A few months ago, I sat in a restaurant with a minister who has a lot of influence and authority in the Kingdom of God, although very few know his name. This man has traveled across the globe carrying the message of Christ; he is often behind the scenes at well-known "Revival" gatherings in America; and he moves in power to cast out demons and heal the sick at an amazing level. This man is well grounded, brilliant, and not looking for a showy prophetic word to move the masses but fully embraces the authentic supernatural nature of the Spirit. Additionally, he runs with those who are involved in government & media in various forms. So,when presented with the opportunity to sit with him and ask him questions, I had to ask him about the 2020 elections (I mean, who could blame me, right?). Over a plate of deep-fried soul food, I asked him, "So, what was Donald Trump all about? With the strides forward America had made for energy independence, religious liberty laws, and secure borders, it all seems for naught now. So, what were those 4 years all about?" He sat finishing his bite of cornbread, then raised his brows and said, "More than a Cyrus, Trump was a Josiah."
There had been many to compare Donald Trump to Cyrus in the past few years, referencing as support, Isaiah 45, which says, "Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held to subdue nations before him, and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut: I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron." Cyrus was the pagan king that God used to bring the Jewish people back to Israel after their captivity in Babylon. This King who did not know the one true God did more for God's people than any before him. This is why so many believers were seeing Trump as a Cyrus - because he did much for the church and for Israel. But, lest we think it was only America who saw him that way, the nation of Israel, too, saw Trump as a Cyrus when he moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing it as the capital. They even made a monument to him for the event, minting gold coins with Cyrus' & Trump's image upon them! So, when this man of God eating his cornbread said, "More than a Cyrus, Trump was a Josiah," he had my attention. So, exactly who was Josiah?
Josiah was the King of Israel who is known for one thing: bringing revival and reformation to the nation (2 Kings 22 - 23 & 2 Chronicles 34-35). He was a young man who had a zeal for God. He burned with desire to see his nation restored to holiness. The King before him - Manasseh - was the most wicked King Israel had ever known. Ruling for 55 years, Manasseh sacrificed so many children to his false gods, the bible said he, "filled Jerusalem from one end to other" with their blood (2 Kings 21:16). When Josiah begins to rule as king at only 8 years old, he sets his heart to be like King David, and determines to turn his nation back to the living God. He rebuilt the temple of God in Jerusalem, torn down the high places built for idolatrous worship, celebrated a lavish Passover, and made a covenant with God that the nation would worship only Him. Talk about a reformer! In fact, when I attended bible college in the days of the 1990 outpourings, we studied Josiah as a true revivalist - an example of a leader to ask for on behalf of America.
So as I sat at that soul-food restaurant and pondered the words, "Trump was a Josiah," I knew exactly what this man meant. Now, I know for certain he wasn't saying Trump was an on-fire, Holy Spirit filled believer (he told me as much). His point was that Trump was used by God to tear down some high places in our nation and to help reform laws that supported God's people, both the church and Israel. The cause of liberty had four years of great success under his leadership. Our economics, our security, and our freedoms of speech & worship were stronger, and no one can deny that. But that was my point in asking this man my question: what was it all about now that it had all but vanished?
In his wisdom, this man continued. He shared that the vast majority of the people of God had not taken this gifted "time of Josiah" to repent. Citing numbers, statistics, and stories from across the nation, he showed how only a handful of believers were actually leaning into the word of the Lord. He even went so far as to say that he felt we were already living in the great falling away that proceeds Christ's coming (2 Thess. 2:3; Matt. 24:12).
The bible clearly states that "times of refreshing" and "time to repent" is given in order that yes, we may receive a healing of our land (Acts 3:20; Rev. 2:21; 2 Chron. 7:14). This, understandably, is what we expected and prayed for as a nation. We believed what began under Trump's leadership, God would extend for years to come. Prophets prophesied it. Prayer meetings asked for it. After all, it's "righteousness that exalts a nation" and "blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." These things ARE true. Remember that. But in light of years of blessing as a nation, I believe we have forgotten that these seasons of repentance are also given sometimes so that we may get oil in our lamps and on reserve before the dark days comes. You see, just because something is TRUE doesn't mean it's for THAT hour. For example, it may be TRUE that I've got lots of money, but it's in a retirement account that I cannot touch at THIS hour or penalties come. So it is true that God delights in mercy, but it does not mean that when the hour for judgment comes, he will not correct us.
And this takes me to the heart of this message: Josiah's reforms were wonderful, but the word of the Lord was clear - they weren't enough to stave off disaster. Even though Josiah reigned in righteousness & reformation for 31 years, two things still had to be judged: the wickedness of Manasseh & the hearts of the people.
Manasseh had reigned for 55 years, building pagan altars, sacrificing his own sons to these demon gods, and even erecting idols in the temple of God. It says that Manasseh acted more wicked than the pagan nations surrounding him (2 Kings 21:11). His disdain for God's ways and for the life of innocent children was so great, that even the most sincere "we are sorry, God" from King Josiah, was not enough to wipe out the bloodshed. 2 Kings 23:25-26 tells us, "Now before Josiah, there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to tall the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him". But then the horrible reality follows in verse 26: "Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah because of all the provocations with with Manasseh had provoked Him." For all his reforms, for all the revival, Josiah's 31 years of righteousness were not enough to outweigh the 55 years of Manasseh's wickedness.
But it wasn't just Manasseh whose sinned must be judged - the people of Israel, although living in an hour of great revival and reform, had not "turned to God with their whole heart, but in pretense (Jeremiah 3:10)." It wasn't enough to change the laws of the land - the people's heart didn't follow. 2 Chronicles 34 tells of when Josiah heard the scriptures read for the first time, he rent his garments in grief and repentance (vs 19) and acknowledged the wrath of the Lord, but sought to bring his nation into holiness (vs 21). Upon inquiring of the prophets what he should do, Huldah the prophetess said to the King, "Thus says the Lord: Behold I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants; all the curses that are written in the book....because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods...but as for the King...because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God...surely I will gather you to your grave in peace and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants. (vs 24-28)".
A nation can have all of the righteous laws possible, but laws do not change a heart. It is good to have godly leadership and laws in our nation, but it is the state of the individual heart that determines true revival. The prophet Jeremiah understood this. Go read his book. As a contemporary of Josiah, he called individuals to repentance. In studying revival history, it is the individual - the people whose hearts are set ablaze with righteousness, not the nation's leaders, that lead to true reformation of a land. Our responsibility as citizens is to vote for righteousness, indeed; but our highest calling - nay, our one true duty - is to live in repentance no matter the hour. 2 Chronicles 35:25 says that Jeremiah lamented at the death of Josiah. Those who long for a nation's salvation are indeed lamenting right now. The hands of the clock have moved, church: the hour of Josiah has closed. Although we may not feel the effects enough to disrupt our world right now, I do believe it is coming. The clarion call is going out now: get oil in your lamp. Pursue holiness of heart. Repent. Return. Watch and be found ready. Fill yourself with the word of the Lord and get ready to be a Jeremiah calling, not simply for laws & leaders to change, but individuals to repentance.