Wednesday, May 03, 2023

2023.05.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 23:1–27

Read 2 Kings 23:1–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Josiah send the officials to do in 2 Kings 23:1? Who all go where in 2 Kings 23:2? What does Josiah read? Where does the king stand in 2 Kings 23:3 (cf. 2 Kings 11:14)? What does he make? To do what? What do the people do for this covenant? What does the king command to be brought out in 2 Kings 23:4? What does he do to them? What does he do to whom in 2 Kings 23:5? What does he do to what in 2 Kings 23:6? What does he do to what in 2 Kings 23:7? What does he do to whom in 2 Kings 23:8a? What does he do to what in verse 8b? Who did not come up where (2 Kings 23:9a)? What did they do, where, instead (verse 9b)? What did he do to what in 2 Kings 23:10? So that no man might do what? What did he remove in 2 Kings 23:11? What did he burn? What did he do to what in 2 Kings 23:12? What did he do to what in 2 Kings 23:13? What did he do to what in 2 Kings 23:14? What else did he go tear down where in 2 Kings 23:15? What did he see in 2 Kings 23:16? What did he to what (cf. 1 Kings 13:2)? What does he ask about in 2 Kings 23:17? What is the answer? What does he say to do in 2 Kings 23:18? What does he take away where in 2 Kings 23:19? What did he do to whom in 2 Kings 23:20? Whom does the king command to do what in 2 Kings 23:21? According to what? What is unique about this (2 Kings 23:22)? When did such a Passover occur (2 Kings 23:23)? What did he do to what in 2 Kings 23:24? So that he might do what? Who before him had done this (2 Kings 23:25)? How did he turn to Yahweh? Who did so after him? Yet, what did not happen (2 Kings 23:26)? Why not? What did Yahweh say (2 Kings 23:27)? What was unique about this place? 

What does it look like to follow Yahweh with all one’s heart and soul? 2 Kings 23:1–27 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that following the Lord means doing whatever His Word says, even if we know that the earthly effects may not or will not last. 

When the Spirit tells us that Josiah covenanted to follow Yahweh with all his heart and soul (2 Kings 23:3), and then the Spirit Himself proceeds to affirm that Josiah “turned to Yahweh with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might” (2 Kings 23:25), the believer wants to pay close attention. For, the genuine believer wants to turn to the Lord with all his heart. What does that look like?

Public submission to God and His Word. The public aspect is inherent to Josiah’s office as king. He gathers everyone (2 Kings 23:1-2a), reads publicly (verse 2b), and covenants publicly (2 Kings 23:3). He “made a covenant before Yahweh,” but also “all the people took a stand for the covenant.” Jesus makes a big deal of this for all Christians. Specifically when the generation has been adulterous and sinful, the believer must be unashamed of Christ and His Words (cf. Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26). Believers must not only believe in their hearts that God has raised the Lord Jesus from the dead but also confess with their mouths that Jesus is the Lord (cf. Romans 10:9). 

Sometimes, people protest any emphasis upon public profession of faith, but as we see Josiah making and Jesus demanding, it is a necessary part of genuine faith and love. It honors God rightly, and it seeks to edify all who observe it. A non-public faith is a selfish faith, which is no faith at all. But a public faith includes not only that initial profession but participation in the holy assemblies of the church and the life of the body. Biblical Christians must think and act corporately.

Persevering submission to God and His Word. The middle portion of our passage (2 Kings 23:4-202 Kings 23:24) is full of reforms because all of Israel was full of corruption. This devotional could be very long indeed, if it highlighted the many unique details that signify a particularly heinous offense to God. It is shocking to see how much there is, and how bad each particular idolatry/wickedness is. 

Almost certainly, Manasseh had not had time to complete reformation. And Amon seems to have done much damage in just two years of reverting back to idolatry. Then, there are even the remaining reforms to be done in what used to belong to the now-defunct northern kingdom (cf. 2 Kings 23:15-20). Perseverance is needed. Courage to begin a work that seems overwhelming. Determination to continue and not grow weary. Endurance to persist when the weariness does set in. Believers who would exterminate their sin, as they must, will need all of these: courage, determination, and endurance. Submission to God and His Word requires perseverance. 

Principled submission to God and His Word. Perseverance comes ultimately from the Spirit, but His method for giving this perseverance is by directing the heart by the principles of God’s Word. We see this in 2 Kings 23:3 (“to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes […] to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book”) and in 2 Kings 23:24-25 (“that he might perform the words of the law that were written in the book […] according to all the Law of Moses”). This is the point of the unique quality of the Passover they held (“as it is written in this Book of the Covenant,” 2 Kings 23:21). 

We see some familiar phrases here: “with all his heart and all his soul” (2 Kings 23:3) and “with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might” (2 Kings 23:25). When we recognize their connection to Deuteronomy 6:5, we realize that to love God (Deuteronomy 6) is to turn to Him according to all His Word (2  Kings 23). Indeed, this Word-controlled-heart, heart-driven obedience is what the Spirit uses to give us perseverance. We must turn to the Lord with all that we are, including the conviction that He Himself defines what love actually is by His own Word.

For Josiah, there is something that makes it all the more necessary that his submission be principled submission: his effort is guaranteed ultimately to fail. 2 Kings 23:26-27 are not a surprise. He has already received the Word of the Lord that, even despite his tender heart and being heard (cf. 2 Kings 22:19), the wrath of God that has been aroused against Judah “will not be quenched” (2 Kings 22:17). 

Some who claim faith assert that true faithfulness is only possible for those who are guaranteed the victory of their actions. But what about when God had guaranteed Josiah’s defeat? Didn’t Josiah know that all of his reforms would be overturned as soon as he was gathered to his fathers? Yes, but his obedience was not motivated by the promise of success but the principle of the heart. This is how Christian service and obedience works. The premise is love. It is love that produces the keeping of God’s commandments (cf. John 14:15; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 6). 

Biblical submission cannot come merely from a desire to please men, to feel good about oneself, or to produce a particular outcome to a situation. It must come from the principle of God’s Word defining for us love to God from the heart.

How have you made your submission to Christ public? How do you continue to do so? How do you keep your submission to God principled by His Word—what are you doing toward this end on a daily basis? On a weekly basis? How are you interacting with and depending upon God Himself in your use of His Word, to draw from Him what is necessary for perseverance?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for Your great mercy to Josiah, to give Him a heart for You, and to provide him Your Word to define for him what love to You looks like. And You have done the same for us, O Lord—bringing us to faith in Jesus Christ, and giving us Your Word to read and hear preached and meditate upon. Forgive us, Lord, for we have not been diligent in Your Word or devoted with our hearts. And even to the extent that we have been principled and persistent in our love for You, we often have not been so public in that love as Josiah was. Forgive us for not thinking more corporately about our Christian life. Give us Your Spirit to work in us such love for You that even if the whole world were against us, and even if we knew that any earthly effects of the good that we did would evaporate as soon as we had done them, still we would love You according to all Your Word. We ask for this in the Name of Him Who has perfectly loved and obeyed You in our place, even our Lord Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP80 “Hear, O Hear Us” or TPH119M “O, How I Love Your Holy Law, O LORD”

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