Josiah, while considered a righteous king, as well, was killed in a battle he wasn’t directed by God to participate in. He departed from total dependence on hearing the word of God and acted on his own behalf. It resulted in his death.
Even Hezekiah, whom we are told made all his decisions seeking after the heart of God, became proud. He was mortally ill and God healed him; he never gave God the benefit. What followed was the wrath of God, not only on him, but also on all of Judah and Jerusalem.
Hezekiah did eventually humble himself, which ignited the grace of God whom held back the wrath He was going to impart on Hezekiah for a later generation so that it might not fall on Hezekiah. This is further verification that God was not simply mad at Hezekiah, but the entire nation of Israel; they did not follow Hezekiah’s example and repent. Instead they suffered God’s wrath. Then Hezekiah died and his evil son Manasseh replaced him. Living most of his life in reverse to Joash and Josiah, full of wicked deeds, he did repent later in life. God heard him.
If there is one thing I have learned from reading the books of Chronicles, it is that God is quick to forgive when even the wickedest men humble themselves and repent.
There is much we can relate to in the lives of these kings. Our pride, our love of earthly treasures, our boasting in them, etc. But I want to concentrate now on a more corporate comparison that I see in the church regarding what was happening with the nation of Israel and Judah in these dozen chapters at the end of 2 Chronicles.
Firstly, all of these kings knew the nation deserved the total wrath of God for their evil deeds and their sinful acts against YHWH. They tried to teach the people to do right, to love God and His law. Some of them re-instated the Passover celebration with total conviction. And they had small successes throughout their reign.
But after they died, the people fell back into sin. The masses were merely in love with the tradition and the ritual of the religion.
Secondly, from some time even before Joash took the throne right up until Hilkiah found the book of law during the reign of Josiah, the kings followed the counsel of the priests based on the verbal words passed down from those before them. There were obviously some flaws. But there was no written law among them.
Thirdly, the kings truly repented; the people didn’t.
So what made these kings follow after YHWH after being surrounded by so many wicked rulers? What saves a man? What is it that gives us our connection to God?
I can tell you what it isn’t. It isn’t religion. It isn’t church tradition. It isn’t even attending church. It isn’t religious activities. It isn’t a pastor’s sermon. It isn’t a well-written Christian book by a famous author.
Take a look at the response of Josiah after the book of the law was discovered and read to him in 2 Chronicles 34. He tore his clothes, he was so grieved. He wept. And he agreed with God that the whole nation had sinned. He repented.
He also gathered the entire nation to hear the reading of the Torah and made an oath to follow all the words that were written in the book.
We must do the same.
We must agree with God about sin, about our sins as a body. We have been in love with tradition. We have been conditioned to tolerate sin. We have followed popular, unwise teaching. Unwise trends of pop culture. A lust of the flesh, the eyes and a boastful pride of life! We must confess them. Repent. We must come to the understanding that ignoring God’s Word to us separates us from Him!
I am struggling with this, I confess! I am concentrating on trying to be apart from the lust of the flesh, but it is so difficult. And I revere and fear the Lord. Truly. I am afraid to ask God to help me separate from the lust of, and pride of, life! I know what that means. Sacrifice. I don’t like it! If the truth be told, what I am really seeking isn’t to be like Christ at all. It is to be comfortable. And I see what comfort did to these kings…
Written by Jori Sams