PROTECT CHILDREN OF GOD
Leslie M. John
“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”. (Mark 9:41-44)
Taking cue from the happenings among the children of Israel we can understand the ways of God and how he detested idolatry, idolaters and those who offend the children of God.
King Jeroboam’s scheme of misguiding and misleading the “House of Israel” did not end at making two calves of gold for them and saying that those were the gods who brought them out of Egypt, but he set one of the golden calves at “Bethel” on the border between Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom and another golden calf at “Dan” which was the Northern border of his kingdom. He was successful in misleading his people to be in his kingdom and worship the idols at Dan and Bethel rather than they go to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover festival on fifteenth day of the eighth month.
Jeroboam took the lead in worshipping the idols and burning incense to them. Once Jeroboam was standing at the altar at Bethel to worship the idol and burn incense to it when a man of God from Judah went there according to the word of the LORD and prophesied saying:
“…O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee”. The prophet also said that that the altar will be rent and the ashes there on the altar shall be poured out. (Ref. 1 Kings 13:2, 3)
The prophecy of the man of God was fulfilled during king Josiah’s reign. Josiah was eight years old when he took over as king of Judah and he reigned for thirty one years. He was one of the rarest kings who did that which was right in the sight of the LORD. At the orders of king Josiah, Hilkiah the high priest of the second order, and door-keepers brought all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and all the host of heaven and burnt them and carried their ashes to Bethel. Even before the division of the unified Kingdom of Israel occurred the idolatry had its way into the kingdom ruled by Solomon. Josiah like his great grandfather Hezekiah removed idolatry from his kingdom. The sin increases in the land when its rulers are themselves encourage it and they all face the consequences. The LORD is pleased with those who walk in His ways and Josiah was one who did that which was right in the sight of the LORD and it pleased the LORD.
During the reign of Josiah there were priests in his kingdom who ordained to burn incense in the high places of Judah, and to the entire host in heaven, and in the places round about Jerusalem. Josiah removed all the priests from their positions.
Josiah looked around and got the human bones removed from the sepulchers and burned them upon the altar and thus desecrating it. It was according to the word of the LORD spoken by the man of God as we read in 1 Kings 13:2. When Josiah saw a sepulcher that was distinct from the others he inquired about it and the people said it was the sepulcher of the man of God who came from Judah and prophesied about burning of human bones on the altar at Bethel, the very thing that he did there. Then, Josiah ordered that the sepulcher of the man of God may not be exhumed to take out his bones. In addition, Josiah also removed all shrines at the high places that the king of Israel built in Samaria and slaughtered all the priests upon the altars and burnt the human bones on them and went back to Jerusalem.
Josiah ordered to celebrate Passover festival. It was first time the Passover festival was celebrated at Jerusalem since the time when Judges ruled Israel even up to eighteenth year of his reign. (cf. 1 Kings Ch. 13 and 2 Kings Ch. 23)
Jesus speaking to his disciples said whoever gives them a cup of water to drink in His name, because they belong to Him, shall surely receive his/her reward. The Lord was very shrewd in saying that it is better for those who offend one of the little ones that believe in Him to have a millstone hang around his neck and be into the sea. He said it is better to cut off the part of the body that offends rather than allowing whole body perishing in the lake of fire (Ref. Mark 9:41-44)
Such Kings and authorities of the like that of King Jeroboam who offend the children of God offering worship to the living God will have their day to be surely reckoned with those who will be cast in the lake of fire.