story, but Jesus is the hero of this story. You say, “What do you mean Dave? Jesus is the hero of the story? I didn’t see Him anywhere. Where’s Jesus in this thing? Is that one of those preacher stretches you do to kind of pull Jesus into the sermon?” No, I want you to turn to the right over with me to Matthew. I want you to look at Matthew 1, and there’s something I want you to circle there. I want you to circle Matthew 1:11, let’s look together at verse 11.
This is a list of people, starting with Abraham goes to Isaac and Jacob and Judah in verse 2 and 3, come down to verse 11, into verse 10, you see “Manasseh father of Ammon, Ammon the father of Josiah” and there it is, circle it in verse 11: “Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon” (Matt. 1:11). The list continues in verse 12. After the exile, and you get down to verse 16 it says “Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matt. 1:16).
Please don’t miss the whole context of this thing in 2 Chronicles 34. Josiah realized he was in a long line. He was in a group of people who took their place, the landscape of human history, and unlike some of the other folks in that line, he said I’m going to count for the Kingdom, and I’m going to point people to the goodness and the grace of God. And Josiah may or may not have known all that that included, but one day in God’s plan, he would point people to Jesus.
We stand on the other side of this list. We’re looking back, not looking forward to Jesus, we’re looking back at what Christ has done in our hearts and in our lives. As we stand here 6.2 billion people in the world today, more people alive today than had ever been alive in history. Why did God not save Josiah or other guys like him for our day? Josiah could have done pretty good today. Paul could have done a good job, why didn’t God save them for today? Why did God not bring William Carey or Martin Luther or guys who have been used greatly by God in the past? Why didn’t He save them for today when 6.2 billion people are alive in the world today?
Maybe He did that because He desires to use you and me in this generation to impact the world for the glory of Christ. Maybe He put us here at this time and this place for a reason, to point people to Christ.
You see, here’s the deal, students, you don’t have to know a lot of things to make a difference in this world today. I’m convinced you don’t have to be the smartest, the most intelligent. You don’t have to be the wealthiest; you don’t have to have the most power. You don’t have to be the most talented person to make a difference in this world today.
I’m convinced, in order to make a difference in the world today we need to know just a couple of things. And know them so well that we are willing to live for them and we are willing to die for them if necessary. A couple of things that will so captivate and consume us. They will compel us to say I’m going to impact the world for the glory of Christ. And I want to say to every student today, that you have the power and the grace of God in you to make disciples of all nations. And I want to tell you that I believe with all my heart God wants to use you to impact the world for the glory of Christ. And I want to say that to us in this church as a whole.
God help us to be a church that raises up students who have an impact for the glory of Christ in their generation, and this church, and in all nations. God we pray that that would be so.
God desires to raise up students who will impact their generation for the glory of Christ.
- They pursue God with passion.
- Seek God personally.
- Seek God continually.
- They value purity with God more than they value popularity
- God’s righteousness is more important than our reputation.
- Purity is necessary for true worship.
- Without God’s Word, they are powerless; with God’s Word, they are unstoppable.
- The Word leads to deep confession.
- The Word leads to deep commitment.
- They believe the Gospel is the only hope for their generation.
- Josiah is an example in this story.
- Jesus is the hero of this story.
God, raise up students at The Church at Brook Hills who will impact their generation, this church, and all nations for the glory of Christ.