Our God, full of grace and mercy, understands that His people sometimes slip into sinful behavior and attitudes out of ignorance. When we realize this has occurred, God calls us to confess and repent. He also expects us to do whatever we can to return to the center of His will, especially as revealed to us through divine scripture.

We see a remarkable example of this from the life of Judah’s King Josiah. Somehow, over the centuries following their conquest of the promised land, the Jews forgot the covenant God made with them during the time of Moses. Even the words of that divine covenant – as recorded in the holy scriptures – were lost and forgotten by God’s chosen people! As a result, they wandered far from God’s will and absorbed many evil practices from the pagan culture around them. Although they were far from God’s will they didn’t know it. However, in 2 Kings 22:8, the Jewish high priest made a startling discovery one day and sent a message to King Josiah to inform him that the book (scroll) of the covenant God once gave to Moses had been found somewhere in the temple of the LORD. It seems the book had been forgotten and ignored, just sitting in some dusty place for generations. It may have been forgotten by man, but it was not forgotten by God. His covenant – with both blessings for the Jews if they obeyed and curses if they disobeyed – was still in effect just as in the time of Moses.

When King Josiah read the Book of the Covenant, divine words not heard before, his heart was grieved over Israel’s sins. He tore his royal robes as a sign of repentance and as the representative of the Jewish people, his sign of repentance extended to the whole nation. But Josiah did not stop there for he realized how far the Jews had drifted from God’s will. Josiah next called all the leaders and the people to assemble before the temple of the LORD and hear God’s words for themselves. As they stood together before the LORD they renewed their commitment to the Book of the Covenant. This was an act of national repentance and turning from pagan culture back to God. In the months that followed, Josiah made good on that commitment by cleansing every pagan religious symbol and practice he could from the land.

This example of repentance by an entire nation should challenge us too. As today’s people of God, we should examine ourselves to see if there’s any way that we’ve drifted from the center of God’s will. Are there secular values and practices we’ve absorbed from our modern, pagan culture? What should we do if we find values or lifestyle choices that contradict God’s Word? Let’s pray we will follow Josiah’s example and seek to truly repent and reform our lives, our community, and our nation. It was the right thing for them and it’s the right thing for us to do. May you always lean into Jesus, the living word of God, so your walk be pleasing in God’s sight.

Dave Korinek

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