Bible Readings for December 29th
As we would expect, the account of Josiah, the final great king of Judah, opens first with a thoroughgoing reform of the worship in Judah. Although Josiah does not have the Book of the Law early on in his reign, he obeys Yahweh according to the knowledge that he has. Therefore, in the twelfth year of Josiah’s reign, he destroys the worship of the Baals and the Asherim—not only in Judah, but even in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, and as far as Naphtali, even though the citizens of those cities are largely abandoned after the Assyrians have already carried those tribes of Israel off into exile (2 Chron. 34:3–7). More than that, Josiah also commissions workmen to rebuild and restore the temple of Yahweh after it had languished under the reign of his father, Amon, and his grandfather, Manasseh (2 Chron. 34:8–13)
But then, as Josiah learns more of God’s word, he obeys further. First, when Shaphan the secretary reads the Book of the Law in the presence of Josiah after the temple workmen rediscover it, the king tears his clothes in repentance on behalf of his people. Additionally, he asks his servants to inquire of God’s word to determine the extent of Yahweh’s wrath against them for their infidelity to “all that is written in this book” (2 Chron. 34:21), and when the prophetess Huldah responds to Josiah’s inquiry by declaring God’s intent to destroy Jerusalem (2 Chron. 34:22–28), Josiah responds with yet further obedience. He gathers all the people and reads to them the law to renew their covenant with Yahweh by vowing to keep all the words of the covenant in the book (2 Chron. 34:29–33). After this, for all of the days of Josiah’s life, Judah “did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 34:33).
Sometimes, we imagine that the prophets of Yahweh were sent largely to give new, fresh words from Yahweh that would set aside stagnant, outdated words—and in our day, people sometimes suggest that God is doing something “new” to set aside what he previously told us in his word. This story from the life of Josiah, however, corrects that thinking: when Yahweh sends a prophet, he does so to call people back to his word. Even Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it entirely (Matt. 5:17–20).
How, then, do you listen to the word of the Lord? Do you look at it with an eye of suspicion, embarrassment, and a desire to move beyond what he has written down concerning righteousness and regarding God’s Son Jesus Christ? Or do you listen with the spirit of Josiah, with humility and a willingness to repent in order to follow God wherever he might lead you through his word?
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.