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Evangelists need to work with prophets - a historical case study of Josiah and Huldah in 2 Kings 2

The story of the people of God in the Old Testament is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. It looks something like this. They are called, they do well, they lose sight of their covenant, they rebel, they are judged, disaster comes, the prophets come, they get their act together, then the cycle begins again and on it goes. One such example of this involved King Josiah and the prophetess Huldah in 2 Kings 22 who are in the northern kingdom of Israel (by this point there are two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south).

At this point in the history of Israel, scholars reckon it is around 625BC, the Assyrian Empire has been ruling as the dominant power for one hundred years. Part of their assimilation program was to settle Assyrian people into their conquered territories and they did the same in the northern kingdom of Israel, bringing their own customs and religious practices. The effect was to create a hybrid culture of Assyrian and Israelite, and the people of God worshipped false Assyrian gods. Prior to King Josiah, the previous kings had turned their back on the worship of Yahweh, and the written scrolls of God's Word had been lost.

However King Josiah was one of the good kings, he tried to turn the hearts of the people back to God, he is the evangelist figure in the story. Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years. The Bible describes him as a righteous king, one who "walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left" (2 Kings 22:2) He is also mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1:10-11).

When Josiah ordered restoration work to be done on the Temple, they discovered books of the Law which had been lost. Scholars believe this to be scrolls of the book of Deuteronomy. Josiah's response is to weep for Israel for its rebellion against the Torah and the ways of Yahweh. He takes immediate action and asks for a prophet to come and give instruction.

Enter, Huldah, a highly influencial woman of the court, who was both a seer and a scholar. She was recognised as skilled in interpretation and prophetic insight. The evangelist king calls in the prophetic seer and scholar to help him explain and proclaim the Word of God. In present day Jerusalem there is still a historical part of the city called Huldah's Gate.

Huldah was married to the Keeper of the Wardrobe, a man who looked after the kings clothing, like a royal tailor and personal helper with the kings outfits. This man would have been intimate with the king, probably helping him with everyday preparation for the day ahead. God can use our connections and our character (Huldah was highly esteemed by the High Priest of the time both as a prophet and scholar). Huldah tells the king that disaster is coming because of the people's rebellion and reliance on political means (Josiah had aligned himself with Egypt to overthrow the yoke of the Assyrians).

Josiah's response is to humble himself. It says in 2 Kings 2:19 "your heart was responsive, and you humbled yourself before the Lord." Josiah calls the elders and leaders of Israel together to gather at the Temple and hear the newly discovered book of the Law, getting the people to pledge themselves to Yahweh. He also orders the removal of false idols from throughout Israel.

What can we learn from this historical case study?

Josiah is the evangelist figure, he calls for repentance, a turning away from false idols and back to the ways of the Lord. He humbles himself and asks others to do the same, including the religious and political leaders of the time. He asks the people to re-dedicate themselves to a covenantal relationship with Yahweh. He needs the input of Huldah, the prophet figure who interprets the words of God both in written and revelatory form. The evangelist and the prophet work side by side. They bring different perspectives and skills to the work of turning the hearts of the people back to God.

What does this mean for present day evangelism? It means the evangelist should not be a Lone Ranger. The evangelist needs to partner with the prophet, seeking God's words for the political and religious situation they find themselves in. The evangelist is often the louder voice and gathers people but the prophet is often the interpreter and the one who brings insight, the combined result is conviction.

If you are an evangelist, find yourself a partner prophet. Combine your skills, draw strength from one another, lean on your respective anointing. Many in the West are in a similar situation to Israel under the yoke of Assyria, the nations have turned their back on the word of the Lord and need both a prophetic and evangelistic voice to declare truth. God is at the centre of this, he is preparing a way, so we need to look out for where God is already at work, where are the prophets and evangelists already speaking?

Perhaps you are a prophetic type, please align yourself with the evangelist, we need each other.

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