The Bible is replete with specific instructions on how a nation can find favor with God. The standard for national success was given to Israel prior to entering the promised land of Canaan. The date was approximately 1410 BC.
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments…that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth…So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left…” Deuteronomy 28:1, 14
The Bible repeatedly confirms the immutability of those instructions.
Now let’s fast forward nearly 800 years to the reign of Judah’s King Josiah. Most remember Josiah as the king God called by name three centuries before he was born. Josiah reigned over Judah from 640 BC to 609 BC.
“And he (Josiah) did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of his father (ancestor) David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” 2 Kings 22:3
However, Josiah’s immediate father Amon and his grandfather Manasseh did not abide in God’s immutable instructions referenced in the aforementioned passage in Deuteronomy.
“Manasseh…reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem…and he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations…” 2 Kings 21:1-2
“Amon…reigned two years in Jerusalem…and he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done…he forsook the LORD God of his fathers…” 2 Kings 21:19-22
Following Amon’s reign when Josiah was 26 years old and reigning in Jerusalem, a wonderful thing happened. The high priest at that time, Hilkiah, discovered God’s Book of the Law right in the temple.
“Then Hilkiah the high priest said… ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.’” 2 Kings 22:8
The Book of the Law was read to King Josiah and his response was:
“Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes.” 2 Kings 22:11
He realized the sin and evil ways of Judah and the consequences of their departure from God’s laws. He sent his representatives to inquire of the prophetess Huldah to clarify the meaning of their discovery.
“Then she said to them, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel…behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants – all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read – because they have forsaken Me…therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place…’” 2 Kings 22:15-17
King Josiah led Judah back to her God and reinstated true worship, and God rewarded him greatly.
“…Thus says the LORD God of Israel…because…you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke…I will gather you to your fathers…in peace…” 2 Kings 22:18-20
Many might think that God’s wrath was appeased with the humility and repentance of King Josiah. However, Judah’s sin was deep and yet to be reckoned with.
“Nevertheless the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him.” 2 Kings 23:26
Now consider our president as he recently delivered his annual state of the union message. Is his vision and agenda for America in sync with God’s immutable standard of righteousness and justice?
At the end of his speech he read the following words from his teleprompter:
“…and may God bless the United States of America.”
Was God pleased with our president as He was with Josiah whose heart was tender and humble, or will the words of the proverb apply?
“Because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke…” Proverbs 1:25
Closing thought: The high priest, while going about normal activities, i.e., counting the money that had been brought into the temple, came upon the ‘Book of the Law’ hidden in the very house of the LORD. Does that relate to the Church in America today?