Sunday, we began a new study in the book of Habakkuk. In doing so, we pointed out that 2 Kings 22-23 is the backdrop for the prophecy of Habakkuk. The people of God had neglected God’s word, defiled God’s worship, forgotten God’s gospel, and lost their own children. And Habakkuk (1.2-4) wept over the decay of God’s chosen. So, eventually, did King Josiah. It all started when the Bible was rediscovered (22.10) and read aloud in the king’s hearing (22.11). What followed in the life and leadership of Josiah was weeping, promising, and acting. His response to the word of God, I believe, serves as a paradigm for God’s people who hear His word and realize that we are not measuring up to the standard Let me summarize Josiah’s response:
1. Josiah wept at God’s word. The book of the Law had, apparently, been buried under a pile of other paper work in the Temple. So buried, in fact, that the king had never read it! He had lived his life and led God’s people in ignorance of God’s word. But, (22.11), “when the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes.”
Isn’t that how we should all respond when we realize we have been ignoring this or that portion of God’s word? When we realize we have been parenting incorrectly, worshipping incorrectly, believing incorrectly, using our money incorrectly, and so on…shouldn’t the response be heartache over our crimes against God? When was the last time you were undone inwardly by God’s word?
2. Josiah promised God obedience. “The king stood by the pillar 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” (23.3). Josiah didn’t just feel bad about his sins—he came to God with words! He asked forgiveness…and he promised, with God’s help, to begin a new way of obedience.
Is that your response when you are convicted of sins? Do you simply leave the church or the prayer closet feeling bad…and hoping you will do better? Or do you actually pull aside with Jesus and seek His forgiveness and His help? And do you commit yourself to begin, from this day forward, to “keep His statutes with all your heart”?
Surely many of us actually do #’s 1 and 2. But #3 is really the key…
3. Josiah acted on God’s word and his own promises. The remainder of chapter 23 tells Josiah began, radically, to put into practice everything he had discovered in the book of the law. He gathered everyone together to hear God’s word read aloud. He tore down altars that had been in place for centuries. He fired the false priests. He burned idols to the ground. He reinstituted the long-neglected Passover—at his own expense (2 Chronicles 35.7). He followed through on his promises—even at the risk of losing money and popularity!
What about you? Has God convicted you lately? Has your heart been pierced over some sinful habit, or neglected duty? Have you come to Christ, seeking forgiveness and help…and committing to go and sin no more? And are you actually, come what may, following through?