Scripture: 2 Kings 23:25 Before (Josiah) there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him. 26 Still the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.
Observation: Throughout the book of 2 Kings we’ve been treated to the stories of kings who failed to lead the people according to the law of Moses. They worshipped other gods and offered sacrifices to them. They failed to keep holy days and festivals – even the Passover meal, which would be something akin to Christians forgetting to celebrate Easter. FINALLY, Josiah emerged as a righteous king and did things the right way. He brought the people fully into alignment with the will and ways of God. He “turned to the Lord with all his heart…”. It’s natural for the reader to assume the Lord would have mercy on the people and turn from his wrath as a response to the faithful leadership of Josiah. But it was not to be.
Application: Well this is depressing. What happened to the God who is “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love”? I realize there were centuries of unfaithful kings and God was merciful in not permitting their military defeat sooner, but it’s still a bit of a let-down. So what are we to learn from this?
First of all, the actions of God as revealed in the scriptures often fail to line up with our modern notions of fairness, mercy, or justice. If you’re looking for a good explanation, why God did what he did, I don’t have one.
Secondly, we see the limits of human righteousness and living according to the law. While it’s true that living according to God’s ways sets us on a path to live as God intended, there are limits. Even when we get it right.
One of my aunts, my Tia Lupe, is in hospice care right now. She is an incredible woman. She was the oldest of nine children when her mother (my grandmother) died at a relatively young age. She basically became the mother to the other children, especially to my father who was the youngest child. As a result she never married, but took her siblings as her children. She’s also an incredible woman of faith – a real prayer warrior. I can’t say enough about her. She is leaving an incredible legacy.
I realize she’s a sinner like everyone else, but she would do the Lord so much good if she could stay. She has been righteous before the Lord, but it will not save her. Her mortality will take her. I wish things could be different. But perhaps its in the trials of life that we see the intersection of mercy and grace. There is mercy in being taken out of the painful reality of failing health. And there is grace in that, despite our sin, we remain children of God through Christ Jesus.
Prayer: Have mercy o God. Amen.