The End Since The Beginning (7/3/13)

Read: 2 Kings 22:3-23:30, Acts 21:37-22:16, Psalm 1:1-6, Proverbs 18:11-12

The king also tore down the altar at Bethel—the pagan shrine that Jeroboam son of Nebat had made when he caused Israel to sin. He burned down the shrine and ground it to dust, and he burned the Asherah pole. (2 Kings 23:15)

300

Relate: Jeroboam son of Nebat was the first king of a divided Israel. Depending on who is counting he began his reign either in 931 or 922 BCE. One of the first things he did was set up two false idols to the true God so that the rebellious people would not go to the true Temple to worship. He tried to re-image God to fit his political purposes. Almost immediately a prophet from the faithful tribe of Judah came to this shrine and made this prophesy: “O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you.” (1 Kings 13:2)

Josiah became king of Judah at the ripe old age of eight in the year 641 BCE. When he was 26 he ordered that the Temple be restored and while they were doing so, the repairmen found a copy of all or part of Deuteronomy. The king and priests realized that they had been doing it wrong and thus began a series of reforms. As part of this reformation Josiah headed north and destroyed the altar that had been the national worship center for the now extinct nation of Israel.

300 years after the prophesy was first given, it was fulfilled. Frederick William the first began his reign in Prussia in February three hundred years ago. Imagine a man giving him a prophesy about you, by name, in April of that year. Think of all that has transpired from that day to this. In both cases, world changing wars had been fought in and around its borders. Culture shaping words and events that altered the course of history had transpired in its vicinity. And through it all, though seemingly delayed, God’s word remained true.

React: Three hundred years is a short time for God’s redemptive work. All the way back to Adam and Eve God had made a promise of Jesus’ coming. Jesus Himself prayed for “those that were far off” who would come to know Him. Right before the cross, He was praying for me. Was He praying for you?

There are scars, sins, failures that can take us off course for decades. There might be something done or said to us in our childhood that shook us like a train wreck. There might be sins in our past that sent us down a road of addiction we have been stuck in most of our life. There might be relationships damaged, bridges burned that are decades beyond a reasonable point of restoration. Don’t give up. Don’t stop fighting. God is still at work, and He has had the end in sight ever since the beginning.

Respond: 

God, You are great. You are faithful. You are always right on time. The sin, the failures, the injustice I see have been here for years. It is so easy to begin to doubt that You will ever redeem. It is easy to begin to doubt that You will ever act. It is so easy to begin to doubt that You will ever return. But You are faithful. When You come, when You restore the broken parts in my life and the broken systems in my world all will see and know that You are, and always have been, in control.

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About BJ Richardson

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." And then it continues with a second step, and another after that. The journey of a thousand miles requires over two million steps, each taken one after another. It is easy to begin. It is more difficult to continue, day by day, step by step, moment by moment. The River Walk exists as an encouragement and motivator to keep walking. It is a daily devotional, it is a mirror reflecting what God is showing me as I walk with Him. Will you walk with me, following Him, along this journey?

9 comments

  1. I love how you were able to relate the 300-year “delay” to the process of growth and change in our own lives. We aren’t always quick to respond to God when he calls us, but he can be very patient!

  2. Oh for the Sovereignty of the LORD! Thanks for this awesome reminder, He is and will always be on the throne!

  3. AdonaiShekhinah

    I love reading your blog…thank you

  4. The POWER of the COVENANT of God…yesterday, tomorrow….for eternity! It is personal since the CROSS and it is collective till the final judgement! I love this message…well said!!!

  5. I think it is important to know what the Asherah pole and the shrines were so that we do not make that mistake again. Indeed, this same structure presents itself in our own culture a few times a year during our most treasured events.

    • BJ

      The Canaanite goddess Athirat (later known as Asherah and Astarte) was the wife of the high god El. She was known early as the mother goddess and later, when her worship was blended with the Assyrian pantheon as the queen of heaven. This is how Jeremiah refers to her.
      Ishtar, the patroness of the Babylonian city Uruk, evolved into a similar role with the high god Enlil (later Marduk) in Babylonian religion. Of all the ancient deities she is the one most deserving of the description “slut” and to worship this goddess of fertility was to mirror her activity.
      Bible writers do not make a distinction between the two and to know which is being worshiped and how is dependent on the time period in question. The Standing stones of Asherah that Josiah smashed apart were probably first built for Asherah (Phoenician) but used in Josiah’s time for Ishtar (Babylonian). When you talk about worshiping her today, are you talking about bonfires and birthday cakes? (see Jeremiah 7:18) Or are you talking about pornography and sexual immorality? (Which would be the impulse causing her worship) I can’t think of many standing stones unless maybe you’re thinking about the Washington Memorial.

      • Excellent facts. And though I was not specifically thinking about the Washington Monument, it indeed is a version of Asherah from Egypt. As stated, by Josiah’s time, the people had begun to erect Asherim next to the alter of YHWH, or build a new alter to Baal with an Asherim. Baal was not only a deity, but also a general term for a master or deity, and often used rather than YHWH due to peer pressure from the Canaanites. By Jeremiah’s time, the spiritual “adultery” was in full swing.

        International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
        Asherah
        a symbol of this goddess, a sacred tree or pole set up near an altar 1 Kings 16:33; 2 Kings 13:6; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 23:6,15; prohibited in Deuteronomy 16:1; burnt by Gideon Judges 6:25,26,28,30.

        English: pine (tree)
        Latin: pinus

        Deuteronomy 16:21-22
        “You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of YHWH your God, which you shall make for yourself. You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which YHWH your God hates.”

        Jeremiah 10:2-4
        Thus says YHWH, “Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens although the nations are terrified by them; for the customs of the peoples are delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter.”

        2 Kings 17:10-12
        They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which YHWH had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking YHWH. They served idols, concerning which YHWH had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”

        2 Kings 23:6-7
        He brought out the Asherah from the house of outside Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and ground it to dust, and threw its dust on the graves of the common people. He also broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of YHWH, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah.

      • BJ

        Deuteronomy was speaking of the Canaanite practice and would not have had any relevance to what was happening in Josiah’s time. Jeremiah and 2 Kings 23 are speaking of wooden idols. (The latter in the house of the Lord) 2 Kings 17 is speaking of a standing stone, a pillar similar to the one Jacob set up (at Bethel, coincidentally, as well as at Rachel’s tomb) as well as the ones Canaanites had set up all over the place which the Israelites were commanded to destroy numerous times but instead commandeered for their own use. It is their failure in this that many liberal Biblical historians point to when they claim that Israelite monotheism was a natural evolution out of Canaanite polytheism not a sudden break into something completely new.
        You’ve listed 4 verses three of which are using Asherah to speak of 3 very different things which goes to show that Asherah was used as a blanket word at different times to mean different things.

        Ba’al literally meant son of god or son of El. El (or Enlil) was the Canaanite pantheon’s version of Zeus but was also the Semitic generic word for god just the Arabic word allah can mean both the god of Islam of god in the generic sense. The oldest of El’s sons was names Baal so we have to look in context when it appears in scripture tp see whether it was referring specifically to Baal or generically to a lesser (son of) god.

        I would be careful of using the free online version of the ISBE. It is nearly a hundred years old and a lot of its historical research is, well, a century out of date.

  6. Reblogged this on thedreamyactiveinertbrain and commented:
    I was moved through the power of your cross, Your love for me Lord is great enough!

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