God’s Relational Nature

A most incredible truth in the universe is that God “hearts” (truly feels love towards) each one of us.

What?

We are talking about an all-powerful, unstoppable BEING, and saying that he knows and cares about each of the estimated 7.8 billion mortals inhabiting this globe?

Selah! [“Selah” in the  Bible means “take a break and ponder it”].

Honestly, this is more than our 1.5 kg (3.3 lb.) brains can comprehend. Trips all circuit breakers.

Time to realize that HeDeity – has infinite capacity. Mental capacity, focus, attention span, all are unlimited and inexhaustible with Him. The Bible describes God as authentically relational and responsive toward human beings. He can engage with each man, woman, and child fully at the same time. Recognize God’s relational nature!

Has the Lord forgotten us? “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you. See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind …” Isa. 49:14-16.[1]

From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.” Isa. 43:13.

BUTTTTTT

How, how, how could there be so much injustice and suffering in this world? If God “hearts” us, wouldn’t He fix everything that is wrong? These are burning, legitimate questions. Let’s see if HE answers them for us.

Some of the most significant episodes in human history are provided to us in the early chapters of the Bible, Genesis chapters 1 – 3. They form the bedrock for understanding life as we find it on planet earth.

  • God did not delegate the work of creating us. He Himself created us humans. He did so not only by handcrafting our amazing physical bodies, but He also went “mouth to mouth” to breath his very own eternal life into us![2] We humans are the only ones of whom He says, we are “created in God’s image.”[3]
  • He placed us in a wonderful, fault-free environment.[4]
  • He wanted to develop us humans within a relationship of trust and understanding of Him.
    The first step toward this was a simple way for humans to show respect and obedience. There was one thing Creator withheld for Himself. One fruit tree that his image bearers were to respect and reserve for Him alone.[5] We had all the reason in the world to honor Deity by obeying, but instead, we began millenniums of rebellion. Humankind lost all purity, and descended from bad to worse, and is still going downhill.[6]
  • And every day, all of us suffer the consequences, sometimes horrible consequences, of our insurrection. Killing, looting, theft, gender-based violence, racial-based oppression, religious persecution, etc. etc. etc. have their genesis in this first rejection of God’s authority and goodness. Each of us adds to the guilt of humanity.

What has Deity done about this?

Deity has gone far beyond expectation. Rather than obliterate us obstinate rebels, He left His glorious throne and came down to this infected planet. He entered this world as A HUMAN BABY!  Recalibrate this in your thinking.

Deity planted Divine sperm in a young girl who carried Him to full term. Mary gave birth to this Divine-human like any other human baby. Let this bounce around in your 1.5kg (3.3lbs) of grey-cells!  

Angelic beings lit the sky to announce His birth.[7] Deity shifted even some stars to proclaim the news.[8] 

This divine/human grew like other boys and earned the respect of all.[9]

As an adult he walked the country sides and towns, interacting with people of all classes, cultures, and reputations.[10] He showed interest and solidarity with everyone. Mothers were attracted to bring their young children to be held by him.[11] Outcast women found him to be a safe haven.[12] Blind, paralyzed, lepers, infirmed, were healed by him.[13]

Religious heads were jealous and frightened by his popularity. Jesus went to Jerusalem at the busiest time of the year, and purposely inflamed their fear and hatred of him.[14] He often told his close companions that would be killed by these authorities, be buried for a brief time, then resurrect to life again.[15]

This is how much Deity “hearts” you, me, everyone! He died a horrible physical death before the eyes of family, friends, and enemies.[16] But he suffered much worse. Deity on earth called out to Deity above and said, “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?”[17] Deity broke![18] The God/man was banished, abandoned, rejected for three hours of earthly time (but something incalculable in Divine “time”).[19]                                        

You, me, all our family members, friends, associates, neighbors, and even our enemies and strangers on the street and in the marketplaces, are both: 1, The direct cause of Deity suffering untold turmoil (We are guilty of murder+). 2, The potential beneficiaries of that Love Act.[20] (We are forgiven, able to engage with Deity, become his children through facing our guilt and accepting His transcending offer of forgiveness and restoration to a new life has His children).

“God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” Acts 2:22-24.

“Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent. You are witnesses of these things.’” Luke 24:46-48.

I wish I could say that Jesus’ followers have done an exemplary job of representing Him and displaying the same love, equity and service as Him. But the story of Christianity is a mishmash of highs and lows and everything in between.  But let’s not look at Christianity as a movement or a cause. See and ponder the revelation of Deity to all humankind. Deity sent his SON to this planet to make a way of peace and reconciliation. “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Cor. 5:19-21.

Please consider the implications of what is stated here. Deity truly does “heart” you, me, everyone more than we can fathom.

Blessings!


[1] All Bible quotations are from the New Living Translation.

[2] “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” Gen. 2:7.

[3] “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.’” Gen. 2:27-28.

[4] Eden, Gen. 2:8.

[5] Gen. 2:15-17.

[6] Gen. 3:7-8, 14-19, 21, 22-24; 4:8; 6:5-7; 11:4, 6-8 ???`

[7] Luke 2:8-15.

[8] Mat. 2:1-11.

[9] Luke 2:52.

[10] Even his band of 12, who stuck with him for 3 long years, was diverse group. A political zealot (Mat. 10:4), a political traitor (Mat. 10:3), fisherman (Mat. 4:18-22), and a thief and betrayer (John 12:4-6).

[11] Mat. 19:13-14.

[12] Luke 7:36-50, Luke 8:1-3; John 4:6-42; Mark 5:24-34; Luke 10:38-39

[13] Luke 11:4-6; Mark 10:46-52; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:12-14; Mat. 4:23

[14] Mat. 21:45-46; Mark 14:1-2; John 7:30-32; Mat. 23.

[15] Mat. 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:17-19.

[16] Mat. 27:31, 33-37, 54-56; John 19:25-27.

[17] Mark 15:33-34.

[18] Human language fails us here. Theologians will ask me to recant and denounce this description. They will vehemently say “Deity can’t break!” I will answer, “Nor can deity die. Nor can Holy Trinity be divided. Nor can Deity forsake Deity.” What happened that afternoon on a hill outside Jerusalem is above and beyond our comprehension and description. But the message, the impact, the relational meaning is inescapable. Deity “hearts” you, me, everyone to a degree that is inexplicable in human terms. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8.

[19] As stated in the previous footnote. We are talking about truths beyond our comprehension. Like a colony of ants trying to discuss quantum physics.

[20] Deity does not make peoples’ decisions for them; this is why we are “potential beneficiaries.” Deut. 30:19; Josh. 24:14-15; Rom. 6:16.

Creator’s Visit

CREATOR fashioned a magnificent world in an unfathomable universe.

But this world rapidly grew [and there’s no soft way to state this] ugly, putrid, deathly, abhorrent.

How and why? 

The appointed caretakers – human beings named Adam and Eve – utterly failed their job.

CREATOR set one simple boundary: “This one tree, right here in the middle, is off limits to you!” A relationship builder. A simple opportunity to show respect for Creator and thereby grow in relationship.

What did the caretakers do? Bingo. They willfully trespassed in rebellion against CREATOR. Things could never be the same.

Genesis chapters 3-11 form the darkest literature in all existence, bar none.

Evil escalates. Those created by Beautiful CREATOR become warped beyond recognition. “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought and imagined was constantly and totally evil.” Gen. 6:5. Uuugggghhhs!

CREATOR decided not to end this venture. He dug deeper. He revealed a plan to bless, to rescue these failed image-bearers.

Recovery Plan, stage 1.

He chose one man, one family, to become a nation and bring blessing – the offer of restoration – to the entire world. “I will make you a great nation… All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” Gen. 12:1-3. 

Abraham’s descendants were intended by God to be a spiritual, moral and even economic boost to all the other peoples, lending food to those in need (Duet. 28:10-12).

But CREATOR’s chosen conduit of blessings also utterly failed their job.

Recovery Plan, stage 2.

The story Jesus told in Mat. 21:33-39 outlines a clear indictment against Israel while also stating CREATOR’smost remarkable, radical, “ridiculous” plan—having his own SON enter this cesspool and suffer a horrid, most repulsive death as the mediator who alone can reconcile his adopted family to the Holy, Eternal God.

With this motive and purpose the Son of CREATOR was born as a human baby. Why Christmas first happened. Why God the Son was conceived and birthed as a human baby. To forge the path for reconciliation. Millions and millions of people through history and today have entered this path; have received forgiveness and reconciliation with CREATOR-FATHER; and are working together to bring this message of hope to needy people all over the world.

Let’s honor Christ today by living and proclaiming His work, His message of reconciliation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Let’s involve daily in God’s recovery plan!

Josiah’s Children, Physical and Spiritual

Physical Sons

Josiah was a great man, an outstanding leader, a man of integrity and spirituality. He deliberately and methodically changed a nation. He was a channel of great blessing to a people who were in dire distress. Thank God for such a man.

There is, however, one black mark on Josiah’s record. He failed miserably in the area of raising his own children. We know he had three sons and each of them had a turn on the throne of Judah. None of them followed in their father’s good footsteps.

When Josiah died, the people knew his oldest son, Eliakim, was bad news for the nation. Through a movement of the people, Eliakim was overlooked and his younger brother, Jehoahaz, the middle son, was crowned as the successor to Josiah. The Biblical record sadly tells us: “He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.” 2 Kings 23:32. He lasted only three months before he was captured by Pharaoh Neco and taken away to Egypt.

Pharaoh then appointed the older brother to be king. He had his name changed from Eliakim to Jehoiakim (it seems that powerful kings did this to the weaker ones, so that whenever anyone mentions the new name they are reminded of who is really in charge – the one who gave the name). Pharaoh also demanded a large payment in silver and gold. In Jehoiakim’s third year, Babylon came and looted Jerusalem of its wealth and the best of its human resources (Daniel 1:1-4).

Jehoiakim lasted 11 years on the throne. He did terrible things, including burning the word of God (Jeremiah 36). As a result, God allowed for King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon, to come and capture him and his wealth and most of the population of Judah and Jerusalem.

Jehoiakim’s son, Jehoiachin, became king but lasted only three months.

The third brother, named Zedekiah, was then made king. He was weak and uncertain of what to do. He asked for advice from the Lord’s prophet, Jeremiah, but he was too weak to follow it. He stayed on the throne for 11 years, but during the last 3 years, Jerusalem was surrounded by the mighty Babylonian armies and the people of Judah were thirsting and starving to death. Even in the very end, he did not turn to God. For some reason, Josiah’s three sons and one grandson who took his place never sought the Lord, never bothered to do what was right and true. This is a very sad end to the Davidic dynasty (though not the very end, since there is still a descendant of David and Josiah who will rule as king (Matt 1:1-16).

Spiritual Children

Josiah’s physical children turned out to be disasters. This type of thing has happened far too many times in the history of God’s people. God does not want us to neglect and ruin our children while focusing only on serving him (1 Timothy 5:8). It is so sad that Josiah caused the nation of Judah to thrive in obedience to God while leaving his sons so ill-prepared to continue his good work.

However, Josiah can be credited with a host of spiritual children who earned their way among the greatest of God’s people.

Jeremiah was the same age as Josiah, but because Josiah made such an early start on his spiritual pilgrimage it is easy to imagine that Josiah’s purity of heart on the throne inspired Jeremiah to give himself completely to God’s service. And that service was reasonably easy while Josiah lived, but it was Josiah’s sons who made life a living hell for him later on (Jeremiah 22:10-11, 18-19; 26:20-23; 36:18-26; 37:11-16; 38:4-6).

Daniel was an outstanding man of God and part of what made him holy and true in a wicked land was the example of a daring, righteous king who reigned when Daniel was born and started school. Daniel was a young man when that arrow struck King Josiah and all of Judah and Jerusalem mourned his death (2 Chron. 35:24-25). Daniel must have received great inspiration from this outstanding king, and when he was caught in the web of Babylonian politics he followed Josiah’s “no compromise” policy completely (Daniel 1:8; 6:3-4, 10-23). Daniel was a superb man who was told by an angel, “The moment you began praying, a command was given … for you are very precious to God.” (Daniel 9:23).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were friends, fellow-refugees, and co-workers of Daniel. They also were born and raised with the righteous king, Josiah, on the throne. They exhibited courage and great faith when they chose to be burnt alive in a huge furnace rather than bow before a false god (Daniel 3:9-20). The True God used them mightily in the foreign kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 3: 21-30).

Ezekiel was in his early twenties when Josiah died. Three years later he was taken to Babylon along with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Ezekiel 1:1-2). He was a priest who was then called to be a prophet (just like Jeremiah). Ezekiel spent his whole adult life in the foreign land but faithfully taught and challenged God’s people to live in obedience to their God. His ministry was an essential part of preparing God’s people to eventually return to their land and worship Him alone.

Conclusion: God used Josiah in a mighty and strategic way to save his people from the total destruction they deserved. Other nations taken captive by Assyria and Babylon never returned to their original land. They lost their national identity and were absorbed by the greater nations. The same should have happened to Judah, but God used an eight-year-old boy, who grew to be an outstanding king and religious leader, who purged the land of idolatry, who restored the Temple and reignited the prescribed worship of the True and Living God. God used Josiah in a mighty way to prepare His people for the difficulties ahead. And with the hard work of Josiah’s spiritual children the nation continued as a united people bound together by the worship of the true God.

This is God’s promise to his people when they were about to be taken away as captives to Babylon. “I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God.  And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.” Jeremiah 32:37-41.Josiah – Chain Breaker is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.

3D: Deliberate Devil Destruction

By the King’s recorder.

Hatching a Plan

It was a risky, monumental task that faced the king. There was urgency to accomplish it, but success was not at all guaranteed. Great care and a very great plan was required.

Four years ago, at the young age of 16, the boy King Josiah became serious about his relationship with the God of the Bible. This God is the Living God. He has certain expectations, and he offers certain compensations for cooperation and obedience. Young Josiah made a head-strong decision to seek this God with all his heart.

Now he is four years along in this quest. He has learned personal reverence. He has found miraculous joy and personal peace through solid interaction with God. But, he also feels a great weight as the king of Judah that his subjects, the people of Judah, are worshipping the anti-God, the Devil, who appeared with many faces in the idols of Baal, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Molech, and numerous other “gods”. Each of them is a blatant abomination that infuriates Israel’s God. Josiah’s love for God and the honour of His name drew Josiah into this risky, monumental task.

Idol worship needs to be stopped in its tracks; needs to be eradicated so as to never return.

Josiah began his research. It was not enough to just break down the pagan temples and bust up the altars and kill off the priests. His father showed how quickly the idols can return, and with a vengeance. What could he do to eradicate their existence both now and into the future? He investigated the beliefs and requirements of each of these despicable religions until he uncovered what was most abhorrent for each of them. Now he could hatch a plan to attack each and every one of them, destroy them, and intentionally violate the very core of their religion so that it could not be restored.

Wow. This 20-year-old was bold, comprehensive, and thorough in what he did.

Facing the Risks

This is no small thing Josiah is setting out to do.

Domestically, within the realm of Judah, his actions could easily create an uprising that would cost Josiah his throne and his life. The citizens of Judah were worshipping these false gods by their own evil choice, and they don’t want to be forced to stop (Jeremiah 3:6-10; 7:16-18). They believed these gods bring them rain and harvest and children and wealth (Jer. 44:17). To oppose these gods is to ruin the hopes of their faithful followers.

Internationally, these temples were an expression of international ties, much like embassies are today. They dated back to King Solomon who made political alliances through marrying the daughters of foreign kings, then he built temples so that his wife and in-laws had a place to worship (1 Kings 11:7-10). Therefore, if Josiah destroys the temple of Ashtoreth, he is infuriating the king of Sidon to the North. If he destroys the temple of Chemosh, he cuts off all ties with Moab to the east. And if he destroys the temple of Molech, he declares war on Ammon to the southeast. These are only some of the foreign conflicts he was about to create.

Its Implementation

Josiah did not bow down to fear. He was not half-hearted. He did not compromise. Did not deviate. “He did what was pleasing to the LORD and he followed all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not deviate to the right or to the left.” 2 Kings 22:2 (TNK). He truly was a “one way” man.

Josiah didn’t sit in his comfortable palace and bark out orders for others to carry out. He personally headed up the search-and-destroy missions. He targeted first the whole area of Judah and Jerusalem, his own little nation (2 Chron. 34:3-5).

He destroyed all the physical objects of idol worship, the temples, the idols themselves, and all the altars wherever they were. He removed all physical evidence (2 Kings 23:4-14).

He dealt with the priests who performed the illegal rituals. The foreign priests he had them killed. The Israelite priests who greatly compromised he brought to Jerusalem and forbid them to serve in the temple, but he saw that they were fed and taken care of. In spite of their treachery, Josiah recognized them as a chosen people and therefore he showed them honor, 2 Kings 23:8-9.

He removed all mediums and fortune tellers and all who called on demonic spirits (2 Kings 23:24).

He defiled all the places of idol worship by burning the bones of their buried priests so that these places could never be used again.

Josiah was methodical and thorough.

After Josiah’s own territory was cleansed, he was bold enough to cross the border into the land of the 10 northern tribes who had been carried off to Assyria. He obviously felt responsible for the whole land that God gave as a special inheritance to his people. King Josiah purified the whole land of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 23:15-20; 2 Chron. 34:6-7).

Its Results – Belief in One God

The Bible gives us two accounts of Josiah’s great work of removing all the idol worship from the land. 2 Chronicles 34 tells us clearly that this work began before he had the temple cleansed and the book of the law was discovered. He started this work at the age of 20, during his 12th year as king (2 Chron. 34:3). The other account (2 Kings 23) tells us that the discovery and reading of the law caused Josiah to see that there was much more work to be done. Judah and Israel had yet to come up to God’s high standard of holiness. Josiah’s heart was broken with this new information, so he led a stronger and broader campaign against all the evils of idolatry and false gods.

The Bible says of Josiah, “Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.” 2 Kings 23:25. This singleness of purpose and focus and heart was the key to bringing about the belief in only One God. This is what God commanded in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” This is the 1st and greatest commandment in the Bible (Mat. 22:37-38) and Josiah was the one who came to truly obey it.

God used Josiah in a mighty way to prepare His people for the horrible time ahead when Jerusalem would be attacked, the city and the temple destroyed, and all the people of Judah taken captive to a foreign land. Josiah made such a strong statement that – there is only One God – and this statement bounced around in their ears for years and years to come. Never again were the people of Israel to be divided in their loyalty to other gods. Baal, Ashtoreth, Molech and all the others never held the interest of God’s people again. Proof of this can be found in the book of Esther. The people of God were in danger of being all killed off, but rather than compromise and join the locals in their idol worship, they fasted and prayed to the True and Living God and received their help from Him alone (Esther 4:1, 4, 16-17; 8:15-17; 9:1-3).

Josiah – Chain Breaker is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.

Is There Any Hope?

Judah was drowning in problems. These problems are detailed already in this book. Is there any hope? Could this inexperienced little boy make any kind of difference?

The five writers of this book discussed how Josiah turned out entirely different from his father and his grandfather. He was crowned so young that his advisers were more in control than he was. However, the great reforms did not happen right away. We don’t know of any changes in Judah for the first 12 years of Josiah’s reign. So how did Josiah develop into a powerful man of God? The following are some of our guesses.

Josiah

The Bubu connection (grandfather/grandson)[1]

God had threatened punishment for a very long time, but He does not get any pleasure by bringing pain to his people. He still desired to forgive the nation and welcome them back as his own people. We believe it was not by chance that Josiah’s grandfather, King Manasseh, was dragged away with a chain through his nose and imprisoned by the Assyrians. He deserved this horrible treatment, but more than that, by being so badly humiliated and by having any future torn from him, he looked back at his life and his rejection of the true God and he began to confess his sins and ask forgiveness. Our amazing God forgave him and even arranged for him to be returned to the throne of Judah (2 Chron. 33:9-13).

He was an old man by this time, but he started removing the idols and trying to change the nation. He saw that his son, Amon, loved evil rather than good. His son will be the next king and there may not be any hope to reform him, but what about his grandson?

Wouldn’t it be natural that the repentant old man would want to spend much of his last days with this tender grandson, telling him of the many lessons he learned late in life? Would he not read the royal scrolls of the good kings, David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and challenge Josiah to be like them? Does it make sense that Manasseh would identify his good and upright officials and tell them to take good care of this grandson, the only hope for Judah’s future?

We don’t believe that Manasseh encouraged anyone to assassinate his son, but it does make sense that he did what he could to prepare young Josiah to become the king that Judah so badly needed.

Choosing the right heritage

Josiah had all sorts of excuses lined up for why he would fail. The problems were too big for anyone to handle, and they were not his fault. He had a bad upbringing. He witnessed his father being killed by trusted officials. He was so young he would be under counsellors and guardians for years and he could easily blame them for whatever goes wrong. He could claim that he was destined to fail.

Something else to consider: When Josiah became king, he did not even have a copy of God’s word. Some must have been stored away for safe keeping, but the one that finally reached the kings hands 18 years later had been buried behind the rubble in the temple. But there was another source of information available to the boy king.

Josiah as a new, inexperienced king must have requested the official records of all the previous kings of Judah. He must have read through them and began to understand that when the kings followed the ways of King David and obeyed the Lord, then there was peace and prosperity. But when they followed Solomon and took up idolatry, then punishment came and all the people suffered. The Bible tells us about him, “While he was still young [age 16], Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David.” 2 Chron. 34.3.

You see, we all have more than one heritage, more than one background. We can choose the high road, accepting and building on all the good things of our past, or we can stumble along the low road, letting our past, present and future push us around. Josiah made a complete break from his father, his grandfather, and the host of other bad kings before them. He chose the right heritage, the calling of God, and the life of spirituality, truth, and uprightness.

This book is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.


[1] The word “bubu” in our country speaks of a special mutual relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. They address each other affectionately as “bubu” in both directions. Everyone smiles at their “bubu”s.

Gone, Completely Gone

As told by an unnamed old man in Jerusalem.

You may not be interested in the words of a heart-broken old man, but this story MUST be told. My grandson, my beautiful Ethan, my strength and my joy. Gone. Completely gone. No funeral. No place of mourning. No grave. How can I mourn without a grave?

I am outraged at Ethan’s mother. Hers are the hands that killed him. But my son, Shamiah, also bears the guilt. How can my family be guilty of such a treacherous thing? Oh Ethan, my grandson, my strength and my joy. Gone. Completely gone.

This tragedy must have started soon after my son was married. We live a few kilometers west of Jerusalem and I have always taken my family to the Temple. We are Jews and follow the laws of Moses. I was married in the courtyard outside the Temple and so was my son.

Within the first two years, I saw my son and his wife having problems. Every new couple has some fights, but I kept hearing bits and pieces of their arguments. During one fight I heard her talking about the spread of diseases. He shouted back about being free to worship however he wanted. I did not know what was going on.

These were hard times for us all. We live in a very dry climate and depend on the few rains when they come, because we all farm and raise animals.

During another fight, I heard her say the forbidden words, “Asherah” and “prostitute.” I heard him answer back with words like “famine”, “need her help”, and “rain.” Now I understood at least part of the problem.

East of the Holy City, there is a temple dedicated to the goddess Ashtoreth. It was built by King Solomon over 300 years ago (1 Kings 11:7-8; 2 Kings 23:13). No good Jew would go there, but my son must be going regularly now. You see, the temple is a brothel full of prostitutes. Men go there, do all sorts of lewd things, and walk out saying that they pleased Asherah and now it might rain.[1]

This despicable temple was closed down when King Manasseh returned from his short exile in Babylon. But when he died nearly two years ago, the new king, King Amon, proudly cut the ribbon at its Grand Re-opening. My son has become a willing patron of this vile place.

Their fighting got worse and worse. My son would not listen to her pleadings and threats. Nor did any good come of my son’s idolatrous sins. There still was no rain.

However, only a great prophet could have known the evil plan she invented and actually carried out. We had no warning.

My two granddaughters came running and screaming to my house. They were so upset that it took many minutes to get the story out of them.

Their mother had locked them in their room and threatened them with the worst beating of their life if they made any noise. She then took Ethan and left.

Hours later, she returned in a hysterical state. She knocked the girls around, screamed at them to leave, then locked herself in while she wailed and screamed and bashed up the house.

Upon hearing their story, I was gripped with sheer panic. Where is my Ethan? What terrible thing has happened?

I asked around and followed the steps of where she had taken him. The people led me to the southeast of Jerusalem, to where I had never set foot before in my life. I was led to the valley of Ben-Hinnom. My panic, and now my grief, multiplied with every step.

I don’t have words to say it. I will have nightmares for the rest of my life.

Ethan’s mother brought him here, to the altar of Topheth, and handed him over the murderous priests of Molech.[2] They took him to the altar, tied him down, and . . . . . .

Ashes. Nothing but ashes. Mixed with the ashes of hundreds of other victims of the so-called “protecting father”.

My beloved Ethan, my grandson, my strength and my joy. Gone. Completely gone. No funeral. No place of mourning. No grave. How will I mourn for you?

It is true that child sacrifice to false gods was practiced just outside of Jerusalem. God was repulsed at such a thing. This is what he said about it: “They have built pagan shrines at Topheth . . . and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” Jer. 7:31. It took a man of Josiah’s caliber to deal with this abomination.

N.B. This book is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.


[1] Unger’s Bible Dictionary, GODS, FALSE, Ashtoreth, pp 412-413.

[2] Leviticus 20:2-5. Unger’s Bible Dictionary, GODS, FALSE, Molech, P. 416.

Grandma Lily

Grandma Lily was perfect for all 6 of us PNG Howards.

She always opened her home and welcomed us with special touches. For son Reggie, the special touch was always the biggest available box of Wheat Chex. For daughter-in-law Susan, it was French Vanilla Creamer in the fridge.

For the kids, starting with Jodie, it was brand new pajamas, socks and so much more. 

When 3-year-old Icey was coming, she asked him over the phone, “what do you want when you get here?” His immediate answer was, “Grandma, I want a pet giraffe.” And rather than say, “that’s impossible” (like us parents did), [1] she sewed up the most beautiful stuffed giraffe a three-year-old could ever ask for. It was waiting on Isaiah’s bed when we arrived.

While we were away year-after-year across the Pacific Ocean, she often sent her love through personalized care packages. Oreo cookies (every new type that became available), M&M’s, Kool-Aid, and too much more to list here. One time she asked 3-year-old JJ, “what would you like me to send you?” he quickly answered, “Grandma, I want some snow.” And, rather than say, “that’s impossible” (like us parents did), she said “Ok, I will send you some snow.”[2] This brilliant grandma found a hand-cranked “snow cone” maker at the local store and sent it in the next care package. With ice cubes and a bit of cranking, JJ got his snow!

When Hada came the first time, grandma wrapped her arms around her and said, Welcome to the family, you are my 14th grandchild. You are most special.”

We miss mom/grandma so much, but our hearts and minds are full of precious, special memories that we wouldn’t trade for anything.

She is fully alive now; with her Living Savior, her parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties, big brother, “bestie” Russ, and so many precious friends; singing, dancing, praising, and thanking their/our Glorious Father, our/their Lived-Died-Rose-again Savior, and myriads of saints and angels.


[1] This kid believed his grandma 100%, and we were sure he would be heart broken when he saw that grandma could not get him a pet giraffe.

[2] We hoped JJ would simply forget about this impossible promise, but…

Political Turmoil

By a local political analyst.

The year is 640BC. Judah is a small nation surrounded by three greedy superpowers. Assyria to the north, Babylon to the northeast, and Egypt to the south are in an on-going competition to acquire land and to tax foreigners, and to just outright bully people around.

The 10 tribes of Israel to the north were forcibly dragged away to Assyria 80 years ago and remain there as slaves (2 Kings 17:20). This leaves Judah exposed and extremely vulnerable, caught in the middle of these superpowers. Just a few years earlier, Assyria captured King Manasseh (who had been king for decades) and dragged him away in hooks and chains, bringing shame to the whole nation (2 Chronicles 33:11). Sometime later, Manasseh was allowed to return and rule again. But he was a crippled leader ruling a desperate nation. He served for a total of 55 years and upon his death his son Amon was crowned king.

Amon lasted only two short years. He was so evil that his own officials assassinated him inside the palace walls. This desperate deed cost them their own lives. Yes. His own trusted officials put him to death and they in turn were killed for treason.

Amon had no brothers to take over the throne. They had been killed by their father as sacrifices to the “protecting father,” the god Molech. (2 Chron. 33:16).

Talk about political turmoil!

This tiny nation, surrounded by superpowers, is torn by intrigue and assassination and now the only heir to the throne is an 8 year old boy!

Assyria

This is the superpower that defeated and destroyed the 10 tribes to the north some 82 years before. Josiah’s great-grandfather, Hezekiah, was king of Judah at that time. He paid a huge amount of money to the Assyrians to send them away happy. It was “more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold” (2 kings 18:14). But, this did not satisfy the hungry lion, Assyria wanted more and they turned to attack Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17). But God caused 185,000 of their soldiers to die in their sleep (1 Kings 19:34-37) and the whole army ran back to Assyria to hide.

They did not stay away for long. They came back when Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh, was king. They placed a hook through his nose and dragged him away in disgrace and placed him in prison. He cried to God and God was merciful to him. Somehow, Assyria allowed him to return to Jerusalem as king. But, the Assyrians were still around and creating fear and anxiety among the people of Judah.

Babylon

During the time of Hezekiah’s reign, an envoy from the north arrived in Jerusalem. Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them all the nation’s treasures, the gold, the silver, the weapons and everything. However, God was not impressed with this attitude and sent his servant, the prophet Isaiah, with a message. In 2 Kings 20:16, Isaiah prophesied that one day all these treasures will be looted and carried away to Babylon.

This was to happen during the reigns of Josiah’s sons and grandson,2 Kings 24: 8ff. Babylon at the time of Amon, and then Josiah, was one of the three superpowers and gathering momentum.

In just 11 years these fears will prove to be real when Judah and Jerusalem are attacked by Babylon and then finally falls to their army commander. Another 11 years later King Nebuchadnezzar will bring this Jewish nation to an end, never to be the same again. 2 Kings 24:10; 25:1ff.

Egypt

Egypt was the cunning fox from the south. They knew they could not defeat the other superpowers on their own, but, if Babylon and Assyria fought each other, and if smaller countries would join with Egypt, then Pharaoh could become the most powerful man in the world. This was his ambition.

Judah stood in-between Egypt and the two other superpowers, and they suffered at the cruel hands of all three. It was Egypt’s king, Pharaoh Neco, that fought against Josiah and Josiah was killed (2 Kings 23:29). Neco was simply passing through Judah in order to help Assyria fight against Babylon, but Josiah tried to stop him and lost his life in the process 2 Chron. 35:20-25.

Is there any hope for Judah’s future? The whole world is laughing and talking behind our backs.

Judah’s Location God gave the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. This land is rich and fertile. It is also the place where the great continents meet. Africa, Asia, Europe meet at the land of Israel. It was God’s plan that they live at this centre-point so that all nations could learn about the true God and be blessed by Him (Gen. 12:1-3). However, because Israel constantly rejected their God, they have had enemies on all sides even up to today.

N.B. This book is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.

Josiah – Chain Breaker, Dedication

This book is dedicated to a special man. Just as Josiah, the main character of the book, was taken so unexpectedly from his people, so also our dear friend and brother, Auwi Muki, was suddenly taken from us.

Auwi made great contributions to this book as a co-author [He is in the middle of this picture]. He was particularly interested in 1. The political turmoil, 2. The “Mount of Corruption,” and 3. The life lessons to be learned from Josiah.

The Lord chose to promote Auwi from earth to heaven before this book was printed.

We especially remember Auwi’s beloved wife, Martha, and his two special children, Stacey and Sefton. May the three of you experience courage, strength, and grace from the Lord each and every day.

This book is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in the world through eBook sellers.

More posts will follow in the days to come, parts of the book will be quoted.

Josiah – Chain Breaker

This book was written by a team of authors. Well researched, it seeks to be accurate in the details, while also telling the Bible story in a creative and interesting way. It is an example of what is called “creative non-fiction.” The chapters are written from different voices or viewpoints. Our hope is that the powerful message of this Bible story will “come alive” and “grab you” in a most enjoyable way.

This book was not written in a normal manner. Most books are written by individuals working on their own. Instead, the five authors of this book chose, studied, planned, and wrote it together as a group project.

One reason they chose Josiah is because they were reminded of so many young people who are drifting aimlessly down dangerous and destructive paths. No one needs to do this. No one should! Life is good. Life is beautiful. And any person’s life becomes good and special when it is given to God.

Josiah is an outstanding example. Out of a horrible beginning [are you aware of this?], he serves as proof that the True and Living God loves people. He loves to take the injured, the disadvantaged, the battered and bruised and clean them up, restore their dignity and strength, and make them shine in all that is good and right. He is ready to do that for you.

The publisher, Christian Books Melanesia, has been promoting the development and training of PNG Christian authors. Each author of this book has benefitted by attending a CBM Writers’ Workshop. Then, they gathered at Wewak for a more advanced workshop. They chose to study and write about the life of Josiah, and this book is a result of their efforts.

It is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in the world through eBook sellers. More posts will follow in the days to come, and parts of the book will be quoted.