10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
These verses in the opening chapter of Matthew’s Gospel are easy to gloss over with little thought.
But as with all parts of Scripture, those with more obvious application and those lacking such obviousness – they were penned by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17)
Notice then how it is that Josiah is mentioned as the progenitor of Jechoniah and his brothers. And that this is connected with the “time of the deportation to Babylon.”
So it is we have to notice that Judah’s greatest time of restoration under a profoundly godly king was under Josiah. Under his godly rule, Judah had a time of unprecedented revival. 2 Chronicles 34:2–3 notes Josiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images.”
Like no other King before him, he took extraordinary steps to cleanse Judah of the idolatry that had taken such deep root, and all of the sinful expressions of that fall. The chronicle of his reforms is truly an exhilarating read. He was a profoundly godly man ruling in a profoundly godly way. In restoring the Passover we read: “No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 35:18)
Later in that same chapter we are told how all of Judah mourned him at his death, and that no less a personage than the Prophet Jeremiah himself “uttered a lament” for Josiah.
Why does all of this matter? Because so many no doubt had thought – that with such an extraordinary and far reaching revival and restoration to the God of Israel – the prophecies regarding Judah’s destruction and captivity to Babylon would be reversed.
But it was not so.
God had decreed Judah’s destruction and captivity due to its sin, and though this revival was truly unprecedented in Judah’s history – judgment was still to come. The prophesied 70 years would still be fulfilled.
Fast forward to our own time.
How many Christians today are thinking along the same lines as those in Judah in Josiah’s day? They cry out for revival for America – which we in fact so desperately need – but do so thinking that with that revival will come an implicit or even explicit promise that the Western way of life and the “American” culture will be preserved.
And we need to note that first of all, no such promise of sustaining our culture or way of life is anywhere promised in Scripture: Revival or no.
But secondly we need to note that revival is for men’s souls, and for the Church, and NOT under any circumstances to be construed as a device to preserve the way of life we’ve become comfortable with.
Judah had this tremendous revival under Josiah’s leadership, and yet, he reigned but one generation before the deportation to Babylon.
We must not imagine that if God sends great sweeping revival to our nation – that somehow will exempt us from the judgment due for our ungodly behavior.
Oh how we need such revival – but oh how we must not assume that America (or any other nation) is somehow meant to last as “God’s nation.”
God had no true nation of His own but Israel. And even that did not preserve them from near annihilation. We have no such promises to prevent our extinction as a nation whatsoever. God’s faithfulness to His promise preserved Israel, but Babylon was utterly destroyed.
Let us pray for revival with all our might. Let us work for it, preach for it, and seek God earnestly for it – for the sake of the souls of God’s people and the ingathering of the lost.
But God forbid we should see revival as a means to preserve a material end, when the need is spiritual.
May God be pleased to pour His Spirit out in an unprecedented way in our generation. But let us seek that, fully aware that America’s demise might still be right around the corner. Our sins of greedy materialism, abortion, unwarranted war, unbridled sexuality, spiritual promiscuity, worship of self and violence are not being winked at.
Lord Jesus – come quickly.