The terms ‘radical’ and ‘radicalization’ have been very popular in news stories in recent months.
Radicalization has several relevant but nearly opposite applications. A radicalized person might be willing to kill others to further their cause or belief system.
Another perhaps less popular definition describes those who would be willing to die for others to retain or restore their cause or belief system.
The Bible has much to say about radicalization, especially regarding the definition describing those who are willing to die in order to restore or retain their cause.
Several Hebrew synonyms for restore include return or repent. Basically the concept is a movement back to the point of departure.
It will be noted that the Bible in both the Old and New Testament stresses the return back to the point of departure from God’s word while contemporary progressivism is basically the opposite, i.e. the belief in political change and social improvement by governmental action.
When King Josiah was made aware of God’s standard of righteousness and justice he immediately took radical actions to comply with God’s word.
“Then the king…made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD and to keep His commandments…and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.” 2 Kings 23:3
Josiah in essence ratified the original Mosaic Covenant which God had revealed to the Israelites more than 800 years earlier. And then Josiah initiated radical actions to rid the land of those things contrary to God’s law such as idol worship and the killing of babies among other things.
Josiah’s reward for his radicalized heart:
“…because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke…and wept before Me, I also have heard you… ‘Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you…shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.’” 2 Kings 22:19-20
And so it was that God arranged for Josiah to be killed in battle so that he would not need to witness the calamity which was to befall Jerusalem and the Jews less than a dozen years later.
The last prophet in the Old Testament was Malachi who prophesied between 437 and 417 BC. Malachi confirmed the immutability of God and His laws and the significance of returning to Him.
“For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you…” Malachi 3:6-7
And then note the final words of the Old Testament in which Malachi echoed Isaiah’s previous prophecy relative to God’s law revealed to Moses:
“Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” Malachi 4:4-5
‘Elijah’ in this passage refers to the one who was foreordained to announce the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of heaven. This was fulfilled in the appearance of John the Baptist.
And what was the message of John the Baptist 450 years after Malachi’s prophecy?
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” Matthew 3:1-2
Shortly thereafter Jesus began His earthly ministry with the same profound message.
“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 4:17
The Greek for ‘repent’ in the present context means ‘pious sorrow for unbelief and sin and a turning from them unto God and the gospel of Christ.’
According to God’s word, what the world needs now is a vast radicalization of Christians to take extreme measures to return to God’s word by following the example of Josiah.
Watch for next week when Biblical credibility is radically confirmed by Josiah’s actions.
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