Audio listeners, there is additional content included at the bottom of this post that is not mentioned in the audio.
Today’s readings are 2 Kings 23-25
And the king went up to the house of YHWH, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of YHWH. 3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before YHWH to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant. 2 Kings 23:2-3
Josiah personally read the entirety of the Torah to them! WOW! But that part I put in bold is even better.
May we respond just as Josiah did!
This speaks to me on such a deep level. It tells of the turning back to YHWH, but it also tells of YHWH’s Grace and open arms when we do turn back. He is a Father waiting, hoping, longing for His children. We are the prodigal, hoping to just be a servant in His house and when we come back, head lowered, ever aware of our own sins against Him, and He meets us with arms open wide and celebration!
2 Kings 23:11 -As Josiah undertakes a massive effort to rid his Kingdom of idol worship and all unholy things that do not honor the one true God, we see many examples of syncretism, instances where folks had mixed unholy and holy in their worship of the Father, even going so woefully far as to incorporate idols for other “gods” in YHWH’s temple!
Josiah Restores the keeping of Passover
And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to YHWH your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.”
For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.
But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the YHWH in Jerusalem. 2 Kings 23:21-23
The people rediscovered the Word of YHWH, read it, and began to obey! How wonderful! And what a way to Shema! (Hear and do)
If you’d like to learn more about Passover, click here to visit the Biblical Feasts section of the blog.
More Echoes of the Shema!
Recall the greatest commandment, according to our Messiah, which was first written in Deut 6:5 and part of what is often referred to as “the Shema”:
“Love YHWH your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.”
And when asked what the greatest commandment was, Messiah quoted Deut 6:5 in Matthew 22:36-40:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
- What does it look like to love YHWH to this extent?
- How does this degree of love manifest itself?
- We get our answer today in 2 Kings 23-25
Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the YHWH with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. 2Ki 23:25
Doesn’t it just strengthen your heart to read of wholeheartedness now?
Remember: YHWH’s love language is obedience.
I know, as a parent myself, it sure makes me feel happy, respected, and loved when my children obey me, too!
In closing today, we finish up the book of 2 Kings with YHWH’s judgement coming upon Jerusalem.
“Such is the divine judgment upon sin. God pleads long with man, but if man will not turn, then God whets His sword, and becomes terrible in His retribution. Amid all this catastrophe, however, we recall the tears of the book of Lamentations, like those of Jesus afterward. There is that in God which sorrows as He chastises.”
~F B Meyer
And now, let us return to my favorite book of the Bible, Deuteronomy, to see that YHWH, of course, foresaw all that would happen, and thought to give us hope to hold onto once we brought the darkness down upon ourselves.
“When you father children and children’s children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, so as to provoke him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long in it, but will be utterly destroyed. And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. ❤️ But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. ❤️ (Christy’s note: More echoes of the greatest commandment) When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
“For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” Deuteronomy 4:25-40
The remainder of our reading today gives us a lot of information and more tragedy, including the destruction of the temple.
I want to jump ahead a bit and give you a little background on a character we read about for the first time in the last paragraph of 2 Kings 25, Evil-merodach. Sounds like something out of an epic pirate movie, right? Turns out there was a king in Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, who was named as Evil-merodach in the ESV translation but if you go check out Biblehub on that same verse, you’ll see that his name varies among different translations. “Evil” was not his actual name but one of many translations of his actual name. Remember, YHWH’s word is infallible but the translators are another story – and many stories at that. Here is the Biblehub link if you want to check out different translations of the same verse: https://biblehub.com/2_kings/25-27.htm
I just want you to know that the word evil was just an attempt at translating his name, not a descriptor, although he was certainly no saint. We will read more about him later.
We’ve finished another book! At the end of each book in Hebrew Bibles, there is a sentence that the congregation all say together out loud.
Hazak, hazak, v’nit’chazek!
Be strong! Be strong, and let us be strengthened!
Our hope and our help comes from YHWH!
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!