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?

Perspective of God – Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This is a form of Hebraic poetry.  It takes the form:

    B   –   B
  /               \
A                   A

Ellis Scolfield writes, “Hebrew poetry is parallel in nature. A Hebrew poet would say something one way and then repeat the same idea later on in different words. These repeats could be a sentence, a paragraph, or even several chapters long. So how can we identify repetitive prophecies when we see them? By recognizing the Hebrew poetic style in which it was written.  [Textual scholars call this type of repetition the bifidic form.]12  (Brackets added for quote reference clarification)

Isaiah reveals to us something that we should already know – God’s thoughts and ways are beyond ours.  We are so bound by time, that we generally don’t have an eternal perspective.  But there are other instances where this is apparent.  Isaiah shows us something unusual in Isaiah 57:1-2:

1 The righteous perish,
    and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
    and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
    to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.

We generally think that it is a great tragedy when someone is taken home to be with the Lord, especially if they are young.  But communicating with us through Isaiah the prophet, God says this is a blessing; that the righteous and devout are taken away to be spared from evil.  Oh, how we long for the influence of evil to finally end!  The pain and suffering it causes; its ripple effects sweeping people into chaos like a tsunami rushing inland.  It leaves destruction and loss everywhere it touches.  Rather than having to resist that force, and pick up the broken pieces, they are taken away, where they are with the Lord now and for eternity.

Our perspective is focused on the loss of their companionship, wisdom, fellowship, giftedness, relationship, and other factors in which we are immediately affected.  From God’s perspective, it is for their benefit that they are now with God, and no longer subject to the trials and temptations that afflict us until the glorious second coming of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  In this, we can see our selfishness at our perceived loss rather than their great gain.  And in our grief, sorrow, and mourning, we can all too soon forget that God’s sovereignty and perfect plan are in action, and that we will, in the lens of Eternity, see them again soon enough.

If you are mourning and grieving, your pain is real;  Let God comfort you through it.  And when you emerge on the other side, rejoice!  For He has done a wonderful thing and has blessed your loved one with the privilege of being in His presence and in final rest and peace from the evils of this world, soon to be reunited with you in glory!

 A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, my heart grieves the temporary loss of my friend and loved one.  Help me to work through the pain of loss.  Although I know that I will see them again when Your Beloved Son comes triumphantly in the sky, or possibly even sooner should You bless me with the opportunity to be in Your Presence before that great and terrible day, I am still in shock.  I am numb as I try to process this.  Please comfort me in my pain.  Uphold me, and restore normalcy to my daily routine.  Surround me with Your love as a mother hen gathers her chicks close to her under her wings.  Oh God, how it hurts!  Remember me this day, Lord, and give me the ability to just breathe.  This I ask and pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

[This post is dedicated to T. G., who recently lost his wife]

1 Packer-Tenny-White, The Bible Almanac, 1980, p349.

2 Ellis Scolfield, Bifids and Chiasms, [Unknown], p1.