By Bob Hoekstra
Then Hilkiah answered and said . . . "I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD" . . . Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes . . . [and said] ". . . great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD." (2 Chronicles 34:15, 19, and 21)
When Nebuchadnezzar and Manasseh humbled themselves before the Lord, our great God poured out amazing grace upon these formerly godless and prideful kings. Of course, it is not necessary to first be rebellious in order to be humbled and to become a recipient of further grace from God. This truth is illustrated in Josiah's humbling himself before the Lord.
Josiah began to reign in Jerusalem at a very young age. "Josiah was eight years old when he became king" (2 Chronicles 34:1). When he was yet in the teen years, he began to pursue the Lord. "For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David" (2 Chronicles 34:3a). His quest for God led him to serve the Lord faithfully and courageously by destroying the implements of idolatry in the land. "In the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down" (2 Chronicles 34:3b-4).
Later, he ordered the temple to be repaired. "Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the temple, he sent . . . [various leaders] . . . to repair the house of the LORD his God" (2 Chronicles 34:8). There, they found copies of God's word, which had been neglected for many years. "Then Hilkiah answered and said . . . 'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD'." Immediately, they took these precious writings to King Josiah. "Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes."
The Lord had instructed His leaders to rule by the truth of His word. "It shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book . . . And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes" (Deuteronomy 17:18-19). Josiah was humbled with intense grief, knowing this had been neglected and that severe judgment was in order. "Great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD."
O Lord God, my heart is torn when I think of the way Your word is neglected today. National leaders generally ignore it. Many church leaders compromise it. I have not given it appropriate attention. Let me be a Josiah in these wicked days, Amen.