Scripture Focus: 2 Kings 22.13, 18-20
13 Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’ ”
So they took her answer back to the king.
Reflection: A Responsive Heart
By John Tillman
Josiah was 18 years into his reign when he discovered that what he grew up with as normal was angering to the Lord.
Josiah wanted to worship God but he was ignorant of many of God’s commands. Josiah didn’t realize how badly Judah’s system of worship had been corrupted. He had begun collecting money for refurbishing the Temple. It was through this activity that the scroll (probably Deuteronomy) was found. The previous generations so poorly handled the word of God that even when a generation came along that wanted to serve the Lord, they were handicapped.
Those who came before Josiah corrupted the system. Josiah hadn’t hidden or lost the scroll. He had not set up any of the idols within God’s Temple. Ahaz, Manasseh, and other kings had done so. He hadn’t built temples to other gods. Manasseh and other kings, going all the way back to Solomon built them.
Yet, Josiah humbled himself rather than deny his connection to past sins. He repented and confessed sins of past generations. He set out to redress the wrongs done by his forefathers. He tore down their statues, idols, and temples. He desecrated their places of worship and refused to allow “normal” practices of the past to remain acceptable.
Josiah’s revival was unlike anything seen before. No king ever repented and turned back to God like Josiah. The writer references the Shema when describing Josiah’s repentance; he turned to the Lord with all his heart, soul, and strength. (2 Kings 23.25)
This individual and national revival started with something difficult—a willingness to change one’s behavior in light of new information. How many of us can say we are always willing to do that? Josiah had a responsive heart. Do we?
When something we call normal is revealed to be sinful, how will we respond? When the Bible calls us to holiness, will we double-down on our desires?
When systems or organizations we have grown up with are shown to be corrupt, will we stand with righteousness and demand change? Or will we excuse the past and refuse to acknowledge our complicity? When leaders we have loved are proven to be wicked, will we continue in their practices and defend them? Or will we hold them accountable and provide justice for victims?
Revival is always possible. The Lord will always relent. But only if we have a responsive heart.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp; I myself will waken the dawn. — Psalm 108.2
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Read more about Choices and Hard Hearts
Untended, our hearts harden and lean away from God. Only by continual cultivation will the soil of our hearts remain soft.
Read more about Are There Ashtrays in Your Elevators?
Like ashtrays in elevators, there are always systemic, tangible, widespread, societal enablements of sins.