2 Chronicles 34.18-30 – Divine Judgment
Posted: 13 July 2011 in 2 Chronicles

Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon, and Shaphan, and Asaiah, saying, Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us…. And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess….. and they spake to her to that effect. And she answered them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah: Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched. And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender….. and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me….. Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again. Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD.

Even though he is told that he will not witness it, you might have expected that Josiah would be none too happy to learn that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. Even if he was not going to witness it, his descendants would, and within a few short decades that is, of course, precisely what happened.

Having been told that Jerusalem was due for destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, you might have expected Josiah’s response to be that, since the ultimate catastrophe is about to befall Judah anyway, they might just as well eat, drink and be merry, in the time they have left. But that is not what happens. Instead Josiah recognises that man has an unconditional obligation to worship God, and the populace is called together for a reading of the law. That is followed by a celebration of the Passover.

Nevertheless, God’s decrees are immutable, and Judah is destroyed in 587BC. The lesson here, I suppose, is that idolatry can reach a point of no return, and thereafter even the righteousness of a King Josiah will be unable to turn away the divine wrath. It is, of course, an open question as to whether we are living in another such period. In much of the western world God gets scant attention, and the great god of consumerism reigns supreme.

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