“And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes.” – 2Chronicles 34:19
King Josiah began his rule as a young child and ruled Judah for 31 years. Early in his reign, he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and when he was still just a boy, he began to seek the God of his father. He purged the land of altars of other gods and made dust of the metal images. He cleansed Judah of the wicked priests who had been leading the people astray and started repairs on the temple. During the renovations, Hilkiah the priest, found the book of the Law of the Lord given through Moses. When the word was read to Josiah, he tore his clothes in grief.
“For great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the Word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this Book” (2Chronicles 34:21).
“And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the LORD and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the Words of the covenant that were written in this Book” (2Chronicles 34:31).
I started reading through the Bible in chronological order this past year (slowly but surely moving along). Have you ever heard people compare the Old Testament God to the New Testament God: fire, vengeance and wrath, versus grace, sacrifice and mercy? One of the greatest themes so far in my readings has not been wrath, but His unwavering mercy. God’s chosen people were given what they wanted. The land they wanted. The inheritance they wanted. The kings they wanted. But it was never enough. They fought with each other. They made alliances that compromised their faith. They worshiped what they made with their own hands. They no longer cared for the poor and misfortunate. Worst and most likely the cause of it all – they no longer knew the Word of the LORD. God Himself sent prophet after prophet to the people. He would often tell His prophet – They won’t listen, but tell them anyway.
King Josiah was arguably one of the best kings all of Israel had ever seen, but soon after his death, the people’s hearts drifted from God, and the southern kingdom would fall into exile under Babylonians.
It’s often harder to appreciate the ending of a story when you don’t know the beginning. We are the Israelites. We are all sinners. We need Jesus, the King who can absorb the just wrath of a perfect God who loves His children so much He will meet them in their mess. We need the Word of the LORD to remind us of where we have been and who God is.
People are hurting and looking for answers. You can hear from God when you know His voice. You learn how He sounds by reading His Words.
Father, You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. Forgive us for being forgetful people. Help us to desire to hear, know and follow Your Words. Amen. Psalm 103