Wednesday, May 25
Reader: “For the Lord’s great anger has been poured out on us”
Response: “because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of the Lord.”
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 34:20-33
Then he [King Josiah] gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for all the remnant of Israel and Judah. Inquire about the words written in the scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger has been poured out on us because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of the Lord. We have not been doing everything this scroll says we must do.”
So Hilkiah and the other men went to the New Quarter of Jerusalem to consult with the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, the keeper of the Temple wardrobe.
She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the curses written in the scroll that was read to the king of Judah will come true. For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will be poured out on this place, and it will not be quenched.’
“But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You yourself will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city and its people.’” So they took her message back to the king.
Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the Levites—all the people from the greatest to the least. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple. The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll. And he required everyone in Jerusalem and the people of Benjamin to make a similar pledge. The people of Jerusalem did so, renewing their covenant with God, the God of their ancestors.
So Josiah removed all detestable idols from the entire land of Israel and required everyone to worship the Lord their God. And throughout the rest of his lifetime, they did not turn away from the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
Josiah was a remarkable king, having come to power when he was eight years old. At the age of sixteen the Bible says he “began to seek God.” At the age of twenty he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem, destroying all the false idols. At the age of twenty-six he ordered the Temple to be repaired during which time the Book of the Law was found (probably Deuteronomy). As evidence of the wonderful grace of God, Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh was a horrible king who had introduced idol worship. Only in the last days of his life did he repent of his evil ways. His son, Amon, Josiah’s father, was even worse. He never did repent and was assassinated to bring Josiah to power at the age of eight. And Josiah turned out to be one of Judah’s most godly kings!
When Josiah heard the words of God, which had been lost in the previous monarchies, he tore his clothes in repentance. The tearing was a sign of grief. Often today in Judaism a tear of cloth is made over the heart by the parents in the case of the death of a child. Jacob tore his robe at the supposed death of Joseph and David his robe at the news of the death of Saul and Jonathan. Josiah’s grief was over all the things that had not been done according to the scroll and the judgments that would follow the disobedience and neglect of God’s law. So he sought the words of the prophetess, Huldah.
The result was delayed judgment on the people because Josiah humbled himself. He called all the people to come to the Temple. He took the position of authority beside the pillar and had the people renew their covenant with the Lord. The people responded in repentance and worshiped the Lord. During the rest of Josiah’s lifetime, the people remained faithful to the Lord. Unfortunately, his sons did not follow in his footsteps and Judah eventually was taken into exile in Babylon.
In the case of both king Josiah and king Asa (from a couple of days ago), the Scriptures were key in bringing about revival in the land. The people heard God’s word and responded by humbling themselves and submitting to the Lord and parting from their pagan ways. They adopted God’s culture, God’s values, and worshiped him with a heart commitment to God, rejecting the culture and values with which they were surrounded. Though the child of a godless father, Josiah developed into a godly man. He rose above his heritage. The lesson is simple: let us live each day in God’s word letting it shape the rest of our lives. A people, any people, who reject the way of the Lord face eventual judgment. Pray for revival and an emergence of God’s word in our society.
Music: “Just As I Am” Chris Rupp A song of repentance.
Our kind and gracious Father in heaven, we live in a world whose ‘kings’ seem to have hardened hearts. I pray that the power and truth of your word may again be discovered in our institutions of higher education, in the halls of government, in libraries of our seminaries, in corporate headquarters, in our medical schools and hospitals, and in the hearts of men, women, and children everywhere. Lord, it seems like an impossible prayer, but you restored Judah through your word in the days of Asa and of Josiah. Good and gracious Lord, may it happen again, here and everywhere and may we be useful in the working of the Holy Spirit. Amen. ―Daniel Sharp