We come close to the end of the nation state that was once called Israel. The northern portion was conquered and began to be carried off into exile about 740 b.c. by Assyria. Now only the southern kingdom called Judah remains. It contains the city of David called Jerusalem. Its end is near as a series of evil kings have allowed and promoted all of the evil that had once been practiced by the Philistines, the Amorites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites and all of those pagan people who had once inhabited this land before God gave it to the descendants of Abraham after God raised Israel out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt.
Now comes the boy king to Judah, the last of those who walks in the way of the Lord, but even he did not rule wisely in the early years until a copy of the book of the law was found in the temple and brought to Josiah. When he had the book read to him, he ripped his clothing and wept because he now knew how far Judah had strayed from the path of righteousness. In the New Testament book of Romans it says, "how can they know unless someone tells them". Josiah that he was doing right, but he was far from right because he had not been told what right was.
when he learned he called the people together and had the law read to them that they, too, would know. Now let me point you back to something we read a while back. Deuteronomy 17: 14-20 predicts a time when Israel will have a king and commands that each King have a personal copy of the law. How could a king know unless someone taught him? Deuteronomy 31:9-13 instructed that every 7 years the people would gather for a public reading of the law. How long had it been since kings and the people had been instructed by the law? Now it is too late. Israel is gone and even though Josiah labors hard, Judah is close to exile as well. Sin will extract its wages. May we lean every day upon the Christ who has paid the price for us that the wrath of a righteous God would not exile us from his face as he did his Old Covenant children.
What you are doing as the family of God in reading the scriptures is vital to you, your family, Faith UMC and to our nation. How can we measure righteousness unless we hear God's voice instructing us. Do not, please do not rely only on the pastor or the Sunday school teacher for your word of knowledge. What if the fail? Could you be lost as was Israel, Judah and Josiah. God's word was given to the world and we who possess it must remember that we carry the hope of the world within us. Share, share, Share!!
What remains in Judah's history is only sadness. Josiah removes the baals, the asherahs, the temple prostitutes, the idols, pulls down the false altars, exiles the mediums.....does his very best, but evil is ingrained into the heart of Judah. At his death they crown another evil man. By 600 b.c. the Babylonian king Nebachadnezzer is beginning to carry the best and the brightest of Jerusalem off to exile in Babylonia. Judah outlasts Israel by 140 years or so, but what is that when compared to what God had intended for them. They were blessed to be a blessing for all of eternity. would that we would not forget the lessons of our reading in 1 & 2 Kings.