Repentance and God – 1 Kings 22:11-13

Our Hearts Should Be Broken Over Our Sin And The Sin Of Our Nation

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

Great Grief

King Josiah became king after two very wicked kings before him.  For fifty-seven years, Israel has been plagued with rulers who perpetrated great evil in the land.  King Manasseh, his grandfather, did great evil in the eyes of the Lord, leading the people to worship other gods:

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” 5 In the two courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.

King Amon, his father, did so much evil in the sight of the Lord, and was so offensive to the people, that he only reigned two years before his own officials assassinated him:

19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah. 20 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. 21 He followed completely the ways of his father, worshiping the idols his father had worshiped, and bowing down to them. 22 He forsook the Lord, the God of his ancestors, and did not walk in obedience to him.

23 Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated the king in his palace. 24 Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place.

When Josiah heard the words written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.  This was an ancient Hebrew practice to show great anguish and grief over some situation.  Josiah’s heart was grieved when he learned that the people were not obeying the Lord.  Rather than continue in the practices of his father and grandfather, he turned his heart from sin and to God.

Supreme Sorrow

Josiah experienced great sorrow when he realized what he and the people had done.  It is interesting that Josiah had not read, nor even seen, the Book of the law until he was age twenty-six, and a copy of the Book of the Law was found in the temple where he had ordered work to be done.  How great must the evil had been, when no one had the Book of the Law to provide them with guidance?  His heart mourned in sorrow for both his own sin, and the sin of his people.

Josiah had the heart of a servant-leader.  His heart was responsive to the word of the Living God.  And he had the reactions that each of us should have when we realize that we have sinned against a holy and mighty God:

  • He was grieved by his sin
  • His soul was filled with sorrow
  • He mourned over his sin
  • He sought the Lord for help

Seek the Savior

Josiah didn’t just have an emotional response.  He called upon five people to inquire of the Lord to find out what he and his nation should do.  We have the scriptures of Almighty God as a testimony for us and to guide us in how we are to conduct ourselves before God.   We have been instructed to seek out God and to repent of our sin.  The first part of this is to confess our sin before God.  The second part is to turn away from sin and turn towards our most gracious and merciful Lord and God.

Confess Carefully

Josiah had instructed several people to inquire of the Lord on his behalf.  He recognized the need to confess his sin before God, and to learn how to turn back towards God.  We must each confess our sins before God.  Paul indicated that the reason that many of the people were sick and had fallen asleep (God had taken their physical lives) was because they were partaking of Communion improperly.  They were not judging their sin rightly, and taking communion without confessing their sin and repenting of it.

Many people in the church today take communion and give very little thought to how they are living their lives.  They take it more as an expected part of the liturgical service, and don’t give it the gravity that it rightly requires.  When we take communion improperly, we are, in effect, bring down God’s judgment against us!   We each need to carefully examine the scriptures to see what God has to say about this, and take this as seriously as a Holy God would take it.

The western church, in particular, has a tendency to place great emphasis on the grace and mercy of God as a sign of His love for us.  And God certainly IS full of grace and mercy, even to the point of sending His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins.  But there is often a lack of balance between His grace and mercy and His holiness and righteousness.  God cannot condone sin nor have it in His presence.  Until we realize just how offensive sin is to our Most Holy God, we will not see our sin in its proper place.  God is complete in all things, and He is balancing His holiness with His grace.  Should we not give sin the same weight as Almighty God does?  Should we not consider the cost that God bore to enable Him to give us grace?

Delay Disaster

God was gracious, and because Josiah’s heart had responded to the word of God, He delayed the disaster that He had sworn to bring upon the His beloved nation Israel because of their great sin until after Josiah had passed away.

Since we have been the recipient of great grace through the innocent shed blood of the One and Only Son of God, we receive His grace.  But God will discipline us mightily if we think that we can go on sinning because His fountain of grace covers us.  We are not to live our lives walking on eggshells, worried that every little sin will bring disaster and discipline from Almighty God upon us.  But in the same vein, we should not be surprised if we are disciplined with sickness, hardship, and even death (falling asleep) if we fail to take the time to rightly judge how we are living our lives and then partaking in communion.

When we partake in communion, we are, in effect, showing through this ordinance of the church that we are identifying with the life of Christ, who is the bread of life, and whose blood is pure.  When we go to take communion, we are, in effect, saying that we are walking in the same manner as Christ walked, identifying with Him in every way.  Christ lived a perfect life, submitted to the Holy Spirit, never once sinning.  Sin is abhorrent to God, and sin in our own lives should be just as abhorrent.  We can live free from fear, but only if we take the time to review our lives and see if we are walking in the way.

When we walk in sin without even attempting to overcome it we are in effect sullying the very robe of righteousness that Jesus bled and died to provide for us.  Why be sanctified if grace covers all sin, you might ask?  Because we are to put on our wedding clothes, white as the driven snow, as a bride in anticipation of the bridge groom, prepared to be received by Him in joy in our spotless white attire.

When we walk in the Spirit, yielded to God, we will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit.  And love is the ultimate expression of God.  When we love God, our neighbor, and one another, we are fulfilling the law, just as Christ fulfilled the law with His perfect and holy life.  We will not need to be disciplined if we discipline ourselves in right judgment, and turn from sin by turning towards God.  By walking in the Spirit, we are delaying judgment and discipline in our own lives.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What do I do when I sin?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I ask that You give me a heart so sensitive to righteousness that sin would make me nauseous.  Help me to immediately, and without reservation, seek You when I find myself in a situation where I feel pressured to act in disobedience to You and Your known will for me.  Help me to immediately seek You and overcome the pull of all sin in my life.  Guard my heart against all wrongdoing, and give me a heart that seeks You and rejoices in You and Your holiness and righteousness.  Forgive me for my many sins.  Help me to enumerate them to You.  Bring to mind every sin that I have not confessed to You, that I may bring it out into Your perfect and holy light, that they would be known to me.  Grant me the strength and grace to leave them at the cross, and to walk in Your holy way.  Do whatever is necessary, and provide the situations needed, so that I can practice walking in holiness before You.  You have promised to never leave nor forsake me, and I call upon You now, Lord God Almighty, to make good on this promise so that I can worship You in holiness with clean hands and a pure heart, and take communion with peace in my heart, knowing that my walk pleases You.  This I pray in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Justice of God – Isaiah 33:22

God Is a Righteous Judge

For the Lord is our judge,
the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king;
it is he who will save us.

A Just Judge

God is a just judge.  He judges from the perspective of righteousness, for He is perfect in every aspect of character.  The Bible tells us:

Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.

3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

We should rejoice that God is just.  We can be assured that in His justice, there is no fear – for there is no fear in love.  We don’t need to fear a just judge if we are doing right; it is only when doing evil that we need to fear.  And how much more should we fear God as our judge than mere human judges if we are doing evil?

The Law of Love

As a just judge, God gives us laws to establish His authority over us, and to act as a mirror with which we can properly see ourselves and who we really are, not just how we think we see ourselves, or how we portray ourselves to others.  God established just one law when it was just Adam and Eve on the Earth.  He established the Ten Commandments with Moses.  He provided the Israelites the expanded version of law in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  And he shows us that in Christ, love fulfills the law:

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

Kind King

God is a king, and He is our king.  God is also love personified.  Since God is love, and love is kind, we know that we have a kind king.  God shows this to us insofar as He does not immediately destroy us when we sin.  A harsh king – the idea of God from the world’s perspective – shows Him as an angry old ogre with His finger just above the “smite” button, just waiting for us to fail so that He has the opportunity to press it.

God shows us His love and kindness through the willingness to allow His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins, so that we can be reconciled to Him.  He patiently waits for us and woos us to come and reason with Him – to see His perspective on all things.

His kindness is shown through His mercy and grace.  Only the kindness in love would allow such a holy God – set apart from all sin and unrighteousness – to tolerate us as we come to our senses and accept the free gift of His Son Jesus Christ’s perfect life, death, burial, and resurrection as payment for our sin.  When we view the cross of Calvary from His perspective, we can come to no other conclusion.

Sovereign Salvation

Only a life of perfect obedience could be the acceptable payment for sin.  And God provided that Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.  Salvation comes from the Lord, for He is able to save, and desires that all be saved.  Rejoice in your salvation!  It came at a very great price.

When taking communion with the Saints of God, remember who it is that is your King, that we may properly discern the body of Christ.  Prepare your heart before you go to worship.  Seek your King with all your heart.  Read His Holy Word.  Be sanctified and adorned as the beautiful bride that He seeks.  Do not be asleep:

for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  As we reap the benefits of grace and mercy, are we really seeing God as a Just Judge?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You reveal Yourself to us through Your Word and through our lives.  Help me to remember Your Holiness.  Give me a better appreciation for Your hatred of sin.  Help me to keep in mind that no one can see Your face, for we would surely die if we did.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy.  Help me to see my sin as You see it.  Guard me and guide me in all my ways.  Help me to prepare my heart that it would be in a proper state to take communion every day and at all times.  Help me to be consecrated to You and Your purposes, that I would be useful as a holy vessel.  You have already declared that I am a naos – the holy of holies.  Help me to live up to that.  Give me a better understand of You as my King.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Holiness of God – 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

God takes things very seriously. When Moses struck the rock twice to bring forth water after God had told him to speak to the rock, it cost him a blessing – going into the Promised Land. But God still held Moses in high regard – Moses appeared with Jesus and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Do we take the things of God as seriously as He does?  Notice the observation by Paul that some of the believers were weak and sick and had fallen asleep (their bodies died) because they were taking communion without discerning the body of Christ.  If you believe this to be the case for you, read James 5:14-16 and be obedient to the Word of God to resolve the issue.

God calls Himself Holy in His Word time and time again.  Here are three instances:

The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (carm.org) defines Holiness as:

Holiness is a quality of perfection, sinlessness, and inability to sin that is possessed by God alone. As Christians, we are called to be holy (1 Pet. 1:16). But this does not refer to our nature. Instead, it is a command of our practice and thought. We are to be holy in obedience (1 Pet. 1:15). God has made us holy through His Son Jesus (Eph. 1:4, 1 Pet. 2:9).

Holiness is being set apart FROM sin, and set apart TO God.  So, let us take some time today to set ourselves apart to God.  When we do that, we will be setting ourselves apart from sin.  Let us take some time before we take communion to discern whether we are in the faith.  Cry out to God to show you any sin in your life; acknowledge what He shows you (if anything) and repent.  Then, with clean hands and a pure heart, we can confidently take communion in joyful celebration!

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are Most Holy.  We fail to even begin to recognize how Holy You are.  You have told us in Your word that if we saw Your face, we would perish.  Help us to grasp the extent of Your Holiness, so that we can rightly discern ourselves as the Body of Christ.  Prepare our hearts for holy communion.  Forgive us our sins.  Cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Instill within us such a sense of Your presence that we are better able to humble our hearts before You.  You take this so very seriously; please help us to do the same.  Please do not discipline us in Your anger, but renew your mercy, for we are in desperate need of it.  Thank You, Lord God, for Your faithfulness in all things.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?