Today in church we read a beautiful episode from the second book of Kings. King Josiah had the Law of Moses read aloud to all the people of Jerusalem, none of whom had heard it before. They kept the Passover properly that year, for the first time in centuries.
This episode inspires us all the more when we consider that King Josiah succeeded King Manasseh, who had fallen so deeply into paganism that he sacrificed his own son on the altar of Moloch and turned the Jerusalem Temple into a pagan shrine. And when we consider that, by this time, all the northern tribes had forgotten about God and the truth. Instead, they worshipped Ba’al and lived for pleasure. Because of this, they had fallen into the hands of the Assyrians and had been taken into exile, never to return.
So the picture of the people of Jerusalem gathered together with the king and priests; the Temple rededicated to the obedient worship of the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Passover kept, as Moses commanded—this picture inspires us with a vision of faithfulness and harmony. God’s kingdom at work on earth. May we worship God together, too, with humble love, at peace and living in the truth.
But before we get too maudlin about this beautiful episode from the Old Testament, let’s remember that as this scene unfolded, the prophetess Huldah meanwhile declared that the punishments which the book of Moses promised would indeed be carried out. The people had been unfaithful for many generations, and God’s justice would not be flouted. King Josiah and his contemporaries kept the Passover faithfully in peace. But their children were carried off in chains to Babylon, and Jerusalem was reduced to ruins.
In the world, but not of it. The message of Christ, the grace of Christ, the kingdom of Christ—only from the perspective of Jesus Christ can we understand our role on earth. We want to worship in spirit and truth. But we cannot stand before God in peace if we do not face honestly the problems of our times. All is not as it should be.
Which means we have a job to do: to seek the truth, to stand up for what’s right, to confess our sins, to offer our resources for the good of others. And to hope for heaven.
The good tree bears fruit for heaven. In this world we will have trouble. But Christ has overcome the world.