King Josiah is a fascinating man. He became king of Judah when he was eight, inherited an extremely idolatrous nation, and yet he was a man after God’s own heart. No, I haven’t gotten to the book of Kings yet. This one verse in 2 Kings 22 comes to mind, however, as my journey through the Torah draws to a close:
11 When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes.
I’m imagining this king with a heart that follows wholly after God being confronted with idolatry all around him, listening to all these laws and statutes. As he listens to law after law, his heart must have been wrenched, burning with a passion for the holiness and glory of God. Then he gets to Deuteronomy 28…
15 “But if you do not obey the Lord your God by carefully following all His commands and statutes I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overtake you:
20 The Lord will send against you curses, confusion, and rebuke in everything you do until you are destroyed and quickly perish, because of the wickedness of your actions in abandoning Me. 21 The Lord will make pestilence cling to you until He has exterminated you from the land you are entering to possess. 22 The Lord will afflict you with wasting disease, fever, inflammation, burning heat, drought, blight, and mildew; these will pursue you until you perish. 23 The sky above you will be bronze, and the earth beneath you iron. 24 The Lord will turn the rain of your land into falling dust; it will descend on you from the sky until you are destroyed. 25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will march out against them from one direction but flee from them in seven directions. You will be an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth…28 The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness, and mental confusion, 29 so that at noon you will grope as a blind man gropes in the dark. You will not be successful in anything you do. You will only be oppressed and robbed continually, and no one will help [you].
The list of curses goes on for a while after that. What shock this must have been for 26 year-old king Josiah! Just for a moment, think about the curses promised to the Israelites for not obeying God: physical diseases, natural disasters, military defeats, mental confusion, lack of success – all disasters sent by God (not just allowed by God) because the Israelites forsook God and did not obey Him. The severity of those curses shows that God means business; I think Josiah really got that.
Josiah’s response is phenomenal and tells it all – he tears His clothes. He takes what he hears to heart, takes action, and radically transforms his nation. The Law taught him that obedience is crucial in the life of a believer. And just like king Josiah, I cannot set aside the transformation that God has called me to. As the people of God, let us not forget that our actions are evidence of our faith – or the lack thereof. Like Josiah, we are called to be different from the nations around us, set apart, sanctified, a people for God’s own possession.
The book of Deuteronomy mentions the word ‘obey’ 28 times, six of which are found in chapter 28. It teaches me that obedience is crucial in partaking of God’s blessings. Everything is because of Christ, in Christ, and through Christ, but the logical outcome of Christ in me in my life is obedience – simply doing as God commands. The story of Josiah gives me hope that with the right attitude of the heart, the same passion, and the same determination to take action, change is inevitable. And it teaches me that God means business – serious business.
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