11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.
12 He gave these orders to
Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the
secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for
me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that
has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those
who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not
acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
- 2 Kings 22:11-13 NIV
The book of Kings (first and second but really both together - one long chronicle of the Jewish leaders beginning with their first, Saul) is full of really, really bad kings. It's pretty depressing how one heir to the throne of Israel / Judah (long story) after another ignores everything they’re supposed to do as leaders of God's people, and instead pull a Fleetwood Mac (go their own way... quoting pop bands from the 70's is cool, seriously, look it up, it says it somewhere....). To the point that near the end of the kingly-reign of the Jewish people (before they are conquered by the Babylonians and dragged into captivity), no one had been studying and practicing the hundreds of Laws of Moses in decades.
King Josiah was one of the good guys. Someone in his court stumbled upon some scrolls hidden away and, to Josiah's dismay, they were the complete set of laws God gave to Moses and upon which the entire nation was founded. Number one said to have no other gods before God. At the time the people were worshipping many other "gods" (demons). It got worse from there. He could have said, "Pheh, we're way beyond this. Too late. Hide these away." But he didn't. The entire country listened to readings of the scrolls, and Josiah declared a period of mourning to ask forgiveness for how far they'd wandered from God's plan, begged in prayer for mercy upon his country and people.
And it worked. At least while Josiah was alive. Once he died things went back to the way they had been, and it was the beginning of the end of all things. Judah destroyed, people in captivity, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.
So what does this have to do with me and you? We’re not ancient middle eastern kings. I’m not, at least. However, we might one day find ourselves in the same position as this man. Most of us enjoy reading a good book written by James Patterson or Ben Winters, Stephen King or James Moore. We voraciously devour the vomit that is social media, constantly hungry for more. The more we eat, the more we consume, and the farther we drift from the place and situations God has planned for us. I’m speaking from personal experience.
Ah, says you, I know where you’re going. One day I’ll stumble upon a verse from the Bible and suddenly I’m like Josiah, realizing how far we’ve all wandered. And I’ll repent, and look for Jesus again.
Wow. OK, yea, maybe. But honestly, if you’ve spent the last eight hours watching attention-deficit Tik Tok videos, will opening a Bible and reading the second chapter of James turn on the lightbulb and strike you blind with knowledge? Again, maybe. But remember, Josiah didn’t glance at the scrolls his people found and start pouring ashes on his head and tearing his clothes. He read it. A lot of it. As he did, he wondered a) what the words meant, and b) how they would apply to his own life, and c) why this would all be a good thing to apply to his own life and his people’s, and d) was he doing what the words said to do? In the end, he realized they were heading towards destruction. Just asking God to help them, when they’d been basically spitting in His face for a couple of generations, wasn’t going to cut it. They had to fall on their faces and beg for help.
Do we need to fall on our faces and beg for help? Depends on what we’ve done. If you’ve been worshipping the bull god Molech (or named a home lawn care company after him, ahem) maybe. I’ve found myself doing things that were so far from where I knew He wanted me to me, I’d done exactly that.
Humility goes a long way in reconnecting with the Creator of the universe. Just sayin’.
Read devotionals like this (or better ones than this, there are many). They ask the same four questions above each time.
To know what Jesus said about life today, you need to read the first-hand accounts of his ministry. Don’t worry about translations, or whether King Boopiedoo in the fifteenth century added a verb. The Spirit of the living God will speak to you, teach you, when you read His word – when you honestly try to connect and learn. The words are alive, and will show you the nature of God.
Pretty intense. And True.
Just approach it with humility like King Josiah did 2500 years ago, and maybe others around you will see your example. And they will do it, too. And they’ll tell two friends. And so on.
Really, it’s all relevant, if you want it to be.
Lord, thank you for showing us your personality and nature in the words you inspired. Holy Spirit, bring us back in good relationship with God the Father by leading us to the one book in all existence that keeps us ON the right track. Amen