Friday, August 18, 2017

Isaiah 2 - Shema!

As I work my way through Isaiah, I am not going to record every single verse, but only highlights. I recommend reading along in your Bible.

Right off the bat in chapter one, Isaiah sets the stage for the entire book.  Verse one gives us a context of who this prophecy is for and what it is about, and then in verse 2, Isaiah says shema
Hey everyone!  Hear what I have to say.  Pay attention!

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
For the Lord has spoken!

Israel knows that word shema. It is the first word in their statement of faith, which begins in Deuteronomy 6:4 - Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.

What follows in Isaiah is a description of how Israel has sinned and has provoked the Holy One. It isn't a pretty picture. Verse 6 gives us a little foreshadow of what the suffering servant had to atone for in Isaiah 53:

From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it,
But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;
They have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment.

Isaiah continues, and in verse 9, you will see the promise of a future remnant. There is always a remnant. God is faithful to keep His promises.

Verses 10-15 tell us the heart of the matter. Their celebrations had become an abomination to the Lord, because of where their hearts were. They were observing all the commanded holy days, but their hands were covered with blood. They were being compared to Sodom and Gomorrah.

God was being mocked. Just like He is today in our culture.

What follows is the solution, in verses 16-19.
Clean up your act.  Repent.  Turn away from the unholy and your sins will be washed away.  

God appeals because He loves us.  Your heart is precious.  You can give it to God or give it away.

Verse 18 bears a special look because it is well-known:  Come, let us reason together… it actually means let us settle the matter.  The foundation of the book is the Messiah and His atoning work, which is why we see the analogy of blood here.

The remainder of chapter one tells us that obedience brings blessing.  But there are also warnings!  Disobedience brings curses and judgments. God will refine them and purge the dross (which will then cause some to repent and return to blessing).  There will be restoration and redemption for the righteous, but destruction for the unrepentant.

Moving on to chapter 2, Isaiah jumps ahead 2700 years and we have a glimpse of the future millenial kingdom!  This is what we see:
  • God's holy mountain will be established (on the Temple Mount)
  • All the nations will come to it
  • The nations will no longer curse Israel but will actually want to be there
  • The Messiah will rule from there, and the Law will go forth from there
  • He will judge between the nations
  • Swords will be beaten into to plowshares - a time of peace and prosperity

None of this has happened yet, which is why we know it is still future prophecy.  Will these things happen soon?  I hope so!

The remainder of the chapter describes what a time it will be when the Messiah comes.  
  • Arrogant man will be humbled
  • People will be hiding in caves and rocks in terror (see Revelation 6:15)
    • This is repeated three times, in verses 10, 19, and 21.  When something is emphasized three times in scripture, it means PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION.
  • Everything proud and lofty (not just man) will be brought low
    • Again, this is repeated three times - in verses 11, 12, and 17.
  • The LORD alone will be exalted in that day
  • He will shake the earth mightily
  • Idols will be cast off
  • It will be GLORIOUS!
Continuing in Isaiah, chapter 3 is a tough warning to Israel and Judah.  God's pattern is always first to the Jew and then to the nations.  (Romans 1:16).  This warning is painful to read, because history has shown that this judgment happened again and again. Verse 9 highlights Sodom again:
And they declare their sin as Sodom; they do not hide it.
Woe to their soul! For they have brought evil upon themselves.
(See politically incorrect photo above)

People became apostate and fell into desolation, except for the remnant of the faithful. God in His mercy always leaves a remnant.

Chapter 4 breaks out with repentance, which often follows judgment for those who allow God to soften their hearts. What follows is verse 2, our first introduction to the Branch!

In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious;
And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing
For those of Israel who have escaped.

What or who is this beautiful and glorious Branch of the LORD?  If you keep reading in chapter 4, you will see that this branch is linked to the cleansing and healing of the daughters of Zion.  We are going to see this Branch again soon - in chapter 11.  Chapter 4 ends with a strong picture of the coming kingdom, and mentions the tabernacle - a picture of God dwelling with us!  These temporary dwellings are built by Jews every fall during the seventh biblical feast of Sukkot - Tabernacles - which celebrates God dwelling with man.  The wedding chuppah is based on this dwelling.  And of course, the chuppah represents the bride and groom beginning their lives together, dwelling together in love.
An Israeli wedding under a chuppah

Chapter 5 opens with a song:

Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:
My Well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill.
He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes

This is a reference to the Song of Solomon.  Dodi means my beloved.  The vineyard is the house of Judah and Israel, and its owner is the LORD of hosts.  The LORD prepared the soil, removed the stones (Israel is very rocky), and planted the choicest vines.  But something went wrong.  The lush vineyard produced wild grapes.  The Hebrew word for wild is beushim - meaning stinking or worthless things.  

What went wrong is that God did all these amazing things for Israel, but they fell into sin and idolatry.  This account of the vineyard is further developed in Matthew 21, in the parable of the wicked vinedressers.  When Yeshua was speaking to the Pharisees, they were most certainly thinking back to this account in Isaiah 5 and knew Yeshua was referring to them.  They were not happy about it.

Isaiah 5 continues, and verses 20-21 say

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!

It sounds a lot like today, doesn't it?  The understanding of righteousness has been lost in today's culture.  There are agendas out there that promote abortion, homosexual marriage, evolution, and all manner of anti-biblical things. Truth tellers are called hateful bigots.

Therefore, the chapter continues, the vineyard will fall into grave disrepair.  Foreign nations will roar in like a lion and take their prey.  Darkness and sorrow will abound.  

I hate to end on a sour note.  But this is where chapter five leaves us.  It seems like all is lost.  But stay tuned, because our merciful God is not done yet!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Isaiah 1 - The Word Within The Word

I haven't really posted in the last few months because I have been busy teaching an overview of the book of Isaiah in my Sunday school class.  What I thought I could do in 12 weeks ended up taking 20, because there is just so much there!

And even in 20 weeks, it still remained an overview.  Much of the book of Isaiah remains below the surface for me, and I look forward to mining for more gold in the future.

Over the next few weeks, I would like to share that overview here, along with many insights that I gained while preparing the classes.  Today's post is an introduction to the book of Isaiah.

If you are stranded on the proverbial desert island and can only choose one book of the Bible to have with you, I highly recommend Isaiah.  The book is like a mini-Bible, an overview of God's plan for the world.  Just like the rest of the scriptures, this book is Yeshua-focused.  It all points to our Redeemer.

It is 66 chapters long (the Bible is 66 books long).  The tone of Isaiah changes significantly after the first 39 chapters.  (The Hebrew scriptures, aka the "old testament" have 39 books).  This change of tone has even led some scholars to surmise that the second part of Isaiah was written by someone else.

All through the book, we can see the recurring themes of sin, judgment, repentance, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration.

There is judgment declared to Israel and to the nations.  The term "Holy One of Israel" is used 26 times in Isaiah, and only 6 more times in the rest of the Hebrew scriptures.  Just like today, judgment begins with the household of God.

Isaiah is the second-most quoted book in the New Covenant, behind the Psalms.

Isaiah is filled with near/far prophecy.  That is, prophecies that were about to be fulfilled in the near future, as well as prophecies that will be fulfilled thousands of years from the time of writing.  By the time we get to the end of Isaiah, we will clearly see that we are seeing those prophecies come to fulfillment in our day.

Who is Isaiah?

Isaiah was born at a Crossroads in human history, around 800 BC. The first Olympic games were being held in the Greek empire, which was flourishing.  The eventual empire of Rome was in its very beginning stages.

Isaiah was the son of an aristocrat, related to kings and brought up in the Royal Court. He was high society. He married later in life, and he labored for 60 years giving the word of God as it came to him.

During the 60 years, kings came and went. Four kings of the southern kingdom of Judah were on the throne during his life and he brought the word of the Lord to each one of them. These kings were Uzziah, Yotam, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

Isaiah died at the age of 120 not of old age or sickness. It is said that he was murdered, sawn in pieces during the days of wicked King Manasseh, son of Hezekiah. In the book of Hebrews, chapter 11:37, when it says sawn asunder, it is probably a reference to the prophet Isaiah.

The meaning of Isaiah's name is God is Salvation.  His name comes from the same root word as Yeshua the Messiah, Whose name means Salvation.

Setting the Stage

The setting/context of Isaiah opens with the imminent judgment of the northern kingdom of Israel, who having fallen into deep idolatry, is about to be conquered by the evil Assyrians.  

The nation of Israel had split into two kingdoms under Solomon's son Rehoboam.

Isaiah's famous vision in chapter 6 happened in 740 BC, the year king Uzziah died.  Chapters 1-5 of Isaiah set the stage for this vision.  My next post will look more closely at these five chapters.  Stay tuned!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Heretic, heretic...

I know; it's been a long time since I have posted.  And I have a lot of things floating around in my head that I'd like to get down in writing, especially since I have been teaching an overview of the book of Isaiah.  There is so much there, it's like a mini-Bible all in one.  Those thoughts on Isaiah will be coming soon.

Today, I want to share about something that I learned a few weeks ago - what the word heresy really means.  I was blown away.

To set the stage, here is a little humorous video to get us started:
Emo Phillips and Faith

In the New Testament, the Greek word is hairesis.  It occurs nine times in the New Testament.  I was always under the impression that it means false teacher.  Not so, grasshopper!  Here is the definition from my trusty Blue Letter Bible app.

Outline of biblical usage:

  1. Act of taking, capture:  e.g. storming a city
  2. choosing, choice
  3. that which is chosen
  4. a body of men following their own tenets (sect or party) [can you say denomination?]
  5. dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims

Strong's Definitions

A choice, i.e. (specially) a party or (abstractly) disunion: - heresy (which is the Greek word itself), sect.

In the New King James version, the word is translated as sect in Acts 5:17 (Sadducees), Acts 15:5 (Pharisees), Acts 24:5 (Nazarenes - ahem, that's us), Acts 24:14 (followers of the Way, double ahem), Acts 26:5 (Pharisees again), Acts 28:22 (us again).  I encourage you to read through these scriptures so you can get a feel for how exactly the word is used.

In 1 Corinthians 11:19, the NKJV uses the phrase factions among you.

In Galatians 5:20, the word is used among a whole list of undesirable traits, such as idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, wrath, etc.

Finally, the word is used in 2 Peter 2:1. This is the context with which we are probably most familiar because in this passage it mentions false teachers:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

But if we study the word, both by definition and all other contexts in which it appears, we can see that heresy does not mean false teacher at all, but one who divides and causes disunity.

It seems that you can have either correct or incorrect theology and still be a heretic, if you use the information to stir up division, disunity, and dissention (or perhaps create a new denomination?).

And who of us has perfect understanding of biblical truth? I would humbly say none of us. The Bible is so filled with jewels and gems of truth and wisdom, it takes a whole lifetime of reading and studying to really dig below the surface. And we will never find them all in one lifetime. Isn't that awesome of the Lord, to continue to bless us with jewels of truth all our lives?

Perhaps this is why one of the most fervent prayers of Yeshua, in John 17, was that His followers be one, just as He and His Father are One. Also, 1 John 4 speaks of the love we are to have for our brothers (and sisters) in the faith. Nowhere does it say only love them if their doctrine is spot on.

Psalm 133 gives us a vivid picture on what God thinks of unity:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is 
For brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious oil upon the head, 

Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.

It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore.

Snow-capped Mount Hermon in Israel

Let us not forget the two greatest commandments.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  And love your neighbor as yourself.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Hebrew of Judah

Hebrew fascinates me. There is usually so much more going on under the surface of the text, in part because of the deep meanings of the letters. Our English translations simply miss all the amazing nuances and word plays that are going on.

When Jacob blesses his sons in Genesis 49, there is definitely more going on than meets the eye.

Let's look at the blessing he gave Judah in verses 8-11:

Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.

Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.

Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washed his garments in wine,
And his clothes in the blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.

First of all, the word Judah means praise... Literally giving thanks. The prophecy starts out with his brothers doing just that.  Someday, the brothers of Yeshua are going to thank and praise Him for what He did for them.

I have previously written about the connection between the name of God  (Yehovah) and the name of Judah.  You can read it here if you wish.

Shiloh is considered to be a synonym for the Messiah, even by the ancient Jewish scholars.  The meaning of Shiloh is He whose it is.

It is interesting to note that in Jacob's entire prophecy to Judah, every single Hebrew letter can be found, except the zayin.  Every Hebrew letter carries a meaning, and the original meaning of the letter zayin is a sword or sharp weapon.

The zayin even looks like a sword.
Just zayin'
At the time of Yeshua, the Jewish people were looking for a man of war, a mighty Messiah who would deliver them from Rome's oppressive rule. 

Just as the zayin was missing from the prophecy, perhaps this is why so many missed His first coming. They wanted the physical, visible sword!  They did not want the invisible, spiritual sword by which Yeshua conquered sin and death through His suffering.

Yeshua is returning soon. But He is no longer the suffering servant with the invisible sword.  The second time around, He will be arriving with the zayin as a mighty conquering King, and will vanquish His enemies. Are you ready?

Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.
And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.
He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Revelation 19:15

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Trilogy of Messiah

I was at a conference awhile back that had a bookstore on site.  One of the books featured was the "Jesus-Centered Bible."  I had to chuckle a little... aren't they all?

Maybe the publishers
 ran out of marketing ideas?

The Messiah is evident all throughout the scriptures, from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21.

One of my favorite places in the scriptures is the book of Psalms.  I have been hanging out there this month, just enjoying His presence there.

Did you know that the word salvation appears 63 times throughout the book?  And did you know that the Hebrew word for salvation is Yeshua, which also happens to be the name of the Messiah?  The name we English speakers know is Jesus, which is a transliteration of the Greek word Iesous.  (Note:  the letter J didn't show up until the 16th century.  The Hebrew letter is a yod, which sounds like a y).

Anyway, the grammar police in me digresses.  I want to visit a particular section in the psalms that gives us a complete picture of the Messiah.  Throughout history, the Jewish sages have been perplexed at the two very different portrayals of the Messiah.  Some concluded that there were two Messiahs.  Others thought that perhaps there was one Messiah, but He came twice.  These two pictures of the Messiah have names - Messiah ben Yosef (son of Joseph, the Suffering Servant), and Messiah ben David (son of David, the Reigning King).

He is the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah
In Psalm 22, He is portrayed as the Suffering Servant.  When you read it, you see such a clear picture of His death.  When Yeshua spoke the first line of this psalm while He was suffering on the tree, it was His way of calling our attention to the entire psalm.  My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?

The psalm describes the sort of death He would suffer... hundreds of years before crucifixion was even invented by the Romans as a form of execution. It also foretells the division of His garments.
I am poured out like water
And all My bones are out of joint
My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me
They pierced my hands and My feet
They divide My garments among them
And for My clothing they cast lots

During His first advent, the Messiah suffered, died, and rose again in order to atone for the sin which entered the world back in the garden.  He then went back to heaven so that the good news of salvation by His finished work could circle the globe.

Psalm 24 speaks of His glorious return as the King of Kings.  Scripture tells us that He will return to the Mount of Olives and enter Jerusalem.  Today, the Eastern Gate is sealed.  But the psalm tells us,
Lift up your heads, O you gates.
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of Glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD (YHVH), strong and mighty.

The Muslims sealed the gate and put a cemetery in front of it.
This will not stop the Messiah.
This King of Glory is indeed returning soon. 

But let's not forget one of the most famous of the psalms, Psalm 23.  Sandwiched between the Suffering Servant Psalm and the Returning King Psalm is a beautiful passage that comforts us and assures of of His presence while we wait for Him to return.  Additionally, we need our Good Shepherd because like sheep, we are restless, prone to wander, always searching for greener grass, and to often oblivious to danger.

Let the familiar words wash over you today as you read them.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil
For You are with me
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

This beautiful psalm ends with the prophecy that leads right into His glorious return in Psalm 24.  Forever we will dwell with Him!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Armor of God

have had this subject floating around in my head for weeks now.  And the Lord keeps putting things in front of me to remind me to write it down!  Just this week, the kids and I were reading about the ancient Greeks and Cretans and how they were workers of iron to make weapons that were better than bronze.  And last Saturday, I heard a keynote speaker on the Armor of God.  Ok, ok, I get it, Lord.  So here goes...

Most believers are quite familiar with Ephesians 6:14-17, which speaks of the Armor of God.  For reminder's sake, here it is:

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

As I was studying the words, I realized that the first three pieces of armor are already in place. They were provided to us at the moment of redemption, when we are born again in Messiah. We are already armed with the truth (by which we realized Yeshua IS our savior), the breastplate of righteousness (Yeshua made us righteous), and our feet have been prepared with the good news of peace in Messiah. At the moment our justification, we were armed with good armor!

The Bible instructs us then, having been armed thus far, to take up the remaining pieces. We must arm ourselves with that shield of faith day by day, because those fiery darts are constantly aimed at us. The helmet of salvation is a picture of renewing our mind and taking every thought captive to Yeshua (Romans 2:12, 2 Corinthinans 10:5). And finally, the sword - the Word of God - is our spiritual bread that sustains and arms us. These three pieces are available to us as we are sanctified (a lifelong process), but we must actively take them up. We need them as we work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12).

Notice that there is no armor for our backs. I believe it is because God does not want us to retreat from the battle, and also because He has got our back!

I find it interesting that spiritual armor was not just a clever idea made up by Paul in Ephesians. He was a Torah scholar, and was well familiar with the concept. Here is a passage from Isaiah 59, which is clearly foreshadowing the Messiah:

Then the Lord saw it [man's sinfulness] and it displeased Him
That there was no justice. He saw that there was no man,
And wondered that there was no intercessor;
Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,

And was clad with zeal as a cloak.

Isaiah clearly shows that our Intercessor - provided by the LORD'S own arm, was armed and clothed for the job that He was sent to do. I love that Isaiah included a piece of armor for both justification and sanctification in this passage, showing that salvation is not simply a one time deal, but an ongoing process that began the moment we were justified. Our salvation will be complete at the resurrection when we receive our new imperishable bodies.

Another piece of the Ephesians armor can be found in Isaiah 52:7:

How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

In closing, let's go back to the beginning of Ephesians 6 and be reminded of just Who is in charge and who we are battling:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Burning the Bones and Tearing Down the High Places

God's timing makes me smile.  Again.

Last night, my daughter and I were having a conversation about cremation.  I shared with her that I don't believe it's God's first choice for us.  As an example, I talked about the bones of Joseph being carefully brought up from Egypt, and also the imagery of the dry bones in Ezekeil resurrecting and coming to life.  I also mentioned that the remains of King Saul were burned and that the connotation was negative.  Saul's body had been desecrated by the Philistines, and the valiant people of Jabesh Gilead came and burned the body of Saul and his sons because of what had been done to them.

Also, Jewish law requires that the body of a dead person be buried within 24 hours of death.  The remains of cremated individuals are not allowed to be interred in a Jewish cemetery.  Additionally, I was surprised to learn that the traditional Jewish laws of mourning are not observed in orthodoxy if a person's remains were cremated.

Finally, the Shoah (the Jewish term for the Holocaust).  Not only were the Jews tattooed with numbers- which was in itself an affront to what was written in the Torah - but also, the bodies of murdered Jews were burned in crematoriums.  I believe the cruel men who came up with this atrocity knew exactly what they were doing, and knew how this would be such an evil insult to the victims and their families.  Even if the Nazis didn't know it, the demonic beings working in the spiritual realm and influencing their actions certainly knew.

Let me just stop right now and say, if you are reading this and have different convictions on cremation, I am not condemning you.  My mother and stepfather were both cremated, and I believe that God can and will put them back together out of the dust of the earth at the resurrection.  After all, He formed man from the dust of the earth in the first place.  But it's never too late to learn what the Word of God has to say about any given subject.

So anyway, back to God's timing...

My reading today took me to 2 Kings 23, which recorded the major reforms of King Josiah.  He was one of only two kings of Judah who were willing to tear down the high places.  Many kings previous to Josiah had been good kings, but they left the high places alone, not wanting to stir up trouble among people who were so attached to their traditions.

The high places were generally up on hills, and in groves of green trees.  If you have ever studied what went on in these places, you know what an affront they were to the Lord God.  On the high places, all manner of fornication took place under green trees.  If you have ever been to Cesaerea Phillipi in Israel, you can still see remnants of where some of this pagan worship took place.  It is also the location of a giant cave, which in ancient days was known as the Gates of Hades.  How fitting it is that Yeshua was in that very place when Peter declared Him to be Messiah, and Yeshua declared that the Gates of Hades would not prevail against His ekklesia.

The former pagan grove of Banias, temple of Pan, home of the Gates of Hades in Caeserea Philippi

In 2 Kings 23, verse 7 speaks of how the king tore down the houses of the qadeshim that were in the house of the Lord - the temple!  Qadeshim were literally sodomites... male prostitutes.  So you get an idea of how depraved the pagan worship had become, and why Josiah was so diligent to eradicate it.

Verse 10 tells us that King Josiah also wrecked the places in the valley of Hinnom, which is a place in Jerusalem where people would actually sacrifice their children through burning them (known in Greek as Gehenna, which is also translated into the word hell in some versions of the New Covenant),  Perhaps this is another reason why the burning of bodies is such an affront to God.  Here is a link to another blog post in which the writer tells of the process a pagan worshipper had to go through to sacrifice their child to Molech.

The pagan practice of child sacrifice to Molech in the Valley of Hinnom
Josiah was so thorough in tearing down the high places that he even stepped out of his jurisdiction. He went to Samaria, where the first king of the divided kingdom of Israel -  Jeroboam - had established a high place of worship so that his people would not go down to Jerusalem to worship.

In verse 16, we see Josiah taking the bones of those idolaters out of their tombs and burning them on the altar there.  Suddenly, he came to a gravestone that made him stop.  Look at verses 17-18:

Then he said, “What gravestone is this that I see?” So the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.”And he said, “Let him alone; let no one move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.

My study Bible led me back to 1 Kings 13, where we read of a righteous and unnamed prophet foretelling this very incident, 300 years earlier, even naming King Josiah by name!  This is what it says:

And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’” 

So the bones that Josiah refused to burn were the bones of the very prophet who had prophesied that all the other bones would be burned by someone from the line of David named Josiah!  

Is that mind boggling, or what?

In closing, I just want to say one more thing about the high places, and this one will definitely step on toes.  Consider the connection of pagan worship to the green trees, and all that was associated with that worship.  As I mentioned earlier, only two kings were willing to tear down high places... most were not.  They didn't want to upset the proverbial apple cart among their people.  But consider the words of Jeremiah 10 and ask the Lord if this might be a high place that needs tearing down in your life.