2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3
The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have oversight of the house of the Lord.” Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.” Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.
When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah, saying, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.
PS 119:33-37, 40
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes,
and I will observe it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Turn my heart to your decrees,
and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
give me life in your ways.
See, I have longed for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.
In the Old Testament today, we come upon a turbulent time in Israel’s history. The king we read about is Josiah, the great grandson of Hezekiah whom we read about yesterday. Hezekiah served the Lord, and because of his faithfulness, the Lord turned Israel’s enemies away from them and even extended Hezekiah’s life. But the prophet foretold to Hezekiah that trouble was coming in his descendants’ days. Then the son and grandson of Hezekiah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, polluting Israel with idolatry and shedding innocent blood, and enkindling the Lord’s wrath. Then we come to Josiah, who like Hezekiah walks in the ways of the Lord and does what is just. In our reading today, Josiah hears the word of the Lord written in the book of the law and it cuts him to the heart. It dawns on him that he has inherited a corrupted kingdom, and it is his responsibility to make things right.
So Josiah takes action. He tears down the pagan altars and idols and reinstates the covenant. He ends the practices of sorcery and commands that the people again begin to celebrate the Passover. Yet for all of Josiah’s reforms, his descendants do not follow in his ways but again turn from the Lord. And Israel is destabilized, the covenant is broken, and Israel is given over into the hands of Babylon to learn what they could not learn when they were free; how to resist the ways of other nations and remain a true people set apart as holy to the Lord.
Today, we find ourselves in turbulent political times. There are evils that corrupt our lands that we must stand against. Confusion, denial, and false prophets abound, and it is difficult to discern what is true and what we are to do about it. Jesus instructs us to discern these things by their fruits. And the book of Kings and the Psalms reiterate how we are to cultivate our discernment. We must love the law and word of God with all our heart and soul, meditate and gain instruction to truly understand them and live them right. We must be people of the word, not people who manipulate the word to our own ends or ignore it outright.
Lets spend time with the Lord today and ask Him to strengthen our discernment to know His will in our lives. Make a plan to not only read but study and receive teaching on the word of God, and never stop seeking to grow in knowledge and in holiness. And pray for those in power, that the ways of the Lord would prevail with them.