Kings Hezekiah and Josiah
We’re studying two of Judah’s most famous and godly kings this week: Hezekiah and Josiah. Hezekiah had a special relationship with the Lord that benefited the Kingdom of Judah that it would not see again until his great-grandson, Josiah, ruled righteously as well. Chris draws striking parallels between these two men while analyzing how their kingships affected God’s Chosen People.
This weekend the Jewish community begins to observe perhaps the most important week of the year: Passover. This holiday meant something special to Hezekiah and Josiah as well! They gave this divinely mandated celebration their full attention, teaching the Kingdom of Judah a crucial lesson about drawing close to the Lord. Enjoy this week’s look at two godly kings in the line of Jesus!
If you missed Part One of this series, Listen Now!
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka, and we're so glad you chose to join us today. Chris, where are we headed on this week's program?
Chris Katulka: Yeah, we're in the middle of a series now. We're looking at the kings of Israel specifically from the book of Second Chronicles. We're looking at that lineage of kings that stem back to King David, and a promise that God made to King David in 2 Samuel, chapter seven, that he would have someone that would sit on his throne forever. We're going to look at some of the lineage of Jesus because remember, Jesus is our savior, but he's also Israel's King. That's where that concept of Messiah comes from. We're going to look at that lineage that's working its way toward the ultimate King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
Steve Conover: Yeah, we sure hope you stay with us. In the news, this month it's been reported that dozens of 2000 year old biblical scroll fragments, they've been excavated from Judean desert caves during a daring rescue operation. Most of the newly discovered scroll fragments, the first such finds in 60 years, are Greek translations of the books of Zechariah and Nahum from the 12 minor prophets. Only the name of God is written in Hebrew. The team also found the world's oldest woven basket, a mummified child scholars believe to be 6,000 years old, and coins from around 135 A.D.
Chris Katulka: Steve, this is a huge find coming out of Israel right now. Definitely a connection back to those finds of the Dead Sea scrolls that were located 60 years ago, as you had mentioned. I want you to hear from a passage of scripture that they found from Zechariah, that they dug up recently, Zechariah chapter eight, verses 16 and 17. Let's listen to these words. "These are the things that you must do, speak the truth, each of you to one another. Practice, true and righteous judgment in your courts. Do not plan evil in your hearts against one another. Do not favor a false oath. These are the things that I hate," says the Lord. Listen to that. Did you hear that, listeners? A 2000 year old text with an application that's as relevant as ever for the modern ear. It's the reason why the prophet Isaiah writes this, "The grass withers, the flower falls, but the Word of our God endures forever."
When you read through the New Testament, the gospels, the letters of the apostles, all of it, you can find the name of Jesus and his title Christ, Jesus Christ. Now I'm not trying to be funny, but Christ isn't Jesus' last name. It's not Mr. Jesus Christ like you'd get some letter or something like that in the mail. Christ is a title. It's a Greek name for Messiah. Jesus is called the Messiah. Have you ever heard that term Messiah before? In Hebrew it's Mashiach, the anointed one. The term is connected to the moment when the King of Israel is anointed with oil over his head as a symbol of the work of the Holy Spirit, using him to guide and lead the people of Israel. King Saul was anointed. King David was anointed. I actually, when I go to Israel, love to stand, right before we go through Hezekiah's tunnel we stand right at the head of the Gihon Spring where King Solomon was anointed as the King of Israel.
I say, "Long live King Solomon." We all scream it into the tunnel together. The King of Israel became the anointed representative of God on earth. God made a promise to King David in 2 Samuel, chapter seven, that his kingly line would rule forever. That he would have a son that would build a house for the Lord, and a son that would sit on his throne forever. That promise looked at both Solomon in one view and also Jesus as well. Jesus is the King of Kings, but as we study through Second Chronicles, we see that God preserved the line of David to get us to Jesus. The Kings of Judah were a part of the family line of Jesus.
In fact, if you read through this genealogy of Jesus and Matthew, you're going to see the lineage of David's descendants found from First and Second Kings, and from First and Second Chronicles. Now we're in this series on the Kings of Israel, and last week we studied King Asa's life. We saw some interesting features about Asa's walk with the Lord. This week we're going to look at two kings at the same time, Hezekiah and Josiah. Now, if you didn't get a chance to listen to last week's message, I want to encourage you to go to foiradio.org, and there you'll find the message about King Asa in our archives page. Again, go to foiradio.org. I encourage you to go there.
With every message that I want to give here about the kings during this series, I want to read first from Deuteronomy, chapter 17, which is Moses's law for the kings. Listen to what they say Kings we're supposed to do. This is Deuteronomy, chapter 17, beginning in verse 16, "Moreover, he must not accumulate horses for himself or allow the people to return to Egypt to do so. For the Lord has said, you must never again return that way. Furthermore, he must not marry many wives, lest his affections turn aside, or he must not accumulate much silver and gold. When he sits on his Royal throne, he must make a copy of this law on a scroll given to him by the Levitical priests. It must be with him constantly. He must read it as long as he lives so that he may learn to revere the Lord, his God and observe all of the words of this law and the statutes and carry them out. Then he will not exalt himself above his fellow citizen or turn from the commandments to the right or to the left, and he and his descendants will enjoy many years of ruling over his kingdom in Israel."
Now, listen, I really believe Jesus took this law to heart as the King of Israel. Jesus certainly didn't accumulate wives like Solomon, and he didn't form an army and rely on the chariots and weapons to save him. Jesus didn't accumulate wealth for himself, and he himself is called the Great I am. Did you hear how the kings were supposed to write out the law? Jesus is the one who created the law. He knew the law better than anybody. Why were the kings required to write the law? We mentioned this last week. Did you hear it? So that they wouldn't exalt themselves above their fellow citizens, or turn from the commandments to the right or to the left. Then what would happen, all of the descendants would enjoy many years of ruling over the kingdom of Israel.
Listen, Jesus gave everything for his people. He healed them. He fed them. He gave them sight. He went to the cross and even bore the wrath of God in their place. When Jesus is thinking about his kingship, he's not thinking just about his own power, his own selfishness, he's thinking about everybody. The Kings of Israel and Judah between 1000 BC and 586 BC, they excelled in some areas, and they just failed miserably in others. There was no perfect king. For that reason, there was always that tension. There was always that hope that one day God would bring a king from the line of David who would rule his people with justice and righteousness. God brought that king in the person of Jesus Christ. Okay, but it's important to see how these kings excelled in the past and also in areas where they failed.
Today, we're going to look at how King Hezekiah and Josiah spiritually re-ignited their nation's relationship with the Lord. Now Hezekiah and Josiah both ruled over the kingdom of Judah at different times. King Hezekiah's reign started in 715 BC, while Josiah ruled about 75 years later in 640 BC. There are a lot of similarities between these two kings. First of all, Josiah is Hezekiah's great grandson, so they are part of the same family line that goes back to King David. There are other similarities as well. They both had fathers that were wicked Kings of Judah who abandoned the Lord, their God. In Second Chronicles, chapter 28, it actually mentions a lot of things that Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah did to really push back against the Lord. Listen. It begins his time as king like this, Ahaz did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord as his father David had done. That's the way his kingship begins.
Ahaz called on the King of Assyria for help. It says that Ahaz actually made Judah act sinfully and cause him to be very unfaithful to the Lord. It mentions that during King Ahaz's life, when there was a moment of distress, instead of going toward the Lord, he became more faithless in God. It even says that Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and he made himself alters in every corner of Jerusalem. He was so bad that when he died, they buried him in Jerusalem, but they did not put him in the tombs of the Kings of Israel. That's interesting. Then Hezekiah, his son, takes the reign. Judah and Jerusalem were in a very bad place spiritually because of King Ahaz who led his people astray.
Now fast forward to Josiah's father, Amon, and listen to what the text says about him. Amon was 22 years old when he began to reign in Jerusalem, and he also did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He was following in the footsteps of his father Manasseh, and he sacrificed to images that were false Gods just as his father and Manasseh had done. He did not humble himself before the Lord, as Manasseh didn't humble himself. Amon incurred that guilt more and more. He was so bad that his servants conspired against him and put him to death. That's when Amon's son Josiah becomes King at the young age of eight. Look, this was the spiritual environment of both Hezekiah and Josiah. What they do is amazing as king. They bring spiritual reform. They bring a spiritual revival, and that's what I want to highlight when we come back.
Steve Conover: We want to invite you to a special opportunity this Easter season. Chris Katulka and Steve Herzig will be hosting a free online Passover Seder Thursday, April 1st at 7:00 PM, eastern standard time. This is for you and your family to enjoy from the comfort of your home. I can't imagine a better way to experience this Jewish tradition and the Lord's last supper just days before Easter.
Chris Katulka: Steve, we're going to be leading people through traditional Passover Seder, the way Jewish families all around the world do, but with Jesus at the center of the celebration. I'm especially excited that we're going to be sharing a Passover Seder grocery list ahead of time so that families who want to participate in this way can use the elements to be a part of the celebration if they wish from their home. Join Steve Herzig and me on April 1st, and this is not a joke, we're not fooling around, April 1st, live 7:00 PM eastern standard time.
Steve Conover: To learn more about this special free online event and to download recipes, Seder shopping lists, table setting ideas for you and your family go to foi.org/Passover. You'll find everything related to this fantastic upcoming event, foi.org/Passover.
Chris Katulka: We're looking at the history of King's Hezekiah and Josiah. These two kings who only live 75 years apart from one another, but they had a lot in common. They were raised by dads who led them actively away from the Lord. They were led by dads who sought to diminish the presence of God in the lives of their people in Judah. King Ahaz, Hezekiah's father, closed up the temple. What did Hezekiah do when he took the throne? He opened the temple doors and he repaired them. He purified the temple from sin that was brought on by his father. King Josiah also implemented spiritual reforms in Judah. He also rebuilt the temple as well, which fell into disrepair, and in so doing, they found the law and they read it. Josiah was so convicted by the law that he fell to the ground, and it says that he tore his clothes.
What both of these men did after repairing the temple and refocusing the spiritual heart of their people on the Lord, they both did something amazing. They both celebrated one of Israel's most important festivals. They celebrated and honored Passover. Listen to Second Chronicles, chapter 30, verse 1, in talking about Hezekiah. It says, "Hezekiah sent messages throughout Israel and Judah. He even wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, summoning them to come to the Lord's temple in Jerusalem and observe a Passover celebration for the Lord god of Israel." Jump down five chapters to Second Chronicles, chapter 35, and Josiah, it says, "observed a Passover festival for the Lord in Jerusalem. They slaughtered the Passover lands on the 14th day of the first month, which is the Passover day." Hezekiah was actually so anxious to re-institute Passover, he celebrated it in a different month because he knew it was so significant to honor and celebrate.
Why is Passover so vital? Actually, if you're listening to this, Saturday, March 27th, Jewish people are entering into Passover as we speak. Why is Passover so vital? Why did these two kings who sought to reignite their nations fervor for the Lord turn to Passover? We know Passover is the annual celebration for the Jewish people, and even in the middle of the Passover account, when you read it in Exodus, chapter 12, God stops his people in verses 14 to say, "You must honor the Passover annually every year." I believe God made it an annual celebration for a reason so that his people would always remember that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is like no other God. No other God ever redeemed and delivered his people the way that God redeemed and delivered his people. Passover is a celebration to mark when God called the nation of Israel out of Egypt bondage into freedom and liberation to serve him.
It's in that freedom that God led his people to Sinai to receive the law, the Torah. The Passover is Israel's spiritual independence day. God set them apart and gave them a special call to be a kingdom of priests, according to Exodus, chapter 19. How did Israel and Judah end up with such corrupt kings like Ahaz and Manasseh and Amon? They didn't celebrate and remember the God who delivered them from bondage. This is a great spiritual lesson for us. Sometimes we get so busy in life we can forget that some of the most important aspects of our life, we can forget God's grace that he so graciously poured out on us by sending his one and only son.
I believe this is the unique connection that we have as believers with our Jewish friends. When we celebrate the Lord's supper, we are taking a small part in a section of the Jewish Passover. I have to tell you, the other day, my son Cohen was saying to me, "Dad, you don't need to go to church to go to heaven. Church doesn't get you to heaven. Jesus does. Dad, we don't need to go to church anymore." He made me laugh. He's right. Church doesn't save you. Cohen is right. Jesus saves you. Going to church doesn't make you righteous. Jesus makes you righteous. Why do we gather then? Well, we gather together so that we don't forget. I love taking the Lord's supper at church because it's a time to stop from all the chaos around me, and just for a moment to stop and remember how God delivered us from the bondage of sin, through his son, Jesus Christ. Hezekiah and Josiah's father forgot the Lord in his goodness. It happens when we don't stop and remember him. Passover was a great way to awaken the nation of Judah to draw them to the Lord. Hey, let me encourage you. Don't forget. Take a moment right now. Take a moment every day to stop and remember God's kindness that leads us to repentance.
Steve Conover: Thank you, Chris. I'm reminded of Jeremiah's letters to the exiles. In Jeremiah 29, it's a familiar passage, but in verse 13, we read, "When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, I will make myself available to you," says the Lord. These kings, they couldn't rest on the laurels of their fathers' reigns. It's one of those things, I think, that we need to make sure that we are calling out to the Lord and not just assuming too much in our faith.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. You know what else I was thinking too, as I was putting this together, and I just didn't have the time to squeeze it in there, that God would respond so quickly to Hezekiah and Josiah. That God didn't put them on some special plan, and maybe we'll get there, and maybe I can forgive you. Even though the sins of their fathers were so bad that in that moment, the moment they turned to seek God, God responded and accepted them as a nation. I love that because I think it's a perfect picture of God's grace to us, that even though we might stray, that in the very moment we turned to seek him again, he's available and waiting for us to come to him. I love that about God's grace.
Steve Conover: Yeah. That's beautiful.
Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor, Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: Every year, my home is completely full on Passover evening. Before the readings, I gave a short testimony about the meaning of Passover. My children played music, and everyone sang. The feast lasted until 1:00 AM, and many of our neighbors after hearing the music and singing, stood outside listening also. The unbelievers thought they were going to see and hear things completely different from their own celebration, but were surprised to learn we believe in the same God, and what's more, we followed the real Passover lamb, Jesus. Leviticus 17:11 clearly depicts the atonement, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls." The only difference between their feast and mine was that I put meaning into it, emphasizing the Pesach lamb, which is the real atonement. I read from the Bible and told them our celebration is all about that lamb.
This was very hard for them to understand. I read to them only from the Old Testament, such as Job 19:25, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth." This was the first time they had heard about the resurrection. Then someone asked the age old question, how can we know this when no one has ever come back from the grave? I replied, "The Lord rose from the grave. Know the question," I said. "We don't want to hear that example. We want to hear from the Bible, but not from the New Testament." I quoted the prophet Daniel who wrote, "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. You can have the Lord's mercy. You can have real atonement through his death and resurrection."
They did not understand how God could be born, die, and come again. I told them the Bible speaks of all these things. Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 9:6 foretold his birth. Isaiah 53, foretold his suffering. Zachariah 12:10 foretold his death. King David prophesied of his resurrection in Psalm 16:10, and Daniel 7:13 predicts his second coming. I showed them all of these things without once opening the New Testament, because God has given us a very clear picture of the Lord, our savior, and our Passover in the Old Testament. I then told my visitors, "You can see the way we have celebrated the Passover today. It’s not taken from our imaginations, but from the Holy Bible, the same Bible you read. The Lord has promised he will come again, and he has told us to watch and pray so we will be ready for his coming."
At the end of the evening, some of my guests had changed their minds about me, and we all sang together the popular song of the Passover taken from Psalm 1:18. It was truly a blessed Passover feast.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us today. We continue our series looking at the Kings of Israel next week. A quick reminder as we close to join us for our upcoming Passover event.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, that's right. Online everybody, April 1st, 7:00 PM, live online, Steve Herzig and I will be leading you through a Passover Seder, and we're going to connect Christ to the Passover as well. For more information about this, just go to www.foi.org/Passover. One more time, foi.org/passover.
Steve Conover: You can also find that on our regular radio website, that's foiradio.org, foiradio.org. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. One last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Online Passover Seder
Join our FREE online Passover Seder Thursday, April 1 at 7 p.m. EST! Steve Herzig and Chris Katulka host an authentic demonstration of a Jewish celebration of Passover with a key element added to our celebration: a focus on Jesus and the Last Supper. Experience this revered Jewish tradition from the comfort of your own home!
To learn more about this special event and to download recipes, seder shopping lists, and table setting ideas, please visit foi.org/passover.
Apples of Gold: The Pesach Lamb
Zvi’s Passover celebration was always a blessed feast. Sometimes it would go into the early hours of the night. Many of his neighbors would listen outside expecting the Kalishers’ Passover to be different than what they are used to. But to their surprise, it was the same! When Zvi tried to show them how the Messiah is our Passover Lamb, they asked him to only show them from the Old Testament. Zvi did just that and they were amazed, giving him a chance to share his faith in Jesus with them.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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