April 6 I Saturday
1 Samuel 4-6
“Under [Josiah’s] 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 and the idols.”
—2 Chronicles 34:4
2 Chronicles 34-35 records the remarkable story of a young boy, Josiah, who inherited the throne in Jerusalem at eight years old after his father was assassinated. Josiah was the grandson of Manasseh, one of the evilest kings to reign in Judah but who, at the end of his life, was dramatically converted. During his reign, however, Manasseh set the people to worshiping pagan gods, building altars to Baal, erecting Asherah poles and conducting human sacrifices.
At age 16, Josiah began to seek after the God of David. Scripture tells us, “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed the ways of his father David…” (2 Chronicles 34:2). At 20 years old, Josiah began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of every sign of pagan worship. Seeking after God meant these evil practices had to fall away, and this revival in Josiah’s heart led to the rooting out of all false gods and idols to which the nation had turned.
Why did the people of Judah turn to worship Baal? Because they were trying to meet the deepest needs of the human heart. They were thirsty for fulfillment, desperate for love, meaning and purpose, but they had forgotten God. As Augustine famously said, “You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” God intentionally placed a deep longing in our hearts that He alone can fill. He created us to live in union with Him, and anything less will be superficial, a temporary fix that will leave us drained and depleted.
Sometimes, like the people of Judah, we may turn to sinful practices to find pleasure. Other times, we may look for joy in the good things God has given us. But regardless of their source, both are wrong when they become substitutes for God and gain the power of idolatry in our lives. We will not find satisfaction by digging deeper into these empty cisterns. We can only begin to quench this deep need of our hearts when we rid ourselves of our modern day Asherah poles and idols and genuinely seek God.
After six years of cleaning up the nation, Josiah came to the heart of Jerusalem and focused on restoring the temple and bringing the people back to the worship of God. This shows us that tearing down our idols is not enough on its own. This will only leave another void, which will inevitably be filled with another empty pursuit. The wrong has to be put right. Our replacements must give way to God Himself.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, I want to enjoy a deeply satisfying relationship with You. Help me to rid my life of anything that seeks to claim Your rightful place in my life. Thank You, Lord.