So we get the story of King Josiah, the last believing King before Jerusalem falls. He rules 31 years, a substantial period but in the sweep of the book it is just like a staging post to the end, fall of Jerusalem. The pattern has become predictable now, a zig zag between followers of idols vs the true God.
At 20 he takes action, ridding all the idolatry. Burns the bones of the Baal etc. priests on their own altars. The violence jolted me, it reminded me of British history of the struggles between catholic and protestant, how deft you had to be not to be on the wrong side of religion. I suppose the common folk maybe just had to try and keep up: Jehovah, Baal, Jehovah, Baal…
Amid the temple renovations we get a book and a prophesy. The book is the law, a book from the torah is unearthed, probably Deuteronomy or Leviticus or Numbers. It has that powerful mirror effect God’s word does, and the King instantly sees how much he needs God’s forgiveness.
How did it get lost? I hate to be critical, but there are some problems with the Jewish national religion God instituted.
First, just one church – the Temple, where God lives. Practically, people want to worship locally. That might partly explain why these multiple high places keep popping up.
Second, I can’t see it involves much teaching. The books keep getting lost, and keep being rediscovered from scratch. Josiah is devastated when he hears the Law – even a devout king appears to have had little direct instruction in the word of God.
By Jesus’ time there were Synagogues, which served both needs, but they didn’t start til after the temple was destroyed, apparently in response.
I mean, I know its deeply impertinent telling God how to run his religion better. But working for a church, we do every day, in a way. In one sense, every denomination is a human take on what God could do better. In yet another sense I suppose, each denomination is part of God’s uber plan. It’s an odd plan, that includes a lot of bizarre input from us.
It warrants thinking about the proper attitude, and God’s larger purpose.
Josiah calls a prophet – who turns out to be female, just by-the-by (do Anglicans even read these passages?) Speaking with the voice of God, she sees the doom over Jerusalem, but the piety of the King will hold it off during his lifetime. He becomes all the more devout.
What a strange feeling that must have been, knowing it would all be lost after his time. We leave the meta plan in God’s hands. Josiah was ultimately saved by the blood of Christ, but he could never have imagined it.
Yet presumably what he did know of the nature of God from the law meant that he did not despair despite being told of disaster for the religious practices and nation he gave his life to fighting for.
When we read the word of God, any of it, in any time period, the eternal interacts with the temporal. We see the eternal true perspective of our current situation, and God’s character is one of love fairness and hope.
A big theme of this books seems to be practical holiness, and there is lots of inspiration.
Different human takes on God’s mighty plan. Australian, female, Salvation army General Eva Burrows meets her Catholic counterpart, Pope John Paul – That’s the Salvation Army salute shes giving him… the Orthodox guy seems quietly amused.