I recently visited a member of the church in a hospital ward where there had been an infection. A team were in before the ward was to be re-opened. They were the 'deep cleaning' team ... a 'crack squad' of cleaners, equipped with the very best in cleaning equipment, including steam cleaning. They were meticulous, covering every millimeter of every surface, taking every bed, cabinet, chair and anything else in the room apart to clean the whole room. It was hard, tough, time-consuming work, but essential if the infection was to be eradicated.
I was reading this morning from 2 Kings 22-23. Josiah had become king after the reigns of Manasseh and Amon, both Kings who did evil in the eyes of God. Amazingly, without access to the word of God, he decided to abandon the ways of his fathers and follow God. Isn't it wonderful how the pattern of the father in the story of the prodigal son is seen again and again in scripture? In His mercy, God has the book of the law discovered! Josiah had started the process of rebuilding the temple and turning back to God, and now God reveals His holy standard so that the process can be completed. Josiah responds as we ought, but so often fail to do ... he tore his robes (he laid himself 'bare' before the Lord, no reliance on his wealth or strength, no dependence on his own possessions, all given over to Him), and he wept (not 'crocodile tears', but genuine, heartfelt grief over how much the nation had grieved and angered the Holy God).
What struck me most from this passage, however, was a little phrase in v12 "He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz". Now we have no indication of how long they had been there. The phrase 'Kings' could mean just Manasseh and Amon, but why not just say that? I doubt these altars were there in Hezekiah's time, because he broke down all the high places and his fervor for purity is recorded in 2 Kings 18v3-5. Whatever the case, I love this little verse because it reveals that this was 'deep cleaning'! Josiah did not just deal with all the high places, idols, and idol worship in public places, but dealt with the hidden places that were known only to him. He looked inside his own life, with God's aid he found every little place where evil lurked, and cut all of it out, totally removing the evil and doing all he possibly could to ensure that it could not return (even to the extent of having the very stones of the altars 'ground to powder' (e.g. v15)!
What a challenge in my life. How easy it is to let sin lurk within, to hold on to the 'high places' in my life! I need to allow God's word to penetrate, to 'renew my mind' (Rom 12v2), to utterly transform me so that every part of my life might shine for Him.