15 She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”
2 Kings 22:15-20 (NIV)
So many thoughts rush through as I consider Second Kings chapter 22.
- This sounds like the United States today.
- How could they have lost the word of God?
- Has America put herself under the curse of the Old Testament?
- Have I ever been so sorry for my sins and the sins of my country, I wept?
King Josiah, the sixteenth king of Judah, took over the Kingdom at age eight in about 640 B.C. Josiah was the last righteous king in Judah, and his father and grandfather had been evil, so, for fifty-seven years, the nation hadn’t worshiped Yahweh. The only thing I can find that made Josiah different, much like his great-grandfather Hezekiah, was a devout Jewish mother.
Unfortunately, despite having hearts that chased after God, they didn’t pass their faith on to their sons. And obviously many in Israel failed to share their faith with their children. Each generation had been falling further and further from their Creator until the sons of Josiah were carried off to Babylon along with their mother and all those with the means to rebel against the new ruler.
Josiah tried to save Judah. He repented, tore his clothes and showed great sorrow for the sins of Judah. Then he removed all the false idols and altars to false gods strewn throughout the country. His attempt to purify his country is commendable. But it takes more than the faith of the king to prevent the promised curses to fall on a nation who refuses to follow the Almighty. In fact, he was so busy trying to purify to nation, Josiah forgot to purify his sons.
Josiah challenges me to ask two questions:
- Have I ever recognized the curse my sin deserves and repented with great sorrow? It’s easy to take the love of God for granted. The world talks about going to heaven. They say they believe in God, but they do nothing to give the Creator glory. But have I fallen for their lies? Am I truly repentant, or have I become so comfortable being more righteous than those around me I’ve grown content having my feet in both worlds? That was the problem with most of the holy people during Josiah’s time. Trying to appease the masses, they maintained an appearance of holiness, but it had been so long since they’d read God’s word, it had gotten lost in the temple.
- Am I preparing the next generation to be strong Christian leaders? I’m sure Josiah thought his sons would see him clearing those high places and follow in his footsteps. But without hearing how their father loved God and understanding the goodness of their true King, the attraction of the world becomes too strong. We can’t assume young people will pick up our faith by osmosis. The only way to preserve the faith and continue the blessing God has placed on our country for more than two hundred years is to talk about the goodness of God, communicate the great sacrifice made on the cross and help the next generation understand the goodness of the world is lacking.
I’m certain in Josiah’s day most of the nation thought they were good people. They knew how to help others. They had a code of ethics all their own. But, like today, the code of the people was not the code of the Almighty. Our goodness looks like soot compared to the goodness of God. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us and open our eyes to see the truth.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
This 1905 quote from George Santayana says it all. The United States has lost the word of God. Though millions of copies lay scattered throughout our nation, only a small percentage are read everyday. Do any of those in our nation’s leadership know about the kings of Israel, David, Solomon, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah? Have they compared our current state to the state of Judah just before she was carried off to Babylon? The words of Isaiah and Jeremiah can easily be adapted to fit the United States today.
And while it’s easy to blame the country’s leadership, if I’m not doing the least I can do, it’s not really fair to hold them accountable. It’s important for each of us to go back to those two questions: Am I repentant, and which young people have I helped understand the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Today’s musings are hard even for me.
But they hold a truth everyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ needs to hear.
For more hard truth, check out the blog or Thoughts and Musings categories on the right.
And for more help on how to get to the place where you can repent and share better
Check out this Bible Study: Dive In to a Life of Freedom