Josiah’s reaction to the reading of the Law

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Josiah’s reaction to the reading of the Law: A lesson for today

“And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of  Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king’s, saying, Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book,”
2 Chronicles 34:19-21.

The events of this chapter took place just a few years after the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry. I have no doubt that what Josiah initiated by way of reforms was a direct result of the early preaching of Jeremiah. “For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images,” 2 Chronicles 34:3.

It was the influence of Jeremiah’s early preaching that prompted this desire to launch a programme of reforms.

We must note in the light of our text that:

I. A GOOD MAN MAY BE UNAWARE OF THE DEPTHS OF APOSTASY AROUND HIM

1. There can be no doubt that Josiah was a good man. From a very early age he showed evidence of grace. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images,” 34:2-3.
And yet the revelation of the sins of the land and the anger of God was a shock to him! He rent his clothes!  Gen 37:34.

2. The natural heart cannot see how wicked the world is without the aid of God. A hidden Bible means only one thing: IGNORANCE! The devil, the world and the human heart are a trinity of deceit for which we are no match. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9.
* David was deceived by his own heart. “And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man,” 2 Samuel 12:7.
* Ezekiel the prophet required God’s teaching. Eze 8:1-3, 6-12, 13-18.

3. This will certainly be so in the last days. Rev 17:1-2, 8. Even the saints of God will fail to see the wickedness. ‘Wondered’ Matt 8:10. Be it understood that you Christian are not wholly aware of todays’s sins.

II. THE SOURCE OF ENLIGHTENMENT IS THE BIBLE

“When the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.”

1. The great need of the hour is the rediscovery of the plain preaching of God’s Word. I mean expository preaching where the plain meaning of God’s Word is set before the people. Nehemiah 8:1-8. “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading,” Nehemiah 8:8.
There is too much topical preaching without any reference to the context of the verse selected. Such preaching may very often make little or no reference to the contextual setting in which the verse is found! This leads to what it is God is specifically saying in the passage being missed.

2. Such preaching, blessed by the Holy Spirit, produces a spiritual awareness amongst God’s people.
1 John 2:20-21, 27. Having been taught the truth and enjoying the ministrations of the Holy Ghost there is an awareness amongst them, a strengthens all the powers and faculties of the soul of the issues that faced them.

3. Paul is an example of such spiritual awareness. Acts 13:9-11.

III. JOSIAH INDICATES FOR US THE REACTION REQUIRED

1. An understanding of the state of the nation as seen by God will bring distress and alarm amongst God’s people. That is not how it is today! “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” Jer 5:31.
Perfectly content to sit amidst the apostasy and do not wish to be disturbed!! Isaiah 30:9-11; 2 Tim 4:3-4. (“latitudinarianism” – B W Newton.)

2. Brokenness of heart. Verse 27. Josiah wept! That is what caused Christ to weep over Jerusalem, Luke 19:41-44. “Known” = “Perceive.”

3. A seeking of God for what should be done. “Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah,” 34:21. We need instruction and it is plainly given us. Verses 29-33.

IV. GOD’S RESPONSE TO JOSIAH

1. There was a staying of judgment for the sake of Josiah’s prayer. Verses 27-28.
2. A reviving of the remnant took place. 35:18. May we hunger as did Josiah that we may see a breath of old-time religion amongst us.
3. When the judgment came, there was a people who had understanding of the times and knew what to do. It was about 45-46 years later that Jerusalem was overrun by the Babylonians. An opportunity was given to the obedient to instruct their offspring and prepare them to submit to God’s Word and the judgment that was coming. Those who obeyed lived. Jer 37:7-9, 16-17, 38:14-17. The prophet was able to inform of what was coming and what they should do. He called a for an acknowledgement of their sin and a humble submission unto God and a trusting in His mercy.

Therein is the very essence of the gospel message:— Submission and Trust!

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