Wednesday, November 2nd. 2 Chronicles 34:14-21

While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the LORD, the priest Hilkiah found the book of the law of the LORD given through Moses. Hilkiah said to the secretary Shaphan, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD”; and Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. Shaphan brought the book to the king, and further reported to the king, “All that was committed to your servants they are doing. They have emptied out the money that was found in the house of the LORD and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers and the workers.” The secretary Shaphan 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 law he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, the secretary Shaphan, and the king’s servant Asaiah: “Go, inquire of the LORD for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found; for the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us is great, because our ancestors did not keep the word of the LORD, to act in accordance with all that is written in this book.” 2 Chronicles 34:14-21

 

Josiah was eight years old when his father died and he became king of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel.  He was king for roughly 40 years, from 649-640 BCE. He is remembered as a good and righteous king.  During his time the temple was refurbished and he helped restore the civic and spiritual lives of the people.

 

Unlike Ahaz and Jezebel, the Bible says that Josiah “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

 

In the text for today, Josiah asked the High Priest, Hilkiah, for an accounting of the money that had been saved for the refurbishment of the temple.  While at the temple, Hilkiah discovered a book that had been hidden within the temple, unearthed during the temple rebuilding project.  He read the book to King Josiah who was overcome with emotion and resolve that the people of Israel be exposed to the lessons of the book and orient their lives to its teachings.

 

Biblical scholars believe this long lost book was Deuteronomy, the last book of the Pentateuch.  (Many of those same scholars wonder if in fact it wasn’t a new book, written as part of Josiah’s broader reform movement.)   Either way, this event became part of a great awakening of faith in Judah.

 

Deuteronomy itself reads like a series of sermons by Moses.  That has long been the traditional understanding, although that understanding makes one wonder how Moses could have written the report of his death as the book concludes.  However we understand the writing of Deuteronomy – whether written soon after Moses, or over a long time by several authors, or actually written during the days of Josiah to provide guidance for Judah’s spiritual renewal – the goal of the book is for the common life of the people to conform to God’s will for justice and a good life.

 

This good life is freely available to people but it does involve making choices.  Some choices, rooted in God’s will, result in good consequences; other choices, rooted in disobedience, selfishness, or pride, reject God’s will and result in bad consequences.

 

We listen to this story from our modern point of view with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, we can clearly see the common sense that God’s will (even as we understand that will in the ten commandments) leads to a good life.  On the other hand, it is exactly this way of thinking that drives religious fundamentalists to religious wars or the invocation of hard line laws rooted in their understanding of faith whether or not that is how the population chooses to live.  History has proven that this doesn’t work very well.

 

But for a time, not a long time, but for a time, Josiah ushered in a good period in the life of Judah.  There is, in that, a lesson for all of us.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, we know you in part because of your commands to us.  We know your character, revealed in Jesus, who helps us better understand the love and care that lies behind your commands.  Above all, that we fear, love and trust you above all, and that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  Let this be our resolve today.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

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2 Responses to “Wednesday, November 2nd. 2 Chronicles 34:14-21”

  1. Randy Nelson Says:

    “Josiah ushered in a good period in the life of Judah.” God is good. Also, the king was the leader. Martin Luther was not a king but a scholar that renewed the church & society. Are we in need of a reformation of all the world’s peoples & cultures? All things are possible with God.

  2. body ritual among the nacirema analysis Says:

    body ritual among the nacirema analysis…

    […]Wednesday, November 2nd. 2 Chronicles 34:14-21 « Daily Devotions[…]…

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