Our Fathers Have Not Obeyed the Words of This Book
What would you do if you found out that your parents and grandparents had been wrong religiously? King Josiah faced such a decision (2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35).
“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem…He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22.1-2). Josiah repaired the temple (vv. 3-7). During this process, the “book of the Law [of Moses]” was found and read before the king (vv. 8-10).
Josiah’s reaction: “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (vv. 11-13).
In the parallel account (2 Chronicles 34.2-28), it reads: “…Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words…and you have humbled yourself before me…behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place and its inhabitants.”
Josiah’s repentance and commitment to faithfulness: “Then the king…gathered…all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem…and…went up to the house of the Lord, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem…and he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant [Law of Moses] that had been found in the house of the Lord…and the king…made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book…then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 34.29-33).
Josiah restored the Passover feast. “For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah” (2 Kings 23.22; “…since the days of Samuel the prophet” (2 Chronicles 35.18)).
In closing, we read: “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him” (2 Kings 23.25).
Consequences (punishments) were not averted. “Still the Lord did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him. And the Lord said, ‘I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, “My name shall be there”’” (2 Kings 23.26-27).
Josiah had the right motivation. He “set his heart to serve God fully or faithfully” (2 Chronicles 34.3).
Josiah was diligent. “…And he did not turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22.2).
Josiah recognized that his parents and ancestors had been wrong religiously. “…Our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22.13).
Josiah’s father was Amon. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh did. And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them: And he forsook the Lord God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the Lord” (2 Kings 21.20-22).
Josiah’s grandfather was Manasseh. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21.2). Thus, God said in 2 Kings 21.11-12, “Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly…and hath made Judah also to sin with his idol…behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.”
But Josiah did not do as his father and grandfather. He had the courage to follow God in spite of the condemnation it meant regarding his relatives. This alone is more than most are willing to do today. What of your relatives? What if they are wrong, even though religious? What do you need to do? You need to do what Josiah did: Go back and follow the biblical pattern. See again 2 Chronicles 34.31-33 above.
You will not change God's will in removing the punishment from those guilty of sin. However, you can do something about your own sin. In doing something about the sin, you will avoid the punishment. You may save others by your decision. They may follow your example.
Do you believe God? Do you care for your relatives? If you truly care for yourself and others, you will do as Josiah did.