Steps Towards the Year of Release
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 08, May 2019
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 24:1-4
‘Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest. And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and daughters. And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the LORD.’
In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian and his friend hopeful at one point saw a frightening sight: a man whom 7 devils had bound with strong cords being carried off to a door in the side of the hill, which opened into a byway to hell. Christian could not see who it was because the man hung his head in shame but Christian felt that his name was called turnaway who dwelt in the town of apostasy. At that sight both Christian and hopeful began to tremble. This incident evokes the mood in which we have just read in 2 Chronicles 24:1-4. The nation of Israel had turnaway from God and fallen into apostasy. And there was a rally cry under the reign of Joash to turn to the LORD.
Joash was made king at the age of 7 and he reigned for 40 years. Most of his reign was under the guidance of the good High Priest Jehoiada. Jehoiada even chose the wives he should marry; of course, godly women. His mother’s name is given to us because she was a good mother and apparently agreed with Joash with the return to the LORD. Joash was only one of the 5 kings who instituted a revival campaign.
This portion of bible records the call to consecration of people and priests. God’s people must be holy because YHWH is holy. This holiness has several components
Obedience to the Mosaic Law
Willingness to seek YHWH.
What can we learn from this portion of scripture?
1. Repair the Temple
2 Chronicles 24:4 says, ‘Joash was minded to repair the house of the LORD.’ Another translation puts it as ‘it was in the heart of Joash’ to repair the house of the LORD. The first thing that Joash did was to repair the Temple of the LORD. We know from the NT that we are the temple of the LORD. I Corinthians 3:16-17 is so clear. ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.’ We have to repair our relationship with God. It must be in our heart and mind to repair our relationship with God. The problem with the temple of God during the kingdom period is that idols and their altars are set up in the temple of God which angered God severely. Actually, in the 7-year tribulation the bible records that the Antichrist will set up an idol in the New Temple that will be built just before the 7-year tribulation. Ceremonial purification has a lot to do with personal cleaning. In our personal lives many things are set up that bring forth the wrath of God upon our lives. YHWH is more interested in the temple and its function and its personnel than any other thing. What I am trying to say is that YHWH is more interested in you, your roles and relationship with him than any other thing. If you study the bible properly, immediately after the children of Israel were exiled for 70 years, the first thing that God did was to call them to return to build the temple of God; not build the wall of Jerusalem, not the restoration of the nation of Israel, not the return of all the promised land. It was the rebuild and repair the temple. The book of Ezra was before the book of Nehemiah. Ezra was about building the temple of God. Nehemiah was about building the wall of Jerusalem. The first thing that YHWH wants you to do above all things else is to repair your relationship with him. Ezra 3:1, the first book after the exile, says, ‘And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.’ On the 7th month; again the number 7, the year of release, they gathered themselves together as one (this phrase is a Hebrew idiom for unity of heart and mind; the community unity in the assembly which included women and children can be seen; we must have one heart and mind in the year of release), Joshua the High Priest (the Priestly leader of the temple), Zerubbabel (the leader) spoke and they built the altar (the altar is the renewal of relationship with God, to repair our relationship with God, the very first thing to be done and the bible says, according to the Law of Moses, the man of God. I titled this first point as repair the temple. But actually, the first component was ceremonial purification. To build the altar, which is to repair our relationship with God is ceremonial purification. We must reinstitute the Mosaic rituals and procedures as much as possible. We must reinstitute our relationship with YHWH.
Today Israel has returned to their Promised Land. But there is still no temple. What happened? The people in Israel are a worldly people. It will be until the temple is rebuilt that it will become a rally call for all Israel to return to the LORD. Likewise, I believe YHWH is saying to many of you today, ‘repair your relationship with me’ if you want the full force of the year of release blessings.’
2. Obedience to the Mosaic Law
2 Chronicles 24:2 says, ‘And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.’
What does this mean? He did what was written in the Law of the LORD. Obedience to the Mosaic Covenant is a crucial aspect of your year of release. He followed and obeyed YHWH as it is written in the Law of the LORD. We all know that the Law of the LORD is Bible. The Old Testament reaffirms over and over again that YHWH had revealed Himself through Moses. The Mosaic guidelines were not from a human origin but from YHWH. All things must be done and all lives must be lived in accordance with these guidelines. When we walked in the ways of God, when we obey his commandments and statutes, we will see the year of release. The bible constantly makes this theological statement; ‘Obedience to the Mosaic covenant brings prosperity and blessing, but disobedience brings judgment’. This is a Law forever. The bible says God is the same yesterday, today and forever. That is the meaning. It cannot be changed. YHWH cannot close one eyes. God cannot be bribed. This is the tension and conflict between the promises of God that never fail and the conditional covenant that confuses many children of God. On one level God’s will and sovereignty are unchangeable but, on another level, there is the individual, the family and even the nation that has a responsibility. God has allowed us human to resist His will. This resistance is accompanied by terrible, temporal and eternal consequences.
When the word says Joash ‘did what was right in the sight of the LORD’ it is an idiomatic statement for one who acted faithfully, in keeping and promoting the Mosaic Law. We must restore the Mosaic Covenant. This is how blessings come and curses avoided in our lives. As a pastor I must teach the Law of God.
What is the Mosaic Law? It is uncertain to what scriptures this refers to but definitely it is implying these few books:
Genesis to Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy, especially chapter 28 relating to the blessing and the curses
Part of Exodus relating to the 10 commandments
Leviticus relating to ceremonial purification
Actually, all kings of Israel are to read the Mosaic Law to his people. Reading of the Law of Moses to the people was also part of the covenant renewal ceremony. 2 Kings 22:11-13 says, ‘When the King (Joash) heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the King’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obey the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.’
Actually, I realize that the 10 commandments are seldom preached in the church. Probably this is the reason why the church people don’t obey God and thus the curses in their lives. As a Pastor maybe I should preach on the 10 commandments once in a while as I preached on the Second Coming of Christ once in a while. Pastor Lily and I must give clear guidance to the people on the Word of God. Any leaders of this church that comes to this pulpit must teach the Word of God. In the Old Testament the Urim and Thummim are two small objects used to discern the will of God. The Urim and Thummim were placed in the breast piece of the high priest. It means God put the Urim and Thummim upon the heart of the leader of the church to discern the will of God and deliver it to the congregation. I was told by God recently that I am an interpreter of the word and not an innovator of the Word. I am to reinforce the written word, not add to it. We are interpreters of revelation we received from God, not innovators, coming up with new ideas, new doctrines, new paradigm shift the excite the people. We receive revelation from the Word and reveal it to the people. We must not innovate, come up with new ideas not found in the word of God. I feel strongly concerning this year especially. It is to be a year of release. YHWH has already started something in Etab. But we must have the heart to see through the obedience. By obeying the Word of God, Etab will never be exiled. Individuals will never experience exiles. You will never be exiled. If I serve God, I will not witness the wrath of God. If the judgment come upon the world, I will miss the judgment. Whether you are great in this church or you are small in this church you have to read the word. Whether you are rich or poor you are to read the word. YHWH has made a covenant with you. To walk after the LORD. To keep his commandments. To keep his testimonies. To keep his statutes. To perform the words of the covenant which are written in the book. And we have to remove all abominations found in the house of God. We have to remove all abominations found in our lives. You say, ‘Why read this Word?’ It is to know the will of God and follow his ways. Many of us have failed to realize that YHWH is not our Santa Claus. He is not to do our bidding. He is not at our beck and call. He is not our genie. Our relationship with God is not for him to be just besides us to answer our prayers. I believe this is the greatest mistakes that preachers have given the impression to the people of God. Preachers have taught that YHWH is to fulfill our promises. He is to protect our children and our family. He is to bless our job. He is to provide us a boyfriend. He is to bless us financially. He is not our servants. We are actually his servants lest we forget. He is our Master. He have to know the Mosaic Law to know his ways and follow his will. What did Jesus say when He was on earth? He said, ‘I am come to do the will of God.’ Of course, all these things shall be added to you. Now, what is found the Mosaic Law.
Leviticus 26:1 says, ‘Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.’
We cannot have idols, nor graven image, no standing pole like Baal pole and Asherath pole, no stone image. We must not bow to them. Some of you say you don’t bow to idols but just pay respect. How do you pay respect? You bow a little to pay respect, right? That is bowing. That means you are not even allowed to stand before an image, and revere that image. I want to talk about these two most popular gods that was responsible for Israel’s exile. That is the Baal worship and Asherath worship. Baals is plural because every village and high place all over the country of Israel had Baals shrine. High place means a naturally raised place. Baal was symbolized by an uplifted, elongated stone and Asherah was symbolized by a live tree or a carved stake, symbolizing the tree of life. Now why do I go into such details. Baal pole is a male sexual organ. Asherath pole is a female sexual organ. Baal and Asherath are fertility gods; they are the nutrients to incite sexual relationship leading to immorality. When the people of Canaan worship Baal and Asherath they led them to male and female prostitution. The people of Israel had become completely and irreversibly entangled with Canaanite fertility worship. God won’t allow us to worship immorality in our lives. This is the problem of the world and it has become to problem of the church. I believe one of the chief reasons we have curses in our lives is because of Baals and Asherath worship: sexual immorality, fornication, adultery, unfaithfulness of spouses, extra marital relationship, visitation to prostitution. It was said that the Roman Empire, considered the greatest empire that world has ever seen fell not because another stronger empire conquered it but simply because of moral decadence.
Why such a detailed sharing on Obedience to the Mosaic Law. Well, ; ‘Obedience to the Mosaic covenant brings prosperity and blessing, but disobedience brings judgment’.
Leviticus 26:3-4 says, ‘If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them. Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.’
Rain has connection with obedience to the commandments and statues. Rain in due season means regular rain according to the raining season. The land will grow crops and trees will grow their fruit. YHWH told me specifically that if I walk in his ways and follows his will, I will pray in this sanctuary for rain and He will answer the prayer for rain. We are experiencing one of the greatest droughts in the Philippines. Some meteorologist are saying that this El Nino will last until September. They say that during the earthquakes that struck Pampanga, the temperature level at that moment was 46-degree Celsius. El Nino and earthquake are all curses. Let’s walk in the ways of the Word and follow the Mosaic Law. Look at the mango tree just besides our church kitchen in this land. It is so fruitful and we did not spray at all. Just this year, I was really surprised that all the palm trees in our church has grown above the wall. I was always wondering when will the Palm Trees in our church be as tall as the wall of our church. Then this year, suddenly the Palm Trees started to shoot up. It is because of YHWH. This is the year of Release. I think God is trying to tell something to the church. Follow the Mosaic Law. Obey the Word and follow the will of God and YHWH will bless. YHWH told me specifically that I must continue to teach the Word of God and the commandments and statutes and not be afraid of the faces of members in the church who commits sins in their lives and they are no happy when corrected. He will get rid of these evil beasts out of the land
Leviticus 26:5 says, ‘And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time, and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.’ This verse is an imagery to express an abundant crop. This is harvest month. I will eat my bread to the full and dwell in the land safely. YHWH will give peace in the land, peace in the house. Peace comes from YHWH. I will lie down; sleep and not be afraid. I won’t wake up suddenly in the middle night because of a nightmare. I won’t have insomnia. Leviticus 26:7 says, ‘And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.’ My enemies won’t be chasing me. Instead I will be chasing them. Anybody, whether it is brother-in-law or relatives or friends that wants to harm the family; they shall fall before you by the sword. Why? Leviticus 26:9 says, ‘For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.’ YHWH shall respect me. It is to esteem me at a high level. It is giving me a sense worth or look at me in the excellence of a person. It is a deference. It is to look at me as someone considered to have certain rights or privileges. Wow! The creator of the Universe will respect me. Leviticus 26:11 says, ‘And I will set up my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.’ YHWH will establish Etab. YHWH will not abhor Etab. YHWH will tabernacle among us. He will dwell in our midst.
But then if I don’t obey the Mosaic Law, Leviticus 26:16 says, ‘I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies will eat it.’ This is the description of terror, leanness of the physical body because of stricken diseases, unproductive results, enemies consuming whatever that we have leftover. Then if we continue to walk in disobedience to the Law of God, Leviticus 26:21 says, ‘And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven-time smore plagues upon you according to your sins.’ Willful sinning will result in seven times more plague upon you.
3. Willingness to Seek YHWH
The bible says, ‘as long as he sought the LORD, God prospered him.’ This is another central theme that expresses the performance-based Mosaic Covenant. Notice the ‘blessings’ are conditional through time. Also notice the two most common names for Deity that are parallel here: YHWH and ELOHIM. He is not just a covenant keeping God but also ELOHIM; a creator, the only true God. YHWH wants to bless His people. If there is really one person in this world that really wants to bless you, it is YHWH. There is no person in this world that has a greater desire to bless you than YHWH. Why? Because He wants you to be a witness to the people outside of this church. But because you did not obey the Mosaic Law, the curses is brought about and what we see many a times are judgment. In what way is a person shown to have this willingness to seek YHWH?
Leviticus 26:2 says, ‘ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary. I am the LORD.’ We must go the house of God every Sunday. I can’t remember who said this in my cell group but I think it is most likely Sis Kabayao. She was describing certain members in her former Baptist Church that are COE. I know that COE is known as the Chief Executive Officer of big corporations or companies all over the world. I was a little bit confused and she replied: ‘Oh we call them COE because they are Christmas or Easter members of the church. That means they only attend church during Christmas or Easter. I think it is wrong. We have to be found in the church every Sunday. You have to respect and reverence Etab. Etab should be the nerve center of the religious activities and sacrifices of members of this church. It is the symbol of God’s presence in the lives of members of this church. It is so important that it is one of the 10 commandments of God; ye shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary. I am the LORD. It is regarded as the place of prayer and worship. The community lives of the people revolves around the church. That is why Jesus said, ‘I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ My younger sister has always been amazed at my two children when they went back to Singapore to study. She commented that she doesn’t have to coerce and remind them to go to church. When it is Sunday, they are automatically up, bathed and changed and ready to go to church. This had been their regular weekly activities. I think that is what we trained them and that is what YHWH expected of us. He said it so clearly, ‘ye shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary.’ When you do that it means that you have this willingness to seek the LORD.
Willingness to seek YHWH also means to have spiritual desire. Not all people love God. But some people when you look at them, immediately you can sense they have a tremendous desire for God. This is seen in their daily devotion towards YHWH. Abraham has a tremendous desire for God. David prayed to God morning and evening. Daniel, everyday will open the windows of his house and prayed towards Jerusalem everyday that all the princes and magistrates and presidents knew about it. Elijah was a man of like passion as anyone of us but he is different because he prayed. Seeking the LORD means seeking his presence. ‘Presence’ is a common translation of the Hebrew word ‘face’; we are to seek His face. This is the Hebraic way of having access to God.